Political Corner

When Obama took office in 2008, I made predictions to friends that before he left office, we’d see major changes in four areas. My intuition about this had less to do with what he would do, than with the Zeitgeist that his election reflected. Here are my predictions and the scorecard so far:  


1) Legalize Marijuana. 

Today 23 states have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. The stories of pot being helpful for a variety of medical conditions are piling up. 


2) Legalize Gay Marriage. 

Today in 35 states same sex couples can marry. What is amazing here is how fast even conservative states are getting on board with this sea change.

3) Recognize Cuba. 

Breaking news. Wow. With lightning speed, things have changed almost overnight. 


4) Allow Death with Dignity (Right to Die). 

Five states have laws allowing terminally ill people to end their lives with the help of their physicians.


Malcolm Gladwell introduced the idea of a “tipping point,” a time when a majority of people are ready for a tectonic shift and all of a sudden, “boom,” it all changes. Clearly that has happened with gay marriage and Cuba. Death with dignity is a harder slog – even though 70% of Americans are in favor of it. 

“Red meat for the base” issues like gay marriage, gun control and abortion are, in my mind, diversions from hugely more important issues for the future of our country, like how the economic royalists are stealing our democracy right from under our noses. 

Love to know your opinions on this, especially why gay marriage has become the issue everyone is falling all over themselves to support – in such a short time. 


Non-Religious Christmas

Where I live on the San Francisco peninsula, in the past few years, religious symbols have disappeared from house decorations or in public places. We see nothing but Santa, reindeer, sleigh bells, and Rudolph. What happened to Jesus? It may not be like this in other parts of the country, but here there is nary a manger scene, a Blessed Virgin, Wise Men, or a Star of Bethlehem to be seen anywhere. 

Typical is this house up the street from us: snowman, sleigh, star, angels, but no Jesus or manger scene.

Christmas … er… Holiday music in shopping malls has no songs like Silent Night; Oh Little Town of Bethlehem; or Hark the Herald Angels Sing… only Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc. 

Now we wish each other the neutral, meaningless, white bread,  “Happy Holidays.” Why is this? Is it just that we’ve become more sensitive to Non-Christians who might be offended? It is stunning to me how quickly the tradition has vanished. Of course Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly continue to claim there is a “War on Christmas.” 

Years ago when our daughter, Katy, was in kindergarten, at holiday time, the teacher explained to a group of about 15 parents that she was going to start teaching about what Christmas meant, and did anyone object. Some were okay with it, but slowly several of the atheists in the crowd expressed their displeasure. Tension built. Finally one parent said, “Well, in our family, we just celebrate the commercial aspects of Christmas.” Everyone laughed and the tension was broken.  Maybe that is what we are doing as a country, just celebrating the joy of buying more stuff we don’t need. So long, Jesus. 


A Childhood Without Santa Claus

When Katy was a child, we never had her believe the Santa myth. I’d say to her, “Honey, it’s just pretend. It’s just a story. Children believe it because their parents want them to. Santa Claus is not real” 

I’m quick to add, Katy did not become an ax murderer. She had a wonderful childhood without starting off with the Big Lie. So why do generations of parents tell children this myth? I think it is all about God. 

I few years ago it dawned on me the parallel between God and Santa Claus. Think about it. Santa lives in the North Pole (heaven). He knows when you’ve been naughty and nice (omnipotence). He rewards you for being good (presents) or punishes you for being bad (lumps of coal). Sounds like heaven and hell. Santa has a big white beard (so does God). Big difference in dress, though. Santa wears red, God has white robes. 

I began to think that Santa Claus is a junior version of God. Santa is getting Christian children ready for a later belief in God. Wow, what a system. I came on this by myself. Imagine my surprise when in the December 20 – 21, 2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal, there is a story about this by Rich Cohen. You might check it out: on.wsj.com/1w6N87r 

Meanwhile, the days are now starting to get longer! Here’s wishing you a wonderful Winter Solstice.

7 thoughts on “Political Corner

  1. Bezat says:

    You know me Rick – always take the dialectic or contrary position. The four things you rightly credit to Obama are all social issues fluff. Interesting issues but certainly not the substantive issues of the day. We will see what the last two years bring.


  2. ND1976 says:

    Our American society will move in the right direction again when its citizens start thinking first about their responsibilities rather than their rights. We have become a country of easily-offended narcissists who whine about their personal plight without realizing that they live in a country where they can freely change their circumstances and pursue their dreams. As my mother used to say…"ingrates, the lot of ’em!"

  3. Davia Rivka says:


    I love your predictions–even more, I love that they have come to pass. In the event that you are causing these changes–rather than predicting them—can you work on one more–worldwide recognition of changes in climate, U.S. passing legislation for a revenue neutral carbon tax. Much appreciated! Davia Rivka

  4. Mayne Smith says:

    Thanks for keeping me on the list, Rick. Your Dec. 21, 2014 Political Corner remarks have stirred me to make several points:

    The matters BEZAT calls "social issues fluff" admittedly avoid what RG’s ccommentary calls "social royalism," (a key issue that I’ll get to further along), but they’re not fluff to those who are directly affected. In my own case, the matter of "death with dignity" looms larger and larger as I pass into my late seventies. The possibility of being forced to lie in a hospital bed, unable to choose, communicate, or comprehend, prevented from dying peacefully by a bunch of expensive equipment — and only because a lot of people and organizations are being paid to maintain those conditions . . . that’s not a very fluffy nightmare.

    I don’t object to the concept of Santa Claus, but to me that’s a very fluffy matter. I recognize the valuable meaning of Jesus, and Santa’s reflection of same, but I’ve about reached the point declaring myself an atheist. Or perhaps Secular Humanist is preferable, because I have a well developed sense of morality that does not depend on the existence of any god. The god worshiped by Jews, Christians, and Moslems continues to evolve through many phases of growth. And his eye may be on the sparrow, but he seems to have overlooked many manifestations of evil and catastrophe such as the holocaust, the terrorism of 9/11/01, and the current ebola crisis. I’m working on a new religious song titled, "To Whom It May Concern," that suggests there’s no personality to whom our prayers can properly be addressed.

    Finally, to me the key fact of our present society is the resurgence of international corporations. Those who control the corporations are also in control of virtually every political entity I can think of, and the division between the rich and rest of us has grown wider than it was in the famed Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. The Democratic Party makes populist noises, but it does not mention this issue because you can’t get elected to national office without huge financial resources. In the U.S.A., we can’t institute a rational, humane system for protecting the sick and impoverished because doing so would hurt insurance companies, hospitals, and the largest financial institutions. The quality of primary and secondary education is failing fast, and getting a college degree now forces many people into lifelong debt.

    I’ll stop there. Thanks, if you’ve read this far.

  5. Hal Anjo says:

    Hi Rick, Looking at the list of Obama’s accomplishments – I would say that we are on a strong starboard tack which gives us right of way over many other maneuvers. But I am just waiting to see what the Party of No is going to do. My hope is that Obama sticks to his guns and with the battle charge – "Chuck you Farley starboard tack!" Cheers, Hal

  6. Gary Devine says:

    I’m impressed. Your predictions display a degree of prescience several levels above my own…. When you consider that the express and unswerving goal of the Republican Party has, from the get-go, been to block, thwart, and generally obstruct any action by Obama regardless of the cost to our citizens, I’d say he’s been a pretty good president. I especially admire him as he enters the last two years of his presidency — using executive actions to nullify the nullity congress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *