Saturday, July 26, 2008


"People of Berlin. People of the world. This is our moment. This is our time."

Barack Obama in Berlin
July 24, 2008

He certainly is looking presidential, is he not? Watching Senator Barack Obama's address on Thursday before an estimated crowd of two-hundred thousand German citizens was impressive enough. One could not help being reminded of President Kennedy's triumphant pilgrimage to that very same spot forty-five years and one month before when he proclaimed to the ecstatic masses, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" While it is true that Jack screwed up the translation and unwittingly told the crowd, "I am a jelly donut", his heart was in the right place and the people had no problem figuring out what he meant.

The most amazing thing about the events on Thursday in that formerly divided city was not Barack's speech in itself - beautiful as it no doubt was - but the looks on the faces of the people gathered to hear him. As tarnished as its international reputation has become during the seven and-a-half years of George W. Bush's disastrous reign of error, it is obvious that the United States of America is still viewed by the good people of Deutchland as one of the last, best hopes on earth. Think about it! There they were, hundreds of them - thousands of them - enthusiastically, proudly waving American flags. When was the last time you saw something like that happen outside one of Bush's carefully orchestrated, phony "Town Hall Meetings"? It was a beautiful thing to behold.

Unintentional comedy abounds. While all of this was going on, poor old John McCain could be found standing in the cheese aisle of a supermarket somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, bitching and moaning that Obama is receiving all of this riveting press coverage. The Arizona senator is dismissing Barack's visit to Iraq earlier in the week as nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. This is the same John McCain who only a year ago was taking the press for a care free stroll through a marketplace outside of Baghdad's Green Zone in order to prove to the clueless viewers of FOX Noise just how "safe" and "secure" Iraq was. As this was happening, he was being guarded by over two-hundred armed soldiers and scores of military helicopters flying overhead. Cheap publicity stunt indeed.

Out of obscurity has come a politician whom for the first time since the early nineteen-sixties has made the world feel a little better about America. Right on cue, the neanderthals of right wing, Hate Radio are telling their lemmings/listeners that they should not vote for Senator Obama for no other reason than the possibility that it would please "Old Europe" (Donald Rumsfeld's infamous description). They say that the welcome he received in France is all the proof one needs to know that Barack is the mortal enemy of all that is good and decent in this great land of ours.

Frog bashing has become the sport of choice in recent years for these assholes. This is particularly offensive to me because I have two lovely and beautiful little French nieces whom I love more than life itself. Remember when they renamed French Fries, "Freedom Fries"? Remember when Rupert Murdoch's New York Toast labeled France and her allies the "Axis of Weasel? What they have conveniently forgotten is that five years ago the French desperately tried to keep the Bush Mob from committing the worst military blunder since Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. In the run up to the war, most American politicians - as well as most of the American people - scorned France for its "timidity". Five years and one million dead bodies later, we still adamantly refuse to admit that France was right and America was wrong. DEAD WRONG.

The most disturbing thing about the presidential contest of 2008 are the numbers. Barack Obama's campaign is ticking like a Swiss watch (Forgive me. I meant a Timex); John McCain's campaign is a travesty. Barack Obama is the most extraordinary candidate to come along in forty-eight years; John McCain is a doddering old fool. After almost thirty years of the Republican assault on our infrastructure and our economy, the bottom is about to drop out. Knowing all of this, the question is just screaming to be asked: Why are these two candidates in a virtual dead heat? How is it that Obama is not twenty or more points ahead of McCain?

The "pundits" have provided all sorts of misleading answers to those questions: Barack Obama has not the experience of John McCain; He is an "unknown quantity"; He's too liberal; The people feel more comfortable with a veteran like McCain navigating the ship of state - Oh, Bullshit! Here's the dirty little secret that no one, thus far, has had the guts to confront: The reason Barack Obama is not killing John McCain in the polls is because he is a black man. Case closed.

We Americans have become the laughingstock of the Milky Way because almost eight years ago, a huge segment of the electorate sincerely believed that sending a brain-dead, cowboy wannabe like George W. Bush to the White House was a fine idea. How is it going to look if we choose a senile old bobblehead over a young and vigorous statesman who has the respect and admiration of the entire world? Gee, we're gonna look awfully silly, don'cha think?

Just think what kind of message electing Barack Obama would send to the world! Even our most entrenched, ideological enemies would have to take pause. They would be forced to say, if only for a fleeting moment, "Well now, hey there! These silly Americans seem to be going off in a totally new direction. Let's see what happens, shall we?"

