Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Plea from Tracy Murphy

Tracy Murphy has a smile that literally radiates love - love of life, love of humanity, love of animals - everything. It is a smile you can read at midnight by. She is an animal rights activist from Cheektowaga, NY, which is just outside Buffalo. Recently this good and decent woman became incensed at the presence in that city of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.

You would think that by the first decade of the twenty-first century, human beings might have evolved to the point where we would be able to share the planet with the animals that were also placed on this earth by God. I believe that they were not put here merely to amuse us or to feed us. Tracy Murphy shares that belief - passionately - and in an articulate voice which I won't even attempt to paraphrase.

The following is a composite of two different letters she recently wrote. One was to Mayor Byron Brown and the city council of Buffalo, the other was on the website,
` The Ringling Circus has left town, and I am here dumbfounded as to why we allow a business to perform in Buffalo that is clearly abusive to Asian elephants, an endangered species, as well as many other exotic and domestic animals. The inhumane treatment toward animals with whips, blow torches and bull hooks has been documented for years by many animal welfare agencies. Currently there is a Federal lawsuit against Ringling for illegal abusive treatment toward a protected endangered species, the elephants.

The animals are clearly kept in bondage and suffer greatly every day of their lives. Why can we not reach into our sense of common decency and ban these circuses with animals? I ask all of you this question and so do many others:

I care deeply for these elephants, as well as all the animals that are exploited in these circuses. I am not ashamed to stand up for every one of them, and if it takes standing on the street corners of Buffalo to collect thousands of petition signatures to help these animals, I will peacefully and proudly do that. I cannot think of any other way I would want to spend the rest of my life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr said, "One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Unfortunately, many people do not know who how brutal elephants and bears and other animals are treated in the Circus. During the show, everyone is smiling and happy. The animals seem like they are enjoying themselves with their trainers and having fun as well. This is the image that Ringling wants us to see. However, there is a dark side to the Ringling circus. The Asian elephants are chained for 19 hours a day where they can only lean forward and stand in their own urine. The bears have it just as bad and are kept in tiny cages, hardly having enough room to even turn around. These animals do become neurotic and it is evidenced in undercover video footage taken by many animal welfare agencies. Signs of neurotic behavior (going mad) are elephants and bears swaying their heads back and forth.

All of this is documented and can be viewed at the website:

When not in their prisons or bonded to heavy chains, they are being trained with the most cruel methods imaginable. Elephants are violently struck with a long handle with a sharp hook on the end. This is called a bullhook, and it tears into the sensitive skin of the elephant. The beatings are violently repeated until the elephant does the trick its trainer wants to be performed. Even after the training session, the trainers continue to beat the elephant with the bullhook to “keep them in line.”

There is no special bond between a trainer and an elephant as Ringling would want you to believe. There is only pain and suffering between a slave holder and slave. The bears do not have it any better. They are struck as well so they can perform tricks. But for a bear to jump through a hula hoop takes special effort. So the trainers burn the bottom of the bears' feet so they jump. This is the kind of suffering we indeed support if we go to the circus.

This is not about tradition. As Albert Schweitzer once said, “The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another...."

Let freedom ring for these animals. Let freedom ring.
Tracy Murphy
Wish I'd said that, Lady Tracy! Animals cannot speak for themselves. They are damned lucky they have you speaking out on their behalf.

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan


Animals, Properties and the Law
by Gary Francione

In an e-mail I received this afternoon, Tracy told me:

"Gary is a distinguished professor of law at Rutger's University - a very smart man. I think this would be a good book to help open everyone's eyes to the little (or should I say "no") legal protection animals have. He bases that on the moral reasons animals should have rights and must not be considered property. If we continue to view animals as property, then we will never change our mindset toward them. Much like slavery and how slaves were once considered property. I still cannot believe we once did that in this country."


Tracy Murphy is to animal rights what Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi were to human rights. Here is a link to the website she is involved with:

The Buffalo Vegetarian Society

To read more recent postings on this positively subversive blog, please click on the link below:


Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something to Think About

They're actually starting to say it! The amazing thing to me is that they're saying it with faces as straight as a two-by-four! I paraphrase:

"We [the GOP] will take the House of Representatives back from the evil 'Democrat' party next year."

Note to Michael Steele: It's the evil "Democratic" party, you simmering twit!

Their hope to regain control of the legislative branch is beyond mere wishful thinking, it is delusional. So far removed from the main stream of political discourse has that party moved since 1964, it is in serious danger of falling off the face of the earth. As someone remarked not very long ago, "That's not a political party; that's a cult." In a recent newsletter written by Michael Moore (link below) he presented an action plan called, "Fifteen Things Americans Can Do Right Now". When it was published this morning on AlterNet, I offered a sixteenth thing we can do: "STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN!"

I then posted something I wrote on this site over three years ago. Here it is again with only minor editing:


1. They have cut the throats of the poor and the middle class.

2. They have looted our national treasure.

3. They have abandoned their constituency in favor of a multi-national corporate behemoth and an out-of-control military industrial complex.

4. They have created a global, geo-political catastrophe in the Middle East that will take at least a century to remedy.

5. They have shoveled a generation of American children into an untenable slaughterhouse in Iraq.

6. They have engendered an economic nightmare so immense that generations yet unborn will still be bearing its burden.

7. They have sold our nation's soul to the highest corporate bidder. They have made a mockery of the First Amendment.

8. They have squandered a trillion-plus dollar surplus with a tax cut for a class of people who didn't need it.

9. They have gutted vital social programs that aid the poor and the elderly which have been in place for over seventy years.

10 They have gutted laws meant to protect working men and women.

11. They have plundered the environment.

12. They have depleted our educational system.

13. They have hijacked this nation's political dialogue.

14. They have ruined our international reputation.

16. They have handed our domestic agenda over to religious fanatics.

17. They have stolen two national elections.

18. They have trampled on our constitution.

19. They have denied voting rights to people of color in at least two states in the last nine years.

20. They have sent our Bill of Rights through the sausage grinder....

They must never - EVER - be allowed to govern our country again.

The grand old party is over.

And to think it used to be known as "the party of Lincoln"! Sheriff? Looks like we got one dead elephant here. And why are the Democrats acting so damned complacent? Don't they realize that they're next? The time is coming when we will have a real "party of the people". When that day dawns, the Dems and the GOP will be just an unpleasant memory - like a long ago New Year's morning hangover.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Here is a link to Michael Moore's call to action:


Our friend Kitty Bruce, the beloved daughter of my favorite comedian, the late, great Lenny Bruce, is holding an auction of her father's personal possessions in order to raise money for Lenny's House, a shelter for women with a history of substance abuse issues. The last day of the auction is October 28. Here is a link to her official site where you can view the items up for bid:

You can also make a donation to help support Lenny's House by sending a check to:

The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation
PO Box 1089
Pittston, PA 18640-5802

"I am not a comedian and I am not sick. The world is sick and I'm the doctor. I'm a surgeon with a scalpel for false values. I don't have an act. I just talk. I'm just Lenny Bruce."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Health Care and Woe

"Wonderful. The 13 Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee get one faintly rational Republican to join them in a meaningless stab at health care reform and it throws the media into a titillated frenzy about what it all means. It means very little."

Very little indeed. That was the first paragraph of an article that was posted on AlterNet this morning by Robert Scheer. This isn't reform. This is merely an early Christmas present to the insurance companies. Once again you and I have been sold down the river by our elected representatives. Are We the People going to take this lying down? The answer to that question is - sadly and most probably - yes.

Home of the brave? Please.

And incredibly the Democrats are still contently walking around under the delusion that they remain the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Their shameful and disgusting behavior this week is yet another reminder (as if another reminder was really needed) that that pathetic party needs to be completely overhauled - or destroyed. In homage to Matt Taibbi's book of four years ago, that donkey needs a good spanking - or maybe it needs to be shot. Let me think this over....

Were you aware of the fact that in countries like England, France and Canada, people over the age of sixty-five are advised not to vacation in the United States because if they get sick or injured over here it could cost them everything? That is the nasty little reality of the America of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Don't believe the Conservatives when they try to make you believe that they hate our guts Over There. Europe doesn't hate America. Actually they love the contributions the US has made to the rest of the world. Let's face facts here: how dreary would this poor old planet be without good old rock 'n' roll, James Dean and Billie Holiday? They really do love America and the American people - it's our government that they can't stand. In fact - and I'm going to go out on a limb here - they hate our government almost as much as the Conservatives do.

My younger brother Jeff is the shame of the Degan family. He not only lives in France, he actually likes it there. He has a French wife and two gorgeous little French daughters (Je vous, les enfants!) Honestly I think the guy is a closet communist. He wears a goatee that is similar to Lenin's - shameful. Back in August, in a letter to his fellow countrymen and women regarding the sorry state of the American health care system - or "Hell Care" as he referred it it (What a card!) - he summed it up by saying:

"In short, in the US, you pay more, get less, and die younger than we do in Europe. What part of that don't you understand?

Well, hey there! That's a danged good question! What part of that don't we understand? Why is it that so many of us have to be dragged, kicking and screaming like half-witted little preschoolers, into the brave new world of change? What the hell is the matter with us anyway? How can it be that such a huge number of Americans cheerfully join movements of mass stupidity and salivate on cue to the sound of Dr. Glenn "Pavlov" Beck's bell?

Once again our representatives in Washington have demonstrated to us that they are far more susceptible to the limitless resources of cash that are pouring in from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies than to the needs of the American people. They don't give a flying fuck about us. Again, to quote my France-loving, commie brother: "What part of that don't you understand?" You say you want a revolution? Well, you know....

As long as they are able to keep us distracted and divided - left against right, black against white, day against night - they'll only continue to do the will of their highest corporate bidders. You and I don't even have a goddamned dog in this fight any longer. For the first time in our history, we could have had the kind of national health insurance that has kept the good people of merrie old England healthy and happy for sixty-three years now! But the only contribution to the discussion from far-too-many Americans is to jump up and down and scream about Socialism. Does it surprise you that the rest of the Industrialized world can only look upon us with a combined sense of pity and amusement? It shouldn't, you know. It really shouldn't.

Bed Knobs and Death Panels

I was struck with a profound sense of optimism almost a year ago when the people sent to the White House an intelligent and qualified man who happened to be an African American. Lately, though, that hope has been dwindling. What needs to happen is this: we, the Haves, need to start educating the Have Nones (I am referring to intellect here). Sooner or later it has to dawn on these nutty people that their "leaders" only care about what benefits the obscenely wealthy. That is their constituency. They're just looking out for Number One.

"And Number One ain't you
You ain't even Number Two"

Frank Zappa

One of these days our ideologically challenged brothers and sisters will wake up from the right wing coma they've been snoozing under for the last thirty years and realize that they've been getting screwed. I think it's safe to say that Liberals and Conservatives both hate the government. The stark difference is this: Liberals want to fix it. Conservatives want to destroy it. Never forget the often quoted goal of Conservative strategist and guru, Grover Norquist: their aim is to shrink the government down to the size where they will be able to "drown it in a bathtub." At a time when our population has exceeded the quarter-of-a-billion mark, the very idea of doing away with government is beyond ill advised - it's nuts. In the good old days they were called "Anarchists'. Today they go by the name, "Republican".

Big government? It's a big country. Think about it.

I don't know what kind of health care reform will come out of this session, but I strongly suspect it won't be much. There is, however a silver lining behind this very dark cloud. I am reminded of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Don't be embarrassed if you've never heard of it, there really isn't a hell of a lot to remember about it; a mere pittance, really - a scrap of leftovers tossed out to "American Negros" (in the parlance of the age) in order to appease them. But it made the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - the one we remember - all-the-more easier seven years later.

We'll live to fight another day.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


My friend Veronique Marchal and some of her like-minded friends have started a new website. Veronique is French-born (Just what is it about those people?) The site's motto is: "We provide the WHEN, WHERE and HOW to address social and political issues. You provide the WHO and WHY". Here's a link:


The site, which is called And Action....Now! is in the developing stages at the moment but shows great promise. C'mon, folks! Be the first one on your block to sign up!

For more recent postings on this naughty, commie-loving, freedom-hating site, please go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Shameful, left wing propaganda. OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

But seriously, folks.

Friday, October 09, 2009


By the light of the silvery moon
I want to spoon to my honey
I'll croon love's tune
Honeymoon, keep a'shining in June
Your silvery beams will bring love's dreams
We'll be cuddling soon
By the silvery moon

THIS JUST IN: The moon - that nocturnal inspiration to poets and lovers for centuries - was suddenly and deliberately attacked two hours ago by the notorious Muslim terrorist, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, and his co-conspirators within THE GOVERNMENT.

A clear message has been sent by this radical jihadist to good and decent people everywhere. There is no room for misinterpretation: if they can target the moon - THE MOON! - in such a ghastly and unprovoked matter, it proves - conclusively - that Main Street is not safe. All of us are vulnerable to their insidious wickedness and villainy. Our children must be protected from the radical, hideous agenda of this man and his vile administration. Mark my words, my fellow Americans - today the moon, tomorrow Anytown, USA. OH, THE HUMANITY!

Where will it all end? What sinister plans does he have in store for Christendom? Don't say you weren't warned, America! Don't you dare say you weren't given ample notice of this Kenyan-born extremist's evil intentions for us. I can see it now: Death Panels! Communist Medicine! An abortion clinic in every public school! Generations of innocent American schoolchildren forced to memorize entire paragraphs of the autobiography of Malcolm X! I have seen the future, my friends. It is bleak. Very, very bleak.

Who did this to this grand and glorious land of ours, you may well ask? THE DEMOCRAT PARTY DID THIS TO US! Teddy Kennedy wasn't content to leave this earth without a final assault on the sensibilities of good Conservatives everywhere. He and Barack HUSSEIN Obama concocted the planned attack on our precious moon in a conspiracy so heinous it staggers rational belief. Almost at the moment this lunar holocaust was getting underway, it was announced in Oslo, Norway (OSLO, NORWAY!) that this illegitimate, Barbara Streisand-loving, french fry-eating, birth certificate-concealing Chicago politician had received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Coincidence? I wonder....

Let us stray till break of day
In love's valley of dreams
Just you and I, a summer sky
A heavenly breeze kissing the trees
So don't let me wait
Come to me tenderly in the June night
I stand and I wait
For the touch of your hand in the moonlight
I bring you and I sing you
A moonlight serenade

The moon - that brilliant, seemingly-eternal beam of heavenly solace; that wondrous and mystical asteroid, the light from which has illuminated the nighttime voyages of travelers for untold millennium - has fallen victim to the agenda of Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his compatriots in the far Left Wing. This group will only be happy when they have destroyed all that is kind and gentle about the nation we love so dearly; the nation that an entire generation of Confederate soldiers laid down their lives for. No one is safe from their dastardly intentions - not you; not I; not our children; not their cute little pets with names like "Fluffy" and "Rascal" - no one, I say.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Republican party. We must seize our nation from the grasp of these naughty evil-doers. The mid-term elections are only thirteen months away. These nasty, cretinous mongers of Liberalism must be defeated in November of 2010 - at all and any costs. One-hundred years from today, our great-grandchildren - who will never even know our names - will get down on their knees and thank Heaven above that we who live in these perilous times acted boldly and decisively against the humanistic onslaught of Liberalism. We owe it to them, my fellow countrymen. At the very least we owe that to them.

You're all dressed up to go dreaming
Now don't tell me I'm wrong
What a night to go dreaming!
Mind if I tag along?
If I say I love you
I want you to know
It's not just because there's moonlight although
Moonlight becomes you so....

The Moon - that celestial wonder that has touched the heart of humanity since the dawn of time; that timeless beacon in the night, forever stirring the artist and vagabond alike; that gentle light in the darkness that guides us home from our endless journeys - has been violated. VIOLATED, I TELL YOU! We must see to it for the sake of generations unborn that Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his ruthless cabal of nattering, negative nabobs are punished - beyond the limits of the law - for their crimes against Americanism, motherhood and apple pie. There is nothing these heathen haters-of-America will stop at in order to bring us to our knees before the alter of their Socialist cathedral. Heed my warning, fellow citizens. You ignore me at your own mortal peril.

So I stood with a knot in my stomach
And I gazed at that terrible sight
Of two youngsters concealed in a barrel
Drinking Monkberry Moon Delight

But seriously, folks....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd


Happy birthday in Heaven to John Lennon who would have turned sixty-nine-years-old today. Imagine.


And to the late, great Lenny Bruce, who would have turned eighty-four today. YADDAH! YADDAH! YADDAH, WARDEN!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Great White Joke

Eric Cantor is planning on making a run for it in 2012. Of course it goes without saying that he's never going to get the nomination. That is beyond a foregone conclusion; that is as much of a no-brainer as saying that the sun will set this evening in the west. The religious bigots that now control the Republican party - the so-called "base" - will never - EVER - nominate a Jew as their standard bearer. You can bet next month's mortgage on that. Pigs will fly, the earth will fry and David Duke will be made president of the NAACP before that ever happens.

I get a really uneasy feeling whenever I see Eric Cantor being interviewed on television. The main goal of the GOP these days is to insure that President Obama's administration is a complete and utter failure. They want to see as many Americans as possible suffer in the next three years, ensuring that they will be able to seize control of the executive branch in 2013. If the president succeeds in making life better for his countrymen and women, they fail. It's as simple as that. Mitch McConnell, to his credit, always looks quite uncomfortable when he is forced to justify policies as atrocious as those being put forward these days by that hideous party. But Cantor always has a serene, angelic smile on his face whenever he is forced to defend the morally indefensible - sort of like last week, at a Town Hall meeting when he told a woman whose mortally ill relative had been left bankrupt by her medical bills that she should rely on charity. He seemed so content with himself. Quite strange really.

Here's something that makes Congressman Eric Cantor quite unique among Republican politicians: he's not an idiot. Is he merely going through the motions in order to appease the Right Wing assholes who seriously thought that placing Sarah Palin on the ticket as John McCain's running mate was a really nifty idea? Is his ultimate goal to move the "party of Lincoln" back toward the center? My gut-feeling is that he doesn't really believe half the bullshit that he is forced spout, like a half-witted myna bird, day-in and day-out. In that respect he is just like all the rest of them. They have a direction they want to take this country. It is a direction that you and I do not want to go. Trust me.

Almost nine months ago the worst administration in American history mercifully ended. Prior to the judicial coup d'etat that installed George W. Bush in 2000, the biggest nightmare for all progressive-minded people was the extreme right controlling the three branches of our government. Well, for six long and miserable years (2001-2007) they did. And what did it get us? A trillion-plus dollar deficit. Seriously, do we really want to put those people in charge again? I didn't think so.

If you think about it for a moment or two, Eric Cantor would be the ideal Republican nominee in '12. The Semitic Ronald Reagan! He's good looking, he has a really nice speaking voice, perfect manners, a lovely wife, three well-behaved children - and all the substance of a hot air balloon. The guy is made to order, are you kidding me? And just think of the marketing possibilities for the GOP spin doctors:


I can see it now.

You would think that the Republican National Committee would be working overtime to ensure that this nitwit gets the nomination three years from now. You would think that they would be foolish not to have the Cantor-for-President machine in overdrive at this very moment, wouldn't you? Ah! We have hit on the crux of the problem, my friends: THEY ARE FOOLS! They and a whole lot of folks who tend to vote in Republican primaries (especially in the deep south).

Consider this: In 2008 the GOP's most impressive candidate, in every respect, was Mitt Romney (which isn't saying much, but there you have it). Who did they end up nominating? Sleepy ol' John McCain - with nuttier-than-bat-shit Sarah Palin thrown in just to keep things interesting. Had they been smart (I know what you're thinking - me, too) they would have nominated Romney. Like Eric Cantor, he's got the Ronald Reagan thing happening for him - only this time it's the Mormon version. Had that happened, Mitt - not Barack - would be sleeping in the Executive mansion at this very moment. How could they be so stupid to let such a good thing get away, you may well ask? What prevented Romney from getting the nomination last year is the same thing that will prevent Cantor from getting it three years from now - his religion. It sort of makes ya wonder why these two became Republicans in the first place, doesn't it?.

My purpose is not to imply that if the GOP are sinners, the Dems are necessarily saints. That's so far from the case that it's barely worth commenting on. One of my missions in the next year is to see to it that every one of those miserable "Blue Dog Democrats" who voted against the Public Option are beaten senseless in the next primary season. The party of Franklin Roosevelt needs to be sanitized.The point I am trying to make is that unlike your average Republican politician, when a Democrat says something hysterically funny, that's usually their intent.

Did you happen to catch Michelle Bachmann's stand-up routine this week? There she was on the floor of the Congress, warning her fellow Americans that if health clinics come to American schools, it would mean mass abortions for hundreds of thousands teenage girls across the country. It was an absolute scream!

Like all people on the extreme Right, Eric Cantor is unintentionally funny. Part of the fun of watching him is the fact that at times he seems not to know what the hell he is talking about. On more than one occasion (and I am hardly the first person to point this out) he has seemed to possess little - if any - real knowledge of more than a few points of the health care debate. Like Reagan before him - handsome face; clueless mind. He is the made-to-order Republican candidate. In the present, to be telegenic is to succeed in politics. Intellect means nothing anymore. In today's atmosphere Jefferson and Lincoln wouldn't stand a chance against the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Eric Cantor. As the Moody Blues used to sing, isn't life strange?

It's a great time to be alive. It really is! The horrific train wreck that we euphemistically refer to as "the American political system" is so interesting and indescribably amusing. I am up every morning before the crack of dawn just so I can be at the Kwik Stop grocery store down town when the papers arrive (There's a shameless plug for you, Ben. I'll expect a check in the mail). After a mere ten minutes with the New York Daily News or the Times, I look up to the heavens with profound gratitude and quietly say, "Thank you." For someone who makes his or her name by writing about politics, these people can only be described as a celestial gift. And while we're on the subject, is it just me or have you noticed lately that C-SPAN is starting to look more and More like Comedy Central? I was just wondering.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


This might be nit picking on my part but it really bugs me. Every time I type the name, "Obama" the good folks at Spell Check inform me that I have gotten the spelling wrong. Here are their suggested corrections:


Right. I've got a fifth suggestion for them: Ob-la-di! Ob-la-da! Life goes on - BRA!

Their suggestions for my "misspelling" of the name "Barack" are almost as amusing:

Ba rack

I just got through typing up a list of all forty-three men who have served as chief executive. Spell Check tells me that I got every name right (or, in the case of Martin Van Buren, half right) with one exception. You guessed it: "Barack Obama". The guy has been in the public eye for over five years now. He's been president for nine months! You would think they might have fixed that by now, wouldn't you?

That reminds me. Can anyone please explain to me just what the hell an "Obadias" is? It's not in Webster's Dictionary.