Sunday, November 26, 2006

No Time For Democratic Timidity

"A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or reward that quality in its chosen leaders today".

John F. Kennedy
from the book
Profiles In Courage (1956)

"What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage"

Bert Lahr
from the movie
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Here's what I've been fearing since the election: after being out of power for twelve long, depressing years, the Democrats decide that they don't want to blow a good thing by showing - Heaven forbid, dear reader - political courage. Now that the mid-term elections of 7 November are safely a thing of the past, the Dems are staring to display weak knees by hinting that the impeachment of the most criminal president since the invention of dirt is not only not on the table, it's not even an option. Can they be serious? Have they lost their minds? Or is this simply a tactical ploy for political purposes. Time will tell. But the soon-to-be majority party had better know this: if ever there was a time for courage on the part of our elected representatives this is the time. As FDR said during his first inaugural, "The American people want action and action NOW"! We elected the Democratic party - not Republican-lite! This is not a time to be worrying about one's political future but the future of the USA. For inspiration, I highly recommend the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles In Courage, written in 1956 by one of their party's icons, John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts. Not a bad read.

Consider our good fortune as a nation: for the first two-hundred and twelve years of the American presidency - but for sheer luck (or God's grace) - every time this country faced a major calamity, we've had a man of exceptional character and insight living in the executive mansion. Think about it!

1: The Civil War: Abraham Lincoln
2: The assault on American workers by the robber barons: Theodore Roosevelt
3: World War I: Woodrow Wilson
4: The Great Depression and World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt
5: Post war re-construction of Europe: Harry S Truman
6: The Cuban Missile Crisis: John F. Kennedy (My! His name is just popping up everywhere today, isn't it?)

Well guess what? Our luck ran out on September 11, 2001. On that day, thanks to a stolen election, George W. Bush was the president of the United States; a man not elected by the people, but selected by the Supreme Court; a man who is already labeled by people a lot smarter than I (Helen Thomas, for instance) as the worst president in history; a man who has driven our once-great nation to the precipice of international shame and ruin. That the invasion of Iraq was merely a way for politically connected companies to make a literal financial killing off of this obscene war is now obvious to every thinking person. Iraq already had a viable (if somewhat tarnished) infrastructure prior to March of 2003. The Iraqi people should have been the ones put to work rebuilding their country. Instead most of the work went to American companies like Titan, Bechtel and Kellogg, Brown and Root. For more on that subject, please see Robert Greenwald's excellent new documentary, Iraq For Sale. That the people of that country lashed out in violent retribution at the plunder inflicted by the US should have come as a surprise to no one. It certainly didn't to me.

By year's end the number of American victims of Bush's war will be at or near three-thousand. These are kids who innocently joined the military to get an education or in a fit of patriotic fervor after September 11, 2001. It's a fairly safe bet that it was never their intention to get involved in an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and that was never a serious threat to American security. And while we're on the nasty subject of victims, do I even have to mention the half a million or so Iraqi men, women and little children who have died as a result of this obscenity? I didn't think so.

Historical hindsight is really a neat thing. It's almost hard to believe that, just a little over half a century ago, the late Joe McCarthy was not only taken seriously by many Americans, he was actually beloved by some! Today we look back at grainy black and white news reel footage of the Senator from Wisconsin and we cringe in disgust. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, does the First Fool have any idea how jaw-droppingly stupid he looks when, today, only three and a half years after the fact, we look at the videotapes and photos of him prancing around the deck of that aircraft carrier in that grotesque GI Joe flight suit with that disgusting smirk on his face and that ridiculous banner flying overhead?

Mission accomplished, indeed.

For the first time in over a decade, the Democrats have the power of the subpoena and, if they know what's good for them, they'd damn well better use it. Billions of dollars have been squandered and stolen in what is, without any doubt, the worst military blunder since Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union almost sixty-five years ago. Future presidents who probably haven't even been born yet will still be dealing with the damage that this dim-witted little jackass did to his country and the planet so many years before. Investigating, removing and punishing this administration for their crimes against humanity will not only be an option of the 110th Congress, it is their duty. A precedent must be established: that no leader shall, without threat of imprisonment, cynically violate the will of the framers of the Constitution and the trust of the people - That's Weeda Peeple, kiddies! This is our country! This is our Constitution! Bush and Cheney need to be held accountable for the damage they've done to it.

Eight years ago, Bill Clinton was almost forcibly removed from office for lying about having an extra-marital affair. When are we going to stand up and admit that Clinton's relatively minor transgressions are but a cup of water when compared to the Bush Mob's moral and ethical tsunami?

I left the Democratic Party seven years ago and have not once regretted it. Will this new batch of Dems only reinforce my decision to leave? Or will they finally show some guts? We cannot afford to wait until January 20, 2009 for this nightmare of an administration to end - it must be ended as soon as possible. Don't be fooled into thinking that this contemptible thug couldn't possibly do any more damage than he's already done to your country. During the next two years and two months he can and will do a lot more damage - trust me on this one, folks - he's got to be impeached. Period

The future of the republic depends entirely on the conduct of the 110th Congress in 2007 and 2008. Everything is riding on their courage and tenacity. Generations yet unborn will be affected by their actions and the outcome of those actions. While I'm optimistic, I'm only cautiously so. Pray they don't blow it again. Oh yeah, and while you're at it....

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Gettysburg Address

This is the easiest post I ever made because I didn't write it! One hundred and forty-three years ago today, Abraham Lincoln stood at the dedication of a new national cemetary on the blood soaked fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What he said that day still resonates almost a century and a half later. It also makes one want to weep - to contrast what we had with what we've got. I will offer no closing comment. Mr. Lincoln needs no explanation from the likes of me. It is a wise thing, indeed, not to follow the New York Philharmonic with a harmonica.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation - or any nation - so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg, PA
November 19, 1863


With Malice Toward None
by Stephan B. Oates

This is, by far, the best one-volume biography of Lincoln ever written. Highly recommended.

For more recent postings on this subversive blog, please go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Old Abe Lincoln would have approved.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fasten Your Seat Belts

The next two years are going to be a political junkie's dream. When the final results of the 2006 mid-term elections became official late Wednesday morning, one could almost feel the heat coming from the White House. It's melt down time, folks! It's enough to make you nauseous to think that the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt once took up residence in what is now nothing more than a glorified house of ill repute. Once these people are finally led out of there (in handcuffs and well before 20 January 2009, I promise you) we're gonna have to have the joint fumigated! Remember the mantra they kept repeating when they first seized power in January of 2001? "The 'adults' are in charge now"! Please.

It really is entertaining to watch, is it not? For all of the tragedy that George W. Bush and company have inflicted on this troubled planet, when it comes to unintentional humor, these assholes are a comedy writer's dream! I can remember during the campaign of 2000, Don Imus telling his audience, "Please vote for this guy, I'm begging you"! The idea was that the I-man's job of making people laugh would be so much easier with such a heart-stoppingly incompetent and comical figure sitting in the oval office.

Take Wednesday, for example. When it became clear that his administration would have to stand in judgement before a democratic Congress, the First Fool held a press conference to announce that, after long and serious discussions, he has decided to accept the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Oh, this had been planned for weeks, he says. Oh, we didn't make the announcement before the election because we didn't want to politicize it, he says. Is that just a rib-tickler, or what? How stupid does he think we are? No, it doesn't get any funnier than this!

Here's why Donald Rumsfeld was fired (No, he didn't "resign", he was fired): Bush and Cheney know damned well that the jig is up. In a matter of months Donny Boy will be forced to raise his right hand and tell the whole, nasty truth about everything that led up to the invasion of Iraq and the White House's handling of it. It'll look far better for the Bush Mob to have this testimony coming out of the mouth of an "ex" Secretary of Defence than a sitting one, if you get my drift. The really funny thing about it is the fact that, had they made their announcement on Monday morning instead of stupidly waiting until Wednesday afternoon, they probably would have been able to hold on to the Senate! Bush has a lot on the table that he needs to ram through Congress between now and January 1st - the John Bolton nomination and illegal wiretapping legislation, for instance (Bush wants to do away with a law he's been violating for at least five years). That's not going to be so easy now. The Republicans - within Congress and without - are furious at him for screwing up the Rumsfeld "resignation".

Honestly, can this whole thing possibly get any funnier? Yes it can and it will. In 2007 when serious Congressional hearings are held, the tiny little details of the Bush administration's jaw-dropping ineptitude of which, at best, we have only a broad picture at the moment, should have us all rolling in the aisles begging them to stop. When the movie about the Bush era is finally made, of this you can be absolutely sure: it will be a comedy - a black comedy but a comedy none-the-less.

Picture the scenario: The eldest, not-too-bright, ne'er-do-well son of an ex-president decides he is going to "one up" his father - of whom he feels nothing but jealousy and contempt; in spite of the fact that the elder man has bailed the son out of one problem after another his entire life. Whether it be business failures or tangles with the law, the father has spent much time, energy and influence keeping the son's personal and professional life from falling apart. Within eight years of his father's defeat for re-election, the half-witted son is elected in his own right - sort of. He does it by stealing the election. He is re-elected four years after that but, again, because of another stolen election. He also has the advantage of a deplorably ill-informed and indifferent electorate.

To prove to himself that he is his own man, whenever confronted with a difficult decision he asks himself, "What might Dad have done"? and does the exact opposite. For six years, his macho posturing and reckless abandon brings the entire planet to the precipice of chaos. In the end, the father bails him out yet again by sending in his powerful friends to sort through the disaster the son has created through sheer stupidity and arrogance. This is exactly what's occurring at the moment with respect to Jim Baker and the so-called "Iraq Study Group". For the Lord knows how manyth time, Poppy Bush has to send in his crafty consigliare to pull poor Junior out of another fine mess he's gotten himself into. Somewhere in the void, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are weeping.

Please give thanks for the miracle of technology. We're all going to have front row seats for the implosion of the Bush White House via the medium of television and I can't wait! The great radio comedian Fred Allen once said that "the only reason television is called a 'medium' is because on TV nothing is well done". The proprietor of Allen's Alley had a good point but of this you may be absolutely sure: The hearings that will lead to the eventual impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will be television's finest hour. I'm positively giddy with anticipation!

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-Election Reflection

It's official. Virginia has just come through for Jim Webb. George Allen, the guy who looks like Spiro Agnew with a bad John F. Kennedy haircut, is on his way to well-deserved political obscurity. The Democrats now control both houses of congress. Maybe we really will be able to take our country back from these hideous bastards after all. One week ago, we had every right to be pessimistic. All of that has changed. Oh, happy day! As a caller said on the Sam Seder program on Air America Radio yesterday, "I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl"! Full disclosure: the caller was a guy. It's a new morning in America, baby! As Mr. Dylan said in perfect context over forty years ago, "the times they are a'changin'"!

The unavoidable conclusion is that the Bush administration is as dead as a door nail. Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace exactly one week before my sixteenth birthday in 1974. At the time I remember thinking that the American political landscape would never again get as interesting as it was during the Watergate era. Oh, brother! Fasten your seatbelts, kids! The next two years are going to make 1972/74 look boring civics lecture. George W. Bush now has to answer for his crimes against humanity. He now faces a legislative body that not only possesses the power of the subpoena but has every intention of taking advantage of it. But the depressing era of a corrupt and sycophantic rubber-stamp congress is not yet over - not at all. Remember, these criminal fools have over a month left to inflict even more destruction on your once-great country. Keep your eyes on the damage they do between now and then.

Come January 1st, it's all over - and by "over" I'm not merely referring to the Bush presidency - I'm referring to the entire right wing movement that began with the so-called "Reagan Revolution" over a quarter of a century ago. For twenty-six years we've had to listen to these assholes lecture us about family values while they waged an unrelenting war upon the middle class. As a result, the disparity of income in the United States has not been this blatantly obvious since the end of the nineteenth century. The middle class, which during the last half of the twentieth century was the oil that fueled America's economic engine, is on the verge of virtual extinction. There's a very good reason why the GOP hadn't controlled both houses of Congress in over forty years when they took power in 1994. The Eighty-third Congress of 1953-55 saw some of the worst abuses of congressional power in American history. If you'll remember, that was the period when the infamous "witch hunts" provided by the House Un-American Activities Committee sent our Bill of Rights through the sausage grinder. When the Dems were finally able to regain control of the situation in January of '55, the Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, shocked by his own party's mindless extremism, breathed a prolonged sigh of relief. The irony of it all is the fact that the McCarthy era, as damaging to our nation's psyche as it was, was a relatively brief span of time. This situation has gone on for twelve long years!

Finally there is light at the end of this long, depressing tunnel. Very soon, the Bush Mob will have to raise their right hands and take an oath to tell the whole, ugly truth. True, some of them will lie their asses off - don't forget this is the most dishonest White House we've ever had - but some of them are going to crack, make no mistake about it. Within a year it's going to be official and undeniable: George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They wanted to seize control of the second largest oil reserves on the planet. It was never about "bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people". These are the same people who stole two elections in their own country. These are the same people who spied on American citizens without a constitutionally mandated, court-ordered warrant. These are the same people who gave us the Patriot Act and effectively did away with habeas corpus. These are the same people who now advocate torture. Implying that they believe in "freedom and democracy" in Iraq (or anywhere else for that matter) only insults my intelligence.

It's just so much fun watching this disgusting administration fall apart at the seams! The First Fool's day of reckoning is nye (and I don't mean Louie!) My prediction is that Bush will be remembered as the first US president in history to go to federal prison. Dick Cheney will probably avoid the same, well-deserved fate. Sadly, that fatal heart attack we've all been waiting for these past six years is likely to come any minute now. (Question: Would it be a federal offence to send a Triple Whopper with Cheese to the vice-president's residence? Just wondering). But while he may be able to avoid the judgement of a jury of his peers, no one is immune from the judgement of history. The most eye-popping aspect of this administration's arrogance has always been their obvious belief that they are so immune. That is why, within minutes of swearing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" on January 20, 2001, the half-witted little thug we now call the commander-in-chief issued an executive order to seal the papers of not only his father's administration but Ronald Reagan's as well - curiously omitting the Clinton papers at the same time. They don't want history to know the truth. Sorry folks. History knows.

The clock is ticking and the sun is setting. A whole posse of murderously angry chickens will be coming home to roost very soon - and they have a serious agenda. Our president (yours and mine), George W. Bush is guilty of genocide; that is the very unpleasant reality that we all have to come to terms with. The sooner we do, the healthier - mentally and maybe even spiritually - we'll all be. Someone mentioned the other day that this is the beginning of the end of the George W. Bush presidency. That's not quite correct. The beginning of the end came the day in March of 2003 when they made the stupidest military blunder in American history by invading Iraq. The end arrived on Tuesday. It's over. It's all over.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tomorrow Always Knows

From where I sit, it is now 4:50 AM. The polls in New York state open in exactly twenty-five hours and ten minutes. Everything is set to go. The suspense is palpable. The future of this once-great nation depends on a victory for the minority party tomorrow night. The decision made by the electorate on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006, will be felt by the great-great grandchildren who will never even know our names. I've got my fingers crossed and my hands folded. I'd love a couple of good stiff drinks right now but it's way too early in the morning for that - even for me!

I never thought I would live to see the day when I would be a shill for the Democratic Party (Note to the Republican National Committee: it's pronounced, "Democratic party" not "Democrat party" you fucking idiots!) I left the Dems in 2000 when I became disgusted with their obvious right-ward shift. At the time, I naively bought into Ralph Nader's line that the two parties were nothing more than "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb". Six years of a murderous, half-witted little piece of shit like George W. Bush and a GOP-controlled Congress calling the shots have changed my mind forever. While the Democrats leave a lot to be desired (a whole heck of a lot) they are, for the time being anyway, our best hope. I pray that it's only a slump they've been in and that they will finally wake up and remember that they are, in fact, the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That we have to continually remind them of this has been the most frustrating thing of all and is the reason I left the party to begin with. It would do them well to realize that we already have a right of center party in this country - decidedly so. The only reason their natural constituency has stayed away from the polls in droves in recent years is because they haven't had the motivation to vote. My advice to the Democrats? Motivate the buggers!

Where will this all end? In forty hours we should have an answer. Tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern time, we'll know whether or not America is set on a course where it will be able to heal itself. For twenty-six years the right-wing has waged unrelenting war against the poor and the middle class. If you would like to see for yourself where they want to take America back to, read the book, "The Jungle", by Upton Sinclair, the man Teddy Roosevelt was referring to when he coined the term, "Muckraker". Written in 1905, it exposed the deplorable working conditions of Chicago's meat packing district. During that period, working men and women had virtually no rights what-so-ever. As far as the ruling class was concerned, they were a disposable commodity to be exploited as ruthlessly as cattle. When Sinclair died on November 25, 1968, over thirty years worth of legislation set into motion by the New Deal which guaranteed worker's rights had made his famous book all but obsolete and by the late sixties it was pretty much forgotten. I think it is telling that in recent years "The Jungle" has had somewhat of a resurgence.

It was because of the farsightedness of FDR and the very gifted people who comprised his administration that the middle class really came into being. It is now on the edge of extinction and the results of tomorrow's election will either mean its death knell or its possible resuscitation. The decision is ours to make.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Gift That Keeps Giving

There's no argument in this corner: of the one-hundred and ten national elections in the history of this country, 2006 is the biggest no-brainer of them all. And yet, while this very fact would mean a landslide for the Democrats under normal circumstances, I fear that won't be the case this time; a lot of foolish and naive Americans have every intention of sticking with the GOP. Why are so many people determined to vote against not only their own best interests but that of their children and grandchildren? Beats me!

Every day, it seems, one scandal after another reveals itself. Just this week alone, Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and a trusted Bush advisor, is now revealed to be not only a patron of male prostitutes, but a stone-cold meth freak to boot (That just tickles me to death!) Just a couple of days ago the New York Times reported a story which exposed the fact that, in an effort to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the White House stupidly published on a website papers from the Iraqi archives that contained partial instructions on how to make a nuclear devise. As if that wasn't weird enough, in an interview with Rush Limbaugh this week, the First Fool stated that he had no intention of asking for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation and that the Secretary of Defence was doing "a fantastic job" - in spite of overwhelming and inarguable evidence to the contrary. In response to this rip-roaringly stupid comment, the magazines, Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times all plan on issuing a joint editorial on Monday demanding that Rumsfeld be fired! Liberal media, indeed.

Wait! It gets better! Representative Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania recently made a commercial where he stated (with a straight face, I swear) that while he cheated on his wife, he did not beat his mistress. Can it possibly get any better than that?? Yes it can and it will. Trust me, it will.

In addition to the ridiculous, there have been ominous signs as well. A law recently went into effect that so waters down a state's oversight with respect to its National Guard that it is now easier than ever for a president - this president in particular - to declare marshal law. The timing of the passage of this unconstitutional piece of, umm... "legislation", so close to a national election, should raise the eyebrows of every thinking person in the United States - all twelve of us.

This might be pure paranoia on my part (I've lived through six years under this murderous little thug and I've earned the right to be paranoid, thank you very much!) but could it be that when the results come in on Tuesday evening and the final tally is so out-of-sync with every opinion poll published, they plan on countering the mass outrage that will no doubt be demonstrated by the people with brutal force? They've already stolen two elections and quite possibly three! Let there be no doubt: they're trying to do the same thing in 2006. They know that if the opposition party (Note to viewers of FOX and Friends: that would be the Democrats) gets the power of the subpoena, it's all over for them. When the machinations of the Bush Mob are finally given the light of day, it will mean not only the removal from power of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, it will also mean their eventual imprisonment. As dumb as these contemptible bastards are, they at least have the wit to figure that out and they are doing everything humanly possible to see that it does not happen.

We have only two full days available to get out the vote. I plan on spending the afternoon making telephone calls for John Hall, who is running for congress in my district against the incumbent: the thoroughly worthless and corrupt, Sue Kelly (If you deny that she is corrupt then, please, have a look at her voting record. Four times she has voted against amendments which would have put an end to the overt theft that Dick Cheney's Halliburton and scores of other GOP connected firms are, at this very moment, committing in Iraq). John has been an effective legislator and school board member in Ulster County, New York who has earned the trust and admiration of everyone who knows him. He is also the former front-man for the seventies pop group, Orleans, having written their two memorable hits, Dance With Me and You're Still The One but I've forgiven him for that. Although Kelly has been bombarding the airwaves with negative and (SURPRISE!) dishonest ads, it's looking better for John everyday. Keep your fingers crossed and your hands folded - not just for John Hall - but for the minority party across the land.

Please, at the risk of sounding redundant:
There. Was that subtle enough for you? If the American people turn out en masse, fists clenched tightly, it will make another stolen election virtually impossible. There are alot of us and we're angry as hell!. And make no mistake about it: it's not just registered Democrats and Independents. They've got more than a few disgruntled Republicans that they're going to have to contend with this time - a very nasty tasting pie, any way you slice it! The sleeping giant which accumulatively comprises the American populace is beginning to awaken from the right-wing coma they've been slumbering under for over a quarter of a century now - and this very uncomfortable fact doesn't bode well for George W. Bush and company. Will enough of them respond to make a difference on November the seventh? Time will tell.

We've got to do everything we can to get people motivated to get to the polls on Tuesday because (Who knows?) this might very well be our last chance to have our votes counted - if that "last chance" hasn't happened already.

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY