Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Don't Hate Christmas, I Hate "Christmas Time"

It started in mid-October, a couple of weeks before Halloween: retailers in our neck of the woods started putting up "cheery" wreaths with red bows, accompanied by bells, and Santas. And my heart sank, and an involuntary scowl came across my face: it had started already--one of my least favorite times of year--Christmas Time.

Well I've had it with this. I don't hate Christmas, but by God I've had it up to here with Christmas time.

Allow me to explain.

No one really knows the true birth date of Yeshua ben-Yosef, and the date of 25 December didn't really get chosen as Jesus's birthday until the 4th century AD. Its selection was done (according to some researchers) to supersede the pagan solstice celebrations and perhaps to co-opt the commemoration of Mithra's birthday. But for whatever reason, the date of 25 December was chosen by Christians to mark Jesus's birth, and although it is almost certainly not the true date, it is the one on which they have settled. Therefore, 25 December is a sacred date on the Christian religious calendar.

Yes, the Christian calendar.

I am not a Christian; my wife is a very devout one. But we do share a similar dismay at the ugly, grasping, vulgar, greed driven flood of advertising that washes over us this time of year. Speaking for myself, I have come to hate Christmas retail commercials, with their happy little jingles and the spokespeople merrily suggesting you buy this power tool or that car or this perfume or these clothes. A sacred religious holiday has been taken over by hucksters and grifters who don't give a damn about Christmas's religious significance; they just want your money, and as much of it as they can persuade you to squander. It has become downright offensive to me, as if grasping hands were reaching out of the TV to get me to max out my VISA for the sake of their monetary gain, and to hell with anything else. (It's a great reason to shut off the television, I'll say that.)

Similarly, I hate secular "Christmas" music burbling out at me in every retail store. I don't mind religious Christmas music, because it is, for the most part, quite beautiful, but I am sick to death of tacky, ugly, banal "holiday" music like Jingle Bell Rock and Here Comes Santa Claus. After a half century of being bombarded with this crap, it has become a sort of audio torment. Enough, already!

For most adults, especially in economically tough times like this, Christmas is one of the toughest, most stressful times of the year, when already hard-pressed household budgets are strained even more. The bulk of this burden seems to fall on women, who have been made to feel guilty by countless magazine articles and TV shows if they don't provide their families with the "perfect" Christmas. Time and tempers grow short, and the effort to be "happy" and "merry" often simply results in misery.

During this "holiday season" people are forced to fight their way through crowds of other tired, stressed-out shoppers, spending money they don't have on things they wish they didn't have to buy. And are you trying to eat sensibly? Are you kidding? During this "traditional" orgy of junk food and overeating? The hangover in January is therefore twofold: credit card bills and extra pounds, part of what makes the post-Christmas period so dismal.

Is this what Christmas really should be about?

Some friendly suggestions:

1. Christmas presents should be for children only, tapering off gradually over the years until a person reaches adulthood. Yes, for young children, Christmas is magical. When my first granddaughter was 4, she saw that the cookies and milk she had left out for Santa had been consumed, along with the carrots for the reindeer, and, wide-eyed, she saw the big bunch of presents Santa had left by the tree. Seeing her astonished, joyful face was one of the high points of my life, an amazing moment, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. But as the years go on, and belief in Santa evaporates, Christmas simply becomes a time to accumulate a "haul" of gifts, and older children often become somewhat jaded by the whole thing. And while spouses might want to exchange small, symbolic presents, it seems wasteful (and strange) to me to indulge in spending money to express one's love. In my view, adults would use their money more wisely giving it to:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


Your local food bank

The U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Foundation

or any other worthy charity you can think of. Help your church or your community organization organize food baskets for the poor. And warm clothing and toys for poor families with children strike me as being much more in the spirit of Christmas than buying a Lexus.

2. Start letting retail stores know that you're getting tired of seeing Christmas displays in mid-October.

3. Start letting advertisers know that their obnoxious "holiday" commercials are driving you away from them.

4. Stop trying to have a "perfect" Christmas that makes you exhausted and miserable, and rather enjoy a "less than perfect" celebration with family and friends. Martha Stewart and her ilk have tried to tell you that if your holiday decorating and food aren't "perfect", then you've failed. Screw that nonsense.

5. Remember that a lot of Christians are becoming increasingly appalled by the commercialized orgy that surrounds Christmas. While I don't subscribe to the idiotic "War on Christmas" garbage that Fox "News" puts out, it might not hurt to be sensitive to those for whom this holiday has deep meaning. (For the record, my beloved sister is a retired Methodist minister who is still close to her heathen, apostate brother, and my wife celebrates Christmas with great reverence.)

I remember a time when I still believed. It was Christmas Eve service, one that had started with the inspiring, chill-giving Angels We Have Heard on High, led by our choir as they walked in procession down the aisle. The service was punctuated by the beautiful Gospel story from Luke and countless sacred hymns, and ended with each person lighting candles in our darkened church while the congregation sang Silent Night. The feeling of closeness and kinship and love for all people I felt at that moment was overwhelming. That service struck me as more meaningful than any useless Christmas party or unneeded gift ever could be.

