Saturday, February 28, 2015

Crazies on Parade


Dig this! White Christian males (such as I) are an oppressed minority. This I never knew!

McGovern '72
I suspect that - subtly at least - the "white victimization" fantasy will - once again - be a key part of the right wing's attempt to appeal to the clueless American people. It's always worked so well in senate and congressional races; not so much in the presidential contests - for the simple reason that it was never really necessary. 2016 is going to be different, though. The GOP is these days facing some unsettling realities. And the nastiest fact of all it that they've rendered themselves unelectable as far as the presidential contest is concerned.How do you think that an African American politician from Chicago was able to get elected? Sure, the guy was loaded with substance (no argument there). But so were Al Gore and George McGovern. Everything has changed.  

Where is this white-Christian-male suppression coming from? Who is instigating this mass persecution?. Why am I not able to perceive it? Am I really that dense? Some of the folks who tune into this site might agree with that last assessment (I can almost hear the wise cracks now) but I think I'm a fairly perceptive guy. If I have ever once, during my fifty-six-and-a-half years on this sad planet, been discriminated against because I am a male and a Christian, I'm not aware of it. In fact, the only person in my life who ever put down due to the fact that I'm Irish Catholic is me! You know how we Irish are with our self-deprecating wit! 

Here's what's happening:

Because conservative policies are doing such serious damage to the people of this country (particularly in the South and the Midwest) the right wing SCREAM machine has these assholes convinced that they're suffering because they're being persecuted by those nasty LIB'RALS who would like nothing better than to elevate the KNEE-GROW at their expense. Call it "the vast, left-wing conspiracy". Hence their nutty persecution complex. Ain't that a riot?
`
Okay, okay; I'll come right out and confess: It's all true. If we progressives have our wicked way (and we will  have our wicked way) within five years, after you white Christians are humiliatingly defeated in the race war that is now in the final stages of preparation, your young daughters will be forced into cohabitation with black men. Be afraid.

This is where I do my sinister-evil laugh. But seriously, folks.... 

A few years ago I predicted that the most crucial thing to watch in the next thirty years or so will be how white people in this country react to the unstoppable sociological fact that they will one day no longer be in the majority in a relatively short time. By all accounts they're (we're) not reacting as maturely as we should be. C'mon, fellow honkies! Let's act like grownups, okay? There's no way we can stop what is happening short of genocide. And although a few of us may very well be contemplating such an atrocity (white supremacy is not quite dead) it's not in the cards so put it out of your minds. Just sit back and roll with the changes. That's what I've been doing and I'm perfectly content with it thank you very much. It's not the end of the world. Take a minority to lunch and chill out.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

Ship Without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart
by Gary Mamorstein

Larry Hart (1895-1943) was the most gifted lyricist in the history of the American theater. He was also a sad and deeply troubled man. Together with Richard Rodgers (pre-Hammerstein) he composed some of the most beautiful music ever heard by the human ear; and in the process single-handedly redefined how lyrics are written. This excellent biography attempts to unlock the tragic riddle of Lorenz Hart's life - and his eventual disintegration into alcoholism and an early death.

So don't change a hair for me, not if you care for me
Stay, little Valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines Day....

Friday, February 20, 2015

POST #577: Random Observations

Smoking more and enjoying it less 2/20/15
`
What you have here are nothing more than a series of aimless comments that I had posted on other websites or out in the Facebooksphere. Writing this blog is often more difficult than it should be; I mean - Heavens to freakin' Betsey! - there's just so much to write about. The problem is that there are times when one doesn't know where to begin. I'm having one of those weeks. Happy reading!

1. BROKEN RECORD DEPT: 

The accepted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to yield a different result every time. Forgive me for what may seem to some as my obsession with Jeb Bush, but if the people of this doomed country are ever again insane enough to send another member of this disgusting family to the White House, they'll deserve everything that happens to them. 

Fifteen years ago I was damned near everywhere - on local radio, in the newspapers, and four times on national television (C-SPAN - anyone can get on C-Span) warning everyone who would listen what a disaster a second Bush White House would be for this country. I was pretty much ignored then. Don't ignore me now, okay? They're trying to portray Jeb as "the moderate alternative". They're lying. How do I know? As governor of Florida, he ruled that state from the far right. Since his half-witted older brother mercifully vacated the Executive Mansion six years ago, he's been desperately trying to reposition himself as a "compassionate conservative". Remember that line? We won't get fooled again, right?....RIGHT???

I can't emphasize this enough, kiddies.

2. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My ISIS?
`
It gets stupider by the day. The FOX Noise pundits, along with the usual suspects on right wing talk radio, are implying (some even stating outright) that by referring to ISIS as "extremists" and not "Islamist extremists", the president of the United States is somehow sympathetic with the goals of these freaks. Obama has said that the United States is at war with all forms of extremism. Last week, when he merely pointed out the undeniable truth that bad things have been done in the name of Jesus Christ down through the centuries, including in the good ol' U S of A, conservatives had (and are still having) a mass nervous breakdown. I have no comment other than to say that this has been quite an amusing spectacle to behold. We'll leave it at that for now. 

3. Thinking About Malcolm

Tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of assassination of Malcolm X. He was one of the great visionaries of the twentieth century in my opinion. I was living and working in Naples, Florida when I first read his memoirs in 1986. This is quite ironic when one takes into consideration that Naples (at the time anyway) had the lowest per capita population of black people living in it than almost every other city in the country. Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It completely and utterly changed my life. I'm almost certain it will change yours, too. That is, of course, unless you're afraid of change. If that's the case then don't bother. 

4. QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship of the day."

Theodore Roosevelt

"....the first task of statesmanship of the day"....Of that day. There are few statesmen left - and even fewer stateswomen....NEXT!

5. Rudy Can Fail

I think that Rudy Giuliani ought to fold up the tents and go home for a permanent rest. He's always seemed to me to be a tad off his rocker. I met him once, and while he seemed like a nice enough fellow, even in that informal setting I got the impression that there was something about the poor bastard that wasn't quite right. As mayor of New York City, he certainly wasn't one tenth as extreme as his Republican brethren nationwide; he never would have gotten elected had that been the case. And yet, since leaving Gracie Mansion over a decade ago he's taken a decided turn to the extreme right. That was not totally unexpected - he was eying the White House in 2008 and one can't get nominated by that party these days unless one is willing to sound like a complete psychotic.  Totally understandable.

But for this blubbering twit to say, as he did this week, that the president of the United States hates Americans in general - and America in particular - was too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Why is he still saying these horrifically moronic things? Can it be that he has on eye on the campaign of 2016? My goodness, I hope so. That should make things really interesting. 

***********************

I've just been informed by the nice folks at W-CBS News Radio that today has been the coldest day in New York State since they started keeping records over a century ago. If you live in the region of the country where I am writing from you're probably not the least bit surprised to learn this. Earlier, I attempted to fill up my jeep and got as far as ten dollars. The hell with this, I thought to myself, it's just too damned cold.

Be warm, everybody.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING

The Autobiography of Malcolm X 
(with Alex Haley)

ERNIE!
ABOUT THE PHOTO AT TOP:

I don't smoke cigars. But every time a new Ernie Kovacs product is released onto DVD I always go out and purchase one Dutch Master. They were the company that sponsored the Ernie Kovacs program back in the late fifties and early sixties. That's my little way of thanking them for taking a chance on Ernie when no one else would. 

RUDY UPDATE, 2/21/15, 11:50 AM:

According to the front page of this morning's New York Daily News, the former mayor is now accusing the president of the United States of being a communist. Ain't that a scream?  Someone really ought to check this pathetic son-of-a-bitch's calender. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Selma in February


"They told us we wouldn't get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "We ain't gonna let nobody turn us around." 

Martin Luther King on the steps of the Alabama State House
March 25, 1965

Six days ago I finally got to see "Selma", the new film that chronicles the struggles of Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Council, in an uneasy alliance with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to bring about the basic right of people with dark skin to vote in the state of Alabama fifty years ago.  It's a great show and I can't recommend it enough. Traveling through the deep south back in the mid eighties, I made it a point to visit most of the places that are today hallowed ground in America's never-ending quest to make this a perfect union. Thankfully, eventually, we arrived at our goal. America is perfect in 2015. Isn't that a grand thing?

But seriously, folks....

Although I can't recommend this film enough, my only problem with it was how Lyndon Johnson was portrayed: as an unwilling participant in this struggle to the mountaintop. LBJ's historical reputation has been damaged enough by the tragedy of Vietnam. We really need to give the poor bastard credit where credit is long overdue. No keener an observer than Thurgood Marshall has rightfully made the point that, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, no other president in American history did more for the equal rights of African Americans than Lyndon - not Jack Kennedy, not Bill Clinton (the first "black" president) not even Barack Obama! In fact, Obama's presidency owes its very existence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both of which were signed into law by Johnson. I know it's fashionable these days to portray half-witted presidents from Texas in the most negative light (I'm guilty of that, believe me); it's just that Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush just aren't in the same league - it's not even close. Think of it as comparing apples with decomposing ravens. 

When visiting Montgomery, Alabama in 1985, the first thing that struck me was that this could have been the set of a one-act play; there would be no need for scene changes at all: The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the Trailways Bus Terminal (sight of much racial violence back then), and the state capital are not only within walking, they're in view of each other. In May 1985, standing on the steps in the predawn hours of the church where the young Reverend King preached thirty years before, was an experience I would suggest you try if you ever have the opportunity. It was pretty freakin' awesome, let's leave it at that. That was thirty years ago and I can still feel it now. At that moment, Dr. King's tenure there seemed a very long time before. How could I know then that it was only yesterday. That's what May of 1985 feels like to me now. 

Standing at Dr. King's one-time home made me incredulous that something like the civil rights movement - in the "land of the free" - was ever necessary to begin with. Thirty years later I wonder why it's still necessary. Keep an eye on until Election Day 2016. Wait and see how many people with dark skin will be denied their precious right to vote thanks to these so-called "Voter ID Laws". The shit is gonna hit the fan, baby! Just you wait. 

As I said in my last piece, film criticism is not my bailiwick. I can only tell you what I like and don't like. The first time I saw Citizen Cane when I was twenty-two, I knew not a thing of it's reputation as "the greatest movie ever made". All I could say upon viewing it was that it was one of the best films that I had ever seen. My instincts are usually pretty good in that area....or almost. I still consider Bill Murray's 1979 summer camp film, Meatballs, to be a classic. So sue me.

I think I called this one. Selma is destined to be a minor cinematic classic, maybe not along the lines of Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, but well worth seeing - particularly if you're interested of the history of the civil rights movement in America.

When the film was through after a very brief (it seemed to me) two hours and ten minutes, I looked around the theater to see that I was only one of four people in attendance. Just out of curiosity I strolled across the hall to see how American Sniper was doing. It was doing much better business. I can't even begin to describe how depressed this made me feel. Isn't life strange?

David Oyelowo as Dr. King
 "The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man."

Dr. King, 1/25/65

Can you even begin to imagine this country without him? I don't even wanna try.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

Parting the Waters
by Taylor Branch

This history of the early years of the civil rights struggle in America is much more detail than can be provided by any film. I couldn't put it down.

Here's a link to another piece I wrote about the good Doctor five years ago on the anniversary of his passing:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/04/paging-dr-king.html

Paging Doctor King!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

American Sniping


"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.

Harper Lee
from To Kill a Mockingbird

FURTHER DISPATCHES FROM THE CULTURE WAR:  

"Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy 'savages.' There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there."

