I’m not letting Trump ruin my…er…Christmas.

Originally posted on December 17, 2017

pccard

Just like he did with the NFL by making it all about politics (you’re a traitor and a “very bad person” if you “take a knee” instead  of standing for the anthem), Trump has made Christmas a political issue.  Football and Christmas:  two traditions that bring people joy and bring them together regardless of ideology, have now been tainted by Trump turning them into divisive political issues, and that’s a damn shame.

What sane person cares if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  I sure don’t.  It’s trivial and dumb.  Trump’s belief that there’s a “war on Christmas” is just so stupid and wrong, because there was never a war on Christmas.   For as long as I can remember — and that’s a very long time — people have said “Happy Holidays,” a phrase that’s meant to be inclusive and respectful of people who may celebrate Hanukkah or other December holidays.   It’s not a diss on Christmas or Christians, and it’s not anything new either.   Heck, back in the ’60s, my parents used to send out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because they had a lot of Jewish friends and didn’t want to offend them.   No one was offended.  It just wasn’t an issue for anyone.

Trump loves to rail on about political correctness, but he’s a hypocrite because he’s the one getting all bent out of shape about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or not.

Even worse,  now he’s ruined Christmas for a lot of folks by making it political, when it should be anything but.   I’ve heard so many people say they’re afraid to say “Happy Holidays” now because they’re afraid they’ll be perceived by Trump supporters as being rebellious or subversive.  Other people have said they’re afraid to say “Merry Christmas” because they might be mistaken for Trump supporters.

I’m not letting that apricot menace ruin my Christmas.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone!

*****

Further reading:

10 Reasons Why the “War on Christmas” is Bogus 

Football and Christmas: How Trump is Destroying Two American Traditions

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Sorry, Trump supporter, I can’t be your friend anymore.

bobandsally

Cartoon Credit: Unknown.

 

A few days ago, I unfriended an old Facebook friend because I couldn’t handle her constant pro-Trump memes and posts anymore.  Later, she asked me why I unfriended her.  I decided to be honest.  She replied that she thought I was being silly for unfriending people over something as shallow as politics.

But she missed the point.   I didn’t unfriend her because I didn’t agree with her politics.  Because it’s not about mere politics.  It’s not about Democrat vs. Republican.   It’s not about liberal vs. conservative.   It’s not about right vs. left.

It’s about good vs. evil.

It’s about whether you’re on the side of the bullies and sociopaths and applaud their scorched earth terrorist tactics vs.  being a decent fucking human being.  It’s about whether you’re on the side of a wealthy group of selfish criminals vs.  the average Joes and Janes just trying to get by.

So, if you still support the dictator sitting in the White House, you are supporting evil, and I can no longer be your friend.

I can handle mere differences of ideology, and in normal times, I have.   I used to have friends who were George W. Bush or Reagan supporters, though I never voted for either of them.  I could respect your differing opinion and agree to disagree with you, without it affecting our friendship, because I still knew that you were a good and decent person.

But if you still support Trump,  I’m not at all sure you’re a good and decent person, and you’re certainly not anyone I’d call a friend.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who separates children from their parents, many of whose parents were applying for asylum legally.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who puts young children in cages.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who wants to take away my healthcare.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who threatens to steal away the social security I’ve been paying into since 1976, leaving me penniless in my final years.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who threatens to steal away the Medicare I’ve been paying into since 1976, leaving me without healthcare in my final years, possibly to die penniless and in great pain.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who’s packing the courts with patriarchal  hardline conservatives who are waging war on women’s reproductive rights, not only threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also outlawing certain forms of birth control. Their decisions will affect my daughter, who has medical issues that would make pregnancy very high risk and possibly dangerous for her.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who wants to bring back pre-existing conditions, making it impossible for my daughter, who has several medical conditions, to access healthcare — or for me to access healthcare, for that matter.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who is appointing hard-right judges who want to outlaw gay marriage and make gay people undergo conversion therapy or return to the closet.   That affects my son, who will no longer be free to live in a way that makes him happy or love the person he chooses.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who bullies the disabled.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who calls people who disagree with him unflattering names.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who has shown zero respect for women or POC.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who constantly gaslights his own people.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who thumbs his nose at the rule of law every single day.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a pathological liar.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a malignant narcissist who only cares about his own image and his own wealth — at the expense of the American people.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who admires the most brutal and inhumane despots and dictators of our time and aspires to be just like them.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who emboldens bullying  (by riling up his base at his rallies and inciting violence toward groups of people he dislikes)

A friend of mine doesn’t support a fascist who is destroying democracy and systematically shredding our 242 year old Constitution and Bill of Rights into so much hamster bedding.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who causes my PTSD to be triggered every freaking day.

A friend of mine doesn’t aid and abet evil, and that’s what you’re doing when you support Trump.

So, Trump supporter, those are just some of the reasons why we can’t be friends.

Sorry but that’s just how it has to be.