For two-hundred and thirty-two years, the executive branch of our government has been run by white men. Let's give the old buggers their due, okay? At many times in our history they did an admirable, even monumental job. Those four faces engraved onto the side of Mt. Rushmore? All of them were white guys! Franklin D. Roosevelt was a white guy. As were Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Let me be as clear as I possibly can be: I believe that white people, for the most part, are perfectly capable of attending to affairs of state. Hell, some of my best friends are white! I'll let you in on a little secret: not only would I let my sister marry a white guy, three of them already have! But let's be perfectly honest here. In the last forty-plus years, white people have screwed this poor country up beyond all recognition. It's high time - in fact the time is long overdue - that a person of color be given the chance to lead this nation. Sure, he might make a shambles of everything like his honky predecessors. But then again, he just might surprise us. We'll never know if we don't take a chance.

There's just too much at stake to foolishly thrust ourselves forward into the past. Right at this minute, the United States Supreme Court is teetering on the brink lunacy. During the next four years, at least two (possibly more) Justices will be retiring. At the moment, here is the balance on the court : you have one bona fide liberal and four moderates defending the Constitution against four right wing extremists. Those who remain under the illusion that John McCain will appoint to that court men and women of a reasonable judicial temperament are only kidding themselves. As he himself has said too many times to count, if elected president, he would appoint activist conservatives. That very reason alone makes Senator Obama's victory in November an imperative.
What we have before us is the kind of golden opportunity that has not come our way since 1932. It will take at least a generation to totally repair the damage that George W. Bush and company have done to America's standing among the international community of nations. The first step in that healing began on Thursday evening when Barack Obama stood up in front of the people of Berlin to make a plea for his proud but damaged country. The positive response of Berliners of all walks of life was enough to make us realize that it will be he - and no one else - who will be able to reach out to our fellow citizens of the world. Maybe - just maybe - he will be able to bring about the dawn of a new era of global peace and understanding. What is beyond dispute is that we need to go down that new, unexplored road. That is obvious to the rest of the world. Will it be as obvious to the American people come Election Day?

Seriously, if the GOP is allowed another four years in the White House, given all of the damage they have done in the last seven-and-a-half years, we're going to look like a nation of idiots.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

On July 24, 2008 - on the very same day that Senator Obama gave his speech to the people of Berlin - my dear friend and cousin, Michael Lyford Cullen, turned fifty years old.

Mike, you need to face some serious and unavoidable facts here, Buster: you are an old, old bastard. Not to worry! Three weeks from today, I shall be joining you in old bastardhood.

Cousin Tom

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Six Months To Go....

Take a long, hard look at that photograph above! Doesn't it just speak volumes? Do you find it as disturbing as I do that the American political system has become so dysfunctional in the last thirty years, that this fucking idiot - this half-witted, murderous little piece of shit - could somehow be elevated to the office of president of the United States? Does it not trouble you that so huge a segment of the American electorate has become so incredibly dumbed down in recent years, that after foolishly sending this homicidal little thug to the White House in 2000, they then compounded that mistake by repeating it four years later? Who the hell are these people? How can anyone be so ill-informed with regard to affairs of state, that they would actually squander their precious ballot by voting for this asshole? Hold your head high, Bubbah! Stand up and take a bow!

Well, fear not, children! I bear welcome news! We have only six months left - one-hundred and eighty-three days - of what only a fool would argue is the worst administration since the invention of dirt. That's the good news. Here's the bad news: It is going to be the longest six months we've ever lived through. There is still much additional harm that this stupid bastard and his sycophantic minions can do to your once-great nation. Make no mistake about it, when the Black Man enters the White House next year, he will spend ninety percent of his time in office (be it one term or two) dealing with the damage this disgusting administration has done. He will only be the first of many. As I said on this site almost two years ago, fifty years from today, the president of the United States - whom in all likelihood hasn't even been born yet - will still, on a daily basis, be dealing with the damage that was done by this utterly clueless, imbecilic man so many decades before. We will be generations recovering from the Age of Dubya.

If you ever find yourself traveling through Orange County, New York, sixty miles north of Manhattan, it is as easy as pie to spot me. I'm the guy in the navy blue van, a 2000 Oldsmobile Silhouette, with two huge, magnetic signs on either side of it. In red and blue letters on a white background it says, "IMPEACH BUSH". When I first commissioned those signs to be made almost three years ago, the reaction was mostly hostile. Today it is almost universally positive. Lately, however, people have taken to asking me why I even bother. After all, they say, he has only a few months left. How much sense would it possibly make to impeach him at this late date? My response is always that those signs will remain on my van until high noon, January 20, 2009 - if only to make a point. After that, what the hell, I'll donate the damned things to the Smithsonian Institution - or the George W. Bush Presidential Library! By the way, here's a little prediction: If that library ever even comes into being (and that is highly doubtful) it will be surrounded by a long ribbon of yellow tape that will say,

What amazes me more than anything is the fact that the American people have yet to come face to face with the nasty reality behind the Bush administration. This was not by any means your average, run-of-the-mill, corrupt White House - ala Dick Nixon and friends or Warren G. Harding's "Ohio Gang". What we have been dealing with these last seven-and-a-half-years is a cabal of so-called neo-conservative "intellectuals" (former liberals, we're told) who were bent on taking full advantage of the void that was left in geopolitics with the fall of the Soviet Union almost twenty years ago. These people wanted to take over the world! That is not an overstated opinion. That is a documented fact. It was all spelled out over ten years ago - published for anyone to read - by the authors of the Project for a New American Century. Many within that organization (or supporters of it) - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et. al. - would later go on to be key singers and dancers in the Bush Follies. In 1998, in an open letter they called on President Bill Clinton to ignore all existing international law and invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. Three years later, the very same authors of that letter were conducting America's foreign policy. It was only a matter of time before they struck. All they needed was an excuse. That excuse came - gift wrapped - on a clear, late summer's morning in September of 2001.
How were these kooks, criminals and fools able to gain control of an American administration, you may well ask? Let's rewind the tape to June of 2000. It was at that time that Bush 41 asked his former Secretary of Defence, Richard B. Cheney, to find a suitable running mate for his idiotic kid. Certainly, Junior couldn't be counted on to make an intelligent choice all by himself. After what I'm sure was a long and exhaustive search (Wink! Wink!) the Dickster slithered back into Camp Bush and informed Poppy and Dubya that he had found the perfect, the ideal running mate: DICK CHENEY! Here's how mind-bendingly stupid your current president is: He thought that that was a dandy idea! Just dandy!

Eight years on, the damage that has been done to this country and the world, largely at Cheney's instigation, is incalculable. In their attempt to seize the second largest oil reserves on the planet (which was the only motivation for the invasion - let's stop kidding ourselves) they have created a foreign policy catastrophe that will literally take generations to remedy. When our war criminal president is finally brought to trial (and it will happen - take it to the bank) his defence is probably going to be that he was never really in charge, that it was the Vice-President who was running the show and that he was merely a puppet/figurehead. When George goes on trial, Dick will make the perfect scapegoat because by that time he'll be long dead. A man with his history of serious heart problems does not live very long. Maybe Cheney really has been calling the shots for all these years. But it can never be denied that the First Fool was a willing, eager participant in the crimes that have been committed against humanity by this tidal wave of corruption and incompetence.

Here's another prediction for you:
Six months from today, when President Barack Obama (Oh, please, Lord!) is inaugurated under the dome of the U.S. Capital as the 44th President of the United States, George W. Bush will be nowhere to be found. It's a sure bet that the hideous little bastard is gonna get out of town while the getting is good. He won't be there to receive the ultimate humiliation after Barack takes the oath of office and the crowd erupts into a devastating ovation (an ovation that will probably last for a half an hour or more) that will signify a national sigh of relief at being done with and rid of the most laughably corrupt chief-executive in American history. Come January 20, 2009, the dogs of justice will be hot on the trail of Bush and all of his flunky, homicidal "yes" men and women. Come January 20, 2009, it will be obvious to all thinking people that Bush needs to be sent to federal prison for the rest of his life. No. As jaw droppingly arrogant as this president has proven to be, he won't dare show his face on Inauguration Day. Come January 20, 2009, the disgusting little twit will be in the process of skipping the country. Count on it.

There's every reason to be anxious about the next six months. The general consensus of opinion is that we should not be consumed by worry; they've done all the damage they can possibly do and that they'll soon be gone. Here's why we need to worry. The only way Bush will be able to avoid receiving his due justice will be if John McCain is elected in November. The power of incumbency is limitless and of this you may be absolutely certain: this criminal administration is going to resort to any means necessary to see that Obama is defeated. Don't even think for a moment that they're not above allowing some "incident" to transpire that gets a few thousand people killed. All the polls suggest that some unforeseen military adventure such as a war with Iran (a war that these jackasses are just itching to fight) will benefit only McCain. For reasons I have never been able to figure out, Americans believe that liberal Democrats lack the innate ability to wage a successful military campaign. Apparently a lot of these same people are under the impression that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a right wing Republican. They would feel more comfortable with a veteran like Senator McCain steering the ship of state should events overseas get a little testy - even though he spent the bulk of the Vietnam war as a guest of Ho Chi Minh in a North Vietnamese prison. For the record: FDR had no military experience. None.

Here's another thing that must be taken into consideration: another domestic attack on the same level of 9/11. If intelligence is now mounting that such an attack is imminent, don't think for a minute that the Bush Mob won't be ignoring it - just as they ignored the warning, "BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN THE U.S." in the months leading up to September 11, 2001. If we're attacked between now and Election Day, John McCain wins . It's as simple and as sad as that. Whatever may or may not happen between now and November 4, these people will continue to promote a sweltering climate of fear. As our beloved Molly Ivins once declared, "Keep your eye on the shell with the pea under it."

So there you have it folks! The next six months will seem to many like a century. As far as yours truly in concerned, January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough. And remember the mantra they kept repeating when an ideologically perverted Supreme Court allowed them to seize control of our government seven and-a-half years ago today? "The grownups are now in charge". Well, a lot of these so-called "grownups" will soon be headed to the slammer. I sincerely believe that George W. Bush will be among them. But don't think that he is just going to go away. His destructive legacy will loom large for the rest of our lives.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Photograph of the author of "The Rant" taken on March 4, 2007
Goshen, NY

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Arrogance of Being Karl

Once again, the Bush Mob are determined to assert the dubious implication that they are above the law. Would someone please explain to these assholes that one can only go beneath the law?

On Thursday, Karl Rove ignored a subpoena to testify before a congressional committee which is trying to find out the truth behind the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys in December of 2006. It has been testified that he was involved in those firings and Congress wants to know the extent of that involvement. They also want to know what role he played in the political persecution and subsequent imprisonment of former Alabama Governor, Democrat Don Segelman.

Segelman, you'll recall, was convicted by a jury of twelve Alabamans of average intelligence (average for Alabama, that is) of accepting a five-hundred thousand dollar check from a man named Richard Scrushy that went directly into a state fund that benefited secondary education. In exchange for this contribution, Segelman reappointed Scruchy to sit on the board of directors of a state hospital - a position he had held under three previous governors! This is the "crime" that sent Governor Segelman to a federal prison in Louisiana. (And just how many ambassadorships do you think George W. Bush has forked over throughout the years in exchange for campaign contributions?) He was a victim of Bush's politicized Department of Justice. Thankfully, this perversion of our justice system has since been corrected. Wiser heads have since prevailed and Segelman is now a free man after serving nearly one long year of a seven year sentence. That something like this could happen in the USA in the twenty-first century should have every thinking man and woman in this doomed country in a blind, fucking rage. Unfortunately, the story received very little attention from the main stream, corporate-controlled media. Incredibly, your fellow citizens seem to be more concerned with Christie Brinkley's divorce trial and American Idol. Is this a great country, or what?

Initially, Rove informed the Committee that he would testify only behind closed doors and not under oath. When refused that request, he then claimed executive privilege. I don't know about you, but I have this funny feeling that our man Karl has a thing or two to hide. Call it a hunch.

In Rove's defence, Fred Fielding, a counselor to the First Fool, said in a written letter to Congress:

"A present or former advisor to the president is constitutionally immune from compelled congressional testimony that relate to his or her official duties....Mr. Rove is not required to appear in response to the Committee's subpoena. Accordingly, the president has directed him not to do so."

That is utter nonsense. Only a sitting president can claim executive privilege and only in cases where national security is involved. That's pretty much how the Supreme Court of Warren Burger ruled against President Nixon way the hell back in 1973. When Tricky Dick claimed that his secret Oval Office recordings were off limits to any nosey Senate investigating committee, the Supremes informed the Trickster that a president and his subordinates are, in fact, subject to congressional inquiry. Thirty-five years after the fact, judicial precedence means not a thing to George W. Bush and Company. You're not really surprised by that, are you? Ah! I thought not.

Aside from their monumental corruption and incompetence, what will mainly be remembered about this disgusting administration will be what can only be described as their constitutional arrogance - an arrogance personified in the person of Karl Rove, a man who has been described as "Bush's Brain".

All of the dirty tricks, every single one of the smear campaigns and illegal persecutions that have been conducted by this White House, have originated from the office of Karl Rove. During the Republican primaries of 2000, it was Rove who got the word out in South Carolina that John McCain's beautiful brown-skinned daughter (who was in fact adopted from one of Mother Theresa's orphanages) was actually the result of his liaison with a black prostitute. A whole hell of a lot of South Carolinian Republicans - just about the stupidest creatures currently walking on two feet - swallowed the lie without question.

In 2002 he also helped defeat Georgia congressman Max Cleland - a genuine American hero who lost three limbs in the Vietnam war - via a shameful political ad that juxtaposed his image with those of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And let us not forget that it was he who organized the now-totally-discredited Swiftboat Veterans For Truth against John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. American politics, a dirty business to begin with, has been utterly soiled by Karl Rove.

History tells us that Rove is not totally unique to the American political scene. But were you to put history's most talented manipulators of statecraft and politics in a single room, Karl Rove would definitely stand out. As I wrote on "The Rant" almost a year ago on August 14, 2007:

"Say what you want about the man, it can not be argued that Karl Rove is a political genius. When all of the dust is settled, it will have to be conceded that he was able to take a pathetic moron like George W. Bush and not only make him look presidential, he was able to manipulate a huge segment of the American people into thinking that sending the little thug to the Executive Mansion was a really neat idea! Several presidents in American history have had Rove-like equivalents at their beck and call: William McKinley had Mark Hanna; Franklin D. Roosevelt had Louis Howe; Harry S Truman had Clark Clifford....But nowhere - nowhere - in history is there anyone who even approaches Karl Rove in terms of pure Machiavellian intrigue. Hats off to the man."

When a serious investigation into the felonies committed by these people is finally launched, it's a sure bet that Karl Rove's fingerprints will be everywhere. I think I am starting to understand why criminal charges against Rove or anyone else in this nightmare of an administration have yet to materialize. A president of the United States can not pardon someone for a crime committed unless the person in question has already been indicted or convicted. Whether or not a genius like our president is fully able to understand this is entirely beside the point. My guess is that the man is so gut-wrenchingly arrogant, he might even be under the illusion that a president can pardon himself. Is that the reason why the 110th Congress have been dragging their feet as far as bringing these people to justice is concerned? Are they waiting for Bush to be safely barricaded in his bunker in Crawford, Texas before they go in for the kill? Time will tell.

Rove is not the first member of Team Bush to ignore a Congressional subpoena. Earlier this year, former White House counselor Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton were also instructed by our esteemed neanderthal-in-chief not to testify before Congress. As a result, they became the first persons to receive a Contempt of Congress citation in a quarter of a century. Incredibly, the previous year Bush had nominated Ms. Miers to fill the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. He had to withdraw the nomination when the extreme right wing of the GOP (not known for their impressive standards) decided that she was even too mediocre for them! I know what some of you may be thinking: "Aww, hell! Tom Degan's just makin' this stuff up! The guy's a laugh riot!" So help me Mitch Miller, it's all true. Every word of it.

Again, one can only hope and pray that the House and Senate are waiting for this administration to end before bringing these despicable people to justice. I would never again get a good night's sleep knowing that these despicable bastards and bitches (Hi, Condi!) were able to get away their crimes against the American people in general and the Iraqi people in particular.

Assuming they don't attempt to suspend the Constitution (and don't think for a minute that they aren't considering it), George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Karl Rove and the entire cast of this poorly scripted, extremely dark comedy will be gone soon. Very shortly, most of the characters in this hideous farce will be retiring to their gated communities in the Washington suburbs - lounging on their decks and looking out on the manicured lawns that are kept up and landscaped by low-paid and overworked Mexican laborers. The majority of them will make an attempt to cash in on their years as players in the Bush White House, writing their memoirs, desperately trying to whitewash their respective roles within the most criminally incompetent, murderously corrupt administration in the history of human stupidity.

Ultimately they will be unable to escape the utter contempt of their heirs. It's a sure bet that Jenna and Barbara Bush's yet-to-be-born children will spend their entire lives disassociating themselves from and denying their relationship to their infamous grandfather. I know what I'm talking about here. I am related to Roger Brooke Taney, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court who in 1857 wrote the Dred Scott decision - the worst, most inexcusable legal opinion ever concocted in the Halls of Justice. I only mention this because it is a part of my heritage that cannot be denied. Trust me on this one, folks, I certainly don't go around bragging about it!
If there is one thing that two centuries of the American Experiment has taught us, it is that one cannot escape the judgement of history. Posterity's glare is a harsh one indeed.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

A couple of months ago, Bill Moyers gave a speech in which he talked about the mainstream news media, how it has been taken over by Corporate America and what you and I must do to reclaim the people's airwaves. It has to be one of the most inspiring talks that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. It must be seen. Better still, it must be heard. Here's a link:

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Buyer's Remorse?

Take a good look at that photograph above. Wouldn't they make a handsome First Family? And those two gorgeous kids? Cute as a button, huh? Wouldn't you just love to see a family like that living in the Executive Mansion? I know I sure would!

The Democrats were kind enough to remind me this week why I bolted that stupid party almost a decade ago. The reaction to Barack Obama's "adjustments" with regard to his views on American troop withdrawal from Iraq and the FISA law had me asking the musical question, "Don't these crybabies understand a thing about politics?" I fully expected the Republicans to make an issue out of this, but the freaking Democrats??? I mean, just take a deep breath and get a grip here, folks!

Rule Number One:
When a Democratic candidate for the office of the presidency runs in a primary, it is usually a pretty good idea to campaign from the left. After he or she has secured the nomination, the rule of thumb is that one needs to shift significantly toward the center during the general election. The same rule applies for the GOP - only in reverse: Campaign from the (extreme) right in the primaries, move to the center in the general. Please understand, I have no degree in political science. What I am talking about is called "a no-brainer" - Politics 101. Why is it, then, that so many people within the so-called "base" of the Democratic Party have yet to figure out this very simple fact of political life? What the hell is the matter with these people?

Here is what Barack Obama faces in the general election in the autumn: Over two and a half decades ago, the presidency of Ronald Reagan set out on a course that has all but destroyed the infrastructure of a country that used to be a pretty nice place in which to live. And yet, almost thrirty years later, the majority of the American people look back on his two terms with a tender nostalgia that borders on mental retardation and defies the belief of anyone who has bothered to pay attention all these years. What I am trying to say is that Senator Obama has the delicate mission of winning the hearts and minds of a nation of idiots. These are the same folks who in 2000 thought that sending a murderous, half-witted little thug named George W. Bush to the White House was a really neat idea. Four years later, they compounded that mistake by repeating it! Let us face some serious facts here, campers: these are people who desperately need to be pandered to. We're talkin' lowest common denominator here.

The next four months will find Barack saying and doing a lot of really nutty and stupid things in order to appease a nation chock full of nutty and stupid people. Don't panic. That is the only way one can get elected president in this county! Trust me on this one.

The charge that is now being leveled against the Senator from Illinois is that he is just another politician. Let's 'fess up. He is a politician - and a damned good one. That's probably one of the reasons he went into politics in the first place! Next time you're passing by Mount Rushmore, take a good look at the faces carved into the mountain's side. What did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt all have in common? They were politicians. What made them masters in the art of politics was the fact that in order to get elected to public office, they had to occasionally utter words that they knew were (to be polite) misleading or (to be not so polite) out-right lies. I'm not makin' this stuff up folks; it's all in the historical record. That old fable about little Georgie Washington and the cherry tree ("Father, I cannot tell a lie....") is a lovely little parable. It is also prime and pure bullshit.

Why Abraham Lincoln stands out across the historical landscape is the fact that while he might have been "just another politician", he was undeniably a principled one. But like all of them, he was not perfect - far from it. The most human qualities of all of the great men and women of history are their historical imperfections:

The reason Thomas Jefferson is remembered one-hundred and eighty two years - almost to the day - after his death (he and John Adams would both die on the Fourth of July, 1826) is because he was democracy's first great philosopher.We remember his Notes on the State of Virginia and Declaration of Independence. We tend to forget that, although he abhorred the institution of slavery, he was himself a slave owner. Woodrow Wilson is today held up by the Democrats as a farsighted visionary for his efforts to have America included in the League of Nations. What the Dems conveniently omit from their bios of Wilson is the nasty little fact that he was a horrible racist and a staunch segregationist of the worst order. Republican Theodore Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents. Having said that, it must also be said that history is most fortunate indeed that no war erupted during his seven-and-a-half years in office. Given his none-too-subtle desire for an American empire, the results might have been disastrous.

It must honestly be conceded that these icons of America's past, good and great men though they were, were also mortals susceptible to all of the frivolities of human imperfection. It also goes without saying that they were not always honest with the people to whom they were elected to represent.

The sad truth is that occasional deception is essential to a successful career in politics. While running for his third term in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt - undoubtedly the greatest president of the twentieth century - said that he would never send America's sons off to fight and die in a European war. He was lying. FDR knew damned good and well that he would eventually be forced to confront the menace of Hitler. Had he uttered the awful truth during that long ago campaign, it is a certainty that Wendell Wilkie would have been elected and we'd all be speaking German today (Seig Heil!) In 1960 Jack Kennedy (who also turned out to be a pretty good chief executive) campaigned against Vice-President Richard Nixon on the issue of a missile gap between the United States and the Soviet Union that he knew didn't even exist! At the dawn of his one term in the White House, Jimmy Carter (a good man but a lousy president) told the American people, "I will never lie to you". He did. Repeatedly.

Here are two recent, infamous lies uttered by two different, infamous presidents:

Lie Number One:
"I did not have sex with that woman - Ms. Lewinsky."

Lie Number Two:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Examine them closely, boys and girls. Lie Number One was a pathetic effort to cover up a personal and private matter that was no one's business but the liar in question. Lie Number Two was an effort to embark on an unnecessary war that has, thus far, led to the deaths of an estimated one million men, women and little children. Now, ask yourselves the following question: WHICH LIE DO YOU THINK INSPIRED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO INITIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS? American politicians are kind of funny that way, aren't they?

And while we're on the subject of presidential whoppers, remember this golden oldie from Ronald Reagan?

"My heart tells me that we did not trade arms for hostages with Iran, but the facts tell me otherwise."

A classic non denial/denial from the Gipper!

As has been said, an occasional lie in order to benefit the national purpose, may be a necessary, even positive thing. The problem comes when you have an administration like this one - where lying is a large and essential part of their overall policy. Bill Clinton's lie about having a fling with a half-witted intern did this country no harm whatsoever. What did incalculable damage was the reaction to that lie or - more properly - the overreaction to it. George W. Bush's lie on the other hand, which led directly to the stupidest military blunder in American history, has done the type of harm that will take generations to repair. A century from today, July 5, 2108, will find our puzzled heirs still picking up the pieces of the mess that was made in eight short years by this hilariously incompetent, imbecilic president.

Will there be times when Barack Obama deceives us during the campaign of 2008? Absolutely there will. He's gonna lie like a rug, baby! He would be an utter fool if he didn't. Is there anyone out there silly enough to believe that John McCain won't do the same? Would anyone deny that he, too, is "just another politician"? Just two years ago, McCain was denouncing the torture techniques being used against prisoners of war by the Bush Mob. Today he has no problem with it. In the first four years of this disgusting administration, he condemned George W. Bush's policy of tax cuts for the uber rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes. Today he tells us (with a straight face, no less!) that he has every intention of continuing those policies as president. Whom do you think is the more principled of the two politicians: Barack Obama, who has maintained a decided degree of consistency throughout - or John McCain, who doesn't even vaguely resemble the lone "maverick" he portrayed himself to be during the Republican primaries of 2000? True, McCain may very well be exercising the Machiavellian techniques of deception which are essential to victory. Maybe a McCain administration would surprise us in the long run. The only problem with that little scenario is this: it wouldn't be that much of a surprise. To say that Senator McCain would make a better president than George W. Bush is merely a classic case of damning by faint praise.

If there is anything that is beyond argument it is the fact that America needs to change its ways. John McCain does not in any way represent that type of change. Barack Obama does. Woodrow Wilson had the New Freedoms; FDR had the New Deal; JFK had the New Frontier; Bill Clinton had the New Covenant (whatever the hell that meant). In Senator Obama, we have been offered the New Direction. We need to go there.

Tom Degan
From the Great American Weekend
Goshen, NY

When Presidents Lie
by Eric Alterman