Thursday, January 28, 2010

The view from my front door....


....and ten other twisted observations.

The following are a series of random observations that I had posted on other websites or scribbled down in my note book.

OBSERVATION #1
:

I live in Orange County in a town exactly sixty miles north of New York City's Lincoln Tunnel. The town, Goshen, is arguably the finest in the county (It is in serious competition with Warwick for that title). I grew up here and moved back eighteen years ago. Unfortunately I live in the lousiest area of the nicest town - on a busy two-lane highway, smack dab across from a tattoo parlor and an "adult" book store. Lovely.

Here's how bad the area is: I moved into the neighborhood and property values actually went
up! Still, the house is beautiful - a lot nicer than my previous residence. That place once made the front cover of Better Homes and Atrocities. My new landlord, whose name is Cliff Ryan, is a real gent. Despite the location, if I keep the blinds shut, I could be in my chalet on Lake Geneva for all I know. But I have a roof over my head, plenty of food in the fridge and all the water I can drink. There's more than enough room in this house for gratitude, thank you very much.

OBSERVATION #2:

From "The Rant", Sunday, January 27, 2008....

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

Someone please shoot me.

OBSERVATION #3:

Did you know that Adolf Hitler was a Liberal? So was Joe Stalin! In fact, these guys have more in common with Al Franken and Russ Feingold than you might expect. This bit of historical nonsense comes to you courtesy of Glenn Beck in his new FOX Noise "documentary", Revolutionary Holocaust.

The very idea that a half-witted little Thought Nazi like Beck is able to hijack this country's political dialogue is indicative of the speed of our downward spiral as a culture. The right wing's attempts to rewrite history in the last thirty years was at first amusing. Then it became ludicrous. Now it is merely riotously funny. More on this subject on my next posting. I already have the title for it - Adolf Hitler: The Fightin' Liberal.

OBSERVATION #4:

The entire country is focusing it's attention this morning on President Obama's State of the Union address last night. I have nothing original to add to the discussion other than my view that it seems the prez is trying to jump start his faltering administration. A lot of "the experts" are at the moment dismissing this White House as dead in the water. If they had any concept of history they would know better. Many presidents in the past got off to a bad start. If George W. Bush were judged only on his first year in office, he would today be remembered as one of the worst Chiefs Executive in American history....

[LONG, AWKWARD PAUSE]

Okay, maybe that's not a good example. Let me try again....

Jack Kennedy had a fairly shaky start in his first year (Remember the Bay of Pigs?) and yet he turned out to be pretty good at the job. A year from now will find us at the half way point of Obama's first (I hope) term. Let's see what happens between now and then. NOTE TO THE LIBERALS: To abandon all faith in this president now would not only be foolish, it would be a half-step away from insanity. Chill!

OBSERVATION #5:

Last week the voters of Massachusetts told pollster after pollster that they gave the late Ted Kennedy's seat to Republican Scott Brown because they wanted to send a clear, unmistakable message to Washington. Well now! They certainly did that, did they not? Their message has been received loud and clear:

"WE'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!"

Good for you, Massachusetts!

OBSERVATION #6:

With all of the jabbering going on out there about ways to cut spending, only Bernie Sanders of Vermont (God bless him!) has had the common sense to state what should be blatantly obvious: We need to make drastic slashes in military spending.

"In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of power, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties and democratic processes."

Dwight D. Eisenhower
January 17, 1961

We could cut our military budget in half and still have enough really cool bombs in our arsenal to destroy the world three times over - and then some. The Cold War is over, folks. Why on earth are we still pissing away our national treasure on these military contractors? Could it possibly be that our very economic survival depends on our stockpiling the entire planet with weapons of mass destruction? That is the question we all should be asking.

"Blessed are the peacemakers;
for they shall be called sons of God."

Jesus of Nazareth

OBSERVATION #7:

This is not really an observation but a question - Could Michelle Bachmann possibly get any stupider?

OBSERVATION #8:

Historically speaking, the party of an incumbent president almost always loses in the mid-term election. The pundits are telling us that 2010 will be no exception. I wouldn't be too sure of that. The Tea Party jackasses are already claiming responsibility for last week's Massachusetts upset and have every intention charting the GOP's future course. When the powers-that-be within the RNC deny them the ability to set the agenda, they'll splinter off into third and fourth party uprisings.

