Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let Them Secede

The Petitions are rolling in from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas - all calling for secession. Good. Let them secede.

I say this to you as someone with generations of southern roots that lie underneath the soil at the foot of my family tree. I am a direct descendant of Lord Baltimore, founder of the state of Maryland. I am also descended from a southerner who signed the Declaration of Independence (Charles Carroll) and I have relatives whom I love dearly that live in the south - particularly Texas, Georgia and Louisiana. When it comes to Dixieland, my family's historical credentials are on pretty solid ground. That being said, I must confess to you that I'm sick and tired of the south. I'm sick of southern accents. I'm sick of southern values and culture. I'm sick of southern music. And, God almighty, I'm sick-to-death  of southern politicians.

I've got a really grand idea. LET 'EM SECEDE! Throughout our history, presidents of every political persuasion have been forced to twist themselves into knots, bend over backwards, walk on cracked eggshells - just to avoid offending the sensibilities of the reactionary halfwits in dear ol' Dixie. For over two long centuries it's been like dealing with an ocean of one-hundred million, mentally ill eight-year-old children. Let's just throw in the towel here and now and finally admit it: They weren't worth the trouble. Let them go and be done with them.

One-hundred and fifty years ago, their ancestors waged a war against the government of the United States. Close to three-quarters of a million people perished in that war. That's genocide. A century and a half later, most of the descendants of that confederacy of dunces are proud of this fact. In some places they still fly the rebel flag at courthouses and state capitals. Some have it flying over their homes. Why keep these fools in the union if they obviously don't appreciate what it means to be a citizen of this country?

Their insane reaction to the reelection of the first African American president in history should tell us that - not only do they not want to be here - they don't belong here. If they really are so intent on leaving, let them leave. Don't fight another civil war over the matter. They have proven that they're not worth the trouble.

Let them start the deregulated, right wing paradise of their weird and twisted fantasies. Give them their Confederate States of America. And then watch in utter glee as they sink into an unlivable, ungovernable cesspool. No other region of the nation has been more dependent on federal cash than the south. Let's see how long they last when the rest of us are no longer around to sustain them. Watch them as they implode into an inferno of political, social and economic chaos. Sweet schadenfreude. Good bye and good riddance.

But before they leave, let's build a sturdy wall of steel and concrete and razor wire. What better way to stem the tide of political and economic refugees who will surely flood our border after less than six months?

For two-hundred and thirty-six years they've been dragging the rest of America down into the dirt. For two-hundred and thirty-six years we've had to make excuses for their idiocy to the rest of the planet. For two-hundred and thirty-six years they've been a national embarrassment, an economic and sociological albatross.

Let them go. Just let them go.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

POST SCRIPT:

My apologies to friends and family south of the Mason Dixon line. I understand full well that the overwhelming majority  of southerners do not wish to secede from the union. Truth be told, I don't want them to leave either. It's just that I'm in a cranky mood this morning.  The extremists among you have put me in this condition. Blame them.

Oh, and I really do love southern accents, southern hospitality and southern food. And although he's almost sixty years in the grave, Hank Williams never ceases to astound.

Southern politicians do suck, though. Thoroughly.

SUGGESTED READING:

With Malice Toward None
by Stephen B. Oates.

The best one volume biography  of Abraham Lincoln ever written. It's still in print and well worth the read.

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg
November 20, 1863  

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Here's Hank Williams on the Mountaintop doing what Hank Williams did best:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ9QsbDGnTg

Lone Gone Lonesome Blues.

For more recent postings on this dung heap of commie propaganda, kindly go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Shameful! POSITIVELY SHAMEFUL!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Repackaging the Message

I remember this scene quite well - long ago as it was. As I recall, the year was 1978. I was watching a scene from a TV miniseries called "Holocaust", a fictional telling of the atrocities visited upon the Jews of Europe during the thirties and forties. Somewhere in there was a reenactment of the Warsaw Uprising of the summer of 1944. The Jewish citizens of this imprisoned ghetto revolted against their Nazi captors. At one point the Germans must have realized that their "message" needed a bit of reworking. At a high religious holiday they sent a truck with a loudspeaker attached to it prowling through the streets, cheerfully imploring the inhabitants to "come out so we can celebrate Passover with all of our Jewish friends". The inhabitants proceeded to blow the truck - and everyone in it - to kingdom come.

The Republicans are engaged in a bit of long overdue soul searching this week. They're asking themselves some hard, difficult questions. That's the good news. Here's the bad: For the most part, not to my surprise, they've come up with all of the wrong answers.

According to these geniuses they lost big during the campaign of 2012 - not because their ideas were beyond atrocious (Perish the thought) - but because those ideas weren't "packaged" properly. You heard me right. All they need to do during the 2014 midterms is to market their message a little differently. Yeah, right. I can just hear them now:

"Now don't you worry, folks! Next time 'round, we're gonna make our message a li'l more nigger-friendly!"

Sure, that's the same mistake the Nazis made seventy years ago. They didn't market themselves in the right way. The "final solution" to the "Jewish problem" might have been presented to the public in more of "a kinder and gentler way". Compassionate Conservatism, ya dig? They could have marketed it as a sort of "benevolent mass-euthanasia" that would have put all of those poor "Christ-killers" "to sleep", like some beloved, family pet.  

"It must be just an awful thing to live with such a horrible deed on their consciences. We're just putting the poor buggers out of their miseries!"

Not that I am comparing the Nazis of yore to the GOP of today - not at all. Whenever I see some misguided liberal making such a comparison I usually shake my head in frustration. There's not a Jew, Muslim or Hindu alive today (and only a handful of "Christians") who would prefer the Germany of 1939 over the America of 2012. (You'll notice I excluded the Buddhists from that equation. They can adapt to anything, God bless 'em!) 

But there is something to be said of the Nazi analogy. The Republicans in recent years have been evolving into something perfectly hideous. The America of 2012, with all of its imperfection and dysfunction, is still not that bad a place to live in. I can't guarantee the same about the America of 2022. If the right wing of this party continues on this nutty course, who the hell knows where they'll be at in another decade or so?

Barry Goldwater
Consider the fact that fifty years ago Arizona senator, Barry Goldwater, was the standard bearer of American conservatism. In his day he was known as "Mr. Conservative". So far to the right was he perceived by most Americans, some questioned his mental stability. When he ran against Lyndon Johnson for the presidency in 1964, his slogan was "In your Heart you know he's right". The Democrats had a snappy comeback for that one: "In your guts you know he's nuts".

Fast forward forty-eight years. This country has moved so far to the right, Senator Goldwater's brand of conservatism kinda looks more middle-of-the-road than it did way back then. In fact, at the end of his life he turned his back on the mindless extremism of the conservative movement. And to think that he didn't even live to see the Tea party! Today "liberal" Barry Goldwater would have no place in the Republican party. He couldn't get nominated to run as sewer inspector of Yuma, Arizona. In hindsight old Barry is starting to look pretty good. Really, it's gotten that weird.

There have been some sightings of sanity this week. In an interview on Fox Noise a few days ago. Bill Kristol said that if the party is to remain relevant, it's shouldn't commit ideological suicide by defending a bunch of billionaires. Grover Norquist and Karl Rove have been relegated to the fringes. And I thought I was hallucinating when I read the first paragraph of this article by Evan McMorris-Santoro that appeared yesterday on the Talking Points Memo website:

"They are few, but they are vocal: the pro-same-sex marriage, pro-choice, pro-tax Republican activists. For years, these groups have labored off the radar, trying to convince a party unwilling to listen that it needs to moderate on issues from social to fiscal. But after the Democrats’ decisive victories on Nov. 6, the Republican Underground says its finally time to go mainstream."

That knocked me out when I read it. I had no idea that these "underground Republicans" even existed. They've sure done a good job of hiding themselves all of these years. I knew about the "Log Cabin" wing of the party, but with the exception of gay rights, they march in lockstep with the GOP in every other area.

If that party is to survive, it  needs to clean house. That's not going to be as easy as it sounds. When a Democratic president signed the Voting and Civil Rights Acts into being back in the sixties, the racist Dixiecrats who had controlled the Democrats since the nineteenth century took vengeance on their party by fleeing - en masse - to the Republicans (where they were welcomed with open and loving arms). Today their ideological (and racist) heirs control the "Grand Old Party" (Why do they still call it that?). They like to tell us that race had nothing to do with their flight. "It was all about economics" they say with straight faces. Bullshit. It had everything to do with race. Stop the pretense.

It's either going to be one thing or the other: This is the beginning of a new (ENLIGHTENED?) era for "the party of Abraham Lincoln" - or it's the beginning of the end. The Republican party was formed in 1856 because the Whigs had become irrelevant to the political dialogue of the day. One wonders if history will be repeating itself. We shall see.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

Here's a link to the TPM article quoted above:

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/11/republican-underground.php?ref=fpa

There'll be a hot time in Elephant Town Tonight!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Lady of the World


“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

November 7, 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Eleanor Roosevelt. How can it be that one human being could be the focus of such extremes of opinion? Depending upon whom you talk to she was the most loved - or the most hated - woman of the twentieth century. She was seen by J.Edgar Hoover as so huge a threat to the peace and security of the free world that her FBI file was larger than Al Capone's. At one point late in her life, the Klu Klux Klan would put a price on her life. One prominent pillar of the plutocracy once dismissed her life's work, referring to her as a compulsive do-gooder, "with a housewife's desire to redecorate".  

African Americans of her generation, and beyond, loved her more than any other white person. To the right wing she was (and still is) the mock-inducing poster girl of American Liberalism.  To insufferable lefties like myself, she was (and remains) a secular saint. To the people all over the world who struggled for human rights, she was the personification of all that was - and is - admirable about America. She was the First Lady of the world.

Born on the eleventh of October 1884, it defies the limits of human fortitude that she was able to accomplish in life what she did. Unlike the stable and loving childhood of her future husband and distant cousin, Franklin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt's early years were an endless litany of sorrow and psychological turmoil. Her mother was the beautiful society maiden, Anna Hall, who in 1883 married Elliot, the younger brother of Theodore Roosevelt. Anna could never accept her only daughter's rather plain looks. Keeping her emotionally at bay, she referred to the little girl as "Granny". Her only solace was her drunken, drug-addicted father who was devoted to her.

FOR THE RECORD: I think she was beautiful.

When Anna died of diphtheria in December of 1892, Eleanor felt a strange indifference. "All that mattered to me was that I would soon be with my father" she wrote many years later. When Elliot Roosevelt died from injuries sustained in an alcohol-related accident in the summer of 1894, Eleanor and her little brother, Hall, became orphans, bequeathed to the care of their stern and joyless maternal grandmother in Tivoli, New York. In the years that followed her father's death, Eleanor withdrew from the world, a forlorn little girl with a lifetime of tragedy reflected in the eyes of a nine-year-old.

In 1899 at the age of fifteen, she was sent to a private "finishing school" in London, England called "Allenswood Academy" which was run by an elderly feminist educator named, Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre. The gentle and compassionate woman took the troubled teenager under her wing. It was here that Eleanor Roosevelt blossomed.

She returned to the United States in 1902 and in two years became engaged to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When they were married on St. Patrick's Day 1905, her uncle, the president, would walk her down the aisle in the place of her deceased father. Now she could look forward to the role the women of her class in that era were expected to play, that of the traditional wife of a professional man on the ascent. In the ensuing eleven years she gave birth to six children (one of whom would die in infancy).

In 1918 her comfortable and serene world imploded when she discovered that her husband had been having an affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. She offered Franklin a divorce but his mother, the indomitable Sara, threatened to disinherit him if he accepted. She was not about to see her grandchildren soiled by such a scandal. Also, a divorce would have ended his political career. By this time Roosevelt was serving in the Wilson administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Even in 1918 he had his eyes on the White House. They both consented to save the marriage. Although they would never again share the physical intimacies of a husband and wife, they would forever remain devoted to one another. 

Three years later in the summer of 1921, came the trauma that would change the family forever. While on vacation at their summer home on Campobello Island, Franklin was stricken with infantile paralysis. He would never again walk unassisted. It was generally agreed that the career of this rising young star of American politics was over. This was the moment that Eleanor became transformed. She was determined that Franklin's career would proceed. With the help of FDR's political adviser, an eccentric, brilliant and rumpled little man named Louis Howe, she became her husband's "eyes and ears", standing in for him at as many political gatherings and meetings as possible. This shy and reserved woman even began to make speeches, not only in New York state, but all over the country! 

Considering all he had going against him, Franklin's physical and political recovery was impressive. Seven years after being stricken with polio he would be elected governor of New York. On March 4, 1933 he was inaugurated the thirty-second president of the United States. 

She did not want to be First Lady. The night her husband was sworn in found her in a state of severe depression, almost to the point of despair. If only she had known then that she would be living in the White House for an unprecedented (and never repeated) twelve years. The very thought of living out the the traditional role of the president's wife - hosting teas for the ladies of Washington and other such trivial pursuits - filled her with dread. Possibly without even being aware of it, she revolutionized the role. Her tenure as First Lady of the land would set the standard against which all future ones would  be compared. Eleanor Roosevelt is without peer. 

If there is credit to be given to any single white person for the mass migration of black people from the "party of Abraham Lincoln" to the Democratic party, that credit should be given to Mrs. Roosevelt. Within a few years African Americans would come to realize that they had a friend in the White House. Franklin had to contend with the headache of dealing with a Democratic party that at that time was filled with southern racists. If he remained publicly passive on the subject of civil rights, privately was a different matter. She had his blessings - although at times she added to those headaches.

In 1937 a newspaper photographer caught her gently bending down and embracing a little "negro" girl in her Sunday best who was presenting the First Lady with a bouquet of flowers. In exchange for the gift, Eleanor offered the child a radiant smile one could read at midnight by. Disgusted newspaper editorials all over the land (particularly in the south - SURPRISE!) stood up as one in horrified, righteous indignation.

HOW COULD THE FIRST LADY OF THIS GRAND AND GLORIOUS LAND OF OURS ALLOW HERSELF TO BE SEEN BOWING TO AND SMILING AT SOME WRETCHED LITTLE PICKANINNY???

Eleanor Roosevelt did not apologize. I hope that child (whoever she was) never found out how grown adults reacted to her sweet and innocent gesture. It would have broken her little heart. It was that kind of time in America. We've changed - for the most part....I think.

When in 1939 the African American singer Marian Anderson was refused permission by the Daughters of the American Revolution the opportunity to sing in Constitution Hall - for no other reason than the color of her skin - Eleanor promptly resigned her membership in that organization in disgust and made the arrangements for Ms. Anderson to sing at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  It's one of those moments in American history that one longs to have been alive to witness, a moment forever engraved into America's soul and consciousness. It illustrated, more than any other single event of that time, America's essential goodness.

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 - whom among the multitudes gathered would have dared to dream that they were bearing witness to the beginning of a long chain of events which would lead to the inauguration of the first African American president three score and ten years later?

When Franklin Roosevelt died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, even her friends were predicting that she would drift away into quiet obscurity. They were wrong. In fact her most monumental achievement was ahead of her. 

In 1946 President Harry Truman appointed Mrs. Roosevelt as a delegate to the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations. On December 10, 1948, they adopted  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document whose creation she, more than anyone, was responsible for.  It is one of her most impressive and enduring gifts to humanity.

At the end of her life she was depressed at what she saw as her failure as a mother, her children being the very picture of dysfunction with nineteen marriages between the five of them. She was also tired, and yet she lamented to a friend in her final hours, "I still have so much to do." She quietly passed from this world  on November 7, 1962. She was seventy-eight.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a complex and, in many respects, tormented women, the psychological scars of her childhood always lingering at the peripherals of her consciousness. She sought emotional intimacy from a husband who was unable to reciprocate. All her life she would seek it elsewhere from her closest friends. She could be loving and kind to some; cold and aloof to others. Given all that I have read, I'm not too sure I would have been content with her as a wife or a mother or a sister - but I would love to have been her friend - just to hang out with her. That would have been very cool. Can you understand why I love this woman so much?

Tonight let us all tip our hats and raise a glass to the memory of the First Lady of the world.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

My Life
by Eleanor Roosevelt 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here is a link to a little eleven-minute video tribute to Anna Eleanor Roosevelt that was released by the FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSMV5zxHaxc&feature=relmfu

She speaks to us from across the decades. We should listen to her, you know? We really should.

"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature. Beautiful old people are works of art." 

Eleanor Roosevelt 

Young or old, she was beautiful. 

AFTERTHOUGHT 11/15/12: This amusing, unpublished photograph of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt  was taken around 1938 I think. It was provided to me by my Facebook friend, Joyce Clemons. It was given to her by the late Dick Bingham who uncovered it from the photo files of the old Dispatch of Columbus Ohio. The First Lady is making what seems to me to be a particularly good point. 

You're seeing it here for the first time on "The Rant", Folks!

 "You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Story Will Continue

"Our economy is recovering, a decade of war is ending, a long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president....I have never been more hopeful about America. We're not as divided as our politics suggest. We remain more than a collection of blue states and red states."

President Barack Obama
November 7, 2012

Memo to the right wing: WAKE UP AND FACE THE DAWN!

The telephone rang just a little past midnight, rousing me out of what must have been a near-coma. On the other end was my twenty-year-old nephew, Peter Dermigny, with the news I desperately needed to hear. The campaign of 2012 was over. Barack Obama was the winner. I had been sound asleep for just over three hours. Crisis averted.

I drove Pete down to the Orange County Board of Elections three months ago to become a voter. That's a photograph of him on the left, taken on the day he graduated from high school. Handsome kid, huh? When I took him to register, he signed up as a Republican. Knowing well his crazy uncle's ideological bent, he said to me, "I hope you don't mind, Uncle Tom. My generation's going to save that party." Good for him. I sincerely hope they succeed. I made him walk home (just kidding).

Well thank goodness and little green apples THAT'S over with. I was nearly certain when I went to bed last night that America was about to commit economic suicide (or that the election would be stolen). Neither scenario transpired, thank God. They tried to make it next-to-impossible for the president's natural constituency to vote in the key swing states but the people defied them. I hope that Governors John Kasich and Rick Scott understand that when they are up for reelection in two years, the voters of their respective states are going to remember those long lines, not to mention the hours missed from work. Congratulations to the citizens of Ohio and Florida - and to  President Obama - for a victory well-earned. To quote Colonel Pickering from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady:


Tonight, old man, you did it! You did it! You did it! 
You said that you would do it and indeed you did! 
I thought that you would rue it; I doubted you'd do it. 
But now I must admit it that succeed you did!

Now do us all a big favor, Mr. President, and start behaving like an honest-to-goodness progressive. You have no future campaign haunting your every decision. Electoral politics are behind you. By the standards of your recent predecessors, you're not that bad a president. Now is the time for greatness. And enough already with the freakin' drones, alright? Jeez! 


I haven't been too thrilled with this administration. I know they can do better. I think that in a second term they will. That's what is called "the audacity of hope".

It makes me positively giddy with gladness and joy wondering how people like Karl Rove and those two hideous Koch brothers are feeling on this fine November morn. They spent several fortunes trying to unseat this president and they couldn't do it

I can just picture the rest of those nitwits inside the right wing SCREAM machine reacting to the grim news this morning: Sean Hannity is apoplectic. Rush Limbaugh is weeping in his sleep. Ann Coulter is under sedation. Dick Morris clutches desperately to the foot of a hooker. Rupert Murdoch is seeking asylum in Australia. Glenn Beck is sucking his thumb in the shower. Clint Eastwood is hacking away at a chair. Bill O'Riley has tied himself to the furnace. Uncle Clarence Thomas is vomiting watermelon. Michael "Savage" Weiner's family are keeping him away from sharp objects. George Will is talking to dead people. Bob Hope is talking back. Life is beautiful. 

GOOD NEWS: The Democrats did pretty well last night.

BAD NEWS: The Republicans will still control the House of Reprehensibles.

My hero, Sherrod Brown, will be a senator for at least another six years, Claire McCaskill handily defeated Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, and Elizabeth Warren is on her way to Washington! Her victory over Scott Brown was the best news all night. I'm just crazy 'bout that gal! I rarely "love" a politician and it takes me a while to get to that point. I'm not ashamed to tell you that, as far as Elizabeth Warren is concerned, it was love at first sight. I'm so happy about her success I can't even put it into words.

But the biggest surprise of the evening was in my own neck of the woods (District Eighteen, NY). My congresswoman, a Tea Party marionette named Nan Hayworth, was sent packing by a young upstart named Sean Patrick Maloney (photo left) who is openly gay! I swear I had no idea that that was going to happen. I thought the poor bastard didn't stand a chance! The area I live in is so damned conservative, it always stuns me when they're nudged even a smidgeon to the left. Perhaps things are changing here in the rock-ribbed Hudson Valley. We shall see. 

MORE BAD NEWS: Almost half of the country voted for Mitt Romney yesterday. This begs the question as to whether or not nearly fifty percent of the electorate was unconscious during the years 2001 to 2009. Let's hope that within the next four years most of them will come to understand what a huge mistake it would have been to send der Mittster to the White House. 

MORE GOOD NEWS: Paul Ryan is now - for all intents and purposes - the standard bearer for the Republican party. There is a very good chance that he will be their nominee in 2016. Like I said, "Life is beautiful".

GOOD: Joe Biden is the best vice-President in American history.

BAD: Michele Bachmann will still be representing the people of Minnesota in Washington DC. What the hell is the matter with the voters of that state? Bob Dylan must be awfully embarrassed.

"Do you remember? Remember? The fifth of November!"

John Lennon 

"Here's where I turn on the old cliche` machine: This is the dawn of a new day. The election of Barack Hussein Obama last night as the 44th president was a transforming  moment in the history of this country; a country that literally was built upon the lacerated back of the Negro Slave. We'll never be the same again. Never."
  
From "The Rant", 5 November 2008

I wrote that paragraph in the wee-small-hours of the morning four years ago when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency.  I was pretty drunk at that moment (Celebratory libations, you know?) but I stick by what I said then - we're not the same country we were before Election Day 2008. But my hopes that he would prove to be the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt were soon dashed upon the rocks of expectation. I know he has the stuff that makes a great president. It's not too late for him to become one. 

Now for the first, good night's sleep in months. I could use it!

Tom Degan 
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

A long, long time ago, in February of 2007, a semi-obscure senator from the state of Illinois with the quite peculiar name "Barack Obama" announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Here is what I wrote on this blog at the time:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2007/02/barack-obama.html

Whatever became of that guy? I'm sorry, I'm gloating. I'll stop.


AFTERTHOUGHT:

Today is the fiftieth anniversary  of the death of the woman who was known as "the First Lady if the world". I had planned today on writing a piece to commemorate the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, but with all of the excitement emanating from last night, it will have to wait. That's my next piece. Stay tuned.... 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Down to the Wire

I just returned home twenty minutes ago from voting. The polling place is at the Dikeman Firehouse in Goshen, New York which is less than a mile from where I now sit. I was in and out in about five minutes. Fortunately I do not live in an Obama-leaning swing state controlled by a Republican governor. Those poor people have to  wait on line for as much as eight hours or more. I'm sure that's just a coincidence though.

There was a woman standing in front of me with a couple of small children. They went into the voting booth with her. Civics for tots. I was very impressed. She had jet-black hair and was very pretty. I fell in love with her on the spot. I fall in love too easily, especially on Election Day.

I won't tell you for whom I voted. That's between me and the ballot box. Aw, hell, who am I kidding? You know damned well who I voted for. I'm not fooling anybody. 

We probably won't know the official results until early tomorrow morning, possibly even for several weeks. It is clear that the Republicans are doing everything humanly possible to steal this election - just as they did in 2000, just as they did in 2004. They didn't make an attempt to do so four years ago because, let's face it, they were running against a black guy. Beating him would be a cinch. Lesson learned. They can no longer count upon the ingrained  racism of so many Americans to do their will. 

The numbers are on President Obama's side but, contrary to accepted mythology, numbers do indeed lie. If the right wing thugs who long ago hijacked the "party of Lincoln" are able to pull this off (AGAIN) then you might as well kiss this place goodbye.  

It is now 1:12 PM EST. the polls here in New York close in less than eight hours. Living in a reliable "blue state" (Thank you, New York City) I don't feel much of an urge to go into the street to "get out the vote". If I were living in Ohio or Florida it would be a different story. God bless the people - whatever their political persuasion may be - for enduring those long and tedious lines. My hat is tipped. My glass is raised. Cheers!

An article appeared on AlterNet this morning by a person named Alex Pareene that called for the  abolition of the electoral college, This is an idea that's long overdue. If Obama wins this thing via the electoral college (but not the popular vote) you can bet next year's crop that the GOP might very well rethink this one (just as I became a convert to the idea in 2000 when George W. Bush won the same way). Wouldn't it be a grand thing if in 2016 we could ignore Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire? Talk about a perfect world.

The swing states are run by incompetent thugs and assholes. This is certainly no way to run what is supposed to be the greatest country in the world. Forget the twenty-first century, I'd be perfectly content to step into the twentieth. Seriously.


To those who wait on the long lines in Florida's sweltering heat or Ohio's biting cold, remember you're making history. Hang in there. I almost envy you....almost.

Tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Eleanor Roosevelt. For several months I have been planning on writing a piece in tribute to her on that occasion, but I'm afraid it needs to be placed on the back burner for a week or so. Tomorrow I imagine I'll be writing either one of two pieces: 

1. A tribute to the wisdom my fellow countrymen and woman....or

2. A blind, raging tirade at what silly twits they are.

We shall see. Keep your fingers crossed and your hands folded.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

Here's a link to the Alex Pareene article mentioned above:

Let's Kill the Electoral College

Health food for thought.

AFTERTHOUGHT, 3:13 PM:

The GOP talking point today is that Election Day will prove that the polling process was inherently flawed. They say this with absolute confidence. I have a sick feeling  that they know the fix is in. Why would they say something as idiotic as that if they didn't have absolute confidence that they will be able to pull if off? Tomorrow they'll be saying, "See? We told you so!" Most of the country will swallow the bullshit without so much as a chaser. I plan on getting very intoxicated this evening.

BREAKING NEWS, 1:03 AM:

Mitt Romney just conceded one minute ago. Barack Obama has won reelection. Thank goodness that's over.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Sandy's Wrath, Strange Bedfellows


"If you think right now that I give a damn about presidential politics then you don't know me."
`
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on FOX and Friends

It was a moment that was difficult not to savor. There was the Republican governor of New Jersey; a man who only a week before had been denouncing the president as a progressive plague who would just-as-soon turn this grand and glorious land of ours over to a cabal of drunks, communists, beggars and thieves. And yet there he was, greeting that same president on the tarmac of a New Jersey airport, grateful that his beloved state would be receiving assistance in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy,  Irene's much-nastier cousin. It was something to behold. At that moment, politics went out the window and straight into the gutter for Chris Christie. A raising of the glass and a tip of the hat to the man.

I hate to admit this but circumstances have forced my hand: Governor Christie has grown on me. When he was elected a couple of years ago, I thought that the voters of the Garden State had made a mistake. I still think that. But it isn't the enormous error that that I once thought it to be. I really like the guy. He has never been one to kowtow to the stupid right wing talking points that most Republican politicians march in lockstep to. A few months ago he even went as far (or stooped as low as many implied) to defend Muslims and gay people as "God's children". The other day, when asked by the halfwits on FOX and Friends if he would like Governor Romney to  come to New Jersey to witness Sandy's destruction  for himself, he replied to these incredulous freaks, "I really don't care". The audacity of this guy! 

There are political cynics (mostly on the extreme right) who are saying that Chis Cristie is now embracing Obama in order to ensure Romney's defeat, rendering the 2016 GOP nomination his for the taking. I don't think that this is the case - far from it. If anything the mostly moderate, sometimes progressive governor has sealed his fate as far as his dream of ever becoming the standard bearer of that disgusting party is concerned. He has - overnight - become the pariah of the GOP. In her column in this morning's New York Times, Gail Collins brilliantly summed up his fellow Republicans' attitude toward him. She referred to Governor Christie as, "He Who Must Not Be Named in New Jersey". That's pretty much says it all.

When Chris Christie stood up for the well being of the people of New Jersey, he effectively committed political suicide with respect to any aspirations he might have had for the presidency. In 2016 the nitwits who vote in Republican primaries (at least in the South and the Midwest) won't even give him a second look (or a first one for that matter). He has nailed shut his own political coffin. At least he can be assured that his reelection as governor is a done deal. As a non-apologizing, dyed-in-the-dog-fur LEFTY, I can only say that I won't be losing any sleep when that happens - none at all. I am perfectly capable of living with moderate Republicans. They're an incurably goofy lot but they mean well I think.

MEMO TO THE GOVERNOR:

Listen, Chris, you turned fifty in September. You've got to lose some weight, pal. I was a little shocked when I saw you standing next to the prez yesterday. It would be bad enough if you were twenty years younger - but you're at the half-century point, Buster! And let us not forget all of the stress that someone in your position can find themselves on the receiving end of. For your own health and well being, please go on a diet, okay? I'd miss you if you were gone. Seriously.

Just  what these latest developments from the decimated east coast mean for Election Day is yet to be determined. Some of the pundits are predicting that this disaster is the photo-op/clincher that Barack Obama needed for victory but I'm not too sure of that. He and Romney still remain virtually neck-and-neck, and don't forget that the "party of Abraham Lincoln" is doing everything humanly possibly to suppress as many ballots as they can. 

I do know this, though: those who love to wail and bitch about the evils of "big government" will be keeping their clueless mouths shut for the next couple of days - maybe even until Tuesday. Like last year in Hurricane Irene's aftermath, a lot of people will be thankful that the government which many Republicans want to "shrink until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub" is still large enough to deliver them from starvation and despair. A few days ago when Mitt Romney was asked fourteen times if he still planned on doing away with FEMA (as he said many times during the primaries) he refused to answer the question. Go ahead. Vote for Mitt; I dare you. 

It's a fairly safe bet that my man Chris understands - better than he ever did before - that our goal should be, not the abolition of government, but its perfection. This is such a Civics 101/no-brainer that it's awkward for me to even have to point it out. 

The morning after Election Day 2012, coincidentally, falls on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Eleanor Roosevelt. She and her husband, Franklin, understood that the purpose of representation in Washington meant so much more than declaring war and passing bad laws. Their primary purpose should be the public good - not tax breaks for a class of people who already have more cash than they'll ever be able to spend in three lifetimes. This basic fact has been forgotten by too many; not just the politicians but the voters as well - particularly in the deep South. Wake up and smell the elephant shit.   

So here's to Chris Christie. I guess I'll never have the opportunity of voting either for him or against him. He's never going to get the presidential nomination and I'm never going to live in New Jersey. That's not meant to give you the impression that it's such a horrible place to live. Mississippi it's not

Someone should get a hold of Caroline Kennedy. Every  year she gives out the annual Profile In Courage Award in honor of her dad's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name. It is awarded to the politician  who shows courage in the face of a strong political backlash. I nominate Governor Christie. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

Lindbergh
by A. Scott Berg 

This is probably the best biography I have ever read. Charles Lindbergh was a brilliant, complex and, in many ways, troubled human being. In slightly over a decade "Lucky Lindy" went from national hero to political pariah. It's an amazing, riveting story.  

Here's a link to the Gail Collins column from this morning's New York Times that was quoted above:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/opinion/collins-guess-who-its-all-up-to.html?_r=0&comments=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1351789208-76Q/OBIay42oMJJzBDeDWQ

I'm just crazy 'bout that gal!

BREAKING NEWS, 4:14 PM:
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (who crossed his heart that he would remain neutral)  has just announced that he is endorsing Barack Obama.