Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rude Dispatches from the Class War

"I think it's both good ethics and good economics to scrap this notion that we can fight a war on terror and give rich folks like me a tax cut. It amounts to class warfare."

-Bill Clinton

It was never supposed to be this way - I think. Is it fair to say that the Founders never envisioned such an extreme disparity among the classes? Some of those guys owned slaves so who's to say. This much is beyond dispute: thirty years ago no one would have dreamed that a second Gilded Age would reemerge, wrecking havoc throughout America's economic landscape. This is merely the grim prelude. As Al Jolson used to say back in the day, "Folks, you ain't seen nothin' yet!"

On Tuesday
Mitt Romney became the all-but-certain Republican nominee for 2012. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have seen the writing on the wall. Only Ron Paul remains, refusing to go gently into that good night of political oblivion. You may not agree with most of what the man says (I don't) but you've got to admire his tenacity and his consistency. Of all the participants in this year's Clown Car Race-to-the-bottom, he is the only one of them with a core - rotten as it may be at times.

The 2012 election is going to be one for the ages. Until the jaw-droppingly stupid Citizens United v FEC ruling is overturned (Don't hold your breath if Romney wins)
progressives in this doomed country will be fighting this and all future campaigns with one hand (or both) tied behind their backs. The right wing's campaign treasure is now almost unlimited. Their donors virtually anonymous. Expect the dirtiest political campaign in memory - possibly in history. It could very well end up dwarfing the John Adams/Thomas Jefferson contest of 1800 in terms of mud slinging. Expect Barack Obama's race to be the not-so-subtle issue of the campaign of 2012.

Which brings me to the president. Obama is not my Progressive Dream. Far from it. I'll be blunt: for the last couple of years I've been just mild about Barry. The fact that this Casper Milquetoast moderate is seen by so many of his fellow countrymen and woman as a left-wing-extremist is yet another example of how dumbed-down the American people have become in the last three decades. The only radical, left-leaning administration in the history of this country held the White House longer than any other - a little over twelve years - and it saved this country from the greed and excess of the one percent. But don't expect the citizens of these United States to understand this. Most of them don't know the history of the country they profess to love so much. That is why they are doomed to repeat that history. In fact they're hell-bent on repeating it. Pathetic.

Here is the last thing the so-called "base" of the Democratic party needs to do. Folks, you stayed home in a nasty snit on Election Day in 2010 because Barack Obama did not bring you the liberal paradise that you (and I) dreamed about. And what did that get you? Possibly the worst body of representatives since before the Civil War. Staying home is definitely not an option this time. In the next five years there will be two, maybe even three appointments made to the Supreme Court. If Mitt Romney is elected in November, in less than a decade this place will be a Fascist state. Does that sound like an extreme statement on my part?

"Fascism should more properly be called 'Corporatism' because it is the total merging of corporate and state power."

-Benito Mussolini

Sure. I'm just being paranoid. Pay it no mind.

It's not too late for Barack Obama to go down in history as a great president, but that's only going to happen if....

1.) he is reelected in November, and....

2.) enough civic-minded progressives are elected to the House and Senate.

Otherwise you can expect (at best) four more years stagnation and gridlock or (at worst) the end of democracy. We all have got to start working overtime to ensure that the GOP is defeated across the board next November. This ain't gonna be easy, campers. As stated before, we've already got one hand tied behind our backs. In addition to the Citizens United fiasco courtesy of the Supreme Court. there are the hideous "Voter ID" laws that are being passed in Republican-controlled states across the land. These laws are specifically engineered to see to it that the traditional Democratic constituency (blacks, the elderly. college students) are unable to participate in the electoral process. To quote the Church Lady, "Isn't that special!"

I know what you're thinking and I agree. The Democratic party is - on their best days - befuddled and incompetent. Perhaps its face might be altered just a bit with a new batch of freshmen legislators. Maybe, maybe not. But the cruel fact of the matter is, at the moment anyway, the Democrats are running the only game in town that is not completely rigged.

Republican governors all across this diseased land have been trying to undo the job growth of the last twenty-five months for no other purpose than to make the president look bad for the November Election. Their response to the recent rise in employment? They've been cutting public sector jobs everywhere - particularly the jobs of the people who educate our children - teachers. This is a party hijacked by sociopaths. As I write these words they are working to turn over the public sector - education, the prison system, the post office (among many others) - to privately owned corporations. They don't care about the middle class. They never have. And those whose lives are haunted by extreme poverty? Fuck the poor.
They're not even part of the dialogue anymore.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

-Jesus of Nazareth

These are indeed dark times in which to live. But there is a bright side! These people are just oodles of fun to write about! Whatever the outcome on Election Day 2012, I'll be doing fine, thank you very much.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAFQIciWsF4&feature=player_embedded

Barack Obama on the Jimmy Fallon program a few nights ago "slow jammin'" the news. Very funny - with a serious message embedded within. ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ted Nugent: Rock's Village Idiot

Still looking for reasons to reelect Barack Obama next November? Here's a dandy one:

"I'll tell you this right now: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."


