If you haven’t finished the last of your holiday shopping, you have permission to stop reading this immediately, grab your credit card and head to the mall. I hate to break it to you, but there’s only five days until Christmas. (Or 4 1/2 depending on what time of day you read this.)
For some Americans this Christmas season couldn’t be more joyous. I’m referring to the rich for whom things are going swimmingly. While much of America is still very much in economic doldrums, windfall corporate profits are staggering (some say obscene) and the stock market sets new record highs every other week.
Yes, there’s no recession on Wall Street. This seemingly confirms the saying, and also an excellent Ry Cooder song on YouTube, “Leave No Banker Behind.” (Cooder is a much-esteemed Santa Monica resident.)
For the middle class, or what’s left of it, things aren’t exactly quite so cheery. At least not economically. It’s sad to look back on American history from post WW II, 1945 to 1980. Labor unions and the middle class prospered.
The 1950s were known as a golden era. Public education from kindergarten through college was excellent and essentially free, or at least affordable. Gee, what happened in 1980 that began the destruction of the backbone of this country, the middle class? Oh well, no sense crying over a spilled democracy.
As for the poor this holiday season, things aren’t exactly rosy. Actually they’re reminiscent of a Dickens tale. (I say “holiday season” with trepidation as the folks at Fox might label me a Communist or an atheist or both. If you don’t say “Christmas” you’re automatically suspicious.)
Despite the fact that it’s the most ubiquitous holiday in the world, Fox is convinced there’s a “war on Christmas.” (And they’re making a fortune railing about it.) Then again, in the 1950s, Joe McCarthy did all right for himself accusing school teachers, cleaning women and other dangerous sorts of being high ranking commies conspiring to destroy America.
Unfortunately for Joe, the sane majority of Republicans in the Senate finally censured him. And then, perhaps fittingly, Joe proceeded to drink himself to death leaving only “professional hater” Ann Coulter to extol his exploits.
Speaking of Fox News and the subject of Christmas, last week anchorwoman Megyn Kelley at Fox insisted that “Santa and Jesus are both white,” and that we better just accept it. Given that Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew, it’s likely he was a person of color.
As for the legend of Santa Claus, he’s traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas, born around 280 A.D. in what would be modern-day Turkey, so he too would have been a person of color. Better just accept it, Megyn.
As for the poor, among those with the least compassion is our 113th Congress with its 9 percent nationwide approval rating. Some are labeling this the worst Congress in history, which frankly is saying something. Put it this way, in 1948, Harry Truman labeled his Congress the “know nothing, do nothing Congress.” Well, our current batch make those in ‘48 look like workaholics.
Despite recently passing a modest budget bill (the first since 2009), this Congress has been devoted to blocking anything Obama. No matter the subject, if the president’s in favor of it, they’re against it. If he bombs Syria he’s a warmonger. If he doesn’t, he’s Neville Chamberlain.
Earning the nickname, “The Guardians of Gridlock,” and the “Satans of the Shutdown,” the right wing’s lack of compassion for the poor is shameful. The same party that brought us two wars and tax cuts for the wealthy is drawing the line at food stamps and extended unemployment benefits. (Oh, but do have a merry Christmas.)
Ironically, many on the right are not only members of the GOP and lockstep Teabaggers, but they’re also Christians. And yet, surprisingly, these folks never quote Jesus’ actual words. For example, they clearly must have missed the memo from Jesus, “As you treat the least among us, so you treat me.”
Or how about, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink?” Or, and possibly bad news for the Koch brothers, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Apparently, while all of this may have been well and good for Jesus, it doesn’t cut it with the 113th Congress.
The Iraq war will wind up costing $5 trillion and our bloated defense budget means we spend more on our military than the next 13 countries combined. And yet it’s food stamps breaking the bank? Now I’m thinking the 9 percent approval rating for Congress may actually be too high.
Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.