Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Blogging

The USA has finally caught up with the UK and made Boxing Day a legal holiday!  Well, no: since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, Monday is a day off for most government and higher wage, non-Walmart employees. No mail delivery means no more holiday cards, no packages, no bills. Sob.

Thanks to everyone for your contributions to the Christmas threads. Meanwhile, what other fun holiday stuff did we miss?  Here are a few inspiring yuletide snippets to wreak havoc with your joy bubbles:

It Don't Mean a Thing If You Got Too Much Bling:  Pope Benedict, his snowy pate snuggled inside his jewel-encrusted papal mitre, and his feet toasty warm in their red Prada loafers, announced to the world that there is too much commercialism in Christmas.  Ya think?  I don't know if he actually used the word "bling" in his global address to the globe; the AP translation had it as "glitter."

The King of Bling
I have tried in vain to find a monetary value for the Pope's couture.  When I Googled "Papal Bling" I came up with nada.  Except, of course, from Nextag, which promises to give us the lowest prices on the web for papal finery.  EBay is selling a papal crown replica for a starting bid of just three bucks. 
I did find out that the Catholic Church donated the real deal, the original priceless papal tiara, to the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, where it's on display.  This is the same mega-church where Tiffany Princess Callista Gingrich sings in the choir and where, presumably, the crown jewels of Il Papa are within her view and give her inspiration between shopping trips.  She and Newt. a Catholic convert, are huge fans of the pope, and their production company even made a DVD of the recently beatified John Paul.  Copies of their books are on sale in the Basilica gift shop, along with pope soap on a rope and other trinkets. 

The Papal Tiara

The hat is not for sale, not even to Callista. But here is some glittery glitz that you can buy in the Basilica of Bling Gift Shop.

Jewels for the Ladies

Gold Crucifix Money Clip for the Gents
  Which brings us to....

Yes Virginia, There Is a Virginia:  Santa Claus came early to the Old Dominion, which sensibly dumped both Newt and Rick Perry from its Republican "Super Tuesday" primary ballot, because face it, they just don't have enough fans. The response from Perry, who may have been in a Vicodin haze, was muted. He still respects Virginia, because of its "economic and military strength". But Newt is livid.  He has compared himself to the United States being bombed at Pearl Harbor.  Election rules blindsided him the same way the Japanese blindsided FDR.  Silly old rules, they should not apply to Newt.

Campaign Manager Michael Kroll took to Facebook:
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941.We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action. Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days - but in the end we will stand victorious.”
Kroll said he and Newt feel the whole process is just "too cumbersome".  But guess what -- Newt was not bombed.  He did bomb.  And he fell right into the Cumberland Gap. But maybe he will take root in his ditch with the help of his grassroots.  Don't forget that his entire campaign staff dumped him earlier this year when he and Callista dumped them for a Greek vacation.


Jay - Ottawa said...

You're gonna love the cover of the latest "New Yorker" featuring a youthful Newt sporting a somewhat regressive sash but the always-suitable diaper. In case you don't subscribe to its pages of high lit and so-spare commercialism, here's the inside title for the cover: "Déja Vu All Over Again."

Anne Lavoie said...

Thanks Karen for reminding us of the wealth of the Catholic Church, bedecked and bejeweled hypocrites that they are.

It brings back memories of my first term paper as a freshman in college - 20 pages describing in general the extent of the Roman Catholic/Vatican Multinational Empire. Banks, real estate, newspapers, tv stations, radio stations, publishing companies, etc. You name it, they own it. I can't remember half of it after all these years. Hmmm, I wonder if the Vatican Empire bid on any of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels.

On a cheerier note, two pieces of news made me smile. It is reported that 'China' (so they say) hacked into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce computer system. Boo, hoo. My favorite organization.

Also Anonymous hacked into the unsecured security think tank Stratfor and used their clients' credit card info to make charitable donations in their name. Anonymous promises this Christmas week will bring even more Christmas surprises from them. What Christmas spirit! I can hardly wait.

Denis Neville said...

It Don't Mean a Thing If You Got Too Much Bling

Bling for the yard… custom-built playhouses, which can cost as much as $200,000.

“Childhood is a precious and finite thing. And a special playhouse is not the sort of thing you can put off until the economy gets better.”

“Child’s Play, Grown-Up Cash,” Kate Murphy in The New York Times last July.

4Runner said...

Can't wait to visit the Basilica of Bling Gift Shop. Have got to get some pope soap on a rope. But think I'll skip the pope poop in a scoop a/k/a holy shit.

James Singer said...

Tried to post this to facebook, but you've got one of those cute difficult-to-read copycat things, which mean I'd have to find the magnifying glass for these tired old eye. So I just said, "Fuck it, let somebody else do it."

Denis Neville said...

How hypocritical is it that the Catholic Church condemns hoarding wealth, [Pope Benedict Peace Message Calls for Wealth Redistribution] when it has done that for centuries, while around the world its flock has suffered and been kept in a perpetual state of poverty?

I lived in Latin America when liberation theologists were asking what the role of the Catholic Church should be in a society of extremes of wealth and poverty; rejecting disdainfully the view that getting people to heaven was more important than getting them tolerable living conditions.

“Liberation expresses the aspirations of oppressed classes and people.” - Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation.

John Paul II, ably assisted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now the pope with all the bling), crushed the liberation theology movement. The “essential truth” remained that all human activity must be directed to the ultimate meaning of life, which is eternal salvation, rather than any efforts on life here and now.

“The crime of liberation theology was that it took the Gospels seriously. That was unacceptable. The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you take a look at them . . . Liberation theology brought the actual Gospel to peasants. They said, let's read what the Gospels say, and try to act on the principles they describe. That was the major crime that set off the Reagan wars of terror.” - Noam Chomsky

Thus, liberation theology, by failing to renovate Latin American Catholicism, has been reduced to an intellectual curiosity today.

“But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.”
- Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation

valerie said...

Thanks for the laughs Karen and Anne! First, the picture of Calista is hysterical! She looks like she has been struck by lightning and aliens have invaded her body. What a caricature of a human being - in fact they both are. And I LOVE that Anonymous broke into the database of the think tank and made charitable donations in the names of their members. I find myself cheering for the hackers who hacked into the Chamber of Commerce computer system as well. I imagine there will be a lot more cyber crime as economic injustice worsens all over the world.

Great quotes, Denis. Noam Chomsky, as always, nailed it perfectly.

Denis Neville said...

“A millionaire’s income doesn’t go very far these days.”

Multimillionaires in Congress view life through a different lens.

Eric Lichtblau’s article, "Economic Downturn Took a Detour at Capitol Hill," appeared in yesterday’s New York Times.

The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.

Zander at Balloon Juice on America’s House of Not So Commons, “Being a career politician is, well, a very lucrative career.”

“For the one percent, by the one percent. Could you imagine more than one percent of Congress ever consisting of pipe-fitters, school teachers, auto mechanics, computer engineers, or nurses? It might be good for America. It would be slightly less good for people with a net worth of $725,000 or more, which is why it wouldn’t happen.”

Eff the Poor!!

“Little folks become their little fate.” - Horace, c. 20 BC

Anne Lavoie said...

KG Alert - 12/27 Brooks 'Midlife Crisis Economics'. Great response by Karen!

Denis Neville said...

Brooks 'Midlife Crisis Economics'

David Brooks tells us “Inequality is growing in nearly every developed country.”

Dean Baker points out, “While most countries have seen increases in inequality over the last three decades…they are nowhere near as unequal today as the United States was at the start of this period.”

But, as Atrios points out, “Soon they'll be as prosperous as we are!”

directing us to today’s NY Times, “Fiscal Crisis Takes Toll on Health of Greeks”

“Greece used to have an extensive public health care system that pretty much ensured that everybody was covered for everything. But in the last two years, the nation’s creditors have pushed hard for dramatic cost savings to cut back the deficit. These measures are taking a brutal toll on the system and on the country’s growing numbers of poor and unemployed who cannot afford the new fees and co-payments instituted at public hospitals as part of the far-reaching austerity drive.

At public hospitals, doctors report shortages of all kinds of supplies, from toilet paper to catheters to syringes. Computerized equipment has gone unrepaired and is no longer in use. Nurses are handling four times the patients they should, and wait times for operations — even cancer surgeries — have grown longer.”

According to Brooks, “The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state. The country needs a productive midlife crisis.”

Beatings will continue until our morale improves.

valerie said...

Thanks for the KG Alert, Anne! GREAT comment, Karen! Thanks for speaking for people like me whose comments end up at # 345 and have given up commenting altogether on the NYT.

Denis Neville said...

When you got no bling…

The dramatic turnabout in the geographic profile of poverty, Michelle Hirsch, The Fiscal Times, on “America’s Best Kept Secret: Rising Suburban Poverty”

“In the wake of the Great Recession, poverty rolls are rising at a more rapid pace in the suburbs than in cities or rural communities. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of suburban households below the poverty line increased by 53 percent, compared to a 23 percent increase in poor households in urban areas, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of census data.”

“Last year, there were 2.7 million more suburban households below the federal poverty level than urban households, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was the first time on record that America’s cities didn’t contain the highest absolute number of households living in poverty.”

Midlife crisis economics. Just what Brooks ordered.

Kat said...

@Valerie: You sent me looking for your comment. I quickly realized there would be no comment no. 345!
I can usually easily find Karen's comment by clicking on reader's picks. There was a Times pick where a patient reader explained to us that his family wealth has been preserved by adhering to the values that Brooks espouses. "Big time spending and trips around the world" are not part of his life.
Oh. Thanks for the tip. Got it. Can the big time shopping and trips around the world.
p.s. Denis-- thanks for the Chekhov quotes. I will have to put him on the read list.

Suzan said...

You know, every time I see them (and thanks for the op) I can't help thinking that someone needs to let that air out.

Imagine both of them zooming up to the ceiling as their hot air was released.


Neil said...

The Crucifix money clip seems sacrilegious, although I’d like to run that assessment past Sister whack-a-kid-with-a-ruler from parochial grade school.

The rest is just too much. At least Ratzinger is not wearing his WWII German Luftwaffenhelfer uniform from his time in the anti-aircraft corps.

And poor Callista looks like a zombie to Falstaff.