Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Return of Sickie Dick

Coming soon to a theater near you:


Bring your barf bag, kiddies!

This morning when doing a search for an image of Dick Cheney I could use for this piece, I received the following disclaimer from the nice folks over at Yahoo:

"Results for Dick Cheney may contain adult oriented content."

I wasn't the least bit surprised to learn this. The man is a walking, talking obscenity.

I have a confession to make. Until he slithered back onto the public stage this week with the release of his so-called "memoirs", I missed Dick Cheney. I missed him and his disgusting daughter Liz, pounding the bejesus out of the talk show circuit, waxing idiotic on the subject of the Big Black Bolshevik Boogie Man in the White House. Be honest; they were kind of fun to watch, weren't they? They always reminded me of two circus wagons stuffed with clowns that had crashed into each other on a two-lane highway. You just couldn't take your eyes off the two of them! Then came the BP disaster. Liz lowered her profile and Sickie Dick all-but-disappeared! I'm sure that's just a coincidence though.

They're back. He as author, she as ghost writer. I am a very happy man this morning. All of the delightful, unintentional humor that the two of them provide is the gift that keeps giving.

It 's next-to-impossible to believe that Dick Cheney could ever have been seen as an asset to any party but the Nazis. Remember back in the day?

In the Spring of 2000, when it appeared certain that Junior had the nomination locked up, George The Elder knew damned well that his idiotic kid could not possibly win based on any intellectual merit, so he picked Cheney to head a committee whose purpose was to find a suitable person to run with him - someone with "gravitas". That was the word of the hour. After only a few days, Cheney marched into the Bush bunker in Kennebunkport with the name of the perfect man for the job - DICK CHENEY! On March 10, 2007 - on this very site - I conjured-up for posterity's sake the dialogue that must have taken place:

CHENEY: George! I have found your ideal running mate!

BUSH: Great! Who is it, Dick?

CHENEY: You're not gonna believe it - IT'S ME!!!

BUSH: Whooa! What're the odds?

Ah, Dubya! And to think that the half-witted little thug was once the "leader of the free world"! Don'cha just love it?

Dick Cheney is back with his "long awaited memoirs". Awaited by whom they won't say. I won't be reading it. I've read enough about it and heard enough about it (primarily from the Dickster's own mouth) to form my own assessment of the drivel spread generously within. In fact I won't be reading any of the flood of books that have been written, are being written, and will be written by the Bush Mob. It's always an amusing thing to watch these bitter, dirty old men attempt to cleanup their putrid little corners in the Hall of Infamy. Robert McNamara tried it fourteen years ago and it didn't work out too well for him. Cheney will fare no better I suspect. What he is attempting here is the equivalent of putting a smiley face on a decomposing pig:

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

No, I won't be reading any of those books. I'm waiting for the verdict of qualified historians regarding the Bush years, and I imagine it won't be a positive one. Here's a prediction: A century from now the president of the United States will still - on a daily basis - be dealing with the damage these assholes did to this country so long before. Of course that's assuming that the office of the presidency survives that long. Don't bet the farm on that one.

According to those who have had the stomach to read it, a rough outline of the plot would read this way: Richard Bruce Cheney is an honest-to-goodness American hero. During the years 2001 to 2009, If you agreed with him you were on the side of virtue and apple pie. If you didn't you were on the side of the terrorists. It really is as simplistic as that. There are no shades of gray in Dick Cheney's world.

From an interview this week with NBC's Jamie Gangel:

JAMIE GANGEL: People call it torture. You think it should still be a tool?


JAMIE GANGEL: Secret prisons?


JAMIE GANGEL: Wiretapping?

DICK CHENEY: Well, with the right approval.

JAMIE GANGEL: You say it is one of the things you are proudest of, and you would do it again in a heartbeat.

DICK CHENEY: It was controversial at the time. It was the right thing to do.

"Do it again in a heartbeat"??? Whose heart are they referring to here? His or a normal person's?

I have a feeling that the release of "In My Time", the title of the book, might very well be a preemptive ploy. There's a damned good reason why Dick, George and good ol' Donny Rumsfeld don't dare leave the country these days. According to Colin Powell's former chief-of-st
aff Larry Wilkerson:

"This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will 'Pinochet' Dick Cheney."

