Monday, March 29, 2010

EDUKASHUN TEXAS STILE!


Howdy! Today we're gonna mess with Texas.

By now it should be obvious to even the casual reader that I am not a huge fan of the state of Texas. All in all, I don't think it has been much of an asset to American history. Have you ever noticed how much time we spend making excuses for Texas to the rest of the world? Seriously! This is not meant to imply that most Texans are idiots, certainly that is not the case. I'm just talking about the ones who vote - and their representatives in Austin and Washington. It has been established, beyond a doubt, that most of the people who partake in the electoral process in Texas are brain dead. Does that sound like a cruel and reckless exaggeration to you? Two words: Rick Perry. 'Nuff said?

I am not trying to imply that the Lone Star State is without merit. Any place that can produce the likes of (among many others) Buddy Holly, Molly Ivins, Bill Moyers, Barbara Jordan, Dan Rather, Carol Burnett, Mary Martin, Ann Richards, Jim Hightower, and Kinky Freidman (not to mention the Texas Jew Boys) has more than enough to be proud of.

Then there are my beloved cousins, the fabulous Barras family of Port Arthur. Born and raised in Texas, they are the children of the late Marietta Clements, my mother's older sister. They are just about the smartest, sweetest and loveliest people you could ever possibly hope to meet - this side of the Rio Grande or the other. Hi, cousins!

But other than those little candles in the darkness, I'm not particularly crazy about Texas. Truth be told, I believe it to be one of the nation's glaring shames. Molly Ivins (rest her soul) once wrote that all Texans owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mississippi. But not for that state, Texas would be dead last in everything! And to think we fought a war over the place! I would suggest giving it back to Mexico but they have enough problems as it is. Why add to their burden?

The latest offering of Texas-style lunacy comes to you courtesy of that state's Board of "Education". They wish to "alter" the curriculum in text books used to educate children all across the land. Because it is such a huge state and they have so many children in public schools, many of the textbooks that are used in classrooms throughout the country are designed and written in Texas. In fact if you are over the age of fifty, one of the books you studied from as a child was probably stored in Dallas' infamous Texas School Book Depository at one time.

The Board of Ed in Texas has taken it upon themselves to rewrite history. You see, the problem with the story of America, they argue, is that it has always been written with a nasty left wing bias. I have to concede their point. Have you ever noticed the way those Liberal historians always tend to focus on the attributes of Abraham Lincoln? They totally ignore all that was good and decent in the character of Jefferson Davis! The Texas Board of Education is going to remedy this awful injustice. From this day forward (if these idiots have their way) Davis will be presented to America's schoolchildren as the moral equivalent of Lincoln. Look away, Dixieland!

Hmm....Given the underlying militancy of the right wing in general and the Tea Party in particular ("WE CAME UNARMED - THIS TIME") portraying a man who raised an army to go to war with the government of his own country as a figure to be admired - just call me a silly, Liberal nitpicker - but that does not seem to me to be a really nifty idea. Jeff Davis was not a hero. He was the most despicable traitor ever to walk American soil. His cause - HUMAN BONDAGE, FOR GOD'S SAKE! - was one of the most reprehensible in all recorded human history. As a result of that cause, over six-hundred thousand human beings lost their lives....and the jackasses on the Texas Board of Education would like to place him on the same moral level as Abraham Lincoln - The Great Emancipator! Texans is the craziest people!

It is also their plan to omit the name of Thomas Jefferson as one of the great thinkers who influenced the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. Now what the hell do they have against him?

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

-Thomas Jefferson

Oh, right. That is what they have against him. The fact that it was he who concocted the phrase "separation of church and state" probably didn't help matters either. They even want to teach your kids that the Founding Fathers never meant for ours to be a secular form of government. They were really aiming for a theocracy!


Wait! It gets better!

The word "capitalism" is being replaced by the phrase "free enterprise" (Sounds friendlier).

Historic research has uncovered a microscopic number of Germans and Italians who were interred during World War Two. Their conclusion? The internment of one-hundred thousand Japanese during the same period had absolutely nothing to do with their race. I am so relieved.

Confederate General Stonewall Jackson - you know, one of the guys who tried to destroy the United States of America - is held up as a role model of "effective leadership".

The words in Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address are to be placed side by side with those of Jefferson Davis in his. Can't you see? They were both great men with equally great vision!

Ronald Reagan cleaned up the horrible legacy of that wicked Franklin D. Roosevelt and his nasty New Deal.

In addition to the non-violent philosophies of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, equal emphasis will be placed on the violent philosophies of the Black Panthers - as if both movements had equal social impact in their time.

"Mayberry RFD" is cited as an example of American humor at its finest and most creative.

Actually, I'm just kidding about that last one. They didn't include it only because the thought never crossed their minds, I'm sure. Don't be surprised if Mayberry replaces Robert Benchley in next year's edition. To my utter astonishment, Lenny Bruce is not even given a passing reference. Go figure.

The panel spewing forth this fiction-as-fact, historical nonsense were not unanimous in their proposals. It was a ten-to-five, party line vote - ten white Republicans against five minority Democrats. I'm sure I need not point out for you who voted for what. The moon will rise in the east this evening. It was as predictable as that.

Just what is it about those naughty Liberals? Why do they always slant American history for their own selfish purposes? Or do they? Could it possibly be that history naturally ends up being viewed from the progressive angle? After all - what is history? It is the story of human progress! "Progressive" and "Progress". (You see where I'm going with this, don't you?) Conservative causes may look fine and dandy when viewed through a contemporary prism. But they always - without exception - look foolish, even totalitarian, when viewed through the objective lens of 20/20 historical hindsight. If you don't believe me, look up every Conservative cause in American history - starting with slavery!


Think about it: Who championed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? It was the Liberals. Who was it that fought vehemently to destroy those programs? It was the Conservatives. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson literally fought to the death to include America in the League of Nations. It was the right wing fringe of American politics (Republican and Democrat) that destroyed any chance of the League succeeding. Had it come into being, it is very possible the carnage of the second world war might have been avoided. Thanks to the Conservatives we'll never know.

And lets not forget those damned, bleeding heart abolitionists. Although the complexities of America's sociology have changed much since the nineteenth century, by the standards of today they were Liberals all. The south went to war against the United States government for no other reason than to conserve the "peculiar institution" of slavery. These aren't mere political opinions on my part. These are inarguable historical facts, boys and girls. A group of dimwitted ideologues should not be allowed to represent propaganda as fact under the guise of "public education" merely to serve their own weird political agenda. The Nazis tried that seventy years ago. It didn't work then. It's not going to work now.

The final vote on the Texas School Board's "alterations" of the history of our republic is due in May. In a twisted way, I kind of hope it passes. I'd love to get me a copy of one of those books! That should be a scream!

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Starting today, if you wish to make a comment on this site, you will need to sign in with a "CAPTCHA" word. For almost four years I tried to avoid this, but lately the spam has gotten out of control. The final straw was when some pervert started posting a link every morning to an Asian porn site that dealt in underage girls. I have no other choice. Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.

For more recent postings on this hideous, commie site, kindly go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

ENJOY!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

All Through the Night

We got a health care bill passed the other day. That's reason to celebrate - I guess. It's certainly not my version of ideal health care reform - far from it. Still, politics is the art of compromise as they say. It's not unlike the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The reason you've probably never heard of that one is because there was not a hell of a lot about it to remember. Mere scraps thrown out to appease the "American Negro" (in the parlance of that era). But its passage made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - the one we remember - somewhat easier to pass seven years later. A precedent had been established. We'll live to fight another day.

A special tip of the hat is in order for President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid for being able to pull this thing off. Two months ago I was convinced they would not be able to do it given the toxic political atmosphere. They did it. Somehow they did it.

Tonight, old man, you did it! You did it! You did it!
You said that you would do it and indeed you did!
I thought that you would rue it, I doubted you'd do it
But now I must admit it that succeed you did!

Lerner and Loewe
from My Fair Lady

Freedom died in America when this bill was passed - at least according to the Republicans that's what happened. The hours leading up to its passage was like a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. I was thinking "Selma, Alabama 1965". The news media were fairly low key in their coverage. There was Congressman John Lewis, a virtual icon of Civil Rights and one of that movement's last surviving leaders, walking into the United States capital building while scores of people hurled "racial epithets" at him. Let's call a spade a spade - no pun intended: These jackasses were chanting "NIGGER! NIGGER! NIGGER!" Another African American lawmaker, Emmanuel Cleaver, was actually spat on. It really bought me back to the weird old days. The only thing missing was Bull Connor with his police dogs and fire hoses.

But seriously, folks! If you still choose to remain blind to the overt racism that is the cornerstone of the so-called "Tea Party Movement", you're kidding yourselves. It is an organization of white supremacists - not much more; not much less. True, you might glimpse an occasional Uncle Tom on the fringes of any gathering, chomping away at a watermelon, but that's merely for decorative purposes; Lester Maddox would have felt right at home with these birds. As if that wasn't bad enough, at this moment Republican lawmakers are urging these assholes to commit violent acts with their inflammatory rhetoric. Do you think I'm exaggerating? Here's something you can take to the bank: There will be violence down the road. The reaction to the health care bill by the reactionaries on Capital Hill yesterday virtually guaranteed that. It's only a matter of time. Brace yourselves for the shit storm.

This is one of those good news/bad news scenarios. You've just heard the bad, now hear the good:

The Grand Old Party is screwed.

It was a lot of fun watching these idiotic Republicans "warning" the Democrats that the passage of health care reform will cost them dearly at the polls in November. It reminded me of a certain Disney film I saw when I was a kid:

"OH, PLEASE DON'T THROW ME INTO THAT BRIAR PATCH, BRER BEAR!!!"

It's going to cost someone dearly, alright, but it won't be the Dems. Former Bush 43 speechwriter Davin Frum put it perfectly yesterday when he said that it was the Republicans - not Barack Obama - who had met their "Waterloo". The historical rule of politics, that an incumbent president's party always loses ground in the midterm elections, will go out the window come November. They will be unable to win without the help of the moderates. At this moment the moderates are abandoning this sinking ship en masse. The extremism of people like Michele Bachmann and John Beohner is starting to scare the hell out of them. Gee, I wonder why!

Then there is the sticky situation of the Tea Party. By this late point it must be obvious to even the casual observer that this is an organization comprised of morons. It was formed as a protest movement against high taxes - immediately after President Obama passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history. There's no denying it, these are not the brightest people on the planet. Their overt racism notwithstanding, they sure are funny! One self identified Tea Partier called into C-SPAN's Washington Journal the other day asking the moderator where she could write to her congressman. When host Greta Brawner asked this idiotic woman what her congressman's name was, she replied (I assume with a straight face) "He's a Democrat. I don't know his name." Ya gotta love 'em! You just gotta!

Look toward the top of the circus tent, boys and girls! Watch that elephant attempt to walk the tightrope! It's hard not to feel just a smidgen of sympathy for the "party of Lincoln" (Doesn't that title just tickle the hell out of you?) Embracing the Tea Party last year was akin to kissing a viper. Watching them desperately trying to distance themselves from this bunch is - "amusing" shall we say? On the one hand they don't dare give these nitwits even a token role in putting their platform together at the 2012 convention for fear of further alienating the moderates. On the other hand they run the risk having them bolt the party, launching a series of third party uprisings. It's already happening in Nevada. Two months ago I dismissed Harry Reid's chances in November as hopeless. All bets are off. As I write these words, the Republican party in that state is working overtime trying to keep a renegade Tea Partier off the ballot in November. If they're unsuccessful Reid will have more-than-a fighting chance.

Are you having half as much fun as I watching the utter implosion of that party? I'm gonna miss them when they're gone - I really am!

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, as far as health care in the USA is concerned, this is not the end of our long road. Nor is it the beginning of the end. But, perhaps, it is the end of the beginning.

The commentators keep reminding us that Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who tried to bring universal health care to the American people. That's not quite true. He never really expressed the idea while he was in office. In 1912 Roosevelt had been out of the White House for four years when he attempted to reclaim the presidency from William Howard Taft, the man he had picked to succeed him. Once in office, Taft began to dismantle most of the progressive reforms that Teddy had put into place. When he sought the nomination once again, his campaign slogan was "a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States." Part of the "Square Deal" was health care for all. He arrived at the convention that summer with all the delegates he needed (and then some) to seize the mantle of standard bearer. It was not to be. His party would betray the will of the people (not for the last time) by giving the nomination to Taft in spite of TR's victory. They had had enough of Theodore Roosevelt and his progressive reforms. 1912 was the year that the progressive wing of the Republican party died. He was the last great Republican president - the very last.

A generation later Roosevelt's distant cousin Franklin attempted to pick up the torch of universal health care. In his 1944 State of the Union address, he told the American people that his major goal for the post war world was national health insurance. Unfortunately for you and I, FDR did not live to see the war's end. A film of that speech can be viewed in Michael Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story. It's is now out on DVD and is essential viewing.

The new health care bill is not perfect - far from it - but as the old Chinese saying goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." There will be improvements made on it down the years - there absolutely needs to be - but this is a fairly good first step. We're on our way! The Conservatives will whine, but that's what they do best. They'll whine just as they whined when Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just as they whined when Harry Truman desegregated the army in 1947, or when Franklin D. Roosevelt brought Social Security into being in 1935. They'll whine just like they did when Woodrow Wilson tried to form the League of Nations in 1919 - or when Abraham Lincoln ended the institution of slavery in 1863! They whine a lot. Did you ever notice that?

There's gonna be a whole lotta obstruction goin' on between now and Election Day, you can be certain of that. The success of health care reform in America can only spell trouble for the GOP. They will do everything humanly possible to see to it that it fails completely. Count on them trying to get it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of John Roberts. This is going to get really interesting.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

SICKO
A film by Michael Moore

AFTERTHOUGHT, 11:55 AM:

President Obama this minute signed the health care bill into law. We've just crossed over into a new era. Health care is a right - not a privilege. It took us two-and-a-third centuries to acknowledge this truth. Better late than never, huh? Here's to you, Mr. President!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Capitalism: A Love Story

Michael Moore is a national treasure. Seriously, folks, two-hundred years from now, his films and books will be studied in civics classes much in the same way that Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is studied today. I am convinced of that. It's refreshing to know that in 2010, we can walk into a movie theater and see on the silver screen topics being dealt with that the main stream media - with the blessed exception of Bill Moyers - insists on ignoring. We ignore Michael Moore to our own detriment.

If you didn't get the chance to see it in the theaters, you can
now view it in the privacy of your very own home, boys and girls! On Tuesday morning Moore's latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, was released on DVD. It is his most important one to date. Buy it. Watch it. Organize a showing at your local library. Make sure that as many people as possible see this film. If enough of them come to realize how badly they're getting screwed by their elected representatives, there will be a revolution in this country. It's been seventy-seven years since the last one. We're long overdue.

In fact, there is a revolution brewing at this moment in our history - for all the wrong reasons. People are rising up against an imaginary organization of Liberal politicians that doesn't even exist in this country anymore. Life can be funny that way, you know? Americans even funnier. Go figure.

Democra
cy in America has been overthrown - plain and simple. For three decades Corporate America was allowed - by law - to rape, pillage and loot our national treasure. When their house of marked cards came crashing down on September 15, 2008, you and I, against our will, were forced to bail these hideous bastards out. That's not a democracy. That's a plutocracy! These "Plutocrats" were able to buy our democratic form of government under the guise of campaign contributions. They have seized it and they have no intention of giving it back. And don't kid yourself by thinking that this is the fault of any particular political party. Both of them have been thoroughly corrupted - the Republicans only slightly more than the Democrats. You say you want a revolution?

In this ne
w movie, Mike dots every i and crosses every t - or to the extent that that's possible in slightly over two hours. A comprehensive look at the shambles that is the American economy would require a film several months in length. It took thirty years to create this mess and it's not going to be cleaned up overnight. When the American electorate stupidly signed on to Ronald Reagan's moronic Supply Side, Trickle Down, Voo Doo Economics in 1980, we effectively sealed our fate. Back then, there were a few voices in the wilderness who were sounding the alarm: that Reaganomics was mathematically unfeasible and that we were committing a long and slow economic suicide. Those warnings went unheeded. After all, it was the Roaring Eighties, baby! Let the next generation clean up our mess!

We're in the money!
The skies are sunny!
We've got a lot of what it takes to get along!

The long dormant chickens of the era of Ronald Reagan have come home to roost with a nasty vengeance. Someday, I hope, we as a nation will overcome our dysfunctional love affair with Reagan and come to understand what a fool the man was. The damage he did to our country was so immense, it will never be accurately assessed. There was a period between the years 1993 and 2001 where that damage might have been put in reverse. Unfortunately it was only aided and abetted by Bill Clinton. And you won
der why I am no longer a Democrat? No Friend Of Bill am I.

The premise of Capitalism: A Love Story is going to be awfully hard for many of us to swallow. In essence the argument being made is that capitalism has failed. We're not merely talking about unregulated, out-of-control capitalism; were talking about capitalism PERIOD. And while it might have been a reasonable option once-upon-a-time - that is no longer the case. Our economic value system needs to be completely rethought if we are going to survive as a nation. And what are the odds of something that miraculous ever happening? About slightly less than zilch. Best of luck to us.

On whom wo
uld Jesus foreclose?

One of my favorite scenes in the film is where the theological argument against the capitalistic system is made by a Catholic priest named father Richard Preston. He calls it by its rightful name: "Evil". In the DVD version, there is an extended interview with Father Dick in the "Special Features" section. That segment alone is worth the price of the ticket.

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called Sons of God

Jesus of Nazareth

We're no longer living in the "land of the free". Show me a people whose lives are held hostage by the greed of the ruling class and I'll show you a people who are many things. "Free" they are not. This situation has existed for many years now and it's only recently that we're starting to catch on. Unfortunately, due to the successful propaganda campaign being spewed forth by FOX Noise, the GOP and the so-called "Tea Party", that mass anger is being misdirected. The "Liberals" are behind all of our problems, we are being led to believe. That is only true inasmuch as they have been rendered (by themselves largely) as irrelevant in recent years. The only true progressives in the entire senate are Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders. Liberalism is d
eader than the three Kennedy brothers combined - and that's pretty damned dead, Buster!

Capitalism: A Love Story costs about twenty bucks. Trust me on this one, it's more-than-worth the price. On the DVD's box, Mary Corliss of Time magazine says, "This is Moore's magnum opus". I'm inclined to agree. Each film this guy produces somehow manages to top the previous one in importance. It almost makes one tremble to even contemplate what the subject of his next one will be. It is enlightening, disturbing and moving all at once....OH! And did I mention that it's funny, too? It's a scream! Even the music in the closing credits had me rolling on the floor - the worker's anthem, "The Internationale" sung by a lounge singer named Tony Babino in the swingingest, Las Vegas/Rat Pack style! Koo-Koo, b
aby!

This is the film that Michael Moore should have won the Academy Award for, and yet he didn't even get a nomination this time 'round. That's okay with me - I can't even remember the last time I watched the Oscars anyway. That award is meaningless. The thing to remember is that this is the film which will be remembered twenty years from today as the warning that was ignored. Michael Moore is a prophet. That fact will become more and more obvious as the
years transpire. The economic cataclysm has barely begun.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT
:

My brother Pete recently bid on a charity auction. The prize was a guided tour for two of the Abbey Road Studios in merrie old England where the Beatles recorded. HE WON! For the average Fab fan, that's the closest thing to a religious experience. We'll be over there in May. Any UK readers want to meet up for a pint or two?

A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

History: A Rovian Rewrite


"There's a good reason why Rove's memoir is titled 'Courage and Consequences' not "Truth or Consequences.'"

Frank Rich
from this morning's New York Times

On the eleventh of March I received the following e-mail from the nice folks over at the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association:

"We're excited that you are interested in staying up-to-date on the activities of President Bush, Mrs. Bush, Vice President Cheney, Mrs. Cheney and other former members of the administration by receiving occasional updates from the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association. As a supporter, we thought you would be interested in Karl Rove's new book, Courage and Consequences."

Wasn't that sweet of them? You would not believe some of the mailing lists I am on. One of my secret, demented delights is getting information delivered straight to my inbox by these assholes. It sure keeps things interesting! It is always amusing to see that disgusting administration portrayed in a positive light. But their efforts to keep me informed were not in vain - not at all. You see, I am very interested in Rove's new book.

For people like me, the thing that makes American politics so much fun is the massive, seemingly bottomless gold mine that is chock full of unintentional humor - generously provided to us by the likes of Dick and Liz Cheney, Sarah Palin and Karl Rove! Seriously, this quartet is the gift that keep giving and giving and giving! You might very well want them to go away - but not I! They bring so much laughter to my life that I'd miss them if they were gone from the national spotlight. It would be like when ABC Television canceled the show "No Soap Radio" back in 1982. It was the funniest program I had ever seen - before or since. When they took it off the air after only four or five episodes, it took me a year to adjust. I thrive on the stupidity of these people; I really do!
A personal message to Mr. Rove: Stick around for a while....for me. Please?

I need you like a schoolboy needs his pie
River deep and Mountain high
Yo, baby!

It's going to be an absolute scream in the next few years watching the Bush Mob try to rewrite history with the flood of books that are sure to come out. The latest screed by Rove is merely the tip of the iceberg. They have quite a chore ahead of them no doubt. Putting a positive spin on the worst administration in American history? I imagine something that tricky would be the equivalent of trying to put a smiley face on a decomposing pig:

"Well, lookie thar, Martha! Ain't that purdy?"

To paraphrase what I wrote on the very first posting on this site way the heck back in June of 2006, In 2000 when the people of the United States stupidly sent George W. Bush to the White House, we effectively pointed the proverbial loaded pistol at our own collective heads. Four years later, on Election day 2004 - make no mistake about it - we pulled the trigger.

"Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

George W. Bush

So let me give you a crash synopsis of what the Rove book is all about: The Bush Mob were wildly successful - in fact they were the most competent administration in American history - and President Obama is undoing all the good work they did with his filthy Socialist ways. Basically our boy Karl is hoping that the American people will once again exhibit symptoms of the mass amnesia for which they are justly famous. After six long years of the executive and legislative branches of our government being controlled by the extreme fringe of American politics, the very idea that the electorate is now seriously considering going back in that loony direction must fill Rove with joy.

The revisionist history that is now being peddled by these clowns is astounding in its audacity. They are now trying to sell the fiction that it was the inattention of the Clinton administration that led directly to the hideous attacks of September 11, 2001. What is being conveniently ignored by the revisionists (They "conveniently ignore" a lot of stuff. Did you ever notice that?) is the fact that when Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger had his first face-to-face interview with Condoleeza Rice during the transition in the winter of 2000, he bluntly told her that al Quida had been his number one focus and that it would be her's, too. After the meeting Berger came away with the distinct impression that Dr. Rice didn't even know what the hell al Qaeda was. George W. Bush, you might remember, thought that the Taliban was a rock 'n' roll group. Brilliant bunch, this lot.

Of course having spent the better part of seven years violating international law, the Bushies are now desperate to put a positive spin on their use of torture techniques. Rove is now trying to make us swallow the utter fiction that those techniques - outlawed by the Geneva Convention over seventy years ago - worked fine and dandy, thank you very much. Here's what Rove conveniently ignored (There he goes again!): While they might have been able to get some bits of useful information via the torture route (That assertion is being debated and debunked by the day), they also got a truck load of intelligence that turned out to be utter bullshit - like the "fact" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the victims told their inquisitors anything they wanted to hear in order to get the torture to stop. That didn't work out too well in the end, did it?

It's not the ones who are "catapulting the propaganda" that are disconnected from reality - they know damned well what they are doing - it's all those pathetic white people who are swallowing this garbage whole! And let's face some sobering truths, shall we? Other than a small handful of blubbering Uncle Toms, they're almost entirely white. The disconnect between reality and delusion in this country is widespread and appalling. That would partially explain the political careers of people like Jeff Sessions and Michele Bachmann. People like them are only able to advance because of the stampeding ignorance of their constituents. In the land of the brain-dead, the half-wit is king.

We really ought to give Karl his due. Let's face it, the guy has found himself in a nasty, unenviable situation. How would you like to be in the poor bastard's place? Think about it! He is desperately trying to buy some time with his idiotic book. He needs to stall history's verdict just long enough to get through the rest of his life as "a beloved elder statesman" - or however the hell he wants to be viewed. After his life on earth is over, why give a damn about how future generations will perceive him?

Then again, the guy is so unbelievably arrogant, maybe he really thinks he can pull a fast one on history. Maybe he actually believes that he can manipulate posterity to such a degree that one-hundred and fifty years from now, historians will view him as tenderly as they now do Lincoln's secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay. Someone should inform him that while a public villain might be able to fool his contemporaries, he will not - he cannot - fool history - not for long anyway. History has an uncanny way of catching up with and cornering a scoundrel.

So let's all sit back and have a good laugh while watching Karl Rove try to whitewash his crimes against the American people. This ought to be a hoot-and-a-half!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING

Bush's Brain:
How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential
by James Moore and Wayne Slater

Bushwhacked:
Life In George W. Bush's America
by the late, GREAT Molly Ivins

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's The Military Industrial Complex, Stupid!


"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
from his final address to the nation
January 17, 1961

For all his flaws (and he had many) I like Ike.

That has got to be at least the seventh or eighth time I've used that quotation since I started this site almost four years ago; the second time I've used it this year alone. It's content and meaning cannot be emphasized enough. I'll probably use it again before the year is out. It is the most prophetic statement made by an American president in the twentieth century.

The night he gave that address, Eisenhower was thought by many of his countrymen and women to be pretty much of a failure. The American people were eager to begin anew with Jack Kennedy's New Frontier which was due to commence in three days. By that point in history Ike was the oldest man ever to serve as chief-executive. JFK was the youngest man ever elected. The torch was about to be "passed to a new generation of Americans". The retiring president's remarks about the "military industrial complex" were soon forgotten. It was only decades of 20/20 historical hindsight that forced us to reexamine them.

Contrary to popular opinion, Eisenhower was not the befuddled old fool that many believed him to be at the time. In fact he was a fairly astute guy. His private writings, now available to scholars, prove this beyond a doubt. He saw the road that our economic reliance on the armaments industry was taking us down and he tried to sound a warning. The fact that historians payed little attention to that quote until years after his death is revealing. Ike was onto something and it took the rest of us a long time to catch on.

Cut to forty-nine years later: America is undeniably in economic ruins. Our health care system is an international joke. The American people are sick and getting sicker by the year. National health insurance - the kind they've had in England since 1947 - is not an option. As the Republicans (and more-than-a-few cowardly Democrats) love to remind us, that kind of system will surely bankrupt us. We simply can't afford it!
Of course we can.

It is embarrassing to have to point this out, but of the five-hundred and thirty-five members of the House and Senate, only one man (Bernie Sanders of Vermont) has had the the sense to point out what should be a no-brainer: We need to make drastic cuts in military spending. Or, in terms that even your average right wing extremist will be able to understand:

We piss away far too much of our national treasure on things that go BOOM!

Surely England can afford to insure all of its citizens. In 2009 they did not spend (as we did) 651 billion on its military. This year their projected defense budget is not (as ours is) 680 billion. Think about that for a minute: That amounts to almost a trillion-and-a-half dollars every two years! For that kind of cash not only would we be able to easily afford medical insurance for every man, woman and child in this dysfunctional nation, we could start investing in our badly neglected infrastructure. And that would translate into jobs - lots and lots of them.

The phony and self-righteous "Christian" politicians that pollute the halls of Congress are never going to take seriously the words of Jesus when He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen any time soon. That being the case, I have a modest proposal. Let's cut military spending in half. If current trends continue, in 2011 we're looking at 700 billion in military expenditures alone. Why can't we trim it down to a "mere" 350 billion? Is that such an extreme proposal? Why do we spend more on weapons of death than we do on the life of our own country? What the hell is the matter with us?

"A nation that continues - year after year - to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

Martin Luther King

As I pointed out almost two months ago, we already have more-than-enough really neat bombs in our arsenal to totally wipe out life on this planet to begin with. What is it with our insatiable lust for these weapons? Is it a severe psychological flaw in the American character? Or is it something even more ominous and disturbing?

Could it possibly be that our very economic survival depends on us keeping the planet earth as a powder keg that will surely explode one day? How would we react if, say, Iran took it upon themselves to develop a military industrial complex equal or superior to our own? Were that to happen it's a foregone conclusion that Iran would cease to exist in less than a week. How hypocritical is that? And please don't give me the argument that it's different set of circumstances - that we're a responsible nation and Iran is not. To prove the utter fallacy of that argument, I have one word for you: IRAQ.

Well c'mon, Wall Street, don't be slow
Oh man, this war's au go-go!
There's plenty good money to be made
Supplying the Army with the tools of the trade....
And it's One, Two, Three - WHAT'RE WE FIGHTIN' FOR?
Country Joe and the Fish

The most annoying thing about this intolerable situation is the fact that most people are not even aware of it. The problem, they'll argue, lies in the fact that too many of our tax dollars are being spent on "social welfare programs". Or if they are aware of the problem, they say that it's just something that we can't possibly do without. Military might is the key to our greatness as a nation, they argue. I have to disagree.

Our "greatness as a nation" is in the guarantees put forward in the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. It has nothing to do with the fact that we have the technology to kill more human beings than any other country in the world. We're better than that - or at least we used to be. What made us great was not that we were the toughest kid in the international schoolyard. It was the fact that we put so much stock in our people. Let's start investing in America again.

Although Eisenhower was a pretty good domestic president, we are still paying a heavy price for his atrocious foreign policy a half century later - the worst of any president up to that time. The blame for the Islamic extremism that so torments the world today may be fairly laid at the graves of he and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. But as far as I am concerned his legacy is secure for no other reason than that final, televised address to the American people on the night of January 17, 1961. I'm trying to convince myself that it's still not too late to heed Ike's warning.

Isn't it sad? They just don't make Republicans like that anymore, do they? Come to think about it, they don't make Democrats like that anymore either.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

For more recent postings on this atrocious, French-loving site, please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

SUGGESTED READING:

The Declassified Eisenhower
by Blanche Wiesen Cook

Eisenhower
by Stephen Ambrose

War Is A Racket
by Major General Smedley Butler
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.htm

Monday, March 01, 2010

Mickey Mouse America

"Cathy, I'm lost" I said though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America
All come to look for America

Paul Simon

Mickey Mouse must die....Okay maybe that's a bit of an extreme statement. Just bear with me....

My favorite book of John Steinbeck's isn't even a work of fiction. It's pure journalism. In fact, next to Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 journey into the dark side of the American dream, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and Jack Kerouac's 1957 classic "On The Road", it is some of the finest prose ever written about these United States. If you haven't read "Travels With Charley", you haven't read about America.

In 1960 Steinbeck, into his third decade as a widely-read novelist and nearing the end of his life, realized that his success had isolated him from the "real America" of which he had once been a part. Perhaps inspired by Kerouac, he decided that he and Charley, his chocolate-colored, standard poodle, would go off to look for America. What the two of them found was a thriving, vibrant though troubled and tormented nation. In spite of her many demons, America in 1960 was a land of hope, almost giddy with optimism. At this stage in his life, with his time on earth ebbing, Steinbeck was almost physically ill with chronic wanderlust:

"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight, perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked."

Charley died in 1961. His beloved friend John followed him to the grave seven years later. It boggles the mind to ponder what these two noble travelers would have made of the America of 2010.
Can you even imagine? I can't. I swear to you, I can't.

We have often heard described the "genius" of American democracy. That genius is no more. It is brain-dead. The final nail in the coffin was the atrocious decision last month of the Roberts Court which reaffirmed the delusion of "corporate personhood". Tear down the facade of an imaginary democracy that we all have been living under for too long now. As the song says, "It's time to wind up the masquerade" and time to wake up to some nasty realities: You have been bought and paid for by the plutocracy. They own you! Your elected representatives? Forget about it. You're not even on their radar. They sold you down the river a long, long time ago. Whose interests are they looking out for? They're just looking out for number one:

"And number one ain't you
You ain't even number two"

Frank Zappa

And don't deceive yourselves into thinking that it's all the fault of one party and that the other will lead us to the promised land. You're kidding yourselves. There are no Republicans left who have not been corrupted and very few Democrats. Teddy Kennedy is dead and he's not coming back. The problem with America can easily be boiled down to a single question:

Would you like a nice, cold glass of donkey piss to go with that juicy plate of elephant shit you've ordered?

Bon appetit, America!

John Lennon once sang, "You don't know what you've got until you lose it." We've lost so much in the last thirty years and yet so few of us have even bothered to take notice of our loss. We are a nation distracted - distracted by our really cool hi-tech toys; distracted by reality television; distracted by Tiger Woods' personal life; distracted by the corporate media - it really is a miracle that all of us haven't lost the ability to think critically.

We're not living in the country envisioned by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. This is light years away from the "government of the people, by the people, for the people" that was conjured for posterity by Abraham Lincoln on the bloodstained fields of Gettysburg in 1863. This is Disneyland. We're living in fucking Disneyland.

WELCOME TO MICKEY MOUSE AMERICA!

A land chock full of overweight and underpaid Mickey Mouse men and Mickey Mouse women, driving in their Mickey Mouse cars to their Mickey Mouse jobs; coming home at the end of a long Mickey Mouse day to their Mickey Mouse houses filled to the rims with their Mickey Mouse spouses, their dysfunctional Mickey Mouse kids and their lovely, state-of-the-art Mickey Mouse appliances.

Back in our Mickey Mouse capital, our shit-for-brains, Mickey Mouse politicians, lovingly gazed upon by their butt-ugly Mickey Mouse wives, firmly secure in their Mickey Mouse careers, are busy passing worthless, Mickey Mouse laws that their clueless, Mickey Mouse constituents will thank them for by reelecting them to one Mickey Mouse term after another and another and another....

We The Mickey Mice....

Sure, it wasn't meant to be this way but that's what we've become. Deal with it, but don't accept it as the way things are always going to be. As Frederick Douglas once advised, "Agitate. Agitate. Agitate." The fact that so many people have passively accepted what has been done to them is a fairly good indicator of the depth of their mass-unconsciousness. Jello Biafra once made the argument of a "creeping fascism" which works its way into a society's fabric at such a snail's pace, by the time it reaches its full and ugly form, people hardly notice it. Wakey, wakey, kiddies!

"As I was walkin' that lonesome highway
I saw a sign that said No Trespassing
But on the other side, it didn't say nothin'
That side was made for you and me"

Woody Guthrie
This Land Is Your Land

Guthrie wrote that song in the nineteen-thirties. The land he sang of is dead - long dead. Today the other side of that sign has been stamped, "OWNED BY CORPORATE AMERICA". Last month the Supreme Court virtually guaranteed that that side wasn't made for you and me at all.

In 1960 John Steinbeck and his dog Charley were both impressed by the thriving close-knit communities that peppered the American landscape; mini-infrastructures of pharmacies and hardware stores and family restaurants and funeral homes and grocers and barbers and bankers and bakers and butchers that were the bedrock of small town life. Fifty years later have found those same communities decimated - raped by Corporate America's Mickey Mouse monopoly on our economy. In 1960 Steinbeck could see the change that was coming:

"Our treasured and nostalgic picture of the village store, the cracker-barrel store where an informed yeomanry gather to express opinion and formulate the national character is rapidly disappearing....The new American finds his challenge and his love in traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber and houses leashed in against one another while the towns wither a time and die."

In the early seventies, I briefly attended a prep school at the edge of one of these booming little villages in central Pennsylvania. When I visited the area a few years ago for the first time in three decades, I was shocked by what I saw - or, rather, by what I didn't see. It was a ghost town. Like too many small towns all across this once-great nation, it had been Wal-marted out of existence.

They've all gone to look for America....

It's a fairly safe bet that a half-century later, Mr. Steinbeck and Mr. Charley would not recognize the Mickey Mouse America of 2010. This land was your land. This land was my land.

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

REQUIRED READING:

Travels With Charley
by John Steinbeck

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
by Hunter S. Thompson

On The Road
by Jack Kerouac

For more recent postings on "The Rant", please go here:

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