Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beatlemania 2012

"Late one night, not very long ago, I had a dream that the Beatles were still among us, making us laugh and sing in the same way they did when they were the undisputed Princes of the Planet Earth all those years ago. That's what was so wonderful about the Fab Four: they not only sang like the scruffy angels they were, but they were so damned funny! All one has to do is view the films "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help" and you're once again reminded that they were a great comedy team - one of the greatest. When I awoke from that dream - thinking it had been real - the blunt realization that the Beatles are gone forever was too depressing to even contemplate."

From "The Rant"
June 5, 200
7
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Brian Sager is the son of my friends Brian and Terri Colgan Sager. That's a photograph of him on the left. On the day that he was born in 1994, the Beatles had not made a record in almost a quarter of a century. John Lennon had been dead for thirteen-and-a-half years. And yet that time divide was not about to stop him from joining me at the 2012 Fest for the Beatles which is taking place this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Meadowland Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey. In fact what struck me about this event more than anything else were the number of kids Brian's age - and even younger - who were taking part in the festivities.Think about it. That would be the equivalent of several hundred teenagers in 1969 getting together to celebrate the legacy of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra - the hottest and best selling recording act of 1926. Although I have no documentation to prove this one way or another, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I don't think that ever happened. Call it a silly hunch on my part.

On a warm July day in 1957, fate would instigate the meeting of two teenage boys at a Church picnic in Liverpool, England.
Each would discover that the other shared a mutual passion for American rock 'n' roll music. The older boy, impressed with the younger one's musicianship, asked him if he would like to join his little skiffle group which was called the Quarrymen. The younger lad agreed. Fifty-five years later and across the ocean, a couple of thousand strangers would come together to celebrate the legacy of that chance encounter between John Lennon and Paul McCartney five-and-a-half decades ago.

The Beatles
are a topic I could go on all night about. The quote at the top of this piece I wrote nearly five years ago on the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. At the time there was a peculiar trend in cultural revisionism that was implying that this classic recording had never really been that good to begin with. I quoted one writer who even had the chutzpa say that most of the tunes on it "are pretty bad". One of the "pretty bad" songs he sited as an example was the brilliant collage of psychedelia and circus music, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. That was enough for me to spring to the defense of that album. Sgt. Pepper is a masterpiece. I was reminded yet again of its timeless relevance yesterday as we walked through the many exhibits at Beatlefest 2012. At one point we could hear the haunting voice of John Lennon echoing through the halls, singing A Day in the Life. He is a ghost that refuses to go away, reaching out to us from beyond that unknowable void.

I attended my first Beatles convention with my brother Pete in September of 1975. It was held at the old Commodore H
ilton in New York City, a place which doesn't even exist anymore. I was the same age that Brian Sager is now. He would not be born for another nineteen years. Gerald Ford was living in the White House. George Harrison and John Lennon were still alive. "All those years ago" as George's song laments. It was a different world then. I was a different person. You were, too, I'm sure. Everything has changed. Everything.

The featured
guest speaker at that convention was good old Mal Evans (photo left) - the Beatles insider and jack-of-all-trades; a man who would do, could do (and did do) anything and everything for the Fabulous Fabs - including bringing in talent for their record label Apple. The group Badfinger was Mal's discovery. Pete and I spent some time chatting with him and he was as sweet and gentle as his legend suggests. Do you remember that scene from the film Help, where the ice explodes and a channel swimmer emerges from within asking Lennon for directions to the White Cliffs of Dover? That was Mal! It is the most hilarious scene in that ultra-hilarious movie. But as funny as that moment is, it has been forever ruined for me by hindsight. I watch it now and cannot help but think of the horrible fates that awaited both Mal Evans and John Lennon.
`
Four months after we met him, Mal would descend into a psychological storm from which he never emerged. Severely depressed and in despair. he barricaded himself inside a Los Angeles hotel room with a gun. Over the telephone, he told his girlfriend that he was going to kill himself. The LA cops saved him the trouble. They burst into the room and fired several shots into his body, killing him instantly. They could have tried to save him. They didn't. You've gotta hand it to the LAPD. You really do.

