Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dick Gregory 1932-2017

Dick Gregory for President, 1968
"Repression is more detrimental for the oppressor
than it is for the oppressed."
Dick Gregory, May 4, 1971, Kent State University
Dick Gregory died late Saturday night at a hospital in Washington, DC. Give me some time to get used to this. At this moment, everybody is talking about the death of Jerry Lewis. I, too, loved 7Jerry, but today we need to talk about Dick Gregory.
It was one of those mountaintop moments that will never leave me. Early one afternoon in the Spring of 1985, I was working on a job in front of a building on Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets in merrie olde Manhattan. I was on lunch break listening to the Howard Stern program on the radio. This was at a time when Howard could still be appreciated by anyone with an IQ above a bag of rancid mangoes.  I was about to dig into a tuna fish sandwich when Howard announced his next guest - who turned out to be my hero: Dick Gregory! 

I had discovered him as a teenager at Goshen Central High School. One day in  my freshman year, I was perusing the biography section in the school's library when I came upon an autobiography with the most peculiar title: "nigger" (in lower case). I picked it up with a minor curiosity and probably wouldn't have given it a second glance had the author of this book with the provocative title not been a comedian. I was a comedy nerd even then. I checked the book out and have been hooked  on Dick Gregory ever since.
As luck would have it, on that fine Spring day in 1985, I was parked directly across the street from the building in which the Stern program was broadcast. When the interview ended, I got out of the van, walked across the street, entered the lobby, and waited patiently. After about ten minutes or so, one of the doors of the four elevators opened and he emerged: MY HERO IN THE FREAKIN' FLESH, BABY!

This was not my first encounter with Dick Gregory - or "Greg", as his friends called him. In the late seventies, while reading yet another of the several books by him that I had read over the years, he mentioned in the closing chapter that he and his wife Lillian (and their ten children) had settled into a beautiful farmhouse on Long Pond Road in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Just out of youthful curiosity,  I called the Plymouth directory assistance to see if he might be listed. To my utter astonishment - he was! At that point in my life, I didn't dream I would ever have the opportunity to meet Dick Gregory, but - come hell or high water - I was determined to speak to him.

After a couple of tries, I was able to get through to the great man. I don't remember the much of the conversation,  except telling him before hanging up how much I loved and appreciated him and all he had done for America. It was such a sweet conversation, I wish I had recorded it. I never phoned him again because  I didn't want to be a pest; the poor guy had enough on his plate, what with trying to save the world and all.

A couple of years later, in the early months of 1980 (or was it the late months of 1979?) I was a student at Orange County Community College, or as I used to call it, "The University of Middletown". Somehow I got myself on a committee that was charged with booking entertainment and lecturers to appear at OCCC. Of course my first and only thought for a lecturer was Dick Gregory. I worked out all the logistics and booked him to appear. I even made arrangements for he and his brother (who was traveling with him as an assistant) to spend the night in the guest room of my parents' house in Goshen. Alas, it was not meant to be. On this night, the east coast was whacked by a killer blizzard, and Greg got snowed-in in New York City. It was one of the biggest disappointments of my life to that point (I've had a number of them since then). To my credit, I was able to get Leon Redbone to appear a few weeks later. All was right with the world again.

You've got to give this man credit. In 1959, at a time when African American comedians performed exclusively to black audiences via a system that was known as "The Chitlin Circuit", Dick Gregory was the first of them to "cross over" into the white mainstream. Although at that time America was still resistant to change, the world of comedy (always ahead of the curve) was changing at what seemed to be the speed of light. It was no longer a market inhabited exclusively by tired and stale old vaudevillians like Milton Berle and Henny Youngman. A new breed of smart and sophisticated comics were emerging in the repressed era of the 1950s, personified by performers like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Dick took advantage of this new freedom and dove headfirst into it. 
It was the visionary Hugh Hefner (already a champion of the trailblazing and controversial Lenny) who booked Gregory for two weeks at the Playboy Club in Chicago where he was a sensation. From that moment on, he was cooking: appearing in the top rooms and the on the most influential television programs in the nation. He even acted in movies. This was a performer that was touching a star even he would not have dared imagined a year before. Dick Gregory was reaching heights no one might have foreseen. And yet,  that was not enough. There was something happening in America that could not be ignored. Dick Gregory wanted to be a part of a higher calling.

He began to take part in the civil rights marches that were overwhelming the consciousness of the United Staes in the early sixties, particularly in the south. He was a decided part of a movement that was altering America and would change it forever. He started to spent more and more time as a sit-in demonstrator than as a stand-up comedian. He was shot in the leg trying to bring calm to the Watts riots of 1965. He earned himself an FBI file that was would have been the envy of anyone(myself included) to find themselves on J. Edgar Hoover's shit list. It is my opinion that any person of conscience who did not have a file during Hoover's reign of corruption and stupidity, is not a person  whose biography is worth taking note of.

Think about it:

Malcolm X, John Lennon, The Berrigan Brothers, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Abbie Hoffman, Martin Luther King, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Kennedy, Angela Davis - they all had files in Hoover's FBI. That is a noble and honored fraternity. I'D LOVE TO BE A PART OF THAT CROWD!

That is only one reason I would have trusted Dick Gregory with my life. I still do. I always will. I love Dick Gregory. That's never going to change.

He purposely destroyed his career as an entertainer. He wanted - I suspect he needed - to stand for something more noble and righteous. I once speculated that if you ever find yourselves in Heaven, the only two entertainers you're likely to encounter will be Laurel and Hardy. I need to amend that statement. Dick Gregory will be there.

He became the conscience of America, enduring hunger strikes - some of which went on for months - in order to call attention to the immoral war in Vietnam. He became an outspoken vegetarian and nutritionist whose books on diet and healthy living are still in print and are referred to decades later.

The Lion In Winter
Again, I cannot emphasize this enough: I loved Dick Gregory.

When we met in the lobby of the building on Fifth Avenue, I introduced myself and told him of our scant encounters. He smiled and told me that he remembered me. I've always flattered myself into believing that he really did, but I suppose he was only being polite. Dick Gregory was that kind of man.

We walked together on Fifth Avenue and turned right on West 57th Street. As we strolled for several blocks, we talked about America. We talked about our hopes and fears. It was then that I realized that he wasn't the icon I had always imagined him to be. Dick Gregory was just like me. I was ashamed that it had taken me that long to figure it out.

When we reached the corner of Broadway and West 57th Street, we went on our separate ways. Dick Gregory headed south on Broadway, and I ducked into the Coliseum Bookstore.

I felt blessed. I still do. We're going to miss you, Greg.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Dick Gregory

This book changed my life.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Roger and Me

You will lose you mind when cousins aren't two of a kind

"All these folks worried about erasing history when the Confederate statues come down will be thrilled to learn about the existence of books."
Jamil Smith

Historians inform us that in most instances, Roger Brooke Taney was a pretty good jurist. He was also a bit ahead of his time with respect to the subject of the "peculiar institution" of slavery - at least in his youth. When, as a young man, he inherited a plantation filled with human beings living in unrewarded bondage, he gradually set them free via a process that was known as "manumitting". He even provided a pension for the older ones who had no hope of finding manual labor out in the world. That would seem to me evidence of a decent human being. Not many former slave owners were as kind and as generous as that. The overwhelming majority of elderly slaves were left to fend for themselves in a dangerous and hostile world. So far, so good.
His position on the Supreme Court was unprecedented for a few reasons: Appointed by President Andrew Jackson in 1836, he was the first Catholic to serve on that bench. He was also one of the longest-serving. When he died in October of 1864, he had been there for almost twenty-nine years. Roger Taney should have an honored place in American history, but he does not. And the reason for this is the horrible fact that he authored what is - beyond a molecule of debate - the worst Supreme Court decision in the history of this nation. Wait, it gets weirder than that (at least for my purposes). Are you ready for this?
There's not much history on my father's side of the family. As far as anyone can tell, they were just a bunch of drunken Irishmen fleeing the potato famine in the 1840s. It's a different story as far as my mother's side is concerned. Placed on the branches of my maternal family tree are to be found the doctor who set the broken ankle of John Wilkes Booth late on the night he murdered Abraham Lincoln (Samuel Mudd), a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Charles Carroll), the founder of the state of Maryland (Lord Baltimore) - and a number of other people - some praiseworthy; some outright rascals. Put me in the "rascal" category if you wish.

Taney, like so many of my ancestors, was from the state of Maryland. Although he didn't resign from the court at the outbreak of the Civil War, he was decidedly pro-confederacy. He was such a thorn in Lincoln's side that, for a time, the president considered jailing him. When Cousin Roger died suddenly a month before the election of 1864, Honest Abe made no public comment, which was probably just as well. Apparently Lincoln - one of the most amiable men ever to live in the Executive Mansion - detested Roger Taney with a passion.

Dred Scott
The decision that completely destroyed the legacy of my distant cousin involved a case that was called, "Scott v. Sanford". Dred Scott was a slave who was transported by his "owners" to the "free" state of Illinois and sued for his freedom. For over a decade, his case slowly moved its way up the court hierarchy until it finally reached the Supremes in 1857. The justices voted  - seven to two - that Scott had no right to freedom. Even by the unenlightened standards of the day, it was an appalling decision.  Most historians believe that it was the spark which would ignite the war between the states four years later. One of the nine, Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis, was so completely unnerved by the decision, that he resigned from the court in disgust. Good for him.

To make matters quite worse, Taney decreed that a slave owner could take his "property" into the territories, and he furthered the notion that, black people "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." As a fellow Catholic, Cousin Roger should have known better. Honestly.