- Ted Nugent

But seriously, folks....

I don't go to rock concerts very much anymore. To be honest with you, as I get a bit older I've become less "crowd friendly" than I once was. But back in the day I was quite the concert-goer indeed. One night a group of friends literally had to drag me down to New York City to attend a concert that was being performed by a newcomer named Ted Nugent. As I recall, the event took place at Madison Square Garden. It was 1977 and I was eighteen. At the time, Nugent's new album, "Cat Scratch Fever" was all the rage among teenaged guys. I was in the minority. I had heard the LP enough times on my friend Paul Scesa's 8-Track machine to render a verdict on the man's worth as a singer, musician and composer. I was not very impressed with what I heard to put it mildly. In the parlance of the day, I thought the guy sucked. I still do.

Less than half way
through Nugent's performance that night, I told my gang that I would meet them back at the car when the show was over. I spent the rest of the evening at a bar on West 32nd Street, gulping down gin-and-tonics, my beverage-of-choice at the time. The drinking age was eighteen back then. It was the only time in my life I ever walked out of a rock concert. Honestly, the guy was that bad.

You might call Ted Nugent "the one-hit wonder that just won't go away". Countless times in the past, just when I think old Teddy boy has been hurled back into permanent obscurity where he rightfully belongs, he somehow manages to resurrect himself - always by saying something incredibly stupid
. True to form, he's done it again:

"If the coyote's in your living room, pissing on your couch, it's not the coyote's fault. It's your fault for not shooting him."
`
The "coyote" in this case is President Barack Obama.

Our govern
ment has wasted too many taxpayer dollars down through the years "investigating" people in show business. John Lennon and Charlie Chaplin have enough paper in their respective FBI files to fill your average Encyclopedia Britannica. Incredibly these two men were seen somehow as a "threat" to the peace and security of the free world. Can you believe that? But I've gotta tell you that I was happy to learn that the Secret Service is launching an inquiry into Nugent and the statements he made. What makes matters worse is the fact that he spoke these words at a gathering of the NRA!

This is serious stuff, kids.
It has nothing to do with "freedom of speech". Inciting any of the dim-witted masses to assassinate the president of the United States is beyond foolhardy and reactionary. It's criminal. I'm sure in his mind he was only making an innocent "analogy". But I think it's fair to conclude that he's not smart enough to realize that most of the people he was addressing aren't smart enough to know the difference between metaphor and reality. I'll be blunt. Some of those NRA types aren't exactly Rhodes Scholars if you know what I mean.

If you've read this blog with even
a molecule of regularity during the last six years, you know that I was not (to put it as mildly as is possible) a huge fan of George W. Bush. But I never - publicly or privately - wished the despicable little thug any physical harm. In fact I used to pray out loud that he'd be kept safe from an assassin's bullet. Shit! The last thing we need is the body of a right wing martyr for the extremists to rally around. Can you just imagine how the Tea party imbeciles would react to something that weird??? If you think they're nuts now....

Some more jolly thoughts from the wit and wisdom of Ted Nugent:

"If you can't go home and get
everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of....We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November."
`
Is this guy available for children's parties?

If I'm writing
about a person who has made the news, I usually spend about three to four hours researching them beforehand. I really can't be bothered with Ted. I know everything about him I need to know and I want to know nothing more. Quite obviously the man is a no-talented fool and a has-been. He hasn't charted anything in decades. The only way he can give his royalties a little boost every now and then is by coming out in public with a full-tilt freakout against commies, hippies, pinkos and lefties. It really is kinda sad when you think about it.

Cat Scratch Fever
is the only recording of his that most people remember. Ask me to name another tune or album he did in the thirty-five years since and I won't be able to tell you. And bear in mind that for many years rock 'n' roll was a passion of mine. For decades I followed the music industry very closely. I was even a radio disk jockey for a time. I know a thing or two about music, folks, and where Ted Nugent is concerned I'm am as indifferent as it's possible to be. He's not even half-a-blip on my radar.

It is the height of irresponsibility to be making firearm analogies against any president - particularly one who has had more threats made against his life than any American politician since Abraham Lincoln. I hate to bring up this sensitive point here, but we all know how Old Abe's biography ended. It's a lesson in futility to assume that Ted "should have known better". It's obvious enough that the poor, silly bastard doesn't have the sense to come in out of the rain. What is troubling are the number of Americans who take Ted Nugent - and people like him - seriously as national spokespersons. That's the most disturbing thing.

Until the day that the mass-enlightenment occurs (don't hold your breath) I'm afraid we're stuck with jackasses like Ted who love nothing more than to steal the national limelight by inciting hate and hysteria. That's what they do best and I have to admit they do it quite well. Someday they will grow old and die, only to be replaced by another generation of hate mongers. They seem to perpetuate themselves. They may enjoy success and treasure during their time on this earth, but posterity is never kind to them. They always end up on history's trash heap.

I really worry about the safety of President Obama. The recent prostitution scandal involving the Secret Service in
Columbia has got me thinking that some of these guys might not be on their toes as much as they should be (Are there any women in the Secret Service?) I'm old enough to remember November 22, 1963. I don't believe America ever totally recovered from the trauma of that day. It must not happen again. A repeat of history will completely crack this nation in two. This is a touchy subject so I'll just say this: If anything ever happens to our president, more-than-a-few people will be forced to stand up and account for their words. Ted Nugent is one of those people.

That is what is known as "speaking the unspeakable".

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade (1939):

`
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcI9yoB_11k

I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight
I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the moonlight
The roses are sighing a moonlight serenade....

-Mitchell Parish

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Totally off-topic. I agree. It's just that I didn't want to leave you on such a down note. With all the improvements in recording technology in the seventy-three years since little gem was consigned to wax, it just doesn't get any better than this.

The next full moon will be on May the sixth. On that night, at the point where the moon is highest in the sky, turn off the lights, take your beloved by the hand, and dance under that asteroid's gentle glow to Mr. Miller's masterpiece of nocturnal romance.

You didn't know I was such a hopeless romantic, did you.

For more recent postings on this site, please go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Enjoy!....and get pissed!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12, 1945-April 12, 2012




AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Sixty-seven years ago today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia. The reason the United States is in the mess it is in (in my humble opinion anyway) is because the people of this diseased country have forgotten the economic lessons the New Deal taught us. This piece is an edited compilation of four different articles I wrote between the years 2007 and 2012 about FDR and his legacy to the American people. I know, I'm cheating. So sue me!

"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it, the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it, these forces met their master."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the 1936 campaign


It was said of him at the time of his death on April 12, 1945, "Although he never regained the use of his legs - much as he wanted to; much as he tried - he taught a crippled nation how to walk again."

He was the pampered son of privilege from
Hyde Park, NY whose battle with polio, begun in the summer of 1921, ingrained into his soul a deep and abiding empathy for the suffering of others that had previously been somewhat lacking in him. Through the development of a series of radical, revolutionary programs - unparalleled in history - which his administration brought into the main stream of American social engineering, he was able to usher millions of regular people into the ranks of a middle class that had not even existed before he took the oath of office on March 4, 1933. It is now almost a cliche but it is as true as the rising sun: He saved capitalism by "tempering its excesses." The people would elect him to an unprecedented four terms, something that will never happen again. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was - beyond any doubt - the greatest president in American history.

`

His smiling, jolly disposition which was always on display for the press and the news reel photographers, belied the hidden reality of a deeply complex man - many layered, indefinable, even tormented. His closest confidantes would testify years after his passing that they always had the feeling they never really knew him. Emotionally, he would keep even his loved ones at bay - so difficult was it for him to reach out on an intimate level to another human being. Throughout his life he would project to the world and to those around him, a cheerful - albeit guarded - amiability.

That he could be deviou
s at times, there is no doubt. He enjoyed setting members of his own cabinet against one another in order to to play for time in pursuit of the desired solution to whatever pending political problem that might have been manifesting itself at any given moment. But his all-too-obvious human frailties should not distract us from the larger picture: We are a better nation because of Franklin Roosevelt - and far too many Americans are abysmally ignorant of this fact.





Every once in a while, I visit the Roosevelt mansion and museum in Hyde Park, less than forty miles from where I now sit. It is the birth place and the final resting place of the man who saved America from the corruption and greed of its elitist class, and more than likely prevented a Communist revolution. What is largely forgotten is the fact the the American Communist Party, in response to the economic horror that riddled the American landscape during the administration of Herbert Clark Hoover, was gaining serious ground by 1933. It was only after Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to prove to his fellow countrymen and women that the American way of government could work for the benefit of all the people, that it withered and died. I always walk away from the Roosevelt Library feeling better about America. The place is a gentle reminder that, what once worked so beautifully for "WE THE PEOPLE", can indeed be made to work again.

On entering the grounds of the FDR Library, a person with a decent sense of historical perspective is overcome by the aura of Roosevelt - or, as I like to call it "the Frankie vibe". A new exhibit which was added in 2008 is called "The First Hundred Days". It is a grim reminder of what life was like for too many people in this country eighty-years-ago. It might also be a disturbing precursor to what may yet come to pass. We shall see.

It is not by accident
that FDR has been the most talked about former president in recent years. The similarities (and there are a number of them) between the economic calamities of 1932 and today are close enough that one should be forgiven for breaking out in a cold sweat. The situation is not - at this writing anyway - at the point of no return - or at least I don't think it is. But while walking through the corridors of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, it is next-to-impossible to avoid asking the musical question: Why? Why did the American people essentially reject the tried and true philosophy of the New Deal three decades ago and replace it with the "trickle down" insanity of the Reagan/Bush era? After thirty years of consistently voting against their economic interests, the middle class has awaken to find themselves teetering on the edge of the precipice. Did you have a nice little nappy time, kiddies?


For my money, the most interesting part of the museum is the Eleanor Roosevelt Wing. God blessed America by uniting this extraordinary man with so extraordinary a woman. We now know that theirs was a difficult, troubled union. Eleanor's discovery in 1918 of Franklin's love affair with her secretary, Lucy Paige Mercer, forever ended the intimacies of their marriage. But the political partnership between these two remarkable human beings - which slowly evolved in the years after he was stricken with infantile paralysis in 1921 - would change the way the American people viewed their relationship with government.(HISTORICAL NOTE: Lucy Mercer was a distant cousin of mine. We are both direct descendants of the Carroll family of Maryland, America's first Catholic dynasty; one of whom, Charles Carroll, signed his name to the Declaration of Independence. Once while talking the tour of the mansion I told our guide, Ranger John Fox, "I come from a long line of home wreckers").

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were guided by the peculiar notion that our government is the servant of the people. According to them the purpose of representation in Washington involved a whole lot more than making war and passing bad laws. For their effort and collective vision, the sociological face of America would be permanently altered - or at least until 1981.
`
Almost everyone is under the impression that the modern civil rights movement began on that December afternoon in 1955 when an exhausted Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man. They're off by almost seventeen years. December 1, 1955 merely marked the day the child went out into the world for the very first time. April 9, 1939 was the moment she breathed her first breath.
`
The Civil Rights Movement in America was born on that day. As fate or luck would have it, this historic day would coincide with Easter Sunday in that year. That was the day that Mrs. Roosevelt made the arrangements for African American contralto Marian Anderson (photo left) to perform a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin. Eleanor Roosevelt, a life-long member of the DAR, resigned in disgust at that moment.

On that sacred Easter Sunday, under the statue of the great emancipator, as Marian Anderson sang Schubert's Ave Maria before an integrated audience of seventy-five thousand people - and millions more across the land via the new medium of radio - who among the multitudes gathered would have dared to dream that they were bearing witness to the beginning of a long chain of events that would lead to the inauguration of the first African American president seventy years later?

Hooray for Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt!
 
 `
"There is nothing I love as much as a good fight."

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt


There are a lot of good reasons why Franklin D. Roosevelt is usually rated by historians as one of the three greatest presidents in the history of this country. One of those reasons is because the guy loved a good fight - and never shied away from one. He never tried to appear "above it all". He loved to say, "We must take action. NOW!" And he took action, Buster - you'd better believe it. That is why most of the people who write history hold him in such high regard today. FDR was a fighter. Are you listening, President Obama?


Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were as good as it has ever gotten in American politics. When he died someone remarked that a century into the future, people would get down on their knees and thank God for Franklin D. Roosevelt. I can't speak for the people of 2045, but sixty-seven years after his passing - two thirds of a century - this person is very grateful indeed. And take into consideration that I didn't even live through that era. When I was born he had been dead for thirteen years.
 
And he has been
gone for a very long time, hasn't he. My mother will be eighty-one on August fifth. On the day Franklin Roosevelt died she was not yet in high school. Maybe that is related to the reason why the legacy of the New Deal is on life support these days. There aren't many people alive today who remember what life was like in the United States before FDR - and those who do remember were mere toddlers when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. In 1932 the voting age was twenty-one. The youngest person to cast his or her vote for Roosevelt that year would be one-hundred-and-one years old today. Think about that.

It has been said that those who ref
use to remember their history are doomed to repeat it. It's so true. Just look out your window onto America's economic landscape. It was never supposed to get like this again. Why did it? What happened?

The people of thi
s country forgot about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That's what happened. Show most Americans a photograph of his smiling face and they will not even be able to identify him. That's gratitude for you! And if the spin doctors for the plutocracy have their way, his name (and good works) will be eradicated from America's consciousness forever.
`
They've already started with their onslaught of lies and disinformation. Since there are few left who remember and loved the living, breathing FDR, and who can attest to what he meant to the working people of the United States, now is the perfect time for the far right to commence with the assassination of his character - to demean everything he ever stood for - in other words: progressive policies. It is now a common right wing tactical talking point to preface the term "New Deal" by using words such as "the failure of" or "the disastrous". It's starting to work, too. There are people out there who see President Roosevelt, not as being the architect of a new American social structure, but rather as a contemporary of John Dillinger.


Thirty-one years ago, FDR's legacy, the New Deal, came under assault by the reactionary political ideology of the so-called Reagan Revolution. As a result, today the middle class that he literally brought into being is in danger of total extinction. The privatization of America, begun during the administrations of Reagan and Bush I, passively enabled during the Clinton years - and accelerated under under Bush II - has decimated the quality of life in a country that used to be a nice place in which to live.

From the early 1940s until well into the 1970s, working men and women in the United States thrived because of the programs put into place by President Roosevelt and the brilliant men - and one woman, Francis Perkins - who comprised his cabinet (the "Brain Trust" as they were known in the press). Home ownership was at a historical high and the chances for the children of people of modest means to receive a college education were better than they had ever been before and, sadly, might ever be again. During this period, the rich - the plutocracy - had to contribute their equitable share to the nation's tax burden. Corporate America was also obligated to pay into the system as the price of doing business in a country with such an abundance of wealth and prosperity. The result of this was a social and economic infrastructure that was the strongest, most envied in the world. All of that has changed - possibly forever? Time will speak untold volumes. 

"Franklin D. Roosevelt is dead. His policies survive but we're doing something about that."

-Rush Limbaugh, Autumn 2007

Pay no mind to the right wing scream machine. We're a better nation today because in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt sought and won the office of the presidency. As I stated earlier, very few people are alive today who have a conscious memory of what life was like in America for ordinary people before the New Deal ushered in a great new society for this country. Because of FDR, people began to see their government as a partner. It's been one of my missions to make sure that my generation understands this. They've pretty much forgotten that it was Roosevelt's liberal policies that saved America. Today many see the government as their enemy - and in some cases that's the truth. It doesn't have to be that way. We should strive for the perfection of government - not its abolition.

Walking away from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, one is reminded that what once worked so well for the American people can indeed be made to work again. That is not meant to imply that we are the same country we were eighty-years ago - we're not. But the basic premise of President Roosevelt's legacy - that government can be a tool to provide for the comfort and happiness of all people - is an idea that is far from dead. Like the man said:

"So first of all, let me express my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...."
Aw, hell. You know the rest of it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

No Ordinary Time
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin

The best book ever written about the White House during the twelve crucial years that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt lived there. TEN STARS!

AFTERTHOUGHT:

The photograph at the bottom of this piece of the author of this hideous commie screed was taken on February 11, 2012 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. The photographer was Lori Buttafuoco DeGeorge.

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

The Second Bill of Rights, as articulated by Franklin Roosevelt on January 11, 1944. Sadly, he passed away a year later. His dream for the eternal economic security of the American people would never be fulfilled:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwUL9tJmypI

He spoke to us then, He speaks to us still. It doesn't get any better than the Frankster. Seriously.

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here is a link to view Marian Anderson's historic performance at the Lincoln Memorial seventy-three years ago this week. From a Hearst Movietone Newsreel:
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF9Quk0QhSE

This moment was the beginning of the end for Jim Crow in America, A special "THANK YOU" to Mary Jaco for posting this on my Facebook page!


For more recent postings on this site please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Franklin D. Roosevelt would have approved.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's All Over Now, Rickie Blue

It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make
your mind up - the piper must be paid
The party's over
It's all over, my friend

`
-Betty Comden and Adolph Green

There's no d
enying it. This is still a white man's world. What evidence do I have to make this claim? Lots! Here are just two examples for your consideration on this fine Easter morning:

1. George Zimmerman has yet to be charged for the murder of a seventeen-year-old black kid named Trayvon Martin one month and eleven days ago.

2. Uber-knucklehead Rick Santorumn has managed to make it as far as he has in American politics.


Let us face some serious facts here, campers: if Mr. Rick had been born with dark skin he'd today be organizing birthday parties for preschoolers at a Chuck E. Cheese somewhere in central Pennsylvania - Spring Grove perhaps - a nondescript little town where I attended prep school nearly forty years ago. The very fact that we're even talking about this guy tells me more than I really want to know about the pathetic state of American politics and politicians these days. Rick is merely a symptom of a disease that is consuming America's soul. That's not to suggest that the 2012 Clown-Car-Race-to-the-Bottom hasn't been an amusing thing to watch. Perish the thought please.
`
But I suppose it's a waste of time on my part to be devoting as much as a single paragraph to Rick Santorum today. As the song says, "It's time to wind up the masquerade". Rick needs to understand that there is no way in hell he's ever going to be elected president of the United States. Not in this lifetime or the next. This is a fact that by now should be apparent to just about everybody - everybody except Rick Santorum that is. What the man needs desperately is an intervention of some kind. Some close and caring friends should sit him down and gently explain a few stark realities to the clueless twit. When your daily comments become too moronic - for the extreme right wing even - it's time to quietly pack up the tents and go home.

I'm not implying that I am elated by the utter and complete meltdown of the Santorum campaign. Not at all. I soooo wanted him to get the GOP nomination at their convention this summer I could almost taste it. What a laugh riot it would have been watching him stumbling around the country in debate with the prez! Barack Obama wouldn't have had to campaign at all. He could have just spent the entire autumn much as William McKinley did in 1896, sitting on his front porch, reading the newspapers, sipping coffee, and issuing hourly "statements" to the press.
`
Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee, the president is going to have a bit more of a fight to contend with - but not much of one. The "party of Abraham Lincoln" has sunk so far down into the ideological cesspool, I believe they have become virtually unelectable nationally. The women of America will see to that. They're fed up with the Republicans' weird obsession with their bodies and they're jumping ship by the thousands each day. Can you blame them?
`
This is an election the Dems will be able to win with one hand tied behind their backs. To make matters worse for the GOP, the "base" won't be coming out on Election Day to the extent of making much of a difference unless Mitt chooses a half-witted extremist (ala Sarah Palin) as his running mate. That choice will scare the heck out of the rest of the country, The grand old party is over.

Watching our hero, Rick, bravely trying to reach the summit of Mount Stupid has indeed been a delightful thing to behold. The final nail-in-the-coffin for the Santorum for President campaign, I'm sure, was when he made contraception the issue of the week. This struck me as a tad peculiar. "Hmm" I said out loud to myself, "I can't even remember the the last time birth control was a political issue in this country!" And there was a jolly good reason for that, too. The last time birth control was a political issue - I was learning how to walk! For the historical record: I'll be fifty-four on August 16.

OH THEY WISH WE WERE IN DIXIE! OY VEY! OY VEY!

When Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he told his aids, Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We've lost the south for a generation." He was correct. But while the Democrats might have "lost the south for a generation" - and then some - I think it's fair to say that the Republicans have lost the African American vote forever.

Early in the week, in a nasty little Freudian slip that didn't get one-tenth of the press coverage it deserved, my man Rick referred to the president as a "government nigg...." He stopped himself cold. Was this merely an innocent slip-of-the-tongue as some have implied? Or is this an example of the way Santorum talks in private? I don't know the answer to either of these questions, but I'm willing (just barely willing mind you) to give poor old Rick the benefit of the doubt.

What I do know is this: The Republican party is anathema to the hopes and aspirations of our brothers and sisters of color. Just look at what they're doing in Republican-controlled states all across the land! They're passing those perfectly hideous "Voter ID laws" that are purposefully designed to deny city-dwelling blacks, along with young people and the elderly (all of whom tend to vote for the Democratic party) the right to cast their precious ballots. They want us to believe that they are trying to purge from our electoral system the "epidemic of voter fraud". How noble of them. Here's the problem: There is no epidemic of voter fraud! There never has been been an epidemic of voter fraud! Never in our history!

The only "fraud" that has been been perpetrated is not "voter fraud", but election fraud - and it is not being committed by the American people - it's being committed by GOP politicians and right wing judges (Remember Florida in 2000?) What they are attempting here is nothing short of a coup d'etat. Please make my job easier, folks. Keep voting Republican - I'm beggin' ya!
Yeah, this is still a white man's world alright. The GOP is making sure of that. And some people wonder why I loathe that disgusting party. Go figure.

I was very tempted to write about Newt Gingrich this morning but why bother. By this stage in the game, to pick on someone as pathetic as the Newtster would be the equivalent of throwing a bucket of ice-cold water on a blind, mentally challenged paraplegic. It's just not an acceptable thing to do under any circumstances - very bad taste any way you slice it or dice it. And besides, it's Easter.
`
So let's all drink a toast tonight to the campaign of Rick Santorum. At least he gave it the old college try....or the elementary school try....Nursery School try???....BUT AT LEAST HE TRIED, DAMMIT! That's the main thing! He even managed to win a few primaries. I won't mention the names of the states he was able to take. I'll just say that he won in all of the places you would expect an intellectually-challenged person to do really well in - not unlike the one state that Gingrich was able to win. I won't mention that state by name either. It would be a cruel thing to publicly shame so many regions of the country. Like I said, it's Easter.
`
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

No one can say it better than Canadian Leonard Cohen. Democracy is coming to the United States. Get the hell out of the way.

AFTERTHOUGHT:
`
"It makes no sense to make this attack on women. If you don't feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and daughters." 
`
-Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
`
Hats off to the one elected representative of that miserable party with the sense - and the courage - to tell it like it is.

BREAKING NEWS (4/9/12):

Mike Wallace has died at the age of ninety-three.

BREAKING NEWS (4/11/12):

Rick Santorum has just announced that he is ending his campaign for the presidency. Smart move. It might have something to do with the fact that his daughter is seriously ill. Politics aside. Let's all say a prayer for the little girl and wish her well.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The 21st Century's Emmett Till


Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till never met each other. They never will either - or at least not in this world. When Trayvon on was born on February 5, 1995, Emmett (photo left) had been dead for almost forty years. He would have turned seventy-one this July 25th. He was a native of Chicago, Illinois who was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta region in the summer of 1955. Early one afternoon he had an exchange of words with a twenty-one year old white woman named Carolyn Bryant. To this day it is not certain what was said between them. What is certain is that several nights later on August 28, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, dragged Emmett from his cousin's home and took him to a deserted barn. There they beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, and shot him in the head. Once finished with him, they dumped him - like so much trash - into the Tallahatchie River.

He was fourteen-years-old.

Three days later, his bloated, unrecognizable body was retrieved from the river. When his remains were returned to Chicago for burial, and in spite of the horrible mutilation of his facial features, his mother insisted on an open coffin funeral. She wanted the world to see what hate had done to her child.

No one ever went to prison for the murder of Emmett Till.

Well now! We've certainly progressed since then - I guess. But the recent murder of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin has got me thinking about things I'd rather put out of my mind. Unfortunately I haven't that luxury. We all need to come face-to-face with some ugly realities about America.

Have we really progressed all that much since 1955? I'm almost certain that Trayvon Martin's mother and father would beg to differ. He was shot and killed for no good reason on the night of February 26. The boy (and remember, he was merely a boy) was a native of Miami. Lik
e Emmit Till, he was visiting family in a town where he was unaccustomed to the local...."etiquette of behavior" shall we say? In Trayvon's case the family he was visiting was his father. This time the town was Sanford, Florida which (according to the nice folks over at Mapquest) is exactly two-hundred-and-fifty miles due north of Miami.

In 1955 Emmett Till learned - the hard way - that while engaging a white woman in conversation might have been perfectly acceptable for a black kid in Chicago, it was considered (to put it as mildly as possible) "bad form" in Mississippi.

In 2012 Trayvon Martin learned - the hard way - that while wearing a "hoodie" was no big deal for a black kid in Miami, it could cost him his life in Sanford.

Ah, progress!

As in the case of Emmett Till, we're still not certain of the chain of events that led to the murder of Trayvon Martin. As might be expected, some eye-witnesses have started to contradict one another. Whatever the disputed accounts,
this much is beyond a shadow of a doubt: Super-cop-wannabe George Zimmerman saw the hoodie-wearing kid and perceived him to be an imminent threat to the peace and security of his neighborhood. Trayvon was guilty of WWB - Walking While Black. That was enough for George. When he told a 911 dispatcher that he was trailing the boy, he was informed in no uncertain terms that he shouldn't. And here is something else which is also beyond despute: George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

When a woman called 911 to report the altercation, on the tape someone can be heard in the background pleading for his life. Trayvon Martin's parents claim that it is the voice of their son that can be heard. George Zimmerman says that it is his voice.
Maybe he is telling the truth. Or could it be that he is unaware of the science of audio forensics? That, too, is a possibility. It will be crystal-clear whose voice it is soon enough.

The Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons of this world are trying to make this case all about race. They shouldn't. I know in my heart that if Trayvon Martin had killed George Zimmerman - under the exact same circumstances - he would be walking free on this fine Sunday morn.

I'm sorry. I just made a twenty dollar bet with myself that I could write that last paragraph and keep a straight face. I lost. TEE-HEE-HEE! Please excuse me while I recover.

STAND YOU
R GROUND, BUBBAH!

Here's something else that cannot be debated: Murder is legal in this doomed nation. I am referring to the nutty "Stand Your Ground" laws that have been enacted in twenty-three states. That's right, boys and girls! If you even "perceive" someone as being a threat to your physical well being, you can off the bastard right there on the spot! Just shoot 'im in cold blood and walk away free as a homicidal birdie! Ain't that a scream? And you wonder why some European tourism agencies give their clients a list of warnings about visiting this country? I need a fucking drink.

The Stand Your Ground laws came into existence for no other reason than the fact that the
National Rifle Association was able to bribe and threaten enough legislators in enough states to get them passed. It's almost as if these hideous bastards just can't get enough blood to spill on our streets. To make matters worse, the American people (the white ones anyway) have yet to stand up in mass outrage at what is happening. As long as the victims are disproportionately poor and (like Trayvon) black, why work oneself into a nasty snit over the carnage? Maybe what is needed to wake people up is an epidemic of middle class white kids being slaughtered. That'll change things pretty damned quick - you'd better believe it.

The NRA types love to jabber on about "freedom". Let me explain something to you: A people who live in paralyzed, mortal terror wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will occur may be many things - no argument there. "Free" they are not. Let's just stop kidding ourselves here and now, okay?

Almost on cue, the right wing scream machine went into overdrive, trying to besmirch the character of Trayvon. The kid was a no-good troublemaker they say. The proof? He was once caught with an empty bag of marijuana. Really? Would someone please explain to me what constitutes an "empty" bag of grass? In the room across the hall from where I now sit there is an "empty" bag of hand grenades. My bank account is "empty" of fourteen million dollars. Please. They need to conjure up something a little more sinister than that in order to get my attention - as if anything could justify the cold-blooded murder of a seventeen-year-old-boy.

Back in the day, Geraldo Rivera was known as a "liberal". That was before FOX Noise began signing his paychecks a decade ago. Since then, he has climbed on board their weird train of propaganda and deception. He appears to be right at home there, too! Geraldo says that Trayvon was killed because of his attire. That could very well be the case. His solution? Black parents should forbid their children to wear hoodies. Forget the fact that they do serve a useful function by protecting kids from the cold and rain. Apparently Geraldo Rivera thinks that only white kids should wear them. At this moment John Lennon must be doing somersaults in his grave for no other reason than the fact that he used to associate with this jackass. Forget the drink, I could use some heroin right about now - in an empty bag of course.

The sales of "Skittles" have recently gone through the roof according to the New York Times. That's the brand of candy that Trayvon Martin had just purchased when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. In fact, he left his father's home that night for no other purpose than to buy the stuff at the convenience store around the corner. I plan on buying a bag of Skittles today. I need to know its quality. It would weigh on my mind a bit less if a loved one of mine die
d for an Almond Joy bar (which I love) than for a box of Good 'n' Plenty (which I can't stand). I hope for Trayvon's sake that it is the most delicious candy I've ever tasted.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegn@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

Seven Storey Mountain
By Thomas Merton

"Blaming the Negro: this is not just a matter of rationalizing and verbalizing. It has become a strong emotional need of the white man. Blaming the Negro...gives the white a stronger sense of identity, or rather it protects an identity which is seriously threatened with pathological dissolution. It is by blaming the Negro that the white man tries to hold himself together...The Negro could really wreak havoc in white society by psychological warfare if he knew how to use it. Already the psychological weapon of nonviolence has proved effective as an attack on the white man's trumped-up image of himself as a righteous and Christian being."

- Thomas Merton, 1948

It just doesn't get much better than Merton. As someone once said, once you've been bitten by this guy, you're hooked. I know I am!

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Here is a link to a piece I wrote back in the Autumn that is related to this nasty topic:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2011/10/its-murder-i-tells-ya.html

Was this a great country or what?

For more recent postings on this site please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

ENJOY!