How can I be so sure of this? It's quite simple, really. These people are not only crazy, they're also dumber than doggy dung - and, thus, very easy to predict. It's only a matter of time before their mad house of cards comes crashing down.

The ten months between now and Election Day will only see the continued implosion of the "party of Lincoln". Count on it.

OBSERVATION #9:

Regarding Harold Ford's quest for a senate seat from the state of New York....I like Ford. I really hope he will be able to pull this off - but I think he may have gotten in over his head. There are so many powerful forces aligned against him (particularly Chuckles Schumer) that getting the nomination will be a herculean effort. But if anyone can do it, he can. He's a smart guy and a good one.

Carpetbagger? New York has a bit of a history there - Bobby Kennedy, Hillary Clinton - I really don't think it's that big a deal. Is he merely a corporate shill as some are implying? We shall see.

OBSERVATION #10:

Real, meaningful health care - for the foreseeable future anyway - is dead as a doornail. The Republicans will only continue to obstruct and the Democrats are impotent cowards. Someday we'll have it. Someday the people will rise up and demand it - but they need to wake up first. Until then....

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and say a prayer that I don't get sick. Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

Tom Degan
From my home across the road from ye ole pornography shoppe
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

A People's History of the United States
by Howard Zinn

Howard died suddenly last night of a heart attack in California where he was visiting. This was a good life, well lived. We're a better country because of him.

Photograph at the top of the page by Chris Pennings.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Fascism, I Tells Ya!


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

Benito Mussolini
the Founding Father of the Fascist state

So corporations are "people", with "certain unalienable rights"? You've got to hand it to Reagan and the two Bushes. Thanks to their atrocious appointments to America's highest court, the damage they've done to our democracy will be felt for generations. The recent decision by the Supreme Court to strike down two precedents (including McCain/Feingold) which limited the obscene amount of money a corporation could use to influence the electoral process is a case in point. According to the Supremes, a corporation is "a person" entitled to take advantage of the First Amendment just like any other "person". It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Here's the good news: Justice Antonin Scalia is lookin
g a little worse for wear these days. Just check him out in the photograph posted above. The guy looks like he's going to keel over at any moment. Don't get me wrong; I'm not wishing for him to die - oh, perish the thought gentle reader! That's certainly not my style! I'm just speculating that he may retire in the near future for reasons of health. Then again, it would be just like the hideous old bastard to stay on the job till he drops.

Predicting where the Justices would stand on this issue was as easy as predicting that the sun will rise in the east this morning. Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg and Sotomayor stood with the people. Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Uncle Thomas (all appointees of either Reagan or the Bushes) once again voted to thrust a dagger into the heart of Democracy.

Not since Plessy vs. Ferguson or Dred Scott have the Supremes gotten it so wrong. On one of these points I am just a tad sensitive. The Chief Justice who wrote the Dred Scott Decision, Roger Brooke Taney, is a relative of mine. Trust me, this is not a particular point of pride within my family. Personally, I would rather have been related to Joe McCarthy. At least he was known to have had a sense of humor.

Ascribing humanity to a corporation, to a company like Exxon or Disney for example, raises too many questions to even list here. But let's at least attempt to ask a few of them, shall we, boys and girls? Here goes....

Are corporations really persons?

Do corporations think?

Do corporations weep?

Do corpora
tions fall in love?

Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?

Do corporations
have loved ones?

Are corporations even capable of loving?

Do corporations
sometimes lose sleep at night worrying about disease, violence, destruction, and the suffering of their fellow human beings?

Do corporations feel your pain?

Can a corporation run for public office?

Is a corporation capable of having a sense of humor? Is it capable of laughing at itself? (EXAMPLE: "So these two corporations walk into a bar....")

If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: "It")

Can a corporation register to vote?

We all know that corporations have made a shit-load of cash throughout our history by profiting on the unspeakable tragedy of war. But has a corporation ever given its life for its country?

Is a corporation capable of raising a child?

Does a corporation have a conscience? Does it feel remorse after it has done something really bad?

Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?

Has a corporation ever written a novel or a dramatic play or a song that inspired millions?

Has a co
rporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?

Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or a Tony? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or a Polk or Peabody Award? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?

Has a corporation ever performed Schubert's Ave Maria?

Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?

Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to he
ar it?

Should corporations kiss on the first date?

Could a corporation resolve to dedicate its life to being an artist? Or a musician? Or an opera singer? Or a Catholic priest? Or a rabbi? Or a Doctor? Or a Dentist? Or a sheet metal worker? Or a gourmet chef? Or a short-order cook? Or a magician? Or a nurse? Or a trapeze artist? Or an author? Or an editor? Or a Thrift Shop owner? Or a EMT worker? Or a book binder? Or a Hardware Store clerk? Or a funeral director? Or a sanitation worker? Or an actor? Or a comedian? Or a glass blower? Or a chamber maid? Or a film director? Or a newspaper reporter? Or a deep sea fisherman? Or a farmer? Or a piano tuner? Or a jeweler? Or a janitor? Or a nun? Or a Trappist Monk? Or a poet? Or a pilgrim? Or a bar tender? Or a tar bender? Or a used car salesman? Or a brick layer? Or a mayor? Or a soothsayer? Or a Hall-of-Fame football player? Or a soldier? Or a sailor? Or a butcher? Or a baker? Or a candlestick maker?

Could a corporation choose to opt out of all the above and merely become a bum? Living life on the road, hopping freight trains and roasting mickeys in the woods?

I realize that this is pure theological speculation on my part but the question is just screaming to be posed: When corporations die, do they go to Heaven?

Our lives - yours and mine - have more worth than any goddamned corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling, it is an insult to our humanity.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED VIEWING:The Corporation
A film by Mark Achbar

AFTERTH
OUGHT:

Happy birthd
ay in Heaven to Ernie Kovacs (photo left) who would have turned ninety-one today. Ernie died on the night of January 13, 1962 - ten days before he would have turned forty-three - when he lost control of the Corvair station wagon he was driving and wrapped it around a utility poll, killing him instantly. Due to a major flaw in its design, the Corvair was later deemed, "Unsafe at Any Speed". After a lengthy and protracted battle with General Motors (the corporation that manufactured the vehicle) Ralph Nader was able to have it banned forever from America's roads.

I Hope you're sleeping well, Ernie.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sarah-gance


It's too funny. In the late summer of 2008 when candidate John McCain announced his curious choice of a running mate, I immediately ran to the computer to do a google-search of the name, "Sarah Palin". I knew next-to-nothing about the woman other than the fact that she was the governor of Alaska. The first thing in her paper-thin biography that stood out for me was the date of her birth: February 11, 1964. I remember that day - distinctly! That was the day my beloved grandma, Loretta Doran Clements, died in South Bend, Indiana at the age of sixty-eight. The photograph on the left was taken in 1912 when she was just sweet sixteen. Wasn't she lovely? I just had to share that with you!

But other than that interesting coincidence there was not a heck of a lot in her biography that really stood out. Truth be told, I was more than a little puzzled as to why the GOP would think her an asset to the ticket. The moment she opened her mouth at her first campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, I could only think of one thing:

Sally Field as "Gidget".

When someone like Sarah Palin can make it as far as she has, it can mean only one thing and it's not a particularly good sign. We are living in a culture that has been custom-tailored for idiots. When a person who can barely put two coherent sentences together without the aid of a teleprompter becomes one of the best-selling non-fiction authors of the decade, that's usually a pretty good indicator that society is spiraling downward at a fairly decent clip. Fasten your seat belts, kiddies!

I had always believed that Monty Python alumni Michael Palin was the funniest person in the world to bear that name. In fact it should be stated for the record that the two Palins are equally funny. The only difference is that Michael works very hard at it. Sarah's funniness, on the other hand, is purely accidental. The woman is a scream; the Buster Keaton of unintentional comedy.

"And so Alaska may progress, I will not seek reelection as governor."

Sarah Palin
July 3, 2009

As I asked on this site shortly after she made that remark (which was scripted), "DID SHE JUST SAY THAT??? You bet'cha!"

Let's face some uncomfortable facts here, shall we? Our Miss Sarah is the quintessential Republican politician. In that respect she's not all-that-different from Trent Lott. Like Lott (whom I don't like a lot), when faced with the choice of honoring the promise she made to govern the people of her state or abandoning her office to make a truck-load of money, she chose the latter - to hell with the people. There was a quick buck to be made - many millions of them in fact - and she was going to make it come heck or high water! Sarah Barracuda wasn't about to let something as trivial as her oath of office get in the way. Her cover story was that she was being persecuted by the Liberal media and her political enemies and that to continue as governor would have been untenable. Clever. And I'm Joan of Arc. Someone hand me a hankie.

