Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Funnies: The Fiscal Cliff, Obama, Republicans

Jay Leno: "Today in Washington, President Obama met with leaders of the American Indian tribes and they honored the president by giving him his own Indian name: 'Running Deficit.'"

"According to a new study at UCLA, Latinos live longer than non-Latinos. More bad news for Republicans."

"There was one really awkward moment with the American Indians. In the middle of the meeting, Joe Biden walked in wearing a Redskins jersey."

"Are you sick and tired of hearing the term 'fiscal cliff'? people don’t understand it. It doesn’t tell you how serious the situation is. They need more colorful metaphors. Here’s how to explain it: 'It's 4 a.m. for our economy and Lindsay Lohan is behind the wheel.' That says danger. People understand that."

"'Fiscal cliff' is a big fancy phrase right now. If you want people to understand though, use language they get: 'We're headed for Broke-Ass Mountain.' That’s what it is."

"Over the four-day holiday weekend Americans spent $15 billion a day! That almost breaks President Obama's record."

"Santa Monica has banned nativity scenes on public land. Opponents want to use real people to make a display instead of statues to get around the rule. The problem is, it’s Los Angeles. So where are you going to find three Wise Men and a virgin?"

Conan O'Brien: "The governor of Arizona punched a reporter who asked her about global warming. Afterwards she apologized. She said, 'Sorry, I'm a little touchy because it's almost Christmas and it's 135 degrees outside."

"A new book coming out reveals that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was born a Catholic, became a Mormon, then returned to the Catholic church, then became a Baptist, then again returned to the Catholic church. And I think he's at it again because he's now asking people to call him Marco Rubinstein."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mad Consumerism: The Real War On Christmas ( OP-ED )

  The following is an Op-Ed posted at Addicting Info used under Creative Commons License.

 T. Steelman  on December 8, 2012

Thousands storm the doors of the Fashion Place Mall in Murray, Utah which opened doors to shoppers at 12:01 in the morning Nov. 24, 2006.  Photo by Tom Smart for The New York Times

Holiday consumerism @

With the regularity of the tides (you can’t explain it), Bill O’Reilly began his whining about the terrible “War on Christmas” a couple of weeks ago. He rails about salespeople saying “Happy Holidays” and the lack of Nativity scenes in public areas and Christmas trees becoming Holiday trees. He spews and foams at the mouth about how atheists and humanists and pagans (oh my!) are trying to take Christmas away from the poor, besieged Fox News viewers. Oh, what a show he puts on! But who is really waging war on Christmas?

The War is, according to Fox and O’Reilly, being waged by the atheists, the Pagans and the “evul Libruls.” Anyone who believes that the Constitution forbids a state-supported religion is a threat to their holiday celebrations. For some reason, they are much more concerned about what they can’t do than what they can do.

But this is about more than the naming of a tree or a salesperson’s greeting. It’s a question of the spiritual symbols of the holidays being co-opted. It’s about the commercialism that has replaced the true meanings of those symbols. In the face of the media onslaught, the never-ending ads for sales, the songs, the decorations – the whole brouhaha that Christmas has become – so many of us have lost the spiritual side of the season. This isn’t about saying “Happy Holidays” or Christmas trees or reading Luke at a school pageant. It’s about what the holiday should mean to those who celebrate it.

For Christians, this holiday is about the advent of their God, His becoming flesh. It’s about how their God decided to become human and try to show everyone on Earth how to do the same. Now, I’m not Christian but I know that the real meaning of this holiday is very deep and profound. It is the very basis of this religion. Christmas should be a celebration of this miracle. But instead,  Bill-O and his pals focus their ire on superficialities.

What does saying “Merry Christmas” truly have to do with how the holiday is celebrated? The irrelevance of a greeting is stark in contrast to the real meaning of the day. What does dropping almost half a billion dollars on things have to do with the birth of Christ? The real affront to the season – no matter which holiday one celebrates – is the mad consumerism. The material frenzy has become a desecration of the miracle that the holiday is based upon. It’s fine to celebrate the season with gifts and decorations but can’t we be a bit more… I don’t know… less conspicuous? Do we really need to have lights on every inch of the house with 20 foot rubber snowglobes and Santa on the roof? Do we need to have a dozen gifts for each family member? Do we have to be so greedy?

Jesus was a poor man. He ministered to the poor. He loved the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young. I think He would be appalled at how his birth has become a wallowing in materialism. I think He would be heartbroken.

And that’s just one aspect of this trumped-up War on Christmas. It’s interesting that some of the traditions that Bill-O and his minions get so worked up over are ones that were…stolen is such a harsh word; how about co-opted…from Pagans.

The Christmas tree goes as far back as the Romans, who decorated the trees in the Sacred Grove of Diana during Saturnalia. Germanic Pagans venerated evergreens because they did not “die” over the winter. Druids and Vikings alike would bring evergreen boughs into the house during Yuletide.

The date of Christmas itself is Pagan in origin. The 25th of December was a Roman holiday, Dies Natales Solis Invectus, the Birth of the Unconquerable Sun. The Persian god Mithra was also born on that date. Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus had to have been born in the Spring, but the Pagans celebrated the birth of many gods around the date of the Winter Solstice. Hence, the date was adopted by the Church in the 4th century as a way of making the transition from Pagan holidays to the Christian one a little easier.

There are many other traditions that were adopted by Christianity. But that’s not really very important in the scheme of things. All of the traditions and stories and foods and festivity have been homogenized into a secular holiday. And most of us are pretty okay with that, whatever our religion.

If there really is a “War on Christmas,” it is being waged by Bill O’Reilly, Fox News and everyone who chooses to look away from the bright light above the manger in favor of the bright lights of the Mall. Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, try to reach beyond the stuff to the spirit. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa Is A Democrat, So Says America

   As if you and I did not know this already, Public Policy Polling just released their latest “ Holiday Poll “ concerning the Christmas cast of characters, polling 500 people where over half of them were age 45 and older.Polling was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans at 36% apiece, with Independent/Other making up the remainder.


By a 16% margin, poll respondents leaned toward Santa being a Democrat rather than a Republican, undoubtedly due to his generous nature. (Not sure that I agree with this consensus – Santa’s an old white guy, after all, so odds put him in the Republican camp. I guess I’d have to see his shop’s working conditions and how he treats his elves before settling on a verdict.) Regardless of Santa’s political affiliation, over half of respondents believe the “Fiscal Cliff” will force him to cut back on the goodies he’ll be bringing.

  A few more PPP tidbits for you:

    • Only 1 in 10 women said they would not be attending a worship service over the holidays, compared to 25% of the male respondents.
    • 3/5ths of women thought Obama would receive gifts rather than coal, compared to 2/5ths of men.
    • An almost-equal number of Democrats thought Obama would get gifts as Republicans thought he’d get coal (86% and 85% respectively).
    • Only 4% of Republican respondents celebrated a winter holiday other than Christmas, compared to 16% of Democrats.
    • 79% of Democrats thought Santa was a member of their party, compared to 61% of Republicans thinking Santa was a member of their party.
    • Republicans were three times more likely than Democrats to believe in the ‘war on Christmas.’
    • Democrats, by a 12-point margin, were more likely to turn Santa in for running over their grandmothers
    • Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to list It’s a Wonderful Life as their favorite movie, while Democrats preferred Miracle on 34th Street by a six-point margin.
    • Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans listed Rudolph as their favorite holiday character, and more than four times as many Democrats preferred The Grinch.

    But wait! There’s more!

For instance, 47% of respondents really and truly believe there’s a war on Christmas. (Seriously.) Oddly enough, that’s the precise percentage of votes received by presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election (and of course, we all know the other reason 47% is a significant number for Romney).

Additionally, 51% of respondents think Santa will be bringing Barack Obama gifts rather than coal this Christmas. Again, that’s the precise percentage of votes the President received in the 2012 election. (A greater number of respondents – 63% — thought Mitt Romney was more likely to get gifts than coal, perhaps out of consolation.)

“Spending time with family,” “cookies,” and watching the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life topped the lists of favorite holiday pastimes.

Grandma loses out big time this holiday season: 61% of respondents would not press charges against Santa if his reindeer ran her over, and the “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” song came in third place for Most Annoying Holiday Song, behind “The Chipmunk Song” and “Santa Baby.”

  From Addicting Info


Monday, December 10, 2012

Small Business and Obamacare, The Facts

   as many of you are aware, the right-wing noise machine has made an issue of how much the ACA will have an impact on small businesses, and that employee hours will be cut back due to the increased cost to the employers. You have no doubt heard from Papa John Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter threatening to raise his crap pizza prices by 10 – 14 cents in order to cover the added expense of Obamacare, which, as it turns out is bullshit.

   Apparently Papa forgot that this is the Internet age and that there are people out there who can actually still do math, and that is exactly what Maggie Mahar over at has done. She basically sums up what economist and others have reported on the obamacare costs to Papa.

Managed Care Matters’ Joe Paduda recently took a hard look at the numbers that led Papa John Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter to announce that he’s going to have to hike the price of his pizzas by 10 to 14 cents to cover the added cost of complying with Obamacare’s provisions.

“Turns out that it’s only 3.4 to 4.6 cents” for an average-sized pie,” Paduda observes.  “Let’s think about that,” he continues. “Fourteen cents a pizza gets all of his employees excellent health coverage (only about a third are covered now), even though Schnatter says he’d ‘like to cover all of them.’”

Over at Forbes, Caleb Malby eyeballed Schnatter’s balance sheet and confirms Paduda’s appraisal: Obmacare does not constitute a major threat to profit margins. “Last year, Papa John’s International captured $1.218 billion in revenue,” he reports. “Operating expenses were $1.131 billion.” Schnatter claims that Obamacare will his cost his company $5-8 million annually. “If Schnatter’s math is accurate,” Malby writes, “ the new regulation translates into a .4% to .7% (yes, fractions of a percent) expense increase.”

“Using Schnatter’s figures,” he concludes, “the costs his company will incur due to Obamacare are not equal to the price increases he mentions. Those increases would more than make up for damage done to the company’s net income through increases to operational expenses.”

    So, Papa Johns, Denny’s, and The Olive Garden are not making good business decision when it comes to the workers and health insurance, they are making political decisions by vendetta. Their claims are nothing more than the usual conservative BULLSHIT.