I’ll end this rant with the same words you like to spit at us “libtards” and “snowflakes” —

Get over it.

The dumbing down of American candy.

candy_store

American commercial candy is bad, and in recent years it’s gotten a lot worse.   Maybe my standards are too high — I’ve had European chocolate, gourmet chocolate made by independent candymakers, and marzipan, which is popular in many parts of Europe but just never caught on with American tastebuds (American cakemakers, for example, seem to stick with horrible, overly sweet, rubbery fondant as a cake covering instead, when marzipan tastes a lot better and works just as well as a pliable covering).

So go ahead, feel free to call me a coastal elite or a food snob, but when it comes to candy, I really think American candy companies target the lowest common denominator and as a result, most of it is terrible, barely even edible.  This is comparable to so many other things in America, like our shallow infotainment reality-show “documentaries” (compare ours to BBC’s documentaries, which actually educate and still entertain), our big-special-effects-but-no-substance “blockbuster” movies that entertain but have no real meat or meaning, and are populated with comic book cardboard characters without real depth.

American candy years ago used to be better.  At least it was made with real sugar and other real ingredients, and the variety of types of candy bars was better.   The strictly-for-kids candy (Garbage Pail Kids, Nerds, Runts, gummy worms, and the like) that is usually kept on the bottom shelf of most convenience stores, has always been terrible, but that’s okay since it isn’t marketed to adults.  Kids love that shit.  I did too.  Hell, I still do when it comes to gummy bears and SweetTarts.   I even like some of that cheap bagged candy that hangs from hooks and is sold at 2 for $1.00 or whatever.  The lemon drops are great and I have a soft spot for circus peanuts, spice drops, and orange slices.   What I like about it is it never pretends to be anything other than what it is — cheap candy marketed to kids and sometimes old people who feel nostalgic for the penny candy of their youth (Starlight candies and butterscotch disks are good examples of the latter) — and it’s priced accordingly.

No, here I’m talking about mass marketed brand-name candy that’s usually covered in chocolate (most always milk chocolate), that gets displayed on the eye-level store shelves where you can’t miss it.  Seriously, 90% of that candy is inedible.  Here’s my list of gripes.

Stale Reeses Hell.

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Stale vs. Fresh Reeses.

Now I love me some Reeses Peanut Butter Cups — as long as they are fresh.   When fresh, they’re pure ambrosia.  I could eat a whole case of them.   But more often than not, when you tear open the wrapper of your Reeses, you find a dried up hockey puck that looks grainy and splotchy and has that greyish-white cast to it (I found out that stuff isn’t mold or anything bad, it just means the fat/cocoa butter has separated from the sugar and the sugar has risen to the top, but it still makes the cup taste terrible).  If you bite into it when it’s like that, the peanut butter is like sand and has absolutely no flavor.   I’ve wound up throwing the cup away when it’s like that because they taste so gross.

Reading the expiration dates doesn’t work because they are indecipherable and in some sort of code instead of actual dates we can understand.  So you take your chances.   Maybe they need to use a cellophane wrapper so you can see the actual cup through it before you waste your money on something you may or may not be able to eat.

Some people who have noticed this problem think Reeses changed its formula to save money, but I actually think it’s a storage issue, since occasionally you do get a fresh Reeses and they taste as delicious as the ones I had as a kid.   I think when the temperature gets too hot, they partially melt, leaching the cup of some of the peanut oil, which leaks out and leaves the peanut butter filling sandlike.

Here’s an open letter from a customer asking H.B. Reese what the hell happened to their cups that makes most of them taste like sand.

Butterfinger vs. Reeses Crispy Bar vs. Fifth Avenue/Clark Bar.

butterfinger_5thave

Fifth Avenue (on the left) wins, hands down.  Apparently, most Americans prefer the neon-orange sickly-sweet Butterfinger (on the right).

Way back in the day, Clark bars were a thing.  So were Fifth Avenue bars, which were my absolute favorite for many years.   I always loved the Fifth Avenue for its thick rich (real) chocolate coating which enrobed a peanuty, vaguely molasses-flavored honeycomb-type of candy filling that made a satisfying snap when you bit into it.  It was vaguely salty and not too sweet.   Eating one was pure heaven.   Clark bars were good too, though not in the same ballpark as Fifth Avenue.  They lacked that molasses taste and the chocolate coating was thinner.

Now I can’t find them.  I’ve looked everywhere to find one, and all I can find is  Butterfinger bars, which are filled with a sickeningly sweet hard-candy filling that tastes like dried up peanut butter corn syrup with added neon orange color.  There is no molasses flavor whatsoever.   The chocolatey coating tastes waxy.  Reeses Crispy Crunchy bars are almost as bad, saved from their overwhelming sweetness by an overly-generous covering of ground peanuts.  The chocolate coating is okay.  I’m not a big fan.  Bring back Fifth Avenue!

The American obsession with gooey fillings.

caramel_neugat

I’m not a big fan of caramel.   It tastes good in cakes (and caramel frosting is to die for), but it’s ubiquitous in American candy and is way too sweet.   To make matters worse, the “caramel” in commercial American candy bars just isn’t very good.  It taste fake and is way too chewy and nougaty.   Real caramel should be thinner and more viscous, like the caramel in higher end chocolates.   I’m not a fan of gooey, chewy fillings in general, whether it’s caramel, nougat, or (ugh) marshmallow.   I was never a big fan of Snickers, which are the most popular American candy, I think (maybe Reeses has beat them now).   I never understood their appeal.  They’re too gooey, too sweet, the chocolate coating is bland, and I’m not a big fan of the nuts either.

Cadbury Creme Eggs? Gross.

egg

Years ago, when they were introduced here in America, I thought I might like the Cadbury Creme Egg, because Cadbury is an English candy and being the Eurocandy snob that I am, I thought it might taste better than American chocolate, but alas, I was wrong.   Cadbury, in my opinion, is terrible — too sweet, too milky, and not chocolaty enough.  Not that Hershey’s is any better  (at least Cadbury avoids that sour-milk aftertaste).   They are both bad in different ways.  And the fondant filling in the egg is just plain gross.  It looks disgusting, just like raw egg, and it’s sweeter than eating a bowl of sugar cubes covered in maple syrup.  After eating half of one of those things, I threw it out and never ate another.

Marshmallow Peeps?  No, thanks.

peepsmain

Overrated.  I have nothing more to say about these.   They’re probably considered “kids’ candy” but are usually sold with the holiday candy and other stuff marketed to the grownups, so I’m including them here.    I suppose they’d look cute as a decoration on cakes or something.

Mounds vs. Almond Joy.

mounds_almondjoy

I never felt like a nut.

Mounds are actually good.  Not as good as Bounty bars, a British brand which was discontinued here back in the ’90s, but still good.  Their real dark chocolate coating is smooth and intense, and the coconut filling is sweet but not too sweet, moist but not too moist.

Spare me the Almond Joys though.  Two sad, runtlike almonds pressed on top of milk chocolate so bland it tastes like Nesquick.  Also, coconut filling does NOT go with milk chocolate.  Such a sweet filling needs the contrast of the less sugary dark chocolate.

 

The American obsession with Pretzel fillings.

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Why?

Pretzels don’t belong inside a chocolate bar.  I don’t like pretzels much to begin with — it’s basically stale bread.   I do not want pieces of stale bread in my candy bar or as a filling in my M&Ms (what the HELL were they thinking?)  But it seems like every new candy bar made has pretzels in it.  It’s the candy version of Pumpkin Spice!   Hell, there are probably Pumpkin Spice flavored Pretzel candies.  Please make both these awful trends stop.

Milk or dark chocolate? 

milk-chocolate-vs-dark-chocolate-rivalry-18082

Milk chocolate can be good if it’s made well (usually European though Dove Milk is good too), but for the most part, American milk chocolate is bland, too sweet, and often grainy.   Dark chocolate is generally much better, and is finally gaining some traction here due to its health benefits so it’s being used more often in commercial candy, but milk chocolate still dominates.

I do like the chocolate bars you can find in the high-end candy section of the grocery store (usually found in the baking isle) such as Ghirardelli and I do love the sea-salt/dark chocolate trend.    I’m still a sucker for plain M&Ms (without the weird fillings), York Peppermint Patties, Mounds, dark chocolate Kit Kat bars, and fresh Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.  But on the whole, American commercial candy is just not very good, and seems as dumbed down and cheaply made as so many other things in America.

Why I don’t like e-cards.

ecard-vs-paper-card

Today a relative of mine sent me an e-Christmas card.    While I appreciate the thought (thank you — you know who you are, if you’re reading), e-cards seem like a cheap and lazy substitute the the real thing: an old fashioned, environmentally-unfriendly, paper or cardboard actual pretty card in an envelope with an actual written greeting inside.

When they were a new thing back in the ’90s, e-cards seemed uber-cool and cutting edge.   Now, not so much.   Today, e-cards are about as cutting edge as AOL or Netscape Navigator (remember those?)

When I receive an e-card (unless it’s from a disabled or ill person who can’t get to the store to buy a card or the post office to mail it), this is what it tells me about you:

It tells me you don’t think enough of me to take the time to purchase an actual card or take the time to mail it at the post office.   It also tells me you are either too lazy or cheap to make the effort to drive to the store or post office or spend the $2.00 or $3.00 (or a lot less than that, if they are from a box) to buy a card or the 49 cents to mail the card.  But thanks for at least remembering I exist.

Okay, e-cards do save trees.  So I guess they’re better for the environment and if you’re an tree-hugging environmentalist, an e-card makes sense.   That’s the only advantage I can see to them (besides not having to spend a dime or leave your house).

