Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Thank You, Judge Taylor!

It's official: In a decision rendered by US District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, it is against the law for any person, even a half-witted president of the United States, to listen in on the phone conversation of a private citizen without the benefit of a court ordered warrant. In the good judge's own words:

"It was never the intent of the framers [of the US Constitution] to give the president such unfettered control, particularly when such actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights".

What does that mean? It means that if this perfectly sensible decision can survive a supreme court appeal (and that's a big if) the president of the United States and the Attorney General are guilty of impeachable offences. The White House spin on this one will no doubt be that this is just another victory for "Osama bin Ladin and the terrorists". Oh please! No one is denying them access to anything as long as they have the constitutionally mandated warrant! So what's the big freaking deal???

I'll tell you what "the big freaking deal" is....

Ask yourself this question: Why didn't they just go through the required motions to begin with? Of the almost twenty thousand warrants requested, they've only been denied four times. What made them take so obviously an illegal course to begin with? The answer, dear reader, is as clear as the rising sun: They didn't want anyone to know whose calls they were tapping. It might not come out for years, maybe even decades, but of this you can be sure: They were listening in on the Kerry campaign. What evidence do I have? None. Only a well educated guess; A hypothesis, if you will. This is the most criminal administration in the history of the republic - of course they monitored John Kerry and his key aids. Knowing the history of this president and the tidal wave of human shit that comprises his administration, what on earth would you expect? Remember, these are the same people who have engendered a war, the pretext of which was based on lies, that have directly led to the slaughter of at least a hundred thousand men, women and little children. I ask you: What's one more felony to these hideous bastards? Some day we'll know the truth. The day will come when they are held accountable - if not by us then by history. I'm as sure of that as I am my own name.

Again, from Judge Taylor's opinion: "There are not hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution".

Now back to the "Big If". Which way will the supreme court go? It's the easiest bet I've ever made to say that the constitutional perverts, Antonin Scalia and Uncle Clarence Thomas will, once again, pervert the very constitution they're sworn to uphold. Scalia is without a doubt the worst jurist since Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, the man who penned the infamous Dred Scott decision way back in 1857 (and whom I am a direct descendant of, I'm ashamed to say). And as for Thomas? Well, let's just say that Malcom X had a term for people like Clarence Thomas: "House Nigger". Whatever Massa wants, Massa gets. That says it perfectly.

As far as Samuel Alito is concerned, judging by his decisions to date, I'm not hopeful. But look on the bright side of it: It might very well have been Harriet Meyers sitting in his seat. Can you just imagine? Thank goodness for the fact that she was too incompetent even for the extreme right. It's refreshing to know that they at least have some standards - as disturbingly low as those standards may be. What does that say about Bush's judgement? That he could have even considered nominating someone so jaw droppingly mediocre speaks volumes about the man's intellectual foresight.

The two big questions, as far as Judge Taylor's ruling against illegal wiretapping are concerned, are Reagan appointee, Anthony M. Kennedy, and the First Fool's appointee, John Roberts. Predicting which way either one of them will vote is difficult, if not impossible. If both of them foolishly rule in favor of the Bush administration - and that is a very big possibility - you might as well kiss your constitution goodbye.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Friday, August 25, 2006

LENNY BRUCE: Remembering A Comic Genius



"People should be taught 'what is', not 'what should be'. All of my humor is based on destruction and despair and tomorrow, if the world suddenly became tranquil, without disease or violence, I'd be standing on the breadline - right behind J. Edgar Hoover and Jonah Salk".

Lenny Bruce

* * * * * * * * * *

It's weird! With everything going on in the world, the day passed and I didn't even take notice. A full two weeks would go by before it finally hit me: August 3, 2006 marked the fortieth anniversary of the death of Lenny Bruce. I can just hear him now, gently chastising me in a way that only Lenny could....

"Schmuck"!

Born on October 13, 1925 in what was then rural Bellmore, Long Island, there really wasn't much in Leonard Alfred Schneider's background that might have made one foresee the acid-tongued hipster who would shake the American night of the fifties and sixties as forcibly as he did with his brilliant and biting satire. He first burst upon the national consciousness in the spring of 1959 with two riotous appearances on the Steve Allen Show.

There had never been a comedian like him before: He was handsome, smart and as hip as they come; A real finger snapping, urban bon vivant; A combination sage rabbi and verbal kamikaze, Lenny Bruce was the real thing. The facets of his psychological make up, including his all-too-obvious personal vulnerabilities, were there for all the world to behold, bravely exhibited on the nightclub stage. That he was a troubled, tormented soul, there can be no doubt. Unhappiness and insecurity dogged him his entire life. Close friends would remember him as a basically sad and lonely man. But, damn! When he walked on stage he was funny, Jim. Screamingly funny!

