Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gas on the Fire

It is funny and sad all-at-once to see the extent to which some groups of people will go to in order to further a cheap political agenda. Only a half year ago the proposed Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan (which is now being called the "ground zero mosque") was not so much as a vague wisp of an issue. What a difference six months makes. When there are no issues to distract the people from what really matters, just conjure up a boogie man that the half-witted masses can rally against. Seventy-five years ago the German people had the Jews. Today we have the Muslims. Isn't life wonderful?

It happened the other day at the site of the yet-to-be-opened center
: An angry demonstration of FOX Noise viewers from who-knows-where. They were there to show their rootin' tootin' all-Americanism by holding a loud demonstration in favor of religious intolerance. When a black construction worker wearing a white skull cap edged his way through the peripherals of the mob, a few of the protesters confronted him with violent and obscene language. He wasn't really a Muslim , he just looked like one to some of these clowns. The crowd was gearing up for a reflexive lynching. Isn't that nice?

Look away, Dixie land....

These are the same assholes who believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the attack of September 11, 2001. It was this pathetic mass misconception that gave the Bush/Cheney mob the political cover to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq in March of 2003. Then - as now - these foolish people were tuned into the FOX/Limbaugh dis-information machine for their news - and no other source.
The unquenchable thirst that too many Americans have for that sweet 'n' tasty right wing Kool-Aid is the reason our country is in the deplorable shape it's in.

It has always been easy to laugh at these people. Let's face it; the extreme right wing is a satirist's dream. But in the last year-and-a-half their message has gotten too strange to take with a mere grain of salt. Now they're encouraging the citizenry to hate a certain minority based solely on their religion. Tell me, just what the hell does that remind you of?

Deutschland! Deutschland!
Uber Alles!

Ah! The memories!

And that message is resonating, too. On Tuesday evening some genius by the name of Michael Enright hailed a cab on East 24th Street. After a few minutes of amiable conversation he asked the driver if he was a Muslim. When the man answered in the affirmative, Enright produced a knife and proceeded to slash him about the face and shoulders. The victim, who is doing fine by the way, told the press, "This is the first time I felt like I didn't belong in America." The hysteria is palpable.

Some of the madness is beyond comical. Earlier in the week, the assholes on FOX and Friends attempted to portray a Saudi sheik named Alwaleed bin Talal as the sinister financial backer of "Park 51" (the real name of the project). The problem is, they never mentioned him by name - and with damned good reason.
Other than Rupert Murdoch, the guy is the largest shareholder of FOX Noise. They needed to make a cheap political point but they couldn't be honest and reveal his very close ties to the network. See the link below to watch Jon Stewart's brilliant (and FUNNY) report on the subject.


As you are no doubt aware, this hysteria is even being directed toward the president of the United States who, although a professed and proven Christian, has been "accused" of being a Muslim. The Republicans in the House and Senate are perfectly content to keep this "scandal" going. On Meet The Press on Sunday, David Gregory asked Mitch McConnell whether or not he believed that Barack Obama was a Christian. He couldn't bring himself to answer, "Yes, I believe that the President is a Christian." Instead he replied:

"I'll take him at his word."

Honestly, if there is a more disgusting piece-of-shit than Mitch McConnell slithering though the halls of Congress,
I'd sure as hell would like to know about it. Contact me if you find someone (845-294-5714).

And now former congressman Rick Lazio is jumping onto this mountain of stupidity. Poor old Rick, in case you didn't notice, is running against Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York state. His campaign is far behind and underfunded. Now - finally - people are starting to pay attention to him. Rick has found himself a dynamite issue! He brought his weird act to my home town of Goshen on Wednesday. As he told Steve Israel of the Middletown Times Herald-Record,

Wherever you live, people are concerned about the risk of public safety, as a result of radicalized elements and terrorism."

Rick Lazio (as Rick Lazio often does) is lying his ass off. His new TV spot accuses Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the "mosque" (it's not a mosque), of being a "terrorist sympathizer". He is nothing of the sort. Not only is that accusation a lie, it is one of the most despicable examples of dirty political opportunism in the history of the Empire State. Rauf has demonstrated his religious moderation too many times to count in the past decade, going as far as to work with the FBI, helping them identify possible domestic terrorist plots right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Rick Lazio is fanning the flames of an already explosive situation. Like Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, and the rest of these perverts, he doesn't give a flying fuck about the consequences of his irresponsible rhetoric. He needs to get himself elected.

We blew a golden opportunity here. We might have sent the message to our enemies all around the world that, when all is said and done, we are a land where the diversity of religious points of view are not only welcome, they are a blessing. Apparently I was mistaken. It's all a sham. Someone prove me wrong.

