Sunday, December 31, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "New Year's Eve" print - and a New Year's Eve WPA vaudeville show

Above: "New Year's Eve," a wood engraving print by Albert Abramovitz (1879-1963), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1939. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Above: A WPA poster, promoting WPA vaudeville performances in San Diego, on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and January 2nd, ca. 1935-1939. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: Vaudeville shows featured a wide variety of performances, for example, music, dance, juggling, comedy, dog shows, and escape artists. Above is a WPA vaudeville act in San Francisco, ca. 1935-1939. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Mountains in the Snow"

Above: "Mountains in the Snow," an oil painting by Jenne Magafan (1916-1952) and her twin sister Ethel Magafan (1916-1993). The painting is in room 5051 of the Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building (originally the Social Security Administration Building), and the General Services Administration describes it as "a quiet, idyllic scene of stately trees, vast plains, and soaring mountain peaks. In the lower right portion of the mural, two horses pull a large wagon heaped with hay, atop which sits a red-shirted farmer. Traveling behind tall, barren trees, the horses’ path leads to the middle distance, where a herd of grazing cattle awaits their bounty. Beyond this, the land swells into a range of mountains, covered in places by delicately rendered evergreens, brown and yellow vegetation, and snow." Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and Olin Conservation, Inc.

Friday, December 29, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: WPA recreation programs vs. social media

Above: The caption for this photo, taken in Minneapolis ca. 1935-1943, reads, "Mrs. Thelma Nemetz, WPA recreation leader at Fairview Park, helps Frances Schmit with her skates." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43 (1946), notes that "WPA recreation projects provided leadership and instruction in recreational activities of many kinds, supplementing the existing public services of local communities. The aim of this work was the year-round operation of a varied and well-balanced recreation program, including social, cultural, and physical activities, for adults as well as young people" (p. 62).

In America today, we have social interaction and obesity problems. Television, video games, the Internet, texting, celebrity worship, and more, are making us more secluded from one another and more sedentary. In other words, we're fat and lonely. (See, e.g., "Adult Obesity Facts" and "Childhood Obesity Facts," CDC, and also, "Social isolation, loneliness could be greater threat to public health than obesity," Science Daily, August 5, 2017).

In modern America, it seems to me that we are more engaged with technology than we are with each other. Social media (again, as it seems to me) is creating a culture of superficial interaction, perhaps even an excuse not to actually meet and talk to each other in the physical world. This is not to say that social media cannot bring people together, for example, organizing events, meetings, and trips, but the net effect seems to be weighted towards digital interaction, not real-world interaction. This is great for marketing, as we are bombarded with Internet advertising and our personal information is bought, sold, and traded, but perhaps not-so-great for our mental and physical health.

Technology and social media are here to stay, of course (and I'm not oblivious to the fact that I'm being critical of social media on a blog), but perhaps we could still learn a thing or two from the WPA recreation programs, and have a little more balance in our lives. Perhaps social media can do a better job of bringing us together, in the physical world, to talk to each other and also reduce the size of our waistlines.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Timberline Lodge

All photos below are courtesy of the National Archives, and were taken around 1937-1938.

Above: Oregon's Timberline Lodge, built by the WPA between 1936 and 1938, is still a popular winter recreation area today. The lodge has a history web page that discusses its WPA origins. In this photo, we see Mt. Hood in the background.

Above: A skier at Timberline Lodge. Did you know that WPA workers created 310 miles of new ski trails across the country, and improved another 59 miles?

Above: Another skier at Timberline Lodge.

Above: The Timberline Lodge coffee shop.

Above: A room at the Timberline Lodge.

Above: Getting ready for a day of leisure and recreation at the Timberline Lodge.

Above: A cozy common area in the Timberline Lodge.

Above: WPA artists and artisans of all kinds were employed on the Timberline Lodge construction project.

Above: A WPA worker makes window drapes for the Timberline Lodge.

Above: A mural of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox, at Timberline Lodge. This mural was recently restored after suffering water damage.

Above: Dining at the Timberline Lodge.

Above: Guests enjoying a winter scene in the warmth and comfort of Timberline Lodge.

Above: Skiing amongst the clouds at Timberline Lodge.

