Merry Whatever

Even though it’s not a religious holiday for me, I have to admit I appreciate that there’s one time of year when everything comes to a screeching halt. Routines go out the window; businesses close. There’s nothing left but to say, “Oh, yeah. It’s Christmas.” It helps one appreciate normal, especially when all those insipid made-for-television Christmas romance movies go away.

In the unintended consequences department, we learn that Trump’s announcement about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has killed Christmas tourism in the Holy Land.

Chalk the absence of visitors up to President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem speech, which outraged Muslims, scared off tourists, and unnerved Christian clerics. It also bushwhacked Vice Preside Mike Pence’s planned (now postponed) trip to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Cairo, which was meant to express solidarity with Mideast Christians. Church leaders were refusing to meet him.

“Who was advising Trump?” one prominent Bethlehem Christian asked me plaintively. Good question. Because the backlash against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital makes one wonder what Trump and Pence thought they would gain.

According to what I have read here and there, those advising Trump to do this included his go-to guy on Middle East Peace, Jared Kushner; and his veep, Mike Pence.

And then there is Pence, a fervent Christian who urged the president to keep his pledge to his evangelical base and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. If he thought this move would help Holy Land Christians, he was very wrong.

One of the terrible ironies here is that Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims have co-existed peacefully for generations. The reason the Palestinian clergy want to keep a distance from Mike Pence is that they fear making enemies of Muslims.

Ordinary Christians in Jerusalem and Bethlehem worry that Trump’s perceived challenge to Muslim holy sites will destabilize the city and affect them. They are a minority who have lived for centuries alongside their Muslim Palestinian brethren, and always hope for calm.

On the West Bank, Palestinian Christians do not face persecution for their religious beliefs. Christian restaurants in Bethlehem serve alcohol without any problem, and Christian women walk with hair uncovered. “In Bethlehem, we are a minority, but the Palestinian government supports Christians here,” Canawati said. “The post of mayor always goes to a Christian.” …

…”Most Christian Palestinians feel caught in the middle,” says the Rev. Peter Vasko, a Brooklynite and longtime resident of Jerusalem, who heads the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, which aims to help Christians remain there. “Israeli soldiers look at Christians as Arabs, while Palestinian radicals see them as traitors to the cause.”

Christian evangelicals in the U.S. think that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a great idea; Christians who actually live in Israel, however … not so much.

The divide between evangelicals and other Christian denominations reflects two views of Jerusalem — one traditional and political, the other literal and theological. The key to understanding this rift is the evangelical belief in what is necessary to pave the way for the second coming of Jesus.

For many Holy Land Christians, Trump’s declaration was about as welcome as a biblical curse.

Hours before the declaration on Dec. 6, Jerusalem’s Orthodox Christian patriarchs and heads of local churches sent Trump a letter predicting that “such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

And yet, across the ocean, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian Family Research Council, said on a White House visit that “evangelical conservatives are grateful” to Trump for his decision on Jerusalem.

I’m afraid the best we can hope for is that someday Tony Perkins and the whackjobs who admire him find Jesus.

Meanwhile, at the North Pole, there’s a climate crisis.

On a more cheerful note, someone — maybe the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come — sent Steve Mnuchin a gift-wrapped box of horse manure. This was generous; I would have just sent some well-used kitty litter. Horse manure is too good for Mnuchin.

And so as not to be a complete downer this Christmas, here’s my favorite Christmas carol. Enjoy.

19 thoughts on “Merry Whatever

  1. Well, there's always the Holyland experience theme park in Orlando, and I hear the guy who plays Jesus looks just like him. And they've got Noah's ark somewhere in Tennessee, I think.

     Point being there's no shortage of places in America to pay homage to our savior without risking your life.

  2. Trump is King Midas in reverse. 

    There isn't anything he focuses (to the best of his ability) on that doesn't immediately turn to scheisse.

    So, I'm going to name that syndrome:

    "The King TrumpASS Touch."


    The Christmas gift toMnuNOchin was only horse scheisse?

    What, no one in the area had any Anthrax available for wrapping?


    And as for Perkins and the rest of America's faux Christians, much to their dismay, they'll never get anywhere close enough to meet Jesus.

    St. Peter won't let them past the Pearly Gates, let alone let riff-raff like that get near the Lord whose name they used in vain – and for profit and power!


    Merry Christmas to all.

    And/or any other (near) Winter Solstice religious and non-religious celebration!!!


  3. My favorite part of the Mnuchin story was that the Secret Service will be dispatched to take care of the package.

    Would that I could make a clever remark here, but it sure does seem like a waste of good horse poop.  Not to mention  the Secret Service.  I hope the poor fellow who has to remove it doesn't drop it.

  4. We've had horses for about twenty years.  It isn't uncommon for people to come out load up the back of their truck drive off with dreams of rich compost in their heads.  "Black gold" is a common term.

    I hope Mr. Mnuchin appreciates the thought behind the gift and of course  "black gold" ties in well with the story of the Epiphany. 

  5. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity"   William Butler Yeats

  6. I think why can be summed up with one name – Sheldon Adelson. He spent 5 milllion on Trump's inaugural committee. That should be enough alone to buy policy, but the timing suggests to me that Trump will hold Sheldon up twice for the payment – the proof will be in the timing of the move. If the move isn't complete when Trump starts fund-raising (I predict it won't), Trump will shake a tin cup in front of Sheldon. I believe Trump is as much a cheapskate as stories make him – he's going to demand that others pay for the next campaign.

    In terms of peace strategy – there isn't much. This will sabotage any hope for peace negotiations with the US at the table. The decision forces Palestinians to select between violence or utter submission – either one works fine if the goal is suppression of the Palestinians. I think Trump is fine about open global religious warfare especially if we can open up the conflict on foreign soil where there's goodies to be grabbed, like oil.

    Trump is not going to moderate his policies to attract moderate voters, but if there are overseas atrocities against Christians or Americans or best of all, American Christians, Trump hopes to move the middle to support his extreme international and domestic policies. The problem is formidable – how do you eliminate access to health care, cut Medicare, Medicaid and talk smack about Social Security AND get reelected. 

    I've come to the conclusion that the GOP strategy is to outlive Trump – literally. When Trump dies, the cult dies and the GOP will inherit the base – If the GOP survives Trump. Republicans don't think they can survive the split of the party that will ensue if Trump starts his own party and takes the racist base with him. If Trump loses the election in 2020, will his cult survive as a political force outside the GOP establishment or will Trump fade to obscurity. 

    We may be looking at the GOP establishment in 2020 praying that the democrat wins the White House to end Trump's influence before Trump eradicates the party – and/or the GOP establishment wing.

  7. In this season it helps me a lot to go to Rohatsu sesshin each December.  To celebrate my religion in a context that is meaningful, helps me not feel like such an outcast throughout the month.  On the last day of sesshin we have a flower throwing festival.  You basically take, say, five sheets of multi colored thin tissue paper, grab it at the center and twist.  It makes a very simple, colorful flower.  Everyone goes into the library where you silently make these, at various points during sesshin.  There are a few bushel baskets full by the end.  We then do kin hin circling the whole zendo, throwing these at everyone and everything.

    I spent Christmas Eve alongside a Buddhist chaplain at the local penitentiary.  Best people I could hope to spend it with.  It was really sad though.  One 45 year old guy who has been serving life since he was 19 had been celebrating with certainty that a new wrinkle in the law about young offenders might get him out.  He was sure it would be by the new year.  A few days before our visit, he learned he lost.  7 panel of judges, 3 to 4 split.  I don't know what you call his emotion, it's a lot more profound than any descriptor I can think of.  It filled the whole room and still is in my heart today.  I think criminal justice, from a karmic standpoint, is the house we need to clean, before anything gets better.

  8. Eric,

    We in America are fixated on the "criminal," instead of the "justice."

    I sometimes think of blaming it on the Calvinism that continues to stin… to linger in the air. 

    And if not tht, then it's Manicheanism – once you commit anything that's considered "criminal" by society at large, then you are in league with Satan.  

    Too many "Christians" – especially the Evangicals –  in America are Manicheans.  Something is either good = white, or evil = black.  This may also have something to do with our racism problems.  

    To get back to the original point, too often, what's is deemed to be "justice," is really vengeance.  In Europe and other socially advanced parts of the world, they focus on rehabilitating a person, and not leaving them to rot in a cell, like we do.  People get out of prison, even if they commit murder – of course, only if they qualify, and after years of observation to make sure there'll be little to no chance of that individual repeating the behaviour that landed them in prison in the first place.

    Hopefully, as I write this, the person you described has been released from prison, and is back to leading a productive life.



    Cherry Mristmas!

    And a Nappy Yew Hear!!!

