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 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

UPDATE: 

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 assassinations 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. And it would be a tragic thing, too, make no mistake about it. But please bear in mind that certain tragedies are a tad less tragic than others. And if a handful of tragic occurrences are able to prevent future massive tragedies.....well, you catch my drift, right? 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

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

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 amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_11?url=search-alias%3Dmovies-tv&field-keywords=bowling+for+columbine+dvd&sprefix=Bowling+For%2Caps%2C3328&crid=3UO18TWQWV8HB

Watch, learn, think.

AFTERTHOUGHT, 8:50 AM:

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

SUGGESED READING:

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 Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_18?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+autobiography+of+malcolm+x&sprefix=The+Autobiography+%2Caps%2C243&crid=16CM7KMMNM0J8

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

SUGGESED VIEWING:

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPZb5BRNOtA

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

AFTERTHOUGHT:

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....

peace,
 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

That Kennedy Kid.


 
I'll refrain from reviewing Donald Trump's State of the Union speech last night. To be honest with you I slept through the entire thing and was only able to see it early this morning. As expected, it was filled with enough lies and distortions to make it mildly interesting. The thing that really stood out was when he claimed that immigrants are legally able to bring as many of their relatives over as they like. Of course, that isn't even remotely close to being true. He took credit for a lot of things he had no business taking credit for. Basically he is riding on the coattails of Barack Obama. A lot of folks are calling the speech a "success", which is true in a way. The fact that he did not make a total screaming fool of himself is something to be noted, I guess. Had any other president made a similar speech it would be blasted as a complete failure. We've set a low bar for this president. What I would like to focus on today is the Democratic response to the speech as delivered by Joseph P. Kennedy III.
 
A lot of people this afternoon are making a lot of noise about a possible Kennedy candidacy in 2020. I am a bit ambivalent about this. I am of the belief that (with the obvious exception of John Adams) political dynasties occupying the Executive Mansion is not really what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they put together this new experiment in governance. If Donald Trump hadn't won the Republican nomination nearly two years ago, it's a good bet that Jeb Bush would be sitting in the Oval Office at this moment. Three Bushes in a single generation would have been three Bushes too many. But conceding the fact that this Kennedy was born seventeen years after the last one left the White House on November 22, 1963, I'm willing to cut the guy a bit of slack. At least his name isn't Bush - or Clinton.
 
Is he too young to be seeking the job? Technically he's not - although it does make me feel almost elderly when I consider that he was born a mere two months before John Lennon died. Can you imagine? The Constitution clearly states that a president must be no younger than thirty-five. If Joe Kennedy goes for the big prize in three years - and happens to win it - he will be forty years old when he takes the oath of office on January 20, 2021. That's three years younger than Great Uncle Jack was when he became president in 1961; two years younger than Theodore Roosevelt was when he became chief-executive in September of 1901 upon the assassination of William McKinley. This would make him the youngest serving president in history - fairly young, true, but still old enough to handle the job.

His response to the Donald's speech last night was impressive enough. As soon as he was finished, the right wing SCREAM MACHINE went into overdrive, claiming that the congressman had been drooling throughout. When I noticed the small, shiny bit of moisture on the left side of his mouth, I knew in an instant that those knuckleheads would make an issue of it. True to form, they did. The Kennedy camp is claiming that it was merely a case of lip balm that was hastily applied before he went on. That would make sense. Had it been saliva on his face, it would have dried up in a matter of minutes. It was visible for the entire address, which lasted for nearly fifteen minutes. Nice try.

Joe Kennedy is a smart guy. That he has an abundance of good ideas is another thing in his favor. Would he be my ideal candidate? Certainly not. But I've lived long enough to finally realize that my ideal candidate is never going to come my way. Unless they find a way to resuscitate Franklin D. Roosevelt I'm destined for the wilderness. Joe Kennedy is a candidate I could live with - unlike the candidate the Democrats came up with in 2016. This morning, someone accused me of being a sexist in my opposition to Ms. Clinton's run for the White House. Had Elizabeth Warren sought the nomination I would have been one-hundred percent in the tank for her. Hillary was - and is - a plutocrat, more comfortable with the Wall Street types than with real, working Americans. In this respect, young Joe Kennedy fits the bill perfectly. And the fact that he is the most telegenic politician since his great uncle over half a century ago won't hurt him in the least. His act plays well on the tube. The fact of the matter is that, thanks to television, we are doomed forever to electing style over substance.. Joe Kennedy seems to possess both as far as I can tell.

Will he walk the walk? We shall see.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here's a YouTube link to watch Joe Kennedy's response to Trump's speech late last night:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwnDMahSwNI

The kid did pretty good.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

They've Got a Ticket to Obscurity



James Comey purposefully set out to sabotage and destroy the campaign of Donald Trump during the campaign of 2016? Here is a beautiful example of the Republicans' low opinion of the intelligence of the American people (an opinion that I share, by the way). They're counting on most of us forgetting what really happened. If Comey was really that far into the tank for Hillary Clinton, he was the stupidest saboteur in the history of human deviousness. The former head of the FBI reopened the investigation into Ms. Clinton's emails a week before Election Day. He cost Hillary the election. This is just one of the many latest rewritings of history that these people are engaged in. And the propagandists over at Fox Noise, Sean Hannity in particular, are acting as stenographers for the GOP. I wonder if any of these people have ever taken the time to wonder how they're going to be perceived by historians seventy years from now. Do they even care?
 
Their latest foray into Laugh Land involves a "secret society". Apparently, those flaming left wing loonies - over at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (I'm not making this up) - have developed some sort of sinister cabal where they meet to plot the overthrow of all that is good and decent in this grand and glorious land of ours. The right wing politicians puke this stuff out and the right wing media dutifully passes it on. Again, I really don't think that they give a shit how posterity will judge them. It's obvious they don't at all. 

"Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."
 
Westbrook Pegler
Referring to Robert F. Kennedy
 
Westbrook Pegler 1894-1969
Back in the thirties and forties there once lived a columnist named Westbrook Pegler. Interestingly, I stumbled upon his grave a few years ago while I was visiting the final resting place of my great grandparents, Margaret and Edward Degan, at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Hawthorne, NY. He's buried fairly close to them. Old Westbrook was as vile a political commentator as one might hope (or not hope) to find anywhere. I always thought that the hideous old freak was born too soon. He would have been perfectly content among the Hannitys, the Limbaughs and the Coulters - and I know beyond a doubt that he would have been crazy about the Donald. The beautiful thing about Pegler is that he was completely wrong about every single important issue of his generation. Not only was this nitwit an anti-Semite of the worst order, he was against the civil rights movement and anything (or anyone) associated with Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. His views eventually became too extreme even for the right wing Hearst organization which syndicated his column. He ended his life in total obscurity, tapping out an occasional tirade for the John Birch Society's publication. I think I'm the only person I'm aware of who even knows who this knucklehead was. As powerful as he was during his time on earth, death has left him consigned to history's garbage bin.

"Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea!"
 
Walter Winchell

Winchell
Another powerful extremist commentator of that age was Walter Winchell. His New York gossip column, which came into being in the mid-twenties, was eventually syndicated nationwide. As his fame grew, so did his arrogance. He would eventually drift from writing about show people to redefine himself as one of the worst red-baiters of his time. His power was enhanced by a nightly radio report that was heard by millions. Like Pegler, poor old Walt eventually fell of his own weight. When he died in 1972 he was so broke that there were no funds to bury him in his beloved New York. He was laid to rest in Texas, where he had been staying at the time he died. For all his one-time power and fame, the only person to attend his graveside service was his estranged daughter with whom he had not spoken in many years.

The graveyards of history are littered with the corpses of men and women who made their names by trying to put a stop to human progress. They are all pretty much obliterated from human and historical memory. There will be no lasting monuments decades into the future for Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. Look for them only in the footnotes.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT, 10:10 AM, 1/30/18:

The State of the Union speech is tonight. Be sure to tune in. This oughta be a hoot!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Great Shutdown of '18


"It's a hard rain's a'gonna fall"
 
Uncle Bobby

Okay, let me see if I've got this right:

The Grand Old "Party" controls both houses of congress; they control the presidency - and yet somehow they want us to believe that it is the Democrats who are responsible for the shutdown of our government late Friday night....Huh?
 
By the way, I needed to put the word "party" in quotation marks. It's no longer a party as we have come to understand the term. It hasn't been one in decades. This is an organized criminal enterprise. Wake up and smell the elephant shit.

When Senator Claire McCaskill announced a bill that would ensure that soldiers would continue to get paid during the shutdown, Mitch McConnell objected. Do any of you still harbor illusions regarding what these people are all about? Not that I'm at all comfortable defending the Democrats, but the heart of the shutdown had to do with their insisting that the "Dreamer" kids, the ones who came here illegally as toddlers and who are now - for all intents and purposes Americans - won't be deported. They also insisted that poor children would still be allowed access to health insurance. The "party of Abraham Lincoln" (what would I do without quotation marks?) wouldn't hear of it.

What does that tell you about the so-called "Family Values" mob?

In the meantime the president, that unhinged, orange-haired sociopath and common pervert who now resides in the Executive Mansion, is unwilling or unable to help strike some sort of a deal. Remember, this is the same putz who, thirty-five years ago, became famous for writing something called, The Art of The Deal. We only know his name today because of that idiotic book. No more proof is needed to plainly show that Donald Trump's entire career - his entire existence - is a fraud. Anyone bothering to pay even scant attention has known this reality for decades, and yet, so many of us were dumb enough to cast our precious ballots for him because, as they said time and time again, "He's one of us".

And of course, they're one-hundred percent correct in profound ways that most of them aren't intelligent enough to ever fully comprehend. Donald J. Trump personifies that dark place in the American psyche that the rest of the planet has come to view with a perfect combination of alarm, amusement and distain. He's one of us, alright. And the American people's well-documented  history of know-nothingness and political self-destruction (constantly voting against their own best interests) are the very ingredients that are leading directly to their own ruination. Honestly, it would be kind of funny if it weren't so damned pathetic. Really, it's like waking up to find that you're living smack dab in the middle of a Paddy Chayefsky play. Life is strange that way, you know?

I do wish that I could confidently predict for you that the GOP will be wiped away in the elections this fall, and that this complete tragicomic, nightmare of an administration will be gone in a year's time, but that would be wishful thinking on my part. I don't know about you, but I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of watching so many of my fellow countrymen and women stewing in the juices of their own appalling stupidity. Schadenfreude on steroids.  That'll make for a really fun show! It's simply a case of making the best out of a horrifically bad situation: take those nasty lemons and whip up a pitcher of some juicy lemonade.

Sit back and try your best to enjoy the show. This promises to be ten Watergates and twenty Teapot Domes all rolled up into one nicely-wrapped package.

I just had the most deliciously ironic thought: Germany is now the leader of the free world. The country that eighty years ago gave rise to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis - the nation that the United States saved the world from - is today our moral superior. Who would have thought? Our day on the mountaintop is over. The world will never trust us again. Can't say that I blame them much. Can you?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

Fire and Fury:
Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff

Last weekend I got the chance to read the book that everybody is talking about. You should read it, too. Everybody should read it. Of course I realize full well that not everybody will.

A year ago we ceased being the United States of America. On January 20, 2017 we became Idiot Nation.

Here's a link to order it off of Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Fury-Inside-Trump-White/dp/1250158060/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516638734&sr=1-1&keywords=fire+and+fury+by+michael+wolff

It's worse than anyone would have dared  predicted.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

People Who Live In Glass Shithouses....


With the passing of each interminable hour it seems, the sick joke that is the disgusting administration of Donald Trump just keeps getting sicker and sicker - a feat in itself when you think about it.  Are you looking for a convincing argument for obliterating the electoral college? Look no further. As long as that institution exists in what is supposed to be a democracy, imbeciles like Trump and George W. Bush are inevitable.
 
The latest travesty in the continuing tragicomic saga of this White House is Trump referring to Haiti and the nations of Africa as "shit countries". He wondered aloud at a bi-partisan meeting with lawmakers in the cabinet room why the USA is not receiving more refugees from lily-white Norway. Was there someone on hand to remind this perpetual fool that in that country, the people have access to free education and health care; that the crime rate is almost nonexistent; and that the standard of living for the average citizen is pretty high - higher, in fact, than it is here in the states. If there are any Norwegians stupid enough to want to relocate the United States, they have yet to make themselves known.

I'm not going to waste too much time on this fine Sunday afternoon on this latest, totally predictable gaffe from the esteemed common pervert who now - unbelievably - finds himself residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is whom we are stuck with for at least another year. Someone working in the West Wing has described him as "a clown surrounded by idiots" - or was it "an idiot surrounded by clowns"? It really doesn't matter, does it. Both description are apropos. To pick on the people of Haiti, in particular, is so disturbing that it's difficult to find the exact words to describe something this completely vile. No country in this hemisphere has suffered more completely in recent decades than the poor people of that island/nation. I've noticed that so many Haitians I have been fortunate enough to encounter in my travels and interactions seem to be blessed by the common denominator of kindness and gentleness. Too many of them to adequately count have made priceless contributions to American society and arts. See the link at the bottom of this piece to get a better understanding of what I'm talking about.

The president of the United States is inarguably the most unhinged racist to occupy the Executive Mansion since - at the very least - Woodrow Wilson. It took one-hundred years for the inmates of Idiot Nation to puke up something comparable. That is another feat that takes quite a bit of doing. Another one worth taking note of.

From the moment he announced his candidacy in June of 2015 it was clear to everyone but the idiots who get their news and information from Fox Noise that this was a deeply disturbed, uninformed man. When he referred to the Chinese government on live television as "you motherfuckers", that should have been the end of his campaign. It wasn't. The damage that this insufferable moron will do to America between now and the moment he is impeached next year will be so immense, it is impossible to predict at this early date.

To my friends who were foolish enough to vote for this asshole: Don't you dare say I didn't warn you.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

Here’s who — and what — America wouldn’t have had without Haitians
by David Von Drehle

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/heres-who--and-what--america-wouldnt-have-had-without-haitians/2018/01/12/c7bc3576-f7d0-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.986b49576de9&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

This excellent piece appeared two days ago in the Washington Post. It tells you all you need to know. "Shithole nation" indeed.

SUGGESTED READING:

Fire and Fury
by Michael Wolff

I read the book that everybody is talking about this weekend. If you read nothing else for the rest of the year, read this book. I'll only say that the situation is worse than even I dared to predict. Here is a link to order it off of amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Fury-Michael-Wolff/dp/1408711400/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515954612&sr=1-1&keywords=fire+and+fury+by+michael+wolff

We really are living through extraordinary times. 'Nuff said?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Persecution of Hillary Clinton



First they came for Hillary Clinton, but I was not Hillary Clinton - so I said nothing....

This is an avenue I rarely travel down. Coming to the defense of Hillary Clinton is not something I am used to (or even comfortable) doing. Although I did support her once she received the nomination from those perpetually clueless Democrats; and although I did manage to make my way to my local polling place to cast my ballot for her on Election Day 2016, it was more a matter of necessity than anything else. I had supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries. The Dems had been offered the most visionary candidate to come their way in eighty years and - true to form - they blew it. They chose to cast their lot with a tired and stale old plutocrat. To this day many of them are still blaming Bernie for Ms. Clinton's loss. Back in August, when I posted on my Facebook page that she was the worst nominee since Mike Dukakis in 1988, I was "unfriended" by over one-hundred people before the sun went down.
 
Show me a candidate who is unable to defeat an unhinged,  common pervert like Donald Trump, and I'll show you a bad candidate.
 
This week, under pressure no doubt from Trump and the usual suspects in the house and senate, the Department of Justice has decided to reopen the investigation into Hillary's emails. Although it was proven over a year ago that she was careless with regard to the handling of certain classified documents, former Attorney General James Comey concluded that she had, in fact, done nothing criminal. This unpleasant fact is hardly satisfactory for the Trump Mob.
 
Let's take a good look at what is now happening: the president of the United States is determined to send a former political opponent to prison. Now ask yourselves the following question: When was the last time something like that happened in this country? The simple answer is that it has never happened. In nearly two-and-a-third-centuries of presidential politics in the dark and strange history of Idiot Nation, not once has the victor in a national election ever sought to bring trumped-up charges (pun intended) against the person who ran against him. The campaign of 1800 between incumbent-President John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was the dirtiest, most bitter political battle in American history. Although the two men wouldn't correspond for many years after, I'm sure it never occurred to Jefferson to send his former friend and ally to the slammer. Old Tom had a helluva lot more class than that.
 
Not even Dick Nixon ever dared something as atrocious as what is now being attempted by the Donald and Company. Oh, sure, the Trickster was perfectly capable of instructing the IRS to audit the taxes of his "enemies" (the old bastard had enemies everywhere) but he stopped decidedly short of having any of them hauled off to Leavenworth. For all Nixon's flaws, he was no Donald Trump.

The precedent that is apparently about to be established is ominous and deeply disturbing. This is the sort of thing that happens in banana republics; this is the type of behavior to be expected of Orwellian despots.  If these people have their way, it will soon become the accepted behavior of the American president. Isn't that something? Has the thought occurred to you yet that a lot of us might have been on to something in 2016 when we warned our fellow countrymen and women that sending Donald Trump to the White House might not be a terribly neat idea? I knew this administration would be an ongoing constitutional  debacle, but not even I was prepared for the scope of its incompetence and corruption. Quite frankly, it boggles the mind.  

As it stands, we'll have at least another year to deal with this out-of-control ignoramus as our commander-in-chief. Don't expect the Republicans to do their patriotic  duty by removing Donald Trump. In the meantime, the damage that he will do to the people of the United States is impossible to assess. This much is beyond a smidgeon of a doubt: 2018 is going to be an extremely interesting year. Brace yourselves.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READNG:

Alice
by Stacy A. Cordery

This is the third biography I've read on the life of Alice Roosevelt Longworth (TR's daughter) and it is by far the best. Sometimes arch-conservative, sometimes flaming liberal, during her long life the only consistent thing about Princess Alice was the fact that she did not give a damn what people thought about her. In this respect she truly was one of the fist modern women. Her father once said to a friend, "I can be president of the United States, or I can manage Alice. I cannot possibly do both."

Here is a link to order it off of amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Roosevelt-Longworth-Princess-Washington/dp/0143114271/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515344046&sr=1-1&keywords=Alice+by+Stacy+Cordery

I've always said that Alice's life is a Broadway musical waiting to happen!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Clash of the Extremists

 


"Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president, could return to inconspicuous lunching."

From the forthcoming book
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff
As reported in this morning's NY Daily News

This was my theory a year before the catastrophic election of 2016 -  and you did indeed read it here first, folks! Trump never had any intention of becoming president of the United States. He was merely intending to "up his brand", so to speak. As we all know by now, his scheme backfired in ways that the hideous old bastard never dreamed possible. He should have heeded the advice of that great muckraker from a bygone era, H.L. Mencken. Donald Trump's lethal error was overestimating the intelligence of the American people. This is black comedy at its finest; and the funniest thing of all is the fact that it's all too deliciously true!
 
The vicious back-and-forth this week between the Donald and former chief strategist, Steve  Bannon, reminds me all-too-well of the petty squabbling that went on between Josef Goebbels and Hermann Goering throughout the entire mercifully brief reign of Adolf Hitler eighty years ago. Extremists will always eventually devour one another. Reading William L Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich two years ago was a double edged sword: While the "rise" part was thoroughly depressing, the "fall" chapters were just oodles of fun to read about! It's sort of a similar feeling I get while watching the utter disintegration of the most corrupt and disgusting administration in the history of this weird nation.
 
Won't you come home George Dubya? Won't you come home? 

The new book by Michael Wolff quoted above has been dismissed by the Trump Mob as nothing less than a tome filled with lies that should not to be taken seriously by anyone. If that is, indeed, the case, why are the president's lawyers working overtime at the moment trying to prevent its publication next week? It is rather more likely that Mr. Wolff has revealed a few nasty truths that Trump would rather be kept in the dark. The man is so completely arrogant that he went into this thing seriously believing that he would never be accountable to history. Despots are always prone to believe such nonsense. That's the reason they always fall of their own weight. According to the Daily News, another juicy detail being revealed by Fire and Fury is this side-splitting nugget:

Daughter Ivanka Trump planned on using her old man's failed candidacy as a springboard for her own run in the future. It was she - not Hillary Clinton - who was going to be remembered in history as the first woman chief-executive. By the way, by all accounts darling Ivanka is dumber than a box of moldy, purple yo-yos. I swear I'm not making this up.

I LIKE IKE!
Don't be surprised that this dimwitted debutante really believed that she had what it takes to handle a job as intellectually taxing as the presidency. And don't think that something as completely improbable as an Ivanka Trump administration might not have happened someday. We live in Idiot Nation. Anything is possible. Anticipate the absurd. It is not even feasible to ask the voters of this country to look back on a Republican president - Dwight Eisenhower for instance - and remind them that "the party of Abraham Lincoln" has morphed into something else entirely. Old Ike might not have been perfect; much of his foreign policy was just a hair short of incompetent, but at least Americans of that generation knew that he was a dignified gent whose heart was in the right place. A political party that devolves from the hero of D Day to Donald Fucking Trump has no right to exist; not here - not in the United States. We're better than that....or, at least, we used to be....Never mind.

I really doubt that Trump's legal eagles will have any luck suppressing the Wolff book. It has jumped to the top of my reading list - a book that we're going to be discussing for many years.

This is all quite too good to be true.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

ADVISORY:

The Eastern United States is about to be slammed with the coldest weather in living memory. They are saying that in the next few days, some parts of the country will be colder than the planet Mars. Please stay inside. And if you have to travel, be sure that you have a fully-charged cell phone in your possession. Stepping outdoors for less than a half-a-minute late last night to get something out of my vehicle (without a coat!) I was immediately taken aback by the brutality of the chill in the Northeast air. I don't think I have ever experienced such cold weather - and it's supposed to get worse! These are nights that are potentially lethal. Please, be safe, folks.

It is sad and unsettling to know that there are homeless people out there. Those of us sleeping under a roof and in a warm bed have much to be thankful for tonight.