Saturday, October 15, 2011

Contemplating the Supremes

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

Louis Brandeis

That's a photograph of Justice Brandeis to the left of this column. He was a pretty astute guy from everything I've been able to discern. He understood - in a way that five present-day members of the Supreme Court do not - the dangers connected with the concentration wealth. The Democrats have been falling over each other in recent weeks, desperate to come up with reasons why the American people should send President Obama back to the White house next year. Incredibly, they have ignored the most blatantly obvious one. It's time we have a serious discussion regarding the ramifications of a Republican victory in 2012 - and what it would mean for the future of this Republic if even one more right wing extremist is appointed to sit on that court.

First things first: The Roberts Court sucks.

I'm not giving away any state secrets by saying t
his. Corporations are people? Money is free speech? This is the worst collection of guys on that bench (I exclude the women for obvious reasons) since the bunch that gave us Plessy vs. Ferguson - or even the Dred Scott decision of 1856. And I tell you this with no small amount of embarrassment. Incredibly, the Chief Justice who wrote that despicable ruling, Roger Brooke Taney, is an ancestor of mine. I'll be honest with you, this is not a fact we do much bragging about within my family. What an asshole!

There are four whores for the plutocracy who now reside on the Supreme Court (all appointees of either Reagan or the two Bushes). You know who I'm talking about - John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Uncle Thomas. Then there is the "swing vote", Anthony Kennedy, who far-too-often sides with the extremists on the far right. Some of them, like uber-brute Scalia, are not unknown for their political activism. William O. Douglas (photo left) was a Roosevelt appointee and the most liberal justice in the history of that court. He served as a judge from 1939 to 1975. After reading in the papers about the latest progressive crusade, he would wistfully tell his clerks, "Oh, if I could only get involved with this one." But he knew that to do so - while it may not have been illegal - it would have been most decidedly unethical.

In his lifetime Judge Douglas was also viewed as the most controversial Supreme Court justice in history. There was even an attempt made to impeach him that was led by then congressman Gerald R. Ford. Say what you want about William O. Douglas, the man was a class act.

And then there is the justice who is in a class by himself: Uncle Thomas. My knowledge of the history of the Supreme Court is not quite as detailed as I would like it to be (I'm working on that). But from what I do know, Clarence Thomas is the most overtly corrupt member of that body in its two hundred-plus-year history. He has been caught red-handed receiving certain "gifts" from certain billionaires seeking influence. I imagine influencing Clarence Thomas is not that difficult a thing to do. In addition to that, he has so many close ties with conservative groups and causes that it is difficult to catalog them all.

His wife Ginny makes her living and her name as an advocate for a group called "Liberty Ce
ntral". Her half-witted hubby can always be counted on to vote on cases - no matter how insignificant - in a matter that appeases the Mrs. In an article from almost a year ago that appeared on the Huffington Post, Jacob Heilbrunn perceptively wrote:

"For the other members of the Court, however, it must be painful to watch the shenanigans of his wife, who is either witless or gratuitously nasty, or, more likely, both, tarnish the institution, which is already becoming dangerously politicized by its right-wing members, who appear to shrink at nothing when it comes to engaging in judicial activism, as long as it fits their own political predilections."

If I were a Democrat in the congress, I'd be working overtime to get the wheels in motion that would lead to impeachment proceedings bought against Clarence Thomas. He's not only an embarrassment to the judicial branch of our government, he's as contemptible as a person who does not molest small children in his spare time can be. There is a link at the bottom of this piece that details my feelings about Uncle Thomas.

If the next president is a Republican and is able to make one or (God forbid) more appointments to that court, it will ultimately lead to the end of democracy in America. Does that sound a tad paranoid on my part? Maybe it is. Let's all vote Republican next year and see what happens.

Tom Degan

Goshen, NY

This Mother's Life
by Nina Mohadjer

Well hey there! If you happen to find yourself anywhere near the town of Ridgefield, CT this afternoon (October 15) our friend Nina Mohadjer will be signing copies of her new book "This Mother's Life" - which is a damned fine title if you ask me ("Mommie Dearest" had already been taken).

The place is ca
lled, Books on the Common and it's at 404 Main Street in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The time will be between the hours of 2 and 4 PM EST (or 11 and 1 PM PST if you've just flown in from the coast and you're still on California time). So stop by and say hello to Nina, and maybe purchase a copy of her new book. There will be lots of free food and an open bar!

There will be no free food. There will be no open bar. That was merely a cheap and cynical attempt on my part to get you to come. I'm shameless, I know.


Here are my feelings on Clarence Thomas. This piece was originally published on this site four years ago. I've always considered it to be one of the best things I've ever written:

America's Favorite House Nigger

The man just provides me with so much inspiration. He's a hoot!

The Brethren
by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong

Although it's been quite a number of years since I read it, I do remember that I couldn't put it down. A great read.

For more recent postings on this disgusting site, pleas ego to this link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan


At 10:30 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Yep, the foxes guard the hen-house and the feathers fly all over the place. I remember a time when the U.S. Supreme Court was the guardian of WE THE PEOPLES' Constitutional Rights. Now these sick, despicable poor excuse for jurists do nothing but aid and abet the establishment as it destroys everything that Amerika was supposed to be. Time for an Occupy Amerika movement folks. But this time WE THE PEOPLE do the occupying, not evil greedy capitalist pig corporations. They ain't seen nothing yet !!

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bomb the Supreme Court?

At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Uncle Thomas said...

Tom Degan,

It won't be long till I vote to strike down the President's Health Care Bill!

I look forward to that day and will read your subsequent rants with sincere joy.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger John Myste said...

Funny, I just basically wrote this same article, which was posted this morning. I wrote is several days ago.

We have had a 7-2 majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court when important cases were decided in America's favor.

Reagan appointed both O'Connor and Kennedy, but I think the republicans have learned from their mistakes.

If the democrats take back congress, a Republican president probably could not get anything other than a moderate confirmed. However, that is a big damn if.

The fact is, these nine people, with the powers of Judicial Review, are the most important "LEGISLATORS" in America. They are appointed for life, instead of having their body challenged every two years, and they are accountable to no one.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous DOOFY said...

Roberts Alito Thomas Scalia = RATS

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Not to mention the cronyism in the Bush v Gore case. Both Scalia and Thomas had family working for Bush's campaign.

Conflict of interest? Nooo. That was IN their interests. And democracy is not in their interests.

Case closed.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Mildred Ratched said...

Friends don't let friends vote republican!

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Uncle Thomas said...

I just want to let everyone know on Tom Degan's "The Rant" that I have finally read what is in Barack Hussein Obama II's "Affordable Healthcare Act" and believe it is not Constitutional.

I still get a kick of what came out of Nancy Pelosi's butox filled lips "We need to pass the bill to find out what is in it." I must admit that I like Nancy Pelosi's expensive boobie lift job for the record.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger John Myste said...

Uncle Thomas, why do you always use Obama's middle name? Did you do that with other presidents or just him?

At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Ron Baldwin said...

I will never forget listening to GHW Bush introduce his nominee for the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, as "the best legal mind in America."

I consoled myself with the thought, oh well he is only one of nine votes. Well today Thomas is part of five of the nine votes and the worst is yet to come.

Bush v Gore. Citizens United. UCK.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Read both articles and, not surprisingly, totally agree. Maybe the House Nigger and Anonymous could be enclosed in a 5x5 foot cage together - where the sun always shines and the temperature never drops below 150 F.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger killing Mother said...

It would be easier to vote for Obama if he was the progressive candidate he presented himself as in 2008. Now that he has bowed down, repeatedly, to corporate interests, his progressive "base" is less than inspired. Here is looking forward to the day when the liberals in America will once again have real representation in government. It won't happen as long as corporate interests are financing all the campaigns.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger Mack Lyons said...

Maybe the House Nigger and Anonymous could be enclosed in a 5x5 foot cage together...

Come again?

As odious the anons are, you don't have the privileges required to call someone a "house nigger". Just stick to "Uncle Tom" and call it a day.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Just the Facts! said...

Just so we all know, what are the "privileges required to call someone a "house nigger"?

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Mack Lyons said...

"Just so we all know, what are the "privileges required to call someone a "house nigger"?"

For once, you've actually made a good point. Why even bother to use the words "House Nigger," "race traitor" or even "Uncle Tom?"

Let's just call Clarence Thomas for what he is, irrespective of "race": A noisome toady for corporate and neo-conservative interests and a failure of a Supreme Court justice who isn't fit to shine Thurgood Marshall's shoes.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Mack Lyons said...

Not that it should take away from the fact that a white woman calling a black man a "House Nigger" is a bit..."discomforting," to say the least.

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Just the Facts! said...

OK, so why did you feel some could use the term "house nigger"but others couldn't?

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Demo KKK rat contingent is alive and well, the Party of The KKK always spewing hate at this hate website!!

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dumbo KKK rats have this idea of what a black man should be, same old party of racism and slavery.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Leaning Forward Wagon Puller said...

OWS just won the endorsement of Obama, the American Communist Party, and the American Nazi Party.

All want the destruction of America.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

So Herman Cain thinks Clarence Thomas has a brilliant legal mind !! Now Herman's claim to fame is that horrible Godfather's phony Chicago style deep dish pizza. Next we will have Ronald McDonald entering the race for the Republican party nomination offering a happy meal to all his voters. Unless Ronald decides to hold out for a Supreme Court nomination from the next Republican President. He would fit right in on the U.S. Supreme Court that has at least 5 clowns already !!

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of brilliant minds, whats your take on our v.p.'s mind? You know the guy a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I used to work for Sen. Paul Simon. He chaired the Senate Judiciary hearings on Clarence Thomas. You might remember then-comedian/now senator Al Franken's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live. Paul was a great guy and he is dearly missed.

Anyway, Paul wrote a great book about his experience and why he voted against Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. It's entitled, Advice and Consent.

Gosh I miss him.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

The problem is, if you hold everyone in DC to the same standard, you’ll need to get rid of 75% of our legislators. Wait, this is starting to sound like a good idea… Ok, I’m in!

Truth is, Thomas catches more heat because he's a black man but doesn't fit the mold of what a black leader should be according to the liberals. He may have ethics issues (I don't know) but they are magnified in libs eyes because he doesn't toe(tow?) the party line. Black leadership that does gets all kinds of grace in this area - time and time again.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Harley A, I have to respectfully disagree with you. If Thomas were a liberal, I'd be embarrassed by him.

Chris, I envy you having worked for Paul Simon. He was my man when he ran for the presidency in 1988 - or was it '84 - the years are starting to blend. He was as fine a senator as ever walked that chamber.

Tom Degan

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Simon ran in '88. He got second in the Iowa caucus that year. He was just a good honest man.

I worked for him for a little over two years. From there I went to work at the Illinois senate. At the time there was a skinny guy with a funny name from the south side of Chicago who was a member. So I worked with him for about a year or so before he went to the U.S. Senate. I've heard he's President of the United States now or something.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

So Chris are you saying you knew Barry BEFORE he became a jerk, or was he a jerk already back then ?? My impression of him is that he was once almost cool before he sold out ??

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Yeah, but Chris, haven't you heard? He's a LEFT WING, KENYAN-BORN SOCIALIST!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I envy your experiences, pal!


At 5:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Nah Ellis, he's still cool. He's just got a hard job made even harder by inheriting a situation no elected president has ever inherited.

I don't always agree with him, and there are times I wish he would quit pretending the GOP is going to work with him. In the end, I realize Obama has to be all things to all people and that is just impossible. I didn't go into this thinking everything would be splendid in two years. I went into it thinking Dear God George Bush and the Republicans have given us a crisis like no other and it's going to suck for a while now.

I think we have to remember Clinton was attacked from the left just as much as Obama is. And he left office one of the most popular presidents in history. Obama will be fine. America will be fine. That's not saying we can't disagree. It's just saying the grass isn't always greener.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Chris, if Obama is cool why doesn't he do cool things ?? Why doesn't he stop the persecution of medical marijuana operations in states where citizens have clearly shown they want marijuana available as a prescribed drug ?? Why did he perpetuate Wall Street's over-influence on Amerikan society by appointing the same ethically bankrupt people to make policy decisions on the economy ?? Why doesn't he end the war in Afghanistan and save a lot of money and a lot of soldiers lives ?? Why didn't he seek to prosecute the Bush administration's war criminals ?? If he is cool he must really be pretty damn chickenshit. He should do what he knows is right if he's cool until they stop him one way or another. That way wouldn't be by him losing the 2012 election because a cool President would certainly be re-elected. So he must be in fear of his life. Which doesn't make him cool it makes him a coward. A cool person in the presidency would stir it up and ruffle some feathers until they off him. That's my take on things....

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody know what country our blood thirsty Nobel Peace Prize possessing president will invade next?

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellis Demo KKK Rat: I'm surprised if you even have a mind to begin with, what it's all the Demo KKK Rats heritage of lynching and Jim Crow. Libs around here still sport their white sheets. That is their heritage.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellis D. and Hagen are the same person, no sweat, this blog's followers have gone way down and who can blaim it? It's been reported to the FBI for statements like what the 2nd one here is. Total morons.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Ellis, what is cool to you isn't always cool to other people.

You don't get everything you want. That's part of it. And sometimes you don't get anything at all.

In my opinion, people who thought the election of Barack Obama would usher in some sort of liberal utopia are just as naive as the right wing who said he would usher in a God-less socialist fascist society.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...


You're partly correct. The Democrats we're the party of lynching and Jim Crow.

In 1964 and 1965 respectively, President Johnson signed into law the Civil and Voting Rights Acts. Within five years of those laws coming into existence, EVERY ONE of those vicious racists fled the Democratic party.

What party did they flee to?

I patiently await your answer.


Tom Degan

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Tom, just as a quick response. Sen. Byrd of WV didn't flee the Democratic Party after '64. He stayed on forever. But he did change over time from his very racist past if that counts.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

But Chris there are things WITHIN HIS CONTROL that he just won't do. I don't agree that " cool " is subjective. Cool is doing what is obviously right and ethical. Almost everything the establishment does is uncool and unethical. Obama should be doing the opposite of what the establishment would like him to do. See, WE THE PEOPLE are NOT the establishment, the establishment is the one percenters, those in control of the government and hence in control of our lives. WE THE PEOPLE deserve self-autonomy, not to have our choices diminished or eliminated in the name of religion or morality or whatever. All I expected from Obama was for him to come through on his campaign promises made to those on the left who ordinarily would not vote for a democrat. That group along with the young people were the vote that got him elected. Then he dissed us all with his smug I know better what's good for you than you do attitude. Why he should expect those voters to still believe in him is beyond me. Must again be some warped arrogance probably from his Ivy League brainwashing. I never expected miracles but I did expect Obama to act ethically and independent of " conventional wisdom " which in my opinion he has not.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Chris, I've read your commentary with heightened interest, no doubt, since you're apparently someone who knows Barack Obama, at least on a professional level.

My questions are similar to what were posed by Ellis, although I'm not satisfied with your evasive replies, or what I perceive as rationalization, or even justification, for governing that doesn't even remotely fall in line with his campaign rhetoric. Obama, the president, is the antithesis of Obama, the campaigner. As in the DC comic book series, Superman, it seems we've been transported to a Bizarro World of opposites.

If not by design, how is this even possible?

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Chris said...

RE: Jefferson

I must preface by saying I haven't talked to or seen the president since inauguration day. I have nothing to do with his administration and merely worked in the Illinois senate when he was a member. I wrote legislation for him and 4 other senators. I also did contract work for him in the U.S. Senate. And in 2007 I turned down a chance to work on his staff. I chose family over work.

I'm not trying to be evasive or to justify anything. I don't think any of us would disagree that he inherited a giant shit pile. To think that he was going to come in and make everything better in two years or even sooner was never a thought that crossed my mind. So I guess I had a different perception of change and a better understanding of how much change will come.

I've been in government. I've worked it for almost ten years and I understand it's nearly impossible to do what's right. There is a detachment from real people with real concerns when you are in government. Do I agree that Obama has become the establishment? Absolutely he has. But I knew he would. There isn't a person who could be in the White House that wouldn't start backtracking on things he promised on the campaign. In other words, maybe I didn't have all that high of expectations in the first place.

That doesn't make the lack of progress by the president excusable in the least. It just makes it real, tangible, and most importantly, a standard we can still hold him accountable to.

I'm not sure I've done myself any favors on this answer and I truly don't mean to evade anything. In all honesty, I don't have all the answers. All I know is hope isn't something you wait around on. It isn't something you depend on from others. That's why the Occupy movement is so encouraging to me. I've always said, don't wait on the president, just go do it. Opportunity wasted is seldom regained.

I can't think of anything better than people not waiting on Obama-- or anyone to be frank-- to go change the world.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

So Chris, then Obama should HELP effectuate this change, not hinder or help suppress it. Tomorrow at 3:00 pm Peter Joseph the leader of the Zeitgeist Movement is speaking from a Town Hall setting down in lower Manhattan. This event is open to the public on a first come first served seating basis. I'm sure a seat would be made available for the Prez if he was interested in learning about alternatives to the broken one-sided system we have now in Amerika. The establishment does not want change. It has the game rigged to its advantage and the goal is further manipulation in its favor, not to even the playing field. If the people are truly on their own to effectuate change then it will need to be done the old fashioned way, through violent revolution, like in Libya !! Is that what you want ?? You worked in government you say....can the system even be changed from within or is that an illusion the establishment wishes to maintain ??

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Ellis, I don't think change is dependent upon Obama at all. It can come, and probably will, without him. I don't think he has any role to effectuate it, or to suppress it. And to my knowledge, he's not suppressing it. Unless what your saying is by not being more vocal for the movement, he's inadvertently hampering it. As far as physically, or vocally suppressing it, I don't know of any example of such.

It's probably better, in my opinion, that whatever change does come from Occupy, it come without the president being involved. Why? Because, like we've all said, he's the establishment. And even though I never viewed him as someone who was going to change the establishment, but apparently some did, any change that happens I prefer it not come from the establishment but from the people.

This movement doesn't need the president. At least for the time being it doesn't. It will accomplish much more without politicians involved. The moment the president gets involved, it's over. My thoughts only.

"You worked in government you say....can the system even be changed from within or is that an illusion the establishment wishes to maintain ??:

I do think the system can be changed from within. I just think it will be extremely difficult to do. Plus, whatever change from within will be gradual, slow and watered down. But, yes, I do think it's possible to bring change from within.

However, there's no reason to wait on anyone in the establishment to bring about change. That's not a call for violate overthrow cause I most assuredly don't support that. It is a recognition that the peaceful demonstrations now taking place can be effective and can push the establishment to adhere. Not all revolutions are violent. And this one doesn't need to be.

I will add, though, that there is a far greater chance this administration will answer the call of Occupy than Rick Perry or Mitt Romney. I don't think Occupy will get everything it wants but I do think it stands a much better shot at changing America with a Democrat in power than a Republican.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Chris I have a lot of respect for you. So I ask do WE THE PEOPLE gain control of the government from the one percenters who seemingly own it ?? If we raise enough money can we buy it back ?? Do they have a price ?? Just asking !! Must it be taken from them somehow ?? It wouldn't be AS BAD if the one percenters played fair and at least used their vast wealth to create jobs here and invest in useful endeavors. BUT NO !! They outsource the jobs and bring in cheap usually illegal immigrant labor at the expense of WE THE PEOPLE. They have effectively removed 40% of the nation's wealth from the economy leaving 99% of WE THE PEOPLE to somehow survive on 60% of the wealth. VERY UNCOOL, you know ?? They may not yet be at the level of evil of a ruthless Middle East dictator, but they sure are coming close. We all saw how that ends....

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Ellis, you do what you're doing now. If there ever was or ever will be WE THE PEOPLE, taking to the streets and voicing your dissatisfaction with the government is exactly how change is intended.

The one-percenters have no price, or at least no price we can ever pay. What we have that they don't is conscience. To follow the dictates of conscience has changed this world more than money or violence ever has.

The quick answer Ellis is just keep doing what you're doing. Seldom is something worthwhile handed to you. And the best thing to do is bring to the surface the existing tensions, which is exactly what the protests are doing. It's always time to do what is right.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Chris, like you, I really didn't have unreasonable expectations of Barack Obama, either, other than expecting him to reverse the policies of the Bush Administration (like, for example, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; the Patriot Act; the Bush tax cuts, etc., etc.), and generally bring transparency to the presidency (which he definitely hasn't). Instead, he has essentially extended the policies of the previous administration, and in many cases has gone beyond the antidemocratic boundaries established by his predecessor. In effect, he's nothing more than Bush III.

I'm totally in agreement that change needs to originate at the grassroots, as the Occupy movement has, and also from within each individual's own sense of consciousness. At least it's starting, but more people need to make a commitment to the movement, and to themselves, in order for it to sustain and be effective.

I stopped voting for members of the Corporatist Party years ago, going against my own sound judgement and voting for Obama's Democratic wing, in 2008, because I lived in one of those dubious swing-states. I ashamedly admit I got caught up in the "lesser of two evils" debate, but will not make that mistake again. Until We the People see the voting process as just a thinly veiled remnant of a democratic process that ceased to exist a long time ago, we're only going to continue down the slippery slope of oblivion, traveling faster and faster, until we wake up one day and realize we're only wards of a corporate-state; nothing more, and nothing less. And the unfortunate reality is that this president is a collaborator in making sure this comes to fruition.


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