Bah Humbug

Image result for The GrinchCan you believe that Christmas is right around the corner? Yet again.

Ah yes, Christmas, the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, is a jolly and joyous holiday to Christians.

Well, I, for one, am not so jolly. Okay, yes, I know. I’m a grinch. I admit it. But at the same time, I’m enough of a pragmatist to recognize that our nation, while not a “Christian Nation,” as some conservatives suggest, is a nation that is overwhelmingly Christian.

And yet, year-after-year, there are those — from virtually everyone on Fox News to President Trump — insisting that American Christians are being persecuted and that there is a “War on Christmas.” Trump has even suggested that, now that he’s president, Americans are once again permitted to say “Merry Christmas.” Wait! Did Americans ever stop saying that?

Seriously, do most Christians really believe that the small sliver of the American population comprised of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians have somehow stolen Christmas?

I look around and wonder how anyone can come to that conclusion. I hear continuous, unavoidable Christmas music; it’s virtually nonstop. I see Christmas shows and specials on TV, Christmas movies in theaters, Christmas musicals and plays on live stage.

Flyers and advertisements for Christmas sales add significant heft to the newspapers I stuff into my recycling bin each week. The bulk of TV commercials at this time of year are all about the Christmas gifts you absolutely must buy. My mailbox is stuffed with Christmas catalogs.

I see formerly vacant lots filled with Christmas trees and wreaths that are selling briskly. I see homes, condos, and apartments throughout the city decked out with colorful, blinking lights and fully adorned Christmas trees in the windows. I see nativity scenes on public squares and common areas around city and on town hall lawns throughout the area.

I see grown men wearing red suits, fake beards, and pillows stuffed under their belts, little kids sitting on their laps in stores and malls. At any other time of the year, these men would be arrested.

Santa copping a feel (or is that Roy Moore dressed as Santa?)

But at Christmastime, there are long lines of parents, with their kids in tow, eager to put their little darlings onto the lap of some otherwise unemployable, probably drunk old man wearing a phony beard and dressed in a strange costume promising to bring them all kinds of gifts that their parents can’t really afford.

Can someone please explain to me how Christmas is being stolen?

Well, maybe the “Christmas spirit” has, in fact, been usurped by crass commercialism. Christmas has become less a religious holiday than a two-month long shopping spree.

Instead of the jolly holiday bringing out the best in people, it seems that this season of good will and joy instead brings out the worst in many. Me included.

Bah humbug!

Oh yeah. Happy Holidays.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “jolly.”


Manic Monday — Hmmm


Hmmm“Oh my God,” said Cindy. “Did you see Trump’s latest tweet?”

“No,” said Aaron. “I’ve stopped paying attention to his tweets. They’re crazy. He’s crazy.”

“I know,” Cindy responded. “He tweets things that make you go, ‘hmmm.’ I honestly think he’s lost it. I don’t know if it’s dimentia or if he is just plain nuts.”

“I go for all of the above,” said Aaron. “And in the meantime, our country is in such a downward spiral. I wish some of the Republicans in Congress would go ‘hmmm’ and do something to stop that madman before it’s too late.”

“Don’t count on it,” Cindy said. “Republicans would rather send a pedophile to Congress than vote for a Democrat. Talk about things that make you go ‘hmmm.'”

“Hmmm,” said Aaron.

Written for this week’s Manic Monday prompt from Sandi over at Flip Flops Every Day. The prompt is to write a post using the title to the song, “Things that make you go Hmmm” from C+C Music Factor. I’d never heard that song before reading her post.

The Weak Wing

My fascination with political dramas on TV dates back to “The West Wing,” which aired on NBC from September 1999, to May 2006. Despite political turmoil that swirled around the fictional White House, I could always count on President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, to take the principled path. It was inspirational to me.

Sadly, I can no longer watch contemporary political dramas on TV anymore. It’s too depressing. The main characters in shows like “Madam Secretary” and “Designated Survivor,” played by Tea Leoni and Kiefer Sutherland, respectively, portray high powered, principled individuals who are really trying to do good things on behalf of the American people. The protagonists in these two shows are scrupulous, they care more about their constituents than about themselves, and are trying to accomplish positive things.

Conversely, the real-life horror show being played out in the Trump administration is more like “House of Cards” and “Scandal.” And like those shows, the melodrama being played out in and around the White House is populated by unscrupulous, inexperienced, corrupt sycophants whose only objective is to satisfy their own unenlightened self-interests.

When I compare those smart, integrity-filled lead characters on “The West Wing,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Designated Survivor” to the flawed, morally bankrupt, and dangerous miscreants who populate the Trump White House and administration, it hurts my heart.

What Does This Have To Do With Tax Reform?

Everyone knows that the Republicans in Congress are desperately trying to push through a draconian tax bill that would heartlessly increase taxes for middle and low income Americans while providing massive tax reductions for large corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

But did you know that they have included a very troubling clause in their tax plan? There is a curious provision hiding among massive corporate tax breaks and the other items on the GOP’s tax plan wish list. This mysterious provision would permit families to open 529 educational savings accounts for “unborn children.” In other words, it would enable people to create college savings plans for fetuses. I’m not making that up.

In what has long been the holy grail of the anti-abortion movement, this provision would, through the proposed tax code, lay the foundation for “personhood,” which is the belief that life begins at conception. In effect, it would grant legal rights to a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus in the womb. This would potentially establish a legal basis that conservatives could use to argue to outlaw abortions entirely.

Republicans are hiding this highly unpopular provision deep within their proposed tax bill, where they hope no one will ever find it. If it does go mostly unnoticed and makes it into the final bill, conservatives will have successfully established a new, legal definition of when life begins, one that goes against legal precedent, science, and public opinion.

So yes, secreted deep within the bowels of the GOP tax plan is a provision to accomplish something that conservatives have been unable to accomplish since Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision issued in 1973 by the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions.

On the federal level, such attempts have always failed. But if this Republican tax bill passes Congress and is signed into law by Donald Trump, which he no doubt will do, Roe v. Wade will become meaningless and the conservatives and the religious right will have finally succeeded in essentially making abortion murder.

Tell me again what this has to do with tax reform?

Not Funny At All

The little snippet flashed across my iPhone’s screen this morning. “Oh no, not Matt Lauer, too,” I said to my wife.

Lauer joins a whole host of other famous and, for the most part, previously well-respected, highly-regarded men who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Men like Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS, Congressman John Conyers, Senator Al Franken, comedian Louis C.K., and actor Kevin Spacey, just to name a few. Many of these men have lost their jobs and their standing.

And yet Alabama Republican voters seem to be on a trajectory to elect Roy Moore, an accused pedophile and serial sexual assaulter of teenage girls, as their new US senator. The question remains whether or not the Republicans in the Senate will allow him to take the seat if he is elected. My money’s on yes they will, because they need the votes to pass legislation that will destroy America as we know it.

Of course, Roy Moore claims it’s all fake news and that the accusers are lying as part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to smear him. He’s even throwing blame on some mainstream Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Isn’t it funny that Roy Moore is following the same tactics as the orangutan in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, who is also an accused sexual predator, and who denied the accusations of the women who came forward, calling them all liars.

Actually, it’s not funny at all.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “snippet.”