It has been three years since I last proposed Festivus in March. This time, maybe it will catch on. The past couple of weeks, I found myself yearning for an early Festivus, knowing I could not wait until year’s end to practice the Festivus tradition of “airing of grievances.” So please forgive my channeling my inner Frank Constanza, but “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people. And now you’re gonna hear about it.”
Grievance #1: The Washington Post
On March 19, a headline on the front page of the Washington Post read as follows, “Mixed signals from Ukraine’s president and his aides leave West confused about his end game.” Let me share the comment I posted to this story.
WTF. Did the writers pay no attention to what happened last Wednesday? Zelensky asks for a no-fly zone, but adds, “If I can’t have that, I need…” And hours later he gets most of “that” from the U.S. and NATO. That didn’t happen by accident. Do you really believe Zelensky is not talking with Biden and European leaders about his “end game?” The person he doesn’t want to share it with is Putin. Just like folks stopped talking about what arms were and were not arriving in Ukraine. Neither the war nor peace should be prosecuted in the media. Sorry if your little feelings are hurt because Zelensky is not willing to lay his cards on the table for you and Putin to see before the hand is over.
Grievance #2: It Takes a Special Kind of A-Hole
Friday night, Wild Amelia, a local non-profit that promotes protection of the local environment through education held a fundraiser comprised of a sunset boat tour hosted by Amelia River Cruises. Among the attendees with one older, white gentleman (I use the term loosely) with a beer belly covered by a politically incorrect tee shirt who felt it necessary to proudly don his “Let’s Go Brandon” gimme cap. I know, I could have simply said he was wearing the cap and you would have guessed he was no spring chicken, white, had a beer belly and a questionable sense of fashion. And to make sure everyone on the boat saw him, he would occassionally walk up and down the aisles with his belly puffed out.
The next day I received a call from one of the board members who asked me what I thought of the incident, especially since some members of the Sierra Club who came to support Wild Amelia had complained to the boat captain this “gentleman” had ruined their evening. She wondered what they could have done about it since the “gentleman” has the right to say whatever he wants. (See Grievance #4 for more on the First Amendment.)
I told her this was not about free speech. He knew he was not going to convert anyone to his cult. His goal was to be the center of attention. And sadly, some attendees let him do that while most of us simply ignored him.
Not every person who voted for the former guy in 2016 was a “despicable.” Not true of those who still relish being part of his cult. So if the “cap fits, wear it.”
Grievance #3: Military Disservice
If you get a package from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) filled with swag you will never use, asking you to help disabled veterans, Google their Charity Navigator rating. It is ZERO out of FOUR stars. Why? Because the organization spent 86 percent of their revenue in 2020 on administration and fundraising including a $15 million contract with a marketing firm in Connecticut. By the way, in 2014 DVNF was fined $25 million for abuse of solicitation laws after which current CEO and former U.S. Marine Joseph VanFonda claimed they had cleaned up their act.
My wife and I always give the calculators, pens and other “incentive” gifts to Goodwill or other organizations to distribute to those who might actually use them. This package also contained a real check for $1.50 made out to me. But, of course, the cover letter from VanFonda urged me not to cash the check because it would take money away from veterans who needed it.
I had a better idea. I cashed the check and sent a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, to whom I regularly give in honor of our daughter’s service in the Air Force. Instead of the typical $100 donation, I made the check out for $101.50 and simulteneously emailed VanFonda, informing him that I appreciated his $1.50 and had passed it on to a legitimate charity that might actually put it to good use.
I encourage others to do the same.
Grievance #4: King for a Day after Day
Finally, I am really getting sick and tired of people who appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr. to justify policies and actions that are the antithesis of what King stood for. The latest is FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). This past week they started running ads with the tag line, “No Free Speech. No I Have a Dream” over a picture of the August 1963 civil rights gathering at the Lincoln Memorial. It is followed by, “Without the First Amendment, this historic speech would never have happened.”
Really? The First Amendment had been on the books for 174 years and there was no “I have a dream.” You can bet if George Wallace and Bull Connor were fighting integration today, they would be on Fox News and InfoWars claiming to be victims of “cancel culture.” And the First Amendment gave them the right to use the N-word and incite violence against people they feared would replace them. Take a look at the crowd surrounding the Reflecting Pool that day. There were too kinds of people. Black Americans who were tired of being second class citizens. And “woke” white Americans who, after watching the beatings and dogs and fire hoses, said, “Enough is enough. This is not what America should be about.” I’d bet the farm all of those people would have still been there with or without the First Amendment.
Want more proof. South Africa had its own “I have a dream” moment without the benefit of a First Amendment.
And by the way, if you asked Michael Jordan, he would probably admit, “It wasn’t the shoes.” NIKE and FIRE have more in common than four letter names. Both want you believe if only you wear their shoes or yell First Amendment on a college campus, you will be a superstar despite the lack of any causal relationship.
So Happy Festivus in March. Now, all we need to do is get Amazon and local merchants to adopt this faux extension of a faux holiday to discount merchandise as they do in July. Black Friday in March could be just as successful as Black Friday in July.
For what it’s worth.