This was the week that Sarah Palin went home - not to Alaska - but to FOX Noise, which, as we all know, is her ideological home and where the dear gal truly belongs. It really is loads of fun to watch her waxing moronic with the likes of Bill O'Riley and Glenn Beck. When the Beckster asked her to name her favorite Founding Father, she hemmed and hawed and then said "All of them". When pressed further by Beck she finally blurted out, "George Washington". Seriously, you can never go wrong with George Washington, can you? Talk about your gotcha interviews.

And now she's revving her engines, getting ready to become the forty-fifth president of the United States. Already there are throngs of pundits out there who are saying that she's dreaming; that she'll never get the nomination - but stranger things have happened....

On second thought, let me correct myself: Nothing that strange has EVER happened. Not in all American political history has anything as remotely weird as that ever happened. I don't believe it's even come close to happening. Fascist Barbi becoming the standard bearer for a major political party? Come to think about it, it is probably a bit of a long shot. Oh, but what fun that would be! Can you imagine?

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in to see you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Jiminey Cricket

I am going to wish upon a star that Sarah Palin gets the nod of her party in three years. It would only mean electoral doom for them. I cannot believe that the American people, in the end, would be nutty enough to send her to the Executive Mansion in 2012. I realize that this is merely a pipe dream on my part, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. So far out of the main stream has that party drifted in the last thirty years, a Sarah Palin candidacy is not only possible - it is damned-near inevitable! Long gone are the Everett Dirksons and Nelson Rockefellers who would keep the loony right wing in check. Millicent Fenwick is merely a cherished but faded memory. Those folks are dead and I have a hunch that they won't be coming back anytime soon. Let's face it: the Republican Asylum has been taken over by the inmates. It's kind of funny when you think about it.

Then again, leave it to those idiotic Democrats to screw up a good thing. As I write these words, the party of Edward Moore Kennedy is within hours of losing his seat - a seat from one of the most Democratic districts in the entire nation - a district that has been solidly Democratic since 1953 (five years before I was born!) Every time I forget why I left that worthless party twelve years ago, they always cheerfully remind me. And I appreciate that, I really do.

Contrary to the accusations that have been made against me, I do not and never have hated America. But, man! My country sure as hell has a talent for embarrassing me. That being said, I hope Grandma Clements would be proud.

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I know it's getting a bit off track but I can't help mentioning it: February 11, 1964 also marked the day that the Beatles made their first concert appearance in America - in Washington DC.

Special thanks to cousin Walt Clements for the photograph of our grandmother, Loretta Doran Clements

For more recent postings on this deplorable, hideous cesspool of commie, liberal propaganda, kindly go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

You oughtta be ashamed of yourselves for even reading this stuff!

And please pray for peace....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catastrophe in Haiti

No political bickering from me today, folks. There is a devastating emergency transpiring this morning in one of the poorest nations on this troubled planet. Whatever your political leaning may be, the tragedy of the Haitian people is something that can bring us all together.

At this moment (it is now 7:49 AM EST) the estimates of the number of human beings lost to this unspeakable tragedy range in numbers as varied a hundred-thousand to half a million to a million - or more. At this early stage, an accurate assessment as to the total number is all-but-impossible. All we know at this time is that the loss of lives is astronomical. No doubt about it: we all need to chip in.


The State Department has set up a number for those who wish to seek information on those loved ones who are in Haiti:

1-888-407-4747

If you would like to make a donation to Haitian earth quake relief, here are just a few links and numbers:

Catholic Relief Services:
www.crs.org

UNICEF:
www.unicef.org
1-800-4UNICEF

The American Red Cross:
www.redcross.org
PO Box 37243
Washington DC 20013
1-800-RED-CROSS

Doctors Without Borders:
www.doctorswithoutborders.org/haiti

Operation USA:
www.opusa.org
1-800-678-7255

SAVE THE CHILDREN:
www.savethechildren.org/haiti

The minute this piece was published, the Google people put an ad at the top of the page for World Vision. Don't log on - I'll get a percentage of it and I do not wish to profit off of this tragedy (HEY! I GOTTA SLEEP AT NIGHT!) If you wish to make a donation to World Vision, log in here instead:

www.worldvision.org

You may also donate $10.00 to be charged to your cell phone by texting "HAITI" to 90999

To make a "super immediate" (according to AlterNet) $5.00 donation, text "YELE" to 501501.