In the placid 1950s era of Eisenhower, "I Love Lucy" and hoola-hoops, the American establishment (to no one's surprise) wasn't ready for the kind of honesty that Lenny was presenting to the public. Walter Winchell branded him, "America's Number One Vomic". In late 1958, Time Magazine would crown him "the sickest of the sick comedians". Rather than dismiss this affront outright, Lenny (in typical Lenny fashion) embraced it. The cover photo for his first album, "The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce", portrayed him having a picnic in a cemetery. How's that for moxie? That same LP included a classic bit called, "Religions Incorporated" which depicted a fast talking, Hollywood booking agent talking on the phone to his "client", the newly ordained, Pope John XXIII:

"HELLO, JOHNNY! WHAT'S SHAKIN', BABY!!! Yeah the puff of white smoke knocked me out! I got'cha booked for the Sullivan Show on the nineteenth... Oh, did ya dig Spellman on 'Stars Of Jazz'??? OK, sweetie! Yeah, right... You cool it, too! Nah, nobody knows you're Jewish"!

While that type of humor might be considered tame by the "anything goes" standards of 2006, in 1958 it was positively revolutionary.

For three golden years he was cooking, appearing as a headliner in the top clubs across the nation. When he opened at Mister Kelly's in Chicago, crowds were lining up around the block to see him. According to his biographer, Albert Goldman, word had reached the windy city that, "this new young comic was sensational".

On February 4, 1961, he actually did a gig at Carnegie Hall! Carnegie Hall?? Even he couldn't believe it: "Maybe the people who own this place don't even know we're here"! He speculated that the entire audience had been admitted into the hall by "a good and corrupt janitor: 'Alright, just don't make no noise and clean up after you're finished, alright'? Alright". That night, the Island of Manhattan was blanketed by one of the worst blizzards in its history. All bridges and tunnels leading into and out of the city were shut down; Every street in town was closed to traffic - and yet, somehow, Lenny was able to pack his people into a concert that didn't begin until after midnight! It was a Standing Room Only performance that the old gang at Lindy's still talk about! Fortunately the entire evening was preserved on tape and is available today on CD. "Lenny Bruce At Carnegie Hall" is the greatest performance of his all-too-brief career.

Seven months after Carnegie Hall, in the autumn of 1961, the arrests started. On September 29th Lenny was arrested in his Philadelphia hotel room for possession of drugs for which he had a prescription. Five days later, on October 4th, he was busted at the Jazz Workshop in San Fransisco for obscenity. Although he was eventually acquitted on both counts, the pattern had begun. The persecution would continue for the rest of his life.

During the next three years he would be busted nineteen times on various obscenity and narcotics charges. Law enforcement agencies across the country pursued him with a relentlessness normally reserved for rapists and mass murderers. It got to the point where he was spending more time (and money) in court defending himself than he was onstage, exhibiting his genius as a performer before an audience of appreciative fans. By the late winter of 1964 his dependence on drugs, particularly heroin, was starting to take a noticeable toll on his appearance and his health. In addition to that, he gained too much weight as a result of poor eating habits. In short, he was falling apart. In an effort to save his career, he became obsessed with the intricacies of the American legal system. As his act started to transform itself from a surreal, verbal roller coaster ride into a comically inspired lecture on the law, he began to alienate his audience.

"I'm sorry if I wasn't very funny tonight. I'm not a comedian. I'm Lenny Bruce".


Because a conviction would have resulted in a nightclub owner losing his or her liquor license, offers for work eventually dwindled down to nothing. His home became subject to numerous late night raids by the LA vice squad. One officer, expecting to find him engaged in drug use, instead found him calmly listening to a record of John Phillip Sousa marches which, curiously, in addition to jazz, he had a passion for.

Then came the arrest which would destroy him. On April 4, 1964 he was busted at the Cafe Au Go-Go in New York City for giving a "lewd and indecent performance". What had bugged the NY District Attorney, Frank Hogan, was Lenny's description of Jackie Kennedy during the assassination of the late president. Life Magazine had described the former first lady hurling herself onto the trunk of the presidential limousine by saying that she was courageously trying to help the secret serviceman aboard. "Bullshit"! said Lenny Bruce, "She was trying to haul ass to save her ass"!

The ensuing trial would end in his ruin as a man and as an artist. In 1960 his yearly income had been over $350,000 per year. By October of 1965 it had fallen to under $4000. Shortly thereafter, he was found guilty of obscenity in a New York court of law and sentenced to four months in jail. In the summer of 1965 his act was filmed at the Basin Street West in San Francisco. Viewing the film today, it is disturbingly obvious that Lenny Bruce, while still hysterically funny, is a broken, dying man.

On the morning of August 3, 1966, while his New York conviction was still under appeal, he received in the mail a foreclosure notice on his house from the Bank of America. Later that evening, he was found dead in his upstairs bathroom, a hypodermic needle still embedded in his arm. For the next several hours, the Los Angeles Police, against the anguished protests of his friends and his mother, allowed photographers from newspapers and television to step up and take photos and film of his naked, bloated body lying lifeless on the cold, tile floor. He was forty years old.

