Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BLAME THE BLACK GUY!


On the night he took to the podium ten years ago Tuesday, few would have dared dream  how far this guy would go. For a lot of them, that dream turned into their worst nightmare.

 "I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

Barack Obama speech to the Democratic Convention
27 July 2004

On Election Night 2008, America was faced with a simple, eight year challenge, and the whole freaking world was watching:

How would this nation, built as it was on the lacerated backs of black people, deal with the elevation of the first African American to the presidency?

I'm not saying that most white Americans failed that challenge; the majority of us are sophisticated enough, I think, to understand that we're on the edge of a new dawn in this country, and that very soon - and in the lifetimes of most of you reading this - America will no longer be "a white man's country". The problem here is the fact that a significant minority of people broke down with a severe case of spastic apoplexy at the very sight of a KNEE-GROW family living in the executive mansion. While it is always oodles of fun to watch a right-winger suffer a complete nervous breakdown, their unhinged, delusional reaction to the administration of President Obama raise more-than-a-few troubling questions.

Most disturbing has been the reaction of the Republican party - particularly in the South. Something like this was never supposed to happen. A damn darkie livin' in the same house that the sainted Ronald Reagan once called "home"??? Pass me mah smellin' salts, Esther! They had taken it for granted that Pennsylvania Avenue was an exclusive, all-white neighborhood. Barack Obama is viewed by them as the block-buster from hell. 

The Frankster
Of all of their paranoid hallucinations regarding this boringly moderate president, the one that tickles me the most is the right's perception of him as this wild-eyed, borderline communist. Whenever I see someone denouncing Obama as "the most liberal president in the history of this country", that tells me one of two things: (1) The person is lying, or (2) he/she has absolutely no understanding of the history of the country they profess to love so much. Haven't these knuckleheads ever heard the name "Franklin Delano Roosevelt"? FDR was not merely a "liberal" - he was a radical! At a time that was in desperate need of radical change, Roosevelt was made to order. It is that type of administration that is desperately needed again, too. That is what I was praying for when Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2008. A lot of us have been severely disillusioned.  

The president has been taken to task, by the left and by the right, for not "reaching out to" and "working closer with" congress. Are they kidding? What good would that do? It is unrealistic to expect a sane, rational human being to try to deal with a cabal of people who have lost their freaking marbles. HELLO???  

All that one can possibly hope for at this late date is that, by the November midterms, the voters of this country wake up and understand the the damage that the GOP is collectively doing to their once-great nation. That's the only chance Barack has to go down in history as a good, even great, president. If his administration is judged by future historians as being a failure, most of the blame will not be his. Look at all of the grief and obstruction the man has had to put up with. Hats off to the guy for being able to accomplish anything!

Mr Speaker
It's now a little over three months until Election Day. It is going to be an amusing ride between now and then to say the very least. John Boehner is now in the process of suing the president for merely doing the job that he was elected to do. To make matters funnier still, the right wing is openly talking about impeaching him. What "high crimes and misdemeanors" the man is guilty of they haven't made quite clear. Expecting any of these clowns to make sense is a lesson in futility. The reality of a black president is just too much for them to bear. In fact, it's made them crazier than they already were. Not to imply that this hasn't been loads of fun to watch - it has. More fun than the law should allow.

As the months transpire between now and November, their lunacy only promises to get even loonier. I cannot emphasize this enough: These are really interesting times.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Barack Obama's keynote address to the Democratic Convention, July 27 2004, ten years ago this week:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWynt87PaJ0 

"There is not a black America, and a white America, and Latino America, and Asian America. There's the United States of America."

Barack Obama, 7/27/04

Who knew where this would eventually lead? That's a rhetorical question by the way.


 A nocturnal meditation:

She was the personification of a shooting star. It appears upon the horizon, rapidly making its way across the night sky; illuminating the heavens in a brilliant and beautiful light. Then, in an instant, it's gone.

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

You'll Never Walk Alone
by Frank Sinatra  
`
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-z8VpLEHHk
`
I'm sorry, but I love the lyrics of  Oscar Hammerstein. So sue me. Dedicated to her family.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fascist Barbi in 2016


Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in to see you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Jiminy Cricket 


BREAKING NEWS: God wants the president of the United States to be impeached. How do I know this? Because Sarah Palin says so.

Sometimes I can't believe my good fortune. I'm the kind of guy who loves a nice train wreck - of the figurative variety you understand. At a time when I've learned to live with the idea that my circumstances could not possibly get any better, that this is as good as it is ever gonna get, Lady Luck blows another passionate kiss in my direction. It was proven to me this morning that Sarah Palin is contemplating a run for the presidency two years from now. When asked point blank by Fox Noise's Greta von Susteran if she was going to go for the big prize she coyly replied. "Never say never." I realize that that's not much of a statement of intent, but it's all I have to go on. Oh, please, fate! Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please!

Somebody pinch me. 

But it gets worse (or "better" for my purposes): Our gal Sarah might even be contemplating running in a third party uprising. That's right, kiddies! As she has been hinting in recent months, the Grand Old Party just isn't extreme enough for this jabbering twit. She apparently wants to bring U.S. politics into Nazi territory. Isn't that sweet? Do you think that's an extreme take on where they're heading? Consider the following quotation:

"I think we would be totally in the right to do it....Ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss."

No, that wasn't Herman Goering talking. That was some moron named Scott Esk, a candidate for the statehouse of Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain). He was advocating the execution of gays and lesbians. Nice. It should be noted here that since making that idiotic statement, the Republican National Committee has not lifted a gnarled finger to distance themselves from or reprimand this demented asshole. 

Somebody cue the band:

Deutschland! Deutschland!
Uber Alles!

I've written before on this site about the day John McCain announced his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The place was Dayton, Ohio. At that time the only thing I knew about her was that she was the governor of Alaska. I could not come up with a mental image of her in my mind - she was that unknown to me. The moment she stepped forward and opened her mouth, she reminded me of Sally Field. Not Sally Field as Norma Ray - Sally Field as Gidget. I immediately went to the computer to get some information about her. The first thing that caught my eye was the date of her birth: February 11, 1964, a date I could clearly remember. That was the day that my maternal grandmother, Loretta Doran Clements, died unexpectedly in South Bend, Indiana. (ATTN FAB FOUR FANS: It was also the day the Beatles played their first concert in America). 

But other than those two coincidences, there was nothing in her paper-thin biography that warranted any attention. It was clear to me that the Republican party was about to commit electoral suicide with a candidate who was clearly and pathetically out of her league. On the day John McCain announced his choice of running mate, I knew that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States. It was a fairly easy call.

McCain  wasn't too keen on the idea of Sarah Palin on the ticket. His choice had been Joe Leiberman. A former Democrat and a Jew to boot? As conservative as old Joe obviously was, those two nasty little facts were enough to give "the base" a severe case of spastic apoplexy. Sarah was their gal. And she ended up hanging around John McCain's neck throughout the duration of the campaign of 2008 like some half-witted albatross.  By "going rogue" as she did, she virtually destroyed the Senator's lifelong ambition to serve as chief-executive. But for Sarah Palin, John McCain would be sleeping in the Oval Office at this very moment. Can you imagine the torment the poor guy must live with each and every day? Oh, those damnable might-have-beens!

As I wrote way the heck back in 2010, when someone like Sarah Palin can make it as far as she has, it can mean only one thing and it's not a particularly good sign. We are living in a culture that has been custom-tailored for idiots. When a person who can barely put two coherent sentences together without the aid of a state-of-the-art teleprompter becomes one of the best-selling non-fiction authors of the decade, that's usually a pretty good indicator that society is spiraling downward at a fairly decent clip. Fasten your seat belts, kiddies!

This is too good to be true. Whether she seeks the nomination as a Republican or Tea Partier (DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: They're now two separate parties) is beside the point. All that I know for certain is that 2016 is going to be the most mystically weird and wonderful campaign season in the history of this diseased land. For those of us who thrive on the gales of laughter provided to us by Sarah Palin and unintentional comedians like her, these are indeed sweet times to be alive.

Honestly, I never dreamed that my luck would get this good.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Game Change
Directed by Jay Roach

Based on the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, "Game Change" tells the sad (and riotously funny) story of the political catastrophe that was the McCain/Palin campaign of 2008. If it's not available from the friendly, independently-owned video store in your neighborhood (HA! Like they even exist anymore!) here's a link to order it off of Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dmovies-tv&field-keywords=Game+Change

See this movie. We're talkin' "Essential Viewing" here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rolling Out the "I" Word

Degan back in the Days of Dubya
`
One of the main reasons I have never regretted leaving the Democrats over sixteen years ago was because of their spineless, cowardly behavior during the sick and twisted reign of George W. Bush. Think about it: Here was the most corrupt, mind-jarringly incompetent chief-executive in the history of human folly, a man who led his clueless countrymen and women into a war that never should have been fought, for reasons that were based on lies, the result of which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings - and not one of those worthless Democrats had the political courage to call the little bastard on the carpet by initiating impeachment proceedings against him. 

Don't hold your breath waiting for the goddamned Obama justice department to do the right thing by prosecuting both Bush and Cheney (not to mention Donny Rumsfeld and Condi Rice) for the atrocities committed against the human race on the killing field of Iraq. The precedent has been forever set in granite: Any United States president will, henceforth, be able to get away with murder - that would include mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

Now then, doesn't that make you feel all warm and squishy inside? I just knew it would.


Say what you want to about the right wing in this doomed land. What they lack in brains they more-than-make-up for in chutzpa. They're now seriously talking about impeaching the sitting president for the failure of his immigration policies. Sarah Palin has condemned the prez for what she calls "years of abuse" (she wasn't specific on that point) and then went on to proclaim that Obama's failures at the border were "the last straw". It's my opinion that a former governor who walked away from her job for no other reason than to make a shitload of money in the private sector is the last person on the planet who should be proposing that anyone be forcibly be removed from office. The fact that this blabbering nincompoop was once selected for the second spot on a national ticket defies any sense of rationality. Gee, we do live in wonderful times, don't we?

Will they really go through with something as outrageous as that? If they regain the senate and retain control of the house in the fall they will - count on it. Will the American electorate make it happen? There's the cockeyed optimist inside of me that thinks that by that time they will have had-it-up-to-here with the GOP's obstruction and indifference to the national well being. Then there's the gambler inside of me that remembers the old adage that "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people". We shall see.

Sellers as Dr. Strangelove
`
That they're even having this discussion at all is further proof (as if more was really necessary) that the Republican party has lost its mind. This is black comedy at its finest. Move over Dr. Strangelove! Just when you come to believe that the freak show couldn't possibly get any freakier they lower the bar even further. That a failed policy (which has been failing for decades by the way) can be defined as "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a rib-tickler in itself. Someone should make this into a movie. And what actor alive possesses the comedic genius to take on the role of Ted Cruz? Where have you gone, Peter Sellers?

Maybe this is all a ruse; a distraction to take the people's minds off of the train-wreck that the GOP has become in recent years. That's always a distinct possibility. Whatever their motivation it's a knee-slapping joy to behold. The sad thing about this whole, demented affair is the fact that it'll be generations before the American people dare to nominate an African American for the office of president. So insane has been the reaction of the racists out there to the boringly moderate Barack Obama, I just can't see it happening again in my lifetime. I'm just happy to have lived to see it happen at all.

As disappointing as Obama has been in a lot of respects, I don't regret casting my ballot for him. Think of the alternatives.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY  

SUGGESTED READING:

John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 - An Unfinished Life
by Robert Dallek 

Of all of the books I've read on the subject of the life of John Kennedy (and I've read damned-near all of 'em, folks!) this is arguably the best. Mr. Dallek presents us with neither hatchet job nor lullaby, but an insightful, well-researched inquiry into the life and times of a good and great man who was greatly flawed. Still, we're all better off today because, a half century ago, Jack Kennedy sought the presidency.

Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot....

I'm sorry, I'll stop. 

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Bo Diddley
by Bo Diddley:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jrIK7YB0tE&list=RD3jrIK7YB0tE

Please, if this isn't the greatest rock 'n' roll record ever recorded, I don't know what the heck is. From 1958, the year I was born.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Revisionism Cheney Style

  
Not Burton and Taylor
`
“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Sickie Dickie and Dizzy Miss Lizzie

It must be a difficult thing being Dick Cheney. Think about it: He must know that he will be remembered down though the ages as (next to J. Edgar Hoover) the most disgusting, reprehensible fool to ever accept a paycheck from the government. In fact, the comparison to Hoover is perhaps a bit unfair. For all of Edgar's faults, he and his boyfriend, Clyde Tolson, ran a  pretty efficient ship over there at the FBI. When all the dust is settled, historians will have no problem identifying a few positive contributions from Hoover's reign of paranoia. Not so with Dick Cheney. He knows this and it's driving him to some sort of a psychotic breakdown. So desperate the silly old sociopath is to rewrite history that he seems to have gone even further over the edge than previously. I'm getting such a kick out of watching this. I really am!   

There's a special place in the halls of Shame and Infamy for the likes of Dick and Liz (not to be confused with Taylor and Burton). There might even be a custom-made place in the pit of hell. But who am I to judge - sinner that I am. The pair of them must be, at the very least smart, enough to understand that Daddy Dick won't possibly be able to escape the ultimate wrath of future historians. There is nothing that can humanly be done to alter all of the nasty facts - particularly this one:

The First Fool
Invading the sovereign nation of Iraq in March 2003 was - beyond the malnourished shadow of a molecule of doubt - the STUPIDEST military blunder in American history. Vietnam doesn't come close to comparing to it. That conflict evolved, over a period of years, into an untenable quagmire. In Iraq we jumped - headfirst and smiling - into the catastrophe. To make matters all-the-more pathetic, we jumped in with a shit-eating grin on our clueless national face. "Bring 'em on!" said the half-witted president. It backfired. Operation Iraqi "Freedom" is America's ultimate tragicomedy.

'Twas all about an ocean of oil
Flowin' 'neath the Iraqi soil.

There is a lot of blame to be shared for the utter implosion that is now occurring in the birthplace of civilization. What happened would not have been possible without more-than-a-few cowardly and enabling Democrats - chief among them Hillary Clinton. I'll probably be supporting her if the Dems are stupid enough to hand her the nomination, but I'll be holding my nose during the entire process. She could have done the right thing and stood up to the warmongers and plutocrats who were just itching to do some economic plundering in a land that contained some of the largest oil reserves on this troubled planet. She didn't. She just had to prove - for the basest, most transparent political reasons - that she was as much of a warrior as any man. I'm praying that Elizabeth Warren changes her mind and throws her hat into the ring. Wishful thinking, I know.

But to blame the tragedy that is now transpiring in Iraq (as Dick and Liz are doing) on President Barack Obama is beyond ludicrous. That country's disintegration was predicted a long time ago by people who knew what the they were talking about. When Obama made his run for the White House six years ago, he promised to do exactly what he did, which was to get American forces out of there. Iraq is broken. The Bush administration broke it irreparably. We have no other choice than to live with our electoral stupidity. It was obvious to anyone paying a smidgeon of attention during the campaign of 2000 that George W. Bush had the IQ of a half-eaten box of MilkDuds. At the time people were saying that they voted for the hideous little thug because they would prefer to have a beer with him than the smarty-pants, policy wonk, Al Gore. We got what we deserved. Deal with it as best you can.
  
"Remember when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

George W. Bush

Won't you come home George Orwell? Won't you come home?

I'll say this for Bush: his reticence since leaving the White House five-and-a-half years ago has been admirable. Quite possibly he is ashamed of himself and his participation in what is, without a doubt, the most reckless and incompetent administration in the history of human mediocrity - which would be perfectly understandable. Dick Cheney, on the other hand, is without a tenth-of-an-ounce of shame. In fact, it is my opinion that the man is a textbook sociopath. Whatever his psychological profile might be, it's obvious that we'll have to live with him until the disgusting old freak drops dead - which is fine 'n' dandy by me. Let's face it; the guy is so much fun to watch! Cheney and Cheney are the greatest unintentional comedy team in the annals of American humor.

Dick Cheney may try to run from history, but he can't hide from it. It staggers the soul to think that he believes he'll be able to do just that. Is he in complete denial - or is it merely gargantuan arrogance? That subject would make a good college thesis for a psych major. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING

Build We Won't
by Paul Krugman
New York Times, July 4, 1014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/04/opinion/paul-krugman-build-we-wont.html?comments#permid=12196141

Why did America gave up on the future and cave-in on investing in building and maintaining our highways? That's an easy one: Tax cuts for a class of people who already have more money than they'll be able to spend in three lifetimes. GIT 'EM, PAUL!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Slingin' that ol' Mississippi Mud

Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel

What a dance do they do!
Lordy, how I'm tellin' you....
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud

Then again, maybe not.

I've said on this site many times something  that I need to repeat: I miss Molly Ivins More than words can express. She, Jim Hightower, and my cousins (the fabulous Barras Family of Port Arthur) were a constant reminder to me that there are still pockets of reason in the Lonestar State. She once offered up a prayer of thanks to the state of Mississippi:

"But for Mississippi we here in Texas would be dead last in everything."

That gal was a hoot!
`
Remember this guy?
`
GET THIS: A white, conservative Mississippian owes his political career to a handful of African American voters. Isn't that something? A pig just flew past my window. I didn't even blink an eye.

Thad Cochran came within an inch of joining Eric Cantor in History's Losers Club. A Tea Partier named Chris McDaniel, an unknown entity who is even more extreme than Cochran (four years ago I would not have thought that possible) challenged Cochran for his senate seat by claiming that the five-term senator just wasn't right-wing enough for the good folks of Mississippi. That unlivable state has something called "cross-filing", which allows Democratic voters to vote in Republican primaries and vice versa. The Democratic voters of Mississippi - damn-near all of whom happen to be African American - were properly horrified at the prospect of someone like McDaniel representing them in Washington. Mr. McDaniel is no relation to Hattie - I'm almost certain of this.

Cochran squeaked by with a mere 7000 vote advantage. McDaniel refuses to concede. He claims that Republican primaries in his beloved Mississippi should not be decided by a buncha goddamn elitist liberals. This is all quite amusing. 

Someone said the other day that if McDaniels loses this primary, it will spell "doom" for the GOP. Forgive me for not remembering the name of the person who made that statement. It was one of the few true things that have been said during this entire, tragicomic process. The clock is ticking for "the party of Abraham Lincoln". They are decades past the point where a good housecleaning might have saved them from their inevitable fate. It's too late for any of that now. The clown car is on fire, spiraling into the abyss. It's such a funny thing to behold. It really is!

For my purposes, a McDaniel victory would have been the icing on the cake - but then again, I don't live in Mississippi (as I'm sure you've figured out by now); I won't be effected one way or the other by whomever ends up winning the booby prize. I can't blame the black citizens of that shit-hole of magnolia for doing whatever humanly possible to sabotage the McDaniel campaign. Who could blame them? These knuckleheads in the party of Tea want to bring us back to the days of Jim Crow. This is not merely my opinion - this is a statement of purpose that has been made by enough of them to make a person with dark skin nervous as hell. 

One seventy-three year old black man, identified only as "Wilkie" (he was probably named after the 1940 GOP nominee - there used to be black Republicans way down South) was quoted this morning in Gail Collins' New York Times column saying, "First time in my life I ever voted in a Republican primary." He's no fool. It was an act of survival on Wilkie's part, I'm sure. I'm certain that not too many Jews voted for Hitler in 1932. That's not an unfair comparison either. Although at that early point no one could have foreseen the Holocaust that was coming, Adolf's vicious antisemitism was a matter of record. So it is with the overt racism of more-than-a-few "spokespersons" within the Tea Party.

How can it be that a fool such as McDaniels should come as close as he came to winning a primary for the United States senate? What is it about the people in that miserable place that they are unable to grasp the fact that the most right wing state in the union (as Mississippi surely is) is also the poorest? What the hell is the matter with them? 

Just as happy as a cow chewing on a cud....

This is - without a doubt - the most interesting of times to be alive. All I can say for sure is that the next two-and-a-half years are going to be many things. "Boring" is not one of them. My glee notwithstanding, put into it's proper, historical context, the ideological demise of the party that used to be the home of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt is a sad thing to watch. As an amateur historian, I say that in all seriousness....

Then again, we all gotta go sometime. Cheers!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Dr. John J. Dermigny
AFTERTHOUGHT:

Please forgive the slight lull in postings. I fell down a flight of stairs on Sunday evening and banged my face up pretty good. A Special thank you to my doctor-in-law, Dr. Jack Dermigny (and nephew Pete) for bringing me to his office in the middle of the night and stitching me up. He is a conservative Republican. How's that for dedication? He does indeed adhere to the Hippocratic oath! 

By the way, recently Jack was made head of the residency program at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY. And to think that I knew him when!

SUGGESTED READING: 

Tchaikovsky: A Quest for the Inner Man
by Alexander Posnansky

If you're as infatuated with the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as I most definitely am, you might want to read this book. Then again, you might not. There is such a thing as "too much information" and that appears to be what I'm getting from this otherwise fine biography. Tchaikovsky was, in many ways, a good man. The problem is that he was not always an admirable one in many respects. That he was a troubled, tortured soul there is no doubt. I'll spare you the details. See for yourself if you insist. 

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Adante Cantabile
by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
from Symphony No. 5

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2AM7GrJxfM

Still, whatever my misgivings toward Tchaikovsky the man (Hey, who's perfect?) his music never fails to send me into the clouds. This particular piece, Adante Cantabile, is a particular favorite of mine. In the 1930's it was turned into a big band hit in America and retitled "Moon Love" - which is kind of nice in a way. The melody invokes an enchanting, moonlit setting in my mind.

Cha! Cha! Cha!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Perfect Nightmare


Let's blame the black guy!

"The World is reaping what Obama helped sow."

New York Daily News Editorial, 6/17/14

WHAT THE FUCK???

The topic of that editorial was the latest catastrophe engulfing Iraq. It was titled (GET THIS!) "What Obama Wrought". It's a jolly good thing that I wasn't sipping my coffee when I happened upon it, otherwise I would have spit it out all over the computer screen. What was all-the-more galling is that nowhere in its contents was the name "George W. Bush" referred to - not even in passing! What are they smoking over there at the News? Whatever it is, it must be triple-laced with hallucinogenics. There is no other explanation for their eye-popping lack of insight. Or are they merely lying to us? That's a distinct possibility. There's a lot of lying going on these days; have you noticed that? 

If, by the remotest of chances, you happen to be as clueless as the editorial board of the New York Daily News, here's a brief history lesson for your enlightenment:

Exactly eleven years and three months ago, the president of the United States made the stupidest military blunder in the history of this doomed republic when he recklessly invaded the sovereign  nation of Iraq.  He told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were a direct threat to the peace and security of the free world. He and his henchmen (and one henchwoman - HI, CONDI!) implied that the Butcher of Baghdad was also involved in the carnage of September 11, 2001.  It was all a goddamned lie - and anyone bothering to pay attention to the situation knew that it was a lie. They said their goal was to bring "freedom and democracy" to the people of Iraq. Again, total bullshit. Their goal was to seize some of the largest reserves of "black gold" on the planet earth. That was the real reason. If they had really been so concerned about human freedom they would have chosen a spot a little closer to home to invade - Florida perhaps.

"Bring 'em on!"

George W. Bush 

What is happening now in Iraq is a nightmare eleven years in the making. In fact, it was predicted. At the time, most of the experts on the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of global politics knew that the centuries-old conflict between the Shiites a the Sunnis had been kept in check by Saddam. It's bound to explode in our faces if he were suddenly out of the picture, we were warned. The naysayers were described as unpatriotic lefties by Fox Noise and the right wing scream machine. Keep voting Republican.

It has long been obvious that the illegal invasion of Iraq was a huge, tragic mistake of generational proportions. Sixty, even seventy years from now (maybe longer) the president of the United States - who more-than-likely has not been born yet - will still be dealing on a daily basis with the criminal incompetence of the Bush Mob. This is the legacy that these murderous assholes have left for posterity. Over forty-five hundred Americans - and untold numbers of Iraqi men, women and little children (the precise number will never be known) - died in vain. 

The Republicans, long aware of the enormity of that error, have seized on this moment to pin the blame of Iraq's inevitable failure on Barack Obama and the Democrats. Will they succeed? Yeah, they probably will. In 1950 the president of Boston University, a man by the name of Daniel Marsh, predicted that America was destined to turn into "a nation of morons" The guy was prescient. 

If you read my stuff with even a molecule of regularity, you know that I'm not a knee-jerk supporter of Barack Obama; the man has turned out to be such a huge disappointment in so many areas that it's difficult to catalog them all. But here is where I'll come to his defense: As far as Iraq is concerned, he did exactly what we elected him to do. He informed us during the campaign of 2008 that his first priority as president of the United States would be extricating us from what anyone with a quarter of a brain knew would prove to be an untenable quagmire. As big a letdown as Barack turned out to be, I've never regretted voting for him - not for a microsecond. Nor do I have second thoughts about supporting him during the 2008 primaries. The alternatives were too horrible to think about. Hillary Clinton? Please.

The prez is being condemned by the right wing media (you know which ones I'm talking about) for pulling us out of Iraq. What the hell was he supposed to do? How long were we expected to stay there: a thousand years - as has been implied by Dick Cheney with a straight face?

Time to face some unfortunate facts, campers: Iraq is broken, non-fixable - and we broke it. Come to think about it, "we" is a misnomer. I was never naive enough to cast my vote for a half-witted nincompoop like George W. Bush. I sleep quite soundly at night thank you very much. 

With each passing year, it will become more and more obvious - gut-wrecnchingly obvious - what a complete and dreadful mistake it was sending those people to the White House thirteen years ago. With each passing year the ramifications of that mistake will be compounded. Isn't life strange?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Robert Greenwald
SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Hijacking Catastrophe
a film by Robert Greenwald

Mr. Greenwald's EXCELLENT documentary about the incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration's incursion into Iraq is one of the most informative - and disturbing - films dealing with this nasty subject that I have ever seen. If it's not for sale at your friendly, local, independently-owned video store (C'mon, there must be one left!) you can pick it up cheaper-than-dirt from Amazon.com:

 Hijacking Catastrophe

Robert Greenwald is a national treasure. 

SUGGESTED READING:

Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America

by Molly Ivins.

What can I say? Molly was as good as it gets - or is ever gonna be I imagine. I miss her more than words can express. Her take on Dubya is hilarious. 

At the Goshen Plaza parking lot
AFTERTHOUGHT, 1:17 PM

This photograph was taken less than a half hour ago. It is my first (and last, I promise) "selfie". Do I really look this disreputable? Maybe it's the focusing. I don't know about you but I would never pick this guy up hitchhiking - not in a million years, Buster! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eric's Bad Night


When the news came over my computer early this morning, I could scarcely fathom what it was I was reading. Was this some kind of Onionesque parody, I asked myself? The news was so baffling - and unexpected - that I had a difficult time processing it. A quick check of the other news sources that make their way into my inbox each-and-every morning confirmed that this was not a hoax: the extremist conservative, house majority leader, Eric Cantor, just wasn't right wing enough for the knuckleheads in the state of Virginia who tend to vote in Republican primaries; defeated by an underfunded, unknown Teapartier with the curious name, "David Brat". Aren't politics a gas?

Harry gives 'em Hell
To say that this was a "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment would be about right. When the polls closed on Election Night 1948 everybody (with the exception of Harry Truman it seems) expected that New York governor Thomas Dewey would commence packing his bags for his new digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Dreams can die a ghastly death. Mr. Dewey, like Mr. Cantor this morning, had some unpleasant realities to contend with come the dawn. Both had expected, not a campaign, but a coronation. Both became, instead, charter members of history's Losers Club. On Election Day when he should have been campaigning in his district and reaching out to his constituents, Eric Cantor was at a Starbucks in Washington DC, meeting with some of his richest donors. How's that for arrogance?  

Yesterday wasn't just a calamity for Eric Cantor; the cracking bells of doom for the "party of Abraham Lincoln" could be clearly heard all through the evening and into the early morning hours. The damned things kept me up all night.

Sorry, I couldn't resist
`
The Republicans are undergoing an ideological earthquake that has been decades in the making.  When Dick Nixon rolled out the "Southern Strategy" in the long ago campaign of 1968, the GOP overtly sought the support of the racist Dixiecrats who had dominated the Democratic party for over a century. By 1980 the bigots were securely in the tent. It was then that candidate Ronald Reagan set out to woo the clinically insane. By 2001 the coalition was securely in place. The cabal of thieves, criminals and crazy people who have hijacked that disgusting party now seem hellbent on destroying it. 

Not that this hasn't been oodles of fun to watch. It has. It's just that one has to wonder what their ultimate goal is. The Tea Party is taking a stand, not merely in Dixieland but in a lot of regions nationwide. In the weeks to come there are twenty-three Republican primaries scheduled. Watch as the incumbents move even further to the extreme right. What happened in Virginia yesterday might very well be a nasty harbinger of things to come. That would be too good to be true. 

The weirdest thing about Congressman Cantor has always been his demeanor of contentment. He always has this strange look of almost cherubic calm when spouting the right-wing agenda. At least Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, to their credit, have the decency to look somewhat ill-at-ease when defending the indefensible. Not so with Eric Cantor! He's perfectly at peace with himself: Buddy Holly on quaaludes. Weird!

Howard K. Smith
I initially intended to call this piece "The Political Obituary of Eric Cantor" - until I remembered Howard K Smith.

In 1962, after Dick Nixon was defeated by Pat Brown in his quest for the California Governor's mansion, Smith concocted a piece for ABC News called "The Political Obituary of Richard M. Nixon". Nixon had originally been favored to win. A former vice-President who came so close to defeating Jack Kennedy for the presidency two years earlier, he seemed a shoe-in. It didn't quite work out that way. On the night of his defeat, Nixon had a public meltdown and told the assembled press, "Just think how much you're going to be missing: You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." Howard took him at his work. Tricky Dick had effectively committed political suicide. Who could blame Smith for pounding out the Trickster's epitaph? 

Six years and two months later, Nixon was living in the White House. Ouch!

Although Smith went on to distinguish himself during an illustrious career that lasted until his retirement seventeen years later, the "Political Obituary" broadcast was an albatross that hung around his neck for the rest of his life. Bearing that in mind, I'm not going to make the mistake of writing off Eric Cantor as a goner - much as I'd love to, mind you. 

Come to think about it we really shouldn't be all that surprised by the outcome of the Cantor/Brat contest. The Frankenstein monster in the guise of the Tea Party was created by the Republicans to do their ideological bidding. Unfortunately the monster has turned on them. What no one is saying is that this is now a separate party. David Brat may technically be a Republican, but if they try to nominate a "moderate" in 2016 (Mitt Romney was too much of a lefty for these clowns) there is every reason to expect a third-party uprising, dooming the GOP on Election Day of that year - and every four years from here on. 

The Republicans' extremism has rendered them a self-inflicted, mortal wound that will eventually destroy that party. Last night was but a prelude of still nastier things to come. The Clown Car is on fire. It really is amusing watching that elephant have a nervous breakdown, isn't it?

I'm loving every minute of this. Seriously.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING

Events Leading Up to My Death:
by Howard K. Smith

The journalistic memoirs of a giant from the golden age of television news.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

National Slave Rememberance Day


"I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man."

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Okay, there I was, driving down Six-and-a-half Station Road, less than a mile from where I live, listening to some satellite radio station, when I heard an ad that almost made me lose control of the vehicle. Some unnamed, idiotic right wing group (they're all pretty idiotic - just in case you've never noticed) wants me to contact my local representative in the congress (that would be Sean Patrick Maloney) and DEMAND that he passes a law that designates the third Tuesday of every November as - I'm not kidding - NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURS DAY!!! So help me Mitch Miller, these jackasses want to set aside a national holiday that honors the sacrifice made by Donald Trump.

Why November - a month that already has Veterans Day and Thanksgiving? Why not make it in August, June or April - three neglected months of the year that have no holidays whatsoever? Could the reason be that November the first is the birthday of Charles Koch? I wonder. The ad on the radio that almost caused me to hit a herd of innocent deer that were grazing in a field to my right, instructed me to remember the people "who built" this grand and glorious land of ours.

Come again?

If we're going to honor the people "who built" America, let's get it right, shall we? Tell you what; the next time you're walking past the White House or the Capital in Washington, ask yourself the following question:

Who built that?

Both of those buildings were built by human beings who were being held in bondage - slaves

I've got a dandy idea: How 'bout a national holiday to coincide with the weekend closest to August 16 (my birthday but that's only coincidental - HONEST!) that would have us take pause and pay tribute to the people who really built America. The plutocracy does not need their own special day of remembrance. Every single day is a jolly holiday for those who don't need to work. Think about it!  

National Billionaires Day is a mind-bogglingly stupid idea. National Slave Remembrance Day is an idea long overdue. This ain't rocket science, kids. 

Donald's bad hair life
People who have more money than they know what to do with don't need to be honored for having the talent (or the luck) to make all that cash. How do you think Donald Trump became as rich as he is? Certainly brilliance had nothing to do with it. Have you ever seen the guy being interviewed? The Donald is an idiot. How was he able to accumulate his wealth? He inherited it from his father. Why should we honor Donald Trump in the same way we used to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln? (It's now called "Presidents Day" in honor of all presidents. That would include George W. Bush). 

National Slave Remembrance Day is not only an idea whose time has come, it's positively shameful that it hasn't been established as a national holiday as of yet. Am I the first person to come up with the idea? I couldn't be! Only a century-and-a-half separates us from the time when human beings were treated like cattle in "the land of the free". In terms of the history of the human race, a hundred and fifty years is but a millisecond. On the day that I was born there were about one-hundred people still living who were born into slavery. The last veteran of the Civil War passed away a year after I was born - and I'm not that old....WELL I"M NOT!!!    

Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home
'Tis summer and the darkies are gay....

Stephen Foster

It's not quite like it was in the movies, folks. Hatttie McDaniel was an actress (and a damned good one). She was not a historian. The image of slap-happy, banjo-playin' ol' Uncle Tom - shufflin' along 'n' yacking it up 'n' chompin' on that watermelon - is a fantasy straight out of the mind and morals of Cliven Bundy. Just to refresh your memory, he is the Nevada rancher who recently made the incredible statement that "Negroes" were better off as slaves. A lot of people who call themselves "conservatives" have the silliest notions when it comes to African Americans. Have you ever noticed that? 

So what do you think? This coming August 16 - and every August the sixteenth from here to eternity - shall be recognized as "National Slave Remembrance Day". And if the right wing crazies freak out about the idea (as surely they will), we must explain that it'll be a good deal for them in two ways:

First (and foremost): they'll have yet another thing they'll be able to bitch and moan about and....

Second: We'll all have another excuse to have a barbeque and get rip-roaring drunk! WHOOPEE!

I'm telling you, it's a win/win situation!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

AFTERTHOUGHT:

One of my bragging rights is that I once met Maya Angelou. God rest her soul. There will never be another one like her. 

SUGGESTED READING:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou 

Weep no more, my lady.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

California Carnage

Richard Martinez grieves

"Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live?....When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say 'Stop this madness, we don't have to live like this'? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, not one more."

Richard Martinez 
Father of shooting victim, Chris

From his cold, dead hands....
A father's anguished words following the latest, totally expected rampage of gun violence - this time in California - didn't really have much effect on the people in a position to do something to stem the carnage. It's going to be business as usual in America. Richard Martinez had some advice (really, it was more of an indictment) for the politicians sending him shallow words of consolation which was splashed this morning all over page one of the New York Daily News: "I don't care about your sympathy. I don't give a shit that you feel sorry for me....Get to work and do something!"

The poor guy ought not to hold his breath. Nothing's going to change - NOTHING. There will be more rivers of blood flowing. There will be the continued massacre of untold numbers of innocents. In time there will be another slaughter of little boys and girls at an as-of-yet unnamed elementary school in this doomed nation. Your elected "representatives" don't give a fuck about your safety or that of your children. Do you think otherwise? What the hell's the matter with you?

Then again, mountains of bodies and oceans of blood suits my purposes just fine, thank you very much. I'll never have writers block, that's for damned sure. A tip of the hat and a raising of the glass to Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. They've added so much meaning to my life that I'm at a loss to find the words to express my gratitude.

I read the news today, oh boy.... 

Christopher Martinez rests
When I saw a photograph in the papers of the maniacal nitwit responsible for the newest carnage I was a bit perplexed. He said in a video that was shot as he was seated behind the wheel of his car that we wanted kill women - blondes in particular. He was bitter toward them and he wanted to exact his vengeance in blood simply because he had never been on a date. I couldn't understand why this would be so. The truth is he wasn't a bad looking kid - better looking than I was at that age - and I never had any problem getting a date (Honest!). That was before I saw his video - his manifesto, if you will. It was at that moment that I understood all too well....

This kid was an insufferable asshole.

If you want to understand what I'm talking about, look up the video posting. It's all over the internet so you won't have any trouble finding the damned thing. I won't be providing any link to it here; nor will I be posting his photograph. I refuse even to mention the schmuck by name. We'll be forgetting what he did soon enough. Why bother remembering his name? Most people have forgotten Newtown, Connecticut. What's the bloody point? Pun not intended.   

The demented, half-witted piece of shit who goes by the name of "Joe the Plumber" had some comforting thoughts for the loved ones of the kids murdered in California last week:

"As harsh as this sounds - your dead kids don't trump my constitutional rights."

Harsh indeed. I won't be mentioning him by his real name either. "Joe the Plumber", like nearly everything connected these days with the agenda of the extreme right wing, is a fraud. Again, as quoted in this morning's Daily News, old Joe stated that Richard Martinez's gut-wrenching sorrow only provided ammunition (I'm just "loaded" with puns this morning) for the "gun-grab extremists". Ain't that a killer? ("Killer" - GET IT???)

I have no optimism for you on this grim, Wednesday morning. And I don't want to hear mentioned the fact that three of the seven victims were killed with knives. Had the murderer taken time to think this through (he obviously wasn't too bright) the body count would have been much higher than it is. The nasty little fact-of-the-matter is that the availability of firearms in America trumps the constitutional rights of every one of us - but don't hold your breath waiting for the congress to to figure that out. Just sit back and roll with the punches. Come to terms with the fact that this is the way it is going to be from now on. Why get all bent out of shape about it? Learn to live with it as I did. I long ago anesthetized myself to living in a country in ruins. You should, too. It will make the going a whole lot easier. 
`
Can't you feel that hard rain a'falling? Seriously.
`
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
`
SUGGESTED READING:
`
A Covert Affair
by Jennet Conant

Paul and Julia Child
`
My friends John and Ramona Harragin gave this book to me for Christmas in 2012. I finally got around to reading it this week. It's the interesting - at times gripping - story of Julia McWilliams and her future husband, Paul Child and the work they did for government intelligence during and immediately following World War Two. They were married after the war and she became Julia Child. We remember her today from PBS's "The French Chef".

Many of their friends - good and loyal Americans all - later had their diplomatic careers ruined for "losing" China - as if it was ours to lose. Untold numbers of diplomatic talent that had taken decades to cultivate were scattered like ashes in the wind. The multi-tragedies that resulted from the right wing's purging of the State Department in the nineteen-forties and fifties directly led to the foreign policy fiasco in Vietnam during the sixties and seventies, and which reverberates down to this day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
`
Keep voting Republican.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Lonely in the Gutter


Dubya and the Architect
`
"But it was never merely winning a political battle that was important to Karl Rove - he was intent on destroying any political opponent who got in his way - Republican or Democrat. There are too many stories to count of Democrats in the state of Texas who had investigations initiated against them at Rove's behest - two of them in particular would wind up going to prison on charges that they were absolutely innocent of. Their only crime was that they walked into the political cross hairs of Karl Rove."

From "The Rant"
August 14, 2007

That paragraph was written seven years ago. At the time I was predicting that Karl Rove was within days of being indicted for his part in outing the identity of CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and that the most overtly corrupt administration in American history wouldn't last the year. Naive on my part, I know. And to think that today the Republicans are talking openly of impeaching Obama for....What? I can't even remember.

It must not be an easy thing to be Karl Rove these days. As much contempt that I have for him, there's a part of me that feels a certain degree of pity for the poor bastard. Let's face some necessary and unpleasant facts, shall we? The man has fallen hard since that glorious day thirteen years ago when, through machinations that defy definition and comprehension, he was somehow able to take an uninspired and uninspiring halfwit named George W. Bush and make him president of the United States of America. Say what you want about the guy, that feat of political walking on water is too impressive for words. That he is - beyond any doubt - a political genius could be denied by only the most partisan of cynics. Let's give the man credit where credit is due. They didn't call him "Bush's Brain" for nothing.

That being said, this must not be an easy time to be Karl Rove. 

You could see the cracks in his demeanor begin to form in a serious way on Election Night 2012. There was our hero in the studios of Fox Noise, confidently assuring the masses of uninformed sheep that watch that network that Barack Obama - in spite of all the polls to the contrary - would soon be sent packing back to Kenya, and that Mitt Romney was on his way to glory. When the official word came down that the president had indeed been reelected, Karl refused to accept the news as fact. His reaction was nothing less than a case of a man in the throes of denial. I thought he would have a nervous breakdown right there on the spot. It really was a lovely thing to behold. 

Since that night, Rove has been in a blind panic. Bad enough his party got creamed in the presidential contest, now he is forced to deal with the Frankenstein's Monster that he himself is partially responsible for creating. 

It's "offical"
For the past year-and-a-half my man Karl has been scrambling like a crazy person across this diseased country, desperately trying to keep the Tea Party crazies from getting on the ballot this November, thus dooming the GOP on Election Day. Although most political commentators are predicting a comfy/cozy victory for the Republicans in the 2014 midterms, it is my belief that Rove is politically astute enough to see the writing (complete with misspellings and bad grammar) on the wall. He understands that there are some nasty tremors underneath the seemingly confident facade of "the party of Abraham Lincoln" (It's almost impossible to write those words and not giggle at the same time. Have you ever tried it?) 

And at the moment, Karl's utter panic is in the stratosphere. In an act of desperation that, as far as I can tell, is without precedence, he and the right wing SCREAM machine are trying to put the idea out there that (GET THIS!) Hillary Clinton is brain damaged. She is the presumed Democratic nominee for 2016 and virtually every poll has her as unbeatable when compared to anything the Republicans have to puke up at this point.They are totally unable to campaign based upon the merits of their ideas so they need to resort to this kind of stuff. This is going to get a lot more interesting before it starts to get boring. I'm just sayin'.

2012 won't have anything on 2016. As laugh-riotous as that campaign was, the next one is gonna be a scream. These are really good times to be alive, aren't they?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Easy To Love

by Billie Holiday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GvbTSLbb7U


 I dreamed I was dancing with Billie. It should have been in Harlem, circa 1935 - but to tell you the truth, it might have been anywhere, any decade. All I remember distinctly is that it was at night, and Billie seemed serene, maybe even at peace. That's all you ever want for Lady Day. You just want to make her tragedy go away. It's impossible not to care for her even now, fifty-five years in the grave she entered too soon. She's so easy to love, you know what I'm talkin' about?