Dan Rodricks

Christmas cards in January and a few other things nobody asked about | COMMENTARY

A Christmas card, mailed from Massachusetts in mid-December, arrived in Maryland in late January.

Nobody asked me, but if my brother Eddie ran the trucking company he manages the way Louis DeJoy runs the U.S. Postal Service, he’d be suddenly unemployed. Eddie’s Christmas card, mailed from Massachusetts in mid-December, arrived at my house in Maryland during the last week of January. While this extension of season’s greetings was nice — kind of a bonus, like discovering a bag of peanut M&M’s under a couch cushion — it’s not what my brother paid for. And if I were a merchant whose gift catalogs showed up late, I’d be looking for a postage refund. One example: A glossy catalog of Christmas goodies from Harry & David arrived exactly one month after the holiday, on Jan. 25. The address section on the back cover says, “Postmaster Deliver Nov. 30 - Dec. 2.” (Nobody asked me, but the absence of a catalog to serve as a reminder to customers probably hurt sales of Harry & David’s Moose Munch.) If you ask me, President Joe Biden should replace DeJoy, and Congress should make the USPS a fully funded federal department again. Postmaster General should be a cabinet position.

Nobody asked me, but as Baltimore is about to deploy 25 more speed cameras across the city, I’d like to make a recommendation to the Department of Transportation: Set some up on Interstate 83 overpasses and aim them at the Jones Falls Expressway below. Drivers of that highway have lost their minds during the pandemic.


He didn’t ask me, but Gov. Larry Hogan might want to drop the word “purge” when he talks politics. In an interview with The Washington Post, Hogan said of QAnon and other right-wing groups in the Republican Party: “We’ve got to sort of purge the party of those radical extremists.” I appreciate Hogan’s view, but “purge” evokes something authoritarian, draconian and sinister. The governor might want to try something less Stalinesque, like, “We gotta shake the nuts out of this tree.”

Just one thing: There doesn’t seem to be much interest in shaking anything right now. Donald Trump still owns the Republican Party and, last we heard, he’s a QAnon conspiracy fan. Would anyone be surprised if he joined the club?


Speaking of words: Beware the politician who claims to be a victim of “cancel culture.” That’s just another brand of whine. It usually comes from a pol who doesn’t like to be called out on a lie, or for perpetuating a lie. It’s a way of making direct, well-founded criticism sound like a demand for ideological cleansing. Democracy depends on truth. Politicians who lie or support those who do should find other work.

Nobody asked me, so allow me to pose the question: Where were Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland other the members of Congress who carry guns on the day of the Capitol riot? Looks like Capitol police could have used their help holding back the mob.

And speaking of police: Three of the officers who tried to defend the halls of Congress have died — one from a direct attack by the mob and two by suicide in the riot’s aftermath. In addition, 65 officers suffered injuries, according to the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. Given that Senate Republicans appear primed to excuse Trump of any responsibility for the deadly riot, let’s hear no more about the GOP’s fervent support of law enforcement.

Nobody asked me, but looking back on Inauguration Day, I think an appropriate song for the event would have been “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” which goes, in part, “The Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah! Down with the traitors, up with the stars. While we rally ‘round the flag, boys, we rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom!” As a Civil War song, it was not only a celebration of unionism but of abolition, with these words, “And we’ll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more, shouting the battle cry of freedom.”

This would be a good time for stuck-at-home Americans to find the extraordinary 1961 film, “Judgment at Nuremberg,” about the trial of German judges for Nazi war crimes. Watch all three hours of it — it never gets dull — but pay particular attention to the Burt Lancaster soliloquy that begins: “There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear.” And this part will also ring relevant to our present condition: “What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part?” Congress should have a special screening of it.

Speaking of films, the best one I’ve discovered over the last month: “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” a documentary about an independent minor league team of the 1970s, owned by cowboy actor Bing Russell, father of Kurt Russell. Highly recommended.

Nobody asked me, but if I were an enterprising millionaire, I’d start an electric ferry service from Sparrows Point to Rock Hall.

Nobody asked me, but, with snow in the forecast, I doubt we’ll see the usual hordes of panicked Baltimoreans rushing out this time to buy toilet paper, milk and bread. When the pandemic hit last spring, many of us stocked up. Hell, I pretty much insulated the basement with Quilted Northern.