On December 23, 2003, he became the first person in the history of the state of New York to be pardoned posthumously. Better late than never, I suppose. And yet I'm convinced that Lenny, who was armed to the teeth with a state-of-the-art bullshit detector, would not have failed to see the very sick irony in that.

What direction might Lenny Bruce have taken had he been able to save himself? Sadly, we'll never know. Of this we can be sure: He'd have an awful lot to say about the America of the early twenty-first century. It makes me laugh just contemplating what his take on the obscene condition of modern day Washington DC might be. Can you imagine?

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net
 
SUGGESTED READING:

The (Almost) Unpublished Lenny Bruce
edited by Kitty Bruce (Lenny's only child)

The Trials of Lenny Bruce:
The Fall and Rise of an American Icon
by Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover
 

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

 Lenny Bruce at Carnegie Hall


From February 4, 1961, this is Lenny at the top of his creative powers. Most Brucian scholars (myself included) consider this to be the greatest of his performances that survive on tape. Here is a link to order it off of Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Lenny%20Bruce%20at%20Carnegie%20Hall

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here's Lenny Bruce on the Tonight Show in April of 1959 - singing a song he wrote! It's a sweet and funny little tune that deals with the breakup of his marriage three years before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TrQxeNEPLo

He truly was an American original. For more recent postings on this disgusting, commie site, please go to the following link:

"THE RANT" by TOM DEGAN


Lenny would have approved

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In His Own Words


The following transcribed exchange took place on August 21, between President George W. Bush and members of the press.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q: A lot of the consequences you mentioned for pulling out seem like maybe they never would have been there if we hadn't gone in. How do you square all of that?

The First Fool: I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zawqawi.

Imagine what the world would be like with him in power. The idea is to try to help change the middle east.

Now look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was - the main reason we went into Iraq, at the time, was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction.

But I also talked about the human suffering in Iraq. And I also saw the need to advance a freedom agenda. And my answer to your question is that - Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed three thousand of our citizens.

You know, I've heard this theory about, you know, everything was just fine until we arrived, you know, the "stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned.

The terrorists attacked us and killed three thousand of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the middle east. They were....

Q: What did Iraq have to do with that?

The First Fool: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q: The attacks upon the World Trade Center.

The First Fool: Nothing! Except for it's part of - and nobody's ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a - Iraq - the lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize, Ken.

Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill, to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

And one way to defeat that - you know, defeat resentment - is with hope. And the best way to do hope is through a form of government.

Now I said, going into Iraq, "We've got to take these threats seriously before they full materialize". I saw a threat.

I fully believe it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein, and I fully believe the world is better off without him. Now the question is: How do we succeed in Iraq?

And you don't succeed by leaving before the mission is complete, like some in this political process are suggesting.

* * * * * * * * * *
I offer you the preceding exchange of views without comment. It speaks for itself.

Pray for your country
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Monday, August 21, 2006

Our Disgusting Commander-in-Chief


It's hard to believe but 2000 is starting to seem like a long, long time ago. Looking back on the presidential contest of that year, you can't help but notice the irony in so many of the stupid and meaningless campaign slogans George W. Bush (or, to be precise, Karl Rove) came up with:

"I'm a uniter not a divider".

Remember that oldie but goldie? Come to think of it, there was more than a little bit of truth in that statement. What he didn't mention at the time was the fact that he was going to unite the entire planet against us. Way to go, George!

"I'm a reformer with results".

Again, it's difficult to question the accuracy of those words. It is probably just as well that he kept from us the fact that the "results" would be international disgrace and a plundered economy. These hideous bastards have looted our national treasure to such a degree that right now, the government of China is picking up our tab. If (or when) they decide to pull the rug out from under us for political, economic or military reasons, our entire social and economic infrastructure will collapse overnight. Nobody - and I mean nobody - has told you that! In the words of the fabulously awful Sixties British rock band, Freddie and the Dreamers: I'm telling you now.

One could go on and on for pages pointing out ironies galore! And how about that time during the debates when he proclaimed that America's foreign policy should be "humble". Humble, he says! That's not what the people behind the Project For A New American Century had in mind. The fact is, he already had the PNAC boys lined up right behind him. Even before the stolen election of November 2000, the invasion of Iraq was already a foregone conclusion. The scheme had been cooked up early during the second term of Bill Clinton when they presented the plan to him - not in a classified briefing, mind you - but in a published, open letter! How's that for a humble foreign policy? Nothing like letting your rival know years in advance of your "good intentions".

And what has been the result of our "humble" invasion of Iraq? Over twenty six hundred American kids have died in vain. Over one-hundred thousand Iraqi men, women and little children have been needlessly slaughtered. If those facts aren't embarrassing enough for you than please consider this one: That entire region of the planet will be utterly destabilized for decades to come thanks to our "humble" incursion. We won't even have the luxury of consoling ourselves by telling each other that at least we meant well. The ugly, unmentioned truth is this: We didn't mean well. Not at all. It was all about the oil.

One of the enduring myths of history is that all wars have been fought as good against evil. That's a lie. The fact is that, throughout the history of civilization, the overwhelming majority of human conflict can be boiled down to this simple term: Bad Guys vs. Bad Guys. Make no mistake about it, this is one of those times. I realize that playing the part of the "bad guy" is viewed by our culture these days as kind of cool but, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not very comfortable in that role. Not in the least.

Support our troops? That's a great idea, at least in theory. The only way we can possibly support the men and women who are, at this very moment, doing the obscene bidding of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, is by bringing them home. Now.

The First Fool has made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that America will "stay the course" in Iraq. He said at a press briefing on August 21st (his grammar, not mine): "We're not leaving so long as I'm President". Of course we're not. Here's their plan: They know damned well that the day is inevitable - not probable but inevitable - when America retreats in disgrace and utter, humiliating defeat from Iraq. They'll keep the conflict going until after the new (Democratic) administration takes office in January of 2009. When President Feingold (wishful thinking, I know) does the only decent and honorable thing he can do by pulling our children out of this atrocity, the GOP will then accuse the democrats of "cutting and running". As mind-numbingly dumb as Bush is, he knows that the war in Iraq is lost. He could stop this madness tomorrow and bring those kids home, saving untold thousands of lives - but for purely selfish political reasons, he won't stop it.

Do you have any idea what a disgusting piece of shit your president is?

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan

Goshen, NY

tomdegan@frontiernet.net


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Age of Stupidity

What will historians say of this era in which we live? What will our heirs say of us? Assuming that humanity will survive another one hundred years, what will be said of the years between 2000 and, just for the sake of argument, 2009? What will they think when they open up rusty tins of VHS videotape containing, raw, unedited, footage of a typical day's programing on, say, New York's W-PIX? Or E? Or MTV? Or FOX News? What might they discern from the fact that the network we all should have been watching, C-SPAN, actually had the lowest ratings? We're going to look like a nation of assholes.

Are you ready for the dirty little secret? We are a nation of assholes!

I'm just old enough to remember the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and the NBC Nightly News with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Can you even imagine any of them giving a half/second to Paris Hilton or Brad and what's-her-name or Tom Cruise's baby? Is it a coincidence that the American people were better informed in that bygone era? Is it just a happy accident of history that our parent's generation had a better grasp on affairs of state than ours? If you don't think that they were better informed, I've got a little assignment for you: Go out and purchase yourselves copies of the Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960 and the Bush/Gore debates of 2000. Videotapes of both series of programs may be obtained through the American Broadcasting Company.

Say what you want about Jack Kennedy and Dick Nixon, both men were possessed of a keen intellect and a strong opinion as to American goals - even though they differed considerably as to the means to achieve the ends. During their televised debates of forty-six years ago next month, both of them, for all of their disingenuousness - and there was a lot of that, politics being what it is - at the very least attempted to "talk up" to their audience. When either of them addressed the TV cameras, you got the definite impression that they believed the average viewer had somewhat of a tangible intellect.

And as for Bush and Gore? Well, let's just say that I labeled that particular videotape, "Dumb and Dumber: The Sequel". And why wouldn't I? They were playing before an atrociously dumbed down American public. In 1960, the candidacy of George W. Bush would have been as pathetic as that of a village idiot, who is the son of the richest man in town, trying to run for mayor. No one would have taken him seriously. He wouldn't have even made it to the primaries!

When the 2000 debates were finally analyzed, it was generally acknowledged that, while Al Gore easily won all three, the public liked George W. Bush better. Gore, the electorate seemed to be saying, came off as a "know it all" policy wonk, whereas Bush seemed like "a regular guy", the kind of person that most people, men in particular, would like to sit down and have a beer with.

Huh?

Here where I live in Goshen, NY, there used to be a bar called The Orange Inn. It's still there but recently, as a result of a change of ownership, it has gone somewhat "trendy" and has lost all of its much lamented saloon atmosphere. It's now the type of place where one might walk into and order a white wine spritzer instead of a bottle of Bud. Back in its salad days, when I was still drinking, there were a number of regulars who used to throw back serious amounts of brew. As much as I liked - even loved - most of those characters, I can't, in my wildest dreams, imagine handing over the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to any one of them. And yet sending any one of them to the White House would have made at least as much sense (and in a few cases much more sense) than what we eventually did by sending a half-witted, murderous little thug like George W. Bush . It's as if a significant minority (although not most) of the American people were saying, "Al Gore knows too much. But this guy, Bush, from Texas is as incurious and as ill-informed as I am. He's got my vote!

Are you able to detect just a smidgen of pathos here? Ah! I thought as much!

George W. Bush's very real lack of intellectual depth would be disturbing enough if he were your average County Highway Commissioner. That he is sitting at the pinnacle of world power should give every thinking person pause. To paraphrase Bob Herbert in a recent New York Times column, anyone who still thinks that sending this guy to Washington was a good idea is either not reading the newspapers or is in need of therapy. Good one, Bob! Either that or they're taking Stupid Pills.