Above: During the New Deal, Americans were encouraged to take vacations, participate in recreation programs, visit parks, etc. It was important to New Deal officials that Americans enjoy their lives, and so they created or operated many recreation projects, like Timberline Lodge. In fact, it was so important to President Franklin Roosevelt, that he included it in his famous-but-ignored Second Bill of Rights speech. He wanted Americans to have "The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation." Today, America's wealthy CEOs & shareholders, through their job policies, investment choices, wage stagnation, political puppets, and general greed & selfishness, have done their best to thwart FDR's wishes. They have created a culture of fear, where workers are hesitant to use their already-pitiful vacation time because they don't want to be viewed as replaceable or less-than-dedicated to their millionaire & billionaire masters. And wealthy CEOs & shareholders have kept wages as low as possible, so that even if someone has vacation time, they might not be able to do much with it (for example, visit Timberline Lodge). Worse, many people must use their vacation time to take care of personal business or doctor visits. (See, "The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of Our Work Culture," Project: Time Off). Americans should end their slavish devotion to the super-wealthy and demand more recreation time. After all, the super-wealthy are not shy about taking time off themselves (that is, if they work in the first place), as President Trump's weekly vacations highlight. So why should we be shy about it?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Children enjoy a WPA mural in Minneapolis

Above: Children enjoy a WPA mural depicting winter activities, at the Sidney Pratt School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1938. The school building still exists today, but it's unclear whether the mural does. All across America, in schools, libraries, hospitals, post offices, and other public buildings, New Deal artists painted murals to inspire and brighten the country. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Mr. Potter's Republican Party - "They're not my children"

Above: Mr. Potter, the miserly and grumpy businessman from the Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." Image used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

President Trump and Congressional Republicans recently passed long-term tax-cuts-for-the-rich, thereby fattening the wallets of their super-wealthy donors as well as their own. For the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), however, only short-term and inadequate funding could be agreed to. Millions of parents across the country have been worrying, for months, about whether their children would continue to receive good healthcare. Now they are granted a few months reprieve until their next bout of anxiety and stress. 

The Republican Party's attitude toward CHIP, as well as their attitude toward every other program that helps underprivileged children (for example, food stamps, drinking water infrastructure improvements, and debt-relief for their parents) is reminiscent of a scene from "It's a Wonderful Life," where a loan officer is pleading with the greedy & selfish Mr. Potter to allow debtors to have more time to pay their bills:

"Times are bad Mr. Potter. A lot of these people are out of work."
"Well then, foreclose."
"I can't do that. These families have children."
"They're not my children." 

To be fair, Republicans are a little kinder then Mr. Potter. Because Republicans not only love their own children, but they also love the children of their millionaire & billionaire donors. In fact, they just gave those children a large estate tax cut, thereby fortifying their privileged status in America's caste system.

Think about it: For rich children, who need no help, and often brag about their idle & luxurious lives, Republicans enacted a large and permanent estate tax cut. For poor children, who do need some help, Republicans reluctantly agreed to a small and temporary funding band-aid for their healthcare.

Mr. Potter would be impressed.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Christmas Eve, Taos Pueblo," and FDR's last Christmas message

Above: "Christmas Eve, Taos Pueblo," an etching by Gene Kloss (1903-1996), created while she was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project and/or Federal Art Project, ca. 1934-1936. Kloss was a prolific artist and "Her work graces scores of major private collections here and abroad as well as the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Institution, The Carnegie Institute, The San Francisco Museum of Art, The Library of Congress and the National Academy of Design" (Gene Kloss, Taos Fine Art). Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the New Mexico Museum of Art.

"It is not easy to say 'Merry Christmas' to you, my fellow Americans, in this time of destructive war... This generation has passed through many recent years of deep darkness, watching the spread of the poison of Hitlerism and Fascism in Europe, the growth of imperialism and militarism in Japan, and the final clash of war all over the world... We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth in which all the Nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come."

--President Franklin Roosevelt's last Christmas address to the nation, December 24, 1944.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Christmas Program"

Above: "Christmas Program," a lithograph by Anne Michalov (1904-2001), created while she was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1942. Michalov was known for her lithography, taught art at Hull House (a settlement house in Chicago), and married Charles Johnson, also an artist. Charles worked for the U.S. Forestry Service and the Bonneville Power Administration. The two settled in Oregon, and a 1951 newspaper article reported that they lived "near Portland in a rambling old house of 15 rooms, set in the middle of five acres of land. Here they maintain a studio... in their spare time the couple are remodeling the house..." (announcements section of the Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon), October 27, 1951; also see "Oils, Watercolors Are In Exhibit," Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon), October 28, 1951). Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Sawing Wood in Winter"

Above: "Sawing Wood in Winter," an oil painting by Hugh Hegh (1909-2000), created in 1935. The image is from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and SAAM includes "New Deal--Civilian Conservation Corps--Maine" in the painting's description. But it's unclear whether Hegh himself was in the CCC when he painted this. He would have been 26 in 1935, a little higher than the usual age for CCC enrollees, and too young to be a World War I veteran enrollee in the CCC. But he definitely had some  type of relationship with the Corps and the National Park Service (NPS) (see another of his paintings on the website of the NPS - "Jordan Pond and Bubbles in the Fall").

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Toy Shop, Staten Island"

Above: "Toy Shop, Staten Island," a lithograph by Mabel Dwight (1876-1955), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. For more information on Mabel Dwight, see my blog post from a few days ago, A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Christmas in Paris". Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: WPA Christmas Carols

Above: These WPA federal theatre workers traveled around the Seattle area in December 1938 and sang Christmas carols for the public. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Walnut Hills Landscape"

Above: "Walnut Hills Landscape," a watercolor by Robert Fabe (1917-2004), created while he was in the New Deal's Section of Fine Arts. According to the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, Fabe "was drafted into the United States Army, where he served for five years. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and [the] D Day invasion in Europe. He was wounded twice while serving in Europe and then discharged in 1945," and then taught art at the University of Cincinnati from 1958 to 1987. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Sleighing Party"

Above: "Sleighing Party," a mural study by Roland Schweinsburg (1898-?), created while he was in the New Deal's Section of Fine Arts, ca. 1938. Very little information about Schweinsburg exists, and it's not even clear when he died (but probably between 1955 and 1963). According to the East Liverpool Historical Society (East Liverpool, Ohio), Schweinsburg lived a trauma-filled life. He may have served during World War I, his 11-year-old son, Roland, Jr., was struck and killed by a car in 1936, he developed a drinking problem which may have cost him his teaching job at the Butler Institute of American Art, and it seems he died alone. Creating and teaching art probably helped him cope with all the stress. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: A closer look at the left-hand side of the mural study.

Above: A closer look at the right-hand side of the mural study.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Sleigh-Racing on Euclid Avenue"

Above: "Sleigh-Racing on Euclid Avenue," a watercolor painting by Joseph B. Egan, created while he was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), ca. 1933-1934. Very little information seems to exist about Egan, but the final report on the PWAP (1934) shows him living on Silsby Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, during the time of his New Deal work; and the Living New Deal shows that he created another PWAP painting, "Old Reservoir Walk," that now resides in the Cleveland Public Library's main branch. Image courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Right-Wing Grinches and New Deal Christians

Above: Right-wingers frequently remind me of the Grinch, especially around the holidays. Image from the 1966 cartoon, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!," used here for educational and non-commercial purpose.

Right-Wing Grinches

At the end of his 1939 Christmas Greeting to the Nation, President Franklin Roosevelt quoted scripture over the radio: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth... Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Today, right-wingers don't pay much attention to these types of Bible verses. Blessed are the poor? Right-wingers condemn them all the time, referring to them as "takers" and "parasites." Blessed are the meek? They just elected a braggart into the White House. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake? Well, this verse could be interpreted in a few different ways, but we know that right-wingers persecute the poor, out of a sense of self-righteousness, all the time - condemning the less fortunate as lazy people who don't practice "personal responsibility," while exalting themselves as hard-workin', God-fearin', real Americans.

The Grinch soul of the political right reared it's ugly head again recently, when the new administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, Brandon Lipps (a Trump Administration appointee), wrote about the lazy poor bogeyman: "The American dream has never been to live on government benefits... We must facilitate the transition for individuals and families to become independent, specifically by partnering with key stakeholders in the workforce development community and holding our recipients accountable for personal responsibility" ("Trump administration wants more people to work for food stamps," CNN, December 7, 2017, emphasis added).

To Mr. Lipps, I would adapt one of the Grinch cartoon songs: "You're a foul one, Mr. Lipps / You're a nasty, wasty skunk / Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk / Mr. Li-ipps / The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!" (see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Quotes," IMDB).

Interestingly, in one of its rare moments of sobriety, the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute responded to the Trump Administration's foul attitude toward government benefits by saying, "If you really want people to have upward mobility, there has to be upward mobility to something. In a lot of places in the U.S., there are no jobs." Indeed. Recall that Mr. Lipps said, "The American dream has never been to live on government benefits." Well, neither was the American Dream ever about crap jobs with stagnant wages - which is what Republicans and neoliberal Democrats have persecuted us with for decades, via trickle-down economics. 