Cards aren’t a big deal, of course.  They aren’t the same as gifts.   We send cards to people we aren’t really that close to — casual friends, distant relatives, acquaintances, business associates, co-workers, or neighbors we don’t talk to that much.   But a card is still nice to get — they are pretty, tangible things that you can actually hold in your hand.   Many people use them as holiday decorations — strung from a garland or propped on a table with other cards, or collected in a pretty basket.   It’s always nice to look inside your mailbox and see a red or green envelope sitting there, and then slowly open it to pull out a pretty paper greeting card, perhaps even with a handwritten note from the sender.

E-cards don’t provide that experience.  They’re not much fun to “open,” you can’t display them, and you are also usually required to send a “thank you” response card to let the other person know you received it.    They are basically virtual cards — like virtual reality, they aren’t the real thing.  They are a fascimile of a real card.

When e-cards were new, I used to send them, because, you know, novelty (and well, laziness).  But within a year or two the newness wore off and I was back to snail-mailing old fashioned paper cards, because they are just so much nicer.   I wish people who sent e-cards would realize that most people would appreciate an actual paper card in an envelope to an e-card.   Maybe I’m just being overly petty, since really, it’s the thought that counts anyway.

Here’s a pie chart that proves most people prefer real cards to e-cards.

E-Cards-v-Real-Cards

 

I’m not letting Trump ruin my, er, Christmas.

pccard

Just like he did with the NFL by making it all about politics (you’re a traitor and a “very bad person” if you “take a knee” instead  of standing for the anthem), Trump has made Christmas a political issue.  Football and Christmas:  two traditions that bring people joy and bring them together regardless of ideology, have now been tainted by Trump turning them into divisive political issues, and that’s a damn shame.

What sane person cares if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  I sure don’t.  It’s trivial and dumb.  Trump’s belief that there’s a “war on Christmas” is just so stupid and wrong, because there was never a war on Christmas.   For as long as I can remember — and that’s a very long time — people have said “Happy Holidays,” a phrase that’s meant to be inclusive and respectful of people who may celebrate Hanukkah or other December holidays.   It’s not a diss on Christmas or Christians, and it’s not anything new either.   Heck, back in the ’60s, my parents used to send out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because they had a lot of Jewish friends and didn’t want to offend them.   No one was offended.  It just wasn’t an issue for anyone.

Trump loves to rail on about political correctness, but he’s a hypocrite because he’s the one getting all bent out of shape about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or not.

Even worse,  now he’s ruined Christmas for a lot of folks by making it political, when it should be anything but.   I’ve heard so many people say they’re afraid to say “Happy Holidays” now because they’re afraid they’ll be perceived by Trump supporters as being rebellious or subversive.  Other people have said they’re afraid to say “Merry Christmas” because they might be mistaken for Trump supporters.

I’m not letting that apricot menace ruin my Christmas.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone!

*****

Further reading:

10 Reasons Why Trump’s War on Christmas is Bogus 

 

My problem with pens.

Originally posted on April 17, 2017

broken_pens

I have a house full of old, nonworking pens.  It’s not because I want them.   Keeping up with pens and throwing away old ones is one thing I never seem to bother keeping up with.    Whenever I need a pen, I can never, EVER find a working one.  I have dozens of old markers that no longer have any ink in them, tens of cheap ballpoints I got for free somewhere with no ink in them and non-working clickers; I even have dried up pen refills with no actual pen to cover them.  I have Sharpies with their nubs worn down to nothing.  They all sit forlornly in old coffee mugs around the house.

People can’t understand why I can’t find a working pen when I need one.  They look around at the mugs of pens in every room and on every available surface, and they also know I have drawers full of pens (as well as old phone chargers, paper clips, rubber bands, broken push pins, paid bills from 2003, business cards for businesses I’ll never use or have never heard of, a broken lighter with Y2K joke on it [no joke], and all the other detritus most of us wind up gathering somehow without any effort at all).   I almost always wind up having to borrow their pen — if they’re carrying one — and I can see them just shaking their heads in bemused amazement.

I have the same problem with pencils.  I have at least a hundred pencils — all with broken points or sharpened down to an inch or so (and still sporting broken points) — and not one sharpener.   So the pencils I own are utterly useless.   Maybe I should install a sharpener on the wall, like the one we kept on the basement stairs while I was growing up (I’ll never know why it was installed on the wall of the dark basement stairs, as if it was something to be embarrassed about).

pencilstub

At least with the Internet, I rarely need a pen.  But sometimes I do.  There’s still the occasional form I need to fill out, or the birthday card I need to sign (I hate e-cards).  Sometimes I have to leave post-it notes to myself on the bathroom mirror that say things like:  BUY A PACK OF PENS TODAY!  Hah.  I never learn.   I never go out and buy a pack of pens for these moments.  The one time recently that I did buy a pack, I somehow lost all those pens.  But the old, dried up, broken ones stuck around like unwelcome guests.

And they MULTIPLY.  You know that portal that’s hidden in the back of your washer that sucks your socks into an alternate universe?    Well, I think there’s another portal — a reverse wormhole — from that same universe that spews broken old pens into ours.  Maybe it somehow transforms our socks into pens.  You never know.

