Saturday, September 26, 2009

America The Pitiful

"I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."

James Baldwin

"You cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot."

Frank Schaeffer

Yesterday, in an OpEd published in the Huffington Post, Bill Maher wrote a piece which decried the dumbing down of the American people in in recent years:

"We weren't always like this. Inert. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law and 11 months later seniors were receiving benefits. During World War II, virtually overnight FDR had auto companies making tanks and planes only. In one eight year period, America went from JFK's ridiculous dream of landing a man on the moon, to actually landing a man on the moon."

While I admire Bill Maher a great deal, I am forced to take issue here. This pitiful America of which he speaks is very real - of that there can be little doubt to anyone who has bothered to pay attention. But like a lot of people on the Left (I am sorry to say) he totally ignores - whether by accident or design - the undeniable advantages of living in the America of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

For example:

I never finished High School. In fact I dropped out at the very beginning of my Junior year. In spite of this unfortunate fact, the I.Q. of my country has dropped to such a horrifying degree in the last thirty years, whenever I arrive at a gathering of, say, two or three-hundred people, I am reasonably confident that I am the smartest person in the room.

Do you have any idea how utterly cool that is? Lighten up, Bill.

I shall illustrate this nasty point by telling a tale of two marches on Washington. One took place in the late summer of 1963, the other in the late summer of 2009. One was promoted by a preacher from Georgia named Martin Luther King, the other by a former "shock jock" from the state of Washington named Glenn Beck. Ouch! Even mentioning the two of them in the same paragraph is somehow disconcerting.

In 1963, the the people were singing, We Shall Overcome.

Forty-six years later, the chant was, We Shall Undermine.

In 1963, a vast and varied demographic of the American people - all races and religions - descended on the nation's capitol to peaceably and nonviolently protest an injustice that was occurring in certain areas of the country to people of a certain skin pigmentation.

Forty-six years later, a Convention of Pissed-Off White People - united only by the fact that they were all habitual viewers of a single cable news channel - rolled into Washington to hurl invective at an African American president for creating a mess that he had absolutely nothing to do with creating.

In 1963, the signs people held up were optimistic: "With Liberty and Justice for All."

Forty-six years later, the signs were ominous: "We Came Unarmed - THIS TIME!"

On August 28, 1963, the hearts of people who marched on the city of Washington DC were filled with love and hope.

On September 12, 2009 they were just full of shit.

Let us boil the comparisons down to their juicy essentials, shall we? Martin Luther King had a dream. Glenn Beck has a scheme.

"Stupid is as stupid does."

Forrest Gump


In the America of 2009, "STUPID" is a valuable commodity. "STUPID" sells. A couple of years ago, one of the highest rated cable television programs for people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five was a show that was dedicated to stupid people doing really stupid things. The program was called, "Jackass". It was so successful, its producers were confident enough to make it into a full-length movie!

"STUPID" sells.

A few months ago, an African American named Michael Steele had a plan to bring other African Americans into the fold of the Republican party. How did he plan on accomplishing this damned-near-impossible feat, you may well ask? He was going to offer them watermelon.

"STUPID" sells.

In 2008, a Minnesota congresswoman declared that an investigation should be initiated against every Democratic member of congress for "un-Americanism". Less than a month later, she was reelected.

"STUPID" sells.

Last week at a Town Hall meeting, a woman confronted Eric Cantor with the plight of a close friend whose illness had left her destitute. With a straight face, the congressman suggested to the woman that her friend rely on charity.

"STUPID" sells.

Nearly half-a-century ago, there really wasn't much of a market for "STUPID" in most regions of this once-great nation:

"The energy, the faith, the devotion - which we bring to this endeavor - will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

George W. Bush, 2002

No doubt about it: In the first decade of this new century, "STUPID" has a corner on the market.

How did the country that put a man on the moon a mere forty years ago become so jaw-droppingly dumb? There are loads of reasons for this, to be sure. Not the least of which is the fact that since the dawn of the so-called "Reagan Revolution" a generation ago, the education of America's children is no longer a priority. You see, Ronald Reagan's revolutionaries are not merely content to do away with the Department of Education, these assholes want to obliterate public education in this country all together! That is not merely my opinion, that is their stated, published goal. Do the research if you think I'm exaggerating.

This is not your father's America. Come to think about it, this ain't even your older brother's America. The dumbing down process of recent years has been that swift. If you're not seriously alarmed by what is now happening, you're probably getting up every morning with FOX and Friends. C'mon! Admit it!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Trivializing America: the Triumph of Mediocrity
by Norman Corwin

This brilliant essay by Mr. Corwin was written in the late eighties and has been out of print for a number of years. Try finding it on Ebay. It's worth the effort.


