Thursday, January 31, 2013

2008: Sarah Smile - 2013: She's Gone


I never thought I would live to hear me say these words, but thank goodness for Hall and Oates.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." 

-Sarah Palin, August 7, 2009
`
Yeah, she's gone alright. I have mixed emotions about this latest development. True, she was (and is) a cancer on America's body politic. True, she's a textbook example of how it is still so easy for even the dumbest white people to succeed in so race-conscious a society. But oh how I'm gonna miss Fascist Barbie. She was the Buster Keaton of unintentional comedians. Early in the 2008 campaign John Cleese said that he no longer believes that his fellow Monty Python alumni, Michael, is the funniest Palin on the planet. How I wish I could thank her personally for those gales of laughter these past four-and-a-half years. 

On the day in 2008 that Sarah Palin made her first appearance as John McCain's running mate, I knew next-to-nothing about her. The only thing I knew for certain was that she was the Republican governor of Alaska. I didn't even have a mental image of her. A quick google search of her name revealed some curious facts. The first thing that struck me was the date of her birth - February 11, 1964. That was a milestone day in my life that I could remember distinctly! It was the very day that my beloved grandmother, Loretta Doran Clements, died unexpectedly in South Bend, Indiana. For the historical record, it was also the day that the Beatles played their first concert in the United States. 

At her first joint appearance with McCain in Dayton, Ohio, she didn't make much of an impression on me to be sure. As I said on this blog at that time, she had all the gravitas of Sally Field as Gidget. The moment she opened her mouth it was instantly apparent to me that the McCain campaign had made a dreadful blunder. Good for them.

Can you imagine the "what ifs" that poor John McCain must experience every waking hour of each and every day? He originally wanted Joe Lieberman for his running mate. That was too much for the geniuses at the RNC to handle. Lieberman? A former Democrat - and a Jew??? Absolutely out of the question. They insisted on a right wing neanderthal that would appeal to "the base". If Senator McCain had had his way, there's every reason to speculate that he would have won that election. He might even be at the dawn of his second term at this very moment. It's no wonder he has turned into such a cranky old curmudgeon - and who could blame the poor bastard?

We really need to face some hard and uncomfortable facts. When someone like Sarah Palin can make it as far as she has, it can mean only one thing and it's not a particularly good sign. We are living in a culture that has been custom-tailored for idiots. When a person who can barely put two coherent sentences together without the aid of a state-of-the-art teleprompter becomes one of the best-selling non-fiction authors of the decade, that's usually a pretty good indicator that society is spiraling downward at a fairly decent clip. Fasten your seat belts, kiddies!

Move over Lou Gehrig. Barack Obama has got to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Throughout his career, whenever he has sought elective office, fate has always been kind enough to place in his path to power a genuine headcase (Remember Alan Keyes?) That is precisely what happened in 2008. Not to my surprise, Sarah Palin and John McCain went down to screaming defeat on Election Day. Of course she placed the blame - not on the idiocy of the campaign that was waged - but on the "lame-stream media". You see, they insisted upon asking a litany of awkward and tricky "gotcha" questions, as Katie Couric of CBS did when she posed to her this brain-bender:

"What do you read?"

During her last campaign appearance with McCain, although the senator was smiling, it was a clenched-teeth kind of grin - or rather a grimace. His eyes revealed a very different emotion. It was all-too-clear to me that he would have strangled her then and there given the opportunity. It gives me the dry heaves to contemplate how close this incurious, mean-spirited and idiotic woman came to being "a seventy-four year old heartbeat away from the presidency".

And so back she went to Juneau; back to the relative obscurity of the governor's office in a relatively isolated state, light years from the thrill and glamor of New York and Washington. And then there was the money - and all that money. The offers came pouring in from the right wing scream machine. They wanted Sarah as the new face of conservatism in America. Fox Noise was beckoning. Oh, the dilemma. 

There was a buck to be made, many millions of them in fact. The job of governor was a drag, and compared to the offers she was getting it was a low paying gig. What to do? Abandon the citizens of Alaska she was sworn to serve. Just tell them that those evil liberals had made governance impossible. She had to save America from those awful people. In fact her plan was to cash in on her new found celebrity  - BIG TIME.

 "And so Alaska may progress, I will not seek reelection as governor."

Sarah Palin, July 3, 2009

What the....DID SHE JUST SAY THAT??? You bet'cha!

She was on her way. A few people in the media speculated that she would seek - and receive - the 2012 GOP nomination.  That was my most cherished prayer, but I concluded early on that it would never happen. My luck has never gotten that good! But what a scream a "Sarah for President" campaign would have been. Can you even imagine? 

It's all over now. Her fifteen minutes are up. For four years she hopped around the country with one foot on a banana peel and the other one in her mouth. It finally became clear to everyone that this silly and shallow woman doesn't have the substance of a half-eaten box of Fruit Loops. Her time as a cultural and political icon was destined to be brief. The amazing thing is that she was taken seriously by anyone for half a minute.

This week it was announced by Fox News that they will not be renewing Sarah Palin's contract as a commentator on that awful network. When someone's act gets too weird even for Fox, it's a pretty good sign that one needs to fold up the tent and go home. Maybe they're heeding the warning of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough who has publicly admonished the Republicans for being "the Party of Stupid". Whatever the reason, she's history. 

Not long  ago I watched the 1958 film "A Face in the Crowd" with Andy Griffith. It is the story of a homespun singer/philosopher whose lust for power and treasure turns him into a feared and vengeful  demagogue. In the end his world caves in on him and he finds himself alone and disgraced. The parallels to the story of Sarah Palin are eye-opening.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Game Change

I don't normally suggest any film I haven't seen but I'll make an exception here. Every review I have read says that it is superb. It's about Sarah Palin's involvement in the campaign of 2008. It was originally broadcast on HBO and has been released on DVD. I can't wait to see this one! 

Reader Dave Dubya just sent me this link from the Media Matters website. It contains video clips of the Top Ten Worst Things Sarah Palin Said during her stint on Fox Noise:

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/01/26/the-10-worst-things-sarah-palin-said-on-fox-new/192403 

I'm gonna miss that gal.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Democracy Schemocracy

"Republican legislators in several states have begun pushing to apportion electoral-college votes by congressional district, a move that has Democrats up in arms. Had a similar scheme been in effect in 2012, nationally or in a handful of key states, Mitt Romney could have won the presidency despite losing the popular vote. Up to now, these efforts appear to have sprouted independently as the work of individual lawmakers in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Virginia plan has passed the state House of Delegates and could become law as soon as next week."

-Molly Ball (reporting in The Atlantic, 1/25/13)

The organized criminal enterprise also known as the "Republican party" has come face to face with some ugly new realities as of late. There was a time when all they needed to do in order to win a national election was to appeal to impotent, gun-toting, middle-aged white men with beer guts and bad breath. Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end. But they have indeed ended; in fact they're gone forever.   

The reelection of Barack Obama was a wake up call for those of them who have been bothering to pay attention. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has publicly chastised the GOP for being the "stupid party" (It was a courageous thing for him to say. He can kiss the 2016 nomination goodbye). MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, a former congressman and staunch conservative, has stated on the air and in print that the time has come for that disgusting party to see the writing on the wall. They will either change with the times or they shall cease to exist very soon. At one time I couldn't stand Scarborough. I must admit, however, that he's grown on me a bit in recent years. He's still an unbearable bag of gas, but let us give credit where credit is due. He's perfectly capable of that rare moment on the mountaintop, God bless 'im.

You would think that those crazy elephants would come up with a plan that would make them electable again - and they have. Only their "plan" has nothing to do with a drastic, much needed image makeover that would make them more ideologically palatable to the masses. No; what they have in store for the American people is a scheme so blatantly unconstitutional that it would turn this nation into a banana republic - minus all those tasty bananas

On Election Day 2012, President Obama took a lot of swing states that are controlled by Republican governors and legislators. Mitt Romney did alright in the sticks, but his problem was in the cities, which are filled to the rafters with all those nasty minority types - Blacks, Hispanics, college kids, the elderly, people who read books - the usual suspects. African Americans in particular tend to shy away from a political party whose public gatherings are starting to resemble a Nuremberg rally circa 1937. 

Their plan is to install an Electoral College deal in each of these states - with the bulk of the goodies (number of votes) going to the counties in the rural districts. If this scheme had been law on November 6, Romney would today be jetting around the country in Air Force One, with an Irish Setter in a doggie crate strapped to the fuselage. 

They tried everything humanly possible last year to deny the vote to the traditional progressive constituency. They forced the voters in Democratic-leaning districts to stand in line for hours-on-end, hoping that they would become bored and exasperated and go home in a huff. It didn't work obviously. The people endured the heat of Florida and the cold of Ohio. Good for them. Because of their endurance, Barack Obama was reelected and Mitt Romney is today shooting at feral cats who dare to roam the property of any of his many homes. 

What to do? If they are unable to suppress the vote via extra-legal means, then all they need to do is to make voter suppression perfectly legal. Problem solved! That was easy! 

Well, maybe not.

Here is yet another reason that the reelection of Obama is something to be truly thankful for: Had Mitt won on Election Day, he would have been in the position of installing another blabbering, right wing derelict on the Supreme Court at the first opportunity. When this assault on our democracy is signed into law in any of these states, you can bet next year's crop that it will immediately be challenged in the Supreme Court. 

You can also count on the fact that it will be shot down like a flock of brain-damaged geese. The votes are there - even, I believe, from Chief Justice John Roberts. He has been eying his place in history lately, and I have a strong feeling that he's terrified of ending up being eternally compared to Roger Brooke Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott opinion (and a relative of mine I'm ashamed to admit). I believe that is the reason he surprised everyone by ruling favorably on the Affordable Health Care Act. 

I am now more convinced than ever that the "Grand Old Party" will be extinct in ten years' time. Recently John Boehner told an audience of "moderate" Republicans (They still exist???) that the president was attempting to shove their party into "history's dust bin". That's an unfair accusation. Their mortal wound is self-inflicted. Unfortunately there is still time for them to do some serious damage to this country,

God gave Noah the rainbow sign
No more water
The fire next time 

-James Baldwin

Amazingly, Republican legislators in the aforementioned states aren't attempting to hide what they are trying to do. RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, has even gone as far as giving the scheme his public stamp of approval. This is arrogance at its most alarming and dangerous. This is a party that is attempting to overthrow this republic. They will fail this time. But whom among us is to believe that they won't resort to violence a few years down the road? The fire next time. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED  READING:

Here is a link to the article by Molly Ball quoted above:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/the-gop-plan-to-take-the-electoral-vote-rigging-scheme-national/272523/

It's a damned good read.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dr. King and President Obama


"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

-Martin Luther King

Here we are at the beginning the second term of what is undoubtedly a historical administration. Will the next four years be as tumultuous as the last four? That all depends upon the knuckleheads on the far right. They really need to deal with some hard-core facts: We have an African American president. He was elected fairly and squarely. His reelection proves for all time and eternity that his ascendancy to the Executive Mansion is not some sort of historical fluke. This is no longer a world run by - and for - white male protestants. All the people have made an investment in America. This fact of life will become more and more clear to them in the next decade. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and our hands folded that they might eventually come to terms with this new - inevitable and undeniable - fact of life.

Maybe they'll finally get with the program but I kinda doubt it. Acting and talking crazy is what these people do best and it would be unrealistic (maybe even unfair) to expect them to alter an act that plays so well in the sticks. And besides, people like Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris, Sean Hannaty and Ann Coulter are making a fortune appealing to the very worst angels of the American nature. I suspect the years between 2013 and 2017 will bring us more of the same. That's okay by me. It's quite an amusing show.

If only Martin Luther King could have lived to see this day. I'm fairly certain he'd be walking on air - with the help of a cane of course. He would, after all, be eighty-four now.

Here's something to think about: 

When Barack Obama was elected president in November of 2008 I was quite beside myself. I remember telling everyone who would listen (and a small handful who wouldn't) "The first African American president in American history? This is a freakin' milestone, baby!"

But as the weeks leading up to his inauguration wore on, my excitement slowly dissipated. By Inauguration Day 2009 it was gone. That's when it hit me:

"What's President Obama going to be doing for the next eight years?" I asked out loud, "The same thing that black people in this country have been doing for the last four centuries: Cleaning up the mess left behind by lazy and ignorant white people! WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL???"

Happy Dr. King Day, everybody!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net       

SUGGESTED READING

Let the Trumpet Sound
by Stephen B. Oates  
a biography of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let the Children Bleed

 "This is a scourge on society. At what point do you say, 'No more loss of innocent life?'"

-New York governor, Andrew Cuomo

Keep your eye on Andy Cuomo. He's my pick for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

There are many jolly good reasons why I'll never leave the northeast. One of those reasons is that in this part of the country, when the going gets weird, even the GOP can be counted upon to do the right thing. I was reminded of this the other night when the New York State Senate approved, with rare bipartisan unity, what will prove to be the strictest, kick-ass gun laws in the entire USA. The bill is being co-sponsored by Senators Jeffrey Klein (n Democrat) and Dean Skelos (a Republican). Said Senator Klien, "This will be the toughest gun control package in the nation....all in all, it is a comprehensive, balanced approach that will save lives." 

As was reported in this morning's Times Herald-Record of Middletown, NY, "The bill targets assault rifles, high-capacity clips of ammunition and requires reports of the mentally ill who pose a threat to others with illegal guns."

One down, forty-nine to go. I have never been prouder to be a New Yorker than I am at this moment. I hope that this is the beginning of a nationwide movement. That's my heart talking. My mind is saying something else indeed.

 "They are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through Congress," 

So says David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association. And I'm afraid he's probably correct in his assumption too. The Congress, a good many of them anyway, have been bought and paid for by the NRA. Getting reelected is far more important to these treacherous assholes than getting into Heaven. The blood of our children will continue to flow. The limp bodies will continue to accumulate. There will be many more massacres of the scale of what happened one-month-and-one-day-ago in Newtown, Connecticut - or worse - far, far worse. This is something we're just going to have to learn to live with. Everybody sing! Oh beautiful for spacious skies....

How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind....

-Uncle Bobby

 "I’m not fucking putting up with this. I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I am going to start killing people."

-James Yeager

Just in case you were wondering if this blubbering jackass is available for your kid's birthday party....James Yeager (photo left) is a firearms instructor from the great state of Tennessee. He made that statement on a video that went viral and beyond. That's right, if our lawmakers even attempt to do the right thing for the safety of our children, this wretched little piece-of-shit is going to "start killing people". You'll be happy to know that the proper authorities in that state have announced that James Yeager's pistol permit has been revoked. A wise move to say the least. This homicidal, half-witted nincompoop might have saved himself oodles of trouble. The prostitutes that write our laws won't be doing the right thing anytime soon.

FUN FACT:
Nearly half of the mass murders by gunfire in the entire history of this country have occurred since 2004 when George W. Bush stupidly let the ban on assault weapons expire.  

And it's getting worse. The gun-fondlers are starting to go to pieces right before our very eyes. Some twit on CNN promised another civil war if an assault weapons ban goes through. The sales of guns are at a record high. There is a quaint little gun shop less than a half mile down the road from where I now sit. I imagine business is quite brisk these days. Quite brisk indeed. The irony is that even if, somehow, the ban on these rapid-fire, lethal weapons is passed (Don't hold your breath) it will take a decade - at least - to have any tangible effect. There are just too many of them out there now. The irreparable damage has been done. For amber waves of graaaaain!!!! I need a drink.

"This ain't rock 'n' roll. This is genocide."

-David Bowie  

The gun crazies tell us that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to have the people armed to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. That's pretty crazy, too. The founders had a bit more faith in this new democratic experiment than that. There's a dandy reason why it was not legal for a private citizen to own a cannon back in the day. A cannon, when aimed just right, was capable of harming or killing a whole lot of innocent people. That's why they inserted the line about "a well-regulated militia" (a line the NRA always omits when quoting that amendment). James Madison and crew could not have envisioned rapid-fire, semi automatic weapons in their wildest dreams. Hell, they couldn't even foresee the Edison Wax Cylinder! That's the reason they designed the Constitution to be amendable. They had no idea what future technology had in store for humanity. A bit of amending is in order, wouldn't you say?

Republican - and too many Democratic - congressmen have their lines perfectly scripted. They have all of the NRA talking points down pat. It's not the guns that are the problem, they would have us believe, it's all those nasty movies from Hollywood; it's all those dreadful video games - THAT'S THE REAL PROBLEM! But these films are shown in Europe. Those video games are played in Canada. Mass murders of little children don't happen in those countries. This is an American problem, folks. Wake up and smell the gun powder.  

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

SUGGESTED VIEWING

Bowling For Columbine
a film by Michael Moore

Since it was released a decade ago, this film has only gotten more relevant.  Every American needs to see it. Every single one of them

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

All You Need is Love
by the Beatles

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

I was telling someone just this morning that if I could only take one Beatles record with me to a desert island, this would be it. "All You Need is Love" is a recording that always lifts me up, no matter how dark the day. The song was written by John Lennon. Say, by the way, what ever happened to that guy?

 Oh, wait....Now I remember....never mind.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Deal at 80 - Nixon at 100


I had an interesting experience the other night that I wanted to share with you. On Monday my friend, Carolyn Karkosza, asked me to take her to Hyde Park, NY. She wanted to visit the Vanderbilt mansion and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum. Having seen the Vanderbilt pad on a fifth grade field trip long ago, I had no desire to see it again, but I'm the sort who just cannot say no to an old friend. I saw it again late Monday afternoon for what will be the final time, I assure you. Our plan was to visit the Roosevelt place the following day.

After checking into the Quality Inn across the road from the FDR Library, I watched a bit of TV, had a couple of drinks and went to bed. Waking up at 3AM and unable to to get back to sleep, I decided to take a nocturnal stroll. I silently ventured across a deserted Route 9 and entered the FDR grounds in total darkness, the only light visible being the gentle glow of a crescent moon. 

Roosevelt grave site
I Slowly made my way to the Rose Garden where tonight Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sleep side by side. It was just the three of us - or rather their spirits and I - breathing in the serenity of the moment. Standing there meditating in the cold, dark of night, it was impossible not to reflect on the lives of the two people whose mortal remains rested silent and still beneath the snow only a few yards from where I stood. What would our lives be like today had FDR lost the election of 1932? How different would America be - or the entire planet for that matter? Thankfully, we'll never know the answer to that question.

After about twenty minutes of silent contemplation, I wished the President and Mrs. Roosevelt golden slumbers. I then journeyed back to my room and slept like a baby.

March 4, a little less than two months from now, will mark the eightieth anniversary of the dawn of the New Deal. That day will be as good as any to pause and talk about what liberalism has meant to America. It's a conversation that is worth having, and long overdue. Think about this: The youngest person to cast his or her vote in the election of 1932 would today be one-hundred and one years old. There are few people alive today who have a conscious memory of how difficult existence was for ordinary people prior to the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

On the other hand, a lot of people have clear memories of the administration of Richard Milhaus Nixon. Hell, even I remember Nixon! Mentioning Roosevelt and Nixon in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch, I know. They were two completely different men with two completely different worldviews. Politics indeed makes for some very strange bedfellows. I am mentioning Nixon's name in this context simply because today is the centennial of his birth. That's right, kids! One-hundred years ago today Tricky Dick was born in Yorba Linda, California!

My purpose here is not to defame the name of Dick Nixon. He did that all by himself with no help from me. But in light of what's come since he left the White House in disgrace on August 9, 1974, the guy is starting to look pretty good. Even his most ardent detractors (myself included) have to agree that Nixon, as strange and as dark as he might have been, was possessed of a brilliant mind. With very few exceptions he was one of the most intelligent people ever to live in the Executive Mansion. His problem was simply the fact that he was so psychologically bent-out-of-shape, his administration's implosion was almost a foregone conclusion - at least when viewed in historical hindsight. In light of what we now know about the internal makeup of Richard M. Nixon, it is easy to conclude that he was temperamentally ill-suited for the job of chief-executive. His administration, cut short by scandal, was a disaster waiting to happen.

And yet for all his personal failings, Dick Nixon understood a few, basic realities that (with the exception of Gerry Ford) all of his Republican successors have never been able to figure out. Nixon was pretty much an Eisenhower Republican. As Dwight Eisenhower's VP, he was loyal to and respectful of the president's agenda. Although each man was uncomfortable in the presence of the other (It is said that Ike in particular didn't much care for Nixon personally) they saw the world through the same lens. President Eisenhower's views on American social engineering can best be summed up in a letter he wrote to his brother, Edgar, on the eve of the 1952 election:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

He can't be accused of political pandering here. This was a private letter that was not made public until decades after his death. Here are the key words which we really need to pay attention to: "....you would not hear of that party again in our political history." Eisenhower understood - as did Nixon, I think - that the institutions that make for a stable and thriving middle class are tampered with to the detriment of the political party doing the tampering. In other words, "Mess with Social Security and you're history, Buster!" This is the reason the Republican party is within a decade of extinction.

At one point Dick Nixon tried to outdo Roosevelt himself. He made the attempt to bring health insurance to everyone - a move that was thwarted by Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. He didn't want affordable health care to be a Republican legacy. It was not one of Teddy's mountaintop moments to be sure. And it was Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the far right's worst nightmares! We must give credit where credit is due - even to the likes of The Trickster.

It's ironic but true enough: had Nixon come around today, his party wouldn't nominate him for any office - let alone the presidency. That is how far down the ideological sewer it has descended. Strange days indeed.

And things are getting stranger by the moment

The victims of Hurricane Sandy will finally be receiving desperately needed aid from the government - but only after the Congress of the United States was publicly shamed into providing it. In 2005, within a week of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in the south, the people of that region were handed a check for over sixty-five billion to help with the clean-up and rescue. Nearly three months after Sandy made her wrath known, the people of the northeast are still waiting. The right wing have made themselves clear. The only thing that matters to them are tax cuts for billionaires. We in northeast don't matter. We have lots of Negroes, Arabs and Jews living here, you know.

President Roosevelt would be appalled. President Nixon's jaw would be dropped to the floor. These are different times. 

And I'm afraid the situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets half-a-shade better. The 113th Congress, which was sworn in on January 3, is still controlled by what used to be called "the party of Abraham Lincoln". They have no intention of doing right by the people they are sworn to represent. In the next two years you can expect more obstruction and legislative sabotage. I like to call it "treason".

Richard Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt were men who strenuously guarded their privacy. Each of them found it difficult to share intimacies with even those closest to them. But that's where the similarities end. You could not contrive in fiction two men as different in temperament and personality as these guys. Franklin was talkative and jovial; Dick was cheerless and intimidating. Their one common denominator, at least as far as governance was concerned, was that neither of them believed that economic expansion could be achieved at the expense of the working and middle classes. Too many politicians (of both parties) have forgotten this. Maybe someday they'll remember....Maybe.

Carolyn and I never made it to the tour of the FDR Library on Tuesday. We were both a bit out of sorts when we woke up and anxious to get back to Goshen. That's okay. Franklin, Eleanor and I were able to spend some quality time together in the darkness of the Rose Garden. They say hi.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

No Ordinary Time
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin

The best book ever written about the FDR White House. You can't go wrong with Doris. You just can't!    

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I had an article published on Britain's "Carnage Report" on Monday. Here's a link to have a look:

http://thecarnagereport.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/politics-guest-post-teetering-on.html

Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

BREAKING NEWS FROM DEMOCRACY NOW: 

"Two new colors have been added to Australia's weather maps to show temperatures exceeding 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the country's fiercest heat wave in more than 80 years. Wildfires are raging through Australia's six states, including in Tasmania where some 50,000 acres of forests and farmland have been destroyed."

Forget all about that stuff about "global warming". It's just an evil, LIBERAL myth, you know.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012: The Worst of the Rant

Awaiting instructions from Moscow
`



Here it is, folks! Another recap of the WORST of the RANT. When I was fifty-three, it was a very weird year. Very weird indeed. Here's living proof:

January 4:
Another example of the spreading intellectual rot of the United States of America; a country which at one time (Hold onto your hats, generation Xers!) was the best place in the world in which to live. It's not anymore. It ain't even close. Still, we do have the best reality shows on the planet. Stand proud, America!

January 17:
When even some "liberals" are expressing a sense of teary-eyed nostalgia for the likes of Ronald Reagan, that's all the proof you need to understand that the political wheels have come off the planet. And the fact that a Casper Milquetoast moderate like Barack Obama is viewed by many as a left wing radical is further proof that the American people have lost their bearings - to put it as mildly as possible.

January 22:
Here's another thing to take to the bank, boys and girls: Romney (assuming he will be the nominee) will be placed in the same position that McCain was forced into in 2008. In order to bring out "the base" he will be forced to place on the ticket with him someone (like Sarah Palin) who is such a right wing extremist that he or she is in serious danger of falling off of the face of the earth. Remember how well that worked out for them last time 'round? As it did four years ago, the choice of running mate will scare the living shit out of moderate Americans. Just you wait and see.

February 6:
In spite of everything - including a concerted effort to deny the ballot to traditional Democratic voters in Republican-controlled states all across the country - I'm more confident than ever that 2012 will not turn out to be a banner year for the right wing in this diseased land. That's not to say that I'm ecstatic over the thought of the Democrats in control of the government. Not at all. They're merely the lesser of two evils. Let me put it to you this way: The thought of the Dems controlling things might send me to the nearest tavern to drown my sorrows away. With the GOP in power again, I might very well be tempted to head toward the nearest bridge.

February 16:
It's almost i
nconceivable to me how much lower the standards of the GOP manage to fall with each passing year. Their new flavor of the month for February 2012 appears to be Rick Santorum, a man who could be mistaken for George W. Bush's not-too-bright younger brother. He kinda reminds me of Bobby Kennedy with birth defects. Is this yet another passing fad? Just a little over a week ago I was hoping against all odds that he would be The One crowned at the convention this summer. A Santorum candidacy would be bound to bring in a million laughs. I then dismissed the very idea as absurd. Fate has never been as kind to me as that.

February 25:
They have spent the last thirty years trying to appeal to the kind of people who historically were not too interested in the political process: insanity junkies. And all of their efforts have payed off quite well for them - a little too well as it turns out. The "party of Abraham Lincoln" has devolved into the party of Uncle Fester. That demographic that the political scientists refer to as "moderates" (I call them "purple agitators" myself) have taken a good look at what the GOP has become and they're headin' for the hills. And many of the so-called "Reagan Democrats" are disillusioned to say the least. It's almost as if they got all decked-up for that dream date with Marilyn Monroe, but when the door opened, standing there to greet them was Typhoid Mary in her loveliest party dress.

March 12:
In the Spring of 1992, Picture-perfect Mitt packed his picture-perfect Mrs. and their picture-perfect kids into the family station wagon and took off for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Toronto. Good ol' Mitt! He just couldn't bear to leave his dog Seamus behind languishing in a kennel. Isn't that sweet? Well, not exactly. He stuffed the poor creature into a dog carrier and strapped the crate onto the roof of the vehicle. En route, Seamus protested this harsh treatment by making a bit of a mess - which apparently started to leak down onto the windows of the car. This is the most apropos example of the "trickle down" theory I've ever heard of. Halfway toward their destination, Mitt pulled into a rest stop and calmly hosed-down the station wagon, Seamus and the crate. They then went on their merry way, Seamus and crate refastened to the roof. Once they arrived at their destination, Seamus ran away and became a temporary refugee of sorts . Legend has it that he sought asylum from the Canadians.

April 1:
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 Martin) 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.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE, 1/2/13: Newtown, Connecticut changed things.]

April 8:
Let us face some serious facts here, campers: if Mr. Rick [Santorum] 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.

April 18:
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 [Nugent]. 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.

May 2:
John Edwards is finished as a public person. Richard Nixon was able to slither his way back from Watergate to become a respected (by some) author and foreign policy adviser. A scandal involving prostitutes ended the political career of New York governor Elliot Spitzer. Today he is the host of a program on Al Gore's Current TV and is doing quite well for himself. These guys - and more than a few like them - are proof that (contrary to the old adage) there are indeed second acts in American life. There will be no second act for John Edwards. His carefully scripted play has closed for good. When this public humiliation is all over he will disappear. He will pop up in an occasional "Whatever became of" article but that's about it. You will never see or hear from him again.

May 15
I really don't believe that Mitt Romney goes to bed at night dreaming violent dreams about stuffing gay people into a doggie crate and tying them to the roof of his station wagon for a twelve hour joy-ride from Boston to Toronto. I am sure that he has evolved along with the rest of humanity with regard to his true feelings about homosexuals and Irish Setters.

May 29:
When I was a kid, in the household I grew up in anyway, whenever a major news event would break, you involuntarily went to CBS News to find out what was happening. Back in the good old days, the CBS reporters and commentators had serious gravitas - Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid - it didn't get any better than those guys, They used to refer to the news division of CBS as "the diamond of the Tiffany Network". Of course those days are gone forever. As far as news and information is concerned, "CBS" might just as well stand for "Cowardly Bull Shit". Every bit of credibility they had left was forever destroyed in 2005, after they caved-in to the political pressure put upon them by Bush Mob and forced Dan Rather out the door.

June 17:
Marijuana should have never been made illegal in the first place. Why in 2012 are we still having this same, idiotic conversation? Is it a "gateway drug" as they never tire of reminding us? Quite possibly an argument can be made there. But if it is a gateway drug, so is Miller High Life - the Champagne of Bottled Beer. Let's get a grip here.
`
June 24:
GET THIS! Barack Obama and Eric Holder (two dark-skinned guys) concocted a scheme that would have forced good white people everywhere to voluntarily give up their guns. The plan was to run MILLIONS of weapons into Mexico. The spread of violence as a result of all those firearms would surely spill over across the border onto American streets - resulting in the countless murders of innocent white children with red hair and freckles and names like "Rusty" and "Muffie". The result of the carnage would force the American people to demand a ban on all guns. It's an evil, liberal plot, you know.

July 14:
The only way out of the ditch that the "job creators" have dug us into will be by raising their taxes. And I'm not talking about a modest increase - I'm talking about soaking the bastards. That'll create some jobs pretty damned quick. For a period of at least ten years, we need to bring the tax rates of the richest half-a-percent back to where they were when Eisenhower was president, when a lot of them were in a ninety percent bracket. Just to refresh your American history, the economy did pretty well back then. Am I waging class warfare here? You'd better believe it, Buster. And I ain't takin' no prisoners, baby!

July 20:
This is the way it's going to be from now on, kiddies. When a country has the stupidest gun laws in the western world (laws that are getting even stupider by the year) it's citizens should come to expect this sort of thing. Our lawmakers have no intention of correcting this unacceptable situation. Most of them are too terrified of the power of the National Rifle Association to do the right thing. Fifty-seven years ago John F. Kennedy (one of history's more celebrated victims of gun violence) wrote a book that profiled examples of great political courage throughout American history. He wouldn't have much material to work with were he around today to write a sequel. Cowardice abounds. Get used to living in a country in ruins. This is the way it's going to be from now on.

July 26:
It's sad that people who are not white need to wait until they are no longer "minorities" in order to receive equal protection under the law (At present they don't have that protection - and you're kidding yourselves if you think that they do. Just look at the prison population). But as long as they have waited, I don't think they'll have to wait much longer. As uncle Bobby said, "The old world is rapidly fading. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand". Or as Sam Cooke sang nearly fifty years ago, "a change is gonna come". Sam didn't live to see that change. Bob Dylan probably will live to see it. In fact, we're damned-near there. We have no other choice but to accept it. The history of the next century will primarily be the story of how well (or badly) white America dealt with that inevitable change. Deal with it well, my friends. History will smile upon you.

August 12:
If you cast your precious ballot for the Romney/Ryan ticket on November sixth, don't be expecting the kind of enlightened moderation that was personified by Theodore Roosevelt - that last great Republican president. The working and the middle classes will be shouldering most of the the tax burden - and the rich? (excuse me, I meant the "job creators") They will be taxed at an even lower rate than they already are. Remember how well those Bush Tax Cuts worked out last time around? It sent the economy right into the abyss. If you're expecting a different result the next time these knuckleheads are in control of the White House, that's the very definition of insanity. Stay the hell away from sharp objects, okay?

August 18:
FUN FACT: Two months ago the Texas State Republican Party announced that part of their platform at the 2012 National Convention will be the demand that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 be repealed as unconstitutional. Since they made that announcement there has not been a single word of reprimand toward them from the RNC - nary a peep. Was this a great country or what!

August 31:
Did you happen to check out last night's conclusion of the 2012 Clown Car Race-to-the-Bottom? If this is the best the GOP can do for der Mittster's Coming Out party they're in worse shape than I thought. It was a dud and-a-half from beginning to end. And did you catch Clint Eastwood's pathetic Bob Newhart impersonation? Painful and embarrassing! What the hell were they thinking when they allowed him to go out there unscripted? The very sight of him debating that empty chair gave me the same kind of almost sympathetic feeling I got watching Michael Moore interviewing a feeble-minded Charlton Heston in the film Bowling for Columbine. As George Carlin might have said, it's time to "check his calender". Too sad for words.

September 6:
Think about this, folks: When FDR was elected eighty years ago, he was not able to undo the mess he inherited from the Republicans in one term. He wasn't even able to do it in two terms. It took him nearly a decade! Unlike Roosevelt, Barack Obama will not be allowed the luxury of four terms. It will probably take two - possibly three - different presidents to clean up this mess.

September 11:
Forty-four years of biographical hindsight informs us that [the Beatles] were four, humanly flawed, imperfect - and in many respects - troubled men. Oh, but that music. That timeless, perfect and beautiful music. I'm willing to forgive these guys just about anything. I was only four months shy of my twelfth birthday when the Beatles broke up forever in the spring of 1970. When I was a little boy they were the undisputed princes of the Planet Earth. To me they seemed to be invincible. The deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison proved for all time that they were not. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are today elderly men for whom eternity now beckons. They were - and are - as vulnerable in their grip on this slender thread as any of us. Imagine.

September 17:
It cannot possibly be understated, the mess this president inherited when he moved into the White House on 20 January 2009. If you'll be so kind to recall, we were losing three quarters of a million jobs a month. Barack Obama was able to stem the tide and then reverse it. We'll soon be approaching Month Number Thirty-One of continuous job growth. Are you silly enough to believe that even deeper tax cuts for multi-millionaires and billionaires will make those figures any better? Have another sip, pal. In fact I may join you.

September 19:
MEMO TO MITT: The little eight-year-old girl who skips over to the corner candy store to buy an Almond Joy candy bar pays taxes. Everyone pays taxes. Some pay too much. Others (like you, Mitt) not enough. That's your civics lesson for the day, Mitt. You could use a lot of them.

October 11:
In a matter of a few months a sixty year, unblemished career and reputation have been reduced to ashes on the alter on public opinion. His reputation as "the winningest coach in football" has been erased from official memory. What a waste; what a pity, and how unspeakably sad. Where have you gone, Joe Paterno?

October 21:
Publicly Bobby Kennedy referred to George McGovern as "the most decent man in the senate". Privately he called him "the only decent man in the senate". In my opinion he was the only man who ever sought the White House who was a true "Christian", that is to say he took the words of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally and tried to live by them - both publicly and privately. He was the peace candidate in 1972. His entire candidacy was more-than-likely a lesson in futility. Americans didn't want a pacifist living in the White House in 1972. Forty years later they still don't want one. We do love our wars, don't we. We're a warlike people. That's primarily why we are today a nation in ruins. Deal with it.

November 1:
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.

December 1:
These three chiefs executive - Lincoln, [Theodore] 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. 

December 15:
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.

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

And what a long, strange year it's been. I don't expect the quality of our national dialogue to improve at all in 2013. That's okay. I thrive on this nonsense.

Have a grand one!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net  

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Ding Dong! Ding Dong!
by George Harrison
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJR44H48POo


Ring out the false, ring in the true
Ring out the old, ring in the new