Why don’t I just throw away all those broken and nonworking pens and pencils?  Honestly, I don’t know why.    It’s not sentimentality,  and it’s not because “maybe one day I will use them in a multi-media project where I can glue them to a board with all the other useless junk in my drawers and call it art.”  ” No, I think the reason I don’t weed out all the old pens and pencils is pure laziness.   The idea of going through all those mugs and drawers full of broken writing implements and testing them isn’t something I want to spend my day doing.

So the pens stay, and I continue to search in vain for a working pen when I need one.

Anyone want some of my old broken pens?

#044–Why don’t they call white male mass shooters “terrorists”?

Please leave comments under the original post.

The Chatty Introvert

(Photo Credit: nbcnews.com)

I am so sick of this crap.

I’m sick of these killings.

I’m sick of these “woe is me” stories of a guy who can’t hack it and says “screw the world, I’m taking you all down with me.”

I’m tired of white men (NOT BOYS, DAMMIT!) who haven’t figured out that sitting on your ass and being a white male isn’t going to get you very far anymore, be it job related or dating related.

And I’m really sick of the media and government not calling it like it is. I’m tired of them not calling these white male shooters “terrorists.”

I think its a simple formula: if your object is to maim or kill complete strangers that mean nothing to you and have never personally wronged you, because of some supposed belief you hold (whether nurtured, cultural, religious, etc.) and you find a way to…

View original post 991 more words

10 reasons why the ‘war on Christmas’ is bogus.

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Why am I bringing this up in July?

Because HE did.

This infuriating article appeared in today’s Huffington Post:

Trump Launches the War on Christmas in July

Trump has railed on about the non-existent “war on Christmas” for the past several years, riling up his base of zealous far right religious supporters.   You may remember the drama over the Starbucks coffee cups two years ago.  Plastic throwaway takeout cups failing to have Christmas decorations printed on them  (Heaven help us!  They’re SOLID COLORED!) is apparently a more pressing issue than the Russia investigation, developing problems with North Korea, making sure every American has affordable healthcare, and keeping the planet from turning into Venus 2.0.

But Trump’s issue with people allegedly waging a war on Christmas is totally bogus and here are ten reasons why.

1.  Trump is not a Christian, so a war on Christmas should be of no concern to him.

I’m not here to judge the state of another person’s soul, but it’s pretty clear to me and to many others that if Trump was truly a Christian, it would show in his actions and general behavior toward others.    He is still a lying, gaslighting, cowardly, projecting, wrathful, spiteful, egotistic, name-calling, bullying, blame-shifting malignant narcissist who has surrounded himself with a cabinet of greedy sociopaths, and that’s about as far away from Jesus as you can get.   He shows no empathy and seems to think he’s above the law.  He denies reality.   If Trump was really a Christian, he would be repenting over his past actions both in business and in his personal life.  He has shown no remorse and in fact bragged that he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness.   He doesn’t seem at all sorry about anything he’s ever done and I have never heard him take any responsibility for anything, ever.  I have never heard him say he’s sorry or admit when he’s been wrong.

It makes no difference whether or not Trump attends church or SAYS he’s a Christian or allows a group of evangelicals to pray over him.    Anyone could do those things; it’s all window dressing intended to impress his religious base and please his wealthy Christian financial backers.   “By their fruits you shall know them,”  said Jesus in Matthew 7: 15-20, and so far, Trump has produced nothing but bad fruit.  A Christian doesn’t brag about grabbing women by the pussy or make sexual references about his own daughter, not to mention the many things he is doing to endanger people’s lives and happiness, and the health of the planet itself.   So no, from everything I can tell, Trump is not a Christian and I feel perfectly justified in saying so.   It doesn’t matter that I can’t see the state of his soul, but I can see and hear from his deeds and words that there is no Christ in his heart.  So I don’t want to hear Trump whine about a fictional war on Christmas, since from everything I can see, he’s a Christian in name only, if even that.

2. Christmas is based on a pagan feast.  Early Christians did not celebrate Christmas.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say we must celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  According to Google.com,

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

History.com explains why December 25th was selected:

Was Jesus really born on December 25 in the first place? Probably not. The Bible doesn’t mention his exact birthday, and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues. For instance, the presence of shepherds and their sheep suggest a spring birth. When church officials settled on December 25 at the end of the third century, they likely wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). That way, it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion

The celebration of Christmas spread throughout the Western world over the next several centuries, but many Christians continued to view Epiphany and Easter as more important. Some, including the Puritans of colonial New England, even banned its observance because they viewed its traditions—the offering of gifts and decorating trees, for example—as linked to paganism. In the early days of the United States, celebrating Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.