Just in case it slipped your memory, the reference he is making is to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was finally bought to justice for war crimes - years after he lost power. Retirement must not be a very relaxing pastime for Dick Cheney. Wilkerson told Amy Goodman this week that if the former vice-president of the United States is ever bought to trial in the Hague for his crimes against the human race, he would be willing and eager to testify against him. I'd sure as hell hate to be Cheney. The contemptible
freak must sleep with a loaded 357 under his pillow. Can't say that I blame the old bugger.

To tell yo
u the truth, I feel kinda sorry for the guy. It must be difficult not to be able to commit mass murder on a whim after having had that power for eight long years. As bad as the carnage was when he was VP, it might have been much worse.

According to Cheney himself, at a meeting one day, he strongly urged Junior Bush to launch an attack against the sovereign nation of Syria. Hmm! Requesting an extra hour on the White House tennis court was one thing; this was a different matter entirely. Iraq wasn't going too well by that point. Another unprovoked incursion might backfire also. Dubya needed a consensus. He asked for a show of h
ands from a handful of staffers - who just happened to be in the room at that moment - whether or not the VP's idea was a good one. Not a single hand was raised. COWARDS! The president declined. This incident is fascinating for no other reason than the fact that it finally proves that Bush was capable of making the right decision - if only after taking an informal poll - on a matter that should have been a no-brainer. Still, you've got to grab these happy little revelations wherever you find them.

Does he really believe that he will be able to pull a fast one on history? That the ages will view him much in the same way Roosevelt and Churchill are viewed today? Yeah, he probably does. The only thing monumental about this homicidal twit is his arrogance.

I can't wait to watch the rest of Cheney's book tour. Tomorrow he is making an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Will Lawrence O'Donnell, Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow be on the panel questioning him? Wouldn't that be a scream? Fate, if you would be so kind....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Happy birthday to my communist brother Jeff Degan who was born on August 31, 1964, forty-seven years ago today. Get this: Not only did he marry a lovely French woman; not only does he have two gorgeous and brilliant French daughters; he lives in France and actually likes it there! To make matters worse, he has no plans to bring his little girls to America so they can partake in the economic paradise that is the American Dream - not to mention our splendid educational and health care systems. What can I tell you? The guy is an eternal shame to the good name of the Degan family. Bad Jeffrey!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for Irene

Sometimes I live in the country
Sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I take a great notion
To jump in the river and drown....

Goodnight, Irene
Goodnight, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams

-Huddie Ledbetter

This will be mercifully brief, I promise.

We are hunkering down for what promises to be the most awful storm to hit the northeast in a century or more. I've always thrived on a bit of excitement in my life and Hurricane Irene, scheduled to touch down here in Orange County at about two o'clock tomorrow morning, will more-than-likely fill the prescription.

Regardless of any devastating consequences that may transpire, we can take comfort in the fact that the "GOVERNMENT IS BAD" crowd that now pollutes our national dialogue, particularly those poor, hapless fools who find themselves in Irene's way, will be silent - if only for the time being. I have a funny feeling that in the next week or so, a few of these people might even rethink their entire, twisted ideology regarding the concept of government (And what a neat concept it is!) Maybe this is merely wishful thinking on my part. We'll see.

This much is as certain as the rising sun: A lot of us will not be taking the government - local and federal - for granted in the coming days. Here's something else you can bet the farm on: The response will be much more coordinated and intelligent than it was six-years-ago when Katrina made herself known. Any takers?

If you happen to be living in Irene's path take all necessary precautions. Have plenty of food and drinking water at the ready; keep some emergency candles handy - and for the love of Mike! - don't go outside in order to "experience" the storm. A projectile hitting one in the face at ninety-miles-per-hour is not a particularly good thing for one's complexion I would think.

So everybody batten down the hatches, be safe, and we'll report back when the sun comes out - or the power's back on - whichever comes first.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Many radio stations along the east coast this morning are playing tunes with "Hurricane" or "Irene" related themes. In keeping with this trend let me add my own little contribution to the festivities. Here is Frank Sinatra at his most unFrank Sinatraest. From 1950 this is the Frankster's version of Huddie Ledbetter's Goodnight Irene. Although most Frankologists consider this period (and this song in particular) to be the absolute nadir of his career, I've always loved this recording:

Goodnight Irene by Frank Sinatra

Stop rambling, Stop my gambling
Stop staying out late at night
Goin' home to my wife and family
I'm gonna stay by the fireside bright....

Good night, Irene, Good night, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams

The photograph at the top of this piece was taken by Chris Pennings

UPDATE, 8/28/11, 1:05PM:

Hurricane Irene will be remembered as the mouse that roared - at least as far as the Hudson Valley is concerned. Although there was significant flooding, the "hurricane" that we were braced for never appeared. Time to breathe a sigh of relief - and start drying ourselves off.

UPDATE. 2:11 PM:

I just came back from a drive into the village. What a mess!

The Presbyterian park is completely flooded. The tops of the park benches are barely visible - and in some cases not visible at all. The flooding extends across the street to the bank parking lot. That stretch of South Church Street is closed as you can imagine.

I attempted to return home via Fletcher Street and 6 1/2 Station Road. That's when I got the real shocker. The bottom of Fletcher opposite John S. Burke High School looks like a lake - completely engulfed. While I was in the convenience store down the road from where I live getting a cup of coffee, a Sheriff's deputy came in and announced that the roads in Orange County have just been closed to all non-essential vehicles. Truth be told, I was relieved to finally make it back to the house.

And how was your morning?

AFTERTHOUGHT, 8/30/11, 9:54 AM:

Well, thank goodness that's over! Whatever your politics - left or right - I hope you made it through okay. That excludes all of you middle-of-the-road centrists out there. I hope you all died....Just kiddin'!

Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tax the Poor

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the Taxman
Yeah I'm the Taxman....

George Harrison

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would have thought it to be a work of darkly twisted, comical fiction. But it wasn't fiction. In fact it was all-too-real. During a Friday morning appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, a pathetic shill-boy from the Heritage Foundation named Robert Rector (Photo left) was being interviewed by a moderator who miraculously manged to keep a straight face throughout. He really should be called "Robert Rectal". The guy is that much of an asshole. I almost spit out my coffee, sitting there listening to this fool vomiting out the latest right wing talking point which was this: Impoverished people in America have got a really sweet deal. According to this loathsome jackass, a high percentage of poor people in this country are in the possession of "luxury items" that poor people just shouldn't posses. I'll give you two examples of what what he was referring to. Are you ready for this???

Refrigerators and air conditioners

How the hell is a family expected to store food (which we all need in order to live as you know) without a freakin' refrigerator? And air-conditioning? A luxury??? In a lethally hot summer - not unlike the one we're experiencing at this moment - an air-conditioner is all that stands between life and death-by-dehydration for a lot of people - the elderly in particular. Maybe the poor can compromise. Maybe they can spend those long, hot summer nights taking turns sitting inside the fridge. Then again, maybe not.

Here's another statistic Mr. Rector is whining about: Sixty-three percent of the "poor" (Fox Noise now puts that word in quotation marks) have cable television. Didn't this guy get the memo? You can't get television reception with an antenna anymore. T
hey no longer work. They've become as obsolete as 8-Track tapes and CB radios! Cable TV is no longer an option if you want reception, it's mandatory. Poor people are like most of us. They rely on television - not only for their entertainment - but for their news and information as well. They really shouldn't (No one should) but they do.

Television also keeps the kids indoors. While that may not be such a healthy thing if you live in Bel Air or Palm Beach, in high crime neighborhoods (where poor people tend to dwell for some silly reason) it's a lot more preferable to bei
ng outside, getting some "fresh air" while dodging a stray bullet or two. I wonder what the Poverty/Cable percentages were before the airwaves went digital? Much lower, no doubt. Obviously none of these factors were given a great deal of thought by Rector or any of the geniuses over there at the Heritage Foundation.

And it's not just Robert Rector who is mouthing this kind of nonsense. In recent weeks Republican politicians and conservative talking heads have been dropping ominous hints as to what's in store for this diseased country if the American people are stupid enough to ever again hand over all three branches of their government to that disgusting party. You see, the poor (or "the moocher class" as some reprehensible piece-of-shit on Fox Noise referred to them last week) don't pay any taxes. Therefore, instead of extracting badly-needed revenue from a class of people who already have more money than they'll ever be able to spend in a lifetime, the party of the plutocracy plans on taking from that other class of people; most of whom barely get by: The poor. Not just the working class - not just the vanishing middle class, mind you - the poor. Was this a great country or what?

