Views on politics and current events

Monday, December 18, 2006

The War Against Christmas...BAH HUMBUG!

The things associated with the holidays such as Christmas trees, lights, decorations, gifts, has been added to. Every year the 'War Against Christmas' crowd comes forth. I get emails like the following:

Dear Family & Friends,

This is a reminder that it is time to send those Christmas cards (NOT "season's greetings" or "happy holidays" but a Christmas card!) to the ACLU. Maybe this will remind them that this country was founded on Christain (sic) principles by Christain (sic) people, and that the silent majority is speaking out regarding OUR RIGHTS. It won't take long or cost very much, and who knows? It might get someone's attention!

Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

So my random thoughts about the War On Christmas:

  • The ACLU has also defended the rights of Christians. Some examples can be read here, and the Internet has many more. While I do not agree with every case the ACLU takes on, for me it is a sign that our country is healthy that such an organization exists. The 'War Against The ACLU' is prompted by those who do not know the full story about what the ACLU stands for.
  • Protesting the ACLU in this manner is another indication that in this country, we all have the right to peacefully protest. But it seems to me that the spirit of the holiday, which some Christians feel is so in jeopardy, might be better served by sending Christmas cards to others that may not get any. Shut-ins, folks in nursing homes, hospitals. At the very least for every card sent to the ACLU there could be a card sent to someone all alone for the holidays.
  • For those who insist that this country was founded on Christian principles, I ask whose Christian principles? Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.? With countless denominations and non-denominations that profess that they are Christian, there is a multitude of differences in belief. Perhaps a slightly better case could be made that the founding fathers believed in God, but even that is tenuous. I offer no examples. Those that wish to investigate can do so through many avenues, but I have a feeling those that are promoting the myth that this country is based on Christian values won't bother.
  • There is no one actively engaged in denying a Christian their right to express their beliefs. There is always much ado made over the displaying of nativity scenes on public and government property, for example. Whether this is truly a case of separation of church and state can be argued, and has been argued on both sides. But at least where I live, most of the decorations I see in people's yards and on their houses do not reflect any religious part of the holiday. If a person is so adamant about a nativity scene being rightly displayed at city hall, I would think there would be one in their yard also. The 'right' that many seem to think is being denied them is actually their preference for what they want.
  • There is no one denying a Christian's personal right to say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. If a business makes the decision to use 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas', it is a decision made by the ones in charge. By all means a Christian can protest those decisions, but that decision has nothing to do with any perceived 'War On Christmas', and the Christian has the right to respond with a 'Merry Christmas' to whomever and wherever they want. Also, if an employee in a business is ordered to say 'Happy Holidays', is it a violation of their rights, or a condition of employment like any other company policy?
  • The term 'silent majority' is a misnomer. The evidence that Christmas is just as much a secular holiday as a religious one is obvious. Whether a person sees it as secular or religious is a matter of their own choice.
  • Some Christians lament the lack of observance for the 'reason for the season'. Of course that is their right. But I offer the Christmas season of 2005 up for an example. Christmas day fell on Sunday. Some churches, including fundamentalists where I live offered up no services that morning. It's a time for family, opening gifts, very few would attend services, the excuses were many. Christmas and Easter are the two most important Christian holidays, and it is incredible that because the 'birthday' of the one that the entire church is built on happens to fall on a Sunday, that services would be cancelled.
  • And a word for the extremists that want to eliminate any influence of religion on society: Ain't gonna happen. Religion, like it or not, in one form or another will always be a part of society. We can make sure that a certain religious belief does not become a weapon against ones that do not believe the same. To my mind, that is the purpose of the separation of church and state.
  • This is purely nit-picking, but I could not resist. Whomever wrote the email sent to me, if their objective is to promote the rights of Christians, really should learn how to spell CHRISTIAN.
So the War On Christmas is but another myth put forth by ones that wish us all to believe as they do, to toe the line. People like Bill O'Reilly, the king of the no-spin zone. Christmas has become a secular as well as a religious holiday. Whether someone wishes me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Ramadan, whatever, they are wishing me well. I am not about to scold them for not saying specifically what I wish to hear. Honestly wishing someone well is becoming a rare thing. Far be it from me to complain when it happens to me.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A New Year Letter To Congress

I await the New Year and the meeting of the new congress with great interest. Now that the playing field has been leveled somewhat, with Democrats having a slight majority, expectations from myself and the country in general are high.

In my opinion, the number one priority is Iraq. In addition to the horrendous loss of life and destruction, there has been billions and billions of dollars spent on Iraq. The recent documentary ‘Iraq For Sale’ shows where much of that money has gone. So many actions done in Iraq are not done by our military, but ‘defense contractors’. For reasons I will never understand, the outsourcing of traditionally military obligations to defense contractors are looked upon as being more efficient and less costly. The monies spent in Iraq show the fallacy of that belief.

With contractors such as Halliburton and Blackwater, to name but a few, the U.S. Government is in essence supporting mercenary forces. Not forces under direct control of civilian authority as our military, but forces that are controlled solely by business executives whose primary concern is profit. Profit motive, when applied to armed conflict does not serve the best interest of our country. Blackwater alone has seen an increase in profit of 600% from 2002. Indeed, approximately 30 miles from where I live in Mt. Carroll there is being built Blackwater North. A facility that, despite what Blackwater’s website says, is a private army military training base.

I urge the new congress to re-open the investigations of war profiteering. With so much money being squandered in Iraq, there is no way that anything can be done regarding affordable health care for all, assured funding of Social Security, education, and the other issues that need addressing. The war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation is bleeding this nation white. The revelation that defense contractors are making huge profits at the cost of human life and the welfare of citizens is absolutely criminal.

I agree with Gov. Howard Dean when he says that the recent election results are not a mandate, but a temporary giving of power. Rest assured, if the new congress does not perform any better than the preceding one, that loan of power will indeed be temporary, and short.

The issues that need addressing are varied and wide. With so many years of neo-conservative control, I fear it will take some time to correct the damage that has been done. But in the two years before another major national election, the Democrats need to show that they not only recognize what needs to be done, but put forth legislation to actually address those issues. If this is not done, it will not bode well for the Democratic Party. But more importantly, it will not bode well for the nation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Iraq For Sale...A Most Disturbing Documentary

To wage a war, whether in antiquity or the modern world, takes money. Money to equip and pay troops, for the weapons of war, and for many other things. There are those that profit politically and economically from war. The documentary Iraq For Sale lays the current war profiteers bare for all to see. The video can be found here, for viewing online or downloading.

Some of the things featured on the video:

  • Much of the actual diplomatic security in Iraq is done by outside contractors, not the U.S. military.
  • There are many military personnel that do not re-enlist because they can work for one of the contractors at a greater rate of pay. What a soldier makes in one month is surpassed by what he can make as a contracted employee in a week. There are representatives from these contracting firms that actually are in Iraq and actively 'recruit' soldiers out of the military and into their company. A contractor can make more money in a week, doing the same job, as a soldier makes in a month.
  • Civilian contract workers are routinely put into harm's way unnecessarily. There are interviews with former contract employees that desribe this in gruesome detail.
  • Contractors are in charge of doing military personnel laundry. They use small net bags that laundry is put into and washed. The fee for this service? $99 a bag. There is an interview with an Army Seargent where he says that his clothes don't get clean in the washers, so he washed his own in a sink. He was reprimanded and given an order that he was not to do this. All clothes must be washed by the contractor.
  • Most mess halls are run by contractors. These contractors keep strict schedules oftimes for meals. The insurgents have figured out when these times are, and take advantage of the long lines of soldiers to attack. When this was pointed out to the contractors and a request was made by the military to stagger the meal times to avoid this, the contractors refused, as that would be less cost-effective.
  • Contractors provide many vehicles, such as tanker trucks. The cost of these is around $75,000. When a truck needs repair, or even gets a flat tire, there are no spare parts. The vehicle is subsequently of no use, and is burned to avoid theft by the insurgents. It is then replaced by a new vehicle.
And that's just a few instances. Every American, regardless of their position on the issue of Iraq, should see this documentary. This is what much of the taxpayer's money is really going towards: The gaining of obscene economic benefit by war profiteering corporations, with the cooperation of our government, at the cost of human lives. Support the troops? Indeed!

Site Meter