3. Trump isn’t whining about the secular commercialism of Christmas.

Christmas in America has become much more about gift giving (and big business raking in lots of money every year) than it is about the birth of Jesus.   What do snowflakes on coffee cups, Christmas wreaths, coniferous trees, prettily wrapped gifts, Black Friday, and sparkly cards that say “Merry Christmas” have to do with actual Christianity?  Nothing, that’s what.  In fact, these traditions are engaged in by many Jews, atheists, and people of religions other than Christianity.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with  these things and they can be a lot of fun, but let’s not pretend these things are remotely religious because they aren’t.    Christmas, especially in America, is much more about celebrating capitalism (and the togetherness of family and friends) than it is to any Biblical event.     And, while the gift giving, decorations, and activities can be a lot of fun, they can also cause a lot of stress, especially for people who lack the money to buy gifts or don’t have close relationships with family or friends.   There’s a reason why so many people become so depressed during the holiday season.   But I don’t see Trump complaining about how commercialized Christmas has become; I only see him whining about people and groups who refuse to embrace its commercialism.

4. People have been saying “Happy Holidays” for DECADES.  Why is it suddenly an issue?

Trump acts like people saying “Happy Holidays” is a new development, but it’s actually very old.    I remember during the 1960s and 70s,  my parents always sent out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because so many of the people they knew were Jewish.  No one took offense.   It wasn’t an issue for anyone, Christian or not.    I even remember some of the old Christmas songs said “Happy Holidays.”   Again, never an issue.    I’m sure the trend is a lot older even than I am.   Here’s a very old Christmas card, I’m not sure what year, but it looks to date from the early 20th century or even the late 19th:

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5. It’s even harder to enjoy Christmas now that it’s become political. 

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the financial and emotional stresses of the Christmas season, but now we have to worry that we might offend someone by using the wrong holiday Christmas seasonal? greeting.   Maybe it’s just better to say nothing at all and not give out cards either because they also might offend somebody.    It sucks we can’t even enjoy the holidays anymore without it being a potential politically divisive issue.  Again, it was never like this before.  It’s been MADE a political issue.   #6 may be the reason why.

6. Trump is actually waging a war on non-Christians.

Okay, I can’t prove it, but it seems to me that Trump’s phony ‘war on Christmas’ is intended to anger his far right Christian base, who are not likely to think too critically and just take it on faith that whatever Trump says is the truth.  So if he says there’s a war on Christmas, then by God, there’s a war on Christmas and on Christianity itself.   This is intentional, as Trump and his fundamentalist/dominionist Christian backers and cabinet members have every intention of turning America into a theocracy, instead of a nation that has always prided itself on religious freedom and diversity.    To some of these extreme right-wing Christians, “religious freedom” means the freedom to force their beliefs on others, not the freedom to worship (or not worship) the way you choose.

According to today’s HuffPo,  at the “Celebrate Freedom” event at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night, Trump said,

“I remind you that we’re going to start staying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

Is he actually attempting to legislate the words we use?   It sure seems like it from his choice of words.   The intent here is to bring us farther away from democracy than we already are and closer to theocratic rule.    A free country does not tell people what they can and cannot say, at Christmas or at any other time or for any other reason.

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7. Would Jesus actually care if people said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

I highly doubt it.  I doubt Jesus was narcissistic enough to insist we use his name when celebrating his non-birthday.  As mentioned before, nowhere in the Bible are we told we must celebrate Christmas or use a particular greeting.  In fact, I bet Jesus would be ashamed of us for attaching his name to a holiday that has become mostly secular and fun at best, and a crass celebration of greed and materialism at worst.    Again, Christmas wasn’t celebrated by anyone until the 300’s when a Pope decided it was a holy day.

8.  The “war on Christmas” is most likely a distraction from the real issues. 

Trump seems to like to stir up drama whenever the heat is on and he’s being criticized for much more serious issues.   This is classic Cluster B behavior and Trump displays it every. single. day.   In deflecting attention from himself and pointing fingers at others (primarily the media, but individuals too), he is really trying to take the light of truth off his own shady, amoral, and possibly illegal activities.

9.  It’s things like this that make people despise Christians.

When Christians (or any other group) whine incessantly about how persecuted they are (when they really aren’t) and fixate on minor issues (like the fictional war on Christmas) they believe prove they are being persecuted, it makes people hate them, and for good reason.   As a Christian myself, I’m embarrassed to be associated with phony “Christians” like Trump who try to restrict our freedoms and obsess over trivia in their efforts to alienate people with different beliefs and divide a nation.

10. He’s yapping about this in JULY.

Yes, fellow Americans, Trump is whining about his bogus war on Christmas the day before we celebrate America’s independence.   Does that historical event mean nothing to him?   It’s an insult to all those who have fought and died for our country.   But what else can we expect from a man who does nothing but insult others?

It’s time to stop blaming Trump supporters.