In a bittersweet coda, shortly after the decision was announced, Scott's "master" (in this case a woman) chose to set him free, He had less than a year to enjoy that freedom, dying on September 17, 1858 at the age of fifty-nine. 

T'ain't no more Taney
Flash forward one-hundred and fifty-nine years later, in an act that would have given Dred Scott a decided flash of schadenfreude, the governor of the state of Maryland, Larry Hogan, ordered that the statue of Taney, which had prominently sat in front of the statehouse at Annapolis since 1870, be removed. Governor Hogan understands all-too-well that America is entering a Brave New World where causes like white supremacy have no place in the cultural melting pot that the United States is supposed to be. America is changing, and, like all mass changes in history, a significant segment of the population are not taking this inevitable social evolution very well - as was evident by the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia a week ago today. Someone remarked on television late last night that no Jewish kid should be expected to attend Adolf Hitler High School. Why can't we treat our brothers and sisters who are the descendants of slaves with the same respect?

A few right wing publications today are criticizing the Democrats for not advocating the renaming of public places in West Virginia bearing the name of the late Senator (and former KKK member) Robert Byrd. I offer an exasperated sigh and a much-needed lesson in American history:

Robert Byrd
Yes, the Democrats were - at one time - the party of the racist Dixiecrats. For over a century most southerners could not bear to align themselves with the party of "that bearded bastard that freed our slaves". Then in 1964 and 1965 respectively, President Johnson passed into law the Civil and Voting Rights Acts. Within less than a decade, all of those racist Southern Dems fled the party like frightened little mice.

POP QUIZ: Which party did they flee to? Which party welcomed them with loving and open arms?

Ironically, Byrd was one of the few who didn't leave the Democrats. That's because he renounced his Jim Crow roots (decades before his death) in several painful and public mea culpas. His conversion to light cannot be dismissed as mere political expediency; West Virginia's African American population has never been noticeably large. He deserves to be publicly honored.

Robert Byrd overcame.

The political heirs of the Dixiecrats claim that the mass migration to the GOP in the sixties and early seventies was simply about economics, that it had nothing to do with race. Bullpippy! It had EVERYTHING to do with race.

Robert E. Lee
There are no statues of Hitler anywhere on this troubled planet, and yet our historical knowledge of him has not been "washed away". We know about him today just as they will know about Robert E. Lee a century from now. A statue is not a history lesson. It is a remembrance of honor. Lee was an officer in the United States army, educated at West Point, who led a counter army in war against the government he had sworn allegiance to. In that ensuing war, 624,000 human beings were slaughtered. Where I come from, Bobby Lee would be labeled "a terrorist"; Where I come from, he would be disparaged as "a traitor". He killed more people at Gettysburg than Osama bin laden killed on September 11, 2001.

Should Lee be remembered? Absolutely.

Should Lee be honored? Absolutely not.

Let's replace the statue of Roger Brooke Taney with one of Dred Scott. That works for me!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


With Malice Toward None
by Stephen B. Oates

By far, the best one-volume biography of Lincoln ever written.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville über alles

Whoa! Look at all them white people!
Frederick Douglass
Think about this for minute: Robert E. Lee was an American who waged war against his own country. He was a traitor. In the Spring of 1861 President Lincoln asked him to lead the Union Army, but Lee opted, instead, to fight for the treasonous Confederacy. He led an army of at least a million armed men in a war against the United States, a war in which 624,000 human beings lost their lives. I don't know about you, but where I come from they would label someone like that as a "terrorist". How would you like it if some committee erected a statue of Osama bin Laden in your town square? He killed far less Americans on September 11, 2001 than Bobby Lee did at the Battle of Gettysburg! The Park in Charlottesville, Virginia where his soon-to-be-removed statue stands conspicuously on a pedestal no longer bears his name. It is now called "Emancipation Park". It is my opinion that they should replace the statue of Robert E. Lee with one of Abraham Lincoln - or better still - Frederick Douglass - the same Frederick Douglass that Donald Trump said was doing such "great work".

Heather Heyer
Yesterday was a day to remember that I'm trying to forget. The capper on the worst racist riot on American soil in generations was when some psychotic little bozo named James Alexander Fields plowed his automobile at full speed into a crowd of hundreds, injuring twenty-seven and killing a young woman named Heather Heyer. To the best of my knowledge she is the first white woman to be martyred in the name of civil rights since Detroit school teacher Viola Liuzzo was gunned down by the KKK in March of 1965.  Given the temper of the times in which we live, I have no doubt that Fields believed he would be granted an instant pardon by Donald Trump. This carnage occurred all in the name of - WHAT? - "White nationalism". You see, some of the heirs of the Confederacy seriously believe that their rights are being taken away from them; they are saying that they want to "take their country back". And they view the removal of Lee's statue as a violation of their Southern heritage.

Sour puss Taney
Embarrassing as this is for me to admit, I, too, possess some of this heritage. There is a rancid branch in my family tree that contains a few people who fought for dear ol' Dixie. Worse still, one of my forebears, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, wrote the dreadful Dred Scott Decision, the most despicable and deservedly maligned supreme court decision in the history of Idiot Nation. At the moment I learned that the statue of Robert E. Lee was going to be yanked away from the formerly named Lee Park, I didn't become unglued; I didn't start jabbering about "white nationalism"; I didn't attack the first black person who came across my path with a baseball bat; I didn't shout slogans popularized by the Nazis eighty years ago - and I certainly didn't plow my jeep into a crowd of complete strangers. I merely sighed softly to myself and said out loud, "What took them so long?" I reacted very maturely. You'd have been proud of me!

FUN FACT: In June of 1963, President Kennedy reacted to the civil rights upheaval of his day with an address delivered from the Oval Office - in primetime - to the people of the United States. That speech (which was improvised by the way) is remembered today as one of the greatest presidential orations in the history of this once-great country.

How did Donald Trump react to the turmoil of his time and place?

With a midday tweet.

In his statement, Trump (I can no longer bear to refer to him as "the president") said that the violence yesterday in Charlottesville came from "many sides". That's not true. The violence was instigated by the bigots, some of  whom were openly donning Nazi insignia). Trump, who has never been shy about hurling invective at anyone, initially refused to condemn racism and hatred. He doesn't dare upset what's left of his unmovable and loyal base of supporters. I know, it would have been nice to see him become a human being and finally admit that hatred of other human beings is wrong and has no place in the United States of America. It would have reminded me of the final scene in Charlie Chaplin's Great Dictator where the humble Jewish barber is mistaken for the cruel despot and proceeds to give a speech, imploring humanity to be more merciful toward one another:
"Soldiers!!! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke it is written that the kingdom of God is within man - not in one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power! The power to create machines! The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful - to make this life a wonderful adventure! Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power - but they lie. The do not fulfill that promise; they never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!"

Don't ever expect anything as inspiring as that to come from the mouth or mind of Donald J. Trump. Nine months ago the American people stupidly elected this unenlightened, unhinged, common pervert to the most powerful office in the world. We're getting exactly what we deserve. We deserve no better.

Yesterday I was visiting my onetime girlfriend in Cornwall, NY. As is her unfortunate habit, she was getting the latest bulletins on the carnage in Virginia from Fox Noise (She voted for Trump but I still love her).  Over an hour after the mass vehicular assault, they were still referring to the incident as a "car accident". I would imagine that most of the mass of halfwits and megalomaniacs who participated in the festivities yesterday in Charlottesville also get their news from Fox. I'm told in a few articles I've read recently that that organization is beginning to wither on the vine. If only I could believe it.

I also would like to believe that yesterday's man-made catastrophe in Charlottesville, Virginia was merely a one-time freak show that will not be repeated any time soon. I don't think that is the case. We're living in Donald Trump's America now.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

UPDATE, 8/14/17, 6:06 AM:

Memorial services for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville had to be cancelled due to bomb threats from some of these racist thugs.


The Great Dictator
A film by Charles Chaplin

One of the great comedy masterpieces of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Donald's Very Own Reichstag Fire

It's also an easy wager that, in the days to come, Trump and his minions will stoop to horrifically stupid and reckless depths in order to distract his already comically distracted fellow countrymen and women. I'm not conclusively saying that they're going to create their very own, Made-in-America Reichstag Fire, I'm just warning you not to put it past them. Cornered rats are known to be quite unpredictable. The "leader of the free world" has already shown his sociopathic tendencies. At this point, anything can happen. Brace yourselves for the shit storm.
From this blog, 8/5/17
"North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like world has never seen."
Donald Trump
I'm not an expert on the art of diplomacy. All I really know is that it is wrought with complexity. Here's what I do know: While it is essential that Kim Jung Un understand that a nuclear attack against any country on the planet would assure that both he and his tortured nation would cease to exist before the sun set on the day of the attack, it's also a pretty good idea that the warning should not be announced via a bullhorn with all the word watching. Apparently, the military (not to mention several politicians from his own party) are aghast by the Donald's unhinged saber rattling on Tuesday. He would have been wise to adhere to Theodore Roosevelt's advice. The United States is possessed of a pretty big stick - the biggest on the block. We need to "speak softly" when wielding it. These diplomatic subtleties are simply beyond the comprehension of someone as unsubtle as Donald Trump. This is why his presidency was doomed before it arrived at the starting gate.

My guess is that the only reason he would make such a reckless statement (other than abject stupidity) is that he is trying to deflect our attention from the growing metastasizing scandal that - day by day - is consuming his administration. The prediction on this site four days ago that he might pull something like this is really no big deal. I'm not the only commentator to predict as much - nor am I the only. Anyone paying scant attention to this disgusting sideshow could easily have seen it coming. This is what corrupt politicians do when they are cornered: they distract.

First of all, Trump has threatened the Infant King of North Korea with a hail of "fire and fury" if he "threatens" the United States. I'm not an expert on international law, but "threatening" another nation is not illegal. What's an unstable despot like Kim supposed to think? How will he react? Back channels could have let him know, in no uncertain terms, that ay kind of attack on the U.S. held territory of Guam would be disastrous for him. What is far more likely is that this idiotic provocation by Trump would humiliate him into making a strike against South Korea. Here's another prediction I made back in October, a full month before the election: If the voters of this doomed nation were foolish enough to send this silly sociopath to the White House, a lot of innocent people are going to die. I hope that I'm wrong. I don't believe that I am.

Consider this: Two not-terribly bright,  psychotic despots are waving nuclear sabers at each other from across the Pacific Ocean. Ain't that something?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Nixon: Paper Cut - Trump: Blood Bath

Trump has proclaimed this to be "American Dream Week". Learning of this filled me with hope and optimism. That means there's a chance that I might yet awaken from this fucking nightmare.
Idiot Nation.
Watching the rolling implosion of the administration of Donald John Trump is quickly becoming a vocation with me. It's almost like reliving Watergate, only this time I'm viewing the political carnage through the eyes of an adult. The other day I told a young friend who just turned nineteen what incredible times these are to be alive. He fully agreed and understood clearly the historical implications of what is now occurring in the land of the weird. I never dreamed that we would ever again come to this point. Although thirty years ago I truly believed (and still believe) that the Iran/Contra affair (or "Contra-gate" as it was popularly known) had the clear potential to be worse than Watergate, it slowly withered on the vine. In 1987, Congress lacked the political courage to take on Ronald Reagan, and the Gipper was allowed to finish his term unscathed. I still think that they should have impeached the silly bastard. 
What is happening in 2017 is very different indeed. The Trump White House is within a few months of falling of its own weight; the principal players in this nightmare - the president of the United States included - are staring to behave like a mass of cornered and panicked rats. The veil of deceit is on fire. Once the sins of the Trump Mob are on view for all to behold, there will be no place left to hide. And once it is clearly understood by the American people what these disgusting bastards and bitches have done to their once great nation, even most of the base will be hankering for a serious payback. Is it any wonder why, in recent weeks, he's been behaving more unhinged than we've come to expect? He's falling completely apart.

The bells of doom are being tolled by Special Council Bob Mueller. When it came to light a couple of days ago that he had impaneled a grand jury, I knew then and there that it was the beginning of the end. Son-in-law Jared Kushner no longer bears the serene disposition of a choirboy on opioids. He is a man tormented and desperate. Daughter Ivanka Trump has been keeping to herself in recent days. One wonders if she is terrified that Jared is going to turn on Daddy in order to ingratiate himself to Mueller and company in return for  bit of leniency. That would make for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, no doubt about it. It's almost a given that, with their elite educations, they have studied Shakespearian tragedy to a degree that eludes the rumpled and filthy masses. I wonder if they aren't being bogged down by the analogies at this very moment. Can  you even imagine? It's a safe bet that it couldn't be much fun being Jared and Ivanka these days.

It's also an easy wager that, in the days to come, Trump and his minions will stoop to horrifically stupid and reckless depths in order to distract his already comically distracted fellow countrymen and women. I'm not conclusively saying that they're going to create their very own, Made-in-America Reichstag Fire, I'm just warning you not to put it past them. Cornered rats are known to be quite unpredictable. The "leader of the free world" has already shown his sociopathic tendencies. At this point, anything can happen. Brace yourselves for the shit storm.
I've seen quite a few bumper stickers in recent weeks that say:
But Trump is the clown from hell, the type that frightens children and small animals. We're way past the point when he was a mere irritating amusement. We've elected to the office that was once occupied by Abraham Lincoln a paid agent of a hostile foreign government. Does that sound like an extreme statement? Stay tuned.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here's a link to a very informative documentary that documents this hideous bastard's ties to Russia organized crime:

This is going to end very badly, but I repeat myself.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Fun in Dysfunction

Anyone who had bothered to pay attention during last year's campaign could easily have predicted that this was going to end badly. It was a foregone conclusion. On this site, on the morning after, it was clear to me the immensity of what America had done to itself:
For the last three-and-a-half decades, the United States of America has held the proverbial loaded pistol, pointed at its own collective, clueless head. Last night it pulled the trigger. According to the "experts" who are desperately attempting to put a smiley face on yesterday's electoral catastrophe, the American people were merely trying to send a message. Of course they were. And that message has been received loud and clear:

The curse had been irrevocably cast. We were all in for one hellacious four years. The ultimate irony is simply that most of us had not even come close to predicting the scope of the catastrophe that would be the administration of Donald J. Trump. My prediction was simply that it would be a lot worse than the reign of Bush 42. As things turned out, that turned out to be a gross understatement. In hindsight, Dubya is starting to look like Abraham Lincoln. We've got to face the unpleasant truth that the president of the United States of America - and most of the people that comprise his inner circle - are out of their minds. This is still an amusing, quite funny spectacle to behold, no doubt about it, but in the eight days since I last posted, the farce has gotten darker and darker.
"What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the president's agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people."
Anthony Scaramucci

Nicely put. Just when you think the black comedy had reached its peak, the Common Pervert-in Chief rolls out his new "Communications Director", Anthony Scaramucci; a billionaire so loaded down with conflicts of interest that he really is made-to-order for this bunch. In the week since he took the post, he has handled his new job so ineptly that it's a cinch that he'll be forced to head for the hills before the administration meets its one year anniversary. In recent interviews his comments regarding Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus have been laced with so much profanity that one wonders just what kind of message he's supposed to be "communicating". Of Bannon, Scaramucci said that "he can go fuck himself". Of Priebus he said, "Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac". Is it my imagination or is this stuff unprecedented?
Back at the Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions is becoming a hero, which is the last thing I ever dreamed would ever happen. He has become such a needling thorn in the Donald's side, first by recusing himself from the investigation into Russian collusion, and secondly, by refusing to resign his position as Attorney General. He is apparently blocking Trump's wish to install a useful idiot to put the old kibosh on the inquiry, and is refusing to fire Special Council Bob Mueller. Were Trump to fire Sessions, he is well aware that he would precipitate a constitutional crisis that would spell the beginning of the end of his administration. It can't be much fun to be Donald Trump these days - and it shows. The poor old bugger is unraveling before our very eyes.
Keep your eyes on the circus. By year's end this is going to be quite the show - if it lasts that long - which is highly doubtful.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Trump's ties to the Russian mafia are exposed.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Six Eternal Months

 "Heaven help us, look where we are. We have a president - commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ostensibly the leader of the free world - whose every word is suspect. President Trump is an inveterate liar. He dismisses provable facts as "fake news" and invents faux facts of his own that bear no relationship with the truth. He simply cannot be trusted."
Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post

Today is July 20, 2017, six months in to what is undoubtedly the most mind-bendingly corrupt, unhinged and disgusting administration in American history - with forty-two very long months left to pass before it's all over. This unprecedented political catastrophe cannot possibly continue for that length of time; in fact, I'm more convinced than ever that it will not last. Incredibly, thanks to the current extreme makeup on the House of Reprehensibles, we will be forced to endure - at the very least  -  another twenty full months of this nightmare. This is what happens when you send a psychologically deranged sociopath and  common pervert to the executive mansion. Are you the least bit surprised by what is happening to this once great country? You shouldn't be.

Idiot Nation.

a number of weeks ago, Senator Elizabeth Warren joked that the era of Donald Trump seemed be passing by "in dog years". That wasn't an exaggeration. Yesterday, an anonymous friend of Trump's oldest son reported that Donald Jr. "can't wait for these four years to be over". He's not alone. We'll just leave it at that.
Expect the rest of this fucking maniac's tenure to be a continuing constitutional crisis. Yesterday, in a garbled and raving interview with the New York Times, the Oaf of Office hinted that if Special Council Robert Mueller, the man currently charged with getting to the bottom of the Trump/Putin scandal, tries to look into the Trump family's financial ties with the Russian government and the rampant organized crime that has swallowed up Russia and the Russian people, he will be discharged from his duties. Oh yeah! If that happens, Weeda Peeple will shut this place down. Expect the next six months to be very interesting; Very interesting indeed. I once believed that nothing could ever possibly outdo the utter madness of the Bush era. Isn't that ironic?
As it is everyday, the insanity of this president was on display in jolly abundance when he attended the first working session of his new "election commission" whose purpose is to investigate how that EVIL Hillary Clinton was able to steal all of those popular votes from the Donald during last year's campaign. The collection of pathetic sycophants that make up this committee have been tasked with the chore of getting to the bottom of this phantom "controversy" and coming up with "solutions" to the "problem". Who wants to make a little wager that those solutions will involve passing laws that will make it even harder than it already is for the traditional progressive constituency to cast their precious ballots on Election Day 2018? Who wants to further bet that those solutions will be upheld when challenged at the Supreme Court level? Citizens United was nothing compares to what these treasonous assholes have planned for us. Have an umbrella at the ready. The shit storm is about to descend. These are interesting times.

We have stupidly saddled ourselves with a president who is not only an agent of a hostile foreign government, he has financial ties to the Russian mafia that go back at least two decades. Does that sound a tad extreme? It's already been revealed. The story is unfolding bit by bit, day by day. You've missed it? Turn off Fox Noise. It'll do you a world of good.

In exactly six days Donny Jr. and Paul Manafort (the former head of the Trump campaign with a warehouse full of Russian ties of his own to contend with) are scheduled to appear before the Senate committee looking into this mess. To make matters even more interesting, both of them will be testifying under oath. I'd hate like hell to be in the shoes of either one of these knuckleheads. I'm sure that Junior has already been promised a pardon by dear old dad; I don't expect too much substance to be learned from his testimony. But Manafort is an entirely different story. He has no reason to be loyal to - or to expect loyalty from - a man who a year ago threw him under the bus for nothing more than reasons of gross political expediency. Why the hell would he have to display any kind of loyalty to Mein Trumph when his very existence as a free man is on the line? Maybe he'll surprise us. Maybe he won't. This crowd is very predictable in their unpredictability.
What we are living through is unprecedented. As troubled as Dick Nixon was; as heart-breakingly dumb as was George W. Bush - neither man was certifiably insane. Donald Trump is something else indeed. As I noted on this site on the day after the election, this is going to end very badly. If you didn't see this coming, you weren't paying attention. I was paying attention.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


This Country Deserves Much Better than Trump
By Eugene Robinson

Here is a link to read the piece that is quoted at the top of this one. The Pulitzer Prize winning Robinson is the best of the best. He can also be seen as a frequent commentator on MSNBC - that den of commie liberals.

The man is on a roll!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Little Donald's Big Mess

"Over the past week, one senior White House official and former top Trump campaign aide both independently and bluntly described the president's son as an 'idiot' - one who played a role in the campaign and Trump's political rise simply because he 'shares' the same DNA."
From The Daily Beast
It's never easy to be the president's kid. James Roosevelt was compared unfavorably to his father Franklin until the day of his death in 1990. That's also true of his five siblings. Until the moment of his own untimely death eighteen years ago this week (Where does the time go?) John F. Kennedy Jr. was the subject of so much media scrutiny you might have thought that his long-dead dad was still occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! To his credit, young John was a little more adept at life than the Roosevelt boys, all of whom were basically parasites feeding off the legacies of Franklin and Eleanor.

Donald Trump, Jr. is something else indeed. Eric Trump has got to be feeling giddy this afternoon. Of the two brothers he's always been thought of as the dumb one. After the revelations this week of the meeting he had on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower, that was attended by various people connected with the government of Vladimir Putin - and his subsequent release of the emails leading up to that meeting - Eric is starting to look like Albert Einstein. None of this is surprising to the people with whom Junior has regular contact with. Around the White House he is called "Fredo", a reference to the middle, not-too-bright Corleone brother in the film, The Godfather. Donnie won't be the reason his father's presidency will crash and burn, he is merely the final straw that broke the back of an administration that was doomed to self-destruct at noon on January 20, 2017.

Also attending the meeting were the Donald's then-campaign manager Paul Manafort (a man with so many Putin connections, he was forced to resign late in the summer when certain journalists began to smell something quite foul with regard to the relationship between Trump and Russia) and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has now been exposed as having yet another covert meeting with Russians that he neglected to mention when he was being vetted for reasons of security prior to the inauguration. This morning it was reported by NBC News that one of the Russians present on this day was a "former" counter-intelligence officer who had also served in the army of the former Soviet Union.

Although the then president elect was in the building at the time, Junior says he knew nothing about the meeting. I'm willing to bet the farm that the hideous old freak was indeed present.

Uday and Qusay
Initially the reason given for this meeting was the adoption of Russian orphans. This claim has been forever debunked by the release of the emails, which clearly indicate that the whole purpose was to obtain some dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We're less than six months into this completely unhinged administration. Bad as things look this early, by January 20, 2017, it's not too difficult to foresee  Idiot Nation being bogged down in the most devastating constitutional crisis in its 241 year history. Maybe we're already there. Whatever the case, this situation cannot possibly continue for another three-and-a-half years. We have a choice of Donald Trump's tenure ending very badly - or catastrophically.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Monday, July 10, 2017


Stephanie Ruhle
My newest journalistic crush is MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle. She's on at 9:00 every weekday morning and again at 11:00 on a program she co-hosts with Ali Velshi. Remember her name. This is a woman who is going to be around for a very long time. She calmly - and with as much good cheer as is humanly possible these days - reports what is now happening to this country in such a thoughtful and detailed way that even someone of below average intelligence is able to understand it with little or no effort. This morning on the later program, she explained, chapter and verse, the events of the Trump campaign's nefarious dealings with certain representatives of the Putin government - from the late summer of 2016 to just before the election. Here it is as she laid it out:  
June 7: Trump and Clinton become the presumptive nominees for president.
June 9: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner & campaign chair Paul Manafort meet with Russia lawyer.
June 9: Trump tweets about 33,000 missing emails.
July 18: Day one of GOP convention, Trump campaign changed the GOP platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia.
July. 21: GOP concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination.
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from Democratic National Committee.
July 25: Democratic convention begins.
July 27: Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."
August 4: CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference.
October 4: WikiLeaks says they will publish [missing] campaign emails.
October 7: Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence say Russia is interfering in the 2016 election.
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails.
October 31: Trump says "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove."
November 4: Trump says "Boy, I love those WikiLeaks!"
I'm sure this is all a coincidence.

A couple of days ago, the "failing" New York Times revealed yet another previously undisclosed meeting between Jared Kushner and representatives of Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump Jr. was present for the shenanigans this time around. He is trying to explain it all away by saying that the meeting involved his family's concern for the orphans of Russia.  Sure. We are all by now familiar with that family’s reputation as great and selfless humanitarians. I was born very early in the morning - but it wasn’t this morning. For every hour that passes by, this thing keeps getting deeper and deeper. The funny thing is the very sight of the president; it’s very similar to Dick Nixon’s last, completely unhinged year as president. The Trickster knew he was screwed, and he completely fell apart as a result. The only difference between now and then (and it’s a huge difference) is that Nixon, for all his flaws, was not certifiably insane. Those of us who lived through those interesting times were relatively certain that he was not going to launch World War Three in an effort to divert our attention. Not so with the Donald. The man is every bit as unhinged as his chubby little North Korean counterpart. Ain't that a scream?

As anyone who has bothered to pay attention for the past eight months could have easily predicted: This is going to end catastrophically. We are no longer the leader of the free world. We are no longer the hope of humankind; We are no longer the country of progress and innovation; We are no longer the envy of those who yearn to be free....We're simply Idiot Nation.

Be sure to pick up some souvenirs while you're here!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Stephanie Ruhle Program

If you have the time to catch her, she's on every weekday morning, 9 Eastern, on MSNBC. We're talking essential viewing.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Right Winging It


Walter M. Shaub, Jr, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, has resigned. He felt that his job was pointless in the age of Donald Trump. As Mr. Shaub explained to the world in a written statement (that we might logically assume was pieced together by cutting out letters from various magazines and newspaper advertisements):
"There isn't much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation."

Gee, ya think? Last night I heard someone remark that the guy deserved combat pay having gone as long as he did. Hats off to you, Walter!
Is anyone aware of a betting pool that is taking wagers on when The Donald is going to pack up voluntarily or be impeached? I'd sure like to get in on that one. My best guess is that the demented little thug will be forced to resign in disgrace before the new year arrives. If not, it will take a year-and-a-half until the Democrats regain control of both houses of congress and they have enough votes to impeach him. If that is indeed the case, the next eighteen-plus months is going to seem to all of us like eighteen-plus years. I am convinced that - whatever the case - Trump is not going to serve four years. Then again, that could be wishful thinking on my part. In fact, conceivably he could be reelected and serve a complete, eight year stretch. We do live in Idiot Nation after all.

The Kiddies
Whichever scenario plays out, the fact that something as ludicrous as a Trump administration was allowed to occur at all spells out the knife in the heart of the American Dream. It might take us a generation or more to recover from the damage that conservatives have done (and are doing - and will continue to do) to a country that used to be a jolly nice place to live in. Every day the unprecedented political scandals seem to compound themselves. The corruption and conflicts of interest are numerous and impossible to dismiss outright. Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace one week before I turned sixteen. I sometimes get the feeling that I am witnessing Watergate trough the eyes of a grown up - only what is happening in the executive mansion at this moment in history is far worse than the misdeeds of Nixon's Gang. I almost wish that the slimy old bastard could have lived to see this. I know it would have given him a feeling of peace to know that, when the final pages of American history are written on some not-too-far-off day, his crimes against the people will seem almost quaint by comparison.

Oh yeah, this is bad, baby - and I'm loving every minute of it.

And why shouldn't people like me get some serious schadenfreude out of this perfectly beautiful political catastrophe. We were laughed at and mocked, publicly and privately, in the months leading up to Election Day 2016 when we vainly tried to warn our more conservative contemporaries the utter disaster that would befall this doomed nation if the people were naïve enough to elevate Putin's stooge to the presidency. An acquaintance of mine, in making an excuse for his support of Trump a year ago, recently said to me: "No one could have foreseen this". My response: "You obviously weren't reading my blog." I'm not going to lie to you; that sure felt good. I had no idea gloating could feel so good. It's oodles of fun being me these days. It really is.

Alcoholics Anonymous never worked for me. The spiritual core of AA is something called The Serenity Prayer. It instructs me to serenely "accept the things I cannot change". That is why I am still a drunk, I suppose. I will never accept the fact that this unhinged sociopath and common pervert has been elevated to the office of the presidency of the United States.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


When I was a boy, every classroom I attended had this poster on the wall - or a facsimile of it. Back then the list only went as far as the thirty-seventh president, Dick Nixon. It's bad enough that his face will adorn those posters from here to eternity, how the heck are we going to explain to the children of tomorrow the presence of a corrupt and unhinged maniac like Mein Trumpf? We've had a lot of bad presidents in our history, but none of whom were outright traitors. My suggestion is that when those posters are made for the classrooms of these yet-to-be born kids, Trump's face should be silhouetted.

Then again, the truth will probably set the little darlings free.