One of the coo
lest things about attending any Beatlefest is the vibe. For the most part, fans of the Beatles tend to be really nice people. I think I'm a fairly nice guy. Brian Sager is most definitely a very nice guy - but that doesn't really count, come to think about it. He comes from an extended clan of very nice people on both his mom's and his dad's side. But other than his two siblings (Hello, Meghan! Hello, Michael!) none of them are huge fans of the lads from Liverpool to the best of my knowledge. Niceness just sort of runs in that family. It has little to do with his being a fan of the Beatles I'm sure.

But walking
through the exhibits which took up two floors of the Crowne Plaza, you get this indescribable sense of serenity and kindness emanating from the people attending. This could be renamed "The Convention of Niceness" and I don't think anyone would complain all that much. Total strangers smile, laugh and sing with one another. All around us there was a feeling of (Dare I say it?) LOVE - as in "All you need is...." These folks really believe it. I do, too. It has been like that at every Beatlefest I have attended down through the years - and I have attended so many of them that I lost count of the number a long time ago. 
`
Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain,
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high....

-John Lennon
From Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

What made John,
Paul, George and Ringo so special (to my mind at least) was that they tried to appeal to the better angels of our nature. I once said that if I could boil down the essence of the Beatles' message into one sentence it would be this: We are the makers of our own dreams. The "culturally correct" hindsight of 2012 dismisses the Sgt. Pepper record as childish, ponderous and naive - but is it really? We've become so crude and obscene as a culture in the forty-five years since it was released, some of us now view the images of "tangerine trees and marmalade skies" from Lucy in the Sky through a cracked prism of cynicism and scorn - but whose fault is that??? The fault, dear Brutus, lie not with the Beatles, but with ourselves. That piece I wrote five years ago was called Why the Beatles Still Matter. Here's another paragraph from it:

"
In 1995, the night the video Free As a Bird premiered on national television (the first 'new' Beatles song in over a quarter of a century), I watched it with a young woman who was born in 1970, the year they broke up. Hearing them sing together again - Paul and George sounding strong and clear; John, by that time long dead, his voice transferred from an old and faded cassette tape, sounding as if he were singing from far, far away - was a very moving experience. When she noticed my reaction, she laughed and said, 'Oh, Tom! What's the big deal?' I told her that no one who didn't live through that turbulent era, could possibly understand what that band meant to their troubled generation."
`
I was dead wrong when I wrote those words half a decade ago. You don't need to have been part of their generation in order to "get" the Beatles. There are untold millions of young people today who appreciate them. Brian Sager certainly does. Incredibly, a band that made their last recording forty-three years ago - two of whose members are no longer living - was the best selling group for the first decade of the twenty-first century. And it's not just the baby boomers who are buying up all of those CD's. The reason the recording industry has been on the decline in recent years has nothing to do with downloading - and everything to do with quality. There is good music being made these days but it is not part of the main stream and is, in fact, labeled "alternative". Quality is seriously lacking in 2012. The Beatles were a quality act. Case closed.
`
Forty years of biographical scholarship informs us that these were four very flawed, imperfect - and in many respects - troubled men. But, oh, that music. That timeless and beautiful music. I'm willing to forgive these guys just about anything. I was only four months shy of my twelfth birthday when the Beatles broke up in 1970. When I was a little boy they were the princes of the planet. To me they seemed to be invincible. They weren't. The deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison proved that. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are today elderly men for whom eternity now beckons. They were as vulnerable in their grip on this slender thread of life as any of us. Imagine that.

As Paul said a
t the end of Yellow Submarine, "We brought back lots of lovely souvenirs!" Indeed we did! Brian is probably the only human being on this planet born after 1960 who is into vinyl. He picked up a handful of 45 RPM's (including Ringo's It Don't Come Easy) a pristine copy of the 1964 Capitol LP that introduced them to America (Meet the Beatles) and a t-shirt for his lovely lady friend. (Hi, Emma!) In addition to a DVD and a book, I was able to obtain a hole for me pocket. Those things are a tad hard to come by these days, you know.

It was quite a day in the life. We drove away from the place in the late afternoon secure in the knowledge that those Northern Songs will last forever.

