Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Rants & Reason

Candy canes and coal for your holiday stocking

12/6/2017

We have surpluses of grinches and gloom this holiday season, so our stocking stuffers include lumps of coal along with the joys, people and events we rightly cherish. Consider:

In the holiday season, questions are raised about separation of church and state as, for example, manger scenes placed in city hall. But little such attention is given year-round to how state and local governments — in accordance with scripture — dole out millions of dollars in tax relief, tax abatements and outright cash to private businesses and
get little or nothing in return. Someone should bring suit to stop government from engaging in religious practices: Acts 20:35, it is more blessed to give than to receive; 2 Corinthians 9:7, the Lord loveth a cheerful giver. Ho Ho Ho!

Members of Congress are quick to assure victims of mass shootings, “Our thoughts and our prayers are with you.” In all honesty, they should add, “But, of course, our votes and re-election funds remain with the NRA and gun nuts.” Ho Ho Ho! 

The Des Moines Register no longer has a standard op-ed page, meaning the page opposite the one carrying the paper’s editorial. Staff and content cuts mean the Register will have about 150 fewer editorials in a year’s time — 150 fewer days to hold local and state government accountable in ways news coverage cannot. Goodbye op-ed page, hello sans-ed page. Ho Ho Ho! 

Akima LLC is a Virginia holding company with lots of federal contracts. It has a policy against inappropriate behavior. So employee Julie Briskman was fired because while bicycling she flipped off a Trump motorcade. In her work on the company Facebook page, she previously had reported a senior company director whose post called someone “a f***ing Libtard a**hole.” Fair is fair at Akima. Julie was fired; the director had to take down the post. Ho Ho Ho! 

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Take a break from the coal lumps and even the cold weather of the day. Visit the Reiman Gardens at Iowa State to take in the serenity and joy of just sitting among the lovely, colorful creatures in the Butterfly Wing — wonder, escape and enchantment guaranteed. Happy Holidays!

Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer. It’s not that you’ll be doing a good deed.
You’ll celebrate the generosity of folks who drop coins and bills into your kettle and thank you for the opportunity to
do so. Happy Holidays! 

For art you literally can get into, visit the (free admission) Des Moines Art Center for the Drawing in Space exhibit,
which will be in town until Jan. 21. Be sure to watch the video by artist David Eppley on his lines, and hold your
breath as kids and you can crawl through the elevated tubal artwork of Neuman/For Use. One of the nicest tape works (by Heeseop Yoon) also awaits your visit. Happy Holidays! 

For good thoughts about whether it’s coal or candy cane, consider this thought from Byran Loop, a Drake grad
of 1991 around the time he offered it: “You can test the proposition as to whether your glass is half empty or half
full by holding the glass in the air and pouring its contents on your head.” Happy Holidays and, trust me, that glass of eggnog is half full. ♦

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes the monthly Rants and Reason column for CITYVIEW.

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