Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
December 2001 #2

Oh, here we come a'caroling
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Monday, December 17, 2001

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
how lovely are thy branches ...

The tree was small, yet it dominated the landscape, standing as it did in the middle of a field, surrounded by forest, and brightly lit with multicolored Christmas lights. There were no buildings anywhere in sight.

Chip and I were driving on that lonely stretch of Interstate 88, just before Oneonta, New York, halfway between my western Pennsylvania hometown and Marblehead. It was just after dusk, so holiday lights had begun to shine from farmhouse windows and along the roofs of occasional small settlements in the distance. But there was no farmhouse and no settlement for miles on either side of the little tree.

Chip thought it might be lit by solar batteries, but the tree was on the southern side of the highway, beneath the hills, where the low-slung winter sun wouldn't hit it directly during the day. I like to think it was magic.

■  ■  ■

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,
make the season bright;
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight ...

This newspaper ran a story about the celebration of Blue Christmas, for those who are feeling sad during the season of joy. People get together in non-denominational ceremony at the winter solstice, and share emotions that fit this particular time in their lives better than merriness.

Even those of us who have not suffered recent loss can mix sadness with joyful memories of family and friends who are not around for one reason or another. I have always loved the original lyrics to "Merry Little Christmas," which include the promise that "someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we'll have to muddle through somehow..."

Barbra Streisand changed it to something about hanging a shining star upon the highest bough. I resent this substitution for sweet melancholy every time I play her first Christmas album, which I bought before I heard her spout her ridiculous political mush. Now I am resolved not to buy her new Christmas album, no matter how much I like her voice.

This is always a dilemma. Chip and I enjoy the music of Jimmy Buffet and Don Henley, but fear that the CD proceeds will be contributed to Al Gore or John Kerry. Why can't Clint Eastwood make a Christmas album?

You laugh, but Clint did sing in the film version of "Paint Your Wagon," and has a rather nice voice. I can hear him now, "Hang a shining star and make my day...."

■  ■  ■

Here comes Finneran, here comes Finneran,
right down Lobbyists' Lane....

Ah, those Clean Elections activists know how to have a merry old time. Last week they picketed Tom Finneran's annual fundraiser, at which it behooves lobbyists to deck the halls with cash that the Speaker can distribute to the sheep that gather upon a midnight clear on the Beacon Hillside.

All together now, to the tune of "Winter Wonderland," lyrics by Patrick Keaney of Mass Voters for Clean Elections:

Cell phones ring! Can you hear them?
Money men must get near him
They give him their dough, 'cuz he runs the show
Kissing up to Speaker Finneran
Gone away are term limits
Now he runs Massachusetts
The people with cash, they like it like that
Kissing up to Speaker Finneran
In our Constitution there's a sentence
Giving us the power to make a law
We did in '98 with Clean Elections
And we'll be here long after Tom is gone!
But tonight, here in Boston
We can see what it's costin'
To have our laws made, by those who have paid
Kissing up to Speaker Finneran.

Some of the protesters bought $100 tickets to the Parker House vent and went inside to distribute flyers to the lobbyists. Hotel security guards threw them, reporters, and even the activist dressed as Santa Claus, back out to the street.

■  ■  ■

You better watch out, you better not pout
'Cause someday the voters will
throw the sheep out....

I wish. But it's a merry little Christmas, and I choose to believe that democracy will muddle through somehow, someday, on Beacon Hill. Anything is possible, after all, in a world that has a tree lit by magic, in the middle of a lonely field on Interstate 88.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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