All you need is love!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net
 
 `
SUGGESTED READING:

The Beatles: An Authorized Biography
by Hunter Davies

`
MANDATORY LISTENING:
 `
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4p8qxGbpOk

There's nothing you can do that can't be done, ya dig?

AFTERTHOUGHT:

The photograph at the bottom of this article of Brian Sager and the author of this hideous liberal diatribe was taken in June of 2010 at a Ringo Starr concert at Bethel Woods in Sullivan County, New York - site of the original Woodstock. The photo was taken by Brian's dear old dad. Just thought I'd throw that in.

I'll be tackling the subject of the Beatles again on September 11. That will be the fiftieth anniversary of the day they walked into Studio Two at the EMI studios on Abbey Road in London and recorded their first song, Love Me Do.
Here are some links to other pieces I have written through the years about the Beatles:

Why the Beatles Still Matter

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 http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-beatles-still-matter.html

We're Off to Abbey Road!
`
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/05/were-off-to-abbey-road.html

Our Excellent Adventures at Abbey Road
`

Hey, Kids! MEET THE BEATLES!!!
`
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2009/09/hey-kids-meet-beatles.html

Happy Birthday, Ringo!

`
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/07/happy-birthday-ringo_07.htm

It's Johnny's Birthday!
`

December 8, 1980
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2‚Äč010/12/december-8-1980.html

Within George, Without George
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2011/11/within-george-without-george.html
 
Tom Degan's Ultimate Fantasy Flashback (Lennon meets Nixon)
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2011/12/tom-degans-fantasy-flashback.html

Fifty Years of the Beatles
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 http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2012/09/fifty-years-of-beatles.html

And remember, kids, "Nothing is Beatle proof"!

Jammin' with the Fabulous Sager Kids, June 2010, Bethel, NY

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Weird Thing to Behold

"The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American Left who hates Christendom....What I'm talking about is onward American soldiers. What we're talking about are core American values."

-Rick Santorum, 22 February 2011

Jon Stewart p
osed the musical question this past week on that essential viewing for political junkies, the Daily Show:

Why isn't Mitt Romney killing Rick Santorum in the primaries?

Why indeed
. This is really not that difficult a question to answer. In a column this week, Kathleen Parker scolded smart-alec bloggers like myself who tend to portray southern Republicans as half-witted buffoons. She makes an awful lot of good points for a conservative - and this particular column was no exception. It would be wrong to assume that everyone from that region of the country are ignorant chuckle-heads. That is just not the case. In fact I know personally of more-than-a-few ladies and gentlemen of dear old Dixie who are just about the smartest, most sophisticated people it has ever been my privilege to meet. My problem is not with Southerners per se - not at all - just the jackasses down there who vote. Their mediocrity is reflected in the manner of men and women they send to Washington to represent them. Just listen to any of them on the floor of the House on any given day, jabbering away like diseased little mynah birds. Do I exaggerate?

My feeling
on this subject would apply to the Midwest as well - which as we all know is the "new South". Why is Rick Santorum doing so well in this region of the country? What the hell is wrong with these people? Why they would favor a lying fool like Santorum over anyone defies basic reasoning. And to think, were it not for the Newt Gingrich factor - splitting up the neanderthal vote - Mr. Rick would more-than-likely be the front runner at the moment! The Illinois primary is tomorrow and it looks as if he might very well take home all of the marbles in that contest too. Have Republican voters in Illinois lost their minds? Do they not see what a hideous dingbat this man is? Are they blind to the fact that he is a dangerous extremist? He can't seem to make up his mind whether he is running for president or ayatollah. What are they putting in the water in the Land of Lincoln?

This embarrasses me to no end due to the fact that my late grandmother Loretta Doran was born and raised in Rockford. That's a photograph of her on the left that was taken one-hundred years ago in 1912, right around the time she turned sweet sixteen. Wasn't she lovely? That's my grandma! Family legend has it that she was the belle at every ball. I don't doubt that for a minute. I don't think she agreed with the platform of the Republican party all that much. From the time she became old enough to vote - until the day she died - she was a registered Democrat. Her native state's connection to Abraham Lincoln aside, the Great Emancipator's influence over the GOP had long-since evaporated by the time she entered this world in 1896, thirty-one years after his death. She would later marry my grandfather, Kentucky native (and Notre Dame graduate) Walter Clements. They would settle in South Bend, Indiana to raise a family of five children. She passed away at age sixty-eight on February 11, 1964 - which was the day that Sarah Palin was born. Talk about getting out while the getting's good. Never let it be said that my Grandmother Clements did not have perfect timing.

The same yea
r that photo of Loretta Doran was taken (1912) the progressive Republican and ex-president Theodore Roosevelt tried to take back the White House from his former friend William Howard Taft. Although he won the primaries quite handily, the powers-that-be within the GOP refused him the nomination at the convention that summer. They had had enough of Roosevelt's enlightenment. The progressive wing of that party died at that very moment, never to be seen again.

A century later they are as intellectually rigid and politically shortsighted as they ever were. You only need to take notice of the war against American women they have been stupidly waging throughout this primary season. Mitt Romney - undeniably conservative as he is - appears to be too much of a left winger for the moronic Tea party crowd to stomach. If that doesn't tell you how far down into the ideological muck that party has sunk nothing will. The fact that uber knucklehead Rick Santorum came so close to beating him in his own state of Michigan tells me more than I want to know - not only with regard to where that party has gone - but where it appears to be going. It's not a good place either - trust me.

Still, as we
ird as things have gotten, the freak out of the ultra right wing in America is an amusing thing to watch. They have a surplus of unintentional comedians who never fail to delight. The road they want to take us down is a very dark and dangerous one to be sure, but there will be no shortage of hoots and giggles along the way. We're talkin' seriously dark humor here. Every American will be living in his or her very own, custom-made Dr. Strangelove movie. It is times such as these that I cannot help but bemoan the fact that Lenny Bruce did not live to be an old man. Can you even imagine what his take on the America of 2012 would have been? And if only George Carlin might have been given a few more years. We sure could use them now.

Benito M
ussolini once described fascism as "the total merging of corporate and state power". We appear to be there. We've been heading toward this point for over thirty years, and yet the journey has been at such a snail's pace, only the few of us who have bothered to pay attention seem to have noticed. Think about it for a minute. A monumentally stupid man - Rick Santorum - is at this moment a major player within one of America's two, mainstream political parties. He makes George W. Bush look like Albert Einstein. With every passing political season they just keep setting the bar lower and lower and lower....

I never dreamed it could get this weird.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I was interviewed by Scott Henderson and Terry Motley on the Brass Knuckles Radio Network out of Chicago twice in the last two we
eks - on March 3 and on March 17. If you have the time to spare, here are two links to listen to the programs:

March 3 - I come in at fifteen minutes:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/shenderson19/2012/03/03/brass-knuckle-progressive-radio#.T1H5f6kjsSM.facebook

March 17 - I come in at forty-seven minutes:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/shenderson19/2012/03/17/brass-knuckle-progressive-radio

I had a lot of fun doing them. Hear the entire programs if you can. Happy listening, campers!

SUGGES
TED READING:

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye
by Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell

An intimate look into the life of Jack Kennedy by the two men who knew him better than all others. A great read - and a very funny book! Let's face it - Jack Kennedy was a scream!

And join me on my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/tomdegan

Please "friend" me. I have no life.

Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

UPDATE, 3/21/12:

It would seem that Mr. Rick's hopes in the Illinois primary came crashing down into little bitty pieces after he told a gathering that he didn't care about the unemployment rate. Somewhere Grandma Clements must be smiling. It's funny; although I was only a small boy when she passed on, I can still hear her voice in my memory.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dog Days for the Mittster

These should be Mitt Romney's glory days. What with his round-up of all those juicy delegates in the primaries recently, everything should be coming up roses for our hero. And yet things just haven't been going his way. A photo caption in this week's Time Magazine reads, "Why is this man smiling?" Why indeed. It must be a terribly frustrating thing to be Mitt Romney these days. Were he to be elected president (and that's never gonna happen, I promise you) he would be an unerringly reliable water boy for the plutocracy. In spite of this fact, establishment Republicans continue to remain wary of him.

He has been stumbling across the country saying all of the idiotic things a candidate needs to say in order to fire-up "the base". But still, the nincompoops who tend to vote in Republican primaries - particularly down in Dixieland - refuse to see this "
sternly conservative" guy as an honest-to-goodness right winger. They steadfastly refuse to embrace this damned Yankee who was once the governor of "Taxachusetts" - a hostile foreign nation in the eyes of these chuckle-heads. And then there are the religious bigots and fools who tend to populate that region of the country. They just can't bring themselves to vote for a Mormon. As if things could not possibly get any worse for the guy, there is the Ghost of Seamus the Irish Setter to contend with. He has risen from the dead and he is chasing the Mittster across the American night. He is hounding his former master. Dogging him. Puns intended.

Seamus' Revenge

I never thought anyone would replace Molly Ivins when she died five years ago - and nobody has. But Gail Collins of the New York Times comes just a tad too close for comfort. She has been having more fun with this story than the law should allow. A column hasn't gone by since this primary season began where she hasn't managed to insert it somewhere into the piece regardless of its relevance to the topic in question . It really has been scads of fun to watch! Just in case this story has somehow managed to elude your attention, here are the Cliff Notes:

In the Sprin
g of 1992, Picture-perfect Mitt packed his picture-perfect Mrs. and their picture-perfect kids into the family station wagon and took off for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Toronto. Good ol' Mitt! He just couldn't bear to leave his dog Seamus behind languishing in a kennel. Isn't that sweet? Well, not exactly. He stuffed the poor creature into a dog carrier and strapped the crate onto the roof of the vehicle. En route, Seamus protested this harsh treatment by making a bit of a mess - which apparently started to leak down onto the windows of the car. This is the most apropos example of the "trickle down" theory I've ever heard of. Halfway toward their destination, Mitt pulled into a rest stop and calmly hosed-down the station wagon, Seamus and the crate. They then went on their merry way, Seamus and crate refastened to the roof. Once they arrived at their destination, Seamus ran away and became a temporary refugee of sorts . Legend has it that he sought asylum from the Canadians.

In 2007, one of Romney's sons cheerfully related this jaw-dropping story to the Boston Globe in an attempt to illustrate what a cool, take-charge kinda guy dear old dad is. Apparently sociopaths loom large in that family.

Mitt should be cut at least a little bit of slack here. We should not read too much into the fact that the dog ran away upon arriving in Toronto. Some Irish Setters are prone to that sort of behavior, but they always return home. Well almost always....

When I was a little
kid we had a Setter named Rex. He was an excitable pooch who (for his own well being) needed to be kept chained up when he was outside due to the unfortunate fact that whenever he got loose, he would run-a-terror all over the damned town. My cousin Mike Cullen (photo left) remembers that "REX IS LOOOOOOSE!!!" was the regularly scheduled shriek that could be heard emanating from our neighborhood on any given mid-nineteen-sixties afternoon. It was always next-to-impossible to catch the little bugger and bring him home. What usually happened was that, come dinner time, old Rex would be reminded of the hands that fed him and he would happily prance back to the door of our house, where a tasty plate of Purina Dog Chow was waiting for and thankfully received by him.

Then one fateful day in the autumn of 1966 - right around the time I entered the third grade if memory serves - Rex got loose again. Like a rabid bat on an LSD binge, he tore off for the abandoned harness racing track that once stood behind our home. We never saw or heard from him again - not even a postcard.
To this day, his fate remains a mystery. His disappearance soon gained him a sort of legendary stature; the Ambrose Bierce of hound dogs. As was the habit of so many restless souls in that bygone era, he quite possibly made his way to Haight Ashbury and got strung out on the hard stuff. We'll never know know.

In the long scheme of things, how a
man treats a dog is not necessarily a reliable gauge as to what kind of chief-executive he will turn out to be. Teddy Roosevelt once shot and killed a neighbor's dog merely for barking at him. He had recently lost his new bride Alice - and his mother - on the same day and was not in a particularly playful mood - as the poor canine found out much to its eternal chagrin I'm sure. Still, Roosevelt turned out to be a pretty good president. One of the best in fact! It must also be remembered that at the moment Teddy committed this inexcusable act of Fidocide, he was in a horrible mental state. At least it was not his own dog that he offed. I'm not trying to be an apologist for TR here, but he had many dogs throughout his life and by all accounts was very fond of - and kind to - each and every one of them. To the best of my knowledge, no historical record survives of him ever strapping any of the little darlin's to the roof of Sagamore Hill.

Maybe we should take Mitt Romney's word for it when he tries to make us believe that he was ignorant about the laws against using a live Irish Setter as a roof ornament. Maybe he is telling us the truth when he says that on that trip to Toronto twenty years ago, as the winds were blowing into his little face with all of the force of a major hurricane, Seamus was just having the time of his life. Sadly, he is no longer around to confirm or deny Mitt's claim. He shuffled off to doggie Heaven a long time ago, living out his declining days with Mitt's sister and her family on a farm in California. Again, pun definitely intended: Maybe this story is all bark and no bite (Clever, huh?) Maybe this is one of those non-issues that is intended to distract us from the real story which is, of course, the economic plunder of the American economy that's been going on for over thirty years now. Nonetheless, it does make you wonder about him just a bit, doesn't it? Every dog has his day, ay Mitt?

Not long after Rex took off to find the great American dream, he was replaced by a big black poodle named Bijou. Bijou's demeanor was more low key than the psychotic but perfectly lovable Rex. Whether Long Beach Island, New Jersey or Stowe, Vermont - he alwa
ys joined the family when we went on vacation.

FOR THE RE
CORD:

And he always rode inside of the car. I'm just sayin'.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING (For Mitt Romney)

Know Your Irish Setter:
A Comprehensive Owner's Manual

Just a thought.

For more recent postings on this electronic sewer of left wing propaganda. please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

AFTERTHOUGHT:

A toast to my late uncle Joseph A. Gargiulo (March 12, 1912-October 6, 1990) on the centennial of his birth. Joe was performing on Broadway with George M. Cohan in "I'd Rather Be Right" when he met my father's sister Audrey Degan. They married in 1942 and he left the Great White Way to settled down with her in Goshen, NY where for forty years he owned and operated the local hardware store. Tonight we'll raise a glass to you, Uncle Joe!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Barack Obama in 2012


After countless hours of debating whom the next president of the United States should be, we here at the editorial offices of The Rant have finally reached a consensus and are ready to endorse the candidate we believe should be chosen by the people next November as chief executive of this grand and glorious land of ours. This was not an easy task to be sure. With the abundance of substance projected by all of the candidates in this electoral year, our decision was difficult, our deliberations fierce; some of us coming close to fisticuffs I tell you! But all of that is mercifully behind us now. We are ready to join ranks and give this prestigious organization's official endorsement of support.

We believe that Barack Hussein Obama should be reelected President of these United States of America on Election Day 2012.


Okay, folks, I'm gonna level with you. This one was such a fucking no-brainer it's almost embarrassing to even be reminded of it. There was no smoke-filled-room packed with editors in passionate debate. In fact there is no "editorial office" so to speak. It's just me in this little room on the second floor of my house on Route 17M in Goshen, New York. The window looks out across the road onto a tattoo parlor, an adult bookstore and a deserted bar that in its heyday was called "Cravings". On either side of the place are two used car lots. One of the dealers has a bit of an overflow of merchandise and I allow him to park some his ware right in front of the house! Classy digs, huh? This area of town is so weird, when I moved into the neighborhood property values actually went up. But the offbeat environment in which I live did not influence my decision one way or the other. To be quite blunt, choosing Barack Obama over any of these birds on the GOP side is the equivalent of choosing the sniffles over an advanced case of terminal cancer. It was a pretty easy call, take my word for it.

If you read my stuff with any degree of regularity, you know that I've been kind of rough on the President in his first term. To be honest with you, for the last year or so I've been just mild about Barry. On that still-unbelievable Election night of 2008, I was praying for the reincarnation of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I didn't get it. What I got instead was a decent enough guy but one who is far-too-moderate for my tastes. As the magnetic bumper sticker on my van used to say (somebody absconded with it):

"TURN LEFT AT NEXT ELECTION"

Barack Obama bore only slightly to the left. That was hardly good
enough for me. If you'll remember, his campaign slogan four years ago was "Change We Can Believe In". I wanted (and still want) radical change. That is the only way this country - and the rest of the planet - is going to dig itself out of the economic quagmire we currently find ourselves in. But my utter exasperation with this president is tempered by these two important factors:

First: I think he's basically a good guy. I believe he wants to do the right thing. I like Barack Obama. I like his wife. I like his kids. I sleep fairly soundly these nights - a hell-of-a-lot better than I did between the years 2001 and 2009 if you know what I mean. It's a nice thing to send yourself off to dreamland secure in the knowledge that the person in the executive mansion has got an IQ that exceeds room temperature.

Secondly: I know that he is more of a progressive at heart then he lets on to be. His personal history more-than suggests as much. I think that if the Dems are able to retain the Senate and take back the House, all of that change stuff that we so believed in and have been waiting for might make itself known in the years 2013 to 2017. I am forced to tip my hat to the man. It has to be conceded that given the obstruction (not to mention sabotage) that the fools on the extreme right side of the aisle have thrown in his path, it's a wonder that he's been able to accomplish anything at all. With a Democratically controlled congress, Barack Obama sill has a chance to be remembered by history as a great president. His first term has not been a resounding success - no argument there - but he has more-than-a-few achievements under his belt for which he can feel justly proud.
`
Am I being naive? Maybe I am. But I can dream, can't I? Hope is all I have. Talk about audacity.
`

Of course, if the Republicans still control any of the two houses of congress after January 20 of next year, all bets are off. But I don't think that's going to happen. The American people have had a good look this primary season at what has become of the Republican party and most of them are aghast at what they're beholding. Another chime of doom was tolled this week when Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the last voices of reason and moderation from within that disgusting party, announced that she would not seek reelection in November. The atmosphere in Washington has become too toxic for her to breathe. She gave it her best shot. Best of luck to the woman.
Maybe in a second term, when he no longer has a future campaign to worry about, Barack Obama will finally emerge as the progressive hero we know he has the potential to be. Maybe he'll continue to govern as a Casper Milquetoast moderate. Whatever the outcome, this much is absolutely certain: He'll be a damned sight better president than anyone the Republicans have to offer. This ain't rocket science, kids. This is a foregone conclusion.

And finally, a word o
f warning to the Democratic base:

During the mid-term elections of 2010, a lot of you stayed home in a snit because President Obama didn't bring you the progressive Utopia of your (and my) fantasies. That's not an option this year. What was the result of your mass hissy fit last time around? The worst congress since before the Civil War. I hate to sound like I'm being a bit defeatist but here is the hard-core, blunt reality: As unpalatable as the Democrats have become in modern times, another GOP appointment to the Supreme Court would be a disaster for this country. The next president will appoint two - possibly even three new members to that body. Take a good look at the damage that the obscene Citizens United ruling has done to our democracy (We're still living in a democracy, aren't we? Sometimes it's hard to tell). Just think what three more Republican appointees would mean, Eight certified right wing neanderthals sitting in judgement over our Constitution will mark the end of freedom in America. Should that occur, this country won't be worth the paper the maps of it are printed on. Do you think I'm overreacting? Perhaps I am. Tell you what - Let's all vote Republican on Election Day and see what happens.

I've decided that I'm voting for Barack Obama on November 6, 2012. It's one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. And besides, I'm just head-over-heels about that Michelle. I wouldn't mind having that gal around for another four years.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

On Saturday morning I was interviewed on the Brass Knuckles Progressive Radio Network out of Chicago. If you've nothing better to do, here's a link to where you can listen to it online:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/shenderson19/2012/03/03/brass-knuckle-progressive-radio#.T1H5f6kjsSM.facebook

I come on at fifteen minutes and forty seconds into the program. I was on for about twenty minutes and had a grand time!
 
SUGGESTED READING:
The Audacity of Hope
by Bara
ck Obama

I have only read highlights of this excellent book (I'll get around to reading the whole thing eventually, I promise) but I have read enough to know that it gives us a glimpse into the guy's soul. His is a good soul, too.
For more recent postings on this disgusting den of commie propaganda, please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

THERE OUGHTTA BE A LAW AGAINST THIS KINDA STUFF!!!
 
Keep voting Republican. There will be