December 2013

I promised myself I would keep politics out of this month's update. That's a promise I didn't actually keep. (I hope I still receive some Christmas presents...) After we discuss the War on Christmas, we'll say goodbye to an interesting guy, then pay a visit to an Indian reservation and wrap up by weighing in on the Washington mascot controversy. Dig?

It's the time of year when the Fox News' "War on Christmas" is fought, if you pay attention to a news organization that falls under the category of "tools of an obstructionist party". Now there's even a book about it, written by Sarah Palin. Her book is all about airing grievances, more apropos for Festivus. What part of any definition of Christmas is about whining? (he said as he started complaining...) Maybe it's slightly refreshing for Fox News to change the subject from health care, reproduction rights, the evils of gays and the glory of guns, but let's not forget to say "thanks a pantload" for their role in shutting down the US government in 2013.

The United States is prohibited from injecting any form of religion into a federal holiday, by the First Amendment. In an ideal world, this would be universal law:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If your backward state government unconstitutionally allows nativity scenes on state property, you may end up with a Festivus pole right next to Baby Jesus, so be careful what you wish for.



The First Amendment also serves to protect freedom of speech, thus allowing anyone to spout off any opinion, religious or otherwise, on public property, much like I can say anything I want here on this web site. If you want to show a picture of President Obama with a Hitler mustache at your local post office, go for it. Just don't be surprised if a WWII veteran removes one of your signs. If you want to keep your job, you might want to think twice before you are quoted comparing homosexuality with bestiality. The First Amendment does not prevent private consequences of public free speech.

Below is a street preacher whom you might meet at the Fourth Avenue Street Fair in Tucson. He is overly concerned with "fornicators" during this holiday season. His audience often uses a different word for "fornicate" when they address him, it goes with the territory. Amplifying your hate speech like he is doing might require a permit, the First Amendment does not mention using a sound system. It is funny how the guy holding the sign doesn't want his face in the photo. It is quite possible that neither of these individuals holds a job, so they don't have to worry about losing one. Click the image so you can read their joyful holiday message.

Fox News really must hate Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Most of us can agree that it is a great story and defines what Christmas is supposed to be about: generosity, spreading cheer, friendships, families and inclusion. You could also interpret it to be about access to health care (for Tiny Tim), raising the minimum wage (for Bob Cratchit), and birth control (if Cratchit had a smaller family he could take care of his kids better). Let's not forget why Jacob Marley went to Hell, it was because he worshipped money. Marley will not suffer for lack of company in the immediate future. In many ways, Scrooge evolves from a Republican to a Democrat, and is much happier for it. Recently, Pope Francis provided a warning message on idolatry of money, for which he was labeled a Marxist by the de facto ruler of the Republican Party. If you don't agree with the Pope on this point, scholar Reza Azlan points out that you wouldn't care much for Jesus. Watch Fox News' Lauren Green's painfully bad interview of Reza here.

Just to show I am not entirely a holiday secularist, I will post a non-secular Christmas song below. Ríu Ríu Chíu is a Spanish nativity song, penned some 500 years ago. This clip is from a Monkees episode that ran on December 25 1967. The message given at the end of the program was "peace, and love and everything else". Hearing the Monkees sing a capella should erase any doubt that the Fabricated Four were far more talented than most people give them credit for. The full episode is as good as any Christmas special, and guest stars Butch Patrick; you may not recognize him without his Eddy Munster makeup on. The Munsters always makes my mind wander to Yvonne DeCarlo. None other than Howard Hughes taught Yvonne DeCarlo how to take off and land a plane, and how to do a few other things too no-doubt.


The Monkees sold more albums in 1967 than the Rolling Stones and The Beatles combined. So why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Just because I posted a nativity song, doesn't mean I want to see a nativity scene in a public park. What you do on Church property is your business, up to a point. What if you built a manger scene that was a disaster waiting to happen, the next time a strong wind picks up? Check out the unit below. Because it is big enough to stand in, it should conform to a building code, one would think. It is a mystery what is actually holding the miserable thing up. I'll tell you what, you go inside and examine the rafters, while I make sure the roof is strong enough to hold Santa...

It is interesting that "redress of grievances" is mentioned in the Constitution, while "airing of grievances" is central to Festivus. Baby Jesus is never mentioned in the Constitution. In my opinion, when all religions support marriage equality, access to health control, equality of women, basic human rights such as education and choice of clothing; when they stop sparring with science and teaching people to hate, mutilate and kill each other, it might be acceptable to indulge in a few religious symbols on public property. In other words, not within this modern Medieval era.

What color is Santa?

This discussion was started by Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who asserted that Santa is white on an all-white panel session on the topic. A few days later, she corrected naysayers, telling us it was all some kind of joke. Not being white used to be the means for some pretty cruel jokes, thanks for reminding us. The panel only missed one obvious punch line, they should have said, "that was white of you, Megyn!" Her opinion was backed up by Bill O'Reilly. Next, Fox News might report that Santa only speaks English. Why can't Santa Claus be whatever parents and kids want him to be?

Santa comes in many colors. In southern Arizona he is often a shade of brown. Does anyone think he flies through Tucson in a sleigh? More likely, he drives a low rider.


In south Florida, why wouldn't Santa be black? Check out Santa and the new liger cubs at Jungle Island in Miami. For the record, the parents of the ligers were both white, but the ligers themselves are quite colorful. The gathering below was intended to inspire at-risk youth, and they look pretty happy about it. Bravo for the Christmas spirit!

Fox News might also want to check out Whoopi Goldberg playing Santa in the movie Call Me Claus.

RIP Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin died on December 12 at 82 years old. Laughlin was the creator of the Billy Jack series of movies, which put forth some pretty radical sentiments in the story of the struggle of non-violent but liberal hippies and people of color trying to get respect from some really scummy, politically-connected conservative, gun-toting townspeople. Sound familiar?

Tom Laughlin is notable on many accounts, as a Vietnam veteran, hapkido karate expert, biker, actor, producer, entrepreneur, writer, founder of a Montessori school, and a three-time presidential candidate (twice as a Democrat, once as a Republican). The first Billy Jack movie was produced on a shoestring, initially released and closed after just a few weeks. Laughlin bought the rights from Warner Brothers, re-released it with an aggressive ad campaign, and eventually sold 58,000,000 tickets, an outstanding success for an indie movie. Many engineers have had great ideas that don't make it out of the bureaucracy of a big company. Let Tom Laughlin stand as an example where an employee took a gamble, went out on his own with a product, and succeeded beyond his bosses' wildest dreams.

Billy Jack is not only awesome at karate, but a crack shot with a rifle as well. Lest you think he is a gun lover, read the following quote which happens 92 minutes into the movie:

You worked with King, didn't you? Where is he? (Dead.) And where's Bob and Jack Kennedy? (Dead.) Not dead, their brains blown out, because your people wouldn't even put the same controls on their guns as they do on their dogs, their bicycles, their cats and their automobiles.

Laughlin went to University of South Dakota at Vermillion, and took away strong memories of Indian poverty on a nearby reservation and how the Indians were treated off the reservation. In the scene below, Billy Jack tries to teach the townspeople a lesson about why it is wrong to ensure that "everybody is white" before they are served ice cream. Much of the film was shot in New Mexico. but this scene was filmed in Prescot, Arizona. You can see a Prescott Football calendar in the door, with several of the letters inked over.



The Billy Jack movies were a family affair. Delores Taylor (Laughlin's wife) plays Jean, the head of the Indian School. Teresa Kelly, offspring of Tom and Delores, plays Carol. She is also credited with penning and singing two songs in Billy Jack though she might have beeen all of twelve years old at the time.

The Billy Jack movies certainly left an impression on a lot of people. I saw two of them at the State Theater in Boonton, New Jersey, which is an old vaudeville stage and worth checking out.

The lessons of Billy Jack are conflicting: do you work within the system, or outside of it? The answer sometimes is both, which is why Nelson Mandela just had the biggest funeral of the new century. It is not surprising that 45% of Republicans were not in favor of lowering the US flag to half-staff in his honor. If only he were white...

Today there is a West Billy Jack Way in a new development in Prescott.

Check out Tom Laughlin's tribute web site.

A visit to Standing Rock Reservation

Speaking of South Dakota, I've been to Standing Rock Reservation five times in the past four years. This includes a very cold visit one December to a hilltop grave yard at Little Eagle where I was smudged with sage while my cousin Ray's remains were scattered to the winds. It's a moot point what color Santa is to Standing Rock residents, as he typically doesn't stop here on December 25.

Ray was a extraordinary guy, he became an honorary Lakota of sorts. He built a geodesic dome in Little Eagle, on property which white people are not allowed to legally own. He made some kind of deal for a long-term lease, which was verbal, as these days Indians pretty much don't trust anything that white people write down and sign. There were two rules the tribe imposed: no alcohol on the premises, and no door locks (so they could always make sure there was no alcohol). Ray played the piano at a church nearby, and had quite a lot of Indian friends who came out for his funeral. Part of his ashes are buried off the Reservation in a family plot in nearby Mobridge, which is becoming an Indian town of sorts.

Ray's "Thunder Dome" reverted back to the tribe when he passed away. They seem to be keeping it up well, in spite of the economic situation there. Little Eagle's per-capita income was reported at $3,632 in the last census. Local businesses include suicide prevention and crime-scene cleanup. Clustered suicides are a frequent occurrence.

At the Little Eagle cemetery, Ray is in good company: Running Antelope is buried there, he led the last great buffalo hunt in 1882.

Below is US currency that was designed to honor Running Antelope at the turn of the prior century. The US Government never seems to miss a chance to screw up relations with Native Americans. In this case they substituted a Pawnee head dress because his taller Sioux headdress would force his head to appear small. Needless to say, this didn't go over well with the tribe. Sometimes it's the little things that count when you want to honor someone's heritage.

The Dakota territory was the scene of the Ghost Dance Movement in the late 1880s, which preached clean and honest living and cross-cultural cooperation. Shaman Wovoka popularized the movement, but there was no room for this new religion in a "Christian country". Ghost Dancing almost came to an end at the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Four days after Christmas 1890, this tribute to Team America's proud "gun heritage" is part of a recurring theme of violations to the First Amendment. This was not the wild west, it occurred one year after Dakota Territory was split so that North and South Dakota became the 39th and 40th states. In an example of Opposite Day, at least twenty US soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for participating in the senseless slaughter. The Snake Dance scene in the movie Billy Jack was supervised by Wovoka's son-in-law and is a tribute to the traditional Ghost Dance.

Here's a snapshot of a church out on Standing Rock. Inside these white walls Indian boys and girls were taught English and forced by our government to lose their traditional religion, in violation of the US Constitution. The bell tower is empty, its humongous bell was moved outside to prevent a future catastrophe.

Washington Football Mascot

The Washington Pejorative-Name-For-Indians name controversy is another colorful issue in the news, only because they won't do the right thing like UMass Amherst did back in 1972. The party line is that they are honoring the heritage of Native Americans. Owner Daniel Snyder has said he will "never" change the name, a similar line in the sand was drawn on gay marriage and gun control. Wait a few years to see what happens in all three cases.

A random survey of Native Americans in 2004 found that only 9% of them are offended by the name. The problem with this survey is that many (or perhaps most) of the respondents are lying about their ethnicity to skew the result. Fox News says we should all mind our own business. Why not take a survey at Little Eagle, South Dakota and see how many random people are offended? In this case you won't have to worry about anyone lying about their race. While you're there, try to sell them some crappy Washington Fartknocker memorabilia. Even better, dress like a fan and do a little war dance when you visit Little Eagle to take the survey, to further honor Indian heritage. Be warned, out on Standing Rock Res, many sudden deaths are never adequately investigated.

Consider joining Microwaves101 in sending a gift to Friends of Pine Ridge in Tom Laughlin's name, and please clean out your closet of any items you possess that resemble anything in the above photo.

If you can't handle a non-secular, multi-color Christmas message, then I wish you a Happy Festivus!


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