Having a Muslim cultural center down the street and around the corner from "ground zero" is not an insult to the victims of 9/11 - no more than the presence of St. Patrick's Cathedral in midtown Manhattan is an insult to the victims of the Spanish Inquisition. Let's get a grip here, folks.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY


Here is a link to the Daley Show segment mentioned above. As always it is informative and EXTREMELY funny. Isn't it sad that in this day and age we must rely on comedians for fair and balanced information? This is worth the price of the ticket. Here's a link:

It's a scream.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week

Take a Muslim to lunch this week
Show them we're a decent bunch this week
Let's give in and all do the "brotherhood" bit
Just make sure we don't make a habit of it

Give Mohammad's kids the crown this week
Overlook the fact they're brown this week
We know everyone can't be
as American as we....
Take a Muslim to lunch!


-Stan Freberg, 1961
(Slightly updated for obvious reasons)

I never met a Muslim I didn't like. Seriously! As a rule they tend to be lovely people, great neighbors, very well mannered - and don't get me started on their food! Having lived a good portion of my life in New York City I have come to know oodles of people who follow that faith. All of them are fine people and an asset to this country. God bless America.

It never even occurred to me to blame any Muslim I know for what happened to this country nine years ago next month - with good reason. Adolf Hitler was baptized (as I was) a Catholic, and yet I refuse to share the blame for his crimes against the human race. But that's okay. No one was ever silly enough to connect me with him or the Nazi cause.
That being the case, I was somewhat bewildered (although hardly surprised) when the people who make their livings fertilizing America's ideological garden with right wing bullshit decided to make an issue out of a proposed Islamic cultural center which is set to open next year around the corner and down the street from the what is now known as "ground zero".

Here is what's happening, boys and girls: In case it slipped your mind, there is an election coming up in November. In the last few months the Republican party has been in the process of imploding (and it's been so much fun to watch, too!) As was predicted on this site over a year ago, the so-called "Tea Party" would end up being an albatross around their collective neck. Sure enough, the mindless extremism of these nitwits is starting to scare the hell out of that mysterious segment of the electorate who describe themselves as "moderate". What to do? Find an issue - any issue - that will distract the people. After a desperate search that must have taken them weeks, they finally found that issue last week in - of all places - lower Manhattan.


They grabbed this non-issue and ran with it. Then the corporate media (you shouldn't be surprised) decided to play this story to death like Hotel California and Stairway To Heaven. And it worked like a charm. Very few of us are at present thinking about the utter mess that six years of Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government made of this country. Instead we're wasting precious time thinking about a non-issue. Just for a moment let's put our minds on the things that really matter:

The economy
Two wars
Massive unemployment
A multi-trillion dollar debt
The plunder of our national treasure by Wall Street
An environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico....

....and what the hell are we talking about? A non-existent "mosque". Don't forget that it's a cultural center. The "mosque" (if that's what you want to call it) consists of a single prayer room within the building's interior. If your prime source of information is FOX Noise, you'll be forgiven for believing that the proposed center is smack dab on the site of the late World Trade Center - or across the street. It isn't. It's location is not even visible from ground zero. In fact it's about a five minute walk. And you wonder why America is the laughingstock of the planet?

The reaction to this "nontroversy" has been shrill to say the least. On FOX and Friends the other day, Newt Gingrich called the new center's imam a "radical extremist" and compared him (with a straight face, I swear) to the Nazis. Not surprisingly, not one of the three FOX morons who were interviewing him had the wit to call him out on the absurdity of that charge. In truth, the imam of the "Ground Zero Mosque", a man by the name of Feisal Abdul Rauf, is well known for the fact that he has made a concerted effort in the past to bring together eastern and western religions. The guy even went on a mission to the middle east a few years ago for none other than President George W. Bush! Accompanied by Bush attack dog Karen Hughes, his job was to spread the good news of religious moderation. He has also worked closely with the FBI in the past. Radical extremist indeed.

Between you and me and the fire hydrant, I'm getting sick and tired of all the anti-Muslim hysteria that has been running rampant in this country for the last nine years, and I've decided to take matters into my own hands. From this day forward I decree that the first week of September be deemed, "National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week". You don't know any Muslims? No problemo, amigo! Just get in touch with me. As I said before I have more Muslim friends and acquaintances than I know what to do with! I can set you up with a Class A, regulation Muslim in no time at all! September 1 is two weeks from now. You have plenty of time to set up a date. And if your schedule makes lunch time difficult, then take a Muslim to breakfast - or dinner. And if there is a fasting issue which prevents them from sitting down to a meal, then what the hell - take a Muslim to the movies. Take a Muslim to a ball game - or the golf course! Whatever the venue, be sure to spend some quality time with a child of Islam. They're quality people!


How are we going to appear when historians look back on this era? Honestly, our chronic Islamophobia is gonna make us look awfully silly, don'cha think? Do you remember Bull Connor? He was the police commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights conflict of the 1960s. During his lifetime a lot of Alabamans viewed him as a hero. Looking at film footage of him today, however, hosing down defenseless civil rights demonstrators with high-pressure fire hoses, old Bull looks like a nasty little buffoon. Death has not been kind to Bull Connor. I suspect it won't be kind to us as well. Historical hindsight is 20/20 vision.

There is a great opportunity here to send a message to Osama bin Laden; that his attempt to divide us has been a total failure; that we in America believe in religious freedom and brother and sisterhood. Unfortunately that opportunity is slowly slipping away. As a matter of fact it might already be too late. The damage has been done and it may very well be irreparable. Maybe a tip of the hat toward Osama is in order. Maybe he won. Did he?

A lot of the people who died on September 11, 2001 were Muslims. Let's tear down Trinity Church. But seriously, folks!

Tom Degan


I have just been informed that the week of September 1-7 falls on Ramadan this year - which is a period of fasting. Lunch might indeed be problematic. Don't wait for September. Take a Muslim to lunch today!


Stan Freberg Modestly Presents the United States of America
Capitol Records, 1961

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

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

What kind of American are you to be reading this stuff?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Those Evil-Doin' Liberals

"But if by 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind; someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reaction; someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad; if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal, then I'm proud to say I am a Liberal."

John F. Kennedy
September 14, 1960

I've always been somewhat hesitant about describing myself as a "Liberal". It's not that I'm running from the word - as so many Progressives seem to be doing these days; it's just that I've never been fond of labels. I like to think of myself as a measured thinker. In fact culturally I am very conservative. For example I don't care for obscene jokes or dirty comedians (Andrew Dice Clay didn't have a molecule of talent), I've never had a stomach for pornography, and I despise so-called "gangsta rap". Although I am dead-set against an amendment to the Constitution which would outlaw the burning of the flag, I've always felt it to be a stupid and infantile form of protest. And here's a fact that will probably floor you: My favorite singer is Bing Crosby. I always tell people in "the movement" if they really knew how conservative I really am they'd be surprised - and maybe even a little appalled!

But, politically - socially - I am an incurable, unapologetic Lefty. And why should I apologize - and to whom? Woman and blacks would not have the right to vote, the south would still be segregated, and the dying middle class would never even have come into being had the right wing had their way. Although I don't march in lock-step with the Liberals on every single issue, when push comes to shove I really am one of them.

I love America. I am compelled (even obliged) to tell you this because, as most of you are probably aware, people like me are always accused of hating their country. And the irony is that this judgment is usually rendered by people who lack even a remedial understanding of the history of the nation they profess to love so well. Whenever some fool implies that I am less-than-patriotic I always counter with a single question:

Tell me, who was president during World War One?

As of this writing, two people (out of a hundred or so) have been able to answer that question correctly. Geniuses. Being accused of "hating America" by people who are unable to give an accurate reply to such a basic, History 101 question is beyond amusing. It really makes me wonder.

Conservative writer Peggy Noonan once described Dan Rather - the scourge of most
right wingers - as the most patriotic man she ever knew. That shouldn't surprise anyone. Most people who would place themselves to the left of the center of the political map really do love America. We really are patriots. Honest!

I myself tend to get a little misty-eyed whenever I hear a really good orchestration of John Phillip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever or America the Beautiful - which should be our National Anthem by the way. The Star Spangled Banner is a really stupid little tune and it is impossible to sing. Or maybe we can replace i
t with Irving Berlin's God Bless America. Given our obsession with the military industrial complex, references to "bombs bursting in air" is just a tad unsettling. That's just a subversive liberal thought on my part. Pay it no mind.

Many of us who tend to lean leftwards are sick and tired of being accused of disloyalty by some of our nutty friends on the extreme right. Sarah Palin loves to talk about "real Americans" and "real America". To her narrow mind, the fact that I come from the state of New York and that I believe that government has a responsibility to provide certain safety nets proves that my professed love of country is somehow suspect. I have no other choice but to quote Keith Olbermann "That woman is an idiot."

My uncle Ed Degan (photo left) was born in Brooklyn on December 23, 1920. He was a devout Liberal and a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He died in the Battle of the Bulge on December 15, 1944. Today his broken body lies in a military cemetery in France. I won't tell you how he felt about his country. I don't need to. Or do I....

Those on the extreme right who like to pretend that they've cornered
the market on patriotism need to be exposed for what they are - ideological snake oil salesmen. All we have to do is open our eyes to see the damage that their thirty-year domination of our national conversation has done to this country. I'm almost at the point of believing that the damage is irreparable. At this writing, every poll indicates that the electorate intends on putting the party responsible for most of the mess we're in back in power on Election Day. Isn't that nice? Have another sip, America.

This country is in dire need of a long-overdue lesson in history. The evidence is there and cannot be "refutiated". When the three branches or our government were being run by progressive leaders, we did very well. When it was controlled by conservatives, they ran the economy into the ditch - every single time. Look it up.

I love America. It's her so-called "leaders" that I loath with a passion I can't even describe.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY


Remembering America
by Richard Goodwin


Sorry it took so damned long for me to complete this thing. I am having computer problems. Time to call the Geek Squad, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Democrats' Little Problem

Somewhere beyond that mysterious void which separates we mere mortals from eternity, Adam Clayton Powell (photo on the left) is laughing his head off. It was forty years ago in June when the legendary Harlem congressman and bon vivant, whose political career was tainted by absenteeism and hints of corruption, was defeated in the Democratic primaries by a little-known upstart named Charles Rangel. The forty-year-old newcomer to the political spotlight campaigned on the issue that the good folks of Harlem could ill-afford a representative with the questionable ethics of Congressman Powell. What goes around, comes around.

In a parallel universe the Democratic party would be in an enviable position at this m
oment in time. They are about to come face-to-face in the campaign of 2010 with a party that has been hijacked by a cabal of bat shit reactionaries. But as has been noted on this site too many times to count in recent years, the "party of FDR" has developed a positive genius for taking a bottle of finely aged, twelve-year-old scotch and turning it into donkey piss. Every time I forget why I left the Dems in 1998, they always cheerfully remind me - and I appreciate that; I really do.

As Harry Truman might have said, the American people are in a "helluva fix". What with having to choose between one political party that has turned itself into an organized criminal enterprise (Guess which one I'm referring to) and another that is the picture of befuddlement and incompetence (as comically personified by their majority leader Harry Reid), it is no small miracle that our government is able to function at all. All of this on top of a president who came into office promising a new era of progressive enlightenment, but who (thus far - I haven't given up hope) has revealed himself to be a boring moderate. A recent survey has shown that Americans are consuming more alcohol than at any time in the last thirty years. I can relate. 2010 is not a good year to give up drinking, I'll tell you that. Choosing between the Republicans and the Democrats is like being given the choice of getting on a plane with a pilot who is brain-dead, or one who is sound asleep; not much of a choice - but a choice nonetheless. It is still possible to jolt one of those pilots back to consciousness.

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few....we can't have both."

-Justice Louis D. Brandeis

I won't blame you in the least if you think what I am about to say is beyond idiotic, but I still have faith in the Democratic party. That faith is disintegrating by the month but it's there - or what's left of it. They remain - on paper at least - the party of all the people, not just the moneyed plutocracy. Maybe Ralph Nader is right. Maybe it's all a scam. Maybe one day they will be revealed, for all time, as nothing more than the tweedle-dee half of tweedle-dum. But until that day arrives I refuse to consign them to history's morgue. A party that will still find room for people like Russ Feingold, Claire McCasskill, Sherrod Brown, Jim Cliburn and Al Franken is a party with hope - however faltering.

Here is a good example of that mass amnesia for which we Americans are justifiably famous: A recent poll cited this morning on MSNBC shows that forty-eight percent of the electorate plan on voting for the party of Glenn Beck this Election Day - as opposed to forty-three percent who say they are voting Democratic. Personally I don't think that that is going to happen. The right wing's grip on their own, carefully constructed reality has loosened quite noticeably in the last couple of months. In the end, the so-called "Tea Party" will prove to be nothing more than an embarrassment - and a reminder of the GOP's innate extremism. Although it has been proven time and again that Stupid sells in this silly country, happily for us all it does not have a very long shelf life.

WARNING: Do not use this product after November 2, 2010.

The last thing the Democrats need in the autumn is a trial in the House of Representatives that might distract the voters from their message - whatever the hell that message might be. Charlie Rangel might very well be remembered as the man who brought that party down in 2012. At the very least the poor old bugger will be blamed for bringing it down. He has many accomplishments for which he can be justly proud. He ought to allow the New York State Democratic party to nominate someone to run for his seat this year. In 1970 one of the arguments he made against Adam Clayton Powell was that he had been there for too long - twenty-five years. Charles Rangel is eighty years old now. He has represented the people of New York for forty years. He has been a pretty good congressman. It's time he step aside with dignity.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Let's all say a silent and gentle prayer for the tormented soul of Lenny Bruce, the greatest American humorist of the twentieth century, who died on August 3, 1966, forty-four years ago today.


A poll released yesterday revealed that a full FORTY-TWO PERCENT of us believe that President Obama was not born in this country or are not certain about it. Chalk another one up for the jaw-dropping stupidity of the American people.