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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, let us take just a few minutes to remember that even though we have different political philosophies, we all share one thing that no other country can share. We are all Americans!

On the surface that may not sound like much, but we really do live in the greatest country in the world. America isn’t great because of our philosophies. American isn’t great because of our politics. America is great because of our spirit as people.

Yes, we have problems. We have differences. We have issues. But we also have each other. In the past, I have worked several disaster relief cases and I can say without doubt, that when the chips are down, no country on earth comes together to help each other like Americans!

It is that spirit of giving that made me proud to serve in the Coast Guard! Knowing the public was going to help as much as we tried, made the job a whole lot easier and less traumatic. As long as we keep that spirit alive, we will remain the greatest country on earth.

As you sit down to eat your meal, please remember those who cannot be home for the holidays. I am not just talking about our service members either. Yes, they deserve our thanks, but so do all of those Police Officers, Fire Fighters, EMTs, Doctors and Nurses in Hospitals, Nurse’s Aides, and a myriad of other dedicated public servants who will have to work tomorrow, just in case of emergencies. They also deserve our thanks for their dedication and hard work.

So, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday! I hope tomorrow finds everyone in the comfort and warmth of family and friends. Nothing makes the holidays better than that!

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Yes, the holiday season has arrived, and the Senate and House of Representatives are still at it. Basically, the Republican Far Right and the rest of the country are still at it!

Let’s be clear about something. In 2012 President Obama won what has basically been called an overwhelming re-election. The Democrats kept control of the Senate. And even though the Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, Democratic candidates for the House received over 1 million more votes than Republican candidates.

Under normal circumstances, that means the Democrats have a right to try their policies in order to get the country moving forward. But, the Republicans, especially their Pee Party bullies, have the opposite belief. They believe that since they LOST the election, that means they get to establish policy. After all, the country didn’t really mean to elect a black man again! It had to be a mistake!

This has manifested itself in the most obstructionist form of government we have seen in our entire history! Let me give just one example. The Republicans have held up nominations for courts and cabinet positions. NOT because they have any fundamental objection to the nominees, but rather the simple fact they were nominated by President Obama!

There have been 81 “cloture motions” – attempts to end filibusters – during President Obama’s time in office. That is more cloture motions in just Obama’s five years in office than in all previous years combined since filibusters of judicial and executive branch nominees began in 1968. Here is a little breakdown by President”

Johnson: 1
Nixon: 1
Carter: 3
Reagan: 6
Bush 41: 1
Clinton: 18
Bush 43: 38
Obama: 81

SOURCES: Congressional Research Service, U.S. Senate

As a result, the Senate voted yesterday to change the filibuster rules against judicial nominees, excluding the Supreme Court, and Cabinet Positions. Now these nominees simply need an up or down vote with a simple majority to be accepted by the Senate.

Of course, that led Mitch McConnell to rant about it being a “diversion away from Obamacare”. Why does everything have to come back to Obamacare?  How does the ACA have anything to do with the qualifications of a person nominated to sit on an Appeals Court bench?  On the flip side, guess who said this in 2005:

“I think the president is entitled to an up-or-down–that is simple majority–vote on nominations, both to his Cabinet and to the executive branch and also to the judiciary. The filibuster was not used for 200 years. The country did just fine. Sometimes the court would jag off to the left, and sometimes it would slide over to the right. Presidents trying to mold the Supreme Court is nothing new. It’s not inappropriate. And we need to get back to tradition, and the tradition is a majority is enough to confirm a judge.”

Or, see if you can guess who said this:

“What typically happens is we exercise self-restraint, and we do not engage in that kind of behavior because invoking certain obstructionist tactics would upset the Senate’s unwritten rules.”

Yep, it is the same Senator who said on the day of President Obama’s first inauguration: “It is our goal to obstruct the President and make sure Obama is a one term president”. Mitch McConnell!!!  Whatever happened to his second quote?

This where the hypocrisy comes in.

Why so many filibusters against this president? There is only one answer. Mitch McConnell and the Pee Party have tried to delegitimize the president. They don’t want to admit that he was even elected. That is where the hate comes in.

They aren’t stopping here either. The Senate and Republicans are meeting in a budget negotiating session. They are supposed to hammer out a budget by December 15. Paul Ryan is leading the committee. So far, from reports being heard, he isn’t doing very much to compromise on anything.

On December 31, the extended unemployment insurance runs out. That means 1.3 million people who need that unemployment will be cut off unless congress acts. No movement has even started on it because the Republicans WANT it to run out.

Republicans want to cut S0cial Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. They want to keep the sequester cuts in place even though it hurts millions of Americans but will also hamstring the DOD. They are also adamant about NOT raising any revenues to help reduce the deficit. As usual, they only want the poor, disabled, and elderly to pay for any cuts.

If this isn’t resolved by December 15, we are looking at another government shutdown on January 15. And, possibly a default on the debt. The Republicans don’t seem to care if the economy collapses and take the world’s economy with it. That apparently will be Obama’s fault in their eyes. That is the ruthless part.