The Christianity of FDR and the New Deal

Above: This photograph shows FDR purchasing Christmas seals in 1939. The 1939 seal (purchased for charity and placed on mailing envelopes) shows a double-barred cross, the symbol of the National Tuberculosis Association (today's American Lung Association), and an angel. Also in the photo are artist Rockwell Kent and Mrs. Ernest Grant of the D.C. Tuberculosis Association. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In her book, The Roosevelt I Knew (1946), former U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins described President Roosevelt's Christian faith: "I realized that his Christian faith was absolutely simple. As far as I could make out, he had no doubts. He just believed with a certainty and simplicity that gave him no pangs or struggles... It was more than a code of ethics to him. It was a real relationship of man to God, and he felt as certain of it as of the reality of his life... He saw the betterment of life and people as part of God's work, and he felt that man's devotion to God expressed itself by serving his fellow men" (pp. 141-144).

The New Deal was created and implemented by many men and women who were influenced by the social gospel movement, a strain of Christianity that sought to incorporate Christ's teachings into all aspects of life, even government policy. Today's right-wing movement, while frequently espousing Christianity, is actually more devoted to the teachings of Ayn Rand (the real life Grinch) than Jesus Christ.

Right-wingers frequently complain that Christianity is under attack, and that there's a war on Christmas, without realizing that their constant assaults on the less-fortunate, and their constant and blind glorification of the super-wealthy, i.e., their Christian hypocrisy, poses one of the greatest threats to Christianity.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Christmas in Paris"

Above: "Christmas in Paris," a crayon lithograph by Mabel Dwight (1876-1955), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1939. Dwight studied art in San Francisco and Paris and, "During the mid-1920s she produced a series of lithographs that earned her international recognition... Her main artistic interest was in people engaged in every-day pursuits or on holiday in the New York City area..." ("Mabel Dwight, Artist, Dies," Philadelphia Enquirer, September 6, 1955). Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Above: This is a fantastic hand-colored lithograph that Mabel Dwight made in 1928, around the time of her rising fame. It shows an aquarium scene in New York. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: A self-portrait, created by Mabel Dwight in 1932. Dwight had no immediate survivors when she died, and there doesn't appear to be many (or any) photos of her online, so it's possible that this is the only image we have for her. When she became a WPA artist in the mid-to-late 1930s, she had either fallen on hard times (private buying of art dried up during the Depression) or she could've been hired into a supervisory or teaching position. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Ice Skating

Above: "Skating in Central Park," an oil painting by Saul Kovner (1904-1981), created while he was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1934. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 Above: "Skating a Tarry Hall," a painting by Kenneth Warnock Evett (1913-2005), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Sheldon Museum of Art.

Above: A WPA poster promoting a winter festival in Iowa. Did you know that between 1934 and 1935 the New Deal's Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) funded the construction of 887 skating rinks and the improvement of 203 existing rinks? (The Emergency Work Relief Program of the FERA, April 1, 1934 - July 1, 1935, p. 94). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: This photograph was taken in Middleton, Wisconsin, ca. 1935-1943. The description for it reads, "Dane County, view showing skating rink and warming house. Open skating period. The rink located in a town of 1,000 population provided much wholesome fun for Middleton's younger set as well as some of the adults. The rink was [supervised by] a WPA recreational worker." It's not clear whether the WPA also built the rink and/or warming house but, across the nation, WPA workers built 1,101 skating areas and improved 84 existing ones (some of these projects were probably carryovers from FERA work - see previous caption). (Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, p. 131). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: "Skating on Bonaparte's Pond," a mural study by Avery F. Johnson (1906-1990), created while he was in the New Deal's Section of Fine Arts, ca. 1940. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: A closer look at the left-hand side of the mural study.

Above: A closer look at the right-hand side of the mural study.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "December Trees"

Above: "December Trees," a lithograph by Grant Arnold (1904-1988), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1935. There seems to be very little information about Arnold on the Internet, or in newspaper archives, but a 1936 article noted that he had "considerable attention in the art world" for his lithography skills: "He avoids the slipshod liberty sometimes taken in modern graphic art. The result is a presentation of scene familiar to today's beholder. Through his craftsman-like treatment he is able to convey his sensory reaction [with] compositional clarity." The article also reports that he taught an art class in Woodstock, New York, "attended by students from all parts of the country," and "As a true craftsman he follows the entire lithographing process, making his own sketch, drawing it on the stone and doing the actual printing on his hand press" ("Grant Arnold Shows Lithographs at Little Art Shop, Woodstock," The Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York), July 10, 1936). Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: WPA toys in Tennessee

Above: A WPA toy project in Memphis, Tennessee, September 1936. WPA workers refurbished old toys and made toys from scratch. During Christmas time, many underprivileged children received toys from the WPA. At other times of the year, the WPA operated toy lending projects. All of these projects were win-win-win policies: (1) Unemployed people had jobs, (2) landfill space was saved by recycling old toys and materials, and (3) children from low-income families had more toys than they otherwise would have. Toys and play have long been recognized for their importance in childhood development. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), "Play is essential to babies, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children. Children need plenty of opportunities to play with a variety of good toys... Toys are an important part of every child’s life" ("Why This Toy?" NAEYC). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: A closer look at the WPA Toy Project sign.

Above: A WPA worker paints a merry-go-round on the Tennessee toy project. How many children had a better Christmas because of WPA workers on toy projects? We'll probably never know for sure, but it's probably in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Country Church"

Above: "Country Church," an oil painting by Arthur E. Cederquist (1884-1954), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1936. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: "Winter" by Karl Baumann

Above: "Winter," a watercolor painting by Karl H. Baumann (1911-1984), created while he was in the WPA's art program, 1941. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A New Deal Winter & Christmas: Ebenezer Scrooge, Orrin Hatch, and the lazy poor bogeyman

"If I could work my will, nephew, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

--Ebenezer Scrooge, kindred spirit to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, in A Christmas Carol

Above: A costume design for the WPA's Federal Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. The costumes are for the low-income worker Bob Cratchit and his disabled son, Tiny Tim. Image courtesy of George Mason University, used here for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Ebenezer Scrooge, Orrin Hatch, and the lazy poor bogeyman

A few days ago, during a debate about tax-cuts-for-the-rich--and also the reluctant (and probably reduced) funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)--Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch said "The reason CHIP's having trouble is because we don't have money anymore," and then went on to criticize the poor more generally: "I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won't help themselves, won't lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything."

Orrin Hatch is our modern day Ebenezer Scrooge, warning us, just in time for the holiday season, about the lazy poor bogeyman who deserves no help. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is asked for a charitable donation and responds, "I don't make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry."

Hatch complains that the federal government doesn't have money anymore, at the same time that he's cutting taxes for corporations and thus enriching wealthy CEOs and shareholders who are already enjoying record wealth; and also at the same time that he's reducing (or completely eliminating) the estate tax, a tax that only effects the very rich. Hatch also complains about spending money on low-income Americans, but doesn't seem equally worried about spending trillions of dollars on our perpetual military adventures around the globe.

And Senator Hatch probably doesn't want to consider his own role, and his fellow Republicans' role, in keeping people down in the first place - for example, scaling back debt-relief for the middle-class & poor, allowing Corporate America to outsource jobs and bring in foreign workers, and failing to adequately support higher education, thus burdening college students & graduates with more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

Above: A ceramic sculpture of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and one of Cratchit's daughters, by Edris Eckhardt (1910-1998), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1938. In A Chistmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge eventually turned away from his greedy and selfish ways and gave Cratchit a pay raise. Don't expect the same from today's super-wealthy Scrooge CEOs and shareholders. They're going to keep the Republican tax cuts all to themselves. Image courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library.

FDR, the New Deal, and the Holiday Spirit

In his 1939 Christmas Greeting to the Nation, President Franklin Roosevelt pointed out that Ebenezer Scrooge eventually "found that Christmas wasn't a humbug. He took to himself the spirit of neighborliness." FDR also highlighted how the New Deal shared in this spirit, for example, through Social Security: 

"... who a generation ago would have thought that a week from tomorrow, January 1, 1940, tens of thousands of elderly men and women in every State and every county and every city of the Nation would begin to receive checks every month for old age retirement insurance - and not only that but that there would be also insurance benefits for the wife, the widow, the orphan children and even dependent parents? Who would have thought a generation ago that people who lost their jobs would, for an appreciable period, receive unemployment insurance - that the needy, the blind and the crippled children would receive some measure of protection which will reach down to the millions of Bob Cratchit's, the Marthas and the Tiny Tims of our own 'four-room homes.'"

Sadly, we can be certain that Orrin Hatch and his fellow Republicans will find no such holiday and neighborly spirit. You see, Republican politicians despise the working poor... but love the idle rich - especially the ones who give them campaign contributions. That's what all of this tax-cuts-for-the rich and insulting the poor madness is all about.

Yes, under the Christmas trees of the mega-wealthy, the Republican Party will leave lots of money, lots of cash. Under our Christmas trees, however, we can expect the Republican Party to give us a huge middle-finger and an evil grin.

Above: "Greetings from Krampus!" an old greeting card by an unknown artist. During the holidays, Krampus, like Republicans, punishes those he considers to be undeserving. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.