It was bright and sunshiny Christmas Eve, a little cool, but not for December. Starting with Duke Ellington’s “Jingle Bells,” I listened to a succession of wonderful and talented jazzers. My semi-isolating pandemic ways bear close resemblance to my normal days.

          But, what gives me the right to be content when the president of my country pardons mass-murdering mercenaries who shot up a Baghdad neighborhood? And, why are we hiring gunsels? If we’re too ashamed to do a job ourselves, maybe it shouldn’t be done.

          That same president works harder now than in the past four years – but only to sow confusion and suffering.

          He still finds time to cheat at golf, with us paying fees to his country clubs exceeding $150 million dollars.

          He vetoed the budget for military “losers,” and tweets election lies while threatening the financial aid to those suffering from his deliberate bungling of a pandemic into Main Street economic ruin.

          He chooses to make it as hard as he can for President-Elect Biden to re-establish our world stature instead of running foreign policy to benefit Trump family fortunes.

          This is our republic he’s trying to hamstring while threatening Republicans who dare to support the rule of law.

          He would, of course, prefer a coup.

          The onlyest Thelonious Monk arrived, playing “Sweet and Lovely,” Charlie Rouse soaring on his tenor sax. Monk’s Dream  devolved into a nightmare scenario as Monk’s piano took the lead again, and I realized that about one-third of my Land of Liberty neighbors – proclaiming themselves super-patriots – would happily accept a fascist dictatorship.

          There are better people in the world than I. Their concerns are of a Cosmic nature. They walk a tightrope above the chasm of despair, more consistently aware of the interconnectedness of all things.

          They see crises where many refuse to look, for fear that caring might make them feel obligated to address the problem –  or shame them for knowing that they would do nothing to rock any boats afloat on the ocean of the holy status quo.

          Ah, Dave – and Gerry – let’s “Take Five.” Take a break  and let the beauty of the music – and the world – shake everything into clearer perspective. A long range view of the universe shows its inexorable evolution toward freedom, as Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us.

          Still, that offers no solace to the people in Nisour Square that day, or their survivors or Iraq at large, laid waste based upon another spate of lies.

          Hey, there’s money to be made from wars. We wouldn’t want to hint – much less admit – that Iraqi lives just don’t matter if they stand in the way of Wall Street wealth.

          The highlight of my year was a February trip to Big Bend. No sane person would desecrate those canyons with a wall.

          Downriver, small, caged children were effectively orphaned by a president who claims that Lady Liberty is an irrelevant relic.

          Later, I saw and heard Naomi Shihab Nye – a most serious poet. Writing about an approaching Christmas in a none-too-prosperous neighborhood, she once observed, “I plunged my foot/ into the river of gloom,/ it said it did not need me.”

          What we need to do is to embrace the beauty in the world, commit ourselves “Body and Soul” to nourish and protect it and hope that next year we can discuss issues instead of the most corrupt and incompetent presidency in this country’s history.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: or

And All That Jazz

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