The stupid part is believing that the American People will see them as “crusaders” for justice! They actually believe that the majority of Americans will applaud their hostage taking again. They didn’t learn anything from the latest shutdown when their numbers plummeted! They seem to like the fact that only 9% of Americans approve of them and their tactics.

So, as feared when the deal to reopen the government was reached a couple of months ago, we are facing a holiday season full of doubt and anxiety. The Republicans don’t care either. Obstructing the President is the only thing they care about. If the country goes down the drain, so be it!

It is truly a sad time in our country’s history. We actually have a political party that is hell-bent on ruining the country. I am of the opinion that if we had the current political make-up in Washington as we do today, the Republicans would have made sure Germany won WWII just so they could blame the President! That is why I say “Tis the season for hypocrisy, ruthlessness, hatred, and stupidity! What better way to celebrate the holidays?

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The Foreign Owned Xenophobia news outlet is continuing its ranting about the “War on Christmas”. They started this fictional “war” a few years ago when they didn’t have anything else to talk about. In their case, it would be best if they never were allowed to talk at all, but that is another story.

If memory serves me correctly, it was the self-anointed prophet Bill O’Reilly who started the ranting about this fictional war. It was quickly picked up by the rest of the Xenophobic broadcasters at the network. Seems they believe there are people who want to do away with Christmas.  Unlike the rest of normal society they refuse to remember there is more than one holiday being celebrated during this time of year.

Now the half-baked half-governor of Alaska is in on the game. She actually wrote a book, or rather she had someone else write it under her name, called the War On Christmas.  No, I am not going to read this trash.  I refuse to put a single dime in her bigoted pockets.

Though I have my own spiritual beliefs, I am not what my friends would call a practicing Christian.  But, since I was raised with a religious background I do understand what Christmas is about.  So, let’s look at some facts, which the Xenophobic broadcasters never bother with, about this so-called “War on Christmas”.

A lot of people get very upset this time of year because there are people who don’t want tax money used to erect Christmas Shrines on government grounds. If you consider that the Separation of Church and State agrees with them, that isn’t really a “war”. Besides, the Xenophobic broadcasters scream against using tax monies for things like abortions, contraception, food stamps, welfare, etc. So why are they beefing because others don’t want tax money used for religious shrines? Tax money is tax money!

They complain that people use “Happy Holidays” in their greetings rather than “Merry Christmas”. As I mentioned before, Christmas is not the only religious holiday celebrated this time of year. What about Chanukah? Should shop keepers say “Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah” in the same greeting? Would that offend the Xenophobic people? Of course we could go into Kwanza and the Pagan holidays too, but I don’t want to get too buried in all of this.

They never complain about the “Commercialization” of Christmas. They don’t seem to mind that corporations have kidnapped Christmas for their monetary gain. Shouldn’t Christians be more concerned about the actual meaning of Christmas and celebrate in their own way? Don’t forget, the Puritans didn’t even celebrate Christmas!! Since Evangelicals are the modern-day Puritans, shouldn’t we just ban Christmas as a holiday? That would have made the Puritans happy.

The only “War on Christmas” is being waged by those who are suffering the most angst from their fictional war. The ones who like to preach the gospel, but don’t follow it. The ones who claim to be Christian but won’t follow the simple rules Jesus gave us, “like love they neighbor”. The ones who believe they are rich because “God” ordained it to be so. The ones who live in luxury but denounce any assistance the poor may need.

The “War” is being waged by ignorant Xenophobic people like the self-anointed prophet Bill O’Reilly who, as he wrote in his book, claims Jesus was killed over taxes. He doesn’t even know the difference between “money changers” and “tax men”. It is no wonder he doesn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas!

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. The next day, the commercialized version of Christmas begins. Throughout history, Christians have celebrated Christmas as a time of “goodwill and peace on earth”. One year, WWI was even halted during Christmas, and there was an instance where the German and French soldiers came out of the trenches, met on the battlefield and celebrated together.

The Foreign Owned Xenophobes will never stop their fictional angst.  They are too busy trying to put other religions down.  They are trying too hard to hurt the poor.  They are trying too hard to make Christianity the “Official Religion” of America.  They are trying too hard to repeal the Constitution and replace it with Christian Sharia.  They are too wrapped up in their own warped sense of their own worth.  They always seem to forget that simple phrase Jesus gave them:  “what you do unto the least of you, you do unto me”.  What better way to describe the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether or not you are Christian, this should be a joyous time of year when we recognize each individual for what he or she is. A human being who deserves respect and dignity. It is a time when we should remember that we are all brothers and sisters. That is what Christmas should be about. A time when hate is confronted and exterminated.  A time when we open our hearts to those less fortunate.  A time for actual “good will among men”. Even if for just a few days.

So, Happy Holidays to all.  Regardless of your beliefs, I hope you all have a fantastic time with family and friends during the holiday season. May you all find peace and happiness not just during the holiday season, but throughout your lives.

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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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