Chris Kyle

"Savage, despicable evil". It really is an interesting choice of words - and very possibly quite appropriate. But we need to take into consideration how the people of Iraq must have felt toward George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's illegal, unjustified invasion of their sovereign nation. One cannot help but wonder how humanely Chris Kyle would have reacted had Saddam Hussein invaded his hometown of Odessa, Texas. "Savage, despicable evil" indeed. Everything is relative. Then again, that was a quote from his autobiography, which was ghost-written. Who knows what the silly bastard was really thinking.

I have not seen the new movie, about the life and "career" of Chris Kyle,  nor do I plan to. Were I to stumble upon a copy of it on DVD, I might give it a whirl - if only out of morbid curiosity you understand. Other than that I have no desire to view it. My purpose here is not to comment on the film's merit - or lack thereof - as so many people who haven't seen it - (left and right) - seem to be doing these days. Besides, film criticism isn't really my schtick. I speak merely as a battle-hardened correspondent in America's never-ending culture war.

Clint debates a chair
The other day there was a posting on a friend's Facebook page that made its way on to my home feed. Someone had posted a glowing endorsement of Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, American Sniper, based on the memoirs quoted above. The only comment I could make was my opinion that Chris Kyle was the best advertizement I could think of for more regulation of the firearms industry. He handed a loaded gun to a person he knew damned well to be mentally ill. That carelessness cost him and another man their lives. Genius. 

When someone in the thread pointed out to me that the Second Amendment guaranteed "The right of the people to keep and bear arms", I responded by quoting that section in its full and proper context: 

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I wondered aloud, "What happened to that 'well regulated militia' bit?" As gently and as tactfully as I could, I pointed out that the part they love to quote so much is always quoted out of context. It is, in fact, only half of a much larger sentence.

This was probably a mistake on my part. You wouldn't believe the shit-storm of invective that I was subjected to....or perhaps you would. Their wrath didn't really bother me all that much. "If you can't stand the heat...." as Harry Truman once advised. In fact their complete freak-out was really kind of funny. 

Apparently most (if not all) of the guys who commented are veterans of Operation Iraqi "Freedom". One of them said that I should show a lot more respect to the "men" (he neglected to mention the women) who fought over there for my "freedom". Another one even had the chutzpah to say that I was an idiot and an ingrate, and that I owe my right to free speech to the vets of Iraq. I responded that my First Amendment rights were fully in place when the United States Constitution was ratified two-hundred and twenty-six years ago. That's when the proverbial substance hit the old fan. I should have known better. The entire discussion went completely downhill from there.

"HEY, TROOPS!"
It's time to take a deep breath, folks. I have no disrespect for anyone who believes that it is his or her vocation to don the uniform of the United States military. That's fine and dandy. But to imply that they were over there fighting so that I (or any of us) shall remain "free" is an absurdity too profound to contemplate. In March of 2003, George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney saw an opportunity to seize one of the largest oil reserves on the planet. They also sought to turn an armed conflict into a capitalistic orgy. Cheney's company, Halliburton, made billions in Iraq providing American servicemen and women with facilities and equipment, a lot of which proved to be of such piss-poor quality that it cost the lives of a few of the people who were unfortunate enough to utilize them - such as when some of these poor kids were electrocuted while performing the mere ritual of taking a shower in stalls provided by Cheney and his buddies. Nice.

That's what the war in Iraq was all about: a golden opportunity for a few obscenely wealthy bastards and bitches to become obscenely wealthier. "Freedom"??? Please. That's complete and utter nonsense. Don't insult my intelligence.

"Bring 'em on!"

-George W. Bush, Summer 2003

Cooper as Kyle
That it was the worst military blunder in American history only a fool would deny with hindsight. When Iraq exploded in sectarian violence in the summer of 2003, it was only a matter of time before the United States turned tail and got the hell out of there while the getting was good. The only problem was simply that the "getting" would never get very good at all; and it took a nearly a decade for our leaders to realize this nasty little fact.  Unfortunately by that time the death toll had risen so high that they have yet to accurately assess the total number of lives lost on the Iraqi side. It might be a million souls lost. It might be more. Most of the dead were not of the "savage, despicable evil" variety of Chris Kyle's memories, but innocent men, women and little children. Ain't that a scream?

And now there is an attempt being made by some of our friends on the loony right to turn Chris Kyle into a secular saint. That's the biggest joke of all - and quite a bit disturbing at the same time. Any criticism of American Sniper is seen by these nitwits as borderline blasphemy, can you believe that?

Tell you what: Would you like to see a film about a true, honest-to-goodness American hero? Go see "Selma". It's about a guy named Martin Luther King. Incidentally, he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 - by an American sniper named James Earl Ray. Not only that, Dr. King really did die for our freedoms - unlike Chris Kyle - who died simply because he was foolish enough to give a dangerous weapon to a guy on a shooting range who was as crazy as a bedbug. Real life is just drenched with juicy little ironies like that one, you know?

I'm afraid that my observations on my old pal's Facebook feed cost me a friendship that went back over four decades. My comments were deleted and I was immediately "unfriended". That's okay. What good are forty-year-old friendships if they can't be shattered into a million pieces overnight by something as seemingly trivial to human relationships as politics? I'll be fine, I promise. He'll be fine, too, I'm sure.

Every time I meet a person who served in Iraq, my inclination is not to thank them for their service to our country, but, rather, to apologize to them. "Sorry for the fuck up", I'm tempted to say", "I didn't vote for Dubya, Honest I didn't."

Respect? Sure. But I pity them much more than I respect them - much, much more

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Hijacking Catastrophe
a film by Robert Greenwald

I left a link to watch this film a little less than three weeks ago, but I need to do it again. This excellent documentary details, with depressing accuracy, the incompetence and corruption behind the Bush Mob's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the financial killing that Cheney and other GOP-connected "entrepreneurs" made off of it. This is the most important documentary to emerge from the Bush years, and so few people have seen it. See it now. Here's a link to watch the film in its entirety on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2YTDb86bK

You can also pick it up for under ten bucks at amazon.com. I cannot recommend it enough. Watch it.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST:

Here's a really funny posting I saw on Facebook back in November. At the time I shared it on this site. Forgive me, but I need to share it with you again. It really is a riot of mirth!

Yeah, Dubya 'cared about' the troops alright. The half-witted little psychopath "cared about" them so much that he sent them off to fight an illegal, un-winnable war in which over five thousand of them sacrificed their lives. Now he lives in cushy retirement while the vets that he "cared about" so much are committing suicide at record numbers. Yeah, George W. Bush "cared about" the troops.  Ain't that a fucking hoot?

 A real Texas hero
SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Everyday
by Buddy Holly

"But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver...." The music died fifty-six years ago today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty31QY5ZGHo

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died....


********************

Special thanks to Facebook friend, Judi Stately, for the Harper Lee quote at the top of this piece. 

Hi ho, everybody, hi ho.... 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Clown Cars


As the blizzard of 2015 descends upon us here in the Northeast, the lack of mobility for the next couple of days gives one time to do a lot of thinking. It is now 4:00 AM here in Goshen, New York. As of this moment it's not much of a storm. That's bound to change at any moment. Outside my window there is a light powder covering my jeep, This is strange considering the fact that the nice lady on my television screen is informing me that everywhere is being hammered - particularly in New England. We shall see. The hatches are battened firmly down. Be safe. Be warm.

And while we deal with and contemplate a very real storm, the proverbial shit storm is also making itself known. I was jarred from my reverie early yesterday afternoon when I happily stumbled onto a link to a speech that Sarah Palin gave on Saturday at something called the "Iowa Freedom Summit". What the heck is this twit doing in Iowa? Exactly what every elected Republican who is not a resident of that state is doing. She's going to make a run for it next year. While she didn't actually come out and announce her candidacy, all the signs are there. 

It was truly a weird thing to behold. Fascist Barbie was even more incoherent than is usually the case. Watching it, my first inclination was to assume she was on drugs. I wasn't going to mention it but when my cousin, Patricia Cullen, remarked that she has all of the symptoms of some poor soul in the midst of a serious cocaine binge, I thought that maybe I should take note of it after all. If you think I may be exaggerating, I'll provide a link to the speech in its entirety at the bottom of this piece that was provided by the website Mediaite. It's a scream.

The very fact that this completely incurious, idiotic woman was once given the second place on a national ticket is incomprehensible. "What if...." It makes the senses tremble in horror. 

My theory is that Sarah Palin must know that she hasn't a ghost of a chance to be elected next year. What she is doing is nothing more than a cynical upping of her "brand" - so to speak. It seems that even the most rabid of right wingers are starting to tire of this utterly silly person. With the new label of "former candidate for the presidency", she will be able to regain a little attention and boost her speaking fees some twenty or thirty thousand a pop. The gal is as transparent as a window during a spring sunrise. That's why she's so much fun to watch.

The two Ricks
That's not the case as far as the two Ricks (Santorum and Perry) are concerned. They really do believe that the White House is their respective destinies. There's something pathetically endearing about the terminally clueless, you know?  A few of you will disagree with this, but I think I'm a fairly astute guy when it comes to politics. I'll let you in on a little secret: I might run for the presidency as a Republican next year. What are my qualifications? I have none. In fact only a fool would vote for me - which would, nonetheless, guarantee me a lot of votes in the USA at this sad time in its history. The only reason I've been thinking about running would be as a sick joke. The difference between Rick and Rick and I is the fact that at least I'm intelligent enough to understand that I am totally unqualified for that office. The same cannot be said for the all of the right wing wannabes in this comically political season. They really believe they're presidential material.

The First Fool
I can't believe our good fortune. The prospect of all of them on the same stage trying to tear each other to shreds is too good a vision to be true. Somebody pinch me.

The most disturbing thing about the fiasco that the Republican party has become in recent years is the fact that any one of these assholes might very well be living inside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in less than two years. Only a year ago I was predicting out loud that George W. Bush would be remembered for two reasons:

1: As the most corrupt, incompetent chief-executive in the history of human stupidity, and....

2: As the last Republican president.

I was also predicting that on January 20, 2017, one Democratic administration would succeed another one. That hasn't happened since March 4, 1857.

At the time I made those predictions I sincerely believed that the American people would not be so foolish as to place back in power the party that dug us into the mess that Barack Obama has spent the last six years trying to dig us out of. All bets are KAPUT. The GOP-controlled 114th congress will see to it that even more repressive election laws are passed between now and Election Day 2016. Count on it.

Teddy Boy
President Sarah Palin? Relax. Even the American people wouldn't be stupid enough to send that blithering imbecile to the White House. Ain't never gonna happen, so just put it out of your mind and keep it out. President Ted Cruz? That's another story. You don't believe the electorate would send a reactionary yahoo from Texas to the White House? What planet were you living on between the years 2001 and 2009? If they're perfectly capable of electing as president of the United States a screaming idiot like Dubya, they're capable of almost anything. Ted Cruz's campaign would prove to be a relative cinch.

Whatever happens next year, regardless of who's nominated at the Republican National Convention, regardless of who is elected in November; 2016 is going to be a most amusing year.

It is now 5:33 AM. The major accumulation of snow we were told to expect just after midnight hasn't appeared. There is still only a light dusting atop my vehicle. Cars now move effortlessly down the highway outside my window. Have we in the Hudson Valley somehow managed to dodge the bullet that Mother Nature aimed at us? Eight hours ago my friend, Nancy Karlovich, said on her Facebook page, "I'm calling it. This storm is going to be a flop." Perhaps she knew something the rest of us didn't.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here is a link to watch Sarah Palin's speech on Saturday:

http://www.mediaite.com/online/the-dnc-has-two-word-response-to-rambling-palin-speech/ 

I wasn't exaggerating. You can't even satirize these nitwits. All you need to do is roll footage of them unedited. Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Here Comes the 114th


"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

If you're still naive enough, after all the evidence to the contrary that has been assaulting your senses for decades, to perceive the GOP as "the party of moral values" you might want to pass this one by. You're beyond hope.

I'm looking forward to the next two years. Let's face some harsh realities, people: There has never been, in the lifetime of anyone reading this, an era as delightfully weird as the one we are living through now. And the beautiful thing to contemplate is the fact that it's going to get even weirder as the months transpire. In November of 2014, the American people put back in power the very party that created the mess that Barack Obama has spent six years trying to dig us out of. In spite of the mountains of obstruction he's had to deal with that has been hurled at him by the disloyal opposition (Let's stop kidding ourselves about their motives) he's been fairly successful given the sabotage tossed his way by the loonies in the extreme right wing. You've got to admire his fortitude. Let's hear it for the dude.   

And now the assault begins. This year marks the eightieth anniversary of Social Security being made the law of the land. Since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal made it possible in 1935, it has been a point of nasty contention for the Republicans. Americans who tend to vote with that party have long been in denial as to what the GOP would like to do with the program that has for eight decades saved hundreds of millions of senior citizens from dying in poverty. Between now and Election Day 2016, a lot of people in this country are going to wake up and face the nightmare they never imagined. And merely voting them out next time round won't be quite as easy as it has been in election cycles past. Count on them passing even more restrictive voter suppression laws between now and then. Remember, you read it here. This is going to be quite interesting.

As bad as the 113th Congress was (and they were one of the least productive congresses in the history of this doomed country) that body was only the overture for what is yet to come with the 114th. As Al Jolson liked to say back in his day, "Folks, you ain't seen nothin' yet!"  As worthless and impotent as the Democrats have become, the Republicans are beyond a molecule of redemption. And with the puppet of the one percent, Mitch McConnell, now installed as the senate majority leader, you can count on the disintegration of America's infrastructure going into overdrive. We have been living for some time in a plutocratic dictatorship. The process has evolved at such a snail's pace that most Americans have not noticed it. They'll notice it by Election Day 2016. You'd better believe they will.  

Here's a little piece of handy trivia that I'm sure will amuse and delight you: As of this week, there are more Republican representatives in Washington than at any time since 1928. Isn't that lovely?

I usually end these things by saying words to the effect of, "But here's the good news". Don't ever take me seriously when I say that, it's only false optimism. The "good news" - so to speak - is usually the promise of barrels of unintentional laughs provided by the unintentional comedians of both parties. And while this political train wreck promises to be screamingly funny at a certain level, there is no silver lining behind this depressingly dark cloud. We might as well come face-to-face with the awful truth: The United States of America is skipping merrily into oblivion.  That's a really polite way of saying, "we're screwed", isn't it? I think so!

The bottom line is that, like the fall of the Roam empire, none of this will be boring. That's about the only positive thing I can think of at the moment. Ain't politics a riot?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

I couldn't leave you on such a depressing note.

Glenn Miller
SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Hello, Lola!
by the Mound City Blue Blowers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99iG2WtGe98

The personnel on this 1928 recording are: Coleman Hawkins, Charles "Pee Wee" Russel, Glenn Miller, William "Red" McKenzie, and Jack Bland. It's nice to know that this was an integrated ensemble - such a rare thing in the twenties.

Listen to 24-year-old Glenn Miller's incredible trombone solo! In the sixteen years of life he had left, he never swung like this again. This is an amazing record!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Foregone Conclusion


It's damned-near as certain as the sun settinging in the western sky this afternoon. Jeb Bush wants to move into the Bush family's home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - the one that they sublet in 2009. He's not only started his very own political action committee, but he's actually severed his ties to anything and anyone connected with finance and investments. Given the historical and sickening greed of the family Bush - going all the way back to the nineteen-forties (Grandpa Prescott continued to do business with the Nazis when it was forbidden by law to do so) - that move in itself is enough to convince the mightiest of skeptics that John E. "Jeb" Bush (George Dubya's slightly brighter younger brother) is playing for keeps. This is too good to be true. Today is the seventieth anniversary of the marriage of George H.W. and Barbara Bush. What better time for an honest assessment of the Bush brand, ay?

As much damage as that disgusting family has managed to do to this country over a period of nearly half a century, I find it ironic and amazing that any of them can still be taken seriously by anyone. But they are and there's nothing any thinking person can do to alter that grim reality. Let's just roll with the punches.

What will be more amusing than anything (assuming he gets the nomination) will be to watch him desperately trying to convince the country what a disaster Barack Obama has been as chief executive, and how we should go back to the policies that worked so well when his half-witted brother was in charge of things. You'll be so good to recall that in January of 2009, the month George W. Bush mercifully vacated the Executive Mansion, three-quarters-of-a-million jobs were being drained each month from the United States economy. We're now at month number fifty-seven in job growth (Or is it fifty-eight months? To tell you the truth, I've lost count). I don't envy Jeb at all. After all of the destruction they've wrought on the economy, he needs to convince the American people that they were better off under conservative "rule". I don't dare call it "leadership".
 
You can count on both houses of the Republican-controlled congress to try and tank the economy between now and November of 2016 in order to make Jeb's election all-the-more of a sure thing. They don't give a damn about the welfare of the people they're sworn to represent.

Oh, yeah, this is going to be very amusing indeed. 

Katherine Harris
There's another reason why Jeb's quest for the presidency is not the gargantuan hurdle you might imagine it to be. After the first debate between Al Gore and Brother Dubya, it was obvious to anyone bothering to pay attention that the First-Fool-to-be was dumber than a sack of moldy rocks. No one was more aware of the hideous little thug's intellectual limitations than Jeb. As governor of Florida, he and his secretary of state, Katherine Harris, devised a scheme that removed 57,000 African Americans from the voting rolls in 2000, It worked. Before all of the votes were counted, Bush was appointed president by a right-wing-dominated Supreme Court. The result was the most incompetent, destructive administration in American history. Remember how sweetly that worked out for you? Then again, maybe you don't. Think.

You forget these cold, hard truths to your own detriment, America. Just thought I'd mention that.

As for me, I'll be perfectly content if, on January 20, 2017, a third President Bush in a generation is tossed the keys to the White House. As I've said more times than I can count, the lower this once-great nation sinks into the ideological cesspool, the higher my stock rises. Vote for Jeb - please.

The biggest obstacle facing Jeb will be the perception problem. It's embarrassingly obvious that he has been planning this run for years. Why do you think he's tried to reposition himself as a moderate since the village idiot of Crawford, Texas left Washington in 2009? When he lived in the Florida governor's mansion, he ran that state under policies that were decidedly to the right of center - in many cases extremely to the right. After the debacle of his brother's reign of error and terror, he must have felt that he needed to moderate himself somewhat. But now that he'll be entering the GOP primaries a year from now, he has to take on positions that are palatable to the crazies who have overtaken the Republican party. If that dilemma weren't funny enough, once he gets the nomination, he has to run like hell back to the political center. 

Did I mention how amusing this is going to be? 

Hillary Clinton is - at this point anyway - the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee. There is a very good chance she will be the next president. I'm not very happy about that possibility. The thought of two Clinton administrations is depressing enough - BUT THREE BUSHES??? That could send the United States into a permanent tailspin - assuming that we're not there already. We need to wake up to the harsh reality that conservatism as a form of governance is unworkable. This is not a new idea I'm peddling here; this is an inarguable, historical truth. It's unfathomable to me that a potential Jeb Bush candidacy is being taken seriously by anyone.

The Brothers Bush are not very different from one another in terms of ideology. They are both hard-line, right wing ideologues who believe that still more tax breaks for the one percent are the best thing for the....well....one percent. Patriarch Pappy Bush once called this scheme "voodoo economics". After the old man was taken on in 1980 as Ronald Reagan's running mate, he got with the program. Since then, he and his sons have cautioned patience. Don't worry, they tell us, the wealth will trickle down to all of you eventually!  Thirty five years later, we wait still.

Happy new year, everyone.

Tom Degan 
Goshen, NY 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Hijacking Catastrophe
a film by Robert Greenwald

It's a historical fact: Whenever someone named Bush moves into the White House, a lot of innocent people with brown skin start to die horribly violent deaths. This excellent documentary details with depressing accuracy the incompetence and corruption behind the Bush Mob's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is the most important documentary to emerge from the Bush years, and so few people have seen it. See it now. Here's a link to watch the film in its entirety on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2YTDb86bK

You can also pick it up for under ten bucks at amazon.com. Trust me on this one, kids; we don't want to go down this road again. Can I get a witness?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: The Worst of The Rant

Photo taken on 22 December 2014, 2:30 AM
 
`
 Another year gone by. Can you believe it?

Writing-wise, 2014 was not the most prolific of years. In December of 2013 my concentration was decimated by a personal bereavement. Then, two months later, my strength was sapped due to a near-fatal illness that sent me to the hospital. It wasn't until the end of the year that I regained my momentum. Still, forty-eight pieces in fifty-two weeks ain't too bad I guess. I'll try to do better in 2015. So help me Mitch Miller I will.

So join me as we frolic merrily down memory lane. Let us look back upon the year 2014. Wasn't that a hoot?

January 6:

The dirty little secret is out: Jesus' teachings in the New Testament are anathema to the ideology of the right wing.  Why do you think they hardly ever quote Him? [Pope] Francis is forcing all Catholics - and by extension, all Christians - to come face-to-face with the reality of what He was all about. I am not a theologian. The totality of my religious education comprises what I learned in Sunday School as a little boy and Catholic grammar school (grades six through eight). But as sparse as my instruction might be, I at least understand that Christ's whole purpose on this earth didn't involve catering to the status quo. There was a wee bit more substance to it. He was about love, and forgiving - and giving.

January 23:

Whatever happens in two years, I am certain of this: As delightfully twisted as the 2012 Republican primaries were, 2016 is going to be the icing on the cake. If I never live to see another campaign season I just want to make it to that one. Watching that disgusting party destroy itself these past ten years has been more fun than I think I've ever had in my life. 

February 14:

As they never tire of reminding us, two years is a lifetime in politics. That may be the case, but it's hard not to imagine Rand Paul as the GOP nominee in 2016. Something that weird would be the final nail in the coffin of a party hellbent on suicide. There are no more moderates. They've all been driven away by the mindless extremism of a relatively small group of people who have lost their marbles. Between now and then we can expect an exodus of voters disassociating themselves from the Republicans. This is too good to be true.  

February 19:

Fifty years later we wait in vain for the music to show signs cultural senility. I'm happy to tell you that the Beatles still matter. I know personally too many young people to count, some born a quarter century after the band ceased to be, for whom the music is a continual presence in the soundtracks of their lives; another happy reminder that talent and substance will defy the passage of many years. The Beatles are the silly and joyful ghosts who refuse to fade into that unknowable, mysterious void. 

February 28:

Fellow Caucasians, there are two sets of rules way down south - one for them and one for us. My message to any young, black male planning on visiting the Sunshine State is as simple as can be: Watch yer step, boy! Stay the hell up north if you know what's good for you. The racial situation is a little better here....I think.

March 8:

The problem with the modern day Democratic party (and it's a HUGE one) is that for every Liz Warren there are at least ten-or-more Chuck Schumers. Any political party with a tired old fuddy duddy like Harry Reid as their leader is in dire need some serious therapy. 

March 17:
`
Race propaganda has always worked beautifully in the past. The problem for the propagandists is simply that it won't be working all-too-well for them for much longer. Within the lifetime of most of you reading this, we white folks won't be in the majority any longer. Those aren't the words of some smart-Alec lefty (as some of you may surmise). That is simply a statement of the cold, hard truth. The white plutocracy knows this and they're beside themselves to do something - ANYTHING, HEAVEN ABOVE! - to stem the sociological tide. But they can't! That's what they cannot see or refuse to admit. To even attempt to stop this unstoppable force would be as futile and silly (and dangerous) as attempting to keep the sun from setting this evening. Why are they getting so bent out of shape over the inevitable? Why not just lie back, groove with the changes, and let nature take its course? What the hell is the matter with these knuckleheads? Any ideas?

March 24:

You can dismiss what I say as the insane ramblings of an unhinged lefty (I get that every day) but the truth of the matter is that I'm a fairly moderate guy. It's only by the standards of these weird times that someone like me can be viewed - by anyone - as some kind of radical. You know you're living in the weirdest of alternate realities when a weak-kneed panderer to the status quo like Barack Obama is perceived by so many as a wild-eyed socialist. It really is funny when you think about it. Why don't I hear you laughing?

March 31:

Who knows what the hell will happen between now and Election Day 2016. It's going to be oodles of fun watching Jeb [Bush] stomp around the country during the GOP primaries - with one foot on a banana peel and the other in his mouth - saying the kind of moronic things that appeal to "the base" of the Republican Party, and then watching him try to ease his way back toward the center during the general election - assuming he get's the nomination. Whatever the outcome, 2016 is going to be a scream. 

April 7:

The system has also been stuffed even deeper into the seemingly bottomless pockets of the plutocrats. No one bothering to pay attention was surprised by the results. The Reagan/Bush/Bush appointees made it clear where their hearts are. The corruption of the American political process means not a thing to these assholes. The non-existent "plague" of voter fraud is a different story. Any judgement that will aid the traditional progressive constituency in having their voice counted needs to be "remedied". America just ain't as white as it once was - and it's getting non-whiter by the hour. Rich people tend to be very white indeed, and they have this unsettling habit of filling the coffers of candidates who aren't happy with the prospect of sharing America's treasure. Have you ever noticed that? 

April 15:
  
Which brings me to the Affordable Care Act. The term "Obamacare" was initially their term of derision. They knew damned well that if it ever became a reality regular working people like us would like it a whole lot - and that's what is happening. At the latest count there are seven million folks who have signed on. If that number gets any bigger (and it's going to get a lot bigger) the plutocracy's handmaidens will be hard pressed to find an excuse to do away with it.

April 22

Cliven Bundy wants to be a GEN-YOU-INE folk hero - and by the looks of things - the silly bastard is well on his way to honest-to-goodness folk heroism, with the help of Fox Noise (Sean Hannity in particular) and hundreds of armed-to-the-teeth yahoos and half-witted "militia men" who cheerfully stepped forward this week and made my argument (once again) for stricter regulation of the firearms industry. You can always count on these assholes to cut off their noses to spite their bloated faces, but this week's spectacle in Nevada was something to behold indeed. When this is finally made into a movie, it will be the darkest of comedies.

May 5:

Barring any unforeseen scandal or catastrophe (you never know with those Clintons) Hillary will more-than-likely be the next president of the United States. I say this not with a sense of joy nor with any foreboding, but rather with a sense of resignation. Maybe she will turn out to be the second incarnation of FDR that I've been dreaming of - much in the way I thought Obama would be. He turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. She will probably end up being a let-down as well. This much is certain: In 2017, for the fist time since 1857, one Democratic administration will succeed another one on Inauguration Day.

May 13:

Forget the fact that sixty people were killed in assaults upon American embassies during the years in which the halfwit from Crawford, Texas was running the government. Forget the fact that one month and six days before September 11, 2001 he was warned in his daily briefing that Osama bin Laden was planning on striking in the United States very soon - and that the First Fool did absolutely nothing to try and prevent it. Forget all of that. Reality is a luxury that a nation filled to the rafters with distracted robots can ill afford. 

May 28: 

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. 

June 5:
`
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!!!

June 11:

The weirdest thing about Congressman [Eric] 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!

June 18:

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?

June 26:

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.

July 3:

 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!   

July 14:

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?

July 21:
 
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!

July 29:

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!

August 7:

There are three things that do not make for a good combination: A low IQ, a beer gut, and a semi-automatic weapon. This past week, some of the Cliven Bundy crowd, the clowns that threatened to shoot it out with US marshals in Nevada two months ago, have made their way down to the Mexican border. These cowardly assholes want to "protect" this grand and glorious land of ours from the children that are now fleeing for their lives from ultra-right wing dictatorships in Central America. Isn't that something? Most of them proclaim to be "Christian". I'm sure Jesus is just brimming with pride.

August 13:

He was a true American original. One-hundred years from now they will still be talking about and appreciating the artistry of Robin Williams much in the same way we pay homage to Chaplin and Keaton today. His like won't be passing this way again. He's gone and he's not coming back. This is just so sad. Isn't that funny?
`
September 2:

A FRIENDLY MEMO FOR FOREIGNERS:
You're out of your fucking minds if you bring your loved ones on a vacation to the "Land of the Free". We're not free at all. In fact we are now a nation of sheep being held hostage at gunpoint. I just thought you should know.

September 9:

Some day Barack Obama is going to sit down and write the memoirs of his eight-year stint as president of the United States. When that day comes I have a great subtitle for the book: "Damned if I Did, Damned if I Didn't". This poor guy never had a "loyal opposition" with an honest disagreement with his policies and programs. Since the day he took the oath of office on January 20, 2009, he has had to contend with a confederacy of dunces and lunatics, hellbent on sabotaging his every move regardless of the national well being.

September 17:

I can't tell you who won the 1932 world series for the simple reason that, eighty-two years later, it doesn't make a damned bit of difference to our lives who won it. I can tell you who won the presidential election that year, though. Four score and two years after the fact that does make a difference. Think about this: On the evening of February 15, 1933, less than a month before entering the White House, a would-be assassin named Giuseppe Zangara attempted to murder Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Florida. The bullet, instead, hit Chicago mayor, Anton Cermak, who died nineteen days later. Had FDR been assassinated on the eve of his inauguration the presidency would have gone to his running mate, a not-too-visionary bigot from Texas named John Nance Garner. If Zangara's bullet had not missed its mark on that night, the entire history of the world - not merely the United States - would have been much different. "What if...." It makes the imagination tremble.

September 26:

I'm of two minds about this: Yeah, I would love to see [Elizabeth Warren] as the standard bearer in 2016, Hillary Clinton, at present the presumed nominee, leaves me cold. Although Senator Warren's chances for living in the White House if nominated are not as sure as Ms. Clinton's, it's not the impossible dream that many people believe it to be. The problem she would have as president (and it's the same one that Barack Obama has encountered) is the obstructionism of the Republican party. This country is only going to be saved if the American people take a decided turn to the left. That's not going to happen any time soon, kids. 

October 4:

FOR THE RECORD: As much as I despised the administration of George W. Bush, I never once - publicly or privately - wished for the hideous little freak's demise. In fact I used to pray that he be kept safe. The last thing the loony right wing in this country needs is the body of a martyr to rally around by torchlight. Spare us.

October 14:

You wanna know why I left [the Democratic party] over sixteen years ago? Here's why: The 2016 campaign is two years away, and yet, as of October 14 2014, the presumptive nominee is Hillary Clinton. Could it be that "the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt" can't come up with anything better than Hillary? Have they lost their imaginations? Or have they lost their minds? A reasonable argument could be made for either scenario.

October 22:

One of the guilty pleasures I get out of reading American history  is that I find myself cheering for the Republicans. One-hundred years ago there were still enough politicians registered with that organization who stood for something decent. Even during my lifetime we had Dwight D. Eisenhower. For all of his cultural conservatism, old Ike was fairly progressive fiscally. He understood all-too-well that the key to a nation's greatness was investment in its infrastructure. When was the last time you heard a Republican politician bragging about the legacy of Eisenhower?  You would think that the Grand Old Party didn't even exist prior to Ronald Reagan. 

October 31:

I'm a bit numb at the moment. That's not the sort of state one wishes to be in if your desire is to illuminate and enlighten. Whatever happens come Election Day, I'll get by. To be honest with you I don't give a fuck what the final result is. As long as the day's events are amusing - that's all I really care about anymore. Isn't that awful? Maybe by Tuesday I'll be a little less apathetic. Maybe not. At least I won't be bored. That's something to look forward to, ay? There's always a silver lining. 

November 5:

On Sunday evening the American people set their clocks back one hour. Last night they set them back two centuries. Ain't politics oodles of fun?

November 12:

I'd like to be able to tell you that the chances of a another member of that disgusting family [the Bushes] occupying the Executive Mansion - for the third time in a generation - are less than zero; honestly I would - but I can't. Since the GOP will have control of both houses of Congress for the next two years you can count on them passing even more restrictive voter suppression laws between now and Election Day 2016. And you can take to the bank the certainty that the right-wing-dominated Supreme Court will declare those blatantly unconstitutional laws perfectly constitutional. Isn't that lovely?

November 19:

It's a funny thing. When Obama was elected six years ago this month, I was completely beside myself with joy: The first African American elected to the presidency? This was indeed a corner turned! But as the weeks leading up to the inauguration came and went, my excitement slowly began to dissipate. By January 20, 2009, it was gone. That's when it hit me!
 
What's Obama gonna be doing for the next eight years?" I asked aloud, "The same thing black people have been doing in this country for the last four centuries: Cleaning up the mess left behind by lazy and ignorant white people - WHAT'S THE BIG FREAKIN' DEAL???"

And think how things might have worked out for the better if the Democrats had embraced their progressive political heritage instead of hiding from it like frightened little mice. I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I used to be registered with that worthless party...."Used to be"....I came to my senses eighteen years ago. 

November 25:

His meteoric career is over. We shall not hear from him again except as a figure of shame, ridicule or dark satire. There will be no second act in this American life. As tragic as Lenny [Bruce]'s end was, death and posterity would ultimately vindicate him. There will be no such vindication for Bill Cosby. The show is over; the curtain has closed. 2014 has been a horribly unfunny year for comedy, have you noticed that?

December 19:

MEMO TO THE ANTI-CASTRO CROWD IN MIAMI:

You'll live. I'm not crazy about Fidel or his brother Raul either. But don't make such a deplorable stink as you did in 2000 when the Clinton administration did the correct thing by sending little Elian Gonzalez back to his father in Cuba - where he rightfully belonged. Your collective hissy fit in the wake of that affair cost Al Gore the state of Florida and, hence, the election. The result was eight years of George W. Bush. Do you remember how nicely that worked out for you? Simmer down.

December 25:

This is not to imply that I'm in the "Christmas spirit" this year. I'm really not. Christmas has been permanently ruined for me and it's been that way for for many a year. The last time I had a really jolly Christmas was when Jimmy Carter was in the White House - although my happiness was in spite of his presidency, not because of it. Just prior to the Christmas season of 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president and John Lennon was murdered. It's been downhill ever since.

Keep your eyes open for the miracles all around you. And remember the simple truth that there is more music to be found in the laughter of a single child than can be found in all of the symphonies ever composed by all of the composers who ever lived.

**************************

So that's it for 2014! At least it wasn't as bad as the previous year, that's for sure! Thanks everybody for reading. And again, I apologize for not being as prolific as I usually try to be. I have a funny feeling that is going to change in the coming year. The 2016 presidential campaigns begin in a  matter of a few weeks.

Fasten your seat belts and happy new year!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Auld Lang Syne
by James Taylor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr-htpPV_Z0

Something to ring in the new year with.

A toast to you all. Cheers!