I no longer embrace faith, but I still embrace Christmas as a symbol of charity and remembrance of our fellow humans. I'd like to see Christmas time once again be something sacred and special, instead of a significant period of GDP growth. I still love Christmas.

Now if only we could get rid of "Christmas Time"!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"This is the most exasperatingly stupid woman on the planet."

So vents John Cole, and he is exactly correct. His target is Palin, the lying village idiot. Read her borderline demented attempt to explain Ronald Reagan's foreign policy in regard to the Soviet Union. And then tell me that this knuckleheaded GRIFTER AND CON ARTIST is fit for any public office, much less the Presidency.

BTW, I love the last paragraph of Steve Benen's post on this matter:

I can think of plenty of politicians who are genuinely, unambiguously dumb. I've even met a few, and marveled at how they were able to attain any kind of political responsibilities, given their limited intellectual prowess. But I don't think I've ever seen a politician as conspicuously unintelligent as Sarah Palin gain national prominence. She represents the very worst American politics has to offer, and the embarrassment she brings to the political system is severe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Psychotic Right Wants to See President Obama MURDERED

Can there be any doubt?

Sarah Palin as a Fundamentalist, Theocratic Eva Peron

Frank Schaeffer has the goods here. Palin is, without doubt, the most dangerous politician in America today, the visible spearhead of the fascist, theocratic, lunatic Right, a cult that is determined to impose a Right-wing religious dictatorship on our country. Some interesting excerpts:

Here's a woman whose husband associated closely with the Alaska secessionist party, which itself associates with lunatic fringe secessionist groups and far right militias nationwide. Here's a woman who stabs John McCain in the back, the man who brought this small town mayor and one time Alaska Governor to national prominence. Here's a woman who quit the job of governor to become a full-time rabblerouser in the style of a Munich 1930s beer hall putsch.

And what's her backing? The Rupert Murdoch/Reconstructionist Empire, the marriage of hard right capitalism with harder right Old Testament would-be theocracy.

Without Fox News she'd be nothing. Without the 5 million Murdoch paid her for her book she'd be stuck scraping by on $100,000 speaking fees. Without the millions of evangelicals who are Fox News' audience Fox would not exist. And who ghosted the book for her?

Lynn Vincent, the features editor of World, a fundamentalist flagship magazine. Vincent also ghost wrote the memoir of Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the former head of the Army's Special Forces Command, who believes that his job in the U.S. military was to defeat Satan for the Christian nation of America.

The Radical Right is determined to make Palin--a demented, lying sociopath--president of the United States. We must be vigilant and guard our republic against this terrible possibility at all costs. If the Palinites ever seize power, it will mean the death of our nation--and the end of our children's future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bush Legacy: 1 in 6 Hungry in the U.S. in 2008

Another crisis caused by Bush's conservative policies. Excerpt:

The magnitude of the increase in food shortages -- and, in some cases, outright hunger -- identified in the report startled even the nation's leading anti-poverty advocates, who have grown accustomed to longer lines lately at food banks and soup kitchens. The findings also intensify pressure on the White House to fulfill a pledge to stamp out childhood hunger made by President Obama, who called the report "unsettling."

The data show that dependable access to adequate food has especially deteriorated among families with children. In 2008, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 percent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce -- 4 million children more than the year before. And the number of youngsters who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Among Americans of all ages, more than 16 percent -- or 49 million people -- sometimes ran short of nutritious food, compared with about 12 percent the year before. The deterioration in access to food during 2008 among both children and adults far eclipses that of any other single year in the report's history.

Shocking and disgraceful. Another "badge of honor" for the Radical Right.

Sorry for the Inactivity Lately

Been readin' and writin' a lot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Veterans Day 2009

Thank you to all those who have served our nation in uniform. When the country needed you, you were there. Everyone owes you a debt of gratitude, and as President Lincoln said, our nation has an obligation to care for you and your families. For all you have done, God Bless You.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Greenwald on the Fort Hood Tragedy

As usual, Glenn Greenwald has an intelligent take on the reporting surrounding yesterday's terrible events at Fort Hood, Texas. Give it a read and tell me what you think.

I extend my condolences to all the family members of those who died.

I would also like to add:

1. That we don't know all the motivations of the murderer, but he appears to have been an Islamist fanatic.

2. The shooter's religion will be used by some as an excuse for an accelerated witch hunt against Muslims.

3. The Radical Right will tie this all to President Obama, somehow.

This is So Freaking Brilliant

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

By the way, what Democratic commentator is even in the same Universe of lying, unhinged, neo-P.T. Barnumesque lunacy as Glenn Beck?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Right Wing Fanatics Comparing President Obama's Health Proposals to TERRORISM

The whole filthy, disgusting story is here.

They have no shame. They have no morals. They have no sense of proportion. And they have ZERO respect for the victims of genuine terrorism. But after all, these Glenn Beck-style right-wing bastards routinely defecate all over Holocaust victims and those who died in the Gulag by comparing President Obama to Hitler and Stalin, so why should anyone expect them to honor the memory of those who died on 9/11?