By Doug Porter
Today, December 23rd we celebrate Festivus,“the holiday for the rest of us,” popularized via an episode of the Seinfeld sitcom. Frank Constanza (Jerry Stiller), father of George Constanza (Jason Alexander) supposedly invented the holiday as a reaction to the commercialization of Christmas and other December holidays.
First a little background is in order, via Festivusweb.com, for those of you scratching your head and going “huh?”
Frank Costanza, during a failed attempt to buy a Christmas gift for son George, realized that there should be a new holiday:
Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born … a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must’ve been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.
The Festivus celebration, as envisioned in the comedy series, consisted of four major components:
- The Festivus Pole: an unadorned aluminum pole, displayed as reaction against highly commercialized and over decorated Christmas trees
- The Festivus Dinner: An evening celebration featuring either meat loaf or spaghetti with meat sauce. No alcohol is served, but apparently it’s okay to drink from a flask.
- The Airing of Grievances: Each guest at the celebratory dinner starts the evening off with tales of how friends and family have disappointed him or her that year.
- The Feats of Strength: The host or head of the family tests his or her might against various guests, usually through wrestling. Can be damaging to furniture and nick knacks.
In keeping with the Festivus tradition, I’ll write about two right wing wannabes today who should be (but probably aren’t) disappointing to their supporters.
“Papa” Doug Manchester: We all knew he was going to turn UT-San Diego into a right wing rag, but his oafish attempts at propaganda continue to amaze. This past year saw the elevation of a couple of right wing toadies, plucked from the bowels of various failed Koch Brothers funded enterprises, as supposedly serious journalists. They’re so bad even I’m embarrassed.
I’m talking about Steven Greenhut and Trent Siebert.
Siebert, tagged as “one of the worst journalists in Colorado” during his stint at the Denver Post, came to be one of Manchester’s minions following the collapse of the Texas Watchdog. The site was funded by the Franklin Center via DonorsTrust, described by Mother Jones magazine as “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement”. Texas Watchdog closed down as conservative strategists switched their focus following a drubbing in 2012 elections from building a network of sponsored local journalists to nurturing conservative think tanks via the State Policy Network.
Greenhut comes to the paper via Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. A 2011 article in the Columbia Journalism Review says 95% of their funding came via a group whose primary contributors were Charles and David Koch. He’s also listed as an in-house expert with the Heartland Institute, a group whose past activities include shilling for the tobacco industry and a billboard climate-change denial campaign featuring unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
The problem for Manchester’s dreams of domination is, despite all the puffery, I’m pretty sure most folks—if they even care—have no problem seeing these clowns for the right wing hacks that they are.
I feel genuine sympathy for those who circumstances (Paycheck! Family! Student loans!) leave them no other choice than to toil away at what used to be a respectable craft at UT-San Diego.
Papa Doug Manchester got married this weekend, by the way, much to the consternation of Carmel Valley residents who complained about the fireworks display that was part of the program. Meet the bride here.
Darrell Issa: He was supposed to be the right’s great white hope as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I suppose my disappointment with him is that he’s not getting enough credit on the right for being a colossal failure. I thought the right was all about success and accountability, two words bound to stimulate guffaws when the Congressman from Vista is the topic at hand.
The Washington Post gave Issa a spot on its respected Biggest Pinocchios of 2013 list for his charge that then- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in April of 2012 “signed” a cable directing a drawdown for security assets for the U.S. Embassy in Libya.
Slate.com has a nice rundown of the Congressman’s other flops, including Sequestergate (airport delays were intentional), Benghazigate I (the abovementioned Clinton signature), IRSGate (persecuting conservative non-profits), and Benghazi II (rescue attempt was called off).
And I guess it’s too early to call out Obamacaregate as a complete failure, but it’s strutting and gobbling like his earlier turkeys, so I think the chances are good. One thing for sure: Issa’s once again under fire for yet another partial transcript leak. And the administration’s making noises about really stonewalling him this time, due to the fact the man can’t seem to keep a secret.
Enough for this Festivus meme…
Nothing to See Here in Jan Goldsmith’s Office
Dorian Hargrove’s Reader story over the weekend about the City Attorney’s meeting with representatives from the maritime industry group to gathering signatures for a referendum overturning the Barrio Logan Community Plan has people talking.
Was it a secret meeting? Apparently not; the door was open, according to posts on social media from Goldsmith’s flack.
