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Posted by FourScore | Tue Dec 17, 2013, 11:16 PM (5 replies)
Can Santa Be Black?
by B.J. Wrights
It happened in the kindergarten class,
Right at the table where they were having snack.
Joanie asked the question and they all sat back:
“Mr. Slater? Can Santa Claus be Black?”
Poor Mr. Slater didn’t know what to say,
Christmas vacation was twenty days away.
There were snowflakes to cut and wreaths to be hung,
Christmas cards to paint,
Christmas songs to be sung.
He hadn’t time to think
What Christmas was about,
In twenty more days,
School would be out.
Why couldn’t they wait
And ask their questions then,
When mommies and daddies
Were home to answer them?
Mr. Slater? Can Santa be thin?
“Is Santa Claus always a him?”
Mr. Slater looked at twenty pairs of eyes,
Twenty children of every shape and size.
He ate a bit of cracker and finished his drink.
“Children,” he said,
“I’ll need some time to think.”
As soon as class was over,
He ran down the hall,
Skidded ‘round a corner,
Crashed into a wall.
Ran up the steps to the second floor,
Rapped on the window of the principal’s door.
“Ms Frazer, Ms. Frazer, what can I do?
The children asked these questions
That now I ask of you:
‘Can Santa be black?’
‘Can Santa be thin?’
‘Does Santa always have to be a him?’”
“Mr. Slater, it’s a difficult task
To find answers to the questions you ask.
I think with these I’ll need some assistance,
But I’ll get you the answers with a little persistence.”
Ms. Frazer turned in her swivel chair,
Picked up the phone and dialed Mr. Dare
Mr. Dare was the head of the PTA,
He called for a meeting the very next day.
“Thank you for coming,”
He began with a greeting.
“I’d like to get right to the point of this meeting.
Mr. Slater, in charge of the kindergarten class,
Needs some answers to some questions
And he needs them real fast.”
“Can Santa be black?
Can Santa be thin?
Does Santa always have to be a him?”
The parents didn’t know what to say,
Christmas vacation was nineteen days away.
There were cookies to bake and lights to string,
Gifts to wrap and carols to sing.
They hadn’t time to think
What Christmas was about,
In nineteen more days
School would be out!
Why did children have to ask questions when
Parents had no time to answer them?
Are there any suggestions?
Do we have any answers
To these difficult questions?”
“Who know best
What Christmas is about?
Let’s ask Santa!”
Someone called out in a shout.
The secretary of the PTA
Sent a letter to Santa the very next day.
The reply came back very, very fast,
Addressed to Mr. Slater
And the kindergarten class.
* * *
Dear Mr. Slater, Dear Girls, Dear Boys,
Once a storywriter caught me bringing you toys.
The year he spied me opening my sack,
my skin was white, my boots were black.
You probably know how that story goes…
I laid a finger aside my nose?
All these years, needlessly,
that story worries children who don’t have a chimney.
All year long I listen to the news,
read people’s thought, see people’s views.
At the end of the year, when I see what’s needed most,
I take that shape, like a Christmas ghost.
I can pass through keyholes, windows and locks,
apartment buildings, hospitals, tents, and trailer lots.
One year I used a wheelchair in place of my sleigh,
Once I was blind and had to feel my way.
It’s hard to understand when I don’t leave a toy:
you can’t unwrap a gift like hope, or health or joy.
My skin has been black, white, yellow, red, brown;
my eyes have been slanted, crossed, and round.
Sometimes I have been a she:
all these things are part of me.
You may not believe all this is true,
but that’s okay, boys and girls, because…
I believe in you.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Dec 17, 2013, 11:44 AM (3 replies)
Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 01:47 AM PST
Pope Francis Reportedly Leaving Vatican at Night to Minister to Homeless of Rome Anonymously
Frankly, I lost faith (so-to-speak) in all types of organized religion long ago. I have given up on expecting good deeds and magnanimous gestures toward the poor coming from the Vatican. But after hearing the unorthodox outreaches to those less fortunate in the world by Pope Francis, lately, I've been reconsidering the time-worn, idealistic notion that one man can indeed change the world.
I think Pope Francis truly has the potential to be a transformative pontiff.
We've all heard about his washing the feet of the poor, his warm, unsolicited embrace of a gravely disfigured man, and about a dozen other diverse attempts to reach out and help common people around the world. His declarative statements about income inequality and corporate greed are legion.
Well, the Pope Da MAN has struck again!
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the "Almoner of His Holiness," (a distributor of alms to the poor) recently gave an interview that "raised speculation that the Pope joins him on his nightly trips into Rome to give alms to the poor." And apparently, there's a good chance that the rumors are true.
From the HuffPo.
A knowledgeable source in Rome told The Huffington Post that "Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women."
Krajewski earlier said, “When I say to him ‘I’m going out into the city this evening’, there’s the constant risk that he will come with me," and he merely smiled and ducked the question when reporters asked him point-blank whether the Pope accompanied him into the city.
It's not surprising for the Pope to do things like this. As it turns out, in his prior life as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he often broke bread and sat for hours at night ministering to the downtrodden on the streets of his native Argentina.
Nocturnal wanderings for a pope are not completely unheard of. Pope John XIII is said to have occasionally popped out of the Vatican to appreciate the benighted beauty of Rome. And, reportedly, Pope Pius XII was said to shed his robes and dress as a Franciscan to help smuggle Rome's Jewish citizens to safety during WWII. More recently, Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican unannounced to visit an art exhibit.
Like I said before, I have no use for organized religion. I don't need a church to feel spiritual. But if a holy man in a hierarchical position such as a pope can truly care, console, comfort, and ultimately inspire the least among us... I say that man is doing good work.
Works Jesus himself would be proud of.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 11:05 AM (6 replies)
Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 04:55 PM PST
California GOP creates fake health care website to discourage constituents from obtaining insurance
Republicans are horrible people. Period.
California Republicans are desperate and shameless. In the past two weeks, GOP Assembly members have sent mailings out on what appears to be the state's dime to their constituents about health insurance. Only, they don't direct those people to CoveredCA.com to sign up. Instead, they send them to their own astroturf version with the url CoveringHealthCareCA.com.
On their version, there are links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site.
A fake health care site. A fake health care site intended to discourage the people on their own mailing lists from getting health insurance because fuck them, that's why.
If you click on the "Don't have health insurance" tab on the front page, you're taken to a page that puts all the focus on the penalty and none on the benefits. In fact, they have a "penalty calculator" on that page, rather than a premium calculator.
Other bits of logic include explaining to young people that by getting insurance they'll be subsidizing sick people, the goddamn leeching bastards. (On the other hand, if you cannot grasp that the central point of all insurance is pooling a little money from a large group of people in order to insure some level of security for those people in the pool that have something very bad happen to them, including for example you, perhaps removing you from the gene pool is not entirely a bad thing. If you are so nasty a person that you can't live with the thought of insuring yourself because it means some other person might get healthcare using one one hundredth of a cent of your money, the world will certainly not be missing you much after you are gone. Godspeed!)
This is yet another of the reasons the current incarnation of the Republican Party is little more than a political oozing sore. There is probably a downside to trying to kill off your own voters to score a momentary political point, but let's just say the members of the party brain trust in my state could meet in a closet and still have enough room for the vacuum and boxes of Christmas decorations.
Posted by FourScore | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 08:10 PM (13 replies)
Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST
No thanks to Walmart
by Mark Sumner
I think we can all agree that 2010 wasn’t the best of years. After all, unemployment at midyear was still bordering on 10 percent, home foreclosures were at a record high, and profits per employee at US corporations only rose 24 percent. Now, go back and read that last one again. As it happens, U.S. corporations were on their way to record profits in 2010, raking in more money at the same time as they were cutting both staff and benefits.
Think that’s a fluke? Profits per employee jumped another 22 percent in 2011. That’s as layoffs reached record heights and 312,000 jobs were eliminated. The year 2011 also marked another record year of profits for U.S. companies. Not only did Fortune 500 corporations pocket a record $824.5 billion, they generated earnings at a rate 23 percent percent higher than the historical average. By the end of that year, Apple alone had $76 billion in the bank, after generating a profit amounting to half a million dollars per employee.
Tell me again that this was a hard year. The economy is bad only in that we've allowed the economy of corporations and the economy of real, living human beings to become totally disconnected.
It’s one thing to say that middle class wages are stagnant while those of the top 1 percent are continuously growing, but there’s a deeper, more fundamental flaw in our current notion of capitalism: Everyone understands that profit is good, but no one seems to understand what profit is for. We’ve constructed a set of standard practices that would not only make Gordon Gekko blush, they’re self-destructive. American capitalism is profiting itself to death.
Few companies are as emblematic of the New American System as is Walmart. The company that in 2011 generated more revenues than any other, the company that is now the largest food retailer in the world is the same company that recently encouraged donations of food to its own employees. It’s also a company that, putting aside any losses generated when it replaces smaller, local stores, causes a net loss to every community it enters in the form of increased tax revenues needed to support the underpaid employees. Walnart not only counts on taxpayer dollars to subsidize its “low cost” stores, it counts on that same taxpayer dollars to drive its business. Walmart employees not only need food stamps to get by, Walmart is the largest place where those food stamps are redeemed. It’s a cycle that grinds employees (and communities) relentlessly down, while driving Walmart revenues just as consistently up.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.
While Walmart may be the corporate expression of the darkest timeline, Costco shows that it’s not required to be a corporate ass to be profitable. Costco workers start at a salary of over $11 an hour—a modest amount, certainly, but an amount that most Walmart employee never attain even after years of labor. The average Costco worker makes almost twice that amount on an hourly basis, and Costco workers also tend to work normal work weeks, with all the benefits that implies, rather than the truncated working hours Walmart imposes to keep employees just shy of such extravagances as health care or paid leave. Costco executives also make a much more reasonable sum compared to the corporate profits. Put it all together, and the CEO of Costco makes as much as 48 workers earning the median wage—a rate that’s high by historical standards, but downright Spartan compared to the situation at Walmart where the (a shameful rate that is closely matched by the 645 employees it would take to reach the pay awarded the CEO of Target).
Walmart's unending quest to inflate its profit by any means is such that it scrambles to find elaborate schemes to deny the wages promised to workers who sacrifice their holidays to the corporate coffers.
The most shameful thing out of all these numbers may be this: Walmart could quite easily afford to pay its workers a living wage. It could do so without threatening its ability to operate. It could do so without slowing its relentless expansion. It could do so without residing its prices one dime. Walmart has ample ability to pay its workers more, because it's not just profitable, it's massively profitable.
If Walmart were to pay all of its employees a living wage—not a poverty rate, but something more like the $45k average that Costco workers earn—if it did that, Walmart's corporate profits would have declined last year from $17 billion, to a mere $12.5 billion.
But this isn't just a Walmart story, it's an American story. Not so long ago, American corporations accepted the idea that they had obligations to their stockholders, but also to their workers and the communities where they did business. They understood that profit was a tool, a fuel that powered the corporation to achieve its goals. But now profit is the goal. It's been fetishized beyond all reason. Many people will even tell you that there's a law requiring companies to generate as much profit as possible. There is no such law. There never was. And the only thing more insane than believing that such a harmful law might exist, is that many seem to think it's a good idea.
Posted by FourScore | Sun Nov 24, 2013, 10:36 AM (6 replies)
Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:39 AM PST
Danger Lurks in That Mickey Mouse Couch
is the title of this New York Times column by Nick Kristof that I hope will encourage you to turn on your televisions tomorrow, not for football, but to watch a documentary titled Toxic Hot Seat on HBO.
The background is simple - furniture, including that made specifically for children, contains "fire retardant" chemicals that are seriously harmful to health, whether or not they catch on fire, and which realistically do not retard or prevent fires from spreading.
Kristof provides notable service in reminding us how this came about:
The story goes back to the 1970s, when the tobacco industry was under pressure to make self-extinguishing cigarettes because so many people were dying in fires caused by careless smokers. The tobacco industry didn’t want to tinker with cigarettes, so it lobbied instead for requiring flame retardants in mattresses and couches.
This became a multibillion-dollar boondoggle for the chemical industry, but studies showed that flame retardants as actually used in sofas don’t prevent fires. This is easy to test: Just set a cushion on fire. The documentary shows that it will burn right up.
Please keep reading.
Kristof offers the words of the scientist fire safety scientist,upon the companies making the "retardants" relied, Vytenis Babrauskas,, to inform us that the comapnies relied upon his work
as showing that flame retardants do limit fires. But Babrauskas says in the HBO documentary that chemical companies misrepresented his findings “in an exceedingly blatant and disgraceful way.”
Babrauskas says that, in fact, retardants provide little if any delay for a fire, and then lead to much more toxic fumes. “You get the worst of both possible worlds,” he says.
That includes rare cancers for fireman who inhale the fumes. But there is more:
The larger danger is to people sitting on those couches. Retardants are released as dust from the foam and accumulate on the floor. The greatest risk is probably to pregnant women and to small children, who are also more likely to be on the floor.
The chemical are endocrine disruptors, which are notorious problems for human health.
When California was considering standards to ban such "retardants" - as were other states such as Maine -
That’s when a mysterious organization called Citizens for Fire Safety Institute began running commercials defending the chemicals.
Despite the feel-good presentation, the documentary will show that it was a dishonest front for a group of three large companies who manufactured the "retardants."
Kristof notes that the chemical industry is pushing back against the documentary with its own "fact-based" website for which he provides the link - I won't.
Too often in the past industry has used advertising and various front groups to distort the public discourse on issues that affect us all in order to protect their profits. Corporate executives have lied with impunity to Congressional panels. The fund initiatives and groups to change the laws and regulations intended to protect us in order to prevent us from enforcing health and safety rules, and to tilt the elective and legislative processes to exclude the voices of those who might in any way threaten their dominance and their economic interests. ALEC is but one example.
Early in his piece Kristof notes of the documentary
This is a televised window into political intrigue and duplicity that makes “House of Cards” or “Breaking Bad” seem like a Sunday school picnic.
That is a frightening thought, is it not?
And just we are clear, Kristof ends his piece with a pointed column that is sure to get him and the Times major pushback:
Let’s be clear. The companies stonewalling safety regulation include giants like Exxon, BASF, DuPont and Dow Chemical, and I hope their executives squirm on Monday evening as they watch “Toxic Hot Seat.”
But squirming is insufficient.
They should be subject to both civil lawsuits and in some cases criminal penalties - why do not laws on reckless endangerment apply to them? Why cannot individual firemen and the Firefighters Union file serious lawsuit for damages? Why cannot local jurisdiction who have had to pay out disability sue the companies as the cause of those disabilities?
Understand thst Citizens United complicates our ability to rein in corporate interests for the benefit of the rest of us. So does an administration unwilling to fully stand up to such interests because it wants their political support, or at least their neutrality on some issues (think about the pharmaceutical companies and ACA). And should we lose net neutrality, our ability to organize to push back will disappear.
IF we do not rein in such corporate excesses, what is the point of a government that is supposed to be of We the People? How do we have the ability to protect ourselves against such corporate economic power and abuse?
Let them squirm. Perhaps maybe they should feel shame. Where possible, perhaps we should boycott the products and services provided by such abusers.
Methinks this is an important documentary.
Sadly, it will expose only one of many problems our almost unrestrained corporate power is unleashing upon the rest of us.
Still, we should push back where we can.
This documentary seems like a good place to do such pushback.
So we should watch it, and encourage others as well by passing on Kristof's column.
Posted by FourScore | Sun Nov 24, 2013, 08:41 AM (3 replies)
Posted by FourScore | Sat Nov 23, 2013, 11:49 PM (0 replies)
Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:10 PM PST
Boehner Sabotages Own ACA Enrollment - Places Official Helper on Hold for 35 Minutes
On Thursday, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) blogged about his attempts to sign up for ObamaCare:
Earlier this afternoon, I sat down to try and enroll in the DC exchange under the president’s health care law:
Like many Americans, my experience was pretty frustrating. After putting in my personal information, I received an error message. I was able to work past that, but when I went to actually sign up for coverage, I got this “internal server error” screen:...
Blah blah blah. It now turns out that at one point during this enrollment attempt, he placed an official Healthcare marketplace representative on hold...for 35 minutes. From Talking Points Memo:
Actually, it turns out he had successfully enrolled and got a call confirming that about an hour after his tweet. But it gets better.
According to Scott MacFarlane, a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Washington, reports that a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes, after which time the representative finally hung up.
I don't think one can get much more fraudulent than that - what a smug fool to think he wouldn't get busted!
Let's make sure voters remember this sad, desperate ploy when they go to the polls in 2014.
Posted by FourScore | Sat Nov 23, 2013, 11:44 PM (8 replies)
100 Things You Can Say To Irritate A Republican (HUMOR)
Author: Stephen D. Foster Jr. January 14, 2013 12:03 am
Conservatives are so easy to anger these days. Even the most insignificant statement can set off their tempers. If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest saying the following:
1. A Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor, for free.
3. Joseph McCarthy was an un-American, witch hunting sissy.
4. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were traitors.
5. The South lost the Civil War, get over it.
6. The Founding Fathers were liberals.
7. Fascism is a right-wing trait.
8. Sarah Palin is an idiot.
9. The Earth is round.
10. Reagan raised taxes eleven times as President.
11. Reagan legalized abortion as Governor of California.
12. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.
13. Ronald Reagan supported gun control.
14. Global warming is real.
15. Republicans hate illegal immigrants, unless they need their lawns mowed or their houses cleaned...
MORE AT: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/01/14/100-things-you-can-say-to-irritate-a-republican/
Posted by FourScore | Fri Nov 22, 2013, 10:16 AM (13 replies)