Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Judge Sonia Has Her Day

"I chose to be a lawyer and ultimately a judge because I find endless challenge in the complexities of the law. I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights."

Sonia Sotomayor
26 May 2009

The latest talking point on both sides of the aisle is that she came from nothing. That's not true. Nobody comes from nothing. Every human being on earth, whether they are born in a mansion or a ghetto, is priceless. Still, it's a good thing to know that in an age when America is starting to look more and more like a Plutocracy, that a person of Judge Sotomayor's humble origin can climb to the pinnacle of her profession without turning her back on from whence she came. It's quite curious; why does Clarence Thomas and Alberto Gozalez immediately come to mind?

Her biography is beyond impressive. Born in the Bronx fifty-five years ago this June 23, to Puerto Rican parents, she was raised in a housing project that was rife with vice and violence. A year after she was diagnosed with diabetes at the tender age of eight, her father died. Her mother insisted that she and her younger brother receive a private Catholic education - an expensive proposition under any circumstances. Back then (as now) Parochial schools were far superior to the public schools in most American cities. A few years after graduating from Cardinal Spellman High School, she received her A.B. from Princeton University.

According to some scholars, she has more judicial and legal experience than any proposed nominee in at least a century. You would assume that a person with her credentials would be easily confirmed by the Senate, wouldn't you? In fact as things now stand, that just may happen. While the Republicans are just itching to block her nomination with every possible legislative trick at their disposal, they have a bit of a problem: their hunting dog is dead.

The "party of Lincoln" has a really big dilemma on their hands. What we're talking about here is a classic Catch 22, damned if they do and damned if they don't scenario: It would be crazy on their part to obstruct the Sotomayor nomination for the simple reason that it would only further alienate the country's fastest growing demographic, Hispanics. A lot of them (for reasons I can't figure out for the life of me) vote against their best interests by habitually siding with the GOP. To throw a monkey wrench into this process is not likely to do the Republicans any good. You would think at least one of them would be smart enough to figure this out. The membership in that silly excuse of a party is dwindling at such an alarming rate, to do anything but grant the good judge a prompt and speedy confirmation would be foolhardy.

PROBLEM: That party is just chock full of fools. The next few days should be very interesting; very interesting indeed.

Every day in every way, they spiral further and further into the abyss of irrelevancy. To do anything as politically suicidal as attempting to sabotage President Obama's nominee would only be further proof (as if any more were needed) that our Republican representatives, within congress and without, are beyond psychotherapy and need to be seriously medicated for their own safety and ours.

The other day on television, Mitch McConnell (What would I do without you, Mitch?) was saying that the last thing the American people needed was a Supreme Court Justice setting judicial precedent via any preconceived political conviction. It's a good argument, one that begs the following question: Has it occurred to Senator McConnell that there are already four Right Wing extremists on that court? It's time to take a very slight turn towards the left. In fact it's long overdue. And while Judge Sotomayor's record does lean toward a liberal point-of-view, she can hardly be described as a fire-breathing Lefty. Remember it was George H. W. Bush who on November 27, 1991 nominated her to hold a seat on the U.S District Court. What does that tell you?

Don't fall for the onslaught of propaganda that is about to be hurled at you that will portray her as some kind of extremist. Sonia Sotomayer is, at best, a wishy washy moderate. In fact, she's boring. Radical Lefty? Please.

Truth be told, Eleanor Holmes Norton would have been my first choice. Between you and me, I think that gal is the bee's knees! I'm just crazy about her!

As of this hour, college drop-out Karl Rove is questioning Judge Sotomayor's intellect (She graduated second in her class at Princeton). Rush Limbaugh is calling her a "racist" (The same Rush Limbaugh who a few months ago broadcast the song parody, "Barack, The Magic Negro"). The Right Wing talking heads are now trying to portray her as the instrument of Satan's own wrath. They are in the process of obliterating whatever credibility they have left. And isn't it wonderful? You and I are going to have a front-row seat for their self-immolation!

Three years ago next week when I started this site (June 6, 2006) I made what at the time seemed a very bold, even preposterous prediction. It's not as bold or preposterous now as it once was. In fact it's almost a foregone conclusion. Please allow me to make that prediction again:

George W. Bush will be the last Republican president. There will never be another. The grand old party is over.

I concluded that first posing three years ago this Tuesday with these words:

"Sound crazy? Stay tuned."

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


In recent weeks, the site that monitors the global positions of the readers of "The Rant" has pinpointed a reader who has been tuning in every couple of days from about a hundred miles or so off the south-west corner of the coast of Africa.


Whether you be a passenger on a private yacht, a military vessel, or just a lone fisherman, please allow me to send out to you this hearty and heartfelt salutation:


and peace to you, brother or sister....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sarah Palin for President

Let me rephrase that....

Sarah Palin for candidate.

It will never happen, you say? Maybe. Maybe not. But think about it for a minute or two: Just take a good look at the current state of that miserable, moribund party. To whom are they going to turn in three years when they run against an incumbent president? John Boehner? Mitch McConnell? Please. My money is on Sarah Palin. I want her to get that nomination so badly I can taste it. It'll the equivalent of shooting Alaskan Pollock in the proverbial barrel.

You don't think that they would be crazy enough to hand over the mantle of standard bearer to such an imbecilic person? You think that such a move would be politically suicidal? "NO WAY", you scream, in a voice loud enough to be heard in the next county, "THE WOMAN IS AN IDIOT! AN EXTREMIST! IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN! NEVER, I TELL YOU!"

Three words: George Walker Bush.

Let's be brutally frank here, shall we? The I.Q. of the so-called "base" of that party has deteriorated to such an alarming degree in the last thirty years, a Sarah Palin candidacy is not only a very real possibility in 2012, it's damned near inevitable! She is made-to-order for these fools, are you kidding me? There can no longer be any serious debate that the Republican party has cornered the market on Stupid. In fact, with very few exceptions, judging by the quality of the people they have been sending to Washington in recent years, it is quite apparent that Stupid sells.

Take Michael Steele, for instance. When the American people elected the first African American as President last November, the Republican National Committee decided that the GOP needed a face lift - actually a face dye. It was obvious that, given their history of policies that are utterly hostile to people of color, they couldn't have just another white guy as their spokesman of opposition to an Obama administration. There are a few (very few) black men who now earn their reputations on the talk show circuit spouting the talking points of the Republican party. A couple of them, I hate to admit, are fairly astute - like Ron Christie, for instance, who regularly appears on MSNBC - a very bright fellow any way you slice it or dice it. You would think that the geniuses who run the RNC would have signed up someone like him as chairman, wouldn't you? Yeah, me, too - but that would have been out of character for them. No. They just had to hire the dumbest black guy they could possibly find.

Yesterday in a speech before a gathering of party hacks in Maryland, Steele proclaimed that the gloves were about to come off and that the "honeymoon" between President Obama and the grand old party was over:

"We are going to take this president on with class. We are going to take this president on with dignity. This will be a marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of President Bush."

Class and dignity, huh? QUESTION: Where the hell was this knucklehead when his party was trying to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with a half-witted intern - in solitary confinement? By the way, between you and me and the parking meter, Malcolm X had a term for people like Michael Steele: House Nigger. You want to talk about the worst kind of cow towing, Uncle Tom darkie? The guy is a walking, talking stereotype! Somewhere in that eternal void, you may be sure, Stepin Fetchit is laughing his ass off:

"Hee! Hee! Hee! Oh, Mistah White folks you sho' is sly!!"

Before he was even inaugurated, I predicted two terms for Barack Obama. Although at the time that was somewhat of a daring prophecy, it is no longer bold as it once was. As a matter of a fact, it is a near certainty. Which brings us back to the dilemma facing the "party of Lincoln" (Doesn't that phrase just make ya wanna giggle?) Three years from now they won't be able to nominate another bland and boring white guy, that's for damned sure! What to do? It's simple! Nominate a minority or a woman. I can just picture the bumper stickers: SARAH PLAIN/BOBBY JINDAL in '12". Count on it: Barring a miracle, scandal or tragedy, either one of them - or both of them - will be on the ticket in 2012. Remember, you read it right here on "The Rant", folks.

Getting back to the subject of Stupid....Are you ready for this? A vote will be held today in the RNC to rename the Democratic party - hold on to your sides, kiddies! - the "DEMOCRAT SOCIALIST PARTY". How's that for a knee slapper? Is it stupidity or simple arrogance that makes these assholes believe they can actually rename another political party? If this happens, the Dems should forever refer to them as the "Republican Fascist Party". Does that sound to you like a gross exaggeration? If it does, I would only remind you of how Benito Mussolini - the father of the fascist state - once defined fascism. In a 1927 interview he told a journalist (in English):

"Fascism should more properly be called 'Corporatism' because it is the total merging of corporate and state power."

'Nuff said? I thought as much.

The epidemic of right-wing bloviators overdosing on Stupid Pills is disturbing and far-reaching.The other night on FOX Noise, Glenn Beck actually compared the Obama administration's handling of corrupt corporate executives to the holocaust! (No, I'm not making this up. It's probably on You Tube - look it up) In a grotesque paraphrasing of Martin Niemoller's famous poem, he told his studio audience:

"First they came for the bankers, and I did not speak up because I was not a banker.

Then they came for the A.I.G. executives, and I did not speak up because I was not an A.I.G. executive."

He then looked his viewers dead-square in the eye and told them that "they" (he never really got around to clarifying exactly who "they" were) would eventually be coming for them. Now, intelligent people like you and I can look at something as absurd as that and appreciate it for its entertainment value. Let's face it: these jackasses are awfully fun to watch. The problem is that there are many people out there, a few of them mentally disturbed, many of them armed to the teeth - all of them dumber than dog shit - who take this utter nonsense seriously. God forbid, if there ever is another Tim McVeigh-style terrorist attack on our government, Beck - and many others, you may be sure - will have blood on their hands.

A special note of thanks is in order to Keith Olbermann, who every night airs for his viewers choice nuggets of FOX nuttiness. In this way, we can experience the unintentional comedic joy of FOX Land without ever having to go there. But I really do suggest that you tune into them once and a while - if only for the entertainment value.

"The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over."

Michael Steele
May 19, 2009

Over? Really?? Aw, hell. Mikey! It's barely begun!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Treason by Ann Coulter
(Again, for the pure entertainment value, of course)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dick Cheney's Tortured Logic

"Should the United States of America be using forms of torture dating back to the Spanish Inquisition?"

Ray McGovern
(No relation to George. Honest!)

Do you want to know why I love Jesse Ventura so much? Because he pisses EVERYBODY off. The other night on Larry King Live, Jesse said, "I'll tell you what: you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders." I can top that one easily. Just give me two hours with the hideous thug and I'll have him confessing that he was part of the Lincoln Assassination conspiracy
. Oh, hell - give me three hours and he'll be saying that he framed Judas! And speaking of Judas....

NOTE TO THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT: Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross. You folks might want to rethink your position on torture. Just a thought.

Ah, Dick Cheney! As the clock was counting down on the final hours of the Bush administration, I have to confess that I was feeling kind of blue. It would never again get half as weird or one tenth as entertaining as it was when Richard Bruce Cheney held center stage. I just assumed that the dirty old dingbat would slither away into that good night of ignoble obscurity and that would be that. But he didn't go away. Not only that, at a time when the GOP is desperately trying to mend its image and undo the irreparable damage that was done to it by the Bush Mob, the Dickster is in the final stages of pounding the nails into the GOP's coffin. He knows he's in big trouble and is looking at a very long stretch in federal prison. He's out there talking as loudly as he possibly can to as many interviewers he can con into letting him into their studios. It is pitifully obvious that he is trying to contaminate any potential jury pool. You think such a blatantly opportunistic ploy is beneath him? You don't know Dick.

And he is not the only member of the Cheney Klan spewing the propaganda on the media circuit. Yesterday morning, daughter Liz Cheney could be seen debating Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eugene Robinson on MSNBC's Morning Joe - if you want to call it a "debate". Her idea of discourse was to talk loudly over whatever point Robinson tried to make in defense of his piece that had been published earlier in the day in the Washington Post - a piece which was decidedly critical of dear old Dad. That's the only way people like that know how to operate. It's the old Josef Goebbels strategy: Just keep repeating the lie over and over and over again. Eventually, the people will start to believe it. In spite of Liz's subterfuge, Gene held his own quite nicely, thank you very much. And here's to you, Mr. Robinson!

From "The Rant", December 16, 2007:

"For the record: "Waterboarding involves strapping some poor bastard down, taping a piece of cloth over his face, and pouring torrents of water over him. He then gets the overwhelming sensation that he is drowning. When an investigator asked the CIA to perform the procedure on him, even though he knew he was in no danger of dying, he found the duration of the ordeal unbearable and extremely frightening. His conclusion? Waterboarding is torture. PERIOD. Sixty years ago, several Japanese military commanders were sent to prison for many years for committing the same crime. Some were even executed! You see where I'm headed here, don't you. Okay, I'll stop."

And you thought the only thing George W. Bush was torturing all those years was the English language! And do you remember the word Alberto Gonzalez used in describing the international laws against torture? "Quaint".

"Did you see that, Lester? That there feller's entire respiratory system just shut down! Aw, sheeeit! Ain't that quaint?"

I hate be a party pooper here, but I have a funny feeling that in an international court of law, none of Cheney's defenses regarding torture would hold much water (No pun intended). I've always had this quaint notion that the United States is bound by tradition - and honor - to abide by the Geneva Conventions. To say that these so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" (Paging Dr. Orwell) were successful is, to put it as politely as I can, disingenuous. Were they able to extract any reliable information from these guys via the use of torture? It depends on whom you ask. But this much may be ascertained beyond a shadow of a doubt: a waterboardee will eventually tell the waterboarder anything and everything he or she wants to hear - anything to stop the extreme pain and terror. Human beings (being human beings) are kind of funny that way, you know?

Under the right (or wrong) conditions, a person in duress will confess to damned near anything. When I was a kid, I once admitted to a guy who was twisting my left index finger, that late at night when no one was watching, I liked to sing
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes while dressed in a Coco Chanel negligee. Hey! A guy's gotta go what a guy's gotta do! As you can imagine (and has been proven beyond a doubt) most of the information the CIA received during these interrogations was absolutely bogus.

"The United States DOES NOT TORTURE."

George W. Bush

Oh, really? Tell that to ibn al-Sheik al-Libi.

Under conditions of extreme torture, al-Libi agreed in 2002 to provide his interrogators with the political cover the Bush/Cheney cabal needed in order to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. Libi made a deal with his captors. He would tell them everything they wanted to hear and then some. In exchange, they would stop the torture. At the moment this was happening, the now-infamous "Torture Memos" were being written. If there is a case to be made against that disgusting administration for war crimes (and there is - trust me on this one, campers) Mr. Libi has been described as the "smoking gun" .

Good news: HOORAY! We've got an Arab John Dean!

Bad news: Oh, damn. ibn al-Sheik al-Libi is dead.

They found his body last week. He appears to have committed "suicide" even though his family and friends insist there were no warning signs that he was about to kill himself and that such a self-destructive act was not in his nature. That's okay. I'm sure its all just an innocent coincidence. Never mind.

The ball is now in President Obama's court. It is disturbingly apparent that he lacks the will - the political courage - to have his Justice Department initiate the prosecutions against these murderous assholes. The only problem is the fact that it's not just his Department of Justice - it's ours, too. If the American people aren't very angry over the plight a bunch of tortured "A-Rabs", you can bet your last dollar that when they learn the reason those guys were tortured, they'll be seething with rage.

Let's put things in their proper perspective, Shall we?

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (both failed oil men) were desperate to seize control of a country which possessed the second or third largest oil reserves on the entire planet. But before they could do that. they needed to prove to the clueless American people the following little bits of misinformation:

1. The ruler of that country, Saddam Hussein (Remember him?) was harboring dangerous Weapons of Mass Destruction.

2. He was somehow in cahoots with Osama bin Laden in the atrocity that was committed on September 11, 2001,

3. He was an imminent threat to the peace and security of the free world in general and the United States in particular.

The only problem was that they needed one crucial thing to make their case which they were seriously lacking - EVIDENCE. So how would they be able to get the evidence they needed so badly? Extract it
from hapless Prisoners of War by any means necessary. Torture was the means they used to achieve their ends. As a result, nearly five-thousand American kids - not to mention as many as a million Iraqi men, women and little children - are dead.

They were determined to invade a country that was a danger to no one but itself. They fabricated the reasons for that invasion out of thin air - much in the same way Adolf Hitler did when he invaded Poland on September 3, 1939. They cherry-picked a mole hill of evidence that claimed Saddam was a threat to America and completely ignored the mountain of evidence which conclusively proved that he was nothing of the sort. They wanted that fucking oil, baby! And they were determined to grab it - come hell or high waterboard.

I don't know about you, but I've got a funny feeling that when the American people finally figure all of this stuff out, they're going to be just a tad peeved, don'cha think?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Uncovered: The War on Iraq
A film by Robert Greenwald

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The G.O.Pizza Party

Did you see it? It was beyond pathetic - it was dark comedy at its finest. Kurt Vonnegut might have written it! There they were - Eric Cantor, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush - holding some kind of town meeting - at a pizza parlor. They made much of the fact that they were able to crowd almost fifty people into the place. Smart move. They probably realized that they would not be able to get much more than that number into an average sized auditorium. Romney was actually comparing the Republicans to the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. He also said that the Democrats were more like the English monarchy that ruled during that era. As he was making these incredibly stupid statements, he was sitting next to a man who was the son of one president, the brother of another - and the descendant of still another (Franklin Pierce). I think poor old Mitt's irony meter needs some adjusting.

It was yet another silly attempt to remake the image of the GOP and it didn't work. No one is buying their product anymore. It reminded me of an electronics dealer who used to operate here where I live in Goshen, NY. Well into the 1980's, years after they were rendered hopelessly obsolete, this clown was still selling 8-track tape machines - or trying to sell them anyway. I always felt sorry for the poor guy. Although I was very much involved in audio and radio production at the time, he sold absolutely nothing which suited my purposes. So out of touch was he with the times in which he lived, he eventually went out of business. Come to think of it, that is exactly what is happening at this very moment to the Republican party.

While this silly nonevent was transpiring, the life of Jack Kemp, one of America's last remaining conservative visionaries, was ebbing away. It was sad, symbolic and ironic all at the same time. Kemp, like Arlen Specter, was a right-of-center moderate who was viewed by many Republicans in the House and Senate as a Pravda-reading, Castro-loving lefty. He also understood something which every single one of his Republican colleagues could never figure out: the importance of bridging the gap that has existed in this country for centuries between blacks and whites. Jack Kemp knew that it was the single most important issue facing the American people. This morning, one less, clear thinking and decent conservative politician walks among us.

And what was the purpose of this so-called "Pizza Party" you may well ask? No one, thus far, has been able to quite figure that out. It made about as much sense as those moronic "Tea Bag Protests" of last month - just another mindless publicity stunt. They spent a great deal of time preaching the ideas of the Republican party without being able to define just what those ideas were. That has been pretty much the case with all of their public venues as of late. Whenever a relevant question has managed to cut through the spin, smoke and mirrors, their responses tend to be of the "dog ate my homework" variety - amusing to say the least. The fact is, they have no good answers to the questions we might put to them at any given time:

Us: "Now, about the economy...."

Them: "We have a plan."

Us: "Umm, right, you have a plan - got'cha. Explain your plan."

Them: "We have a plan."

Us: "And just what would your plan entail?"

Them: "We have a plan."

Us: "Wait! This plan of yours doesn't even have any numbers!"

Them: "We have a plan."

Us: "Do you even have a clue as to what you're talking about?"

Them: "We have a plan."

Us: "Do you really think you'll be able to get away with this?"

Them: "We have a plan!"

You get the idea - or lack thereof. What they are doing is tying a pair of antlers to a pig and calling it an elk. This is beyond humorous; this is screamingly funny! The Snake Oil salesman will only be able to sell his worthless nerve tonic for so long before the people catch on to the scam. When that happens he'll merely relabel the bottle to read, "CLEANING FLUID". The American people have been swallowing that worthless Right Wing Elixir for nearly thirty years and it hasn't cured their ills - in fact it has only made them sicker. Doctors Canter, Romney and Bush are desperately trying to change the bottle's label. Unfortunately for them, the people have gotten wise to the swindle and are no longer buying the product.

"Stop claiming you have 'an agenda.' It's not an agenda; it's a random collection of laws that your corporate donors paid you to pass."

Bill Maher

Not only that, you should stop claiming that you're the "party of ideas". No one believes that anymore. You don't even believe it anymore! You are the purveyors of an obsolete ideology. And while we're on the subject, will you people please cease and desist from using the name of Jesus Christ as proof of your so-called moral superiority over the rest of us? While I can never claim to be a religious scholar, my Catholic school upbringing has given me, at the very least, a remedial understanding of what Jesus was (and is) all about. When He said, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth", I have a funny feeling He wasn't talking about Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter - or Canter, Romney and Bush. Enough already, alright?

"What we have here is a failure to communicate"

Struther Martin
from the film, Cool Hand Luke

It is not really a question of failing to communicate. After all, the patron saint of that party was called "the great communicator". The problem is the fact that for so long they were able to communicate a whole range of perfectly screwy ideas that the electorate (for reasons I'm still trying to figure out) took seriously. While the notion of a "trickle down" economy might have looked fine and dandy to many in 1980, twenty-nine years later the people are no longer swallowing the snake oil. The (Republican) party's over. The piper must be paid.

This would appear to be the end of the line for the loony right wing, and maybe even the Grand Old Party itself. The "moderate wing" will not be able to save it this time for the simple reason that the moderate wing no longer even exists! Arlen Specter and Jim Jeffords are now Democrats; Jack Kemp and Barry Goldwater are dead (And yes, they have moved so far to the extreme right, historical hindsight now views Goldwater, "Mr. Conservative", as a centrist). As someone recently remarked, "That's not a political party; that's a cult".

While I couldn't be happier over the complete destruction of what used to be known as "the party of Lincoln", my utter joy is tempered by the knowledge that one party rule can ultimately lead to disaster. Will absolute power corrupt the Democrats? Absolutely.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


New Rules
by Bill Maher