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Credit: Chicago Tribune

I consider myself progressive politically, but I have a bone to pick with some people on the left.    Unlike the modern GOP and their wealthy backers,  we’re supposed to care about the “little people” — the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise vulnerable.   Understandably, we are angered by the millions of working class red state voters who will be hurt by Trump’s draconian policies and cruel budget but voted for him anyway, because we will all suffer as a result of their ignorance too.      Those of us who aren’t swayed by Fox News and right-wing radio and are able to think critically have a hard time understanding why so many poor and working class whites would vote against their own interests and doggedly continue to support a man who is dead set on taking away the little they have.

I understand the anger.   It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around their ignorance — maybe even their willful ignorance.  But I’m seeing so many comments lately from people who consider themselves progressive, yet who not only blame working class Trump voters for the mess we’re in, but who seem to take pleasure in the prospect of seeing them suffer as a result of their folly.   They say things like, “They deserve to lose their healthcare for voting for a monster,” or “let them taste their own medicine,” or “I’ll laugh in their faces when they lose their healthcare and food stamps.”

It’s natural to be angry and even feel a bit of schadenfreude (even though we’re being hit too), but this attitude seems as heartless as the cruel budget and healthcare bill the GOP has unleashed.    How far a leap is it from “she made her bed, now she should lie in it” to the far-right refrain “if she had made better life choices, she wouldn’t be poor, sick, etc.”    Not much, if you ask me.

The country is deeply divided.  Things that were unthinkable in the past have become our new normal.   Mudslinging, namecalling, and even violence abounds on all sides.  This isn’t a left vs. right, GOP vs. Democrat issue.  It’s an all out war and it’s not normal.  Trump supporters hate “libruls” as much as they hate Muslim immigrants and Black Lives Matter — maybe more so.   They are encouraged at Trump rallies to physically attack and intimidate those who oppose them.   Reporters, in particular, are fair game.   But it’s not just on the Republican side we are seeing aggression and hatred.   Democrats who voted for Hillary hate hardcore Bernie supporters (“Berniebots”) who they blame for helping Trump win by refusing to vote for Hillary.   In turn, Hillary-hating Bernie supporters (in some cases they hate her even more than they hate Trump) blame the neoliberal “corporate shills” of the DNC who foisted such a terrible candidate on the nation.  Some even voted for Trump as a vote against Hillary.    I have seen them talk about violent revolution, even homegrown militias to overthrow the government.   Both the far left and traditional liberal Democrats blame working class Trump voters for what’s coming to them, even reveling in the prospect of seeing them suffer or even die when it happens.

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This isn’t an uncommon sentiment on the left.

Like the far right who blame the poor and immigrants for all the nation’s ills, when it’s really social Darwinist policies that target the vulnerable and reward the super-wealthy that are to blame (and create even more poverty in doing so),  some people on the left are just as guilty of blaming the victim.   I’m annoyed and tired of far left ideologues who say, “they made their bed, let them lie in it.”   No one deserves to suffer because they made a mistake — even if they still stick by their mistake.

Granted, some Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, intolerant, full of hate, and admire authoritarian leaders and a “strongman” approach to governing.  Some of them really are terrible people.   But not all of them are.  Most are just ignorant.  They’re not bad people and might even be kind and caring toward others in their daily lives, but they know no better.  Their minds can’t be changed because they have been lied to all their lives and their only point of reference is Fox News and whatever their churches and equally uninformed neighbors and families tell them.  Many lack the education and critical thinking skills to realize they have been misled and lied to.

In Trump, working class red state voters saw an anti-establishment,  colorful character who refused to be politically correct and who shared their their anger at the “liberal corporate elite” — well heeled granola crunching opera-attending types who drive foreign SUVs and seem to care more about Mexicans, Muslims, and blacks more than they care about them, and who look down their noses at their way of life and lack of education.     They heard Trump’s promises of  “healthcare for everybody” and “the Mexicans will pay for the wall” and “we are going to eradicate terror once and for all” and saw someone who would make their lives safer and more prosperous.  Finally, someone who seemed to care more about the white working class (and appealed to their religiosity even though Trump himself doesn’t seem to care much about God) than about immigrants, abortion rights,  and urban gays.

Trump is a swindler and a conman who promised them an easier life and assured them they would not be forgotten.  He played right into their fear and paranoia, and their anger at the corporate elite, who they understandably saw as the enemy.   Without the critical thinking skills or education to know better, how were they supposed to know they were being lied to?  It’s human nature to resolve cognitive dissonance by making excuses for an abuser who blatantly lies to you and is now targeting you.    It’s easier to say, “he doesn’t really mean it” or blame the “fake news” than to say “I was wrong,” especially when you were never trained to think critically about anything or were raised in a subculture that encourages or even celebrates authoritarianism.   Call it willful ignorance if you want, but it’s still ignorance.   As Jesus said in Luke 23: 34, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

It’s not fair to place all the blame on the shoulders of ignorant Trump supporters because there were other factors at play in his winning the election.  These voters are a minority of Americans.   Trump did not win the popular vote, just the electoral college vote, but that’s the one that determines the outcome of our national elections.    We had the same problem in the 2000 election of George W. Bush, who also did not win the popular vote.    The electoral college is obsolete, even destructive, and needs to go.   Are Trump supporters to blame for an outdated and unfair system of counting votes?  No, they are not.

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Another factor — and it’s the one most in the news right now — is Russia’s infiltration into the election.   The far right media loves to target all the stories about Russian interference as fake news,  but there’s just too much evidence for anyone with a working brain to not see that Russia had a lot to do with why Trump won.   Are Trump supporters to blame for Russian interference?  No, of course they aren’t.

There’s also the propaganda pushed by right wing media outlets like Fox News.   People who don’t have much money who pay for cable usually will pick the most basic cable package.   Unfortunately, these bare bones packages often don’t include progressive or even centrist news channels.   So the only news they have access to, besides the local news (which is often conservative) is Fox News, which is included in every basic cable package.   Fox’s selling point is “fair and balanced” and Fox News watchers see (now fallen) pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as one of them.    Both O’Reilly and Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh from right wing radio) have a blue collar image and seem able to relate to their concerns and lifestyles better than a Rhodes scholar like Rachel Maddow ever could.    Is it working class Trump supporters’ fault that they are never exposed to the facts or more progressive viewpoints?  Is it their fault the left makes no effort to relate to their concerns, and seems to care more about immigrants and people of color (who they see as the enemy) more than them?    Is it their fault that well to do liberals very often blame them for their lot and look down on them as much or even more than Republicans do?  No, it isn’t.

Finally, there are the churches, especially the evangelical or fundamentalist variety so common in red states, especially the South. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which is notorious for mixing far right politics into religion, goes as far as warning their parishioners they will displease God if they do not support Trump.   These churches use talking points such as abortion or homosexuality, knowing their followers will vote based on these issues, regardless of where the candidate stands on other issues.  Because they cannot think critically or see the bigger picture, they can’t see that the “pro-life” candidate may actually not be pro-life at all, just pro-birth.   People who can think critically can see how out of touch and easily swayed they are, but to a less-educated person who has been programmed all their lives to believe whatever their pastor tells them and is accustomed to appeals to their primitive emotions rather than their intellect, can we really blame them for supporting he candidate their pastor tells them is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom?”  Is it their fault they have been brainwashed into believing if they vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, they will make God mad and go to hell?   Again, no, it really isn’t.

It’s time to stop blaming poor and working class Trump supporters and start placing the blame on the real problem:  our broken political system where neither of the major parties addresses the needs and concerns of the average American and thus led to the rise of someone like Trump.

America is not a Christian nation.

I expect this post will make some people angry, but I don’t care.   I don’t care how much the modern GOP goes on about God and how America is a “Christian” nation. Trump and no one in his inner circle (or maybe his entire administration) are Christians.  I don’t care how often they say they go to church or quote from the Bible.  All that’s nothing but a sales pitch meant to deceive.  If they actually believe they are Christians, then they are the ones who are deceived.

Piety does not equal godliness.  As a friend of mine put it, if Satan were to start a religion, he wouldn’t use pentagrams and blood sacrifice. No, that would be too obvious. He would wrap his dark agenda that preaches the values of greed, narcissism, and selfishness in a shell of legalistic, punishing far-right “christianity.” He would use a few superficial selling points (like abortion, nationalism, and homosexuality)  to lure the gullible masses (and hijack the churches, which has been going on for decades). He would twist around the language so that love means something closer to hate, justice means something closer to torture, and where all truths are fake news.  Lies become alternative facts, rights become entitlements, and compassion becomes the “encouragement of dependency.”  He would pretend to be saving your life while he’s really sinking a knife in your back.    He would promise to uphold a nation’s constitution and “make it great again” while he’s actually trying to destroy its very fabric.  He would wave a cross while angrily preaching a doctrine that promotes chaos, confusion, terror, despair, suffering, hatred, violence, marginalization, and exclusion — the opposite of anything Jesus taught.  He would show no mercy or forgiveness should you falter or become weak under his regime.  He would punish and marginalize the most vulnerable just for being vulnerable.  He would disrespect the earth and have no compunctions about destroying it for his own immediate gratification.   He would co-opt and transform the most popular religion in the land and turn it into a weapon intended to terrorize, marginalize, and destroy souls.

The modern GOP that has hijacked our country (and is almost certainly in collusion with Russia) are doing exactly all these things — while giving God lip service.   They lie about everything, even when they don’t need to lie. Then they lie even more to cover up the lies.    Who was the father of lies?   You got it — that’s their real god.   What we have now is not a proper government OR a religion — it’s a cult.  Trump is the cult’s leader.    His most ardent supporters — most who call themselves Christians — are practicing a form of idolatry.   To them, Trump is as infallible as God.   I remember when he said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and they would still stand behind him.   It was probably the only true thing he ever said.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness.” — Exodus 20:16
“By their fruits, ye shall know them.” – Matt. 7-16
“At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”–Matt. 24:10-12