Pray long and hard for the poor people of Haiti.

Tom Degan

AFTER THOUGHT:

Here is a link to a fine piece Don Hazen of AlterNet wrote this morning with some additional suggestions:

http://www.alternet.org/world/145162/the_disaster_of_the/_century%3A_how_to_help_haiti

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Politics of Ebonics


I am placed into the unique position of defending a guy I have more-than-a-few differences with. The one word that consistently comes to mind when I think of Harry Reid is "befuddled". That's not to say that he's a bad guy (certainly he is not) or that he's dumb (obviously he is not). It's just that at times he appears so totally overwhelmed by forces he has no control over that one might expect the poor old bugger to spontaneously combust at any moment. (The good folks at Spell Check are informing me that "combust" is not even a word. God will forgive me, I am almost certain of that).

This latest beltway freak out involves a single paragraph from the new book, "Game Change" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. So as to be certain that nothing is taken out of context, here in its entirety is the paragraph that all of Washington is in the process of having a nervous breakdown over:

"Years later, Reid would claim that he was steadfastly neutral in the 2008 race; that he never chose sides between Barack and Hillary; that all he did was tell Obama that 'he could be president', that 'the stars could align for him'. But at the time, in truth, his encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a 'light-skinned, African-American with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one', as he later put it privately."


Well, now! Let's all just take a deep breath and think about this for a minute or two, shall we? By the way - Spell Check is also telling me that "Barack" and "Obama" are not proper words so what the hell do they know? Who wants to make a little wager that that company is owned by a Republican?

What we have here is simply a case of old habits of the tongue. Harry Reid was born in a town with the quaint name, Searchlight, Nevada, on December 2, 1939. This means that he turned seventy last month. That would make him an old man - relatively speaking, that is (Everybody knows that seventy is the new sixty). Back in the day, when Harry was in his prime, the word "Negro" or "Negroes" was not considered bad form, if fact it was a term of respect! Why the heck do you think they called it the United Negro College Fund instead of, The United....Well, you can see where I'm going with this, can't you?

The only objection one could possibly come up with concerning Reid's remarks (which were off the record by the way) is the term, "Negro dialect". This conjures up images (in my mind at least) of black-faced, vaudeville comedians in the days-of-old and the hideous depictions of African Americans during Hollywood's "golden" years. Many a time I have been enjoying a classic film from the thirties when all of the sudden I am jolted from my cinematic reverie by the appearance on the screen of one of those Stephin Fetchit-type, watermelon-eating Uncle Toms - thrown into the scene for no other reason than cheap, comic relief. We all know the dialect: "I is" as opposed to "I am"; "You was" as opposed to "You were". The late Lenny Bruce satirized it brilliantly in his classic bit, "Father's Flotski's Triumph" where he took on the role of a condemned, black prisoner on Death Row:

"Well! Well! Soooon I'm gwine up to Hebbin on dah big Ribbah Boat! Den when I gits up dere, I'mma gwine git me some fried chicken and watee-melon!"

You get the idea. Things would probably have been better off for Harry Reid had he used the term, "Ebonics", which seems to be in vogue in certain quarters these days. But as George Will (of all people) pointed out on Sunday, Reid was speaking (or implying) an unspeakable truth. Let me put it to you as gently as I possibly can:

If Barack Obama spoke like Dick Gregory, he would not be president of these United States today.

QUESTION: Is it possible for a white guy to talk like a half-witted shit kicker and get elected president? Hell, yeah! Not only is it possible, it's almost a certainty! Didn't George W. Bush prove that for all time and eternity? Black people, on the other hand, are at a decided disadvantage in our culture. I don't think I'm giving away any state secrets when I make that statement. For all of Condoleezza Rice's intellect and accomplishments (before she signed up with the Bush Mob, that is) how far do you think she would have gotten had she talked like Flip Wilson's Geraldine Jones character? Not very far, I presume.

Here is a fact that cannot be denied: Barack Obama would have had an easier time being elected to national office with the diction of the guy who played Goober from the Andy Griffith Show than that of, say, Huey Newton or Bobby Seale. In 1984, Jesse Jackson had all the right ideas. He was saying all the right things. He never stood a chance. To the ears of most of White America he sounded "too black".

The silliest thing of all in this entire debacle is watching the Republicans shed their crocodile tears over Harry Reid's "racial insensitivity". They're comparing it to the Democrat's reaction to Trent Lott's unfortunate comments back in 2002 at Strom Thurmond's one-hundredth birthday party. Lott, referring to old Strom's run for the White House in 1948 as a "Dixiecrat" candidate, said that America would today be a better place had the country elected him over Harry S Truman. Trent seemed to forget that the only position Thurmon ran on in '48 was as a staunch segregationist. Lott was forced to step down as Majority Leader - not because of his moronic statement - but because he had already lost favor with the Bush White House.

For the Republicans to now claim a newly-found racial sensitivity is quite amusing to say the least. If that is the case, why the hell did they choose the dumbest black guy they could possibly find to chair the RNC? Racial sensitivity? Please.

Harry Reid will survive this little snafu he's gotten into - but just barely. As the numbers stand, he is not likely to be reelected this November. He should step aside with dignity and allow his party to nominate someone with a better chance of winning on Election Day. Maybe he will do the right thing - who knows?. In spite of everything he strikes me as essentially a decent guy. He should just go back to Nevada to a dignified retirement and bask in the glow of his career as a public servant - or go to work as a lobbyist for the gambling industry - anything. He just needs to realize that his number is up.

Reid's comments, while inarticulate, hardly constitute the fuss that is currently being made. All it really amounts to is the GOP's Bitch Du Jour. They have so little credibility left that it really is quite touching watching them stoop to these non-issues. It is total desperation on their part. Today it is Harry Reid's harmless gaffe; tomorrow it will be something equally stupid and irrelevant. Just you wait and see.

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

The photograph at the top of this piece is an advertisement for Dick Gregory's 1968 campaign for the presidency. I would have voted for you, Greg!

Attention fans of the Fabulous Foursome: Ringo Starr will be performing on the Daily Show tomorrow. Just thought you'd want to know! He is going to be seventy on July 7. How the hell is that possible? There ought to be a law, I tell you!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Thing that Wouldn't Go Away


There was a time when a vice-president's term of office would end and he would slip away into quiet retirement. Those days are long gone. Other than the thoroughly disgraced Spiro T. Agnew, the last former V.P. to go gently into that good night of quiet obscurity was Harry Truman's number two man, Alben Barkley. Truth be told, Barkley wasn't very visible even during the four years he served as Veep. I have read more than one full scale biography of Truman where he is not even mentioned in the index. This only proves the profane observation of John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt's first vice-president, that the office "isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss."

That was then, this is now. Old vice-presidents may die but they seldom fade away. Hubert Humphrey stayed in the media limelight until the day of his death in 1977; Walter Mondale won't be going anywhere any time soon; Al Gore, you may be certain, is here to stay - and even poor old Danny Quayle rears his empty little head every now and then.

So it really was pure naivete on my part to even think that, after spending eight long years destroying this country, Dick Cheney would be kind enough to go away. What the heck was I thinking? Not only does he still have his feet placed firmly and immovably on the national stage, we now have to endure the presence of his lovely daughter, Liz.

First of all, let me explain to you my theory as to why Cheney has been spending every waking hour of the last year trying to frighten his fellow Americans into believing that President Obama has left them in a dangerous position, vulnerable to terrorists: Cheney is guilty of enough felonies to send him away to federal prison for the next millennium. He must know that the shit storm of indictments are bound to come raining down sooner or later. When that day arrives, his plan, I am sure, is to scream "POLITICAL PERSECUTION!!!" as loud as can be heard. The Bush Mob know a thing or two about political persecution. Just ask the former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, who was sent to federal prison by the Bush Justice Department without having committed any crime.

Because of his security clearance Cheney more-than-likely has access to intelligence which makes clear that another terror attack on the United States is all but certain. What is happening is that he is positioning himself to be able to smirk, "See? I told you so!" That is the strategy of Dick and Liz (Cheney/Cheney - not Burton/Taylor). It would just be like this wretched bastard and his charming daughter to exploit this very sensitive issue for pure and crass political purposes.

A tip of the hat to the man. Let's face some nasty facts here: You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to be in serious competition with J. Edgar Hoover for the title of "Most Despicable Human Being in American History". Although Hoover was on the national scene for a lot longer than the Dickster, it won't be much of a shock if Cheney ends up taking home the gold. Think about it! Edgar did some serious damage to his country throughout his life - no argument there - but he certainly was not culpable in the deaths of as many as a million innocent men, women and little children during his weird tenure. In this dubious respect, our man Dick is utterly without peer. What a guy!

"Gravitas".

Remember that? That was the word that the members of the elite Washington media establishment were using ten years ago when Cheney chose himself to be George W. Bush's running mate.

"Gravitas".

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it sure does seem a strange description for the man to say the least. Given all that we now know about him it's almost surreal to think that that once upon a time he could have been seen as a political asset to anything but the American Nazi Party. Fortunately for humanity, people as undeniably evil as Dick Cheney only come around once in a lifetime. Other than Hoover the only other Americans I can think of who even come close to Cheney in terms of pure villainy are Joe McCarthy and Dick Nixon. But even Nixon is able to take credit for some positive accomplishments during his time on this earth (and give me a day or two and I might be able to site one). Cheney's, however, will be remembered as a completely negative legacy.

"Gravitas".

It sure is lots of fun these days to watch Dick and his irresistible daughter Liz pounding the shit out of the TV talk show circuit! So desperate are they to see the utter failure of the Obama administration, there seems to be no depth to which they won't sink. I know they are hoping for another attack that gets a thousand or more innocents killed. I know they are praying that the economy collapses and that millions more lose their jobs. I am as sure of this as I am my own name. Their very survival depends on seeing as many Americans as possible suffer. That's the kind of people they are! Seriously, do you think that Dick Cheney gives a hoot in hell about any human lives other than those of his and his enchanting daughter Liz? As Al Smith liked to say in his day, "Let's look at the record."

In the meantime, there is now serious chatter out there about Dick Cheney actually making a political comeback. Some poor jackass even recently suggested that Cheney/Palin would be the ideal Republican ticket three years from now. Honestly, how mentally deranged would a human being have to be to come up with that combo? I can just see the campaign posters:

SICKIE DICK AND FASCIST BARBIE IN '12

Oh, please, fate! That would be a dream come true! Not even the American people would be silly enough to go down that road. Could it actually happen? Alas, probably not - my luck has never gotten that good and probably never will. But what a treat it would be, huh? I could get an endless supply of material out of a campaign that weird to keep me quite busy you may be sure.

And what if they won? While it would be a disaster for my fellow countrymen and women, for someone like me whose vocation is mining the streams for these choice nuggets of unintentional political humor, that would be like winning the fucking lottery, are you kidding me???

BUT WAIT! IT GETS BETTER!
Two years into his term, President Cheney drops dead from a massive stroke while shooting ducks that have been strategically placed in the White House swimming pool by the Secret Service. In less than an hour SARAH PALIN IS SWORN IN AS THE FORTY-SIXTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! By this time I am beside myself with disbelief at my good fortune! "I'll never have to touch a computer keyboard again as long as I live!", I am telling everyone within earshot, "These things will just write themselves!"

[PROLONGED SIGH]

But of course this is merely a wishful daydream on my part. As the heroine of the long-forgotten Broadway production "Sky Scraper" once musically asked:

Why in the world would anyone look askance
At an occasional fight of fancy?

Back to the real world....

I will continue to watch in awe as Dick Cheney and his magically appealing daughter Liz continue to stumble around the country in a caffeine-addled, right wing frenzy. My political fantasies aside, there is still much entertainment value to be derived from the two Cheneys. Gravitas indeed.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Julie and Julia:
Meryl Streep plays Julia Child. Such a sweet film. I loved it!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Left Wing Radical?


It really is a perfect illustration as to how far to the right America's national political dialogue has shifted in the last thirty years that anyone can say with a straight face (as Mitch McConnell did only last week) that President Obama's is the most radical, left wing administration in American history. For anyone with a clear grasp of reality (and history), this one doesn't even come close to passing the giggle test. Left wing radical? Yeah, right. And I'm Josef Stalin. Has Mitch ever heard of something called the New Deal?