Have you ever been to Elaine's Place? It's a nice place indeed:


When I first made this posting, I referred to Norman Corwin as "the late Mr. Corwin". I have just been ever-so-gently chastised by a reader named H.M.Covert that Norman Corwin celebrated his 99th birthday on May 3. Not only is he still very much alive, he is still writing. God bless him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rabid Blue Dogs

As we watch the party of Theodore Roosevelt skipping merrily down the road of utter and permanent self-destruction (TRA-LA! LA-LA-LA!) I think the time is long overdue that we have a blunt and serious discussion about the future of the party of TR's distant cousin, Franklin Delano. The tangible cockiness that has been emanating recently from certain quarters of the Democratic party is, to be polite, somewhat misplaced and extremely premature. Although they now have a substantial majority in both houses of congress, it would seem to me that they're not in control. What the hell is going on here?

Here's what's going on: Over fifty conservative Democrats in the House and Senate - the so-called "
Blue Dogs" - are hellbent on sabotaging President Obama's plans to make life better for the people of this country.

Hey, Democrats! Although I left your silly party over a decade ago, my heart is still essentially with your platform and agenda. That being said, I would ask all of you to think of me as Dr. Degan, your loving and trusted family veterinarian. After a complete and thorough examination of your beloved pets, it grieves me to offer you this final diagnosis:

Your Blue Dogs must be put to sleep.

Let's stop kidding ourselves and face some serious and uncomfortable facts here, okay? Any chance of serious health care reform is about as dead as the nails the GOP has spent the last nine years hammering into their own coffin. And the biggest irony? It was killed by a coalition of "Conservative Democrats" - or DINOs: Democrats In Name Only - which begs the musical question: With donkeys like these, who the hell needs elephants?

The Democratic party has been plagued by their conservative wing from the time they were formed in 1828. It must be remembered that the Republicans were formed in 1856 as the anti-slavery alternative to the Democrats, many of whom were southern slave owners. For almost one-hundred-and forty years, the "Solid South" was committed - although at times reluctantly - to the aspirations of the Democratic party. The conservative southerners were known as "Boll Weevil" Democrats. To be sure, for most of the Twentieth Century it was an uneasy alliance which existed between northern progressives and southern racists. For all the social and economic progress of the Roosevelt/Truman years, the half-wits that comprised the southern wing of the Democratic party just could not bring themselves to join the party of Abraham Lincoln, "that nigger-lovin' bastard that freed the slaves!"

Look away, Dixieland.

Then in 1964 and 1965 respectively, two earth-shuddering events occurred that forever destroyed the Democratic hold on Dixie: the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. That did it, Bubbah! The very idea of equality with NEGROS was just too much for these assholes to bear. When President Lyndon Johnson signed those two laws into existence, he told his aids, Bill Moyers and the late Jack Valenti, "We've lost the south for at least a generation." It was an understatement. The "Solid South" has been solidly Republican ever since.

In a recent interview, former Mississippi senator Trent Lott said that the great migration to the GOP in the mid sixties was all about economics and had not a thing to do with race. Bullshit. It had everything to do with race. There had been a revolt once before, in 1948 when President Truman courageously told the Democratic convention that he would refuse to accept the nomination unless a comprehensive civil rights plank was included in the party platform. That was all the southern delegation needed to hear. They stormed out of the convention en masse to chants of, "Goodbye, Harry" and organized their own convention which nominated legendary jackass, Strom Thurmond, as the "States Rights" or "Dixiecrat" candidate.

In spite of this and a fourth party uprising on the far left (Henry Wallace and the Progressives) Harry Truman won the election of 1948 simply by showing courage and doing the right thing. It's an example of statesmanship that many present-day Democrats would do well to aspire to.

Fast forward sixty-one years and we find that the party of FDR's major headache is no longer the Boll Weevil racists but the Blue Dog corporatists. They have no intention whatsoever of seeing meaningful reform placed into law for their constituents. Max Baucas, the leader of the Democratic opposition to President Obama's proposed health care bill, is in the pockets of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. He and his gang of Republicrats are determined to do the bidding of their corporate masters - you and I be damned. A reader who goes by the name of "Kat" just made an astute posting in the comments section of this piece which I think needs to be quoted:

"If I wanted [Republican] obstructionism, I'd have voted for it."

Indeed. This is certainly not the type of change I can believe in. It's time for the suits at the Democratic National Committee to get off their asses and work to defeat these worthless Blue Dogs at the primary level next year. Barack Obama's goals for the American people have been thwarted at every turn by these jackasses and their allies within the the extreme Right Wing of the GOP. They need to be brought down. The only way that is going to happen is via an uprising from within. There are enough progressive (LIBERAL) Democrats in the purplest of purple states (and even a handful of red states) to make this happen.

Sit, Blue Dog, sit! Good, Blue Dog! Nice, Blue Dog! Now be a good little doggy and lie down and play dead! On second thought, lie down and stay dead! GOOD boy!

What gives here anyway? I grew up believing that the Democratic party was the "party of the people"! I was reminded of this again last weekend when I made a little pilgrimage to the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY. President Roosevelt ushered regular people like you and I into the twentieth century. He brought electricity to the rural south! The middle class that we all now take for granted - which hadn't even existed prior to the New Deal - is now in serious danger of vanishing. Look around you. The signs - ominous and disturbing - are all there. The entire reason for the existence of the Loony Right Wing since 1964 has been to roll back the advantages gained by the New Deal and the civil rights movement. Do you think I'm being an alarmist? Fine. Just keep sending these Right Wing extremists and these Blue Dog Democrats to Washington and see what happens.

The Democrats are not going to distinguish their party by trying to sell themselves as Republican Lite. They're not going to turn America around by foolishly preserving the policies of the last thirty years. They need to educate their constituency by showing them the folly of their abhorrence of things "Left" and "Liberal". Three-quarters-of-a-century ago, American democracy was saved by a government that was decidedly left-of center in all but a few areas. It can happen again. But it's only going to happen if WEEDA PEEPOLE refuse to turn right at the next crossroad. It is only down the road.

Now if you'll excuse me, Dr. Degan has some Blue Dogs on his table that need to be put out of our misery.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Defining Moment
by Jonathan Alter

This extraordinary book is the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first hundred days. It's also as good an example as any I can offer as to how the Liberals once saved this country. They can do it again.

For more recent postings on this subversive, commie-loving site, please do go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Shame on you for even reading this stuff.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still MORE Right Wing Lunacy

Ever heard of Lou Pritchett? I had never heard of the man before Saturday afternoon when my friend, Yvonne, e-mailed me me something he wrote that has been making its way through cyberspace in recent months. The piece, which is called "An Open Letter to President Obama", is so stupidly written that under normal circumstances I would have dismissed it as a hoax - or the type of satire made famous by the late Lenny Bruce. But these are not normal circumstances and these people are anything but "normal". As Tom Lehrer once observed ,"Satire died the day they gave Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize."

According to a google search, he is "an acclaimed author, teacher and speaker." Acclaimed by whom is not made clear
. He is also, if I'm to believe what I read, a former executive with Proctor and Gamble, a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, whose contribution to the American marketplace ranges from Puffs facial tissue to Old Spice aftershave. The twenty-one paragraphs in his letter are mercifully brief. I am presenting the complete text here with my naughty comments sprinkled within. The guy is a laugh riot:

"Dear President Obama: You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me."

Woooooh! The Big, Black, Bolshevik Boogieman's gonna git'cha!

"You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you."

I'm sorry, Lou, but the question is just screaming to be asked: Have you been reading the newspapers in the last three years? I was just curious.

"You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support."

Lou! You caught us red-handed!! His education was funded by Democracy Now, The American Communist Party and Ed Asner. Call it a hunch, but I have a funny feeling that the very thought of a successful, upper class black man doesn't sit too well with you. I'm not far off the mark, am I? Not that it's any of my business, but who the hell paid for your education, Lou?

"You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American."

Sure, Lou, he's a Kenyan born Arab terrorist. And I'm Carlos the Jackal. Medications, please!

"You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll"

You've got a valid point here, Louie boy! The same could be said of John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington - and we all know how disastrous their administrations turned out to be. NEXT....

"You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core."

True. We need a man in there with the military experience of George W. Bush. You're a scream, Lou!

"You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others."

This statement is so unbelievably moronic, I'm not even going to bother commenting on it.

"You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail."

Radicals who wish to see America fail? Who are you talking about, Lou? Oh! You must mean Teddy Kennedy and Arlen Specter! Good point, Lou. Let's move on, shall we?

"You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America' crowd and deliver this message abroad."

Are you referring, perchance, to Obama's official apology for the CIA-fueled overthrow of the sovereign, democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 - which heralded the birth of the organized Islamic extremism that is our biggest headache today? You're absolutely right, Lou! Obama should not have apologized for that shameful chapter in our history. That apology should have come from President Eisenhower a half century ago.

"You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector."

Yeah, Lou, and he's going to force our teenage daughters to marry BLACK LESBIANS! Be afraid, Lou. Be very afraid.

"You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one."

Just like the ones in England and Canada that have worked pretty well for over fifty years? OH, MY GOSH! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!!

"You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves."

Again, this one is just too damned nutty to even dignify with a comment.

"You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world."

Wrong again, Lou. Like FDR in the thirties, he is trying to save capitalism by "tempering it's excesses". Nice try, though.

"You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations."

You mean the same banks and corporations that have been looting the American economy for almost thirty years now? SHAME ON YOU, BARACK OBAMA!

"You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals."

An ironic statement if ever there was one, Lou. He and his political party scare the hell out of me for their failure to challenge wild and irresponsible clowns like you.

"You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people."

Are you speaking of his failure to consider the opinions of "intelligent people" like yourself, Lou? What is he thinking?

"You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient."

Omnipotent and omniscient??? Have another sip, Lou.

"You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do."

Obviously you don't watch FOX Noise or listen to AM radio, Lou. That's a very good sign.

"You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view."

When has he demonized any of these fools, Lou? How has he tried to silence them? Give me one example. I'm waiting.

"You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing."

How has President Obama attempted to control you, Lou? Forgive me for pointing this out in so public a forum, but you sound just a wee bit paranoid, Buster.

"Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years."

Yeah, Lou. Just keep it up and I promise you this: you'll end up in one of the many Left Wing Gulags that we're building - at this very moment - at President Barack HUSSEIN Obama's orders. Have a lovely day, Lou!

I will offer no further comment. Lou Pritchett's silly comments speak for themselves.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT: A reader (and dear friend) who goes by the name Carolyn K, just posted this message in the comments section. I'll let her have the last word. It's perfect:

"Reality Check: God bless the fact that we live in a country where we are allowed to criticize the government and to have an open, intelligent discourse between opposing views. There are no demons here, Lou, except for maybe the ones in your head."


I just received the news that the "Mary" of the legendary folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, passed away the other day. Now there was a life well lived! A dragon lives forever, but not so Mary Travers. God rest her sweet soul.

For more recent postings on this cesspool of bad taste and commie propaganda, please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan


Keep voting Republican. There will be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mr. Wilson Goes Town Hall-istic

Isn't Joe Wilson a hoot-and-a-half? I'm not referring to the Joe Wilson who was married to Valerie Plame, the CIA operative whose cover was blown by Karl Rove and company in an act of cynical (and illegal) political revenge. The Joe Wilson I refer to in this piece is the ideologically challenged congressman from South Carolina who interrupted President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress the other night in words that will be in the first sentence of the first paragraph of his obituary:


If this knucklehead lives to be one-hundred-and-twelve, his outburst Wednesday evening will be the only thing he will be remembered for - much like Preston Brooks, another reactionary, half-witted South Carolina congressman from a bygone era - who today is remembered for no other accomplishment except nearly beating abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner to death in that very chamber over a century-and-a-half ago. What drove the Honorable Mr. Brooks to attempt murder in that hallowed setting? It was Mr. Sumner's heroic stance against the evil institution of slavery that nearly cost him his life at the hands of a fellow lawmaker. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

David Letterman put it well: Joe Wilson did Governor Mark Sanford a great service on the night of September 9. Sanford is now only the second most embarrassing politician to hail from that nutty state.

This really is an amusing thing to behold. In case you've been having a difficult time trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Wilson in general and the Grand Old Party in particular, here are the Cliff Notes: The extreme right wing is at the moment having a collective, massive nervous breakdown. They just refuse to accept the nasty little fact that a black guy is now the most powerful human being on the face of the earth - and it is killing them. As they did ten years ago when Bill Clinton was president, their plan is to go to any and all extremes to thwart the administration of Barack Obama.

Here's what's happening, boys and girls: The "party of Abraham Lincoln" (Imagine that!) has forever been exposed as morally and ethically bankrupt, and they are now in the process of implementing their "scorched earth" policy. In other words, if they have to go down, they have every intention of bringing the rest of us down with them.

If you thought for one minute that the loony right wing had lost all the marbles they could possibly lose - OH, BROTHER! - As the late Al Jolson used tiosay, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" It really is kind of funny - to a point. Here's the part that's not so funny, in fact it's a very ominous development indeed: Wilson and his compatriots within the vast right wing conspiracy are urging on the less enlightened of their constituencies into a violent fury; a rage born of lies and propaganda.

Do you remember what it was that Barack Obama said that caused Wilson's wrath? The president was patiently trying to explain to the country that his proposed health care bill would not cover the treatment of illegal immigrants. It wasn't a lie; it was the truth. The bill does not cover those in this country illegally. But - politically speaking - that inarguable fact does not work very well for Joe Wilson. It is essential that his constituents believe that "Obamacare" is merely a taxpayer-funded Christmas gift to dark-skinned people.

There are certain truths we need to come to terms with about the state of South Carolina and the people there who identify themselves Republicans. In order to do that we need to turn the old clock back nine years.

Early in the 2000 GOP presidential campaign, John McCain gave George W. Bush a serious and unexpected thrashing in the New Hampshire primaries. When the Bush Mob arrived in South Carolina the following week, they knew they had to take drastic measures if they were survive to the convention later in the summer. So they raised the issue that has been a sure bet hit in that state since Reconstruction: Race. It works every time down there. Go figure.

The Bush campaign initiated a phony "telephone poll" which asked the musical question:

"How would you react if you were to find out that Senator McCain fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a black prostitute?"

It worked. McCain, who had arrived in the state with a decided lead in the polls, was soundly defeated. But for the stupidity of the Republican voters of South Carolina, this country might have been spared eight years of the worst administration in American history. How's that for irony?

This is all about the underlying, hideous factor of the racism that is so deeply ingrained in the American character. The attempt to portray this president (Of all people!) as a socialistic, left wing extremist doesn't even pass the giggle test for people who have bothered to pay attention to their times and their history. Let's face it - Franklin D. Roosevelt, he ain't! They can't obstruct his agenda with a manufactured scandal regarding his personal life, as they did with Bill Clinton. eleven years ago. Their only hope is for enough of the American people to become really frightened by the Big, Bad Negro Commie. An ironic description when one takes into consideration how boringly moderate Obama really is.

Think about this: In the last presidential campaign only one of the nominees of the two major political parties was born in the United States - Barack Obama - John McCain was born in Panama. Do you find it as revealing as I do that it was the black guy had his citizenship called into question? How much more proof do we need of the overt racism that is inherent in that party - or in our own country for that matter? Honestly, this isn't rocket science, folks!

Joe Wilson and the nincompoops on the far right have opened a Pandora's Box that may very well prove difficult to close. What they are now doing - consciously or unconsciously - is prompting their brain-dead masses toward violence and intimidation. And let's not forget the untidy little truism that a lot of these folks are armed and dangerous. Who can forget the asshole who showed up outside one of the president's Town Hall meetings in New Hampshire last month with a gun strapped to his leg? My biggest worry is that that little incident is merely a small illustration of worst things to come.

Listen, I really hate to be the bearer of bad tidings here, I really do. But if you can't foresee some kind of Timothy McVeigh-style domestic incident somewhere down the pike, you're a hell of a lot more optimistic than I am. Also, if you are not seriously alarmed by what is now happening to our beloved country, you're not paying attention.

And now Glenn Beck is all set to become the Martin Loony King of the Far Right with his stupid March on Washington today.

Isn't life interesting?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hey, Kids! Meet The Beatles!

John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr

Let them take us down....

I realize that the times we live in are just too damned weird to focus any degree of attention on a rock 'n' roll band that released its final recording forty-years-ago last month - two of whose members are gone from our midst. Think about it. In 1969, at the height of all that was then going on, any columnist who would have devoted a entire page to the greatness of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra would have been laughed out of the business. But this isn't just any band we're talking about here. With the exception of the President's address to a joint session of Congress last night, I didn't spend much time yesterday dwelling on affairs of state. September 9, 2009 belonged to the Beatles.

Yesterday marked the long-awaited release of a box set containing every commercial LP and single made by the lads from Liverpool between the years 1962 and 1970. What makes this package different from what has previously been available is the fact that the engineers at EMI (the studio in London where they did most of their work) have digitally remastered the recordings from the original multi-track tapes. It was like listening to them for the first time all over again. The Beatles have never sounded better - To tell you the truth, I never dreamed that was possible.

To the best of my knowledge, I was the first person in Orange County to purchase the set. I was there bright and early at the FYE store in Middletown, NY. They were ten minutes late in opening and I'm afraid my impatience got the better of me. You should have seen me, rattling the closed gate, yelling only half in jest, "I WANT MY BEATLES, DAMMIT!!!" Nothing worked; not even when I threatened to write a letter to my congressman in protest would they budge an inch. Fortunately, the people who run the place are all-too-familiar with my little eccentricities and did not feel threatened enough to phone the authorities. Their restraint was truly impressive.

After purchasing the package, I wandered aimlessly on the back roads that separate the mall from where I live, listening to
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - from beginning to climactic end. The songs have a clarity that is indescribable. The miracle of recorded sound will be bought home once again in the next few weeks to the millions of people who purchase any of these recordings. Those incredible voices, eternally young, forever alive, resonate across the decades. Close your eyes. You're back in Studio Two at the Abbey Road Studios, sitting in with the lads on a long-ago recording session. In the classic song, Strawberry Fields Forever, John Lennon told us that nothing is real. I would beg to differ. The sounds emanating from these new mixes are very real.

To most people over the age of fifty, the Beatles have a special place in our hearts. Fellow Baby Boomers: Can you even IMAGINE your childhood without the Beatles? Not me! There had never been a band like them before. The likes of the Fab Four are not likely to pass this way again. They arrived on our shores at just the right moment - two-and-a-half months after the assassination of a beloved president. We were not only ready for the Beatles in February of 1964, we needed them like a tonic.

We all have our personal memories of the phenomenon that was Beatlemania. I remember the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember seeing A Hard Day's Night at the movie theater around the corner from where I grew up. I remember being at my cousin Mike Cullen's home when I first saw the Sgt. Pepper cover ("Mike! They're wearing mustaches! What's that all about???") I remember exactly where I was standing in the summer of 1968 when I happened upon a girl from the neighborhood who
was listening to the new Beatles record, Hey Jude, on a small transistor radio. I remember my reaction to the news that they had broken up. It wouldn't last, I thought. Someday they'll Get Back to where they once belonged. I really believed it - for an entire decade I believed it. You may say I'm a dreamer. That dream ended forever on a horrible night in December of 1980 when John Lennon was forever taken from us due to an insane act of cold-blooded murder.

"Nothing to do to save his life, call his wife in."

"I read the news today, oh boy!"

"The dream is over."

Two years ago, on the fortieth anniversary of the release of the landmark Sgt. Pepper LP, I wrote a piece on this site called, Why the Beatles Still Matter:

"Late one night, not very long ago, I had a dream that the Beatles were still among us, making us laugh and sing in the same way they did when they were the undisputed princes of the Planet Earth all those years ago. That's what was so wonderful about the Fab Four; they not only sang like the scruffy angels they were, but they were so damned funny! All one has to do is view the films, A Hard Day's Night and Help, and you're once again reminded that they were a great comedy team - one of the greatest. When I awoke from that dream - thinking it had been real - the blunt realization that the Beatles are gone forever was too depressing to even contemplate.

"In 1995, the night the video Free As a Bird premiered on national television (the first "new" Beatles song in over a quarter-of-a-century) I watched it with a young woman who was born in 1970, the year they broke up. Hearing them sing together again - Paul and George sounding strong and clear; John, by that time long-dead, his voice transferred from an old and faded cassette tape, sounding as if he were singing from far, far away - was a very moving experience. When she noticed my reaction, she laughed and said, "Oh, Tom! What's the big deal?" I told her that no one who did not live through that turbulent era could possibly understand what that band meant to their troubled generation."

Music industry officials are now predicting that by the end of 2010, the Beatles will prove to be the best-selling band of the first decade of the twenty-first century. People who should know better are blaming the utter implosion of the record business on downloading and bootlegging. This is not a laughing matter, they're telling us. Oh really? Tell that to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Tell that to the heirs of John Lennon and George Harrison. They're laughing all the way to the bank, baby! Maybe - just maybe - there is a certain creativity that is somewhat lacking today. That's just a harmless little theory of mine. Pay no attention to it.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known
There's nothing you can see that isn't shown
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy!
All you need is love....

All you need is love. I believed it then; I believe it still. It's a fairly safe bet that in the next week or so, I'm going to be just a tad distracted by the magic and mystery of John, Paul, George and Ringo. When I'm done writing this latest screed of mine, I have a long drive to take. En route, I plan on listening to the new mix of Abbey Road in its entirety. Last night before I retired for the evening, I had a glass of wine and listened to Harrison's Here Comes the Sun. Beautiful! In the words of another one of his songs, "It's all too much for me to take". If your budget precludes you from buying the entire package (Times are tough, I know) you can purchase each album separately. It really is an incredible listening experience. The Beatles are back.

Unlike so many today, the Beatles stood for something. Decades of biographical scholarship now tells us that they were four very flawed and imperfect men - "a bit like you and me". But the recorded legacy they left the human race is incalculable. Let me attempt the impossible and sum up the Beatles' message in one sentence: We are the makers of our own dreams. That works for me.

Dream. Dream away....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Phillip Norman

The Beatles
by Bob Spitz


EMI has also digitally remastered the Beatles original mono mixes which I have recently obtained. For you purists out there, these really should be listened to - particularly the Sgt. Pepper mix. To quote John Lennon, "You haven't heard Pepper until you've heard it in mono."


When I wrote this piece on September 10, 2009, I never dreamed that eight months, one week and one day later, I would be standing inside Studio Two at the Abbey Road Studios in merrie olde England. I still can't believe it actually happened.

We followed her down from a bridge by a fountain, and she led us to the doors of the Abbey Road Studios. A splendid time was guaranteed for all, and the nice folks there delivered - BIG TIME.

To read more recent pieces from this site, please go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Having been some time in preparation a splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Monday, September 07, 2009


Last week when the White House announced that President Obama would be giving a little speech to the nation's children, encouraging them to stay in school and study hard so they might go far in life, who in their right mind could have possibly predicted the shit storm of outrage that is now emanating from the extreme right? Actually, I did predict it - but I am of my right mind - honest, I am! It's just that these knuckleheads are so damned predictable. The sun will rise. The moon will set. Republicans will behave like assholes. It is really as simple as that.

I did the research. At the very least, every president since Hoover at one time or another used the classroom as a political prop. In the past, there had only been a hint of disdain from certain political corners for such events. Of course in 2009 things are a little different. In case you haven't noticed, Barack Obama is not Herbert Hoover.

It's things like this that make my job such a joy. The mind-numbing stupidity of these people never ceases to amuse, believe me.
When Ronald Reagan addressed America's school children during his term and went as far as lecturing them on the importance of tax cuts, there was barely a whimper from the Left.Why the big fuss now? What the hell is the big deal? Let's stop kidding ourselves. This is racism at its ugliest. Our darling children must be protected from the socialistic ideas of the Big, Bad Negro. Oh, brother!

Could the basis for their paranoia be that Obama really is the hard core lefty that people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are portraying him to be? To quote Joan Rivers, "Can we talk?" Here's the dirty little secret: He ain't. He isn't even close to being one. If he were, people who lean left-of-center (like yours truly does) wouldn't be as disappointed in his performance thus far as we obviously are.

My only consolation in recent months has been the fact that the guy is not George W. Bush. As I said shortly after last year's election, Bush was such a monumentally awful president, even Obama's failures will look like brilliant statecraft by comparison. Although that has certainly turned out to be true, to be honest with you I was still expecting a bit more from this president
. The good news is that at this writing we're barely eight months into his presidency. We will see where we are a year or two from now. To write Obama off now, as more-than-a-few Progressives seem to be doing, would be a great mistake.

