Saturday, December 29, 2012

This Was the Year that Wasn't


 We're about to go over the fiscal Cliff! WHEEEEEEEEE!

"Do you think that the next year will not possibly get any weirder than the one which is now mercifully ending? I wouldn't take that bet for anything."

From "The Rant"
30 December 2011

When I was fifty-three, it was a very weird year....
`
Well, I called that one, didn't I? That is a bet I definitely would not have taken. 2012 was a whole lot weirder than 2011. My prediction for 2013 is that it will blaze new trails in weirdness. Life is quite interesting....and very weird.

Mister Rick
And while it may not have been a year that future historians will look back upon with envy toward we the people who lived through it, there will be a goldmine of unintentional giggles that they will have at their disposal to sift through. From Herman Cain's mantra of "nine-nine-nine", to Rick Perry's helpless confusion during the GOP primary debates; from Mitt Romney's dismissal of forty-seven percent of the American people as beggars and thieves, to Todd Akin's description of "legitimate rape" - 2012 was a year in which political humorists thrived. That's the reason why so many of us want to be Jon Stewart when we grow up. I can't wait for 2013. 

And so we end the year teetering at the edge of the "fiscal cliff". The Republican party would rather send this once-great nation hurling into the economic abyss, than raise the tax rate one-thin-dime on a class of people who already have more money than they'll possibly be able to spend in three lifetimes. This is why in less than a decade they will have ceased to exist. 

RIP, GOP
And PLEASE, do not accuse me of being a shrill mouthpiece of the Democratic party. As I've said so many times on this site, I left the Democrats almost fifteen years ago and I'll never re-register with them again - or at least until they reform themselves - which is not very likely. Any political party that has someone like Wall Street Stooge, Chuck Schumer, as their most visible spokesmen isn't worth working overtime for. The donkey needs to be either nursed back to health, or put out of its misery. We shall see.

As of this writing, however, there still is a smidgeon of hope for the Dems - unlike the GOP, which is utterly beyond hope and redemption. This is a party that has lost all reason. It's only a matter of time before they are stamped out like the fading embers of a Chesterfield cigarette on a damp pavement. They will very soon be put out to the pasture of historical irrelevance. You'll understand what I'm talking about during the midterm elections of 2014. The elephant is at death's door. I'm gonna miss them when they're gone - in a warped, twisted kind of way of course.  

That's a pretty good way to wrap up the strangest twelve months in political memory. Have a grand 2013, everyone. And if you're out partying on Monday night, be safe. Since a very close call on New Year's Eve 1976, I have always partied no more than walking distance from where I sleep. It's a pretty good rule too. Of course I haven't been awake for the midnight toast in a few years. I've mellowed a bit, you know?

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net  

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Happy New Year
by Spike Jones and his City Slickers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06oYtCMsbtg

What better way to ring in the new year than with Spike and the gang. I ask you! This is from 1948.

SUGGESTED VIEWING"

Let's Celebrake!


It's New Year's Eve 1936, and Popeye, Olive and Bluto are out on the town hooting it up! This is one of my all-time-favorite cartoon shorts; a real gem.

AFTERTHOUGHT, 12/30/12, 4 AM:

An anonymous correspondent asked me early this morning where I would most like to be if I could transport myself there ala Star Trek. Here was my answer:

It is a place deep in the woods in the middle of a blizzard. It looks to all the world like an ugly cinder block warehouse. But inside it's beautiful - with all of the comforts of home; with a complete library of books, music and films. It's a place of laughter and thought; joy and contemplation. On the outside of the door and beyond the woods, the world is going mad. Inside there is peace and serenity.

If I could find such a place I'd probably never leave.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Everywhere It's Christmas

On Christmas day you can't get sore
Your fellow man you must adore
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three-hundred and sixty-four

Tom Lehrer

I'm not really in the "Christmas spirit" this year. Thinking about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut ten days ago, that on top of things too numerous to mention, I really am in a bit of a funk this year. I feel a bit like Charlie Brown in that classic television special from 1965, wondering if someone - anyone - will come along and explain to him the true meaning of Christmas. Where are you when I need you most, Linus, you thumb-sucking, blanket-bearing little swine? Bleak. Too bleak.

"And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sure afraid. And the angel said unto them: fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all people."

The Gospel according to St.Luke
Chapter 2, verses 9:14
from the King James Bible

Message received. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who've made this little weekly tirade of mine part of your reading habit this year and in years past. Having this forum as a means of venting for the last six-and-a-half years has made me more psychologically healthy if nothing else. It's also a lot of fun. As long a we can laugh, we are healthy.

So enjoy yourselves and your families. Drink a toast, make merry - and for the love of Mike - go easy on the figgy pudding, alright? 

I don't believe in wishing people a "merry" Christmas. Drunks and drug addicts are often quite merry but they are seldom, if ever, "happy". Like Doctor Winston O'Boogie said nearly forty-years-ago:

And so Happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young!

Have a grand time, folks!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net  

AFTERTHOUGHT:

The photograph at the top of this page is the cover of the Percy Faith Orchestra's "Music of Christmas" LP. It is my earliest memory of holiday music - and I still love it fifty years later! Here's a track:


Cheers!

UPDATE,  Christmas Day 2012:

Here's something to leave you with that I wrote five years ago that's more in the "Christmas spirit" so to speak:

"Keep your eyes open for the miracles all around you. And remember the simple truth that there is more music to be found in the laughter of a single child than can be found in all of the symphonies ever composed by all of the composers who ever lived."

That's more like it. 

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

The Beatles Christmas Collection

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFg4BWHEE_I

Every year at Christmastime, the Beatles would send out a little 7 inch flexi-disc to the members of their fan club all over the earth. Here's the entire collection - 1963 to 1969. It's a lot of fun!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The NRA is Making "Nice"


"The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Wayne LaPierre

There you have it: the NRA's newest, revolting and stupid cliche. I guess the "Guns Don't Kill People" line had gotten a tad moldy.

Wayne LaPierre has got his work cut out for him, I'll tell you that! It must be difficult trying to peddle chickenshit as a dessert topping. The press conference we've been waiting all week for ended about a half an hour ago. Actually, it wasn't a "press conference" at all. At the outset one of his stooges announced that Wayne wouldn't be taking any questions. It was a speech; a very bad speech.

Or maybe "sermon" would be a better description. Whatever you want to call this fiasco it was chock full of enough unintentional comedy that it made for some riveting television. That's the beautiful thing about these nitwits. They never fail to amuse and delight.

They announced this event a couple of days ago, saying that out of respect for the families of those poor children they would remain silent until then. They told us that they were going to propose some "meaningful changes". After being introduced by the stooge, LaPierre started to point the finger of shame and blame for what happened one-week-ago today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

He blamed Hollywood.
He blamed the news media.
He blamed video games.
He blamed music videos.
He blamed gun-free school zones.
He blamed hurricanes.
He blamed celebrities. 
He blamed President Obama....

As you might well imagine, the NRA was blameless. It really was oodles of fun to watch. The fact that America has the stupidest gun laws on this side of the Milky Way apparently has yet to enter his mind. He said that we protect the president with armed Secret Service agents; we protect banks and sports stadiums with armed guards. SHAME ON US FOR NOT PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN!!! That's right, Wayne LaPierre wants every school in the United States of America to be patrolled by armed security forces. I kid you not. This half-witted little Nazi wants to bring more guns into our schools. You could not concoct this stuff in fiction if you tried!

Wayne LaPierre is not a good actor. The funniest thing about this "event" was watching him attempting to look heartbroken and sincere. It really was a laugh riot to behold. The website of Business Insider, hardly a hotbed of Liberal radicalism, called the whole affair, "rather stunning". Indeed.

Twice during this staged event, LaPierre was interrupted by protesters who were forcibly ejected by the NRA's goons. When it was over he seemed quite pleased with himself. Don't know why. He only hammered yet another nail into the gun lobby's coffin. This act of desperation on the part of the National Rifle Association backfired badly - as I knew it would. Not two minutes ago I heard my friend, Carolyn, yell out from down the hall, "ARE THEY KIDDING ME???" She had just seen a rerun of this morning's hideous publicity stunt. 

Everywhere you turn, people are stunned by the sheer arrogance of Wayne LaPierre. During a panel discussion immediately following this spectacle on MSNBC, former RNC chairman Michael Steele could barely get the words out. Maybe I was wrong when I said last week that nothing is going to change. Take a deep breath. Change is in the air. It's a sweet smell, is it not?

The headcases out there love to whine that easy access to firepower - the more lethal the better - is the last, best defense against a tyrannical government. Let's consider - just for the sake of a really stupid argument - that Barack HUSSEIN Obama did indeed plan one day on imposing whatever imagined type of dictatorship on Weeda Peepole. And let's just say that every lunatic militia in the entire nation met that tyrannical government on a field somewhere in Montana to do battle....

Imagine it - they with their trusty little semi-automatics - and the government with their tanks, predator drones  and nuclear weapons. Can't you see what an insanely idiotic justification these jackasses are making?


Strange days indeed. Wayne LaPierre will be appearing on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday morning. That ought to be a howl.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

It's Now or Never
by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Spirit Choir

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyGpKdq9XiQ

This beautiful little tune says it so much better than I can ever hope to. It's now or never, folks. There's no time to lose. A dream we dream alone is only a dream. A dream we dream together is reality. Cha! Cha! Cha!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Massacre in Newtown


 A blast from the past (no pun intended):

"Every once in a while, the debate is resurrected - as it was in 1980 following the murder of John Lennon - or in 1981 when an attempt was made on the life of President Reagan - or in 1999 following the Columbine tragedy. But after a week or two of mindless rhetoric, it was always back to business as usual. The sad and undeniable fact is that another massacre on the scale of what happened early this morning in Colorado will happen again - and again and again and again and again and again and again....Deal with it."

From "The Rant"
20 July 2012
 
I'm dealing with it quite handily, thank you very much. It's happened yet again - and in less than five months, too. Hate to say "I told you so" but....

Of course this is hardly the end of it. In fact this is only the beginning. By June the first of next year it will have happened again - as it will happen again by November the first - as it will happen yet again by April the first 2014 - and again and again and again and again....Rivers of blood. Broken bodies. Broken hearts. This is the new reality. Come to think about it, this reality is not very "new" in the least. In fact, it is now as common  as a full moon in the morning sky. It almost amazes me that most of us still are stunned when an event of this magnitude occurs. It barely fazed me. When the news came over the television yesterday morning I did not so-much-as bat an eye. You see, I long ago adjusted to living in  this America. "Oh", I said out loud, "it happened again, huh?" And so close to the Christmas season. Ho ho fucking ho.

Truth be told, I'll be stunned only when it happens in my back yard. Although I have to tell you that it was unnerving (to say the very least) to know that my thirteen-year-old niece attends an elementary school about ten miles from where this latest (and totally expected) mass murder took place.  She's safe and sound, thank goodness. Your children are safe and sound, too....ya think?

And don't assume that your elected representatives in Washington will finally do the right thing by putting an end to this madness. They're cowards. Every Republican (and far too many Democrats to count) are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. 

As I said five months ago, for the next week or so there will be lots 'n' lots of righteous bloviating from the gasbags on high, but by New Year's Day - count on it - everything will be back to "normal". Most of us will have put it out of our minds by then....most of us. The families and loved ones of the twenty, precious little boys and girls who were murdered in cold blood yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut? They won't be "putting it out of their minds" anytime soon, that's for damned sure. And the families of the six staff members (all of them women) who were killed by this goddamned lunatic? Call it a silly bit of speculation on my part but I've gotta hunch that they won't be "putting it out of their minds" any time soon either. I've had two cousins and a couple of friends killed by gun violence so I know what I'm talking about here, kids.

From the Second Amendment:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Umm...What the hell happened to that "well regulated militia" bit? I was just wondering.

Mass murders will continue in America, and with more and more deadly frequency. Don't bother bracing yourselves for the next time this happens. Why live in a constant state of fear and anticipation? Just accept it as an inescapable reality in this doomed country and get on with your lives. When it happens again in four or five months (and it will happen again in that time-frame - if not sooner) come to terms with the thought that these regularly scheduled, nasty little sideshows are simply the price we must pay for - ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? - "our freedom". Ain't that a scream?

FUN FACT: In the three-day period following Thanksgiving, over 267,000 handguns were purchased in the United States - a record. I feel so safe. How 'bout you?

The tragedy in Newtown this week defies reason and common decency; but don't think for a minute that a change is going to come. Any half-witted, psychotic little geek with an attitude problem and a fist-full of dollars will still be able to walk into any gun shop in Anytown, USA and take home a handy-dandy, semi-automatic, military assault weapon specifically designed to kill an entire roomful of men, women and little children  - and do it quite quickly and efficiently, too. Our lawbreakers disguised as lawmakers will still act as whores to expediency and campaign contributions. American children will still be slaughtered on the alters of greed and human stupidity. That ol' River of Blood is gonna still keep on flowin', baby! Nothing is going to change - nothing.  Why bother getting so bent out of shape over the inevitable? I'm not.

I haven't much more to offer you. Truth be told, this is the fourth or fifth time I've written about this subject and quite frankly I'm starting to get bored stiff by the entire discussion. Mass killings such as the one that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, December 14, 2012 are becoming as common as hurricanes in Dixie. Next subject....

Let me just leave you with another paragraph from the piece I wrote back in July that is quoted at the top. It ain't a bad line and I'm going to give myself a pat on the back for having written it:

 "The NRA types love to jabber away - like diseased little myna birds - about "freedom". We need to come to grips with some unpleasant realities. A society that lives in dreaded, mortal terror wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will take place may indeed be many things - no argument from me there. "Free" they are not. Let's just stop kidding ourselves here and now, okay?"

 "Happiness is a warm gun". John Lennon said that.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net  

SUGGESTED READING:

In his Own Write
by John Lennon

A wonderful book of witty wordplay and hysterical drawings by one of the more celebrated victims of gun violence in America. 

"Bang! Bang! Shoot! Shoot!"

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

A Change is Gonna Come
By Sam Cooke 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbO2_077ixs

This beautiful song was recorded in 1963 by one of the greatest singers in the annals of pop music history. A little over a year after he consigned this gem to wax, Sam Cooke was shot and killed. Yet another victim of America's insatiable appetite for guns. Sadly, no change is coming.

UPDATE, 12/17/12, 4:38 AM:

NBC's David Gregory noted yesterday that in preparation for Sunday's broadcast of Meet The Press, the producers contacted thirty-one pro-gun senators inviting them to appear on that program. Every one of them declined. 

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

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Post #457- Unsolicited Observations

As you know, today is December 12, 2012: 12/12/12. That type of numeric arrangement will not be occurring on the calendar again for nearly a century - a long time any way you slice it or dice it. By that time we'll all be dead and buried. What better occasion for some random  observations that I had written down haphazardly on paper or posted here and there on the internet? They may not be earth-shattering, but what the hell. Let us agitate, shall we?

1. BREAKING NEWS! FOX NEWS THINKS THAT THEY HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER TO COLBERT AND STEWART! 
`
Memo to the right wing - Fox Noise in particular. There is a dandy reason why nearly every political humorist out there leans decidedly to the left. This may come as a bit of a shock to some of you, but in order for satire to work it has to be based upon at least a kernel of truth. You see where I'm going with this? Good bear with me.
`
There are political humorists out there who are to the extreme right, no doubt about it. In fact, I've seen a couple of them on CSPAN. Here's the problem: They aren't funny. And if they do happen to make me laugh, the giggles are ALWAYS unintentional. 

Take the knucklehead who does the comic strip "Mallard Fillmore". It runs in my paper the Times Herald-Record of Middletown New York. Every morning I read it - not because I find it funny - not at all. But I'm always giddy with the anticipation of wondering what idiotic thing this nitwit is going to come up with today. It's that bad.
`
There was a conservative humorist who I thought was very witty, the late, great Lewis Grizzard (Photo on left). But his humor dealt, for the most part, with the cultural aspects of being a "redneck". He had the good sense to stay clear of the subject of politics. Try to pick up a copy of his book, "Elvis is Dead and I Don't Feel Too Good Myself". It's a hoot-and-a-half.
`
 2.  Stand your ground, baby!
`
The headline from AlterNet came to my inbox a few very early mornings ago. It was a short blurb that told me that another black teenager had been shot and killed for no apparent reason by a righteously indignant, half-witted, middle-aged white guy. My very first thought was, it's gotta be Florida. Sho 'nuff.

Why was this kid murdered? The guy thought that his music was too loud. I sincerely wish I was making this up. I'm not

Do you know that in Europe, there are travel agencies that warn their clients against traveling to that overrated peninsula? Can you blame them? I sure as hell can't.

By the way, "Stand Your Ground" was signed into law by Jeb Bush - who still maintains that it was just a fine 'n' dandy idea. Sweet. The question is literally screaming to be posed:

Is there anyone amongst us who is still unaware what a mistake it would be to send another member of that disgusting family to 1600 Pennsylvania  Avenue?

Just curious.

3. Don't Let It Be Forgot That Once There Was a Spot....
 
I know, it's syrupy and sentimental, and I know "Camelot" never really existed, but I can't help it when it comes to President Kennedy. It's an Irish thing; you wouldn't understand. Some of his speeches read like freakin' poetry fifty years later.
 

Although he was hardly the fightin' Liberal that his admirers remember him as being, it should never be forgotten that he was the last chief executive to take on the Federal Reserve. For all the revisionism that has been visited upon his biography in the nearly half-century since his passing, let's not overlook the fact that - warts and all - Jack Kennedy was a good guy. One of the best.

By the way, one of the perks of being Irish Catholic is that we can refer to the late president as "Jack".

"....for one brief, shining moment...."

I'm sorry, I'll stop.


4. Corporate Carnage

Profits are up to record highs. So what - you may well ask - are the corporations doing? They're decimating the work force. Consider this just for a minute:

When a corporation behaves this irresponsibly, it wrecks havoc on society. This is not merely my opinion in fact it's kind of a no-brainer. Call it Economics 101

A corporation that behaves this irresponsibly should be seized by the people. If you're honest with yourself, that's not such a revolutionary idea. Think about it for a minute or two. What would we do to a lone kook who was causing so much disruption within his community by means of arson, bombings etc. that his actions put hundreds - thousands - of his fellow citizens out of work? Again, this is another no-brainer - we'd throw him in prison. Questions?

Why should we let a corporation take take full advantage of our free enterprise system for a period of years and then be allowed to dump the very workers that allowed it to accumulate its treasure? Especially when the treasure of which I speak comes out of the pockets of regular consumers who are adversely effected when they dump - like trash - their work force. Its very greed causes much disruption and heartache within the the local (and national) community.

And notice that I refer to this proverbial corporation as "it", not "he" or "she". I'm not sick enough to refer to a corporation as "a person". Give me some credit please.

When a corporation does so much damage to society, how come it cannot be legally seized by the state to keep it from committing further economic carnage?

Why is this allowed to occur? Anybody?


5. Mitch

Please, if anyone knows of a more despicable, corrupt and reprehensible piece-of-shit ever to slither 'neath the capital dome than Mitch McConnell, by all means drop me a line. I'd sure as hell would like to know about it. It just doesn't get any creepier than old Mitch.

6. Bah, Humbug!

Christmas comes but once a year
So you'd better make hay while the spirit lingers 
It's slipping through your fingers, boy
Don't you realize?
Christmas can be such a monetary joy!

-Stan Freberg 

I can't remember the last time I was possessed of the "Christmas Spirit". The holiday is ruined for me - for personal as well as societal reasons. Our economic survival depends upon us making a mockery of the birth of the Prince of Peace every year. Maybe my indifference is also based on the fact that so many people I loved dearly are either dead, dying, or out of my life forever. Whatever. 

When I was a little boy I took it for granted that Ebenezer Scrooge was a work of Charles Dickens' imagination. It never occurred that such a person could possibly exist. Now I understand. I can relate to Ebenezer in ways I never thought I was capable. He is becoming one of my heroes of fiction - right up there with Huckleberry Finn, Atticus Finch  and Kilgore Trout.

Although I would definitely have given Bob Cratchit the day off. I'm not that mean. Honest!

7. Unions Died Last Night in Michigan.

Didn't have nothin' to do with the unions themselves, The governor of that state says that the "Right To Work" laws will only "strengthen" the unions. Ain't that a hoot? Get used to living in a country in ruins.

***********************

Happy 12/12/12, everyone!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

Alice Roosevelt Longworth
by Carol Felsenthal

"Princess Alice", as she was dubbed by the early twentieth century press, was the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. At a time when most women "knew their place" Alice was something else indeed. Her father once told a friend, "I can be president of the United States or I can control Alice. I can't possibly do both." She was never afraid to do whatever the hell she felt like doing. Although always identified as a staunch conservative, she was perfectly capable of crossing the ideological divide - and she crossed it many times during her long life. Of course by the weird and twisted standards of today, the Tea party would probably label her a screaming lefty. She died in 1980 at the age of ninety-seven. This is a fun biography. Although probably out of print, it's worth a read if you can find it on ebay. This gal's life is a Broadway musical waiting to happen. Seriously.  

BREAKING NEWS, 12/13/12, 4:00 PM:

Susan Rice has just announced that she has taken her name out of consideration to be appointed Secretary of State. In a letter to President Obama she explained:

 "If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly - to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities."  

This is an intelligent and capable woman who would have done an outstanding job representing the United States on the international stage. But for the right wing scream machine....

This is pure politics, folks. The GOP knows damned well that Obama's second choice for the position, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, will leave his senate seat open when he is confirmed. They want that seat very badly.  

BOLD PREDICTION: They won't get it.
`  
The Republican party is ruining your country. Are you angry yet?  

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Here is a link to a piece I wrote about uber bastard Mitch McConnell two-and-a-half years ago:   

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/04/mitch-plutocracys-bitch.html

Mitch: The Plutocracy's Bitch

Friday, December 07, 2012

Bob Betrayed by Bastards

"We did it!"

-Rick Santurum

Yeah you did it alright, Rick. And to think that this moron came fairly close to receiving the Republican nomination last summer. What does that tell you about the intellectual state of that party? Seriously.

The one-time Pennsylvania senator was positively beside himself with unrestrained giddiness when he tweeted  that message to his half-witted clientele. After all, the senate had just defeated the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, which is designed to compel the rest of the planet earth to treat their disabled citizens as we do here in the Unites States by treating them with dignity and ensuring that they be given access to public accommodations. That was all too much for most of Republicans to bear. Ironically, although the vote was 61 to 38 in favor, it was five votes short of the two/thirds majority required for passage.

By the way, did you hear about Rick Santorum's new job? He's now a columnist for World Net Daily, a white supremacist website. Nice work if you can get it.  

Bobby, Ye Hardly Knew Them!

And there was good ol' Bob Dole, his body wracked by age and ancient wounds received during the second world war, wheeled onto the floor of the senate by his wife, Elizabeth. He was there as a sort of moral beacon, wordlessly reminding his former colleagues of his very real disabilities. It was he, more than anyone else, who was responsible for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act back in the nineties. I'm sure he believed that his presence could persuade even the yahoos and jackasses who have hijacked his party to do the right thing.  It was wishful thinking on his part. 

It is obvious that the former Kansas senator is not long for this world. If he even lives to see it, he will turn ninety-years-old next July 22. It's a shame that on what will undoubtedly be the last time he sets foot in that chamber he should witness the defeat of a measure that is so close to his heart. It really was a sad thing to see. My heart goes out to Senator Dole.

The GOP is justifying their defeat of this humane treaty in quite humorous ways. It's an attempt by the United Nations to force their wicked will on the good citizens of this beloved land of ours, they're telling us. Besides, as every red-blooded American knows, The UN is pure evil - EVIL, I TELL YOU!!! Others are trying to get us to swallow the notion that it somehow "undermines US sovereignty". Exactly how they are unable to explain. It really is a funny and amusing thing to behold. It's damned-near touching.

Screw the Cripples

Although I've come to expect the worst from these assholes, this latest one surprised even me. It is evidence that that party is devolving even further by the day. Who knows where they might be in five or six years? It's an unsettling speculation to say the least. Still we might console ourselves by the thought that they do indeed provide us with scads of unintentional comedy; roses plucked from a field of manure. Jon Stewart's writers have the easiest job in the world. Come to think about it, so do I.

As they slide further into irrelevance, the "party of Abraham Lincoln" will become more desperate. They know goddamned-good-and-well that they can no longer rely on the fears and loathings of middle-aged white guys with beer bellies to put them over the top on any given election day. 

Already an overt scheme is in the works to rig the electoral college in their favor. They now want to give the more populated counties of America more electoral votes than the less populated ones. Apparently they think that this will work out to their advantage in the "purple" states. Perhaps it will. But what these jackasses fail to understand is that for this little plan to work, it would require a constitutional amendment if it is to be made the law of the land. Jolly good luck with that one.

 Mean and Stupid

Don't expect them to do the bidding of their constituents. Don't expect them to look out for the interests of the poor, the elderly and the middle class. Don't expect them not to be lulled to sleep by the sweet smell of corporate cash. Don't expect them to be statesmen (I'm sorry, I meant "statespersons"). It would be  sheer folly to expect any of that from these people. They're not looking out for your interests. Not at all. As Mr. Zappa once said:

They're just looking out for Number One
And Number One ain't you
You ain't even Number Two

This is the way it has always been - not only for the Republicans but far too many Democrats to count (Are you listening Chuck Schumer?) The only difference between now and thirty years ago is that they don't even attempt to hide the corruption any longer. But the politicians don't appear to be too worried - and why should they be? They know full well that the masses have been dumbed-down to the point of utter pathos. Thank you, Fox Noise. 

Although I didn't agree with a lot of his policies, I always liked Bob Dole. On his worst days he always seemed pretty sensible and smart. You know what I'm talking about: the type of Republican that doesn't even exist anymore. Voting against him as I did in 1996 did not fill me with the vengeful glee that I experienced when I voted against Reagan, Mitt Romney (remember him?) or the two Bushes. It must break the poor bugger's heart to see what has become of his party. It almost breaks mine.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

Winchell - Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity
by Neal Gabler 

Walter Winchell was the most famous - and feared - columnist of his day. For at least a quarter-of-a-century his column was by far the most widely read in America. His favor was sought by politicians, entertainers and foreign dignitaries alike. He could - and did - ruin many lives, despite having more than a few skeletons in his own closet. And yet when he died in February of 1972, the only person to show up at his funeral was the estranged daughter he had not spoken to in years. This excellent biography chronicals the meteoric rise and devastating fall of this complete American original. It should be a cautionary tale to the Sean Hannitys and the Rush Limbaughs of this world. I doubt that they'll read it, though. Call it a silly hunch on my part.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Here's a link to my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/tomdegan?ref=tn_tnmn

"Friend" me if you've got absolutely nothing better to do.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Elephant Ghosts in the Room

The new film "Lincoln", based on Doris Kearns-Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals", is doing quite well - critically and at the box office. Suddenly our sixteenth president is everywhere, even making the cover of Time magazine recently. There's a good reason that this man's face is gracing the front of so many newspapers and periodicals nearly one-hundred and fifty years after his passing. He still matters. When was the last time you heard the name of his successor, Andrew Johnson, mentioned in any context? Whenever the name Abraham Lincoln reenters our national conversation it always elevates us as a nation.
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President Lincoln was the first Republican to live in the Executive Mansion (as the White House was officially called in his time). He was also - unarguably - one of our greatest presidents. With his party imploding before our very eyes, the GOP is at the moment desperate for some positive publicity. You would think that they would be bending over backwards to point out to the masses that they are the political descendants of Abraham Lincoln, wouldn't you? And yet they barely acknowledge him. Why do you think that is? I have a theory.

From its founding in the 1830's the Democratic party had the albatross of the southern racists hanging around its neck. Indeed, for slightly over a century after the end of the Civil War, relatively few whites in the old confederacy would register with the Republicans. It was, after all, the party of "that bearded bastard that freed our slaves". In 1964 and 1965 when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil and Voting Rights Acts into law, there soon followed a mass-exodus of bigots who fled the Democrats.

POP QUIZ: Which party did they flee to? Go on, take a wild guess!

Prior to the 1960's, Republicans took understandable pride in their connection to the Great Emancipator. That is not the case anymore. The ideological descendants of the Dixiecrats of old who now pollute the GOP would rather not be reminded of their connection to Abe Lincoln thank you very much. They know damned well that if the people take a real close look, they'll see quite clearly that the agenda of the modern day Republican party is anathema to everything that President Lincoln stood for. Don't go there. And please never again refer to it as "the party of Abraham Lincoln". His influence on the GOP ended at 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865 when he breathed his final breath.

Abraham Lincoln's image is carved for all eternity onto the face of Mount Rushmore - as is Theodore Roosevelt's. Think about that: two Republicans - and not a single freakin Democrat! Washington and Jefferson (the other two faces on Rushmore) were long-dead by the time the Democratic party was formed. The Republicans should be proud of that, don'cha think? But no, Teddy Roosevelt, another president who deserves to be placed in the "great" category, is the invisible man as far as these knuckleheads are concerned - and with jolly good reason. 

 "We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal."

-Theodore Roosevelt

If the Republicans of his day had had their way, TR would never have been president. They made him William McKinley's vice-president because he was causing so many headaches for them as the reform-minded governor of New York. They needed to find a place for him where he couldn't do any harm. In that time the office of VP was without worth or power. This was long before the invention of Dick Cheney.

Mark Hannah was to President McKinley what Karl Rove was to George W. Bush. He condescendingly dismissed Roosevelt as "that damned cowboy". In September of 1901 McKinley was assassinated. That damned cowboy was now president of the United States, Oops.

Were Theodore Roosevelt to rise from the dead tonight and announce his intention to run for the office of the President in 2016, he would most definitely be handed the nomination - from the Democrats. The Republicans wouldn't  nominate him to run as Sanitation commissioner of Oyster Bay, NY. 

In fact, four years after he left the presidency he sought the office again. In 1912 Roosevelt was bitterly disappointed that his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, had been wooed and won by the right wing of the Republican party. He challenged Taft in the primaries and arrived at the convention in Chicago with more-than-enough delegates to rightfully claim the nomination. The plutocrats who controlled the Republican party weren't about to let that happen. They had had enough of Teddy Roosevelt's progressive reform. The title of standard bearer went to Taft.

Theodore Roosevelt bolted the Republicans at that moment and ran as a third party candidate. He called it the "Progressive Party" but it was popularly known as the "Bull Moose Party". During that campaign one-hundred years ago a madman fired a gun at Roosevelt, the bullet lodging near his left lung. Unbelievably he insisted on giving the hour-long speech he was scheduled to make at that moment. "It takes more than a bullet to kill a bull moose!" he said. The guy was incredible.

Roosevelt's insurgent candidacy ended up splitting the GOP vote that year. The White House would go to a former Princeton professor and New Jersey governor named Woodrow Wilson. When Theodore Roosevelt died in the early morning hours of January 6, 1919, the progressive wing of the Republican party died with him. They're gone forever.

Dwight David Eisenhower is another Republican whose name is never mentioned by his political heirs. I wonder why? 

"Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear from that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things....Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

Oh, that's why. Eisenhower can't be accused of political pandering  when he made that statement. It is quoted from a private letter he wrote  to his brother Edgar and was never meant for public consumption. It only came to light decades after his death in 1969.

That's right, boys and girls, old Ike was a progressive Republican! Believe it or not, such a political animal did exist at one time in this country. They're pretty much extinct now. Although his foreign policy left a bit to be desired, domestically he get's a high grade. When Dwight Eisenhower lived in the White House, he understood that investing in America was the key to its success - not reducing the taxes for a class of people who already had more money than they knew what to do with. In fact, in his time, some of the richest one percent were taxed at a ninety percent rate. Eisenhower never had the need - nor the desire - to change things. The interstate highway system that we now take for granted was created under his watch. Before that, if you wanted to drive from Chicago to Los Angeles, you had to get your kicks on Route 66 - a two lane highway! Can you imagine? 

Thankful for this nation's infrastructure, crumbling though it may be? Tip your hat to Republican president Eisenhower.

These three chiefs executive - Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower - are just three reasons the present-day Republican party have to feel justly proud. Isn't it funny that not one of them are ever mentioned in the GOP's campaign literature? What's even funnier is the fact that most of the grand-old-partiers who lived in the White House are remembered today as complete failures. Reading their propaganda you would think that Ronald Reagan was the first Republican president, wouldn't you? History's final judgement has yet to catch up to Reagan. It will, though. It will.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

A Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin 

AFTERTHOUGHT:

There has been talk in recent years of adding a fifth face to Mount Rushmore. I think that's a dandy idea. Unfortunately the opinion of a lot of people is that it should be Reagan's face up there. If that happens so help me I'm moving to Upper Volta. If there is any justice in this world it will be Franklin D. Roosevelt's smiling face up there - minus the cigarette holder of course. That would be just a tad politically incorrect I think.