Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Friday Night Takedown

Mutt and Jefferson

"The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability."
Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions
So says the man who perjured himself in sworn testimony before his former senate colleagues. Nice!
Andrew McCabe
Last night was a milestone in this ongoing catastrophe that is also known as the Trump administration. Traditionally, Friday nights have usually been fairly slow as far as news cycles are concerned. The entire country is either out on the town tying one on - or home in bed sleeping one off. That is why late Friday evening is the ideal time to dump awkward or embarrassing political news on the American people. By late Saturday morning, hopefully, the impact of the story might have dissipated. One of the most peculiar characteristics of the Age of Donald Trump, it would seem, has been that every Friday evening has seen a news dump of damned-near eye-popping proportions.

On schedule, it happened again late last night, only this time the bad news was even more unsettling than it usually tends to be. A lot of alarm bells went off when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he had terminated the employment of Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. Brian Williams of MSNBC remarked that, while this was not quite a Saturday Night Massacre, it most definitely was "a Friday Night Takedown". Indeed.

The cruelest cut of all is the fact that McCabe, a twenty-one year veteran of the bureau, who has earned himself an unblemished reputation and the esteem of his peers, was within twenty-four hours of retiring. Now the pension he has worked so hard for is in serious jeopardy of evaporating into the wind. Perhaps that is the case, but I have a funny feeling that old Andy is going to have a golden opportunity to make some juicy lemonade out of these nasty-tasting lemons. His memoirs will soon be in demand - that's assuming they're not in demand already. I envy this guy's future.

The charge from on high against Andrew McCabe is that he transmitted unauthorized information - via another agent - to the Wall Street Journal. Then, when asked about it by his "superiors" (FUN FACT: There are no "superiors" in this disgusting administration) Sessions claims that he was evasive in his responses. The only problem with these rather vague allegations is the fact that McCabe is (or was) the "Deputy Director of the FBI". Part of his job description was that it was he (and no one else) who deemed what information was "authorized" for public consumption and what information was not. Do you see where I'm going with this? The incident in question involved a report the Journal was in the process of putting together regarding Hillary Clinton's infamous email server. Apparently McCabe believed that some of the information obtained was erroneous and he wanted to set them straight. Perfectly reasonable if you ask me.

Mr. McCabe is not going gently into that good night of obscurity. In a  public statement made last night, he indignantly said that the only reason he is being sacked by these treasonous bastards (my words, not his) is because he is within just a few days of sitting down for what will no-doubt be a comprehensive question-and-answer session with Independent Council Bob Mueller, and that he knows a lot of things the Trump Mob would rather Mueller not know. Apparently, McCabe is as compulsive a note-taker as was James Comey. He's in a position to mortally wound this administration, and Trump is as desperate at this point as a cornered rat.  The Deputy Director's life and career have to be destroyed and discretided by any means necessary. Common decency and justice mean not a thing to these people. McCabe's statement is one for the books:

"For the last year-and-a-half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegation against us. The President's tweets have amplified and exasperated it all. He called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than twenty years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us. No more. Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey."
No, Andrew McCabe will not be going quietly - you'd better believe it, Bubba! Trump may not realize it yet - but the decrepit old freak is going to find out soon enough: He has stupidly created his very own, custom-made John Dean. The only difference here (and it's a helluva big difference) is that McCabe, unlike Dean, won't need to "cooperate" in order to receive a lenient sentence. There will be no plea bargaining here. He has done nothing illegal.

Matt Apuzzo
The incident with the Wall Street Journal reporters occurred a year-and-a-half ago. Trump has been in office for nearly fourteen months. Why was it not an issue until this week? What took him and Sessions so long to bring it up? Matt Arpuzzo is the New York Times reporter who has been covering this story closely. Last night on MSNBC he said, "The disciplinary process is not known for great speed at the Justice Department, and so one of the things that I am quite interested in is, why did this happen so fast? The speed of it is certainly interesting."

Very interesting indeed. But I'm sure that it's all merely a harmless coincidence. Yeah right.

Within an hour of Sessions' announcement of the Deputy Director's dismissal, Trump - to no one's surprise by now - was positively giddy with his latest, unhinged Twitter tirade:

"Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."
How awe-inspiring. Someone hand me my chisel, please.
The Donald's animosity toward McCabe is nothing new. At his first meeting with Trump following the inauguration, the new president asked him for whom he had voted in the 2016 election. McCabe responded - uneasily, I'm sure - that he hadn't voted at all. Whether he was being truthful or not, it was an impudent and unethical question to ask. McCabe's wife, Jill, had been a candidate for senate in Virginia a couple of years earlier. She had run as a Democrat and eventually lost the election. One of her chief fundraisers was former governor Terry McAuliffe, an old and cozy friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton's.

Jim Comey
Here's where it gets quite awkward and weird: Jim Comey was in Los Angeles attending a conference when he was suddenly fired (as Trump, himself, later admitted to Lester Holt on national television) for not shutting down the Russia investigation. He ceased what he was doing in his official capacity as  head of the FBI, and promptly returned to Washington in the plane he had come in. A few hours later, Trump summoned McCabe into the Oval Office. When he asked why Comey had been allowed to use a government plane to fly home, McCabe's response was, apparently, not satisfactory for the First Fool. Then, out of the blue, the president of the United States of America said this to the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

"Ask your wife what it feels like to be a loser."

What did Jill McCabe have to do with any of this? Besides that, was Jim Comey expected to take a bus back to D.C.? Did Trump expect him to walk? Or fly coach even? This is merely an illustrative example of what a petty, vindictive and juvenile little piece-of-shit our president is. Aren't you proud to be an American?

Bob Mueller
Here's what's going to happen: Last week, the Republican-controlled, House committee that was "investigating'" the Russia connection to the Trump campaign of 2016, shut it down unexpectedly and announced that there had been no collusion with Putin or anyone else within the Russian government - much to the chagrin of the Democrats. Trump will use that event - plus Andrew McCabe's "disgrace"  as a pretext for shutting down Robert Mueller's inquiry. It will, of course, happen late on a Friday night. Maybe not this Friday; maybe not next Friday - but a Friday night soon. We'll be able to call that one "The Friday Night Massacre". The Chief-Executive is using the Department of Justice as a tool for political persecution. We all need to keep on our toes.

Tom Degan
Goshen, N Y

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Here is a link to watch the Brian Williams segment on MSNBC last night that was quoted in this piece:


I was just thinking early this morning that Watergate was nothing like this scandal. For political junkies these are, indeed, heady days. To quote Bill Murray in the role of Hunter Thompson in the 1980 film, Where The Buffalo Roam: 

"It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me."
Happy Saint Paddy's Day, everybody!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It Didn't Have to Be This Way

It was a thrilling time to be alive. Being born in 1958, I could see the change. The clouds were ascending. I really believed that things would eventually turn for the better. I was barely old enough to remember the America of segregation and Jim Crow. In spite of the elevation of a failed, feeble-minded "B" movie actor, I never - for a moment - doubted that America would move forward. Even the arrival on the scene of George W. Bush was not enough to dim my essential optimism for the future of this country. By contrast with what we have now, Bush is starting to look presidential. And Reagan? He's starting to look like George Freakin' Washington! That was then. This is now. As far as my worthless generation is concerned, the party's over. It's time to call it a day. Our generation was handed a nation, that while not perfect, was functional. And what have we handed over to our descendants? A shithole. What a legacy!

It didn't have to be this way..

It's all over now. The shit has hit the fan. It is over and done with. The American people wlll never be trusted again by thinking people. Germany, the nation that he USA saved the world from eighty years ago - is now the leader of the free world. Isn't that something?

This is worse than anyone could have dared predict it would be. Donald Trump symbolizes everything that is dark and disturbing in the American psyche: a bent, unenlightened dysfunction that the rest of the world has come to view with a combination of horror and amusement. It will take generations to heal the embarrassment of Trump. For the foreseeable future the rest of the planet will have no good reason to take us seriously. This political cancer is terminal and self-inflicted. Sixty-five years ago the part-comical, part-horrified speculation in liberal salons was what if Joe McCarthy should ever find himself living in the White House. It happened on January 20, 2017 - only this time the new commander-in-chief is a much-worse case scenario. For all of old Joe's recklessness, at least he had a sense of humor and could be a lot of fun to be around. Even Jack Kennedy liked the man! It was said that he was also a great drinking companion. Despite his flaws, from all that I have read about the man, I get the sense that I probably would have liked Joe McCarthy had time an fate bought us together.


Show me a political figure who reflects someone like McCarthy in a positive light, and I'll show you a catastrophe. Within hours of taking a hard line against Vladimir Putin, Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump. One can only surmise the number of state secrets that the Donald has revealed to hin man in Moscow by now. The damage that has already been done to America in the space of fourteen months is incalculable. What can only be concluded at this point if that we - and our children will be living with the stigma of this uncouth jackass for the rest of our lives.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Russian Roulette
by David Corn and Michael Isikoff

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's Happened Here

Had it been mere fiction, it would have been the darkest of dark comedies: A self-aggrandizing, celebrity billionaire, the star of a bad reality television show, decides to "up his brand" by seeking the office of the presidency. He never really expected to win, but as a former candidate his speaking fees would go through the roof. As always he was in it for the money. To the surprise of nearly everyone, he wins the primaries. Then, incredibly, he wins the general election. This was something else indeed. As president, the opportunity to make countless financial killings would be extraordinary. It reminded people who bother to pay attention to these things of the old line from H.L. Menken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Today we're also reminded of the title of Sinclair Lewis' most famous novel: "It Can't Happen Here". It  can happened here. It has.

I cannot believe I'm writing this stuff.

It was only in the final ten days of the campaign that it finally dawned on me that he might be able to take the big prize. In spite of the appearance of the infamous, long-dormant Access Hollywood videotape,  he seemed to be inexplicably gaining momentum. There was also the fact that his opponent was a terrible candidate. All of these realities made perfectly probable the election of the most grossly incompetent, psychologically deranged candidate in American history. It might have even been inevitable. Donald Trump is the end result of America's ferocious civic irresponsibly. He is the personification of what happens when the people are left to their own idiotic devices. That the process of free democratic elections must be maintained is without credible argument; but it sure as hell doesn't bode well for the future of this doomed republic. 

That is the reason the electoral college has to be done away with. Until that happens, imbeciles like George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump are to be expected. It doesn't matter that they lost the popular vote. Those elections should have been landslides. That over a third of the country still mindlessly supports an uncouth moron like Trump is telling on too many levels to count. It really is quite funny when you think about it. Dark comedy indeed. Are you amused yet?

"We have met the enemy, and they 
are us."
Walt Kelly's "Pogo"

The implosion is occurring before our eyes. Scores of administration officials have been fleeing like rats from this sinking ship. Vladimir Putin may be many things, but he's not an idiot. His goal was to weaken America by placing in the White House  a genuine idiot - and quite possibly a paid agent in the service of his government. If I'm correct in my suspicions (and I believe that I am) this is the worst possible nightmare we could ever have dreamed of  encountering. I'm not an advocate of the death penalty - and nothing is ever going to change that - but I think it is worth taking note of the fact that, sixty-five years ago in June, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were strapped into the electric chair and executed for far less than (what it is becoming more-and-more apparent with each passing day) the president of the United States of America is culpable of. No misdemeanors here, kiddies. These are the highest of crimes.

We're talking serious stuff here, campers.

As of this hour, we don't know all of the dirt that Special Council Robert Mueller has on this political thug, but what we do know should give us pause. And the fact that what is now apparent is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg is quite sobering. The coming year will prove to be catastrophic - not merely for the Trump administration - but for every man, woman and child who calls America "home". For the second time in my life, I will see a president removed from power in utter disgrace. Whether by resignation or impeachment, Donald Trump's hours as chief-executive are winding down. It might end this year, or perhaps early next. Whatever the scenario, it's a virtual certainty that, sometime in the very near future, we'll be dealing with President Mike Pence; a depressing thought, I know, but at least he's not certifiably insane - dumber than a sack of moldy grapes, yes, but not certifiably insane....or at least, I don't think he is.

Let me get back to you on that one.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Mueller Has Trump & Company Pinned Down
by Jefferson Morley

This excellent piece was published early this morning on AlterNet's web page. A must-read if there ever was one.


BREAKING NEWS, 3/13/18, 11:31 AM:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been fired by Donald Trump. This is amazing. Although a piss-poor appointee to begin with (a former Exxon exec running the State Department? Are you freakin' kidding me???) the best that could be said of old Rex was, although he's the second worst secretary of state in American history, in the sea of utter incompetence and cluelessness that is the Trump administration, he was, at the very least, moderately adept at his job. Naturally - and for this reason alone - it was a foregone conclusion that the Donald would eventually give him the old heave-ho.

The wheels have now completely come off this disgusting administration. Are you finding this one/tenth as amusing as I am?

Early this morning, after nearly fourteen months on the job, Rex Tillerson FINALLY took a hard line on Russia. By mid-morning he was out of a job. I'm sure that that is merely a coincidence, though.

Idiot Nation

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Hats off to Mr. Mueller

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky....Stormy Daniels.

It's ironic. The biggest hero that will emerge from the most devastating political scandal in United States history will be a Republican. There are so many things that Robert Mueller is uncovering - things that have nothing to do with Russian "collusion" - but which he is obliged, nevertheless, to pursue as a prosecutor. It's a lot different from Republican Kenneth Starr's persecution of Democrat Bill Clinton twenty years ago (Where does the time go?) In 1998, when Kenny Boy was unable to uncover crimes committed in the Whitewater deal or the Paula Jones affair, he went searching for them. The only way he was able to nail Bill was by questioning him about Monica Lewinsky, whose affair with Clinton he knew about in advance thanks to information given to him by a woman named Paula Tripp. Naturally Bubba fibbed. 


Fooling around with Monica was not a crime. Lying about it was. Starr knew that the president would lie in response to so embarrassing a question. He was determined to bring Clinton down, come heck or high water. It was political persecution, pure and simple.

Nobody can accuse Robert Mueller of political persecution. 

There's never been anything like this situation in American politics before. No one ever thought that there would ever again be anything that even came close to Watergate. Truth be told, Iran Contra was, I believe, far worse than the crimes Dick Nixon and his gang committed against the American people. Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan was able to elude justice. The same is true for the Bush Mob when they illegally invaded Iraq based solely on information they knew damned well was false. How many people died as  result of those lies? We'll never know the answer to that question.

What is happening now is different. This time evasion will not be possible. People are talking. Don't be surprised if, two or three years down the road, we see a former president of the United States hauled off in shackles to Leavenworth. This is an extraordinary moment to witness. I cannot believe my good fortune.

Perhaps the people will finally wake up to the damage conservatism has historically done to this nation. Perhaps not. To be honest with you I'm not optimistic. In the first televised interview Nixon gave six years after leaving the White House in utter disgrace, he famously complained to Barbara Walters (and I'm paraphrasing here): "The trouble with the history books is that they're mostly written by liberals". He was absolutely correct - and there's a dandy good reason for that, too. In order to write about American  history, you must have a broad and comprehensive knowledge of that history. Once one has obtained that knowledge, one begins to notice a pattern: Every time the right wing has been able to seize control all three branches of our government, they have destroyed this country economically. When George W. Bush appointed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2006, for the first time since the thirties, the conservatives had a firm lock on all three of those branches. What happened? Within two years we experienced the worst economic catastrophize since the thirties. 

Are you seriously under the delusion that that is merely a coincidence? Have another sip. That's the biggest problem, in my opinion, with the American people. Their knowledge of the history of the country that most of them profess to love so well is almost non-existent in most instances. In my experience, whenever I have asked people who the president  was during the first world war, the overwhelming majority of them have not been able to correctly answer that question. That's pretty pathetic, don'cha think?

The coming year promises to be a rolling constitutional crisis. A situation this volatile and toxic cannot continue; and in fact, I don't believe that it will. By the time 2018 is mercifully over, Donald Trump will no longer be president. Either he will be impeached or he'll resign - or the stress will kill him. I know that is a horrible prediction to make but, let's face it, he's a relatively old man who is  obviously not in the best physical shape. And according to almost every anonymous source from within the Executive Mansion, he is consistently stressed-out and is becoming unglued by the pressure of being chief-executive.

Donald Trump's profound flaw was his complete ignorance of the constitutional role of the president. Think about it: For his entire life he had no board of directors to answer to. He was, in effect, a board of one. For all of his adult career he made decisions and barked orders - and was answerable to no one. His fatal mistake was in assuming that the presidency would work in the same manner. That is why it is a blessing that billionaire Ross Perot was not able to win the White House in 1992. He had the identical, perfectly goofy notion. Trump may not understand it as of this moment, but he'll understand it soon enough: He is answerable to us. We are the board of directors. 

As of today, people are fleeing this disgusting administration by the scores. It's all a case of getting out while the getting is good, with their reputations hopefully only marginally damaged. Isn't this interesting?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Devin Nunes Can't Be Trusted with National Secrets
by Heather Digby Parton

This one was published on AlterNet's website early this morning. A very good read that shouldn't be ignored.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Jared's Got a Problem

A Choirboy on Opioids
“He’s now president for life.
Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”
Donald Trump on Chinese President Xi Jinping
He's thinking about it. Count on it.
Every day, the scope of this disgusting administration's mind-bending corruption becomes even more obvious and immense. It really is an incredible time we're living in. We've had corrupt administrations in the past: Nixon's contempt of the rule of law is legendary; more members of the Reagan administration went to prison than any other in the history of Idiot Nation. Every administration going all the way back to Warren G. Harding's (Remember Teapot Dome?) had some levels of crookedness. But the administration of Donald Trump is something else all together. We're barely a year into this catastrophic fiasco and the wheels are coming off. It really is an extraordinary thing to bare witness to.

It was with a great deal of skepticism that the people who make their names commenting on the train-wreck of American politics greeted the news last year that Donald Trump's son-in-law would be serving as "senior advisor" to the new president. It was believed - in some circles at least - that Jared and his wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka, would act as "moderating" influences over the obviously unstable president. If they have been at all successful in their respective jobs, it makes one tremble to think how unhinged the Trump White House would be by this time. When challenged about the charges of nepotism, Trump's apologists said that since the two were serving in an unpaid capacity, it wasn't really nepotism - at least not technically. And besides, they whined, JFK hired his younger brother as Attorney General. My only response to that one is that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump together aren't worth one tenth of a Bobby Kennedy. End of argument.

Bob Mueller
Now we are learning that within days of the nation of Qutar turning down a request that they invest many millions of dollars in a building owned by the Kushner family's real estate company in merrie olde Manhattan, Jared insisted that Trump support a blockade of Qutar that was being enforced by Saudi Arabia. Apparently, most of the administration and everyone in the state department (including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) were against the support of the blockade. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. Qutar is a country that the United States has maintained good relations with for many years. Although it might be hard to prove, it's obvious that Jared was getting even with the leaders of Qutar for not investing in his financially troubled property at 666 Fifth Avenue. In essence, the spoiled little freak had a temper tantrum. This is precisely the reason we have conflict-of-interest laws on the books. His sweet revenge might have given him pleasure at the time, but it has now exploded in his face. Jared could be in one shitload of trouble. I'm sure he has a sinking feeling knowing that Robert Mueller is looking into his nefarious dealings at this hour. Life is good.

Ask yourself the following question: Would Kushner have supported the blockade had Qutar coughed up the cash? I'm not naïve enough to believe that he would have. Why was he virtually alone in supporting it? I was born very early in the morning but it wasn't this morning. This is as bad as it's ever going to get, folks. And the amazing thing is that this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. If Watergate was a paper cut, this is  bloodbath. I was just wondering how many people out there still feel - deep in their hearts - that sending these corrupt buffoons to the White House was a good idea. The fact that over one/third of the citizens of this country still support the administration of Donald Trump is as troubling a fact as I've ever encountered. It's no wonder our allies are scratching their heads today.

I just had a beautiful fantasy. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Mueller could make a plea deal with little Jared and get him to testify against his father-in-law? Can you even imagine how awkward something like that would make Thanksgiving family dinner at Trump Tower next November? That would certainly put poor Ivanka in an untenable situation. 

I've always gotten the notion that Donald Trump has always enjoyed being Donald Trump. Since the man has never been one to take bows in the self-awareness department, it's easy to believe that this would be so. I imagine that he's not having a whole lot of fun these days. By all accounts, the president has become completely unhinged in recent months, more unhinged than he already was - which was obvious to anyone who bothered to pay attention to the campaign of 2016. This is ending catastrophically; and while it's as interesting as any unfolding political scandal in American history, it does not bode well for the American people, and more importantly, for their children.

If you voted for this fool you'll deserve everything that happens to you. It's your kids I feel sorry for - not you. Not at all.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Francesca Fiorentini

AJ+'s Newsbroke

Francesca Fiorentini is my newest hero. She has a YouTube channel that produces weekly political commentary that, in addition to being informative, is riotously funny. The American people ignore this brilliant woman to their own detriment. Here's a link to watch some of her videos. Highly recommended:

She's here to stay - and I couldn't be happier!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ammo for the Teacher

"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."


What part of that don't they get?

In the Hall of Fame of completely stupid ideas, the right wing in this country seems to have been in a race to outdo each other in terms of sheer idiocy. Hardly a day passes where at least ten examples of delightfully insane proposals are not dangled before the public for their entertainment. I sometimes get the impression that it's all merely a weird kind of advant garde performance art, Andy Kaufman-style. If one's passion is unintentional comedy, the president of the United States is a comic genius. Just when you think the silly bastard will never be able to top himself he comes up with a gem that is insane on so many different levels that it's hard to know where to begin. It really is!
Let's just get it out in the open: while requiring the teachers of our children to carry a weapon may be a hysterically funny thing to even visualize (no argument there) it is also an appallingly bad idea. If you had told me on the day I started this site that in less than twelve years I would be writing about such things, I probably would have felt your forehead. Show me a president that is taking seriously the idea of turning our nation's schools into armed camps and I'll show you a president who has lost his fucking mind. Of course I have known this unsettling fact about Donald Trump for over three decades. Many of you had to find out the hard way. Life can be funny that way, you know?

I've talked to several educators about this latest insanity making its way through our national political dialogue and almost all of them are defiantly opposed to this idea (One was trying not to think about it at all). One of them, a friend named Tarin Quattrini Hackbarth, put it this way:

"I couldn't imagine teaching English while wearing a gun holstered to my hip and a bullet proof vest under my 'professional' clothes. Plus, keep the attention of a room full of special education students that are high school age while getting them prepared to pass the state regents exam. That sounds exactly what I signed up for."
Well Put, Ms. Hackbarth!

I am reminded of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Anabelle Peavey. When I had her in the 1963-64 school year, She seemed so elderly to me, although she probably wasn't much older than I am now - which is disturbing enough. She taught us to sew, a talent that has been quite useful to me down through the years. She also taught us little ones that sticks and stones might break our bones but words would never hurt us - advice that has proven handy to me over half a century later when I read the comments section on this blog. A couple of years ago, while attending the burial services of a friend at a cemetery not far from me, I happened upon her grave. As I stood in front of where her mortal remains rested silent and still in the earth below my feet, a lot of vivid memories came rushing back. Although she could be stern when infractions were committed (and I committed more than my share) Mrs. Peavey was, on the whole, a soft-spoken, cheerful and gentle influence on her little charges. I tell you these things for only one reason:  I cannot - for the very life of me - imagine the old gal packing heat. I'm sorry, but the mind refuses to go there.

And let's not forget that not all teachers are sane by anyone's definition. I am convinced that my teacher in the eighth grade would have offed me had she had the means and opportunity. It might not take a mass shooting incident to cause the death of one mischievous kid. And it doesn't take a degree in sociology to conclude that a disproportionate percentage of kids killed in a fit of Teacher's rage would very likely be of the minority variety. No, arming Miss Crabtree is a perfectly nutty idea. Stymie is toast if that happens.

What could go wrong? Plenty.

The AK 15
The fact that there are supposedly "serious people" out there taking this crazy idea seriously is instructive. This is a country that is quite literally being held hostage - at the point of a gun - by the National Rifle Association, an organization posing as a sportsman's group that is nothing more than a lobbying agent for the gun industry. When the next mass murder of innocent human beings happens on American soil  - and it will happen soon, don't kid yourselves - expect your "representatives" in Washington to do not a goddamned thing to put an end to the unacceptable reality that anyone who so desires can walk into any gun shop in Anytown USA to purchase weapons that have no business being used in any other situation than mortal combat.

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but this is the way it's going to be from now on. It is the desire of our rulers to keep us in panic-stricken-fear of one another. They cannot hire an army of brown-shirt/enforcers to instill that fear - that would be too obvious. Just let the people do their brown-shirting for them. And what better way to do that than the easy accessibility of dangerous weapons capable of killing a room full of men, women and children in a matter of minutes - and do it quite efficiently, too!

I imagine that in less than five years, the bullet proof vest will be all-the-fashion rage. Won't that be something? Get used to this.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Within George, Without George
by You-Know-Who

Not to change the topic, but today would have been the seventy-fifth birthday of George Harrison. Here is a little piece I wrote in tribute to this great and good man on November 29, 2011, the tenth anniversary of his passing:

Seventy-five years. My sweet Lord!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Kids Are Alright

And a child shall lead them....

Fifty years ago it was the college students of America that shook this country up and turned it around. This new revolution will be waged by mere teenagers in high school. They're standing up and are refusing to be sacrificed on the altars of political expediency, corporate greed and human stupidity. After sixteen students and one faculty member in their Parkland, Florida school were slaughtered last week by some homicidal psychotic who was able to obtain a rapid-fire weapon that, in a civilized country, he never would have had access to, the survivors of the massacre are determined that they are not going to live in a country where that sort of tragedy has become the new norm. They have decided that the politicians in Washington who are there merely to serve as handmaidens to the National Rifle Association are going to finally do the right thing by the children of this country or they're going to disappear forever.
These kids are pissed, Buster. You'd better believe it.
What happened at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 - one week ago today - would never have happened anywhere but a "shithole country" such as this. Donald Trump should take note: These kind of grim events just don't happen in Haiti. Something we all need to take note of.
These kids don't want the "thoughts and prayers" of a bunch of corrupt and greedy politicians, they want to be secure in their own country.  While avoiding any questions involving these lethal, people-killing-machines, Senator Marco Rubio (of Florida no less) suggested that Florida law should be amended to make it legal for police in that overrated state to seize the guns of people they believe are a threat to the populous. What good would that have done? Although it's being reported that the FBI was aware of the perpetrator's peculiar gun fetish, no evidence suggests that the police in Parkland were aware of it at all. Besides, such a law would not have prevented the massacre in Newtown five years ago. The murderous little nerd who pulled that one off wasn't on anybody's radar. Neither was the guy who killed fifty-eight human beings in Vegas on the first of October. These politicians are going to continue to stall, delay and rationalize. The campaign contributions from the NRA mean more to them than the lives of our children. Think about that for a while.

And now a new tweet from the First Twit:

If there's one thing we may be completely certain of in these trying and uncertain times, it is that our esteemed, Common-Pervert-in-Chief can always be counted upon to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Attempting to deflect attention in the wake of so hideous a tragedy is beyond contemptible. A student of Stoneman/Douglas High named David Hogg replied:

"Children are dying and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-lago. Take action. Work with Congress. Your party controls both the House and the Senate. Take action. Get some bills passed. And for God's sake, let's save some lives."

Ah, the bittersweet optimism of youth. I wouldn't know how to break it to this poor kid that his life means not a thing on the altar of greed and corruption. I am glad that I'm not the one that will have to give him the bad news. Oh, and speaking of gun violence, I do hope that Secret Service agents are on their toes and are working diligently to keep this president safe. The last thing the loony right wing in this country needs is the bloated, martyred body of this dimwitted sociopath to rally around. Spare me.

And if you need any further examples of what an unfeeling piece of shit your president is, here's a dandy one: At the moment the first of the students were being laid to rest, he was forty-five miles away playing golf on the course that he is the owner of. Isn't that soooo "presidential"?

On March 14, one month after the shootings in Parkland, Florida, students are planning a ten minute walk-out at high schools across the nation. School boards and administrators are already saying publicly that no such demonstrations will be tolerated. Fuck them. Walk out, kids. Many of us will be there to support you. I know I will definitely be there.

Don't look to my generation to clean up the mess we've made of America. We were handed - on a silver platter - a country that, while not perfect, was functional and rational. And what is it we're handing over to the generation of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? A clusterfucked cesspool.

These kids are the ones who are going to turn America around. Just you wait.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The GOP in the Florida statehouse voted down a debate on assault weapons. Minutes later they declared pornography to be a public health emergency. All of this was done in the presence of the survivors of the Parkland massacre who bore witness from the gallery.

Idiot Nation

AFTERTHOUGHT, 2/22/18, 9:26 AM:

Below is  a photograph of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1988). She was a pioneering journalist in a day when women doing anything outside of the kitchen were pioneers. It is she for whom the now infamous high school in Parkland, Florida was named. Her good name will be forever linked to the carnage of February 14, 2018. That's pretty sad.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Their "Thoughts and Prayers"

Watch closely as a hard rain falls

Here's a tasty little morsel of fact to munch on with your morning coffee: Since the massacre of twenty little girls and boys - and the six women whose job it was to educate and protect them - inside the Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012, there have been over sixteen hundred mass shootings in the United States of America. Since that time over three-hundred shootings took place on the campuses of public schools. Ain't that a riot? On the day that the mutilated bodies of twenty little children - all barely out of infancy - became acceptable "collateral damage" to the House of Reprehensibles, the Senate and the National Rifle Association, this doomed country hurled itself - head first and smiling - straight into the pit of hell.

Exactly five years and two months after the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, some murderous little psychopath walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed sixteen of his former fellow classmates and the school's football coach. Again, as with Newtown, nothing is going to change. Every Republican reprehensible in Washington (and far-too-many Democratic ones to count) are comfy-cozy in the pockets of the NRA and their Über-Stooge spokesman, Wayne LaPierre. His solution to this latest, totally inevitable tragedy will be, of course, "WE NEED MORE GUNS!!!" The slaughter will continue, unabated, for the remainder of our lives on this troubled planet.  Those rivers of blood will continue to flow; those mountains of broken and bloodied corpses will continue to pile high. This is the way it's going to be from now on. There is no solution to this problem....

Did I say "no solution"? Pardonne moi, Monsieur!

Über Stooge
An epidemic of the random shootings of, say, twenty or thirty Washington politicians (with a handful of NRA reps thrown into the mix - just for shits and giggles, you understand) would do away with America's  insane gun laws - overnight. It makes my head spin to think how fast legislation would fly out of the capital building were something that tragic to occur. Please, I do not advocate the murders of public officials, I'm just pointing out (merely for your reading pleasure, I assure you) the unbounded hypocrisy of most of the politicians that the clueless inmates of Idiot Nation send to represent them in Washington with depressing regularity. I don't advocate murder. I'm just trying to make what I believe to be a dandy point. Chill.

Then again, if I hear one more pro-gun politician say that his or her "thoughts and prayers are with the victims during this trying time", please don't hold me responsible for how I might react....I'm just kidding, I'm fine.

Unfortunately for us, were sane gun legislation passed across the country tomorrow, it would take at least a decade for any tangible results to be noticed. In 2004  George W. Bush stupidly allowed Bill Clinton's assault weapons ban to expire. Since that time, too many of these people-killing-machines have gotten into the hands of too many people who should not have them. Not only should they be banned across the board, the manufacturing of the ammunition that fuels them should be outlawed as well. Wishful thinking, I know. Forgive me.

And while were on the subject of gun violence, the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has made me nostalgic for Bush. Somebody shoot me please.

The demented little thug responsible for the carnage in Parkland, Florida this week was taken into custody after trying to blend in with students fleeing for their lives. Had he not decided to make a getaway, the carnage would have been much more horrific than it turned out to be. If this had been a suicide mission (as was the case five years ago in Connecticut) the death toll at Douglas High could easily have been as much as a hundred or more. Thankfully we'll never know for certain what those numbers might have been. But here's something we need to understand: the numbers will be as high as a hundred or more at some point in the future - and I'm not referring to some vague and distant future - I'm talking about the near future, kiddies. Brace yourselves for the coming storm. A hard rain is gonna fall.

If you or anyone you know are still under the delusion that these routine tragedies are "the price we must pay for our freedom", then there is no hope for you. Only when the day finally arrives that gun violence touches your lives (as it has touched mine) will you understand and appreciate your once-great nation's social and political dysfunction. And don't think for a minute that it can't happen to you. For every day that passes, for every automatic weapon that finds its way into private ownership, the chance that it will happen to you - or someone you love dearly - rises proportionately. As I said on this site on the morning after the Newtown Elementary School  murders: "A people who live in dreaded, mortal terror wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will take place may, indeed, be many things - no argument there. 'Free' they are not. Let's just stop kidding ourselves here and now, okay?"

And while you're at it, get used to living in a nation in ruins.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Bowling For Columbine
a film by Michael Moore

This is a documentary which should be seen by everyone with an IQ above room temperature. The rest of you are on your own. Here's a link to pick it up off of

Watch, learn, think.


Back in 2002 when I announced my candidacy for the NY state senate, I received in the mail a message from the National Rifle Association. They informed me that if my campaign was to be blessed enough to get their endorsement, I would first need to fill out this form. So I did.

Needless to say, I didn't get their endorsement. Go figure.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Defending Malcolm X

Minister Malcolm, circa 1960


FULL DISCLOSURE: It is my belief that Malcolm X was one of the great Americans of the twentieth century. Hold that thought.

If I were to list the top ten citizens of this doomed country in that period, he would definitely be on that list. Perhaps I might even place him above Dr. King during that time. His was a spiritual rags-to-riches saga that, with the possible exception of Thomas Merton, few people have matched. His troubled youth (including the murder of his father, possibly by the KKK, and a long prison stretch) would have left a lesser man bitter and dysfunctional. Malcolm X  ended his short time on this earth on the mountaintop. He is a person to be emulated, not disparaged. We should all be channeling our inner Malcolm.
I was living and working in Naples, Florida in 1986 when I obtained a copy of his memoirs, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was co-written by Alex Haley, who would later go on to write the saga, Roots. To tell you that the book changed my life would be understating it: I was completely floored by reading it. This is ironic because - at that time anyway - Naples had the smallest percentage of African American residents in the nation. That might still be the case. In the thirty-two years since that time, no other memoir has surpassed it. Walter Cronkite once said that it is one of the few books of that troubled century that people will still be reading five-hundred years into the future. I'm inclined to agree. I can't recommend it enough.

In the years following his assassination in February of 1965, Malcolm X's historical image has been rehabilitated. In his time he was  viewed with fear and loathing by white America - and even a rather large segment of mainstream black America as well. Certainly, there had never been anyone to enter the national consciousness like this guy. No passive, smiling and accommodating "negro" was he; this was a man on fire. Although he was not in favor of integration for much of his public life, a pilgrimage to Mecca a year before his death had enabled him see that the races could live with and even love each other. The easiest cliché about Malcolm was that he advocated violence against white people. What he advocated was self-defense - a huge difference. His philosophy, which he stated publicly too many times to count, was that people should be non-violent with others who also practiced non-violence. "That is common sense. But if someone should attack you or your wife and children, you send them to the cemetery".  That could be a slogan for the National Rifle Association if you think about it.

Malcolm X. Combs
All of this went racing through my mind when I read this week of the case of Malcolm Xavier Combs. He is a senior who attends Christ the King High School in Brooklyn. The "controversy" (call it what you want) he generated was simply that he wanted the name "Malcolm X" embroidered onto his senior-year sweat shirt. The school administration told him that the name was unacceptable. At a meeting with blank-faced school officials, Malcolm Xavier's mother, Mychelle, asked them if they even know who Malcolm X was or what he stood for. Their response was simply that Malcolm is part of the curriculum. So, I presume, is Adolf Hitler. A lame defense if I ever heard one. Seriously.

Malcolm Xavier's desire to Malcolmize his school shirt has only turned him into a cause celebre. Not only has he gained national media attention, but Malcolm X's own daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz - not to mention Al Sharpton and the Action Network - have come to his defense. This kid is an honor student, and he has the appearance and demeanor of the All American Boy. It would seem to me that the school personnel could have avoided a few headaches by merely allowing him to proudly display the name of his namesake and hero. In the end they might find out it wasn't worth all the fuss.

There are schools and boulevards named for Malcolm. There was a US postage stamp issued in his honor back in the nineties - a fact that I had totally forgotten all about until  I was reminded of it this week. There have been numerous books and filmed documentaries written and produced about his life. It's not as if Malcolm X. Holmes had wanted to put the name of the president of the United States on his shirt. Now that is something that would have caused a reasonable debate! But this is hardly reasonable - far from reasonable, in fact. The historical validity of so important a figure as Malcolm X is not a debate we should be having in 2018. I'm just sayin'.

The nice folks over at Christ the King High School really need to get with the program. Malcolm X deserves better than that. So, in fact, does Malcolm X. Combs.

Malcolm X was a great American. But I repeat myself.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X with Alex Haley

Again, I cannot emphasize enough the impact this excellent book had on my life. Here is a link to order it off of

This is a book that every white person needs to read.


Here's an interview that Malcolm did with Mike Wallace eight months before his death:

The man was the real thing.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

We Got the Memo

Devin Nunes: A look of complete shame
"FISA warrants are typically big thick documents - 50-60 pages. If the Nunes memo about one is just 4 pages, you can bet it's a carefully picked bowl of cherries. Made all the more dishonest by holding back the minority rebuttal report. A real debate needs both. Someone fears that."
Former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin
Robert Mueller
The "memo" (such as it is) that the right wing SCREAM machine has been freaking out about for damned-near two weeks finally came in. The best reaction, as far as I can tell, came from former FBI Director James Comey:
"That's it?"
Some memo. It might as well have been written on a little yellow post-it-note with a tiny smiley-face drawn on the back, pasted onto Devin Nunes' clueless forehead -  just for good measure, you understand.
If the Republicans were hoping to expose some major political scandal by releasing this four-page collection of nothingness, they were in for a bit of a let down. Their claim that it is proof that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a hotbed of left ring radicals who were in the tank for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton is too weird to articulate a coherent response. Surely they haven't forgotten that it was Comey, after all, who reopened the investigation into Hillary's emails a mere week-and-a-half before Election Day 2016 - a move that cost her the election, by the way.  My belief is that they're hoping that the pitiful attention span of the American public will allow them to follow this line of accusation. Sadly, that hope is more-than-justified.

The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have their own memo, three times longer than the GOP's, which points out the discrepancies, errors of fact, and intentional omissions of the Nunes memo. The Republicans on the committee, naturally, voted to keep that one under cover of darkness. Is there anyone reading this who is still unable to understand what is going on here? Call me please. We need to talk.

The right wing's major beef is that the infamous dossier handed over by British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, was compiled when he was working for a conservative organization called "Fusion GPS" which was doing negative research on Trump on behalf of another Republican primary candidate in 2016. Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by a hostile foreign government (you know which one I'm taking about, don'cha?) and took what information he had to the American authorities. Devin Nunes and friends are claiming that, since Steele's research was possibly politically motivated, they had no business seeking a FISA warrant. They're wrong. Christopher Steele's reputation within international intelligence circles is impressive and long-standing. They had every reason to look into what he was saying and no good reason not to. Nice Try, kids.

This is not - by any means - a sinister plot engineered for no other reason than to bring down Donald Trump by what are inarguably some of the most conservative departments of the Federal government. This investigation began in the spring of 2013 - two years before the Donald announced his candidacy. The  juicy fact of the matter is that Trump - and many in his inner circle - are into this thing up to their bloodshot little eyeballs - including, possibly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president's scheme, as anyone paying attention  has easily figured out by now, is to use this silly little memo as an excuse to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and replace him with a nodding sycophant who will then put an end to the Mueller investigation at Donald's behest. If that happens, the remaining supporters of this clown would do well to hang on to their tin-foil hats. The country will explode in a way it hasn't exploded since the Saturday Night Massacre of October 1973.

Somewhere, I am almost certain, Oliver Hardy is laughing. Donald J. Trump has gotten himself in to another fine mess. There are too many Republicans in both the house and the senate who know that their chances of being re-elected in November are a fraction less than zero. As a result a whole helluva lot of them are retiring - "to spend more time with their families". Of course they are. And now that tooting the idiotic party line is no longer beneficial to their reputations, they're speaking their minds - to the utter detriment of Trump. One of these soon-to-be retirees is Trey Gowdy, an excitable right wing congressman from South Carolina. He will be bolting the congress next January after serving eight years. He said in no uncertain terms yesterday that that release of Devin Nunes' pathetic little memo should have no bearing on the Mueller investigation, and that the Feds were correct in their decision to peruse the Steele dossier. He's not the only one speaking his mind. Trump's political fortunes are devaluating by the day. Isn't this oodles of fun to watch?

And hats off to poor old Devin Nunes. Obviously this clown is blissfully unaware that he will be remembered by posterity as one of congress's more pathetic water-carriers. Or perhaps not. Is it my imagination, or does he look rather tormented and ashamed in recent photographs issued for public consumption? When his term is up in eleven months, he ought to retreat to a monastery in the Himalayas and spend the rest of his days praying that the history books misspell his name.  
It was said after the fall of Dick Nixon forty-four years ago, that it was the cover-up that was worse than the crime. In this case I believe the crime will prove to be far worse than the cover-up. During the Watergate affair, no one seriously suggested that the Trickster was guilty of treason (although he did commit a horrendously treasonous act during the campaign of 1968 that we only found out about decades later - but that's another story for another day, boys and girls). Treason is a pretty serious charge, one that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for sixty-five years ago. I don't advocate the penalty of death for anybody - not even a demented thug and common pervert like Donald Trump; but it would seem to me that, if he  has nothing to hide, why is he wasting so much time (which is always precious for any sitting president) throwing one monkey wrench after another into this investigation? Why not let it continue unimpeded and let the chips fall where they will?  If he were truly innocent of any wrong doing he could emerge from this storm politically stronger than ever, making fools of we who doubted him in the process. Why would he go as far as demeaning and slandering the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Justice? What gives?

This smells, folks.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


I believe that we are within less than a decade of (PLEASE, GOD) a nonviolent revolution, where the people of this doomed republic finally wake up and understand something I figured out decades ago:

The Democrats and the Republicans are beyond redemption.

Why are we governed by political parties? Why are we not governed by human beings?

Just a thought....