Archive for November 27th, 2013

Your Republican Uncle

November 27, 2013

Matt Compton at the Democratic National Committee has a terrific idea on how to spend your Thanksgiving holiday after you finish the turkey; argue with your relatives about how wonderful a job President Obama is doing.

Friend —

This time of year, the only thing more annoying than holiday traffic is an awkward conversation with family about politics.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the Republicans in my life. But nothing ruins a slice of pecan pie faster than talking through immigration reform with a cousin who spends too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh.

That’s why we’re launching YourRepublicanUncle.com. And if you want to make sure that the political debates around your dinner table this Thanksgiving stay tethered to reality, you should check it out.

We can’t do anything about highway congestion, but we can make sure you have the information you need to answer a bonkers question about President Obama’s record on jobs or the perfect fact to respond to a ridiculous argument about the Affordable Care Act.

And to make sure you get that information whenever you need it, we designed YourRepublicanUncle.com so that it looks great and loads quickly on your phone — no getting ambushed when you go back for seconds on stuffing.

This holiday season, don’t stress about the political debates. We’ve got your back:

www.YourRepublicanUncle.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matt

Matt Compton
Digital Director
Democratic National Committee

If you handle it right, you won’t have to worry about spending time at get togethers with your non-progressive relatives ever again. Once you have that reputation as the obnoxious cousin who starts fights over politics, they’ll start to “forget” to invite you. Of course you could avoid talking about politics or any other controversial subject, but no holiday is really complete without a shouting match and permanent family breakups. And, on the way home after being kicked out of your uncle’s house, you can revel in that righteous feeling of indignation on the way those racist Neanderthals treated you after you tried to bring some enlightenment into their lives.

The link leads to a website full of liberal talking points. There is not much of interest there. Most of the points are  of the “No he isn’t” variety, as in, “No Obama doesn’t have the worst jobs record of all time.” or, “No Obamacare won’t put many small businesses out of business.” There don’t seem to be any actual untruths there, but they don’t go out of the way to provide the whole truth in context either. The “Republican” positions they are intended to rebut seem to comprise more than a few strawmen. I  doubt if anyone’s Republican uncle is going to be very impressed, at least not if they have some awareness of the issues. They certainly won’t be convinced.

 

Advertisements

The Story of Hanukah

November 27, 2013

Hanukah begins at sunset today, so I thought I would write a little about this holiday. Hanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It is an eight day celebration which lasts from the twenty-fifth day on Kislev to the second day of Tevet. Since the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar, the days float around from November to December in the Gregorian calendar. This year the days of Hanukah are celebrated November 27 to December 5. It is very rare for Hanukkah to fall this early.

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

Hanukkah was not a major holiday in the Jewish calendar, unlike Passover or the High Holy Days. The festival has increased in importance among North American Jews because of its proximity to Christmas. There is even a tendency among Gentiles to regard Hanukkah as some sort of Jewish Christmas. This is unfortunate, since the backgrounds of the two holidays are quite different. The story of Hanukkah is one of the Jewish people fighting for their freedom to worship God in their own way. I think this story is inspiring and worth learning, both for Jews and Gentiles.

The history goes back to the time of Alexander the Great. He conquered the Persian Empire in one of the most remarkable military campaigns in history. Unfortunately, when he died in 323 BC, he left no provision for any successors and so his generals fought among themselves and eventually Alexander’s empire was divided among them. One of these successors was named Seleucus and he gained control of what is now Iran and Iraq. His kingdom is known to historians as the Seleucid Empire. This time is known as the Hellenistic Era.

Around 200 BC the Seleucids defeated the Egyptians and gained the territories of modern Syria and Israel. During this time the Jewish religion was tolerated and respected by the Ptolemies of Egypt. During this time, also, the Greek language and culture spread far and wide among the conquered peoples. Greek culture had become “cool” and everybody wanted to be a part of it. People who adopted Greek culture could be said to be “Hellenized” from Hellene, the Greek word for Greek. This caused no little consternation among the more traditional Jews. They were afraid that in the rush to embrace Greek culture, many Jews would fall into the worship of the Greek gods and so to idolatry. So, to some extent, the events which followed were as much a civil war as a war between the Jews and the Seleucids.

Antiochus IV

In the year 175, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended the throne of the Seleucids. Unlike previous Hellenistic rulers he seemed to believe himself a god and was eager that everyone in his realm pay divine honors to the Greek gods. For most of the people in the Empire this was no great burden as a few more gods didn’t matter all that much. For all but the most Hellenized Jews, this was an impossible demand. There was only one God. When fighting broke out between Hellenized and traditional Jews, Antiochus sided with the Hellenized Jews and in 167 sent an army to capture Jerusalem and compel the worship of the Greek gods. A statue of Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple and the Jewish religion was banned.

This sparked a rebellion and a guerrilla war which was led by a priest named Matthias and his five sons. The most prominent of these was Judas Maccabeus. Antiochus IV had many other problems, especially with the Persians to the east and the rising power of Rome to the west and could never spare the forces necessary to crush the revolt. By 165, the Maccabees were able to retake Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple of the defilement of the pagans.

According to legend, there was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, and yet miraculously, they were able to keep it lit for eight days, until more oil could be procured. These eight days became known as the Festival of Lights and to commemorate this victory and miracle, a nine branched menorah is lit. A more prosaic explanation for the origins of this holiday is that the first Hanukkah was a belated celebration of Sukkot. Whatever the truth of the matter might be, I wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah.

 


%d bloggers like this: