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Updated: Dec 30, 2020

December 25, 2020

For a lot of Americans, this will go down as the worst Christmas ever. That's especially true if you're under the age of 10 and your parents couldn't afford to buy you any gifts this year.


The new bill containing relief aid was supposed to be signed into law before the President left for his own holiday in Mar-A-Lago. There, I imagine that there are lots of festive decorations, music, food and wine, and of course sufficient heat where the Trumps are celebrating. Not that anyone needs heat on a luxury estate in Florida!

Photo: Mar-A-Lago seen from the sky, courtesy of Business Insider

Photo: Inside Mar-A-Lago, courtesy of House Beautiful

The same can't be said of many households throughout America, where a year of suffering is now being capped off in true Trump fashion with no money at all coming through for the people. Not even for the families with kids. Not even at Christmas.

We've heard that the relief bill was sent town to Florida but Trump so far is declining to sign it. Trump decided to blow up negotiations on Tuesday (the 22nd), after lawmakers on both sides had been scrambling to put a deal together before the winter recess. That fact alone is appalling, considering they've had the better part of a year to help us.

Of course, Congress needed to pass legislation to prevent a government shutdown this coming Monday, so maybe the Dems (who have been trying to push through a relief bill for months) used that as leverage to reel back Mitch and the Senate Republicans, which is to say just Mitch, since the Senators obey him in all things and function as a single unit no matter what.

Last night Congress called a special Christmas Eve session to discuss Trump's proposal of a $2,000 check for every American, vs. the $600 that's in the current bill. Woo hoo! I'd expect there to be rejoicing throughout the land — finally, a Christmas blessing! — except it's so obvious he did this to jam the process. He knows those mean-spirited Republicans will never approve a $2,000 for every American. Never mind that it's OUR money. He wanted to stick it to Mitch and the GOP Senators — the Dems too, of course, but the Senators most of all, because he'd counted on their support for his claims of election fraud.

So there's been a revenge scheme in play by the President, much gnashing of teeth as the whole Congress is forced to postpone its holiday, a leader in absentia whose staff released the following statement: [While at Mar-A-Lago], President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American people. His schedule includes many meetings and calls." Yeah, and then a CNN reporter found him on the golf course.


But frankly, at this moment, he himself is expendable. With him and his co-conspirators out of the White House for the holiday, we can actually take our eyes off him for a second. All we need is his signature on that bill. If he pocket-vetoes it by refusing to sign it within 10 days (not counting Sundays) … Well, we can probably kiss goodbye any hope of help from our government for the rest of 2020.

This has been a banner month for Mitch McConnell. As the clock ticked down last week, he was forced to finally give up his dream of getting Democrats to agree to legal protections for employers who force their employees to work during a pandemic. That's how the obstacle that's been holding up relief aid since May was finally lifted. But to get that there, Democrats were forced to withdraw their bid for assisting states and municipalities, since surely it shouldn't be necessary to fund the places we live during a pandemic.

I know I'm always writing about the need for both parties to work together and compromise but can I just say, that's a nearly impossible task in this year, this political climate, with the challenges before us. It's boggles the imagination to see that, in a catastrophe worse than our nation has ever known, the GOP continues to push its agenda of big business first, make the rich richer, and by all means let's not us, the privileged, work too hard. Future generations will be aghast by so many things in this era, but none so much as the priorities of the second-largest political party in the most powerful nation on earth. It's like they're driving a car that stopped for an orphan with a broken leg in the pouring rain, and they threw out a towel and kept driving. By today, December 23, my disgust knows no bounds. The Republican Party has proven to be just as heartless as it is useless.

Illustration: M. Wuerker, Politico

As an example, Mitch made two decisions this month, and there's not a drop of integrity or compassion in either one. He managed to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory a full six weeks after the election. And he returned to the economic negotiating table not so that America could get vaccine funding, extended unemployment benefits, eviction protections and the individual checks that many hopeful recipients probably had earmarked for Christmas gifts, but seemingly so he and his fellow Senators could get the hell out of Washington, D.C. and start their holiday recess.

I imagine how lavish some of their celebrations are. I imagine (dream of?) one of them, two of them, even three of them hesitating before carving their Christmas turkey (or ham, or whatever) and thinking about the food bank lines in Texas. Is it really possible that America has not a single Senator who will go up against a Leader who truly couldn't care less about the people they swore to serve, the people who pay them — the people who are suffering unimaginably this year? Is that actually possible?

Photo courtesy of NARAL

I like Christmas but it's not a huge deal for me. But for lots of others, it really is the highlight of the year. That goes triple for kids, of course. This year we all needed a bright spot — seriously, anything. And instead we got a cruel Congress, a President full of rage and among the missing, and exactly the kind of want and misery that's supposed to be alleviated at this time of year, even for just a day.

Today, here's a short list of what's happening:

- December is proving to be the deadliest month since this pandemic began, with hospitals overflowing across the country and more than 370,000 Americans now dead. There are no unaffected states left. We're dying at a rate of about one person a minute.

- A new strain of COVID has just been announced in the U.K. It's about 70% more contagious than the kind we've been battling since February. Scientific experts believe it has already arrived in the U.S. The just-released Phizer and Moderna vaccines may be effective against it but no one is sure of that yet.

- A severe winter storm is raging across the midwest, with "blizzard-tornado" conditions that caused that more than 250 highway accidents yesterday and delayed hundreds of holiday flights. Minnesota, which you'd think could handle snow better than almost anyone else, has had to call in the National Guard. (What in God's name is a blizzard tornado???)


Photo: highway in Minnesota, pre-Christmas storm

Stephanie and I had the quiet Christmas that public health experts urged us to have. I felt sad throughout the day, in part because of some family problems I've been dealing with this year, but mostly because our nation is just suffering so, so much.

We gave as much as we could to charities this year, which aren't getting the donations they need, and gave less than usual to our inner circle. But it didn't feel like enough.

This adorable guy is Dave, an adoptable dog currently being housed at Rescue Paws Curacao, a shelter and rehabilitation center we help support. Since the start of the pandemic, animal rescue donations have been down 40-70% To help visit .

Yes, our household too is still awaiting that Economic Injury Disaster Loan, promised seven months ago. Now we know it won't come by Christmas so that suspense is over. But next month, whether we get it or not, we're going to try do some more charitable giving, because with the new strain of virus circulating, with all the new infections caused by Christmas gatherings, we already know January will be even grimmer than December.

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