Barack Obama is - at best - an ever-so-slightly, left-leaning centrist. He is not a Liberal. Neither were Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for that matter. With Democrats like these guys, who the hell needs Republicans? The last true "Liberal" to occupy the Oval Office was Lyndon B. Johnson. Had it not been for the Vietnam war (which irreparably harmed his legacy) Johnson, I believe, would today be remembered as one of the greatest presidents of the twentieth century - second only to the heavyweight champion of American Liberalism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD!

The New Deal was packed-to-the-rafters with Left Wing Radicals. These were men (and one woman - Francis Perkins) with a serious agenda. Their main concern was for the welfare of the common man and woman. Not until (and not since) Johnson's Great Society a generation later would the betterment of the American people be the chief focus of the executive branch of our government.

There aren't many people left who even remember the Great Depression. All but a few of them have since passed on. A child born on the day the stock market crashed in 1929 would have turned eighty this past October 29. The problem is that hardy anyone alive today has a first-hand appreciation of what true progressive policies might mean for this doomed country - if only they were allowed to be put into practice in 2010. Liberalism saved America once. It could do it again. If only....

If only we who are blinded by the extremes which now run rampant through our national political discourse could wake up to the possibilities of real government "of the people, by the people, for the people", we might actually see the day where we become that mythical shining city on a hill. At the moment I'm not too optimistic. It's going to take a catastrophic shit storm to wake this silly country from the coma it's been snoozing under for the last three decades.

If only the electorate would come to appreciate the fact that they have been played for suckers by both parties for too many years to even count. The politicians don't even try to hide this fact anymore. They know only too well that the "informed citizenry" envisioned by the likes of Jefferson, Franklin and Adams are too obsessed with their ipods and reality TV shows to give a hoot-in-hell about the workings of their representatives.

If only the silly American people would stand up and heed the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:

"Governments are instituted among men [and women!], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it...."

If only we could have kept our government out of the hands of blind reactionaries, hellbent on the accumulation of financial profit for the very few at the expense of the needs of the many.

If only assholes like Mitch McConnell would just go away.

A year ago tonight I was looking forward with great anticipation to the presidency of Barack Obama. I thought that this may very well be the "new age" that I have been looking forward to for most of my life. What a difference a year makes. Thus far, as you might imagine, I have felt let down by this president. That is why it is so funny to see him labeled by the Right a "radical socialist". If Obama were half as radical as the Conservative media is trying to portray him, people like me wouldn't be one tenth as disappointed in him as we are.

Don't misunderstand, I am still grateful that he was elected last year. I thank God every day that John McCain will not be sleeping in the Executive Mansion tonight and that Fascist Barbi will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency. While it is true that he has not yet given us the "change we can believe in", it is still too early in his term to make any final assessment. There is some time for optimism - although that time is dwindling rapidly. Still, the alternative to Obama's election last year is just too weird to even contemplate. We should be grateful for that - I guess - and for the fact that Dick Cheney is no longer running the country. Oh, and speaking of Dick Cheney....

"As I watched the events of the last few days, it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think that if he has a low-key response to [the attempt to blow up an airliner] that we won't be at war."

Richard B. Cheney

GOOD NEWS! Someday Dick Cheney is going to go away, I promise you that. Is that the best argument du jour he can come up with regarding Obama - that he does not express sufficient emotion or anger? That he is too cerebral? Isn't that what we want in a president? In this way he is much like Jack Kennedy. The angriest statement JFK ever made while president was when he lashed out at "the utter contempt" of the executives at U.S. Steel toward the American people. But even in this instance, Kennedy's tone was measured and restrained. He was not a man given to freaking out. Seriously, would we like a repeat of the shoot-from-the-hip, cowboy idiocy of the Bush/Cheney years? Look at all the good that did us. Obama's seeming, contemplative demeanor is one of the things about the man that reassures me. Call it a silly quirk in my psychological make up, but I like my presidents to think things through. What can I tell you, I'm kind of funny that way.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said of the American Plutocracy, "They hate me and I welcome their hatred." Obama needs to take a cue from FDR. Instead of trying to "reach out" to the right wing, he needs to understand that they are not his friends; that their political fortunes rest on a single strategy: that his administration is a complete failure. They don't care a thing for the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent. The only thing that concerns them is the corporate constituency they act as handmaidens for. You would think that after almost a year in office the president would have learned this lesson, wouldn't you? Perhaps he has. We shall see.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

Obama's Challenge
by Robert Kuttner