According to the City Attorney’s office and the shipbuilders, there’s nothing to see here.
In response to a question about the meeting, Goldsmith’s spokesperson Tom Mitchell wrote on December 20, “NASSCO representatives came to the City Attorney’s office to inform us that the petition was going to be filed and ask about the City’s process. They were told that the City Clerk would outline the next steps.” Mitchell said Maland issued that outline in a November 4 memo.
So they had a “meeting” to be told that their questions would be answered by the City Clerk? Riiiight.
No doubt that this neutral stance was why iMayor Todd Gloria felt compelled to speak out following the City Council vote to put the shipbuilders’ initiative in front of the voters:
“I would like to direct the city attorney to join the Environmental Health Coalition in opposing in court the efforts to roll back the council’s action,” interim-mayor Todd Gloria said in his opening remarks before the vote, as transcribed by CityBeat. “A majority of this council has stood up for this plan, and I think that this city should be on record as supporting the plan.”
The folks at SeaWorld would like you to know that they’re really not such bad people. Via Don Bauder at the Reader:
SeaWorld Entertainment, beset by the documentary Blackfish, which blasts the company’s treatment of orcas, on December 20 placed ads in several newspapers, including the U-T. SeaWorld has a park here. The ads attempt to exonerate the company from charges of orca mistreatment.
Eight musical acts have now canceled scheduled appearances at the company’s annual”Bands, Brew & BBQ” concert series that starts in February in Orlando. Those that have cancled, mainly citing the documentary, are .38 Special, Barenaked Ladies, Willie Nelson, Heart, Cheap Trick, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and REO Speedwagon.
The company has issued an open letter, saying it does not capture killer whales in the wild, does not separate killer whales from their calves, invests millions of dollars in the care of whales, and is a leader in animal rescue. Also, the life spans of SeaWorld’s killer whales are equivalent with those in the wild, claims the Orlando-based company
Locally, some people weren’t impressed with the ads. From CBS8 News:
More than 100 protesters are lining SeaWorld Drive Sunday encouraging people to boycott SeaWorld — in the wake of the controversial documentary “Blackfish.”
The documentary focuses on SeaWorld’s alleged mistreatment of Orcas at its theme parks, including Tilikum, the killer whale linked to several human deaths.
The protesters want SeaWorld to release all of the animals.
“Orcas…they belong in the wild. They belong in the ocean. They don’t belong in a tank in SeaWorld being mistreated by the trainers”
SeaWorld issued a response Sunday which said in part, “the protesters’ claims and accusations are, as they always have been, without merit.”
RIP Rocky Neptune
Via Peace Resource Center of San Diego comes news that political activist and gadfly Rocky Neptune has moved on. Rocky contributed articles about homelessness in San Diego to the OB Rag from time to time.
It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that one of our peace, and social justice community members, Lyle “Rocky” Neptun was murdered in his home in Tijuana on December 7th. I am told that there is a suspect in custody.
A funeral Mass was held this morning, but there was not time to get the word out as most of us only learned about this yesterday. Friends of Rocky’s in the community are discussing holding a Celebration of Life in January. We will let you know the details when the plans are firm.
Rocky was involved throughout the years with a number of organizations and causes, including the San Diego Quaker Meeting, Peace Resource Center, the Housing Coalition, Activist San Diego, the Green Party, homeless issues, gay rights issues and more. He was also a journalist/writer with strong opinions on these issues. This is truly a loss to his family and friends, as well as our community. Even if you did not personally know Rocky, he was out there fighting for you and your rights.
The violent death of a friend and comrade is particularly difficult to comprehend, but it does call to us to renew our efforts for a peaceful, nonviolent and just world which is what Rocky wanted and for which he worked and dedicated his life.
His ashes will be spread in the ocean of his beloved Rosarito Beach. He asked that who wished to donate in his memory do so to the Humane Society or to perform one hour of community service.
Rest in Peace Rocky. We love you.
Peace Resource Center of San Diego
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1888 – Following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his own earlobe. 1959 – Chuck Berry was arrested for transporting a minor across a state line for an immoral purpose. 1972 – The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 in an NFL playoff game on a last-second play that was dubbed the “Immaculate Reception.” Pittsburgh’s Franco Harris caught a deflected pass and ran it in for the winning touchdown.
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