Here is yet another example (as if any more were really needed) of how the Republican party has moved so far to the fringe Right in the last thirty years, they are in serious danger of falling off the face of the earth. How anyone could possibly interpret the president's remarks to read that he is trying to indoctrinate American children in "socialistic ideology" - when those remarks have not even been written yet - is beyond idiotic. We're talkin' full-blown lunacy here! It is also another clear example of the eye-popping stupidity of more than a few Americans.

Is Barack Obama such a clear and present danger to these nitwits that they would feel compelled to protect their children from him by keeping them home when he speaks? Are they that insecure? It would seem to me that we should have turned the corner with regard to our irrational racial fears decades ago. As with Bill Clinton, they are stopping at nothing in order to torpedo this president's agenda. As I've stated on this site more than once the GOP's only hope for political salvation is the complete and utter failure of the Obama administration and, thus, the American people. They want unemployment figures to go into the double digits. At this moment they are doing everything humanly possible to see to it that that happens.

What could the president possibly say in a ten minute chat that would conceivably send these kids head first into the abyss of Communist ideology? It staggers the imagination but let's give it a try, shall we?

"Hello, comrades - uhh, I mean, boys and girls - I'm the president! You know, kids, in this grand and glorious land of ours, we have something called "religious freedom". You know darned well what that means, don'cha? It means that you can worship God in anyway you choose without fear of persecution! Do you know what "persecution" means, kiddies? To be persecuted means to be picked on by mean people for no good reason. A very great man once said, 'It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods - or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.' Gee! He sure must have been a really smart man! I hope that each and very one of you children grow up to be just as smart - and maybe even smarter - than he was!"

DID YOU HERE THAT, MARTHA??? That black son-of-a-bitch is trying to wash the brains of our good American children! Did'ja hear him? He was quotin' Karl Marx or Emma Goldman or Ed Asner or one of them there evil-doin', Commie Bastards!

Actually, it was Thomas Jefferson but who's keeping score?

Yes, Virginia, there are some jackasses out there who believe that Obama is trying to convert their kids into a new generation of Pravda subscribers. My message to them? Just relax and take a nice, deep breath. As someone recently remarked, this in not a policy speech, it's a pep talk. For all his minor flaws, this president really believes in education. His is the classic American success story in which the education he received plays a crucial role in the plot line. He wants to inspire the littlest of us to climb the highest mountains of achievement. What the hell is wrong with that? What's the matter with you people?

You would think the way some of you have been acting that the president is some kind of pervert stalking the neighborhood school bus stop, ready to expose himself. He means your children no harm. He's not trying to turn the little darlin's into Socialists - or even Democrats for that matter. Hell, for all we know he might even inspire one of them to greatness! It's a fairly safe bet that one day more than one of those kids will grow up to be the president of the United Sates of America! Let them be inspired.

In the spring of 1963, sixteen-ear-old Bill Clinton met John F. Kennedy in the Rose Garden of the White House. Did that now-historic meeting inspire Clinton? More than likely. One day in the late 1880s, James Roosevelt, a gentleman farmer from Dutchess County, New York, bought his five-year-old son, Franklin Delano, to the Executive Mansion (as the White House was then officially called) to meet President Grover Cleveland. Said the president to the boy:

"Little man, I'm going to make a strange wish for you. I wish that you never become president."

Just like FDR to spite the old bastard. Maybe old Grover was onto something there. Franklin D. Roosevelt is remembered today in the same way that Cleveland is all-but-forgotten.

So just sit back and relax, folks. Barack Obama is only performing a routine presidential duty that has been performed by presidents for generations. There's nothing to be afraid of. He's not trying to turn your babies into mini Marxists. This isn't the Trotsky For Toddlers program. The president of the United States merely wants to have a heart to heart talk with the children of America about the importance of a good education, that's all. I promise you, we Progressives do not believe in evil, subliminal messages. Chill out!


Just kidding.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT, 8 September 2009, 6:14 PM

President Obama spoke to America's children this afternoon. The world did not come to an end. Everything seems alright tonight.

For more recent postings on "The Rant", please go to the following link:


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Glenn Beck: The Louse That Roared

It always saddens me to see a "Child Left Behind" - all grown up. Glenn Beck would be a text book case. Back in the spring on his unintentionally uproarious FOX Noise program, Beck told his television 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 the camera dead in the eye and ominously told his clueless viewers that eventually "they" (He never specified exactly who "they" were) would be coming for them. It was a gross perversion of the famous Martin Niemoller poem. It was a none-too-subtle effort to compare the Obama Justice Department's prosecution of corporate criminals to Hitler's persecution of the Jews seventy years ago. Nice.

Recently he has been trying to pump up his brain dead masses by flatly stating that Barack Obama is a racist who hates white people. The fact that our president's lineage is fifty percent European and that he was raised by his very white mother and grandparents apparently never occurred to this jackass. Fill the people's minds with hate and fear; that's all that matters. Incredibly, it's working. An alarming percentage of the American people actually believe that Obama's goal is to turn the United States into a Socialist police state.


Most of us here in the states have an I.Q. higher than that of your average half-eaten box of Milk Duds -
Really, I promise!

A few months ago I wrote on this site that, being a tad crazy myself (in a lovable and endearing way, I assure you) I have the ability to pick up on the crazy vibe of others. Some people have a subtle, barely perceptible form of craziness - others have crazy to spare. Our boy Glenn is in the latter category. He likes to describe himself as the modern day equivalent of Howard Beale, the character played by the late actor Peter Finch in the 1976 film "Network". It's an apt comparison when you think about it:

He's mad as hell.

The first fact that struck me when researching the Beck biography was the day of his birth - February 10, 1964 - the day before his ideological soul mate, Sarah Palin, was born. Isn't that interesting! Just what the hell were they feeding those kids in the maternity wards of American hospitals forty-five years ago? Later on that same year, the GOP would nominate Barry "In your guts you know he's nuts" Goldwater as their standard bearer. Coincidence? I wonder....

And now the Beckster is positioning himself to become the Martin Loony King of the modern-day, Right Wing movement. He is organizing his very own March on Washington on September 12 at the Lincoln Memorial - the 9/12 Movement, he's calling it. Just imagine Glenn Beck standing under the statue if the Great Emancipator, bloviating in front of a sea of his intellectually-challenged masses. I can see it now....

"I have a scheme that one day my children will be judged not by the color of their white collars but the content of their country club....That one day ALL of God's children - Christians and CEO's; Republicans and John Birchers; right-wingers and MasterCard holders - will join hands and sing in the words of the old Harry Barris spiritual:


I have a scheme today...."

I'm stating to think that I really have to attend this event. How much fun would that be? I wouldn't be there as a progressive provocateur. What earthly sense would that make? Let's face it: it has now been established beyond any doubt that a lot of these knuckleheads are armed and dangerous. Remember that jackass who showed up outside Obama's recent Town Hall event in New Hampshire with a fucking gun strapped to his leg??? No. Get home alive and in one piece. Just blend in with the crowd and take notes for the sake of posterity. Don't stand out. Does anyone have a baseball cap and a confederate flag I can borrow?

The Tea Party Movement earlier this year was a total failure - a complete fiasco. They tried to make it look like a "grass roots" effort but it soon became clear to everyone that the only "grass" on the agenda was AstroTurf. The entire affair was a cheap and pathetic publicity stunt cooked up (I believe) in the offices of the Republican National Committee. The 9/12 Movement is their last chance to be taken seriously as a force to be reckoned with. No doubt about it, now I have to attend! But it probably would not be a good idea for me to go alone, There is decided strength in numbers, you know what I mean?


What are you guys doing next weekend? Wanna go to Washington and hang out with Glenn Beck? It might be loads of fun! All sorts of possibilities for some serious mischief!

To date, Beck has lost a grand total of fifty-seven sponsors. His act has gotten too weird for even Corporate America. That takes a bit of doing. To be honest with you, I'll miss him when he's gone. In a way that I can't even articulate, people like Glenn Beck have made my life a total delight. If tomorrow people like him and Sarah Palin went away, look for me on the breadline. They have given new meaning to my life. Seriously, I can't thank them enough!

Not since Joe McCarthy shuffled off this mortal coil in 1957 has anyone made a career by accusing people of being communists. Glenn Beck has resurrected the practice. Not only has he found a cabal of secret communists, he has uncovered an entire communist corporation chock full of commies. The name of this company, you may ask?


You heard me right, boys and girls. The network that gave us Uncle Miltie and Ma Perkins has apparently been secretly sending subliminal messages endorsing Marxist doctrine since it was formed in 1926. This would make perfect sense to me. Every time I watched the Rockford Files I had an unexplainable desire to read Das Kapital.

But seriously, folks. Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, red baiting not only seems silly, it's also kind of nuts. It's not-at-all surprising that an organization would give this idiot a forum (after all, he's on FOX Noise). What's really stunning is the fact that his ratings are relatively high and that so many Americans take his word as gospel.

All kidding aside, half-witted ideologues are a dime a dozen. What separates Glenn Beck from his peers is the fact that he is doing some serious damage to the country he professes to love so much. For all of the comparisons to the Nazis he likes to make with regard to Liberals, Beck's program has much in common with Adolf Hitler's 1923 screed, Mein Kampf. Eighty-six years ago, Hitler attempted to arouse the anger of his fellow Germans by spouting half truths and utter nonsense - exactly what Glenn Beck is doing in 2009. So much of the insane dialogue that has been spewed forth at these Town Hall meetings across the country in recent weeks might have been lifted straight from a transcript of any of Beck's programs.

Beck and his twisted ilk have done the seemingly impossible. They have deflected the blame for America's current economic distress toward Barack Obama. An incredible feat when you take into consideration the fact that the President is one of the few people in government today whose guilt in the matter is almost nil. They have also let loose with a vengeance the very worst angels of the American nature. Opening this Pandora's box was relatively easy. Closing it might prove to be a bit of a problem.

Deep in their hearts
They do believe
That they shall undermine someday....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


To brother, Pete Degan, who turns fifty today.
Been there! Done that!