Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Into the Sewer



Won't you come with me to Alabammy
Back to the arms of my dear ol' mammy
Her cooking stinks and her hands are clammy
But what the hell, it's home!
 
Tm Lehrer
 
Ah, Dubya!
Sixteen years ago I honestly believed we had hit rock bottom. In 2001, with the inauguration of the Village Idiot of Crawford, Texas, I thought that we had reached our nadir. Who among us could possibly have predicted Roy Moore and Donald Trump? If you had told me then that, by the time 2017 rolled around, I would be looking back at the era of George W. Bush with a sense of teary-eyed nostalgia, I would have suggested that you be tested for narcotics poisoning. As completely cynical as I was then - and as I remain to this day - I never would have dreamed that things could get this utterly weird.
 
The registered Republican voters in the state of Alabama are within less-than-a-month of electing as their senator a man who, back in the swinging seventies, was known by the people of his hometown of Gadsden to have a thing for underage girls. Back in the day Roy was a successful attorney. A retired police office named Faye Gray remembers that she had to attend high school sporting events for no other reason than to monitor Roy to make sure he kept away from the cheerleaders. A couple of these girls (now middle-age women with nothing to gain by speaking out) have said that they were sexually assaulted by this creep. At the time, Roy Moore was in his thirties. He was even banned by the owner of his hometown mall from setting foot on the premises due to his "proclivities". Nice.
 
The president of the United States, a man with over twenty accusation of sexual harassment under his belt (no pun intended) is openly supporting Roy Moore. The governor of Alabama said the other day that she would rather support a pedophile than a Democrat. A lot of the voters of that state appear to be in agreement. If you need a more illustrative example of how completely dysfunctional that religion of the country really is, you need not travel too far from Alabammy.

To be fair, not everyone in the GOP is as accepting of Moore's candidacy as our esteemed Common-Pervert-in-chief. John McCain, to his credit, is positively aghast at this turn of events; Paul Ryan is not-at-all happy about the prospect of a Senator Moore; even hideous old Mitch McConnell has stated for the record that he believes the accusations of these women! Imagine, Mitch McConnell doing the decent thing! Don't be at all surprised if a pig flies by your window this afternoon. But you really have to wonder about "the party of Abraham Lincoln" these days. For over a decade I've been predicting the ultimate demise of the Republican Party. I am now forced to qualify that prediction. It is obvious that it will survive in dear old Dixie for quite some time to come. The bar has been set as low as it can be, and the people of that state (or the white people at least) are doing this strange Limbo dance with surprising ease. Black people in the South have always seemed to have a bit more common sense than their Caucasian counterparts, have you ever noticed that? 

Some of us are wondering out loud, "How could something as vile and  as disgusting as this be happening in the United States"? You shouldn't wonder at all. Donald Trump is us. He is who we have become as a nation. The handwriting is on the wall. It is as clear as can be and you have to be blind and illiterate not to be able to read it. The American people deserve Donald Trump. The people of Alabama deserve Roy Moore. They deserve no better. They deserve no less.

Ah, sweet schadenfreude!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Franken Factor

The Funny Warrior
 
 
Franken and Davis
I have been an admirer of Al Franken for going on forty years - first as a comedian, then as a political commentator, and finally, as one of the finest senators to come down the pike in my lifetime. Teddy Kennedy, for all of his well-deserved reputation as "the Lion of the Senate" was somewhat of a late-bloomer, and didn't begin to live up to his potential until he had been in office for almost two decades. It wasn't until he lost the primary challenge to incumbent president Jimmy Carter in 1980 that he began to show some real moxie as a statesman. Up to that point he had been somewhat of a lightweight, resting on the laurels of being a member of America's golden political family. Al Franken, by contrast, was the heavyweight champion of the poor and middleclass at the starting gate.

Like most of the members of my generation, my first exposure to Al was as a part of the original lineup of the cast of Saturday Night Live. He was not only a writer on that program, but a performer as well. The weekly bits he would perform with his partner, the late Tom Davis, were so wonderfully bent, they could only be described as comedic Zen. Although not to everyone's taste, the delightful, low-key lunacy of Franken and Davis was the part of the program I looked forward to the most. To the best of my knowledge, they were the last comedy team.

Over the years I've followed Al Franken's career closely and admiringly. That's why I greeted the photograph of him with his hands on the breasts of a fellow performer during a 2006 USO tour with a sigh of exasperation. My reaction was: What the hell were you thinking, Al? I wouldn't have pulled a stunt that crude in my early twenties - let alone my late forties. According to the person who took the photo, it was a gag shot, and the woman in question (who appears to be asleep) was in on the joke. Her name is Leeann Tweeden. She said that during the rehearsal for a routine they were to do in front of the troops, Al got a tad too physical. Both of these incidents took place in public and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, there was never any private confrontation.

What are we to make of this? Does Al Franken have a history of this kind of boorish behavior? If that is the case, we can expect a tsunami of women coming forward with their own recollections of their own gross encounters of the weird kind with Al down through the years. My suspicion - my prayer - is that this will not be the case. Stressful situations are known to bring on bizarre behavior - and touring a war zone is the most stressful situation people in show business can possibly find themselves in. Bob Hope toured many-a-war zone in his day, and although many view him today as comedy's secular saint, his behavior on-and-off the lines of battle was not always saintly. This is an established fact.

In an effort to distract our attention from the Roy Moore scandal, the right wing SCREAM machine is calling on Al to resign his senate seat.  Moore, you will recall, is running for the senate in Alabama amid accusations of the groping and outright assault of several underage girls back in the swinging seventies. To compare this to the scandal that Senator Franken now finds himself in is akin to comparing running a red light to mass murder. If Al does indeed have a history as a sexual predator, we will know soon enough. My opinion is that, until that time comes, we need to cut the man as much slack as possible. He has publicly apologized for his indiscretion. Leeann Tweeden has publicly forgiven him. And although his actions may have been terribly immature, they do not constitute sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein he ain't. I have made a few unwanted passes at a few women in my time. That doesn't define me as a sexual predator. When I was told "no thank you", I desisted. We need to put things in their proper context, folks.

FUN FACT: Al Franken was never barred from a public mall for lewd behavior toward underaged girls. I just thought I'd throw that one out there.

The troubled water that he now finds himself treading is not quite as hot as some would have us believe. Although he is by no means ideologically perfect for my purposes (Who is?) Al Franken is one of the consistently finest statesmen to come along in my lifetime. I'm standing by him.

Tom Degan 
Goshen, NY 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Look back in laughter. Here are Al Franken and Tom Davis in their not-ready-for-prime, October 1980:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0WtC_vm9e8
to
The glory days of SNL

SUGGESETED READING

Giant of the Senate
by Al Franken

Al is always a good read.


#65

Thursday, November 09, 2017

One Amusing Year On

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
`
A year ago today, I awoke in the wee small hours just in time to hear Brian Williams of MSNBC announce that Donald J. Trump had been elected the forty-fifth president of the United States. I was not surprised. Bitter experience had taught me to have low expectations as far as the civic responsibility of my fellow inmates of Idiot Nation was concerned. An old friend who was staying in my guest room down the hall from me happened to be awake. She asked:
 
"Do they know the winner?"
"They sure do", I replied.
"Who is it?"
"President Donald Fucking Trump" was my answer. 
 
The look her face was as shocked and alarmed as you would expect it to be on the face of any thinking American woman that night. I tried to make the best of this new reality. At least the Age of Donald Trump wouldn't be boring, I assured myself. It hasn't been.  For a political junkie such as yours truly, the Donald has been the gift that keeps giving. Say what you want about 2017, it has been an incredible moment in history to bear witness to - and the year isn't even over yet.
 
I won't play coroner and attempt to conduct an autopsy on the campaign of Hillary Clinton. That's been done to the point of absurdity and, to be quite blunt about it, I'm sick of the entire discussion. I'll just say that she was the wrong candidate for so crucial a time in our history. The people who voted for her in the primaries are just as guilty for those who were naïve enough to cast their ballots for Trump. She only reminds me why I am no longer registered with the Democratic Party.
 
It was easy to predict one year ago today that this was going to end badly. A tip of the hat to Fox Noise for conning so many people into believing that a Trump administration would be a grand thing for this utterly fucked republic. The damage that that network has done to this country can barely be assessed. The very fact that it is still thriving is ominous and disturbing. It won't be going away any time soon, and the harm it will continue to inflict upon our national political conversation is incalculable. One can only speculate that they would have made Josef Goebbels proud. The only positive thing I can say at this point is that Roger Ailes is gone and he's not coming back.

FUN FACT:
On the morning after Election Day 2016,  had to take two showers before the clock struck Twelve Noon.
 
This has been a long year, to put it as mildly as possible. Trump's reign will be mercifully brief; but the aftershocks of his time in the White House will be felt for a long time. He is what we deserve. We don't deserve any better.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

I taped this little message in the late morning of November 9. 2016. I had been up all night and was a little hung-over. Still, the message is clear and somewhat to the point:

https://www.facebook.com/tomdegan/videos/10154583158455729/

Strange days indeed.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The DNC Implosion

Bells of doom are breakin' up that old gang of mine....

Do you remember?
Remember?
The fifth
OF NOVEMBER?
 
John Lennon, 1970

It would appear to me that the Democrats have become victims of a good old-fashioned J. Edgar Hoover-styled COINTELPRO scheme. That was short for "Counter Intelligence Program". It's how the FBI was able to take down the Black Panther Party in the early seventies. The Feds were able to tap the phones of key members and look through their mail with an ease that would be impossible today (I hope). They would send anonymous messages via phone and mail that certain Panther leaders were out to assassinate other Panther leaders. By this method of shameful skullduggery, The Black Panthers fell apart. I understand they're making a comeback. I'm happy to know of this.
 
What happened to the Panthers over forty years ago appears to be happening to the Democrats in 2016. I don't know what to make of Donna Brazille's accusations in her new book. She claims that the primaries were rigged by then party chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz in favor of Hillary Clinton. The Dems assertively deny this. Is Donna an agent of Vladimir Putin? It would be the height of paranoia for me to suggest that she is. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if I tried. As I've stated here before, I left that completely worthless party nearly twenty years ago and I never looked back. When on occasion I would ask myself why I left in the first place, these silly Democrats would cheerfully remind me. Last year they were given the choice between the most visionary candidate in their nearly two-hundred-year history, or a tired and stale old plutocrat. Not to my surprise, the "party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt" blew it - AGAIN.

"I don't belong to any organized political party
I am a Democrat."

Will Rogers
`
But it does seem quite feasible to me that the Democrats are victims of some sort of a nefarious information operation that has been cooked up who-knows-where with the clear intent of dividing them. If that is, indeed, the case, the plan is working out beautifully. That party hasn't been this divided since the summer of 1968 when they became completely unhinged at their convention. That was nearly a half century ago. The result of their complete breakdown that horrible year was the administration of Dick Nixon. Need I remind you how well that worked out for America? I didn't think so.

Panther Bobby Seale
If Schultz and the Democratic National Committee are guilty of marking the cards for Hillary to the detriment of Bernie Sanders, they have nothing to fear. Our campaign laws are so rigged against the people, that everything they allegedly did was perfectly legal.

America needs the Black Panthers a helluva lot more than it needs the Democratic or Republican parties. In spite of the propaganda you may have been force-fed back in the day, the Panthers stood for something noble and righteous. Their communities could always count on them to be there - particularly the children of those communities. We cannot depend upon this two-party system any longer - as if we ever could. The end-result of the Democrats' dysfunction and incompetence has been the administration of Donald Trump. And as for the Republicans, they're beyond redemption. This is as bad as it's ever gotten, and the tragicomic irony is that it's going to get a lot worse in the future.

Where have you gone, Bobby Seale?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

The Black Panthers for Self Defense: Vanguard of the Revolution 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osdNvk6CCKs

This excellent documentary appeared on PBS a couple of years ago.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A White House Besieged

 
"In times of universal deceit,
telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
 
George Orwell

DISCLAIMER: No, I am not calling for the executions of the president of the United States or anyone within his corrupt and hideous entourage. I merely created the meme above to point out an unsettling historical fact. Chill.
 
News accounts emanating out of the District-of-You-Know-Where are informing us that the Donald is staying away from the Oval Office today, and is keeping himself hunkered-down in the family living quarters of the White House. Apparently he is monitoring the rapidly expanding implosion of his administration from there. That's probably just as well, I suppose. The fewer the eye-witnesses the better. For the many decades I've been following this knucklehead, I always got the strong feeling that he was having oodles of fun being Donald Trump. He can't be having that much fun any longer. In fact, I can easily imagine that being Donald Trump these days is a complete drag. It was never supposed to get this weird. He must be tearing his hair out at this very moment. Sad.

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were officially indicted by Bobby Mueller's office this morning.  To make matters worse, George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. All three of these gents were closely tied to the Trump campaign. Most of their alleged crimes involve financial ones - money laundering in particular. Since he announced his decision to run over two years ago, Trump has skillfully avoided revealing to the press and the public the content of his income tax returns going back the last decade-or-so. Due to the jaw-dropping cluelessness of the American voters, that might not have been quite as difficult a thing as it appeared. Hiding them is no longer an option - at least not a politically expedient one. His administration will not be able to continue unless he reveals everything. The irony is that once everything is revealed, the Trump White House is probably doomed.

Isn't this a riot?

As I have stated on this site too many times to calculate, you would have had to have been holed up in a bunker a hundred feet beneath the earth's surface not to see this catastrophe coming from two-hundred miles away. It doesn't say much for the civic stability of so many of us that we would allow something this awful to happen to our country in the year 2017. I lay an almost-equal amount of blame at the feet of the Democratic primary voters. Bernie Sanders could have beaten Trump. Hillary Clinton - quite obviously - could not. As we did eighty-five years ago, this country is not going to be able to save itself unless it takes a radical turn to the left. What part of this easily understandable reality are we still not able to get?

The administration of Donald J. Trump was in the process of implosion at the starting gate on January 20. By December the first, expect that implosion to be complete.

What are the historians of fifty yeas from now going to say? YIKES!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


SUGGESTED READNG:

What FDR can teach today's Democrats
by Christine Wicker

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/touch-trump-fdr-share-common-article-1.3594242

This Op-Ed appeared in this morning's New York Daily News. It is something that should be read, and savored.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

A shout-out to my friend, Carol Marie:

Thank you for the sympathy. Someday we'll do the tea.

Cheers!
 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Flashbacks From Late 2016


 
 
 I gloat, therefor I am
Recently, a "former" supporter of the unhinged jackass who now poses as our "president" informed me that, "no one could have foreseen how bad this administration was going to turn out".

Beg pardon?

 Please, permit me to toot my own horn if you will:
 
November 3:
 
"The fact that Donald Trump would encourage the worst aspects of the character of his half-witted groupies is further proof (as if any more were needed) that the man is a dangerous sociopath. Were he to be elected in eighteen days I would have predicted that he would someday be remembered as the champion mass murderer of world history. Fortunately I won't have to make that prediction. Not even the American people are that dumb. Not quite."
 

I wrote that paragraph on this site less than two weeks ago. All bets are off. It probably would have been wise of me to remember the words of the legendary, muckraking journalist, H.L. Mencken, who once wrote that "nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Smart dude, that Mencken.

It's impossible to believe that the people of this doomed country (at least the ones that vote) are, quite possibly, within less than a week from electing the most Hitleresque candidate to come along since der fuehrer himself. Don't make the mistake of dismissing that last sentence as a wild exaggeration from an unhinged lefty. The fact of the matter is that for the last half century, the Republican Party has been crawling - ever-so-slowly and ever-so-surely - toward an insanely dark and disturbing place. If you've yet to notice this undeniable phenomenon, you haven't been paying attention. A Trump administration might be just the thing to awaken you from your apathetic slumber.

November 8 (Election Day):

And to think it has come to this. I'm not-at-all certain who is going to be declared victor at the end of what I know will be a very long day. I've so little faith in the civic intelligence of my fellow countrymen and women that a Donald Trump victory late this evening won't phase me in the least. In fact I'll be able to make some tasty lemonade out of those nasty lemons. If the Donald wins this thing, I'm the only person I know of who makes under a million dollars per year that will benefit handsomely.

Now is not the time for apathy, folks. I don't give a damn who you are or where you live: If you believe that there is a future for progressivism in America, get down to your polls and vote today as if your life depends on it. I am not sure whether or not Hillary Clinton will be a good president. I hope that she will be (that's assuming she wins). All I can tell you with any degree of certainty is that America will survive her administration. The alternative is too horrible to even talk about.

November 9:
`
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:

"WE'RE A NATION OF MORONS!"
 
FUN FACT: On the morning after Election Day 2016, I had to take two showers before the clock struck 12 Noon.

November 17:

Spending the last nine days adjusting to this to this new and quite nasty American reality has been interesting to say the very least. When I awoke early this morning, for the first time since the day after the election, my first thought wasn't that this electoral catastrophe was just a nightmare. I guess that means I'm somehow coming to terms with what I can only describe as the complete and utter lunacy of the American people. The fact that Hillary actually won the popular vote doesn't make the coping any easier. Thanks to a quaint relic of the eighteenth century called "the electoral college", disasters such as George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump are almost inevitable. The United States seems hell-bent on remaining the laughingstock of the rest of the planet.

On the morning of Election Day, bitter experience had me nearly resigned to the possibility of a Trump victory by day's end. When Dubya was reelected in 2004, no one paying attention could have doubted that he was the most insanely incompetent chief-executive in the history of the republic. When I received the news early the next morning that John Kerry had gone down to defeat, that was the moment I finally realized that these stupid fucking Americans were capable of just about anything. The star of a reality TV show is now the president-elect of the United States of America. The Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party are this morning celebrating. Think about that.
 
December 1:

Irony of ironies: As impossibly corrupt and incompetent as George W. Bush was to the foundations of this once great republic, by this time next year, we-who-bother-to-pay-attention will find ourselves nostalgic for the contemptible  little thug. Honestly, even during Dubya's reign of grotesquerie and terror, I never dreamed it would get this surreal. What is coming is no mere constitutional crisis; what is on the bleak horizon is a fucking constitutional meltdown. Remember, you read it here, boys and girls!
 
During the campaign, Trump promised his moronic base that, once he was in charge of things, there would be no more corporate lobbying at the executive level of our government. In the days following the election he announced the appointments of these same lobbyists to run and control the very federal agencies that they have dedicated their careers to destroying. And the shit storm hasn't even begun.
 
December 6:
 
Welcome to Idiot Nation. Come to the place where dreams go to die. Don't feel sorry for us when the gazillion dollar shit hammer hits the fan. We stupidly did this to ourselves. In a nation that was once viewed by the world as a beacon of hope, this would be the darkest of comedies were it mere fiction. But this isn't fiction, campers. This is too real and catastrophic for contemplation. If you cannot understand this now, you'll get the picture very soon.This is going to end badly, folks. Very badly indeed.

Forty-five years ago, the legendary gonzo journalist, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, accompanied by his attorney, Oscar Acosta, went off in search of the American Dream. They didn't find it. What they did find were the sure symptoms that the dream was terminally, mortally ill. They found out in Las Vegas - the city where the game is rigged in favor of the house. Today we awaken to find the game rigged all across the American nation. We find ourselves living in a plutocratic dictatorship. An unhinged sociopath - who lost the last presidential campaign by over two--and-a-half million votes - will be living in the White House in forty-five days. I was tempted to say that the game is over - but it's not over. The house will continue to deal its deck of marked decks. We will be forced to play by their rules - on their corrupt terms.

The American Dream is deader than Hunter Thompson and Oscar Acosta combined.

December 13:

We did this to ourselves, America. For nearly forty years, the American voter has been playing Russian Roulette with right wing extremism. The gun finally went off on Election Day 2016. None of this will make any difference to me. I thrive on chaos, dysfunction and despair. For anyone who makes his or her name commenting on America's doom, a perspective Donald Trump administration will be the gift that keeps giving and giving. As for the rest of you? You've had it.

December 19:

There are an awful lot of people who should have been a bit more careful what they wished for. Maybe they don't understand the ramifications of their error now, but they'll understand them soon enough. The bazillion dollar shit hammer is about to hit the fan. In four years you won't recognize this place. I can't wait to see the looks of mass-shellshock on the faces of so many Americans. That'll be the funniest thing of all. So many of them and their elected representatives  will attempt to blame the economic carnage that is surely coming on Barack Obama. Blame the nigger. It works every time. Why do you think there are so many innocent black men in prison in this country? C'mon, folks! Put on your thinking caps!

December 29

After the complete failure of the Bush years,  I was naïve enough to believe that America might finally have learned its lesson. The first piece I wrote on this site ten-and-a-half years ago predicted that Bush would be the last Republican president. I was still making that prediction as late as the summer of 2016. I should have remembered the words of turn-of-the-century journalist, H.L. Mencken, who once famously observed, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." After this calamitous year, I promise you that I'll never again stray far from such sage wisdom. I'm suspecting that the Donald will be reelected in four years, and I trust that the inmates of this doomed republic will be just fine 'n' dandy with that.
---------------------------------------------------------
So there you have it, folks. I fucking nailed it. And the ultimate irony is that I wasn't the only one - far from it.

Idiot Nation

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Blue Moon
by Fats Domino

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDO78-0a4ho&feature=share

Fats Domino has joined the legends. In a 1969 Las Vegas press conference, Elvis Presley, referred to him as the real king of rock 'n' roll. I have to agree. The Fat Man started it all.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pence Dilemma

Dump Trump for Dense Pence
`
We need to face a few uncomfortable facts here, folks. Good news/bad news:

Donald Trump is not going to serve out a full, four-year term as commander-in-chief. That's the good news (and it's very good  news indeed!) I guess I don't need to explain to you what the bad news is - but I will: Mike Pence might be the next president of these pathetic United States. I say "might" because Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian sabotage of the campaign of 2016 is ever-widening. Pence seems to be on the peripherals of this scandal at the very least. Perhaps he's near the center. PERHAPS HE'S THE EVIL GENIUS WHO MASTERMINDED THE WHOLE SCHEME! Nah, that's giving the man way more credit than he deserves. Whatever the awful reality, we shall see.
 
This is only one of the good news/bad news scenarios that liter the American political landscape in the fatally amusing era that we now inhabit. There can be no denying the obvious fact that poor old Mike is dumber than a sack of purple yo-yos - that's beyond rational debate at this point;  and we also know that Pence is up to his teeth (if not the top of his head) in political corruption going back to his term as governor of my late mother's home state of Indiana - but at least he isn't bat-shit crazy. Forget the shameless corruption of Donald Trump and nearly everyone in his orbit, including his kids (although I'm sure Barron's clean) we now have to contend with the fact that the POTUS is suffering from serious mental illness. This is no longer a debatable issue. The Donald is nuts. This was patently obvious during last year's campaign. It has only gotten more so - excruciatingly more so - as the last nine months have transpired, and he has started to melt-down under the day-to-day pressures of being the leader of the most lethally powerful nation on the planet. That lethal power of which I speak should not be placed in the hands of a crazy person. Just a suggestion on my part. Pay it no mind.

Anti-hero Spiro
It's like 1973 all over again! In the autumn of that year the Watergate affair was rapidly imploding the administration of Dick Nixon. As young as I was at that weird moment in the history of this republic, it was obvious even to me that the Trickster was becoming unhinged by the pressure accumulating every day and from every angle. In fact it was in October when the old bugger really began to fall to pieces. That was the month in which it was revealed that his vice-president, Spiro Agnew, had been taking financial kickbacks while governor of Maryland several years earlier. Spiro  pleaded "no contest' and was forced to resign as VEEP. Agnew was such a babbling imbecile, no one in congress would have dared to force impeachment proceedings on Nixon while Agnew remained a smoking gun away from the White House. The moment that Agnew was replaced by Gerry Ford, it was all over for the president - and he knew it. Within less than ten months, Ford was sitting comfy cozy in the Oval Office while Nixon was living in rancid exile at his fortress in San Clemente.

1973 was an interesting time to be alive in America. Not unlike 2017. Politics can be that way, you know?

Mike Pence is about as warped and corrupt as Spiro Agnew was - maybe more so - but as unglued as Nixon became in the Autumn of 1973, he was the very picture of stability and common sense when placed in juxtaposition with the likes of Donald Trump. For all of his flaws (and Heaven knows he had scads of them) no one could ever make a rational argument that Nixon was not an intelligent man. In fact, let me venture out on the proverbial limb if you please: It is my educated opinion that Dick Nixon was one of the three smartest men to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the twentieth century (the other two being Woodrow Wilson and Jack Kennedy). In the last thirty-seven years it has become apparent that being smart is no longer a prerequisite for being president. Have you noticed that? Strange days indeed.

Donald J. Trump, on the other tiny hand, is....umm....let me be as polite and as gentle as possible here....Incurious? Every day, it is becoming more-an-more painfully obvious that Trump is completely out-of-his league intellectually and psychologically. In fact (the hell with politeness) if Trump is not the dumbest president in history, he's a cinch to be tied with Andrew Johnson - who served a century-and-a-half ago. In 2016, the American people (or enough of them to turn the tide) wanted to "experiment" with a "different" kind of president. Well, I think that by now it's apparent to everyone that their little experiment failed disastrously. Each day that this unhinged jackass and common pervert remains in power is a day that further seals the fate of that other "experiment" known as "democratic governance". Trump needs to be removed. The sooner the better. If nothing else, think of your children.

I was just thinking, many years ago I had a friend named Tom Pence. He died over twenty years ago at a depressingly young age. I sure hope that him and Mike aren't related. Something that strange wouldn't help Tom's legacy a bit.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT: 10/20/17, 4:03 PM:

There is a rumor swirling about that the Donald is about to launch a crackdown on anti-Trump Facebook pages. I wouldn't put it past him. This is going to get interesting!

60

Monday, October 16, 2017

Getting Stranger by the Hour


 
When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This idea dawned on me in the waning months of 1980 when the voters of Idiot Nation decided that sending a failed B movie actor to the White House would be a really cool idea. This is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. You see, I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. My only excuse (and it's a pretty lame one) is that on Election Night of that year I got quite intoxicated. Ask anyone who knows me: I'm capable of highly idiotic behavior when I've had one-too-many.
 
I was working as a reporter for W-ALL in Middletown, NY. Assigned to cover the Conservative Party Headquarters, I arrived at their place to discover that they had chartered a bus for New York City to whoop it up at the Waldorf. Although the polls had not yet closed, it was obvious early in the evening that Jimmy Carter was going to be badly trounced by the Gipper. I wandered across the street to where the Democrats were stationed and proceeded to imbibe pretty heavily with them (it was an open bar). By the time I wondered over to the town hall to cast my vote, I was eleven-and-a-half sheets to the wind. For some reason (was it a sick joke or my utter frustration with Carter?) I cast my lot that year with Ronnie. I regretted it in the morning. I didn't make that same mistake again in 1984. I’ve been stone-cold-sober every Election Day since.
 
“Mothers Against Drunk Voters”. Does such an organization exist? It should, you know. It really should.
 
After casting - I mean - wasting my vote. I wondered back to the bar to watch the returns. Sitting there glued to the tube was Dr. William Byrne, a professor from the local college who five months earlier had been my sociology instructor. He once told his wide-eyed class, “In the years to come, this country will move so far to the extreme right that, by the time the twenty-first century gets here, you won't recognize it”. Although I respected and admired him, I thought that he was exaggerating. In hindsight, I am floored by his prescience.
 
A little after 9:00 PM, when CBS News officially announced that Ronald Wilson Reagan would be the next president of the United States, the good doctor sighed, bowed his head, and walked out of the place. That was the last time I ever saw him.
 
Although his eight-year reign depressed the hell out of me, I never for a moment doubted that we would survive Reagan's two terms. To be honest with you, compared to what's come along since he left the White House on January 20, 1989, the old bugger doesn't look half as bad as he used to. Hell, even Dubya is starting to look marginally palatable when placed in comparison to the buffoon we are now forced to refer to as "the commander-in-chief". The very fact that a full one/third of the people of this country still support this clearly unhinged abomination is something that we all need to contemplate seriously. It is now clear that the Trump White House will not survive a full term. That many of his supporters are threatening national unrest if impeachment ever occurs should also give us pause. Recently, the disgraced preacher Jim Bakker (Remember that knucklehead?) threatened civil war should the Donald ever be forcibly removed from office. Nice! It would appear to me that the next year-or-so is going to be quite the ride. I've already purchased my ticket.
 
To be honest with you, I'm not sure that Donald Trump's presidency is survivable. I do hope it is, but I'm not absolutely certain of that. It will take a long time to recover from what right wing governance has done - and is doing - to this once-great nation. There's room for optimism. In the life-span of people who still walk among us, Germany endured twelve years of Hitler and the Nazis. Today they survive as one of the most stable and thriving nations on this troubled planet. It might take years; some of us might not be around to see the ultimate transformation, that "new birth of freedom". Still, as the adage says where there's life there's hope, ay?
 
I have a feeling that ours will be the first generation not to envy the young. Our parents bequeathed to us the strongest, most vibrant nation in the history of humanity. And what will our children and grandchildren inherit from us? A cesspool.
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
 
SUGGESTED VIEWING:
 
Requiem for the American Dream
 
This essay/interview by and with Noam Chomsky is better than anything I've ever seen or read that describes what has happened to America. I just watched again late last night. I cannot recommend it enough.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Vulgarians at the Gate



It should be a surprise to no one the speed with which this administration is unraveling. It certainly comes as no surprise to Yours Truly. I could see this disaster coming from a hundred miles away. If you don't believe me, just click on the archives of this site and read what I wrote during the final four months of 2016. I rarely get to give myself a pat on the back so please forgive me for taking full advantage of this sweet opportunity. I took a lot of shit in 2016 - from every direction - for the sense of urgency I displayed in warning people the immensity of the mistake the voters would make by sending this asshole to the White House. I lost more-than-one friendship that went back many decades. That's fine. I'm losing no amount of sleep over the matter.
 
And yet it seems that the complete failure and utter incompetence of the Trump Mob has caught a whole lot of my fellow Americans completely off guard. It's an unnerving thing to consider the fact that in a nation this powerful, such a huge segment of the populous is so out-of-it with respect to the topic of politics that they would consider the prospect of a Donald Trump administration to be a really neat idea. A recalcitrant Trump supporter recently defended his vote for this madman by saying to me: "Well, look what he was running against!" My response:
 
"Well, look what she was running against!"
 
Hillary Clinton might not have been the best nominee (It should have been Bernie!) but the choice given to us last year was akin to choosing between a basket of puppies or a bag of decomposing ravens. This should have been the greatest political no-brainer in eighty-four years; and yet, for so many people it was anything but. Last year, as they are becoming more prone to do with the passing of each election cycle, these silly Americans went happily for the dead ravens. And there is no excusing the fact that Trump won only in the electoral college. It should have been a landslide.

In the meantime, the damage that these clowns are doing will probably take untold years to undo. We'll have a lot of difficult days to endure for the simple reason that too many people in this country are not informed enough to make the right decision at their polling places....Did I say "Right"? I beg your pardon, I meant to say, the "Correct" decision. There are too many of us who can be accurately compared to Pavlov's dogs, salivating at the right wing scream machine's bells of impending doom that progressives would unleash on the poor and helpless inmates of Idiot Nation.

These sure are interesting times to be alive, you'd better believe it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT, 3:12 PM: PM

The front page of my local paper this morning asked the musical question:

"HOW DO WE STOP GUN VIOLENCE?"

Would you like to know what would lead to sane gun laws in this doomed country? The random assassinations of a score (or more) of our "representatives" (with maybe a handful of NRA reps thrown into the mix just for shits and giggles). WHOA! It makes my head spin to envision how quickly legislation outlawing these weapons would FLY out of the House of Reprehensibles and the Senate if a series of events that dreadful occurred. Can you even imagine?

Please, I am not advocating violence, I am just stating an unpleasant reality. They're not on our side.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Fear and Carnage in Las Vegas


It's happened again. To tell you the truth, we were a bit overdue. This is a good news/bad news scenario for Donald Trump. The good news is the fact that this latest little saga in the national train-wreck will divert the public's attention from the scandal that will very soon consume his presidency; The bad news is simply that the shooter who killed at least fifty people last night in Las Vegas apparently was not a Muslim.

Fifty people. The numbers are expected to rise.
 
This is a subject that I'm sick of writing about. To make things a little bit easier for my purposes, I'm just going to tip toe through the old archives and let previous things I've written over the years do the talking for me. Here are a few oldies but goldies for your reading pleasure - all still perfectly relevant:
 
April 19, 2007:
 
This week, as in times past, we're having all the old, tired clichés of the National Rifle Association shoved down our throats: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Of course they don't - and I'm seriously considering shooting the next person who tells me that. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them." Yeah right. Were you aware of the fact that gun violence in Britain has all-but vanished since that country banned all hand guns a few years ago? The same is true for Australia! In countries where firearms are difficult or impossible to obtain, the murder rate is extremely low or (in some cases) non-existent. I'm not makin' this stuff up, folks! Do the research!
 
March 29, 2009:
 
As Americans arm themselves to the teeth, the law of averages will eventually forbid such an unspeakable tragedy from not touching the lives of almost everyone. It has already happened to my family - twice. Two female cousins of mine - who never even had the joy of meeting one another - (one on my mother's side, the other on my father's) both died as the result of being murdered by men who were stalking them. Don't for a moment reflect on the passive tranquility of your lives and delude yourself into thinking, "It can't happen here". It can. It will. Whether child, parent, sibling, cousin or friend; gun violence will touch your seemingly untouchable lives eventually. Count on it.
 
July 20, 2012:
 
This is the way it's going to be from now on, kiddies. When a country has the stupidest gun laws in the western world (laws that are getting even stupider by the year) its citizens should come to expect this sort of thing. Our lawmakers have no intention of correcting this unacceptable situation. Most of them are too terrified of the power of the National Rifle Association to do the right thing. [In 1957] John F. Kennedy (one of history's more celebrated victims of gun violence) wrote a book that profiled examples of great political courage throughout American history. He wouldn't have much material to work with were he around today to write a sequel. Cowardice abounds. Get used to living in a country in ruins. This is the way it's going to be from now on.

December 15, 2012: 

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

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

January 13, 2013:

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

February 20, 2013:

Sure enough, and as predictably as the sun setting in the western sky this evening, it is quite clear that nothing is going to change. Nothing. Two months and six days ago twenty human beings - just barely out of infancy - were slaughtered like cattle by some goddamned lunatic bearing a tiny arsenal of rapid-fire weapons. In spite of national shock and outrage and the demand that these guns be eliminated from the public marketplace, most of our representatives are going to see to it that things remain just as they are.

March 22, 2013:

In the meantime (very mean indeed) we really have to come face-to-face with the prospect of living in a nation in ruins. We need to understand that there are just too many people in this doomed country - too violent, too stupid, and too stone-cold crazy - to ever see the light of day. This is not a situation that can be cured overnight by some magical, sociological panacea. This is a condition that will take a century or more to remedy - if it is ever remedied at all. We might as well deal with it as best we can. We The People are diseased. Congress is an organized criminal enterprise. The media is beyond dysfunctional. The chickens are coming home to roost - and they're armed and dangerous.

GUNS! Guns galore, baby! GUNS FOREVER! Lots 'n' lots of little baby body parts!  Little boys 'n' girls, blown to smithereens -  to teeny weeny bits! Decapitated heads and limbs - severed forever by the force of the explosion from the hand of some homicidal half-wit with a serious attitude problem and way too much time on his hands. This is what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Have a look at the autopsy reports if you think I'm lying to you.
 
April 9, 2013:

But what the hell! Ninety percent of the American people want to see stricter gun legislation and yet these assholes refuse to do the right thing. I can't keep emphasizing this enough, folks: Congress is an organized criminal enterprise. And it's not just the Republicans in the cross-hairs of my scope (figuratively speaking - I promise!) There are enough Democrats who are hardly blameless. They should all be held accountable for the carnage when the next massacre of innocents happens within a few months time. And it's gonna happen, make no mistake about it - again and again and again.  Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans (not to mention Harry Reid and the conservative Democrats) will see to that. This is a fact of life that we need to grow accustomed to.

May 7, 2013

 How "free" do you feel? Free as a bird? That's perfectly understandable if you've never had someone you loved dearly killed by gunfire. I have. I wonder how many of the parents of the kids murdered in Newtown didn't give a rat's ass about the "gun issue" prior to December 14, 2012. I don't know the answer to that question. What I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that they care now. They care very much. You will, too, if and when it happens to you. And as we continue down this idiotic road, the chances are getting better by the day that it will indeed happen to someone you love - or to you - or to me (YIKES!). 

 September 8, 2013:

Note to the rest of the world: Planning on a sweet and cozy vacation for the spouse and kiddies? Here's some sound advice you'd be smart to heed: Stay out of the this place. We here in the good ol' USA want you dead. And if we catch you in the wrong place at the wrong time you're a goner, Buster. Of course the odds are much better than fifty/fifty that you'll get out of here alive but why on earth would you want to take such a chance - particularly when your loved ones are involved? Go out and hug a tree during a thunderstorm. It's much safer than visiting the United States of America. Think I'm kidding? Don't mess with us. Stay away from here if you know what's good for you. I'm not kidding.

September 21, 2013

Guess Who
Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's most visible spokesman, will be going on Meet The Press for a sit-down with David Gregory tomorrow. He's always loads of fun to watch. On his last appearance on that program, the hideous twit was literally foaming at the mouth. I'm not kidding! It must be a difficult thing to make one's living defending the indefensible. How this guy sleeps at night is anyone's guess. My theory is that he's simply a sociopath. Or maybe he's suffering from acute brain damage. Whatever the case, it should be an interesting hour.

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy of December 14, Wayne said something to the effect that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In the case of the Washington DC Naval yard massacre you had a bad guy with a gun entering a military facility that - we must presume - was packed to the rafters with lots of good guys with guns. And sure enough, one of them was able to take the bad guy out. HOORAY! The only problem was the fact that he was able to murder twelve innocent people before he was put down. OUCH! So much for the delightful idiocy of Wayne LaPierre.

September 2, 2014:

A little news item in this morning's paper caught my attention pretty quick. There has been a stampede nationwide to purchase as many models as possible of a particular, Russian-made AK 47. You see, Obama has just initiated a ban on importing them as part of the sanctions against the former Soviet Union because of their involvement in the Ukraine conflict. As a result, they have literally flown off of the shelves at gun stores all across this ruined land. As far as anyone can tell, there are no more of the things left. That's what is known as a good news/bad news scenario. 

Good News: There is one less dangerous weapon available. 

Bad News: In the last week America has become just a wee bit more lethal than it was the week before. Isn't that nice?

August 27, 2015:

And please, don't give me the NRA's argument (and if they haven't used it yet, they will - count on it) that if only Alison and Adam had the sense to arm themselves, they would be alive today.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were focusing on their jobs. They were ambushed. They were doomed. They never had a chance.

May 24, 2016:

This is not "the land of the free". If you are under the delusion that, as an American, you are freer than a citizen of, say, Norway or Ireland or France or England or the Netherlands, you might just as well go back to sleep. We live in a constant state of paranoia and despair, wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will take place - as it surely will, and very soon. Call it what you will, just don't call it "freedom". Don't insult my intelligence, okay? We've been sold down the river to the lowest bidder. Stop kidding yourselves. Just deal with this American wasteland as best you can.

 TIMELY TIP: Vodka helps. Lots 'n' lots of vodka.

June 13, 2016:
 
Don't hold your breath waiting for change to come. That's not going to happen - not now, not ever. Every Republican in Washington (and way too many Democrats to count) are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. I imagine the only thing that would reverse this intolerable situation would be an epidemic     of random shootings of our elected representatives (with a handful of NRA spokesmen thrown in just for shits and giggles). That would change things overnight - you'd better believe it, Bubba! But it would be wrong for me to hope for such a deplorable trend in our national affairs - and I'm not even gonna go there. I'm just trying to make what I feel to be a very valid point. And besides, violence isn't my thing. It isn't your thing either, I'm sure....I hope.

Dead-Dead-Dead-Dead-Dead....
`
If the corpses of twenty little girls and boys, all barely past infancy - slaughtered inside a Connecticut schoolroom like a barn-full of rabid pigs - wasn't enough to get these sociopathic bitches and bastards in Congress to do what is, after all, the only morally right thing to do, the mutilated bodies of nearly fifty dead homosexuals is not going to get the job done either. Call that "an educated guess" on my part. Don't forget that these nasty little regularities are the price we must pay for - ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? - our "freedom". Ain't that a riot?  

****************************
 
Well that's it. This is now officially the worst mass shooting in the history of this doomed country. More people were shot last night in Las Vegas, Nevada on American soil than any time since the Civil War. In the short time it took me to compile this piece the numbers did indeed go up. At this hour the fatality count is over fifty-eight human beings slaughtered and over four-hundred injured, all while innocently enjoying a Jason Aldean concert. Those numbers are expected to rise before the sun sets on this troubled day in the life of Idiot Nation.
 
I'm going back to bed.
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

Suffer Little Children
From this site, April 9, 2013

https://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2013/04/suffer-little-children.html

This one was written less than four months after the massacre of twenty little boys and girls inside a classroom in Newtown, Connecticut.