Saturday, March 28, 2020

It's Time For Cuomo



The governor of my state is advising me to stay inside my home and isolate myself. Just what the heck does he think I've been doing for the past decade?
 
There is today talk among a few opinion-makers out there that perhaps the time has come to replace Joe Biden and think about Andrew Cuomo heading the ticket in 2020. I think it's a good idea.
 
For the last week during the most catastrophic natural disaster in the history of this republic, in what few public appearances he has been able to make, Joe is seemingly becoming more-and-more dazed and confused. The fact of the matter is that his advanced age is showing. I do not believe that he is physically up  to the riggers of the job. Andy Cuomo obviously is. His mobilization of forces in New York State, organizing the teams that will do battle with the coronavirus has been impressive as anything I've witnessed in my lifetime. More than anything, Donald Trump has to be defeated at the polls come election day. The country will barely survive his presidency as it is; four more years will seal our doom. Handing the White House over to an unhinged sociopath - even in the best of times - is never a particularly jolly good idea. This White House is proving disastrous. Something to think about.

In the meantime, Trump's response to this pandemic has been eye-poppingly incompetent and irresponsible. Against the advice of every medical expert, he is now urging Americans to attend Easter services next week. In the weeks leading up to the election of 2016, I wrote a piece on this site predicting that, if elected. Trump would prove to be the worst mass murderer in American history. After about an hour of sober reflection, I deleted the statement, thinking it to be a tad too extreme. Now I wish I hadn't. Four years ago Michael Moore predicted that, if elected, Donald Trump would get a lot of innocent Americans killed. I do believe that the man was possibly onto something. Trump refused to act quickly to bring this virus under control the moment he learned about it. Early in his administration he shut down all of the pandemic response centers that Barack Obama had put into place. A whole lot of innocent Americans will be dying in the weeks and months to come.

Don't listen to Trump. He's an imbecile. Stay inside.

I had a pretty bad case of the flu last week which made me wonder if I had contracted this thing. It seems to have blown over and I'm fine. This can't be emphasized enough, though: stay inside your home and have as little contact as possible with your friends and family. We live in such a time where instant communication with masses of people is as easy as it ever was in human history. In the coming year, the internet will prove as vital - or as harmful - as it's ever been. That will all depend on how we use it.

Stay safe and keep well.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Audrey Degan Gargiulo
Requiem:

Audrey Gargiulo was my father's sister. Although she was the oldest of my grandparents' seven children, she survived them all by a decade or more, living to the age of 100. She was laid to rest yesterday in the family plot at St. Columba's Cemetery in Chester, NY. In normal times she would have had a huge send-off - but these times are hardly normal. There were less than ten people attending her wake and burial. She was the last survivor of all my aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. This truly is the end of an era. This is a melancholy day in too many ways to count.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Partying Like It's 1918

1918
 
 
They've always talked about "the luck of the Irish". If you think about it, all through their history, the Irish people have been anything but lucky. It wasn't until years after they became Americans that some serious luck start to catch up with them. It should be "the luck of the Americans". All through its history, whenever any serious crisis faced this country, the United States has always been blessed to have a leader of insight living in the White House. All of that changed nearly twenty years ago, on September 11, 2001. When the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor sixty years earlier occurred, America's luck ran out. I don't need to rehash the sins and blunders of the Age of Dubya; It's all too depressing to even think about. Now that we're about to face the worst pandemic in one-hundred-and-two-years, given the intellect and instability of the current occupant of the Oval Office....well....there's not a lot of room for optimism, we'll just leave it at that.
 
During the epidemic that ran between the years 1918 and 1920, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters-of-a-million Americans died. That's about twice as many Americans who died in World War One, which ended as the pandemic was exploding. The month of October of 1918 is still recognized as the deadliest month in American history. Think about that! So many people died that corpses had to be interred in mass graves; undertakers had difficulty keeping up with the demand for coffins. Many bodies went without. The world wide the death toll was estimated at fifty million.
 
The ground-zero of the Coronavirus (at least here in the states) seems to be New Rochelle, NY, a small city in Westchester County which is sixty-one miles to the southeast of where I live. As of this writing, a grand total of one-hundred and eighteen souls have been diagnosed. None, as far as I know, have passed away. Many people around the nation are starting to self-quarantine - probably not a bad idea - but the panic is beginning to be tangible.
 
Yesterday, as I do every week, I attempted to purchase a case of bottled water. The store, which is usually overloaded with the stuff, was bone dry. The same was true in another store I visited a little later in the day. The traffic outside of my window on Route 17K, is usually so heavy at this time of the day, at times it takes me ten minutes to get out of the driveway if I have to make a left-hand turn. The traffic is sparse this morning. Relatively few are venturing out. Probably a wise precaution. It has been announced that local schools are being closed for two weeks. If the president of the United States is not taking too seriously what is happening, local officials, at least, are.
 
FUN FACT: I'm suffering from the flu this week. Not to worry: it's only the garden variety type....I think.
 
Despite the idiocy emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Trump has put Mike Pence in charge. Ain't that somethin'?) we can get through this relatively unscathed. Precaution is the word of the day. Be safe. Be healthy.
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
 
SUGGESTED VIEWING:
 
Here is a link to an excellent documentary I found on YouTube on the 1918 "Spanish Flu" pandemic. Highly recommended.
 
 
Very informative.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

No Time for Tantrums



ATTN: SUPPORTERS OF BERNIE SANDERS: Joe Biden will more-than-likely be the 2020 Democratic nominee.
 
Let me state for the record that the former vice-president was not my first choice to be the standard bearer in this year's political contest. That spot was held in my heart by Elizabeth Warren, followed by Pete Buttigieg. Biden and Bernie were tied for fourth place. Although I  haven't been a registered Democrat since 1998, I tend to vote for Democratic candidates. Four years ago, when they nominated Hillary Clinton, I felt then (as I still do) that they had made a dreadful mistake. Show me a candidate unable to defeat a babbling moron like Donald Trump, and I'll show you a perfectly horrible candidate. As disappointed as I was with Clinton as the nominee, on the morning of Election Day 2016, I dutifully made my way down to the firehouse (my polling place) and cast my ballot for her.

One of the reasons I always give for bolting the Dems all those years ago is simply because that party has an absolute genius for taking a bottle of finely aged champagne and turning it - over night - into a worthless jug of donkey piss. This is precisely what happened on that fateful night in the summer of 2016 when that silliest of parties handed her the nomination on a silver platter. This year's election should be a foregone conclusion; the  political equivalent of shooting a school of half-witted fish in a leaky barrel - but it's not. Leave it to those idiotic Democrats to screw this one up. As far as I'm concerned, given their incompetence - and the utter stupidity of the American people - I give them a no-better-than 50/50 chance of unseating Trump this coming January 20, 2021. We shall see.

RFK
One of the reasons I feel as pessimistic as I do is the complete bitterness of some of the supporters of the defeated candidates (as well as the soon-to-be-defeated Sanders) are implying that if they don't have their way this year, they're going to take their ball and go home. This is what happened four years ago. A lot of Bernie supporters stayed home on Election Day - or went over to Trump. This is not unlike 1968, when former supporters of the slain Bobby Kennedy went with George Wallace in November. It made no sense then. It makes even less sense now. We need to support the Democratic nominee, regardless of who that turns out to be. The very future of our country depends upon it. Four more years of this bombastic jackass at the helm of the ship of state could very-well spell doom for this sick country - if it hasn't already.

Although he has evolved in his forty-eight years of public service, Joe Biden is still not enough of a real progressive to suit my tastes. But it should be remembered that Joe, for all his flaws, is a good man. I like Joe! He's what America desperately craves in this dark age of Donald Trump: an intelligent human being with a good heart. I won't be holding my nose when I cast my ballot for Joe Biden in 2020 (as I did when I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016). I know that, despite his age, he's up to the job. And we can all be sure that he'll surround himself with the best and the brightest.

But he's got to win! VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Ronan Farrow
SUGGESTED READING:

Catch and Kill
by Ronan Farrow

This is an account of the journalistic process that Farrow went through to bring down Harvey Weinstein (who was sentenced to twenty-three years in prison yesterday). Here is a link to order it off of amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/s?crid=2L9GOQ7BGKMV5&i=stripbooks&k=catch%20and%20kill%20by%20ronan%20farrow&ref=nb_sb_ss_fb_1_18&sprefix=catch%20and%20kill%20by%20%2Cstripbooks%2C237&url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks

Ronan Farrow will be around for a very long time. Mark my words, campers!



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

fear not, MIKE PENSE IS ON THE JOB!


 
Clueless
A few days ago the chief-executive informed us that, from this day forward, Mike Pence shall be in charge of All-Things-Coronavirus.
 
Gee, I'm so relieved.
 
Putting an imbecile like Mike at the head of something so serious is not a particularly good idea. In case you're not aware of this let me enlighten you to the degree I can: As governor of Indiana, Pence was solely responsible for the breakout of an AIDS epidemic - years after we that that sort of health emergency was in our past. You see, a certain part of the Hoosier state was in desperate need of clean needles a number of years ago, and Dense Pence refused to supply them - as he was authorized to do. The result was the worst breakout of the HIV virus in a very long time. And now this same man is in charge of overseeing this latest potential catastrophe?
 
This can only end badly.

I woke up yesterday to hear on the news radio that New York State, where I live, has the highest number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the country - 118 at last count. This does not fill anyone bothering to pay attention with any serious degree of confidence. We've been rather lucky since January 20, 2017. There has been no major national emergency that has yet exposed - to even the most faithful - the utter incompetency of this administration. I have a feeling that's about to change. I sincerely hope and pray I'm proven wrong. During the tenure of the Obama administration, centers were set up at strategic locations all across the nation to deal with this sort of thing. Trump had most of them dismantled. That is why right wing form of governance is always such a bad thing for any nation's security. These people don't think long range.

Wasn't this a great idea?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Farewell, Chris Matthews

 
It's funny how the most extreme spokespersons on both sides of America's troubled political spectrum have found themselves in a giddy state of schadenfreude this week over Chris Matthews' unexpected announcement (on the air) that he will be retiring from his nightly program, Hardball, which has been broadcast on MSNBC since 1997. The fact that the most bombastic of commentators - right and left - did not approve of what Chris was all about tells me that the man was probably doing something right. Apparently Chris was not quite as politically correct as he might have been for a few people. On rare occasion I would find myself mildly embarrassed for him by a minor transgression of 21st century etiquette, but it was always something not even worthy of taking note of. What some folks failed to take into consideration was that Chris Matthews is a man who was born five years before the dawn of he second half of the last century. He was a man of a different era - who was still relevant.
 
My first introduction to Chris Matthews was not via Hardball - or even television. It was in the form of a book someone gave me for my birthday over twenty summers ago called Kennedy and Nixon - which chronicled the fragile friendship and, later, bitter rivalry of the two most visible political icons of the era in which Matthews came of age. It was the best book that could have been written on that subject. Months before Matthews became a household name across the American landscape, I already considered myself a stone-cold fan of the dude. This has not changed.

One of the things that made Chris so valuable, I believe, was the fact that he never condescended to his audience; he spoke to the viewers in language that any of us could easily understand. In a country that has become as depressingly dumbed-down as this one has in the last four decades, I have a sinking feeling that a lot of people are going to miss him now that he's gone - I know I sure am. My access to broadcast news is rather limited these days, and I haven't been able to watch his program recently as completely as I would have liked to. I would watch most of his program through YouTube, and I can say that the man was as on his game as he's ever been. Nothing good lasts forever and I suppose I should consider it fortunate that Chris Matthews has lasted longer than Water Cronkite lasted as the anchor of the CBS Evening News - but it still doesn't sit well with me. It never will.

Matthews has always been a fairly prolific author and I recommend every book he has ever written, all of which are available at amazon.com. In addition to Kennedy/Nixon mentioned above, I also highly suggest that you read his separate books on the careers of Jack and Bobby Kennedy. The only good news to come out of this is that he will still be writing. We'll still have more to look forward to from him.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Billy Meres
1956-1970
AFTERTHOUGHT: I composed this little meditation in the early-morning hours of March 6, 2020. It involves the memory of a boy that I once knew who passed away fifty years ago....

It is now three in the morning. I awakened about an hour ago with the most melancholy of feelings. On March 6, 1970, fifty years ago today, my little town lost a thirteen-year-old kid named Billy Meres. Being two years his junior I always looked up to him almost as a college freshman looks up to a senior. Whenever I come across a photograph of Billy all these decades later, however, I am always blown away by the realization that he was only a little boy on the day he passed away. I was introduced to him by our mutual friend, Kevin Kelly, in the spring of 1969. Sadly, Kevin stepped into eternity at the end of 2018, his life well lived, but far from finished.

On the day that Billy Meres died, the Beatles released their final single, Let It Be. It took me a full four years before I could listen to that recording without feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. On the day that he was laid to rest, there was an eclipse of the sun. It's funny, the things you remember, you know?

Tonight, Billy sleeps in Saint John's Catholic Cemetery, a little over a mile down the road from where I am now. I plan on visiting the graves of him and his brother, Ed, today. It's the very least I can do.
 


Friday, February 28, 2020

Emmett's Law

Emmett Till
1941 - 1955

Rosa Parks
It staggers the imagination when one considers the fact that Emmett Till would have turned seventy-nine this July 25. He is eternally frozen in time as a fourteen-year-old boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement. Less than four months later, Rosa Parks, tired after a long day's work, would refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man, an act of defiance that got her arrested for violating that state's blatantly unconstitutional apartheid laws. Once the ball started rolling it would never stop - even after a man of African descent was elected president of the United States in 2008. The reverberations of the murder of Emmett Till and the arrest of Rosa Parks, two events that occurred three years before I was born, are still being felt today. Although it wasn't readily apparent at the time, America changed forever in 1955; it just took a few years for the rest of America to understand and appreciate the scope of that change.

The "crime" for which Emmett Till paid with his life is still a mystery sixty-five years later. One story had it that he gave a wolf whistle toward the white woman inside the grocery store her family owned. Another said that he was merely behaving too uppity for local tastes. Whatever the reason, it was obvious that Emmett, a Chicago native who was visiting relatives, was unfamiliar with the South's code of conduct with respect to black males and their interactions with white women. The woman's husband and and his half brother found out where the boy was staying and abducted him in the dead of night. They took him to a deserted barn where they tortured and killed him. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River, bloated and disfigured. When his mother made the funeral arraignments days later, she insisted on an open casket. Mamie Till wanted the world to bear witness to what hate had done to her child. It was a profound statement. You can google the image if you want to. I cannot bring myself to post it here.

In the wake of international condemnation, the state of Mississippi was forced to send Emmett's killers to trial. Both men were acquitted of his murder. They have both since died. 
`
Mamie Till at Emmett's Funeral
Two days ago the House of Representatives FINALLY passed legislation that makes lynching a federal hate crime. It has yet to pass the senate. I hope they do the right thing. This is something that should have been done over a century ago but - better late than never, ay? The fact that it took this long to do what is so obviously the decent thing does not reflect positively on America's history. The fact that Emmett Till today would be pushing eighty had he been bequeathed the gift of time is shocking enough. That apartheid in the south did not end at that moment is unacceptable in hindsight. A statue of Emmett should be erected smack dab in the center of Money, Mississippi where this unspeakable crime took place sixty-five years ago, lest we ever forget.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

A Very Stable Genius
by Carol Leonnig
and Phillip Rucker

If you don't read another book this year, read this unsettling look inside the Trump White House. If you're not profoundly disturbed and alarmed after you've finished, it can only mean that your reading comprehension level is ZERO. This is a book that historians and educators will still be discussing fifty years from now. It is the most important book to come out in years. Here is a link to order it off of Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Very-Stable-Genius-Testing-America-ebook/dp/B07WQQRMGP

A keeper if ever there was one!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

POST #900: Random Observations

At the Clements Family Homestead - South Bend, Indiana, 2/14/20
 
623 Park Avenue
Nine-hundred pieces in slightly over thirteen and-a-half years: not bad, I guess. In fact the number should be somewhat higher. There have been a few periods when I was unable to write at all - for reasons trivial and serious. Earlier this month I went nearly three weeks without posting a damned thing; so frustrated was I at the very existence of the current administration (and the acceptance of it by such a huge a percentage of the American people) that I threw up my hands in frustration (as opposed to actually throwing up - always an option) and just said out loud, "to hell with it, what's the point?". Apathy has never been an option with me. Like it or not, I'm back with a vengeance, baby! Here are a series of unconnected observations that I've written down recently in my notebook or on Facebook.
 
1. A Facebook flashback, 2/24/17:
 
Is the damage done already irreparable? Possibly. It's difficult to imagine the world ever again looking at America through the same lenses when so huge a segment of the voters were unwise enough to elect the Donald on November 8. And it is not a salve on the national consciousness to attempt to rationalize this electoral catastrophe by reminding ourselves that Hillary Clinton did, in fact, win the popular vote. That doesn't matter. It should have been the biggest landslide in the history of the republic - bigger than Dick Nixon's still inexcusable victory over George McGovern in 1972 when he won every state but Massachusetts and the District of You-Know-Where.
 
This one should have been a no-brainer, kids.
 
One of the more heartening turn-of-events during the last month has been the reemergence, after a long and blissful slumber, of the American left en masse. If as many of them had bothered to show up at their polling places on November 8, 2016 as I saw out in the street, I suspect that all we would be dealing with today is a wishy-washy moderate in the form of Hillary Clinton rather than what we have now: an obviously reactionary and disturbed guy with the vocabulary of a fourteen-year-old. I would only remind a lot of them that apathy is not the answer. They might want to jot that down on their things-not-to-do list. Just a suggestion.
 
Idiot Nation.

2. Black History Month:

I am almost convinced that a white person chose February as black history month. The better choice would have been January which is, after all, the month we honor the birthday of Martin Luther King. No black person in his or her right mind would have chosen the shortest month of the year. Just a thought.

3. Harvey and Aaron and Bill (Oh, My!):

In the last few years we have borne witness to the complete collapse of the careers of three men due to their atrocious, private behavior. I refer to the late NFL star Aaron Hernandez, comedian Bill Cosby and, yesterday, the once powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. This morning Harvey and Bill rot behind bars. Aaron committed suicide in prison in 2017. What causes people (mostly men) at the pinnacle of power and success to behave so destructively (and self-destructively)? Cosby got off relatively easy. He will more-than-likely walk free in September of next year, but his legacy and career in will remain in ruins. Weinstein, on the other hand, faces additional charges in Los Angeles and will certainly die in prison. What the heck were these guys thinking? The "#Me,Too" movement has scored a well-deserved victory. Congrats, ladies.
 
4. John Bolton's Upcoming Tell-All:

The Donald is freaking out over the scheduled release next month of John Bolton's memoir of the one year, five months, and one excruciating day he spent as Trump's national security advisor. Without even reading the book, several members of Team Trump are putting out the word that it is filled with the lies of an embittered bureaucrat who found himself in over his head. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that his upcoming book as wrought with fabrications. If Bolton is as lying a weasel as they are implying, then why are they insisting that the book is filled with classified information? I don't know exactly how to break this to them, but the corruption and incompetence of this disgusting administration is not really a state secret. I'm just sayin'.

5. The Candidate:

Joe
It would seem - at least from the vantage point of 25 February 2020 - that the candidacy of Joe Biden is in free fall. What I have yet to hear mentioned by the taking-heads is that Trump's campaign of smear regarding Joe's "involvement" in the imaginary Ukraine scandal has worked out beautifully for him. He feared running against the former vice-president and now Biden appears to have been taken out of the running. Not to my surprise, those idiotic Democrats fell for the propaganda hook, line and sinker. I am of two minds about this: defeating Donald Trump is the most imperative objective facing the Democrats in 2020, and Biden was the one most likely to have handed him a can of delicious Whupp-Ass. The problem is, quite simply, that I'm not sure if Joe, given his age, is up to the taxing rigors that a campaign for the White House would have brought down on him. It's not over yet for Biden. Let's see what happens in South Carolina. 
`
6. The Other Candidates:

Watching the Democratic primary debate from Las Vegas on the evening of the nineteenth, it was impressing to see Senator Elizabeth Warren knock them out of the park, one after the other. Mike Bloomberg is a joke, Bernie Sanders is beginning to falter, and South Bend's very own Pete Buttigieg, given his youth and sexual orientation, is too much of a gamble when one takes into consideration the proclivities of middle America (although he is the most intelligent and impressive candidate to come along in my lifetime. I won't be that disappointed if he wins the nomination this summer).  If Biden fails, Liz is the one.

7. Fascism American Style:

" 'Fascism' should more properly be called 'corporatism' because it is the total merging of corporate and state power' ".
 
Benito Mussolini
 
If you do not believe that is where were heading (in fact, were damned-near there) then all I can say is, "go back to sleep, children". The most important thing we can do on Election Day is to vote as if our  life depends on it - because it does. Reelecting this idiotic, psycho/man-child is not an option under any circumstances. Another term of a Trump White House will mean the ruination of the American experiment - not to mention the irreparable tarnishing of our image throughout the rest of the world. Not all progressives will be satisfied with the eventual nominee. Sitting home in a vile snit on November 3 is also not an option. A lot of them did that in 2016 and the result was Donald Fucking Trump. I was deeply disappointed when Hillary Rodham Clinton won the nomination that year, but that nasty fact did not deter me from heading down to my polling place on Election Day and casting my precious ballot for her. I had no other choice in 2016. We have no other choice in 2020.
 
And on a star-spangled night, my love
You can place your rights on the fireplace
And by the dawn's early light, my love
Yours constitution's turned to dust
Fascism American style
THAT'S ME AND YOU!
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, New York

Eric and Charlie
SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Have a look at this meticulously restored print of Charlie Chaplin's 1917 film, The Adventurer. It was one of the funniest of the twelve films he produced for the Mutual Film Corporation in the years 1916 and 17. The man who plays Charlie's bearded Nemesis, Scottish born Eric Campbell, was killed in an automobile accident a couple of weeks after the film's completion. He appeared in eleven of the Mutuals and is considered today one of the silent era's greatest comedic villains. Here is a link to watch it on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PANcaG4pYAU&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3H9XRl94gKX1B9pGqcKe5xNq-h9F3a5vDFNSkuEqb5DQIICTxpJgiy7Fo

One-hundred-and-three years later and it's as funny as it ever was.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

More Questions, No Answers


THE KING OF IDIOT NATION

Joseph Maguire
In the last couple of days we have received still more circumstantial evidence (as if any more were really needed) that Donald Trump is an asset (possibly paid) to Vladimir Putin's intelligence apparatus. Last week, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire - and his staff - informed the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians were in the process of meddling in the 2020 election with the goal of having the president reelected. When Trump learned that Maguire carried out what was, after all, his legal obligation, the demented old psychopath hit the roof and came to the conclusion that only someone as unhinged as he could possibly come to: JOE MAGUIRE IS DISLOYAL! He has been given the sack and is being replaced by someone named Richard Grenell, current ambassador to Germany and a man utterly void of any experience in the field of intelligence. Grenell's one qualification (at least in the eyes of Donald Trump) is that he is a far-right Trump loyalist who can be counted on the do the president's bidding - consequences and laws be damned. 

The question that comes to my mind (and yours, too, I'm sure) is this: why would the Donald do something this brazen, right out in the open for all to see? It has become riotously obvious to all but the half-witted forty percent that Trump has two crucial things going against him:

1. He's not terribly bright, and;

2. He's obviously severely - profoundly - mentally ill.

Can it possibly be that the dude is so completely out-of-it that he doesn't think intelligent people will put two-and-two together? This is only a hypotheses on my part but my guess is that, yeah, the president of the United States is living in a Dreamland where reality is denied a passport and kept locked up in a cage.

Even during the turbulent period of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, no one could have seriously thought that the United States would have arrived at where it finds itself during this weird and crucial moment. The Bush/Cheney years were frustrating and heartbreaking in too many ways to count; the era of Donald Trump is something else indeed. And while the rest of the planet looks on at the antics of this doomed nation aghast, it's not-at-all clear that the hideous jackass with the orange complexion will be defeated in 2020 as most of us predicted he would be only two months ago. Putin's machinations managed to get him elected in 2016, and there's not a reason to believe that he won't again be successful come November. Because of the electoral college and the fact that a full 40 to 45 percent of the voters are uninformed enough to believe that the nation is in capable hands with this maniac in power, anything is possible.

We will barely survive four years of Donald Trump. Eight years is not even an option. It is my belief that Putin has been privy to some of our most closely held secrets since the oaf of office took the oath of office a little over three years ago. The damage that an additional term of a Trump administration will do to America might very well be irreparable. Mark my words, boys and girls. Mark my words.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I visited the Clements family homestead in South Bend, Indiana last weekend. It's been in the family for nearly ninety years. It's where my mother and her sister and three brothers were raised. They're all gone now. One of my earliest memories is staying here when my grandparents were still alive, in about 1960 or 1961. The door at the top of the stairs was the room I used to stay in when we visited. One of my gentlest, early childhood memories was that, on the wall to the left of the door, there was a framed painting of Jesus that was always lit by a dim light, even late in the evening. I would awake in the middle of the night, sit at the top of the stairs and just gaze at that painting. A sweet. blissful memory that refuses to fade away.
The hallway of bliss


 Loretta and Walter Clements at home in South Bend, circa 1960
 


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Time to Hit the Reset Button

The Rip Heard 'Round the World
 
It's been nearly three weeks since I posted anything on this site. It really hasn't been a case of writer's block as much as it's been the uncomfortable and embarrassing fact that I've gotten to the point where I can only describe myself as completely speechless. In the course of three weeks we've borne witness to the president of the United States behaving in a way that will only shame Americans a century from now. There's a dandy reason why Andrew Johnson is only mentioned today in the context that he became president upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April of 1865. Other than that one fact, no one ever talks about the guy anymore. He was a racist and a buffoon, not worthy of our attention or study. If there have been any biographies written on his life in the last fifty years, I'm not aware of them. He's been permanently consigned to the shit pile of history where he rightfully belongs - where the current president will end up in short order.

I think what set me off more than anything in the last three weeks was witnessing Melania Trump drape the Presidential Medal of Freedom over the pudgy shoulders of racist demagogue Rush Limbaugh. I'm not overcome with a giddy sense of schadenfreude over the fact that el-Rushbo has been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and that he is probably going to be dead a year from now. Chances are not out-of-the-blue that I might be dead a year from now as well - such is the precarious state of my health. I wish Rush no ill will, just as I hope that he would wish me none. My problem is that it doesn't sit well with me that he is now in the same league as someone like Rosa Parks. That bothers me at such a gut level that I can scarcely articulate my feelings on the matter. Trump has cheapened and redefined - DOWNWARD - what it really means to be a good and heroic American. There is a dandy good reason why I'll never receive the Medal of Freedom: I don't deserve it. Rush Limbaugh deserves it even less than I.

Lock him up....
And now we head into the next chapter in the ever-shocking Trump era. The man has been having an orgy of mercy in the last couple of days, handing out pardons and commutations to a number of people - some deserving, most not so much so. Why now? Usually that sort of thing happens only when a president is on his way out the door in the hours prior to his successor's inauguration. What is he up to? What I love about Donald Trump more than anything is the dude's thin-as-glass transparency. What he's doing is conditioning the inmates of Idiot Nation to the idea of lots 'n' lots of pretty little pardons! When the electorate finally gets used to the idea of all those pardons, he will then issue a line of them to the thugs who carried out his bidding that allowed him to seize the Executive Mansion - Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone - you know, that crowd. It will be interesting to see if the polling of his half-witted devotees falls noticeably when that happens. I guarantee that it won't.

There is already talk among some of the Democrats that there is enough evidence floating around out there to impeach the Donald before Election Day. They needn't bother. What the Dems need to do between now and then is concentrate on winning the election next November. They have no other choice but to ride this hideous jackass out. Watch them screw this up.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
`
Nancy Clements
1935-2020
Epilogue:

I took a sentimental journey last weekend to my late mother's hometown of South Bend, Indiana to bid farewell to my aunt, Nancy Babcock Clements. She married my mother's youngest brother, Bob, in the nineteen-fifties. They settled in South Bend where they raised their eight children. Uncle Bob and Aunt Nancy were my godparents. At the time I was christened in August of 1958 they had just given birth to their eldest, Brooke. Since I was in New York and they were seven-hundred miles away in Indiana, the entire affair had to be done by proxy. It's amazing when you consider that I had the talent to complicate family matters even at such a tender age.

Cousin Susan
At her memorial service at St. Patrick's Church in South Bend (the same church that my parents were married in nearly seventy years ago) she was remembered for her kindness and unflinching generosity. Nancy and Bob could easily have succumbed to bitterness and despair, but they never lost their quiet gentleness - even after losing two daughters, Loretta and Susan - the latter of whom died in 1992 through an unspeakable act of murder. Aunt Nancy's passing represents another vanishing thread connected to a childhood that is slowly dwindling away.

Bob, Nancy, Loretta and Susan are together again. There's even more to look forward to tonight. That works for me!

Uncle Bob and Aunt Nancy Clements, 2017
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 SUGGESTED READING:

Aunt Nancy's obituary in the South Bend Tribune:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/southbendtribune/obituary.aspx?n=nancy-margaret-clements&pid=195251456&fhid=14558

She was a saint.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT



I'm of two minds regarding John Bolton. On the one hand, I was positively floored when der Donald tapped him to be a part Team Trump two years ago - and I wrote as much on this site. My feeling at the time was that Bolton, who had a long history as a hawk of the worst order, would not be an asset to American diplomacy. In fact, my feeling was that he would end up as a disaster, surely capable of starting World War Three.
 
That was then. This is now.
 
Bolton, despite his obvious flaws, is perfectly capable of imparting a bit of truth regarding the corruption of the Trump administration. The man is ready to expose the dishonesty of the most insanely dishonest administration in the history of this perfectly doomed country. I never dreamed that John Bolton would, somehow, be seen as democracy's hero, but he is. This is something that we'll all have to live with.

Trump has told his former National Security Advisor that he will no longer be able to walk with his people away from the disaster that is the Trump administration.

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

AFTERTHOUGHT: 2/9/20

I didn't finish this thing. I became completely filled with despair and I had a few drinks. I'm sorry about that.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY