Thursday, January 31, 2008

And Then There Were Two

Goodness gracious! What a difference a day makes, huh? It became official yesterday afternoon. In a statement from New Orleans, John Edwards announced that he was withdrawing himself from the presidential contest. This is unspeakably sad. Edwards was the only one of the three remaining candidates who was in tune with the traditional message of the Democratic Party. More than anyone else, he was articulating the horrible truths that the American people are going to have to force themselves to hear if we are to save ourselves from the mess we have stupidly gotten ourselves into.
The corporate media has succeeded. Through benign neglect they were able to deflect the public's attention from some of the most extraordinary candidates we've seen come down the political pike in a very long time: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and now, John Edwards. We are now left with two candidates: Barack Obama, who has an uphill battle because of the undeniable fact that this is a country chock full of nuts, racists and fools - and Hillary Clinton, who is destined for defeat. For over a year now the Republican National Committee has been putting out the talking point that she is going to be their most formidable candidate in 2008 and that she sure is going to be tough to beat. Leave it to the Democrats! They seem to be falling for it hook, line and sinker! Will they be foolish enough to take the bait? Late in the evening of Super Tuesday, we'll know the answer to that question. Keep your fingers crossed and your hands folded.
No doubt about it, 2008 is going to be the most interesting of political years since 1968. Whatever the outcome next November may be, this much is certain: The next ten months ain't gonna be boring, that's for sure! So confident are the Dems that this is going to be their year, many of them are perfectly content to give the nod to Senator Clinton. My question is, has any one of them bothered to take a look at the polls? Every one of them has shown that she is the only one of the main Democratic contenders who will be beaten senseless on Election Day. Hillary Clinton will not inspire "the base" to show up en masse at the polls on November 4th. Barack Obama will. All Hillary is likely to inspire is another Ralph Nader-like, third party uprising. Her nomination will mean certain defeat in November.
Note to every black person in this country who was born on or before January 31, 1990: Forgive me for sounding like a cranky, middle-aged white guy, but if you have not yet registered to vote, shame on you!....OK, if today is your eighteenth birthday, I'll cut you some slack. I didn't register until at least a month or so after I turned eighteen in August 1976. I had my priorities, too - PARTY HARDY!....As for the rest of you: You have had few presidents in the past who have shown sympathy toward your plight. Now, for the first time in the two-hundred and thirty-two year history of this country, we are within reach of sending a man to the White House (no pun intended) who not only feels sympathetic towards you, but who no doubt also feels a very real sense of empathy. One year from today could very well find Barack Obama waking up in a bed in the Executive Mansion. But that's only going to happen if he gets votes - lots and lots of them. Register! Encourage your friends to register. Better yet force them to register! Blackmail them if you have to! This might very well turn out to be the most important presidential election in our lifetime. If the GOP wins this thing, get ready to write your country's epitaph. If Senator Obama is victorious, your lives will change; count on it!
On February 23 last year, I suggested that Barack Obama should adapt Bobby Kennedy's campaign theme song as his own. The tune, The Impossible Dream, was originally sung by the late actor Richard Kiley in the Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha. It was a beautiful piece of music that no one even remembers anymore, so jaded has our culture become:
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a Heavenly cause
And I know if I only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest....
Isn't that beautiful? I can't even remember the last time I heard that song on the radio. This is not meant to imply that Barack Obama's campaign is an "Impossible Dream", but that it is, indeed, a "glorious quest". He has one hell of an uphill battle ahead of him and it is up to all thoughtful Progressives to get behind him and do everything humanly possible to ensure that he is the next president of the United States. It can happen. It will happen. We've got to get to work.
Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Neanderthals who fuel the right-wing propaganda machine are already exploiting the fear that some less enlightened persons will feel on hearing the Senator's full name: Barack Hussein Obama. Whoooooa! How positively sinister!! Do you have any idea what the Arabic translation of "Hussein" is? It means "beautiful child" or "handsome boy". The name may actually turn out to be a positive for him. Right now - and for very good reason - America is not winning any popularity contests in the Arab world. How might they feel if we send to the Oval Office someone with, at the very least, a Muslim heritage? It could very well lesson hostilities - if only slightly. And remember that there is a video clip out there of Senator McCain a couple of years ago singing to the tune of the Beach Boys' classic, Barbara Ann: "Bomb! Bomb! Bomb! - Bomb! Bomb, Iran!" That's not going to look good to a people we desperately need to reach out to. Anyone who would make that kind of joke in private shouldn't be president of the United States. The fact that he made it on stage - in full view of television cameras - is inexcusable.
The campaign of 2008 is going to be the ugliest one in living memory. We are now living in the era of Karl Rove and the hideous tactics that he employed in the last two national campaigns. That at least some Democrats have adopted his methods was made crystal clear last week by the disgusting behavior of the Clintons in South Carolina. As bad as Obama was hit by Billary, just imagine the ammunition that the ideological perverts on the far-right are going to use. Yeah, this is going to get really ugly, campers! Really ugly, indeed. Buckle up!
America is definitely at a crossroad. Probably more so than at any time since 1932. We're now in a position to vote for real change. We now have a golden opportunity to ring in a new era of enlightenment and progress. The choice is still ours to make. Let's get cookin'!
This is a great time to be alive, isn't it?
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
It is the best book on the presidential campaign process ever written. It is a must-read for any self-respecting political junkie. And here's the good news: It's still in print. Please, buy it and read it.
Ann Coulter has just announced that she will support Hillary Clinton over John McCain. Isn't that heartwarming?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Look! A Real, Live Democrat!


Am I missing something here? What the hell is wrong with the Democrats? For the first time since George McGovern thirty-six years ago, we have a Democratic candidate for the presidency who actually sounds like a Democrat. There's nothing vague about John Edwards' message - you know where he stands on every issue of any importance to average Americans. Unlike Barack Obama, whose heart is in the right place but who talks in poetic generalities, and Hillary Clinton - who is heartless - John Edwards has a definite, tangible vision of the new direction he wants to take America. Why isn't he catching on? Why are the American people so easily led - like sheep - by the corporate media? What in tarnations is goin' on here???

One could only be deeply moved by Senator Obama's primary victory in South Carolina last night. And Caroline Kennedy's endorsement in this morning's New York Times really hit home. In an opinion piece titled, "A President Like My Father", she wrote:

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president - not just for me but for a new generation of Americans."

If Obama is the eventual nominee, I'll be happy and proud to have him as the Democratic standard bearer. It's foreseeable that someone like him would even be able to bring the likes of me back into the fold (I left the Dems ten years ago). But with all due respect to Ms. Kennedy, it seems to me that John Edwards could be just as inspiring to that same new generation of Americans. As I've stated on this site before, John Edwards, Like Franklin Roosevelt three quarters of a century ago, knows that corporate America is the enemy of the people; Barack Obama just doesn't seem to understand this. His insistence that he will allow the huge drug and insurance companies a seat at the table when trying to hammer out a solution to this nation's health care mess is dangerously naive. Maybe he is trying not to appear too bold. Maybe he really does understand the serious crisis this country is facing with respect to the hammerlock that the plutocracy has held on the American economy for the past twenty-seven years. One could only hope so. That he is an intelligent man is undeniable. But my problem with Obama's message is that it's too vague. John Edwards, on the other hand, is offering us a concrete new deal. I agree with Caroline Kennedy: Barack Obama is an inspiration. But so is John Edwards.
And let us not forget that the odds of history are on the side of John Edwards! This might seem to some like a trivial point but sitting senators and congressmen tend not to be elected to the presidency. The reason for this is the fact that Americans prefer Governors. The latter are known for their administrative ability - as opposed to the former who are merely legislators. The last sitting senator to be elected was John F. Kennedy in 1960. The last sitting congressmen to be elected was James A. Garfield in 1880. The fact that both of them were assassinated is a mere coincidence, I assure you. But the truth remains that when a party nominates a active legislator, they're taking a huge statistical gamble. History proves as much.
Whether the eventual nominee is Obama or Edwards, one has every reason to believe that either one of them will be the next president of the United States. Not since 1932 have the Democrats had a better shot at reclaiming the White House. But it should not be forgotten that they also have a positive genius for screwing up a good thing. Last year, I ended a piece on The Rant this way:

"Hey Democrats! You want to know another reason why I left your party almost ten years ago? You people are just dumb enough to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton! Prove me wrong, Dems! Please prove me wrong!"

Aye, there's the rub!

The Clintons are the reason I am no longer a Democrat. I don't want to go back there and neither should you.

This can not be emphasized enough: If Hillary Clinton is handed the nomination at next summer's convention, it is a certainty that the Republicans will retain control the executive branch of our hideously broken government until at least 2012. That is a chance that we can't afford to take. It is a sure bet that a Republican president will pardon George W. Bush and that he will be able to escape the punishment that is due him for the crimes he committed against the people of the United States in general, and the men, women and little children of Iraq in particular. Justice demands that he be sent to federal prison for the rest of his life. That will never happen if Hillary Clinton in nominated. The time has come to face some unpleasant facts: She can't win the general election. Let's be honest here, folks: everyone is sick of the Clintons! It seems more-than-likely that the next Republican nominee will be John McCain. Do you seriously believe that middle America will choose the Queen of the focus groups over the one-time inmate of the Hanoi Hilton?? As Frank Rich said in his column today:

"Billary can't even run against the vast right-wing conspiracy if Mr. McCain is the opponent. Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay hate Mr. McCain as much as they hate the Clintons. And they hate him for the same reasons Mr. McCain wins over independents and occasional Democrats: his sporadic (and often mild) departure from conservative orthodoxy...."

The only way a Hillary Clinton candidacy will motivate the Democratic party's base will be by inspiring a third-party uprising. If Al Gore had only remained true to that party's core philosophy, Ralph Nader would not have run in 2000. The choice between Hillary Clinton and any Republican is, in reality, no choice at all. And let's not forget this: Do you really think that it's a wise idea to hand the presidency over to a group of people who have emulated the campaign tactics of Karl Rove? Their methods used in smearing Senator Obama during the South Carolina primary are the most despicable used by any Democrat in at least a half a century. They should just go away - far, far away. If Hillary Clinton is chosen as the nominee this summer, for the first time since I became eligible to vote thirty years ago, I'm not even going to bother. What's the use?

"So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is - fear itself: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

March 4, 2008 will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The rules and regulations that his administration set into place that saved capitalism from its own excesses worked beautifully for a half a century. Then in 1981, with the dawning of the Reagan Revolution, the New Deal came under assault. Twenty-seven years later, as in 1933, the American economy finds itself on life support. John Edwards is the only candidate who understands that the New Deal desperately needs to be resuscitated. His time has come.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

The Best of Times:
America In The Clinton Years
by Haynes Johnson

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Oh, I would just love to be able to sit here on this cold winter morning and tell you that we only have 365 days left to endure what's left of the administration of the disgusting, half-witted, murderous little guttersnipe the American people were foolish enough to inaugurate as their chief executive seven years ago today. Alas, that was not meant to be. Just our luck: 2008 would have to be a leap year. Shit!

366 days left of this unprecedentedly corrupt and incompetent White House. I wouldn't be writing these words had the Democrats shown some profiles in courage and removed George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney from power via the constitutionally mandated means of impeachment. Never before in our history has the overt criminality of a president and vice-president been so blatantly and perfectly obvious. The "high crimes and misdemeanors" of these two make the misdeeds of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew a generation ago seem like harmless, school boy pranks.

The very fact that the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate allowed this dreadful situation to continue (virtually unchecked) should be held against them - and no doubt will be. What people have got to realize is the fact that the once-great party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt is no longer part of the solution - they're part of the problem - and they're now in the process of cheerfully proving this point. They seem hell-bent on handing the nomination to the only candidate in their ranks who is almost certain to lose at the polls in November. The fact that Hillary Clinton can't win the deep south and large parts of the mid and northwest (and quite possibly her home state of Illinois), the fact that every opinion poll has her losing handily to every potential Republican opponent (unlike most of her Democratic counterparts) - the fact that most people can't stand her - seems not to have paid even a courtesy call to their brains. But that's another topic for another day....

The general consensus of opinion is thus: Why impeach the First Fool and Dead-Eye Dick at this late stage in the game? How much more damage can they possibly do in one short year? The answer to that question is somewhat of a no-brainer: They can and will do more damage - a whole hell of a lot of damage - between now and January 20, 2009. It is not going to be "one short year" as some seem to be suggesting. It is going to be one, very long, extremely long, EXCRUCIATINGLY LONG year. We cannot be expected to wait 366 days - 8,784 hours (I did the math!) - to begin cleaning up the mess these criminal jackasses have made. We need to begin as soon as possible. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, as they say.

And what of the crimes too numerous to even cite? From the violations of the Geneva Convention to the war profiteering; from the looting of the National Treasury to the political persecutions; from the assault on the First Amendment to the desecration of the Constitution....The next president of the United States needs to remember the political price that Gerry Ford paid for pardoning Dick Nixon in September of 1974. Serious, criminal investigations need to be initiated the moment the oath of office is taken one year from today. This country's very salvation depends upon nothing less than we, the people making damned sure that George W. Bush is remembered in history as the first former chief executive to go to federal prison and that he will die there.

No man or woman is above the law. An example must be made of the hundreds of people - within the Bush/Cheney administration and without - who willingly committed crimes against the American people during the last seven years. The evidence of criminal wrong doing is voluminous; the smoking guns are so plentiful they've blocked out the sun. If these crimes go unpunished, our former standing within the international community of nations will never be regained. If these crimes go unpunished, our creed of being a nation of laws and not men will be exposed as a fraud. If these crimes go unpunished, The Constitution of the United States will be forever tarnished. If these crimes go unpunished, we we'll never be forgiven by the world - nor will we ever be able to forgive ourselves.

I cannot emphasize this enough, campers! What you have here inside the Executive Mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a cabal of some very hideous bastards and one extremely nasty bitch (Hello, Condi!) The damage that they have done to this country can't even be assessed. The youngest people among us will be paying for the Bush Mob's dreadful mismanagement of America's social and economic infrastructure for the rest of their lives and, more than likely, the lives of their children as well. This is a problem that is not merely going to go away with a change of administrations - this is a problem that we'll be dealing with forever. If you are unable to perceive the repercussions of George W. Bush's stupidity by now, you will by January 20, 2009 - count on it. As Maureen Dowd astutely observed in this morning's New York Times:

"Next to the cool, strong euro, the dollar is a comparative runt in the world's currencies. The weak dollar lets foreigners snap up real estate in Manhattan. It is striking that the Bush scion, who tried so hard to do the opposite of his father, also ends up facing the prospect of a recession in his final year in office. Maybe if the president had spent the trillion he squandered in the Iraq odyssey on energy research, we might have broken the oil addiction."

Indeed we might have. It boggles the mind imagining where we might be today had a President Albert Gore taken the oath of office on January 20, 2001. That he actually won the election of 2000 and that the presidency was denied him because Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris were able to illegally remove 57,000 black people from the list of eligible voters in the state of Florida only compounds one's rage.

It's a sure bet that a President Gore would not have ignored the warning: "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In The U.S." and might very well have prevented the carnage of September 11, 2001.

It's a pretty safe wager that President Al Gore would not have committed the stupidest foreign policy blunder in American History by invading a country that was a threat to no one.

It's fairly safe to assume that President Gore would not have foolishly squandered a multi-trillion dollar surplus with a tax cut for a class of people who already had more money than they possibly knew what to do with.

It's not too much of a stretch to conclude that President Gore would not have built up a debt so astronomically unmanageable, it would have to be taken over by the Chinese.

It's not an unreasonable guess to conclude that President Gore probably would not have ordered persecutions of his political enemies nor would he have filled the Department of Justice with third-rate, ideological hacks.

Yeah. One doesn't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to conclude that the world in general and this country in particular would be a much happier place today had we never known the names of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The very thought of enduring another 365....I mean, 366 days (SHIT!!) of this nightmare of an administration is almost too horrible to even comprehend. The fact that all the pundits are predicting that this will be a Democratic year is of little solace. They have forgotten the Dem's positive genius for taking a fine bottle of twelve-year old scotch and turning it into donkey piss.

Maybe the party of FDR will finally show some courage and end this outrage that is being committed against the American people. Maybe this year pigs will finally learn how to fly.

Don't hold your breath.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY.

Yesterday I visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. If you're ever up in that neck of the woods, it can't be recommended enough. There is a link to their website here on "The Rant". You'll walk away from the place feeling better about America. It's therapeutic!

Hello, Christina.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Theodore Roosevelt: The People's President

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt
It's difficult if not impossible to even contemplate from the vantage point of January 2008 that there used to be such a thing as a "progressive Republican" That very term today sounds so oxy moronic, it's almost hard to pronounce. The vision of a "Square Deal" and a living wage "for every man and every woman in the United States" was represented by Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president. January 6, 2009, less than a year from today, will mark the 90th anniversary of his passing at the age of sixty. I think the time has come (in fact, it's long overdue) that people who describe themselves as "registered Republicans", most of whom are reasonable people (unlike their counterparts on the RNC), take a good, long look at this man, his incredible life, and his legacy to the country he loved so well.
When reading a biography of him, one is almost dumbstruck by the man's seriousness of purpose and his utter incorruptibility. That he believed in himself and his talents and abilities is not a rare thing among politicians these days. What is different is that Roosevelt had every reason for his self-confidence. His lifetime of achievements not only as a politician but as a naturalist, an author, and an explorer would be impressive enough in someone who lived to be one-hundred years old. That so much was accomplished in so relatively short a life can only be described as awe inspiring. What is even more amazing is the fact that his was a life plagued by ill health and devastating personal tragedy - the loss of his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, hours after the birth of their only child; the death of his youngest son Quentin in World War I - events that would have floored any other man.
It should be stated here for the record: Teddy Roosevelt was not like other men. Not even close.
His principled stand on important issues was such an inconvenient truth for the power elite of his day, he inspired political King maker Mark Hanna to refer to him as, "that damned cowboy". As governor of the state of New York, he proved to be such a headache to GOP boss Thomas Platt, in the summer of 1900, Mr. Platt concocted a scheme to rid himself of the irrepressible Mr. Roosevelt forever.

The previous year, Garrett Hobart, President William McKinley's vice-president, had died unexpectedly. Roosevelt was literally forced to run with McKinley as second on the ticket. In that bygone era (over a century before Dick Cheney) the vice-presidency was seen as a powerless, impotent position. A generation later, John Nance Garner, who would serve as the first VP for Theodore's distant cousin Franklin, would famously remark that the office wasn't worth "a bucket of warm piss". At the end of a long campaign, on March 4, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated as the first vice-president of the twentieth century. He could now be expected to go gently into that good night of political oblivion.

And then the unthinkable happened.
On September 6, 1901, while visiting the Pan American exposition in Buffalo, NY, President McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by a crazed gunman. He died eight days later. At the age of forty-two, Theodore Roosevelt, that "damned cowboy" was now the president of the United States.
He was just the right person to usher his country into the new American century. He was young; the youngest man who ever held that position - before or since. The presidency had been severely weakend following the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868. He became the first president since Abraham Lincoln to give the office some teeth. The House and Senate, long accustomed to dealing with passive and appeasing chiefs-executive, didn't know what to make of this new president. While he gave the legislative branch of government ulcers, he inspired the nation. There had never been this manner of man in the White House before - and the people loved him.
His was an administration dedicated to the environment, almost a century before such a stand would be politically popular. As president, he set aside millions of acres of forest as national parkland, to keep them from being ravaged by the timber industry. He would negotiate an end to the Japanese/Russian war which would earn him the Nobel Peace Prize - the first for a US president. He would initiate the building of the Panama Canal. He would seriously impair the stranglehold that Big Business in general - and J.P. Morgan in particular - held on the American economy. In May 1902, coal miners struck for a wage increase, an eight hour day and recognition of their union. In October of that year, President Roosevelt forced the mine owners to meet with the striking miners. For the first time in history, government influence was able to oversee impartial arbitration.
After serving nearly two full terms, he left the White House, handing over the reigns of power to his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, and went on a much-heralded safari to Africa. On returning stateside in 1910, after being away for over a year, he was disturbed to find that the jovial but easily-led Taft had undone much of what Roosevelt believed to be his greatest accomplishments. Challenging the incumbent president in the Republican primaries of 1912, Roosevelt arrived at the convention that summer with all of the delegates needed (and then some) to seize the mantle of standard bearer and claim the nomination. The GOP power brokers, though, had other ideas. They had had enough of the progressive enlightenment of Theodore Roosevelt and were determined that the Plutocracy - not the people - would dictate America's future. Taft was re-nominated to run for a second term.
Roosevelt bolted the Republican Party at that moment and formed the Progressive or - as it was popularly known - The Bull Moose Party. His third-party candidacy wound up splitting the Republican vote, thereby - for good and ill - making the presidency of Woodrow Wilson possible. It was during that campaign, on his way to make a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that a would-be assassin shot him, point blank in the chest. "I will make this speech or die!" he told his terrified entourage. He strode to the podium, speech in hand, his shirt soaked with blood, and told his audience that it took more than a bullet to stop a Bull Moose.
The guy was incredible.
Ironically, Roosevelt's insurgent campaign of 1912 had a lasting effect on the political make up of the Grand Old Party. Many of the progressives who left with him, never returned to the Republicans. The liberal wing of that party, to this very day - almost a century later - has never re-emerged.
Fate was not yet through with Theodore Roosevelt. In early 1914, he agreed to take part in an exploration that was planning on mapping out an uncharted river which snaked its way through the dense jungles of the Amazon.The fifty-five year old Roosevelt would later say of his reason for going, "It was my last chance to be a boy."

The four-month long adventure nearly cost hm his life. So sick was he with malaria, fever and infection, he begged his companions to leave him behind to die. His son, Kermit, who had accompanied him on the trip remained steadfast: Dead or alive, he would see his father through. When he emerged at the river's end, he had lost one quarter of his 200 pound frame. The river, previously known only as the River of Doubt, was later re-christened in his honor "Rio Roosevelt" by the Brazilian government.

It is widely believed that his experience on the River of Doubt took years off of his life. It is almost anticlimactic to think that this man of action and adventure would die, quietly, in his sleep, at his home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, in the pre-dawn hours of January 6, 1919.
I think it is quite telling that, all these decades later, in their campaign literature and propaganda, the Republican Party - his party - never even mentions the name of Theodore Roosevelt - one of the three or four greatest presidents in American history. One needs not a degree in history to figure out the reason for that: Theodore Roosevelt believed, in every fiber his being, that corporate America served at the pleasure of the people - not the other way around. That sort of thinking is anathema to the modern day GOP.
They just don't make Republicans like that anymore. Come to think of it, they don't make Democrats like that anymore either, do they....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Theodore Roosevelt: A Life
by Nathan Miller

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Nasty liberal propaganda. ENJOY!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Making History In Iowa

Tonight, old man,
You did it! You did it! You did it!
You said that you would do it and indeed you did.
I thought that you would rue it,
I doubted you'd do it;
But now I must admit it that succeed, you did!
Colonel Pickering (played by Tom Degan)
to Professor Henry Higgins (played by Barak Obama)
from Lerner and Loewe's
My Fair Lady
The results of last week's Iowa caucus almost knocked me senseless. I did not think that Barack Obama could win a primary in in a state with the one of the lowest population of African Americans in the nation. Depending on who you talk to, it is roughly 2 percent - a ridiculously low number any way you look at it. It must honestly be conceded that history was made in the snows of Iowa on Wednesday night.
A tip of the old fedora to the good people of that state. Even the selection on the Republican side of the slightly nutty outsider, Mike Huckabee, gives one the impression that the Blackhawk State just may very well be a microcosm of the union as a whole. People are sick and tired of mainstream politics and politicians. They are desperate for the kind of change that is personified in the figure of Barack Obama.
I was (and still am) a supporter of John Edwards. I still have a vague hope that he will end up winning this thing. Of all of the candidates, he seems to be the only one who remembers that the Democratic Party is, after all, the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Senator Obama's position regarding the health care crisis - that he will allow the big pharmaceutical companies to have a seat at the table when working out a solution - is, to be polite, naive. The next president of the United States is going to have to understand that Corporate America is the enemy of the people. They no more deserve a "seat at the table" than the local heroin dealer deserves a seat on the City Council. John Edwards understands this. Barack Obama does not - or at least, that's how it appears. Heaven knows what he's really thinking.
Having said that let me say this: There is potential here - a lot of potential! While I would prefer John Edwards to be the eventual nominee, I would be more than comfortable with Barack as the standard bearer - or Joe Biden, or Chris Dodd, or Dennis Kucinich - PLEASE! ANYBODY BUT HILLARY CLINTON!! I can not emphasize this enough: If she is nominated at the convention next summer, it's all over. The only thing that Hillary Clinton stands for is Hillary Clinton. Even if she were somehow, miraculously, able to win (and that's never gonna happen - count on it), she still thinks that NAFTA was good for the American economy. She still thinks that her vote to give the First Fool the authorization to invade Iraq was a really neat idea. I'm not even that comfortable having her as my senator let alone president of the United States! I desperately want to see a woman elected to the presidency in my lifetime but, PLEASE, not that woman! And ask yourselves the following question: How is this listing going to look in the history books?
1. George Washington
2. John Adams
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. James Madison
5. James Monroe
6. John Quincy Adams
7. Martin Van Buren
8. Andrew Jackson
9. William Henry Harrison
10. John Tyler
11. James K. Polk
12. Zachary Taylor
13. Millard Fillmore
14. Franklin Pierce
15. James Buchanan
16. Abraham Lincoln
17. Andrew Johnson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
20. James A. Garfield
21. Chester A. Arthur
22. Grover Cleveland
23. Benjamen Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
25. William McKinley
26. Theodore Roosevelt
27. William Howard Taft
28. Woodrow Wilson
29. Warren G. Harding
30. Calvin Coolidge
31. Herbert Hoover
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
33. Harry S. Truman
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
35. John F. Kennedy
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
37. Richard M. Nixon
38. Gerald R. Ford
39. James E. Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. BUSH
43. BUSH
Admit it: It's going to look kind of silly, don'cha think? We are not a nation of political royalty - we're better than that (Or, at least, I always thought we were). The time has come for change - a totally new direction. That new frontier, that new deal - that new freedom - has yet to be articulated by Senator Clinton. Barack is our hopeful future. Hillary is our embarrassing past. (By the way, I wrote that list from memory. Aren't you impressed? I knew you would be!)
And sure enough, as I knew they would, the mainstream, corporate media has already begun to ask the inevitable question:
WHINY, IRRITATING VOICE: "Is America ready for a black president?
Oh, Please! Let me explain this to them as clearly and as concisely as I possibly can. In the process, they just might get a valuable, much-needed history lesson:
America has been ready for a black president since the day Shirley Chisholm announced her candidacy in 1972.
America has been ready for a black president since Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
America has been ready for a black president since Martin Luther King declared, "I have a dream" in August of 1963.
America has been ready for a black President since the day in 1957 when federal troops had to escort nine children into a public school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
America has been ready for a black president since late in the afternoon of December 1, 1955, when a tired and fed-up Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.
America has been ready for a black president since the Supreme Court of Earl Warren ruled on "Brown vs. the Board of Education" in 1954.
America has been ready for a black president since Harry S. Truman desegregated the armed forces on July 28, 1948.
America has been ready for a black president since the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947.
America has been ready for a black president since that day in 1939 when contralto Marian Anderson sang "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after having been refused the opportunity to sing before the Daughters of the American Revolution because of the color of her skin.
America has been ready for a black president since the night of October 16, 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt invited George Washington Carver to dine at the White House in the face of southern political outrage.
America has been ready for a black president since January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became the law of the land.
America has been ready for a black president since Frederick Douglas put pen to paper and wrote, "The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous."
America has been ready for a black president since March 5, 1770! That was the day that Crispus Attucks - a black man - became the first human being to give his life for this country.
Yeah. America has been ready for a black president for a very, very long time. Three cheers to Barack Obama for waking us up to this fact.
You know, I was just thinking: This son-of-a-bitch just might be able to pull this thing off!
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
The Audacity of Hope
by Barack Obama