    Hopefully, this will piss-off tRUMP as much as "Happy Holidays" does!

  9. Goatherd:  Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought horse manure could have hookworms and is not good for fertilizer.  Cow manure is preferred.

  10. I think you are correct.  But, when you compost,  the process produces temperatures high enough to kill larvae and bacteria.  

    I once bought a large bale of hay (5×5 round bale, about 1100 lbs.) that wasn't properly dried.  I had heard about barn fires started by hay that was too "green" since I was a kid, but, I was skeptical.   But, the heat generated by that bale convinced me.  The process of composting is similar, the heat breaks down the organic material and  unwanted organisms.  Also, a lot depends on how often you worm your horses.  Most wormers are withheld for a period before slaughter.  So, if you're raising beef cattle you wouldn't worm them close to slaughter.  You can worm a horse as needed, and even worm with different wormers very close together.  The parasites on a given pasture develop resistance to wormers, so you generally shift from one type of wormer to another and gradually back again.  Also with animals that are not intended for slaughter you can dose them heavily if necessary, depending on the parasite that you're dealing with.  For example for the barber pole worm, which has become a problem here recently for goats, it was suggested that the dose be doubled to guard against the larvae developing resistance to the wormer.  

    I think what's really important is how well the animal is cared for.  If they are wormed periodically and sufficiently, and the manure is properly composted, either bovine or equine manure should be safe.  This is not to say that your preference is unwarranted, cows intended for slaughter are provided with a required degree of parasite management, horses are not, necessarily.  But, it is also possible that they are wormed more frequently than beef or dairy cattle.



    goatherd,   What would you recommend for getting rid of the parasite that has infected the Oval Office? Maybe Mueller should turn up the heat?

  12. "Trump is not going to moderate his policies to attract moderate voters, but if there are overseas atrocities against Christians or Americans or best of all, American Christians, Trump hopes to move the middle to support his extreme international and domestic policies. The problem is formidable – how do you eliminate access to health care, cut Medicare, Medicaid and talk smack about Social Security AND get reelected."

    Trump doesn't have to move to the middle or moderate, and neither he nor the GOP is interested in bipartisanship or serving any voters beyond their extremist supporters.  With a know nothing base, they clearly don't have to care about passing bills that are unpopular. 

    And the way they do it is as they've done so far, by creating their own reality and "alternative facts" and trashing customs, institutions and traditions and ignoring the law to grab every available lever our Constitution provides, and then some, to abuse minority to rule.  The "then some" is the drift towards authoritarianism, and making "normal" all the anti American activities they pursue to maintain power, including working with a foreign adversary particularly the vote, and working with a foreign adversary to get it done.

    The only check left is the vote, and they're working hard at chipping away at that.  Democrats, progressives and anyone who cares about the Constitution and what our country should and could be needs to do all they can to get out the vote in EVERY election and overwhelm them at the polls.


  13. Thanks for your patience Maha.

    As my role model, Maynard G. Krebs used to say, "just holding up my end of the conversation."

    I hope everyone had enjoyable holidays.

  14. Thank you so much Grannyeagle, and God bless you too.  I love your approach to life, maybe this year I can strive to be more like you and the other commenters here.

    Boy, Swami, I don't know.  In cases like this I usually ask a county agent, a more experienced farmer or the guys at the feed store, who, by the way, are very knowledgeable.  But, our county went two to one for Trump, and survival demands that we keep the peace, so you pose an awkward question.

    Back in my Florida days, I had a friend who saw her Cocker Spaniel being dragged into a pond by an alligator.  She jumped into the pond and managed to rescue her dog.  (I swear this is a true story!)  When she was at the veterinarian, she mentioned that reptiles carry some strange and virulent fauna, so her doctor had her on some special antibiotics.  Then she asked, "What usually happens in cases like this?"

    The vet gave her a strange look, and answered, "I don't know, I've never HAD a case where someone rescued their dog from an alligator."

    We may be able to escape by the skin of our teeth.  Human nature being what it is, it might require some sort of catastrophe, like another depression to shock us back to our senses.  But, coming to our senses will only serve if democracy survives.  Rationality and good sense will only matter if they can find political expression.

    By the way, the Cocker Spaniel lived out its life, with just a limp.


    "It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'                                   We are not now that strength which in old days                      Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;                   One equal temper of heroic hearts,                                             Made weak by time and fate,                                                          but strong in will                                                                              To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."   

    –From "Ulysses" by Tennyson 


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