Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Yesterday was Veterans Day. All across the country, people were honoring those who have served our country. As a veteran, I appreciate those who have given thanks to everyone who has served our country. Contrary to some people’s belief, we do not serve because we don’t have anything else to do. We are not looking for an easy pay check. We serve because we firmly believe it is the right thing for us to do.

Like everyone else, I also thank everyone who has served.  But, I am going to be a little selfish here.  I want to send out a very special thank you and appreciation to our smallest service, the U.S. Coast Guard.  The Coast Guard is an elite group of men and women who selfishly serve our country in more ways that I can even mention here.  So, to all of my shipmates in the Coast Guard, I want to thank you for your service and for continuing our excellent tradition.

Even though it may be a little early, I wanted to pass along some things that you can do to show your thanks to our servicemen and women during the holidays.  These men and women are working and/or away from home even during the holidays.  Their family members are left to celebrate the holidays without them.  But, there are things that you can do to show a little support.

If you live in an area where there is a Basic Training facility, please check and see if they have a holiday program.  Great Lakes for example, has a program where local families can invite a recruit to Thanksgiving Dinner.  It gives the recruit a chance to get off base for a short period of time and enjoy the holiday with someone else.  These programs usually take some time to set up, that is why I am mentioning it now.

Whether or not you live in these areas, there is still something you can do to show appreciation.  Most of us have ornaments we place on the Christmas Tree with family names on them,   This year, when you decorate your tree, spend a little money on an ornament with the simple words: Service Member Who Cannot Be home for Christmas.

When you have your family dinner, set up an empty place at the table.  Put down the plates, glasses, silverware as if someone was going to sit there.  Then, when you toast the holiday in your own way, say a special toast to the empty chair as a “thank you” to our service members.  The empty chair will remind you that all across this country, there will be empty chairs belonging to a service member who cannot be home for the holidays.

Contact the USO and find out if they can help you put together a package of food stuffs to send to our troops in combat areas.  They really like the snacks they get in these packages.  You can’t find them in Afghanistan.

These are small things we can do, but they will remind us of all of the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf.  Please remember, for every service member who cannot be home for the holidays, there are families who will miss them tremendously!  They won’t see you make a toast at dinner, or see the ornament on the tree, but they may feel a little better just knowing you care enough to do them.

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Today is Halloween and there are a bunch of people running around Washington, D.C. dressing up as a political party. Yes, the Republicans are pretending to be a political party looking out for the best interests of the American People.  How original of them!

For at least a year now they have been holding “investigations” which really amount to witch hunts! They are desperately looking for witches to burn at the stake. Whether it is Benghazi, Obamacare, VA Conference scandal, etc. They are in desperate need to find someone to burn.

Well, they have found their prey. They have settled on the hungry and working poor people of this country.  Beginning tomorrow, SNAP will be reduced by $5 Billion dollars. People who depend upon food stamps will see an average reduction of $50 per week in assistance.  May not sound like a lot, but when you consider what they get isn’t enough as it is, then the cuts make it even more difficult.

But that isn’t good enough for the righteous witch hunters. No, they want to cut an additional $10 Billion from food stamps per year for the next 10 years! This reduction is incorporated in the Farm Bill in the House. Of course, the farm subsidies are not being cut. I wonder if that is because many members of Congress in both houses either get direct subsidies for their personal farms or one or more of their family members get these subsidies. Hmmmm….

The Republicans say there is too much fraud in the program. Actually, there is whopping 1% fraud abuse in the Food Stamp program. While on the other hand, the Farm Subsidy part of the Farm Bill experiences far greater fraud!  Some estimates run as high as 10%.  They also make their usual argument about Food Stamp recipients being “takers”. Okay, let’s see what these takers look like.

58% of people who receive Food Stamps are what is called the “working poor”. You know those people who work 40 hours per week and because wages are so low they live below poverty.  As Rush would say: What a bunch of worthless slackers!

Over 50% of people who receive Food Stamps live in rural areas that are controlled by Republicans!!! Yes, that is right, their own constituents are being affected by the cuts.  As Paul Ryan would say:  Takers are takers!

Here is something that is rarely mentioned. 900,000 active duty members of the U.S. Military receive Food Stamps!! The pay rates of enlisted personal is not much more than minimum wage. As Glen Beck would say: Obviously, these are nothing but slackers and takers!

Approximately 50% of military veterans receive Food Stamps.  As Eric Cantor would say:  Just because they once served doesn’t mean they aren’t “takers” now.

Remember during the government shutdown how the Republicans ran down to the WWII Memorial and were screaming about how the president should open the monument and support the veterans?  Would someone in the Republican party explain to me how affecting the ability of a veteran or active duty member to feed their family is backing the veterans?

So, Halloween is here and the Republicans finally have their witches to burn!  I suggest that when they attend their next costume party, I mean their next session in the House, these people should dress as their real characters: The self-anointed savior Ted Cruz as the Scarecrow without a brain! (Yes, the messiah is really in the Senate but he thinks he is the real Speaker of the House)  The follower Mike Lee as the Tin-Man without a heart.  (It is apparent Mike Lee will gladly follow the messiah off a cliff so it wouldn’t surprise me find him in the House Chamber)  The estimable Speaker John Boehner as the Cowardly Lion.  The cold-hearted born-again Michelle Bachman as the Wicked Witch of the West.  Other suggestions include Eric Cantor as the Joker, Steve King as the Mad Hatter, and Virginia Fox as Maleficent.  Feel free to add others as you see fit.

Happy Halloween!!

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GatewayPundit breathlessly alerts us to the dangers of cranky and intolerant religious ranting: certain believers insist that those who do not profess their particular creed are subject to

STDs, debt, rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, raves, claiming God has  a son, blasphemy, exploitation, promiscuity, night clubs, crime, paedophilia, paganism, domestic violence, homelessness, violence, vandalism, alcohol, drugs.

Luckily for them, however,

we are protected from all of these evils [because] we have marriage, family, honor, dignity, security, rights for man, woman, and child.

If you look carefully, you can spot a clue: they object to the idea of a “son of God”, so they’re not Christian. Luckily for Gateway and a lot of other wingers, they are in fact Muslim, providing almost an open invitation to a lot of crankery about “Islamofascism” and so forth. (Truly, radical Islam has been a boon to the right wing; since 9/11 they don’t have to apologize for hating the people they already hated anyway. It’s like finding out some leftists actually were Communists: it’s permission to stop thinking for people who never started.)

But tell me this: remove just that one bit, and what is there at all in that cranky screed that is not word for word identical with the same cranky screeds we hear constantly from the Christian right? All the same code words are there, all the red-meat button-pushing issues calculated to inflame the base, all the delusional self-aggrandizement and intolerant belligerence. Most of all there is the same obsessive cataloging of imagined evils spewing from any lifestyle they don’t approve of (“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”), contrasted with the equally delusional reactionary family-values paradise they’re eager to impose by fiat. Even the weird digressionary peeves have an identical flavor (“debt”?, “raves”, “night clubs”? – anybody remember the wingers ranting about the gold standard and Teletubbies?).

It has always been perfectly obvious that patriarchal reactionary religious fundamentalism is all of a piece. The parochial distinctions between Christianity, Islam, and the weirder parts of Judaism are nothing more than window dressing; in what matters they are all the same. (Granted, in terms of practical policy the conservative Muslims seem to be a couple of hundred years behind the curve, which is depressing, but they’re learning much faster than the Christians did.) And even casual observation makes it obvious that their values and rhetoric are the same. Somehow the wingers manage not to notice – as always with them, it’s a tossup whether that’s intellectual dishonesty or just intellectual incompetence. But the poster quoted above could hardly make it clearer: in a list of 20 complaints against non-believers, exactly one has to do with any point of divergence in religious doctrine between Muslims and Christians; the rest are exactly the same charges Christians make against Muslims, and the entire rest of the world. In this case, the “war on Christmas” is the Christians’ own war on everybody else. What are the odds that they’ll notice, or draw any conclusions from that?

In the hands of a left-wing critic, this would be a joke; the poster reads like an Onion story about oblivious right-wing religious reactionaries accidentally aiming their own rhetoric against themselves or some such thing. In fact, it is a story about Christian winger rhetoric being aimed at Christians – just not by Christians. But it’s the same rhetoric. And the wingers are, utterly predictably and utterly certainly, going to be aiming exactly the same rhetoric back in response. (The joke gets funnier: GatewayPundit’s comment about the conservative Islamic poster ranting about “abortion”, “raves”, “blasphemy”, “paganism”, “alcohol”, “drugs”, etc. is “how very leftist of them”. Because those are common leftist obsessions, on which leftists act in concert with Islamic fundamentalists. Do these people even know what the issues are? Or do they just reflexively scream “leftist” and “Islamofascist” at anything they don’t like? Never mind . . . why do I ask?)

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe the circle of wingnut paranoia and infighting has tightened so far that all the religious creeps are going to finally disappear up each other’s assholes and leave the rest of us alone. That would be an awfully optimistic Christmas wish, but, hey, let’s see how it plays out. At the very least, they’ve provided the proof we needed. Just as there is really only one Christmas fruitcake that goes around in different guises from one victim to the next, there is really only one big religious fruitcake plaguing us all; Muslim, Christian, or what the hell, they’re all just nuts in the same unwelcome, indigestible mass.

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Lovely BBC news piece on the traditional Catalan Christmas nativity scene: the usual thing, Baby Jesus, some animals, etc., plus one character redolant of that region and its culture. Every Catalan nativity scene includes a “caganer” – “the shitter” – a figure squatting with its pants down and a distinct pile of feces under its bare ass. Apparently it is hidden behind other parts of the scene and Catalan children make a game of finding the caganer every morning.

The traditional caganer wears a characteristic Catalan red cap; more modern examples often depict public figures such as sports stars, the Pope, the Queen of England, and President Obama (shown squatting on a little pedestal labeled “Yes We Can”). The BBC video interviews Spanish potters who specialize entirely in producing tiny statues of various people taking a shit for Jesus. Wikipedia also notes that the tradition appears throughout the Iberian peninsula, and references “Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Poo” from South Park.

Buy one today, or you’re contributing to the war on Christmas.

Traditional Catalan Christmas figure: the caganer.

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Patton Oswalt does the greatest dissection of the Worst Christmas Song Ever:

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Christmas Song of the Day

Since Kevin seems to be slacking this year, I figured I’d do the first entry, and make it something a little more obscure. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pearl Bailey:

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Independence Day

Until I find something better, I’m just going to link to this every year:

Here’s hoping you enjoy your Fourth.

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Memorial Day

It’s not just about a day off of work and cookouts. Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and work to ensure that this sacrifice is never again made in vain.

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What religion should you be? Via Dvorkin.

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Signs point to a done deal, and the White House says health care reform will soon be the law of the land. But the Democrats are, well, Democrats.

Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Other than that, Happy St. Patrick’s day. Open thread.

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