According to these plutocratic handmaidens, the tax code simply isn't fair. People who live at or below the poverty level have to start chipping in! A family of four making $22,000 a year (or less) will have to shell out to the feds. Can you believe that? Think about it: That single mother who barely scratches out a living assembling Big Macs at the McDonald's down
the street? If these hideous bastards and bitches have their way, she will now have to send a check (assuming she has a checking account) to the IRS every April 15. Of course that will mean she and others in her income bracket will have a lot less money to pump back into this already-feeble economy - a fact that apparently has not been taken into consideration by the knuckleheads who govern us.

And they call us "elitists"!

First of all, let me dispel the myth they just love to propagate as fact: that the poor pay no taxes. Everybody pays taxes. The eight-year-old kid who walks down to the corner store to purchase an Almond Joy candy bar pays taxes. Remember that the next time you pay $4.31 for a $3.99 pint of Nicolai Vodka. Do you wonder why cigarettes are now over ten dollars a pack in certain states? It isn't really that difficult to figure out. The wealthy in this country are not contributing their share to the maintenance of society. Certain corporations are not contributing at all! Revenue is badly needed. Most smokers are not rich, and the ones who are can afford to pay ten bucks a pack. Cigarettes are so addictive that they know the smoker - no matter how poor - has a serious nicotine jones and will pay whatever needs to be paid to get his or her fix. It really is a no-brainer if you think about it.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew 25:45

Let's not let scripture's inconvenient truth get in the way of the agendas of these hypocrites.

We are now living in a plutocratic dictatorship.

Oh, what the hell. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em as the old adage goes. Besides, it's about time those obnoxious poor people start paying their fair share of the tax burden. Screw those people. They've had it far too damned easy for far too damned long. They've got it made in the shade! What with not having to worry about monthly mortgages, health insurance payments, country club dues and where to invest their quarterly dividends. It's about time those wretched freaks learn a thing or two about t
he real world, baby! The day of reckoning is upon them. The lazy and irresponsible "moocher class" has to tighten their cardboard belts. Fuck 'em all.

They say that they can't afford to be taxed? They say that they have utility bills to pay and children to feed? They say the rent and automobile insurance is overdue? No problemo, amigo! Back in the golden age of Charles Dickens and human bondage they had a place for worthless, deadbeat shit like that: Debtors Prison! It's high time we bring that institution back into being. Of course, it goes without saying that those prisons will be privately owned by corporations - corporations that will be able to anonymously donate untold sums to corrupt politicians who will then pass even more harshly punitive laws - laws that will make goddamned sure that those prisons are filled to utter capacity forever and ever. They will then build more prisons - and more and more and more - to keep up with the growing demand. Until finally there will be only two classes left in this sick country: The ruling class and the prison class.

That dripping noise you hear off in the distance is the sound of the Koch brothers drooling. Oh, and speaking of the Koch brothers:

"Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good. This is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in
government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington."

Charles Koch
as quoted only this morning on the exquisitely subversive website AlterNet

Brothers Charles and Da
vid Koch are billionaires many times over. Unlike most multi-billionaires, who have more money than they possibly know what to do with, the Kochs know damned well what to do with their fortune. They're working overtime to ensure that America's middle class is destroyed. They don't merely want most of America's wealth and treasure - THEY WANT IT ALL! Would you like them to have it? Then vote for the Republican party next year. You'll deserve everything that happens to you.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Here is Jon Stewart's take on this situation:

The Poor's Free Ride Is Over

Too weird for words.


The Crime of Out Time
a film by Danny Schechter

In this film Schechter exposes what really was behind the collapse of the Housing Market. Here's a link to order it off

Plunder: t
he Crime of Our Time

Here is what impressed me the most about this important film: In slightly over an hour-and-a-half, he does not mention once the administration of Ronald Reagan. That would have been too easy. This is a man of immense talent. This is a film that must be seen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Here Comes Rick!

Here are the words of a man in serious denial:
"It's time to believe the promise of our future is better than the best days behind us."

-Rick Perry announcing his candidacy

It's evening in America....

The deeply disturbing similarities to George W. Bush aside, Rick Perry has also got that Ronald Reagan thing happening, have you noticed that? Good hair, telegenic, sunny disposition, smooth talker - and dumber than an empty box of Rice Crispies. Ronnie with a Texas twang. The perfect candidate in this era of soundbites and snake oil. Just when you thought that the 2012 clown parade could not possibly get any stupider, enter Rick Perry, stage right - extreme right.

Life is beautiful.

Of course we are fifteen months away from Election Day 2012 - a lifetime in politics as they never tire of reminding us. So much can happen between now and then that it staggers the senses to even attempt to comprehend it all. This much is certain: Despite her "victory" yesterday in the laughably irrelevant "Iowa Straw Poll" there is no way in fate's infinitely twisted scheme that Michele Bachmann is going to get the nomination of her party - not in 2012 or any other year for that matter. While the folks who tend to vote in GOP primaries in the south and many parts of the Midwest might think that sending this deplorable twit to the White House is just a dandy idea, I'm pretty sure that the winter's chill will sober up most of them when the primary season goes into full gear in January. Saturday was her mountaintop. Let the poor, wretched woman savor her moment of glory.

Which brings us to the strange phenomenon of Rick Perry - or "Governor Good Hair" as the late, great Molly Ivins liked to refer to him. I miss that woman like nobody's business.

If this were 1960 it would have
been a lot easier for me to dismiss our man Rick as a half-witted fringe candidate not to be taken seriously by anybody. Unfortunately 2011 is not 1960, and extremist politicians who would have felt right at home at a Nuremberg rally circa 1933 are pretty much the norm these days as far as the "party of Abraham Lincoln" is concerned. Rick Perry's candidacy isn't any political freak accident; it is fait accompli.

Rick describes himself as a devout Christian. Did you see his prayer rally last week? I took a pass. Watching politicians desecrate the teachings of Jesus Christ always puts me into a mean, blind funk. This is the same bastard who refused to commute the death sentence of some guy who was convicted of setting an arson that killed his three children. The only problem was the fact that there was voluminous scientific evidence in the man's favor which pointed to the conclusion that the fire had more-than-likely been accidental. Like Bush before him, Rick just had to prove to the country at large just how "tough on crime" he was. After the poor man was executed - murdered in cold blood - by the state of Texas, an investigation was initiated to get to the bottom of what went wrong. Governor Perry put a stop to that investigation.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." 

Jesus of Nazareth
from the Sermon on the Mount

Some "Christian" that Rick Perry.

While your typical Republican primary voter may be smart enough to realize that Michele Bachmann doesn't stand much of a chance in the general election against an incumbent president, they're just dumb enough to see Rick as the winning alternative - and hell, who's to say that they're wrong?
An electorate screamingly crazy enough to twice go with Dubya is capable of just about anything. I wouldn't bet even a small fortune on the chances of President Obama defeating him next year.

Some are implying that a "President Perry" would only be the final nail in America's coffin. I disagree. George W. Bush was the final nail. A Perry administration would merely prove to be yet another nail in a coffin that is already sealed shut. If he somehow miraculously makes it to the executive mansion on Ja
nuary 20, 2013, don't sweat it. One more reactionary cowboy in the Oval Office will only be anticlimactic. The eternal damage has been done. America is finished. Why get so bent out of shape about it? I'm not. I long ago adjusted to living in a country in ruins. You should, too.

The aforementioned Molly Ivins once advised us that putting people in charge of government who don't believe in government is generally not a particularly nifty idea. The gal had a talent for understatement, didn't she? Let me have a shot at it: Sending to the White House a guy who has twice - for the public record - hinted that his state might secede from the Union is as non-nifty an idea (and then some) as Molly's example.


Not that I believe losing the Lone Star State would be such a national disgrace. That place is just too damned dysfunctional. And to think we fought a war with Mexico over the joint! I hardly think it was worth the effort. Be careful what you wish for - you know what I'm talking about? If they ever decide they need to leave the union, let 'em leave in peace. No civil war; no fuss - just let them go. Seriously

The theme to Rick's campaign will be the myth of the so-called "Texas Miracle", the claim that forty percent of the nation's jobs created in the last three years were in fact created in Texas. In his column in this morning's New York Times, Paul Krugman made the following observation:

"What Texas s
hows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is 'Well, duh.' The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state."

You gotta love Krugman. You just gotta!
Yeah, a shit load of jobs were created in Texas in the last few years. About half of those jobs were the result of President Obama's hated stimulus package. The other half were mostly minimum wage. Would you like some fries to go with that Triple Whopper? Have a nice heart attack!

By the way, Rick Perry wants to do away with the primary process. He wants the task of sending Senators and Congresspersons to Washington to be placed back in the hands of politicians in the statehouse - not the people. Just like it was in the nineteenth century. Please vote Republican. Please? Make my job easier. I'm begging you.
I'm looking forward to the Perry Campaign like an eight-year-old kid looks forward to Christmas morning. A campaign as endearingly weird as that ought to be good for too much material to catalog. Can he make it all the way to the convention? It's not bloody likely that the religious bigots who now control that disgusting party will be nominating Mormon Mitt Romney anytime soon - the only one of the current frontrunners with an IQ higher than room temperature.

Oh, what the hell! Let's all pretend that it's morning again in America. Cheery optimism is the order of the day. Times as weird as these demand Rick Perry.

Git 'em, cowboy!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

The great photo at the top of this piece was published in this morning's New York Daily News and is reprinted here with their generous permission.


Okay, I'll admit it; I nicked it without asking. So sue me.


This piece on Rick Perry by Joshua Holland appeared this morning on the exquisitely subversive website, AlterNet:

Rick Perry's Campaign Strategy? Distorting His Economic Record

Here also is the piece by Paul Krugman quoted above:

The Texas Unmiracle

Happy reading, kids!

UPDATE, 9/5/11:

This morning AlterNet asked the musical question:

"Is Rick Perry Stupid?"

Here was my less than musical response:

Is Rick Perry stupid?

On my blog last month I made a comparison between Governor Perry and Ronald Reagan:

"Good hair, telegenic, sunny disposition, smooth talker - and dumber than an empty box of Rice Crispies. Ronnie with a Texas twang. The perfect candidate in this era of soundbites and snake oil."

Rick Perry was a terrible student. Is that proof of his stupidity? I was a terrible student, too. At least Rick managed to make it to - and graduate from - college. I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. I only made it to a state college with the aid of an equivalency diploma and never graduated. And yet, these flaws in my education notwithstanding (Now there's a big word for a dropout! - "Notwithstanding"!) I'm not stupid - or at least I don't think I am. Stupid people always think they're smart. If they didn't they wouldn't be so damned stupid!

Is Rick Perry stupid?

I'm not in a position to say. However I can say this unequivocally: Rick Perry is as ignorant as a human being can be.

By the way, the nice folks over at Spell Check had to assist me with the word, "unequivocally". STUPID!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plutocracy Rules

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it - that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty-million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George one of the few men who've run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon."

Hunter Thompson
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

When Hunter Thompson killed himself in the late winter of 2005, I could never bring myself to write about it. Although his greatest work was years behind him, I had a difficult time dealing with the fact that he was gone forever. It is said that he was so depressed about the reelection of George W. Bush three months earlier that he had convinced himself - rightly - that the America he loved so much was gone forever; that its promise had been rendered ashes to the wind. At the time I had not yet reached the state of such utter despair. Although I remarked on Election Day 2004 that America had figuratively put a loaded pistol to its head and pulled the trigger, in my heart I lulled myself into thinking that the wound would not prove to be fatal. I was as wrong as I've ever been in my life. On February 20, 2005, Doctor Gonzo pointed a pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. There was nothing figurative about it.

When Hunter Thompson committed suicide I couldn't understand it. I understand now.

The fallout of the Supreme Court's hideous Citizens United vs FEC decision from January of last year was on display last night in Wisconsin for all the world to behold. In spite of the public outrage toward Governor Walker's attack on the rights of public workers, Karl Rove and company were able to pump at least forty million dollars into the effort to defeat the recall. The result was predictable. There are enough fools in that state who were attracted to the pretty bells and sweet-sounding whistles. This morning the Wisconsin statehouse remains in the hands of plutocracy's whores. Thanks to the Supremes most of the people/corporations who donated to that campaign will forever remain anonymous.

Six seats were being contested by the people of Wisconsin. The Democrats needed three in order to regain control from the stooges of Corporate America. In the end they were only able to take back two. The Citizens United ruling has done its damage.

I'm thinking
about my cousin Amy Clements this morning. She's a resident of Wisconsin and is a card-carrying participant in the Madison Revolution. She also became a parent for the first time last year. She is the proud mommy of a little boy named Theo. That's the two of them in the photograph on the left. A few hours ago she posted this prayerful thought on her Facebook page:

"Please O
Please O Please let tonight be the beginning of the demise of Scott Walker's regime".

What can I tell you, cousin? At least you folks in Madison put up a good fight. Corporate dominance of America is instilled too deeply in its collective nervous system. It's going to take time - possibly even decades - for the American people to wake up and get their civic shit together. Scotty Walker is facing a recall of his own come January but now I'm not too optimistic about that happening. This doesn't mean that the forces of darkness should be deceived into thinking that the Madison Revolution is dead. Far from it. Like little Theo, the movement is only in its infancy. Get the hell out of the way.

"Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous 'trickle-down' theory of U.S. economic policy. If the Rich get Richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow 'trickle down' to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only white male property owners could vote."

Hunter Thompson

You haven't read about America until you've read Hunter Thompson. He believed in this country's promise to his very core. In all that I've read of his work, I don't recall him ever quoting the Gettysburg Address. And yet I have to believe that when Lincoln spoke of "government of the people, by the people, for the people", it marked his soul. In the end, confronted by the stark reality that America's promise had been destroyed forever, he ended his life.

This country has been sold down the river to the highest corporate bidder. What used to be seen as a beacon of hope and enlightenment to the rest of the world has devolved into a fucking ideological cesspool so disturbing it's next-to impossible to put it into words - and the American people jumped headfirst into the muck smiling with both eyes wide-open. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

What the people need to understand - and what is hardly mentioned - is that we are no longer living in a democracy. This is a plutocratic dictatorship. Think I'm exaggerating? Munch on this juicy delight:

They have looted the national treasure at taxpayer expense in order to bail out corrupt financial institutions that have spent decades raping this economy. At the same time they are trying to do away with Social Security, Medicare, and public education. And all the while the witless American people are too distracted by their Reality TV shows and their neat, high tech toys to give a damn or even notice.

Are you pissed yet?

In the meantime our downward spiral will only continue. This is as it should be. A people moronic enough to squander the treasure of their once-great nation as they have been doing for the past thirty-one years deserves everything that happens to them. There is an indescribable joy - call it "schadenfreude" if you must - in watching people who are losing their homes and pensions wh
ile simultaneously complaining about "those goddamned liberals". It's quite a funny thing to witness. As America continues to slide into the depths of destruction and despair, I can console myself with the knowledge that there will be no shortage of entertainment value in its decline - for me at least. Life will still be beautiful, thank you very much.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Fear and Lo
athing on the Campaign Trail '72
by Dr. Hunter S. T

Although Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the book everyone remembers, this collection of articles he wrote for Rolling Stone as an observer of the Nixon/McGovern campaign of 1972 is his greatest work. It is the finest book ever written on the American electoral process. I cannot recommend it enough. Here's a link to order it off

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

Happy reading, kids!

Three last quotations from the good Doctor:

"The main problem in any democracy is that the crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy - then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece. Probably the rarest form of life in American politics is the man who can turn on a crowd and still keep his head straight - assuming it was straight in the first place."

"So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here -- not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms."

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Here's to you, Doc!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Useless. Useless.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt
23 April 1910

That is the second time in less that a week that I've used that quote. This time I've expanded it a bit. Forgive me but it is twice as appropriate today as it was when uttered by Teddy Roosevelt one-hundred and one years ago. The old bugger is calling out to us fro
m across a century and no one is listening. Pity.

Sometimes I get the horrible feeling that historians will one day record that the United States began - and ended - with a tea party. Just in case you failed to notice, your once-great nation was kidnapped and held for ransom this week by the most extreme and reckless political forces to be visited upon this country since the Confederacy. The president of the United States might have been the man in the arena, daring greatly. Instead he caved in, showing (again from the pen of TR) "all the backbone of a chocolate eclair." Mr. Roosevelt was referring to President William McKinley when he made that remark in a private letter in 1898. He might as well have been referring to the current chief-executive. The man certainly had a way with words, didn't he?

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

-Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment

Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to show more courage than any president since Jack Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis almost half-a-century ago. He could have stood up and said, "NO, goddamn it! I refuse to allow the well being of the American people to be held hostage by these hideous jackasses" He then could have legally invoked the Fourteenth and stood up for principle. It would have been one of history's mountaintop moments. Instead he blew it. In the end temporary political expediency won out over doing right by the suffering people of this country. He didn't "fail while daring greatly". He just failed - completely.

And to think that there are still fools out there calling this president (of all presidents) "the most radical liberal in American history". That doesn't even come close to passing the laugh test. Show me a person spouting such nonsense and I'll show you someone abysmally lacking in historical knowledge. To such people I have three words:


Last night on the Dylan Radigan program on MSNBC, Senator Bernie Sanders called it like it is. Bernie Sanders has quite a talent for calling it like it is, have you ever noticed that? Said the the distinguished gentleman from Vermont, this is "a defeat for ordinary Americans and a victory for the Republicans and the largest corporations". He then said that Barack Obama should be challenged in the primaries. I agree. With "liberals" like this guy, who the hell needs conservatives? I nominate Senator Sanders. Seriously.

The Tea party owns Washington DC. This radical, right-wing fringe group now sets the agenda for this country, isn't that a scream? Mike Lupica put it well in yesterday's New York Daily News: "These are the crackpots who have designated themselves to speak for Conservative America. Only they don't act like conservatives. They act like anarchists." I can relate. I never dreamed I would live to see the day when I would feel a sense of tender nostalgia for Alan Simpson. These surely are interesting times to live in.

The raising of the debt ceiling yesterday held off economic catastrophe - for the time being - but in the long run the conditions that made the agreement possible will only come back to haunt us. When the "job creators" (The GOP won't call them "the wealthy") are not taxed at their ability to pay, when the middle class is forced to bear the nation's tax burden, our downward economic spiral can only compound itself. Obama and the people around him must have known this, and yet they allowed this Raw Deal to happen. Why? I am desperately trying to convince myself that the president has a card up his sleeve; that in the end this capitulation to the extremists will prove to be a political master stroke - but I'm not optimistic. Not at all.

In the meantime the impoverished, the elderly, the working and middle classes - the usual suspects - will continue to struggle and suffer while the richest among us and the mega-cor
porations are not asked to contribute a dime between the lot of them. Such a sweet fucking deal!

And do you wanna hear the punchline? They're calling this - WAIT FOR IT! - "compromise". No, I'm not making this up.

For the next eighteen months (at least) the so-called Tea party will have our government up against the wall. The next time the debt ceiling will need to be raised, before the year is out, they will again threaten us with economic calamity if their outrageous demands are not m
et. What might they be next time I wonder? The abolition of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the minimum wage? The discontinuation of the Voting Rights Act? You think all of this might be a bit of a stretch on my part? We'll shall see.

"A sugar-coated Satan sandwich"

Emmanuel Cleav
Leader of the Congressional Black Caucus

Indeed. Not that I'm freaking out about any of this mind you. Au contraire! The weirder this count
ry becomes the happier I am. Dark humor of the unintentional sort tends to make me giddy with anticipation; always wondering from what venue the next moronic statement will be emanating. I'm having a grand time thank you very much. The lower this country sinks into the depths of societal dysfunction and despair, the higher my stock rises. Five years ago I was just one of thousands of obscure bloggers. Nowadays people are starting to take a bit of notice. I'm not implying that "The Rant" has the name recognition of AlterNet or the Huffington Post. I'm just saying that they're starting to talk about this site out there. I'm even beginning to make a bit of chump change off of the deal. You say you're going to vote for Rick Perry in 2012? Go for it, dude!

This is our new reality. Our parents bequeathed to us the greatest country in the history of the worl
d. And what are we leaving our children? A social and economic shit hole. Get used to living in a country in ruins. I'm adjusting. How 'bout you?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here is the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt, articulating his vision of America and the world:

The Four Freedoms

There is an honest-to-goodness, real-live liberal for you.


This Mother's Life
by Nina Mohadjer

Coming soon to
an independently owned book store near you. I know there must be one left out there! Here is a link to Nina's website to keep up-to-date on her book's progress:

Nina Mohadjer was born in Iran and raised in Germany. She came to the United States in 1992 and has been living in Ridgefield, Connecticut since 1995. She is a writer, an activist, and possesses a social conscience that is unique and profound. We here in America are all-the-richer for the fact that she walks among us. We're fortunate to have her. Nina is a textbook example as to why immigrants are so essential to our diverse culture.

She's also very polite. Did I mention that?