As the bumper sticker on my truck says, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention".

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Donkey In Winter


The case of Joe Lieberman is symptomatic of what has gone wrong in recent years with the democratic party. Now we can all see what a "loyal party man" he really is. After losing the primary on August 8th, he vowed that he would run as an independent, thereby assuring that his seat would go to the GOP in November. What a pathetic, contemptible crybaby! With democrats like that, who the heck needs republicans? Every once in a while I find myself wondering why I left the democratic party six years ago in the first place. Thank goodness for poor old Joe! He's always there to remind me. One would think that he would swallow his pride, wish Ned Lamont good luck and, for the sake of his country, do everything humanly possible to insure a democratic victory. Not our Joe! No sir! He is as ideologically twisted as any democrat I've ever seen. The only thing Joe Lieberman cares about is Joe Lieberman. Knowing his history, are you surprised by this turn of events?

He is so blinded by his own stupid ambition that he is unable to see that he now has a golden opportunity to make some tasty lemonade out of some seriously nasty lemons. He could be seen as some kind of elder statesman of the democratic party. Instead he chooses to burn all of his bridges behind him. Recently there was serious speculation that the First Fool might fire Donald Rumsfeld and appoint Lieberman as Secretary of Defence. Does he really believe that there will be a place for him in the next democratic administration? After this he'll be persona non grata. Good riddance.

Do you want to have a good laugh? I mean do you want a really great fall on the floor, gut busting giggle? Keep your eye on Hillary Clinton! The democratic voters in the state of Connecticut have made themselves abundantly clear: Any democrat who supports the obscenity now being committed against the children of Iraq - using American children as cannon fodder - will not be getting the nomination in 2008. Period. It's going to be an absolute riot in the next few months watching her as she desperately tries to distance herself from her previous support for what is obviously the stupidest foreign policy blunder since Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1942. At this very moment, she is meeting with her advisers, trying to chart a strategy that will allow her position to "evolve" and yet remain consistent at the same time. She has one thing going in her favor: The American public has become so jaw droppingly dumbed down in recent years with respect to affairs of state that they probably won't even know the difference. By all means, watch the "evolution" of Hillary's position on the war in Iraq. By this time next year, she'll be sharing a bunk with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. I desperately want to see a woman take the oath of office one day - but, please, not Hillary Clinton. The very idea that she is, at the moment, the odds on favorite for taking the 2008 nomination is a joke. And yet there are people out there - a lot of them - who actually take her seriously. Go figure!

I'll be voting democratic in 2008 no matter whom they nominate. They are the lesser of two definite evils - much less. But I have a sinking feeling that when I pull the lever in the voting booth two years from now, I'll be holding my nose. As a matter of fact, the ONLY potential candidate I can foresee myself getting excited about is Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He has not shied away from his progressive roots as so many of his fellow party members have in the last quarter of a century. Why is it that we constantly have to remind these knuckleheads that they are, in fact, the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Russ is the kind of guy I can envision throwing all foolish caution to the wind and running as an honest-to-goodness liberal. (That's another failing of the democrats. They've allowed the extreme right to turn that once-honored word into an expletive). And let's face it: It's high time a Jewish person called the White House "home". Forty-five years ago, Jack Kennedy erased all doubt that a Catholic could be a good president. Some people actually claimed that he would be more loyal to the Vatican and he proved them wrong. The time has come for Russ to take the same, heroic stand. There will be those who will claim that he will be more concerned with the welfare of Israel than that of his own country but Russ will prove them wrong, as well!

Is his mother still alive?? Oh I hope so!! Wouldn't that be great? I can see it now: Russ is conducting a prime time press conference in the east room and here comes Mrs. Feingold, walking up to him on the podium, pinching his cheek and saying, "He may be your president but he's still my little meshugina! Just look at that punum there"! A nice old Jewish mother. I love it!

The next democratic nominee will have to spend much of his or (God forbid) her time instilling into the mass consciousness all the good that the progressives have done for this country. Everything that we now take for granted - Social Security; Unemployment insurance; Medicaid; Medicare; The Civil Rights Act; The Voting Rights Act - all of these things were put in place by, progressive, liberal administrations and every single one of them were opposed, unanimously, by the right wing. How would the people of this country react if these achievements, some of which have been in place for over seventy years, disappeared overnight? It wouldn't be a pretty picture, trust me.

Conservative causes may look good when viewed through a contemporary prism; But they always, without exception, look foolish, even totalitarian, when viewed through the objective lens of 20/20 historical hindsight. If you don't believe me, look up every conservative cause in American history - starting with slavery! No doubt about it: America is in dire need of a long overdue history lesson - not to mention a course or two in civics.

Is the democratic party dead? It's kind of hard to say. They certainly aren't beyond hope like their counterparts on the right, that's for sure - but they've got to go back to their traditional ideals! They have got to start behaving like democrats and stop acting like, as someone once famously noted, republican lite! The GOP's main talking point today, as voiced by Republican National Committee Chairman, Ken Mehlman, is that Lieberman's defeat is proof positive that the democratic party has been taken over by left wing extremists. As Donald Rumsfeld might sigh feigned in exasperation, "My goodness"! That statement is just too silly to even dignify with a comment. They've been hurling that same, tired accusation for over half a century now - even while the Dems were creeping slowly but surely toward the right. The fact that someone as basically centrist as Bill Clinton could be portrayed as a radical leftist illustrates better than anything the extremist nature of the modern day GOP. It just doesn't pass the giggle test!

The next two and a half years will be the most crucial period in the long history of the democratic party. If Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman is a sign of things to come, it is a very hopeful sign, indeed.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Larissa D'Andrea: Talent With a Purpose


Larissa D'Andrea is going places. Having said that, let me reassure you that I'm not trying to take on the role of "starmaker", believe me. She has a brilliant future with or without my help. My main claim to fame in her story - and it'll merely be a footnote in her biography, I assure you - is the fact I introduced her parents John D'Andrea and Debra Gardiner to each other way back in 1983. That's it. From that moment on, her story progressed very nicely without any assistance from me, thank you very much.

Larissa is a singer, songwriter and musician of considerable talent. She is also a veteran stage performer. Impressive, huh? Wait, it gets better: She is all of fifteen years old!. It's has been documented time and again that a singer's best years are between the ages of forty and fifty-five. Knowing this, it is almost mind-numbing to ponder the fact that Larissa D'Andrea, as immensely talented as she already is, won't even be reaching her creative mountain top for decades! Trust me on this one, kiddies: This little gal has one heck of a future. Consider this for a minute: Vocalist, pianist, lyricist and composer. Her gift can only be described as breathtaking. In my life, I have never encountered someone so young with half as much talent (This is really cool! I feel like Ed Sullivan who, in the early 1930s, told the readers of his NY Daily News column to keep their eyes on a relatively unknown, teenager named Judy Garland!).

Larissa has created a beautiful CD, the proceeds of which are being donated to a charity that provides aid and comfort to the littlest victims of the obscenity that you and I, as taxpayers, are now funding in Iraq. Indeed, the title track, "Fairy Tales", is "Dedicated to the children of Iraq". I have provided a link to her website:

http://www.larissadandrea.com/


The cost of the CD is $5.00. Such a deal! Such a noble cause.

Early on, performers tend to be too focused on their own careers to care much about anything else. They usually don't develop their "social consciences" until much later. No doubt about it, she's starting off on a very admirable note. Again, let me repeat myself: Larissa D'Andrea is going places! Remember, you read it here, folks!

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT: Because Larissa has chosen to take a stand for the innocent victims of this unspeakable war, please don't accuse her of being part of the mythical "We Hate America" crowd. The last song on the CD is a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner which is the finest interpretation of that tune that I've heard in my life. If you're entertaining such a silly notion, please toss it on the rubbish heap. Cheers!

Photograph by Debra D'Andrea (left to right) Tom Degan, Mikale and Larissa D'Andrea

UPDATE, 22 Janaury 2012:

Larissa will be giving a benefit concert in Morris Township, NJ on January 28, 2012:

http://morrisbeats.com/article/Lincoln-Park-native-Larissa-D-Andrea-to-play-benefit-concert-in-Morris-Township?a=138

I told you so!

For more recent postings on this site, please go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Shameful, left wing propaganda. Oh, the humanity!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Strong Case For Impeachment


Almost eight years ago, a band of hot-headed, half-witted extremists in the House and Senate led primarily by the now disgraced Tom DeLay, came to the novel conclusion that when a president lies about an extra-marital indiscretion with a woman not his wife, it is grounds for impeachment. Fine. As long as they've set a precedent and lowered the bar to such an embarrassing degree, let's have a little peek into the case of George W. Bush, shall we?

Here's what we now know: The Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, have evidence that Saddam Hussein had the means to develop chemical weapons, no question about it. State secret? Hardly. I knew he had the means to do so! You knew it too if you were paying attention. How? Because the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had stupidly supplied the Butcher of Baghdad with anthrax in the eighties! This was after he had used chemical agents to massacre thousands of Kurdish men, women and little children in Northern Iraq in 1985. How's that for a self-defeating foreign policy?

The question was not whether he had the capacity; The big question was whether or not the anthrax, in question, was still viable. After eight years or so, the potency of anthrax diminishes considerably and there was no evidence that he had tried to acquire any since - and please bear in mind that almost twenty years had passed. While the CIA may have had a small bit of inconclusive, unsubstantiated proof that Saddam had tried to get hold of chemical and nuclear weapons (documents from Niger that were obvious forgeries, for example), they had a mountain of evidence that he had not! That was the evidence that George W. Bush and the tidal wave of ignorance and incompetence that comprises his administration chose to ignore.

In January of 2003, before a joint session of the House of Representatives and two months prior to the stupidest foreign policy blunder in United States history, George W. Bush gave his State of the Union address. By now we all know the famous "sixteen words" by heart. He stood before the American people and said, without even a hint of shame:

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa".

Thank goodness for speech writers, huh? Can you even imagine, in your wildest dreams, the First Fool coming up with so clear and literate a sentence extemporaneously? The only problem with that little quote is the fact that it was not just an incorrect statement; It was a bald-faced lie. The CIA, the State Department and the White House had known for months that the Niger/yellow-cake uranium story was bogus. In 2002, with the full knowledge of Dick Cheney's office, they sent Ambassador, Joseph Wilson, a team player from the pathetic administration of King George the First to Africa to check out the facts and he returned with a full report - a report that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't want to hear: Saddam had made no such attempt. The forged signature on the document that claimed the attempt to obtain the dreaded substance was that of a Nigerian official who had been out of government for almost ten years. Inexplicably, it had been cooked up in the Italian embassy. Saddam had long ago, under the first president Bush and Bill Clinton, been rendered a fangless cobra. And we now know what happened after Wilson bravely stood up and exposed the administration's lies - they went after his wife! Whoa! What a bunch of tough guys, huh?

A month after the occupation began, when it became obvious to everyone that no WMD existed, they changed, as if by magic, the original intent of the invasion. It really wasn't about weapons of mass destruction after all. It was about freedom! Yeah! That's the ticket! Bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people! Hmm. Call it a hunch but I don't think that an administration that stole two elections in its own country gives a damn about freedom for Iraqis or anyone else for that matter. The really depressing thing is the fact that so many Americans foolishly swallowed this nonsense, hook, line and stinker. If twenty years of Viet Nam, Watergate and Iran Contra taught them anything, it should have been to be cynical towards anything their elected representatives try to sell them. When the dust is finally settled and the many criminal investigations against the most overtly criminal presidency in the history of the American republic are complete, the motivation for this war will be perfectly clear: OIL. To believe otherwise is to deceive oneself.

What was the result of the lie that William Jefferson Clinton told? A year long impeachment process which never should have happened in the first place that virtually crippled the executive branch of the government.

What have been the results of the lies, too numerous to detail, of George Walker Bush? Almost twenty-six hundred American youth and well over one hundred thousand Iraqi citizens have been needlessly slaughtered. In spite of the administration's denials to the contrary, Iraq is in the midst of a full-blown civil war and the entire region has been utterly destabilized. Experts on the subject of Iraq's history of tribal and religious violence who tried to warn the Bush Mob that just such a sectarian incursion would occur and the possible cause and effect an invasion would have with regard to surrounding countries (Bob Herbert of the New York Times, for instance), were arrogantly dismissed as left-wing extremists. As Richard Clarke, in his book "Against All Enemies" bluntly opined: "Trust me on this one: They haven't thought this thing through".

This little ditty of mine has only dealt with foreign affairs. Need I remind you of Bush's domestic crimes? Spying on the phone calls of American citizens without a court ordered warrant? Looting our economy? The subversion of the constitution? That's not to mention all of those so-called "signing statements" which gave him the right (at least in the minds of he and Alberto Gonzalez) to disregard the very laws he has vowed to "faithfully execute". Oh, this gets ugly, indeed - But it's also too good to be true! George W. Bush will be the first president in American history to go to federal prison. I am as sure of that as I am my own name.

In 1998, the shrill cries for the impeachment of Bill Clinton were everywhere. With the exception of John Conyers of Michigan and Maurice Hinchey of New York - and a handful of others - the possibility of impeaching George W. Bush isn't even considered, let alone discussed. What's wrong with this picture?

Am I missing something here?

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

FLASH: GEORGE W. BUSH IS A FOOL!


For the longest time it was only hinted at. Some of us, deep down inside ourselves, knew the horrible, ugly truth, and yet very few had the courage to actually come out and admit it. The time has come, however, for the American people to come to their senses and shake off this pathetic case of national denial. Go ahead and say it: George W. Bush, the president of the United States of America, the most powerful man on the entire planet, is a complete moron. The sooner we admit this fact - which has been blatantly obvious to the rest of the planet since the day in 1999 he announced his candidacy - the better off we'll be as a nation.

The truth shall set you free, baby!

Here is something else we need to come to terms with: He is a reflection of us! We must perform a mass mea culpa and admit to the rest of the world that Weeda People made the worst electoral mistake in our history - or since the German people foolishly put Adolf Hitler in power seventy-three years ago - when we sent this idiot to the oval office. It can only be the result of America's becoming so politically dumbed-down in the last quarter of a century that so huge a segment of the voting public actually thought, seriously believed that sending this disgusting half-witted frat boy to Washington was a neat idea. This deplorable situation would never have happened had the administration of Ronald Reagan not gutted the FCC in the early eighties. When they got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated that both sides of any given issue would be granted equal exposure on the people's airwaves, the rise of corporate sponsored, right-wing Hate Radio was all but inevitable. And yet, so many people still insist on calling it the "liberal media" and claim that it is controlled by left-wingers. I mean, how crazy is that? Fairness in broadcasting is today but a distant memory. Ignorance may be many things. Bliss it is not.

Is it any wonder that we are the laughingstock of the world? Yeah, yeah, I know! The Bush Mob stole the elections of 2000 and 2004. But if most people didn't actually vote for him, a significant minority did. An extremely significant minority! It's easy to steal an election when the results are that close. That's how Lyndon Johnson was able to steal a senate seat from Coke Stevenson in Texas in 1948. All it took was rearranging a handful of ballots in one precinct! Think about that for a minute! But for a few corrupt officials in one small Texas district, America might have been spared the horror of Viet Nam a generation later. We really should start thinking about giving that state back to Mexico.

A lot of people still insist on supporting the First Fool out of force of habit, but I seriously believe that that situation is going to change any day now. If they turned their backs on Richard Nixon, they'll easily turn on Dubya. Come to think of it, compared to Bush, Nixon is starting to look better and better, is he not? It must be remembered that, with the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson, Nixon had the best mind of any president of the twentieth century. For all his faults no one, not even his most severe critics, ever accused the Trickster of having the IQ of a half-eaten box of MilkDuds. To describe our current chief-executive as a wretched fool is pretty much of a no-brainer (irony intended, indeed).

Just look at the damage that his administration has done to our country, not to mention the planet, in just five and a half short years. Do you think for a minute that an intelligent competent leader would have been short-sighted enough to invade Iraq based on a cooked-up pretext in 2003? Three and a half years ago, I was able to predict the disaster that Iraq would eventually prove to be. Do you mean to tell me that this president and every single member of his cabinet wasn't smart enough figure that out on their own? Am I to understand that I, a High School drop-out, am smarter than the president and everyone around him? Apparently I am. If that fact doesn't scare the bleeding, mortal shit out of you, nothing will.

Someone recently asked me if I thought that America might win this war. Here's the dirty little secret that NO ONE has thus far admitted: It's already lost. The only reason the asses of evil (Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld) invaded Iraq to begin with was to seize that country's vast oil reserve. We've lost this war and we deserve to lose it. If "winning" means stealing Iraq's main economic export and handing it over to the White House's corporate connections, then we must lose this war. In fact, for the sake of precedent, in order to assure that no future leader will be reckless and stupid enough to ever attempt such a foolish stunt again, we should all be praying for defeat. All of those brave American kids (and only God knows what the final tally will be) - not to mention at least one hundred thousand Iraqi men, women and little children - have died in vain. The geo-political catastrophe that George W. Bush and company have created in that region of the world will be with us for decades. Count on this: The day will come when the United States retreats in disgrace from Iraq. Will we do it while the American death toll is at a relatively paltry twenty-six hundred? Or will we stupidly wait until it's over fifty thousand? Your call.

America was at this very same threshold with respect to Viet Nam in January of 1968. When the North Vietnamese launched the Tet offensive that month, it was obvious to everyone except another moronic Texan and his cabinet that the war was lost. President Johnson could have cut our losses then and there but his pride wouldn't allow him to do so. At that time, the US death toll was under twenty-five thousand. Over thirty-thousand more would die before it was all over. Oh, and may I remind you that we also lost that war? I assure you, we will lose this one as well. I'm not being speculative here; I'm telling you the truth. Take it to the bank.

Whenever a soldier is buried, whether it be in a military cemetery or a civilian one, a marker is provided by the government that states the person's name, dates of birth and death, and the name of the conflict in which he or she fought. The other day, I visited the grave of a kid that I knew who lost his life in the obscenity that we, as taxpayers, are now funding in Iraq. His broken body lies a quarter of a mile down the road from where I now sit, at the Orange County Veteran's Cemetery on Craigville Road in Goshen, New York. Irving Medina, was just twenty-two years old when he was killed on November 14, 2003 when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in front of the vehicle in which he was riding. When I read what was inscribed under his name, I wanted to vomit. A lie has been carved in bronze for all time and eternity: "Operation Iraqi Freedom". Are you naive enough to believe that this war was ever about freedom? I've got a better name for the conflict:

O peration
I raqi
L iberation

Now that's more like it! To quote the great philosopher, Stan Freberg, "Wake up, Cratchett, it's later than you think"! That's pretty good advice for the American people. Are you listening, folks?

WAKE THE FUCK UP!

The sad fact is this: The international credibility of the USA has been utterly and completely destroyed by this mediocre and imbecilic man. The support and good will that was showered down on us from all over the world after the hideous attacks of September 11, 2001, have been totally and irretrievably squandered by what is, unarguably, the most overtly criminal administration in history. The destruction that has come to your country, possibly, even, with your unwitting support, will be with us for generations. This is not a time to for us to be holding our heads high, mindlessly singing America the Beautiful. The time has come for us to hang our heads in shame.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY