Monday, May 05, 2008

Tomorrow Never Knows

"Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream. This is not dying. This is not dying."
John Lennon

It has to be stated for the record: 2008 is turning out to be one hell of an interesting year. Some years are like that. Take 1968 for instance. Forty years later and I can remember that year like it was yesterday, young as I was (I would turn ten in August). Sure, it was an awful year - damned near as awful as they come - but it sure wasn't boring, was it? Or how about 1974? How could anybody forget the all-too-public meltdown of Richard Milhaus Nixon? Something as weird as that has a tendency of staying with you. 1945 was another monumental year. Although I was not around for it, 1945 saw the sudden death of an American president (FDR), the end of World War Two and the beginning of a longer, subtler and colder war.
And then there are those years that just refuse to make so much as a blip on the old memory screen. 1991? BORRRING! That may be said of any year during the reign of George Bush the elder. 1982? For the life of me, the only thing I can recall about that year (other than a really memorable road trip to Fort Lauderdale) was the fact that 1982 finally....mercifully....saw the cancellation of M*A*S*H, a program that in its final years had become so maudlin and preachy, it was virtually unwatchable. The final program, which captured one of the largest viewing audiences up to that time, wasn't any different. When the last jeep pulled out of a deserted Camp 4077, I remember thinking to myself, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Hawkeye".
2008 is turning out to be one of the major exceptions to the rule. Whatever the outcome, this is a year that historians will still be writing about a century from now. And to think that it isn't even half over. Incredible.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008, may very well turn out to be another remarkable day of what has proven to be a truly awful and remarkable year. When the polls close in the states of Indiana and North Carolina tomorrow night, we should (one hopes anyway) have a much clearer picture as to who the eventual nominee of the Democratic Party will be. For me, it is very personal. I want to see a Black family living in the White House; that's all there is to it. This is something I've dreamed about since I was fifteen years old - and not just any Black family. Al Sharpton's 2000 candidacy did not fill me with any noticeable degree of hope. Nor, for that matter, did Jesse Jackson's 1988 run for the White House. His incredible speech at the convention that summer notwithstanding, old Jesse never made much of an impression.
This is the moment that I've been waiting for, baby! I want Barack Obama to win this thing so badly I can almost taste it. My very first real encounter with America's nasty history with respect to race was as a freshman in High School. One day in 1973, while casually browsing through the school library, I came across a volume with the eye-opening title, "NIGGER". I might not normally have shown any interest in such a book, but upon casual examination, I was to learn that the author, Dick Gregory, was a comedian. That sealed the deal for me. Talk about fate! Had he been a sports star, a dramatic actor or an ex-congressman, I probably would not have given the book so much as a second glance. It is my opinion that throughout its history, America's most valuable citizens have not been its politicians, but its comedians. My own personal Mount Rushmore would have the faces of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce carved into the mountain's side for all time and eternity. Ten years after discovering Dick Gregory, in the Spring of 1983, I had the honor of meeting him on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street in New York City. We had a very nice chat, as we leisurely made our way toward Tenth Avenue. It was a moment I'll never forget as long as I live. Reading his autobiography in the library of the old Goshen Central High School three and a half decades ago was the beginning of my long and varied political education.
Although my opinion of Barack Obama's candidacy has been somewhat lukewarm to date, it cannot be denied that when one looks at the man, the potential for growth is very real. There is no doubt that, should he win the election in November, he is not going to surround himself with a posse of half-witted, sycophantic and ideological "yes" men, unlike another president whom we all know and loathe. The very reality of an Obama presidency would send a symbolic message - not only to the rest of the world - but, more importantly, to ourselves; a message perfectly articulated by John F. Kennedy in his 1961 Inaugural Address, "Symbolizing an end as well as a beginning. Signifying renewal as well as change." It is next to impossible to believe that an Obama administration will merely be "more of the same". This is not your father's Democratic politician. This guy is different.
The idea of a non-white chief executive is an idea long overdue. No other group of people within the American Experiment have suffered more profoundly and unfairly than our brothers and sisters of color. As was said on this site in January, America has been ready for an African American president since March 5, 1770, when Crispus Attucks, a Black man, became the first human being to give his life for this country. True, Barack Obama is not really a "Heavy Metal Black guy" like Malcolm X; he is more of an "Easy Listening Black guy" in the manner of Al Roker. Still, you get the idea.
This can't be emphasized enough: a second Clinton White House? That's a joke, right? It has to be! I've gone down that road already and, to tell you the truth, I don't want to go back there. You shouldn't either. The fact that, even today, the last Clinton administration is still portrayed by the Right Wing as a hotbed of liberalism doesn't even come close to passing the giggle test. Bill Clinton as president and Hillary Clinton as senator are not and have never been true "Progressives" by any stretch of the imagination. All one has to do is look a their record to dispel any such notions. And let us not forget the sad and bitter fact that in October of 2002, she was presented with the most important decision of her life and she blew it. When she voted to allow the Bush administration the authority to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq without the Constitutionally mandated congressional approval, she revealed herself to be a person totally lacking in judgement. The best thing that can be said of a potential Hillary Clinton administration is that it won't be one half as bad as George W. Bush's. I think that we can do better - much better.
As was true seventy-five years ago, so it is true today: America will only be saved by a good, old-fashioned, meat and potatoes liberal. In the space of thirty years, the Conservatives have managed to destroy the infrastructure of a country that used to be a pretty nice place in which to live. What is now happening to your once-great nation is this: for the fourth time in their history, the American people are in the process of re-learning a lesson they should have learned almost a century and a half ago during the administration of Ulysses S Grant. The lesson is this:
It never has. It never will. Three times in our history, the "plutocracy" (Today we refer to it as as "the right wing") was able to seize control of all three branches of the government. Three times in our history they drove this country into the economic ditch. Well how 'bout that. It's happened yet again. Go figure.
That Senator Obama is still a contender for the nomination after his quest for the White House was all-but-sabotaged - not only by the Clintonistas - but by his "friend" and former pastor Jeremiah Wright (Shut up, Reverend. Please shut up) is indicative of the sheer momentum of his campaign. Not Since Robert F. Kennedy forty years ago has a candidate inspired so much optimism and hope. Unlike John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama appeals, not to the darker inclinations of humankind, but to the better angels of their nature. He is what we have been waiting for.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
No More Lies
by Dick Gregory
Photograph to left of column is of Dick Gregory circa 1964
AFTERTHOUGHT 5/7/08 (6:31 AM):
Last night Barack Obama won North Carolina decidedly while Hillary Clinton barely squeaked by in Indiana. Said Ms. Clinton, "And now thanks to you it's full speed on to the White House".
Medications, please.


At 9:47 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom,

I am with you all of the way here. It is going to be a long, sweaty and nail biting time for the next couple of days until all of the votes from Indiana and North carolina are counted. And we can be sure that Hillary will pull our every dirty and underhanded trick known to manknd to try and win the most votes.

We can only hope and pray that common sense will prevail over shrill hysteria and blatant lies.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger stoney13 said...


Good Rant! I'm with you on Obamma!

Hillary was never, EVER an option to me!

Every dirty trick in the book has been put into play against Obamma, including a few from Rush Libaugh, (THAT son-of-a-bitch!) that are completely CRIMINAL!!!! Had ANY left-of-center individual made the "Chaos" statement that Limaugh made, they would find themselves getting visits from men in shades with neither a sense of fashion, or humor!

Maybe the "Bushites" would be merciful and just put them on the "No Fly List" with Nelson Mandella, and me! At least the company would be good!

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not buy your sentiments about Wright. If you look at what he and his church has done for the black people of Chicago, to believe that he would intentionally throw Obama off the bus does not make any sense. It is true that many white people do not understand the role of the black church plays in the black community. How could they? They had a white government for themselves all those years. Rather than try and make white people understand, it was easier for Wright to make it easy for Obama to distance himself from him, ergo he played the fool. As for his degradation of America, if it is not true why are we looking for change? If we cannot call a spade a spade and learn from our mistakes, we cannot change.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Phil said...

What? 1991 BORRRING? Not on your life, Tom. 1991 was the year I got divorced, lost my house because of the divorce, totaled my car, and lost my job due to prevailing economic conditions. Nothing boring about it. Oh, wait! You're talking about politics. Well then, that changes everything.

You're right about comedians, and you're right about conservative government. Whenever Republicans come into power, everything has a way of turning to shit. Unfortunately, that seems to be a lesson that some of us are destined to learn over and over and over again.

And Tom, if I can't have Cynthia McKinney as the next President (thereby silencing all arguments about racism and sexism), I'll settle for Obama.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

The mere *sight* of Hillary Clinton causes my brain to switch to "BS file in my hard-drive." Ever since Bosnia, I, for the LIFE of me, cannot understand why THINKING human beings would vote for her. Mathus was right when he wrote about the Tragedy of the Commons, make no assumption of "rational man."

I don't have fingenails to bite or drag, so, I'll have to settle for depriving myself of coffee. GEOWD,those people in Indiana and North Carolina better come through tomorrow and show some sense. If not?

"I don't see an American Dream. I see an American Nightmare."
Malcom X


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Gee, Phil, I take back everything I said about 1991. 1989 was also a boring year politically. And yet I didn't use that year as an example because - like you and '91 - '89 was (for me at least) an EXTREMELY tumultuous year.

And speaking of comedians, last night I saw the film "Man of the Year" with Robin Williams about a comedian who gets elected to the White House. Trust me on this one, if you haven't already seen it, by all means do so. It will be remembered as a political classic along side The Candidate, All The Presiden't Men, Advise and Consent, and The Last Hurrah.


Tom Degan

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hey, Tom, those tumultuous years really suck, don't they?

As I recall, "The President's Analyst" was also a great political classic, albeit in comedic fashion. Although I haven't seen it yet, I'm looking forward to "Man of the Year" making the rounds on cable channels, soon. Robin Williams has evolved over his career to become a great dramatic actor; I'm sure he won't disappoint.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Hawkeye said...


I think we have a chance to jump an abyss with Obama and put to rest a lot of the nonsense that's gotten into our lives. I, too, sense in watching him a man of conviction and compassion - a good word still if it does not come from the mouth of BushCo - who, despite the crap dumped on him by the Clinton machine, has stayed away from personal attacks on her.

I see in Senator Clinton's face the emotion of anger, of self-justification for the public humiliation Bill inflicted on her and her child and I see women caught up in the miasma of payback for all their real and imagined slights inflicted by males. Good reasons, maybe, for some buty not for the country.

I see this campaign not as a clash of ideas or even goals but payback for the hurt she felt at Bill's indiscretions. I see in her a determinationm to win at all costs, to claw at the heart of another human being for her personal vindication.

Look, she came from an upper middle class family in the Chicago suburbs, had a "summer cottage" in PA and went to Wellesley College, then on to Yale. Working class my ass. You don't sip the whiskey, you knock it back in one gulp and then wash the heat away with a beer chaser.
And she's got the cheek to call Obama an elitist.

She was a Goldwater Girl before she stumbled onto Bill, a down home country boy with a Democratic mask to hide his Republicanism. She hasn't played fair and she lies, just like her husband but no one has seriously called her on it. What mother would take a child willingly into a combat zone? And to repeat the story five times in the face of the television clip to the contrary and for Bubba to say she was sleep deprived and excuse it is the worst sort of lying.

We can only hope the people of North Carolina and Indiana will exercise a little judgment and put this idiotic campaign to bed -with or without Bill.

You're right, Tom, there is a good deal of Bobby Kennedy in Obama. What a White House it would be.


At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice rant, Tom.
Well, it looks like tommorow came today. Finally!
Now Hillary has to realize it and find a way to bow out gracefully.
I'm looking forward to Barack's presidency. Perhaps he can restore that which was lost during the past eight years of the fascist junta.
All of us deserve better. It gives one hope...and YES WE CAN!

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

My own personal Mount Rushmore would have the faces of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce carved into the mountain's side for all time and eternity.

Tom? One of these things is not like the others; Groucho Marx. His humor is not based upon the intellectualism of the others. Let me toss out the first Black comedian who changed how black comedy was written, performed and viewed; truth-teller--Richard Pryor.

Barack Obama is not really a "Heavy Metal Black guy" like Malcolm X; he is more of an "Easy Listening Black guy" in the manner of Al Roker.

Tom, what's goin' on? Surely you jest! Al Roker? Obama has the talent of Marvin Gaye; multi-dimensional.

You live too far away for me to come and gobsmack you upside the head and rattle loose those memories that got stuck during the constant drone of the "Bush bees."


At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hey, you got good press at


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