Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Memory of the GOP

Today it reads almost like science fiction. It strains the imagination to realize that it was penned by a man who was at the time the Republican candidate for president of the Unites States:

"Should any
political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952
in a letter to
his brother Milton

Whoa! That "tiny splinter group" of yore has grown into a freaking redwood tree. When Eisenhower was president the wealthiest Americans were in a ninety-percent tax bracket. How do you think we paid for our marvelous interstate highway system? It is doubtful that old Ike, were he to run as a Republican in 2011, could get nominated to run as sewer inspector of Abilene, Kansas. He'd be condemned as a radical Communist. Things have gotten that weird.

I think what we are now witnes
sing are the dying gasps of what used to be known as "the party of Lincoln". They may survive for a few years in the statehouses and small-town municipalities, but I just can't foresee, given their present condition - overtaken by half-wits and extremists - their ever occupying the White House again. The first piece I ever posted on this site on June 2, 2006 was called, "George W. Bush: The Last Republican President". At the time I thought it was merely wishful thinking on my part. Now I'm not too sure.

From the vantage point of one-hundred and fifty-five years, it's next-to-impossible to remember that it started out with the best of intentions. Today the Republican party thrives on a single issue: "GOVERNMENT IS BAAAAAD!!!" In 1856 they were also a one-issue party. But what an issue!

It should n
ever be forgotten by history that it was, at its inception, the party of freedom and that their platform was vehemently anti-slavery. It's kind of hard to find fault with so noble a stand, huh? Its first national ticket, John C. Fremont of California and running mate, William L. Dayton of New Jersey, went down in flames in the general election, losing handily to Democrat James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, generally regarded by historians to be the worst president in American history. Four years later in 1860, the people would send Abraham Lincoln, an obscure lawyer from Springfield, Illinois, to the White House. His name would rightfully be retained down through the ages as their finest president - Republican or Democratic.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends hims
elf in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

Yes, boys and girls, there
used to be such a thing as a "progressive Republican" That very term today sounds so oxy-moronic, it's almost hard to pronounce. The vision of a "Square Deal" and a living wage "for every man and every woman in the United States" was represented by Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president. January 6, 2009 marked the 90th anniversary of his passing at the age of sixty. I think the time has come (in fact, it's long overdue) that people who describe themselves as "registered Republicans", most of whom are reasonable people (unlike their counterparts on the RNC), take a good, long look at this man, his incredible life, and his legacy to the American people.

His was an administration dedicated to the environment, almost a century before such a stand would be politically popular. As president, he set aside millions of acres of forest as national parkland, to keep them from being ravaged by the timber industry. He would negotiate an end to the Japanese/Russian war which would earn him the Nobel Peace Prize - the first for a US president. He would initiate the building of the Panama Canal. He would seriously impair the stranglehold that Big Business in general - and J.P. Morgan in particular - held on the American economy. In May 1902, coal miners struck for a wage increase, an eight hour day and recognition of their union. In October of that year, President Roosevelt forced the mine owners to meet with the striking miners. For the first time in history, government influence was able to oversee impartial arbitration.

The death of the progressive wing of the Republican party can be traced to their convention of 1912. Almost four years after his administration came to an end, Roosevelt was bitterly disappointed in the performance of his friend and hand-picked successor William Howard Taft. It angered him that the jovial but easily-led Taft had undone much of what he believed to be his greatest accomplishments. Challenging the incumbent president in the Republican primaries, Roosevelt arrived at the convention that summer with all of the delegates needed (and then some) to seize the mantle of standard bearer and claim the nomination. The GOP power brokers, though, had other ideas. They had had enough of the progressive enlightenment of Theodore Roosevelt and were determined that the Plutocracy - not the people - would dictate America's future. Taft was re-nominated to run for a second term.

Roosevelt bolted the Republican Party at that moment and formed the Progressive or - as it was popularly known - The Bull Moose Party. His third-party candidacy wound up splitting the Republican vote, thereby - for good and ill - making the presidency of Woodrow Wilson possible. It was during that campaign, on his way to make a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that a would-be assassin shot him, point blank in the chest. "I will make this speech or die!" he told his terrified entourage. He strode to the podium, speech in hand, his shirt soaked with blood, and told his audience that it took more than a bullet to stop a Bull Moose. The guy was incredible.

Ironically, Roosevelt's insurgent campaign of 1912 had a lasting effect on the political make up of the Grand Old Party. Many of the progressives who walked out of the convention with him never returned to the Republicans. The liberal wing of that party, to this very day - almost a century later - has never re-emerged.

I think it is quite telling that all these decades later, in their campaign literature and propaganda, the Republican Party - his party - never even mentions the name of Theodore Roosevelt - one of the three or four greatest presidents in American history. One needs not a degree in history to figure out the reason for that: Teddy Roosevelt believed, in every fiber his being, that corporate America served at the pleasure of the people - not the other way around. That sort of thinking is anathema to the modern day GOP.

They just don't make Republicans like that anymore. Come to think about it they don't make Democrats like that anymore either. How the hell did we get from there to here? The other day I had a bit of an epiphany:

The problem with the Republicans is that they have forgotten that they are the party of Roosevelt - Theodore.

The problem with the Democrats is that they have forgotten that they are the party of Roosevelt - Franklin D.

Well now! That sums things up rather neatly, doesn't it? But while the Dems are inflicted by timidity and scattered pockets of corruption, there are still a few members of that comical party whose hearts are in the right place and who want to do right by the American people. That's not the case with the GOP. They're beyond redemption.

"....that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government - of the people, by the people, for the people - shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

All good things must come to an end I suppose.

It's interesting to speculate what Lincoln and Roosevelt would make of their party today. It's not much of a stretch to say that the both of them would be just a tad dismayed to see that it has been overtaken by half-wits and crazy people. I think that Eisenhower might have been onto something when he predicted that a political party that attempted to do away with vital social programs would disappear from the pages of history. We shall see.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Stephen Ambrose

With Malice Toward None
by Stephen B. Oates

Theodore Roosevelt
by Nathan Miller

For more recent postings on this embarrassingly LIBERAL, undoubtedly SUBVERSIVE site, please go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Why I'm not sitting in a federal prison cell is a mystery.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Won't You Come Home, Jim Crow?

Oh, they wish we were in Dixie!
Oy vey! Oy vey!

Are you an African American? Are you poor? Are you elderly? Do you reside in the city? Are you a young person living in a college town? Are you planning on voting in 2012? You had better start making other plans for Election Day.

The Republican party
is at this very moment mounting a campaign that, if successful, will disenfranchise the the voting rights of African Americans - and everyone else who tends to vote left-of-center - all across America. Isn't that sweet? They understand all-too-well that the mysterious and unknowable segment of the population that the sociologists describe as "moderate" or "swing voters" (I call them "purple agitators" myself) are starting to become disgusted by the extremists who hijacked the Grand Old Party decades ago. What to do? Not to worry! Just bypass that nasty ol' Voting Rights Act of 1965. That'll learn 'em!

The tactics they so lovingly introduced in Florida in 2000 and then again in Ohio in 2004 are about to go nationwide. Think of it as some weird and twisted musical comedy that was edited and polished in a handful of, out-of-the-way off-Broadway theaters before the grand opening on the Great WHITE Way. How could this possibly happen? How could it be that the "party of Abraham Lincoln" is stooping so low as to steal from millions of people so fundamental a right? What has happened to the GOP? Historically speaking, something just ain't right! A little history lesson is in order here:

First of all, the obvious: They are no longer the party of the great emancipator. They haven't been that since at least 1964. Do you find it as odd as I do that the two greatest Re
publican presidents in history - Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt - are no longer even mentioned in their campaign literature and propaganda? You would think that the grand old party never even existed prior to 1980 when they nominated uber dingbat Ronald Reagan as their standard bearer! What the hell's up with that???

"A man without a vote is man without protection."

Lyndon Baines Johnson

LBJ never lived to be enlightened with regard to the Women's movement, but I am certain he had them in mind as well.

As their talking point never fails to remind us (and what cannot be denied) it was the Democrats who stood in staunch opposition to Civil Rights in America prior to the nineteen-seventies. For a century after the end of the Civil War, the boll weevil southern Democrats could never bring themselves to register with the party of "that nigger-lovin' bastard what freed the slaves". Ironically, back in the days of yore the overwhelming majority of registered Republicans south of the Mason Dixon line were black! As Jack Parr would have said, "I kid you not."

Everything changed in the mid-sixties.

After Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively, he told his two aides Bill Moyers and the late Jack Valenti, "We [meaning the Democrats] have lost the south for a generation." A generation??? He was kidding himself. He might as well have said, "We've lost the south forever."

Within a decade of the passage of these two monumental laws, a tidal wave of southern Dixiecrats fled - like psychotic rats - to the Republican party. And that is where their ideological heirs reside to this day. Just before he left the senate to become a highly paid lobbyist in 2006, Trent Lott told an interviewer that the mass exodus had nothing to do with race; that it was all about economics. Bullshit. It had EVERYTHING to do with race and nothing else. Who the hell is he kidding?

Fast forward
to 2011. It's not like it was in the bad old days. Racism in the State House has to be a tad more covert than it was back then. Their solution was brilliant - in a perfectly evil kind of way that is. They decided that they needed to confront - head on, I tell you - the "plague" of voter fraud. The fact there is no wide-spread epidemic of electoral fraud in this country (on part of the Democrats that is) was irrelevant to these assholes.

What is their evidence for the widespread fraud? An edited video of some nitwit dressed as a pimp, walking into one ACORN office somewhere and getting a woman behind a desk to say that fraudulent voting has occurred at that particular location . Case closed? Please.

Previously, the signature a person who showed up at the polls would be matched against his or her voter registration. They would then be allowed to cast their precious ballot. If the Republicans have their way, from now on the people will be required to show identification. And if they lack a proper driver's license, they will be forced to pur
chase voter IDs.

Do you see a pattern here? You're blind if you do not. First of all, it puts at a decided disadvantage - not only blacks - but city-dwellers who rely on public transportation and don't drive - the very people who tend to vote for the Democratic party. In order to obtain a proper, government-issued voter ID, they would be obliged to dig up their birth certificates. They would also be required to pay a fee for the ID itself, another disadvantage for poor people - traditional and reliable Democratic voters.

They're trying to pass laws that will make it more difficult to cast an absentee ballot. This would put the elderly at a disadvantage for the simple fact that voting at polling places, particularly in big cities, often involves standing in line for an hour or more. T
he elderly tend to vote for the Democrats. You're not surprised by this. I didn't think you would be.

I wonder how the College Republicans feel about this one:

In addition to all of the above they are looking into a nifty little scheme that will make it impossible for college students to register to vote in the towns where they attend school. College students also tend to vote Democratic. I'm sure that that's just a coincidence though.

What the Republicans have planned for 2012 is a subtle coup d'etat. "Subtle", that is, if you're not paying attention. If you rely on Rupert Murdoch's propaganda empire for your news and information you will be forgiven for not having noticed that any of this is happening in this once-great nation. But it is happening. Don't take my word for it; look it up for yourself. These hideous bastards and bitches have a plan for this republic and it doesn't turn out well for the rest of us. Wake up - if you haven't already.

Tom Degan

Goshen, NY


Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002)
A film by Robert Greenwald

If you do
not know the name Robert Greenwald, you really should. This gifted and superb filmmaker is responsible for some of the finest, hard-hitting documentaries ever made. The film mentioned above is no exception. The title speaks for itself. It is about how the Bush Mob was able to steal the election of 2000, the aftermath of which we're all still paying a heavy price over a decade later; a price the American people will be paying for generations. Mr. Greenwald's company is called, most appropriately, "Brave New Films". Here is a link to his website:

Assuming you no longer have an independently owned video store in your neighborhood (Who does?) all of his films are available from All are highly recommended.

Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Murdoch Implosion

Rupert Murdoch's goin' down!
Doo-dah! Doo dah!

I'm giddy. Forgive me.

I have been desperately trying to write a poem about the train wreck that Rupert Murdoch's life has become but I've run into a bit of a brick wall. Please, could somebody give me a word that rhymes with schadenfreude?

Witnessing the implosion of the Murdoch media empire has me reduced to a state that I am hard-pressed to describe. People a lot smarter than I are cautioning that we shouldn't be too quick to deliver our giddy eulogies; that the massive News Corp behemoth is too powerful an entity to come crashing down in complete and utter destruction anytime soon. What is abundantly clear however is that our boy Rupert has suffered a blow from which he may never recover. That's good enough for me. Hip! Hip!

As if this news wasn't good enough. We may very well be merely at the tip of an extremely nasty iceberg. There is some informed speculation that this scandal might not be limited to Murdoch's holdings in merrie olde England, that it might yet slither 'cross the pond, engulfing some of his American properties - Fox Noise and the New York Post Toasties immediately come to mind. That would be too good to be true. My contempt for the Post goes back to the day in December 1980 when they splashed on their front page a closeup photograph of John Lennon's dead face - distorted by three day's rigor mortis. Class act that Post.

If you want to understand how America's national political conversation has gone from the gutter to the sewer in the last thirty years, look no further than Rupert Murdoch for the answer. He bares much of the responsibility for the murder of good journalism in this country
. I'm trying to convince myself that this is the beginning of the end of Murdoch's hold on the "news of the world". A planet without Fox News? Oh, please, fate!

From The Rant, 5 November 2007:

"Every once in a while, I'll tape an entire, two hour segment of the morning 'news' program, FOX and Friends. It is the modern equivalent of watching the old, 1965 movie, Hold On! starring the deservedly forgotten British pop group, Herman's Hermits: so mind-numbingly awful that it's actually fun to watch! The very fact that this lame assemblage of info-taining, trivial nonsense is the highest rated morning cable program is instructive when trying to get to the bottom of the question as to why the American people are the dumbest, least informed, unenlightened people in the entire western world and why we are - no doubt about it - the laughingstock of the planet. It's three hosts are totally lacking in any real journalistic credentials. Indeed one of them, an amiable twit named Steve Doocy (whose last name will one day become a verb, I promise you), is a former TV weatherman. He now has the job of commenting daily on important matters of national and international concern - that is, when he's able to find the time to pry himself away from the latest Brittany or Paris scandal du jour. FOX and Friends is embarrassing any way you analyze it. It is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. It's message is as simplistic as it is unbalanced: Conservative: GOOD. Liberal: BAD. Think of it as Mallard Fillmore in real time."

As is my habit once or twice every month, I taped the entire Fox and Friends program on Tuesday morning (Know Your Enemy!). I finally got around to viewing it last night. I was curious what their take would be on the scandal that is engulfing their strange little world - the scandal that every other broadcast news outlet is engrossed in. They never even mentioned it. It hasn't been getting much space in the New York Post either. You're not surprised by any of this, are you. I didn't think so.

The whole purpose of the Murdoch syndicate is to keep people stupid, and they have succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. In the months leading up to America's illegal invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, a survey showed that over seventy percent of the people polled believed that Saddam Hussein was complicit in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The overwhelming majority of them listed Fox as their major source of information. These are the same folks who thought that sending a corrupt, half-witted frat boy like George W. Bush to the White House in 2000 would be a really cool idea. If the rest of the planet earth is laughing at us Rupert Murdoch deserves a lot of the credit for that.


Think about this: When the revelations came to light that Murdoch's minions in England had been hacking the voice mails of soldiers killed in Iraq - and even those of a thirteen-year-old girl named Milly Dowler who had been abducted and murdered - how did he react? A little extremely, I think. He immediately shut down the News of the World, a paper that had been in existence since 1843 - eighty-nine years before Rupert Murdoch was even born. What's up with that??? That paper was one of his most profitable enterprises. It's not inconceivable that it might have weathered the public relations storm. He could have sent out a heartfelt (assuming he has a heart) apology to the people of England and fired those responsible for what happened. It might only have taken months, a year at the most, for News of the World to regain its footing - and yet he felt it more expedient to close down a one-hundred and sixty-eight year old newspaper. WHY???

Here's why:

It's a tad difficult to "investigate" an organization that no longer exists. What we have here is a cover up, plain and simple. The feds in Britain ought to move in before all the evidence is completely destroyed. As I said, we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. This is big, folks. Really, really big.

I'm counting on - praying for - the destruction of the entire Murdoch enterprise. I don't care how many people are thrown out of work as a result. The world of journalism would only benefit from not having to compete with these jackasses any longer. Society as a whole would be the ultimate beneficiary. They're not a "news" organization. They never have been. They're just a megaphone for the plutocracy and the Republican party. But I'm preaching to the choir here, aren't I.

Rupert Murdoch is running for his professional life. His house of marked cards is crashing down all around him. He and his so-called "media empire" are being consumed by the flames of public outrage. The proverbial shit has hit the fan and he is covered with it. I am a very happy man today.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

Although it's about five-years-old, this insightful, extremely disturbing film is as good an illustration of the havoc wrecked upon America by Rupert Murdoch as anything you'll ever find. You can pick it up at for under twenty bucks. Highly recommended.


by Amy and Mark Goodman

Thursday, July 07, 2011

America Held Hostage

The people just don't matter - TICK....
The people just don't matter - TICK....
The people just don't matter - TICK....
The people just don't matter - TICK....

I'm hesitant to use the "sounding like a broken record analogy". In this digital age it's not likely that anyone born after 1986 will get it. But it's irresistible and apropos: In a move that is as transparent as it is outrageous, our Republican representatives are so desperate to take back the White House and the senate in 2012, they are within twenty-six days of sending the American economy - along with the American people - into the abyss. They appear to be under the impression that the electorate is so pathetically stupid they'll be able to get away with this. I think they might be on to something.

As the late, lamented Molly Ivins once cheerfully pointed out, putting people who don't believe in government in charge of government is generally not a particularly nifty idea. The Tea Party types who now pollute the halls of congress are practically giddy with anticipation at the very idea that the government of the United States of America could come crashing down in complete and utter destruction within months of defaulting on its international debts. Not a particularly nifty idea indeed. I miss Molly Ivins like nobody's business.

"I don't want to abolish government, I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

-Grover Norquist

This is what they (or their ideological descendants) been have been dreaming of since the dawn of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal seventy-eight years ago. We're within weeks of seeing their dreams coming into fruition. And you wanna hear the knee-slapper? When the mountain comes crashing down, the FOX Noise crowd will blame the liberals for the carnage! Isn't that a scream? Although it didn't get a lot of coverage in the press, July 3 marked the fortieth anniversary of the passing of Jim Morrison. As he once sang: "People are strange". They really are.

Mr. Herbert Hoover says that now's the time to buy
So let's have another cup of coffee
And let's
have another piece of pie!

They are telling us that the second of August is D Day as far as America's debt is concerned. If the debt ceiling is not raised by then - regardless of the validity of that date - America will be sending a signal to the rest of the world that is liable to bring on an economic catastrophe, If that happens the "party of Abraham Lincoln" will be in the enviable position of being able to portray Barack Obama as the twenty-first century's version of Herbert Hoover. What they are trying to do here is hold America hostage. The only way they will agree to the raising of the debt ceiling will be for the president to cease any attempt at "the job-killing tax hikes" on the very people and corporations who are responsible for the mess we are in to begin with. I think Obama ought to call their bluff and let the cow chips fall where they may as it were.

The right wing has been in serious denial throughout its long and weird history (You may recall the "peculiar institution" of slavery). Modern times are no different for these freaks. Here's what they need to (but won't) understand: America's financial affairs are in shambles. There is only one way out of the hole we have dug for ourselves - and it's going to involve taxes: Decades of SERIOUS taxation. The people who benefited the most from the thirty-year financial drunk - the Plutocracy - will be the ones who will have to bear the burden of the shovel. And that will mean bringing the tax rates for the richest two-percent back to where they during the Eisenhower era when many of them were in a ninety percent bracket. That is the only way out. Deal with it.

When the Bush Tax Cuts were granted a decade ago, they told us that it would create oodles of jobs. That didn't happen. In fact, instead of "trickling down" to the rest of us, the uber rich hoarded money that should have been reinvested into America's infrastructure. "Trickle down"? "Pissed on" would be a better way of describing it. The middle class is being obliterated. Schools are closing in certain parts of the nation. The government of the state of Minnesota has shut down - a nasty harbinger of things to come. We have one of two choices: Either make a hard turn to the left, or get used to living in a country in ruins.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Please forgive the nine-day lag between this piece and the last one. My computer was hit by a really nasty virus that necessitated sending it out to be repaired. All is well.

And speaking of Molly Ivins, here is a link to the eulogy I wrote to her on the night she died:

Hope you're sleeping well, Molly.

UPDATE 7/11/11:

Yesterday on NBC's Meet The Press I almost spit out my coffee when I witnessed (with my own eyes, mind you) Tim Pawlenty brag to David Gregory that he was the first governor in the history of Minnesota to shut that state's government down.

If you don't believe me I can't say that I blame you in the least. I scarcely believe it myself. Life is interesting.

ALSO: Michele Bachmann is now the frontrunner in the Iowa polls. This is the same woman who recently signed a pledge that made this quaint observation: Black children were better off as slaves than they presently are under the administration of Barack Obama. Isn't that lovely?

Do you need any further proof that the "base" of that party is dumber than dog shit? Case closed.