Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cocka-Doodle-Doo, America!

America was forever changed yesterday.

Here's the tragic irony of it all: I missed the inauguration and didn't get a chance to watch it until late last night on a DVD. While President Obama was assuming office, I was at St. John the Evangelist Church on Murray Avenue in Goshen, NY. As I was looking at the people around me, I imagined that we might very well be the only people on the planet not watching the historic events transpire on television. We were there to say goodbye to our little town's favorite citizen, Bill Lotze, who died in a car accident late Friday night. President Obama be damned. I had to be there for Bill. He was an absolute gem of a human being. God rest his merry soul.

Within seconds of assuming the realms of power, President Obama was cheerfully handed one last reminder of the silliness and incompetence of the last eight years courtesy of Chief Justice John Roberts, who promptly screwed up the oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear that I will execute faithfully the office of the president to the United States"

That President Obama was a bit flustered is understandable. I
have been able to recite by memory the presidential oath since I was twelve years old. One would think that the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court would get it right at so crucial a moment. What did you expect? He was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

"Former President George W. Bush"....Someone pinch me. This truly is the end of an error.

Aside from the majesty, meaning and symbolism of the moment, the most amazing, jaw-dropping spectacle of the day were the expressions on the faces of the Bush Mob as they skipped out of town. They all seemed so pleased with themselves, didn't they? Have they not been reading the newspapers all these years? Have they limited their information intake to FOX Noise? The departing president actually seems proud of the damage he's done to our beloved country. At a welcome home ceremony in Texas, the First Fool told the crowd of blubbering sycophants what "a joyous experience" being president had been for him. "We're back in the state of Texas and we're here to stay", he said. How lucky for Texas. Yeah, you just stay right where you are, George. Goodbye, good riddance and thank you for your "service" to our country.

During the entire twentieth century, only the inaugurations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy can compare to what happened yesterday. What made it so monumental for me was not the new president's race but the fact that for the first time in my life I am older than the president of the United States. When Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, I was twelve days away from my third birthday. I actually have a conscious memory of a time before the president was born! To tell the truth, that's going to take a few minutes to get used to. I have a friend named Terri who was born on August 5, 1961, the day after Barack. Fortunately for her, for the next eight years (I'm predicting two terms) she will continue to have the luxury of being younger than the chief-executive. Some people have all the luck.

Barack Obama has one tough job ahead of him. In his favor is the fact that he has the good fortune to be following into office a man to whom most educated observers would give the label, "worst president in American history". Before Bush came stumbling down the old political pike, James Buchanan was generally considered by historians to be at the bottom of the list. Somewhere, I am sure, Buchanan's heirs are jabbing their collective fists high in the air and shouting a hearty, "YES!!!" George W. Bush was such a complete and utter failure, even if Obama turns out to be an absolute mediocrity (and I do not believe that will be the case) he will seem like George Washington by comparison.

The most moving thing about January 20, 2009, a day which has passed into history, was the look in the eyes of African Americans all across the nation. It was divided between tears of joy and expressions of utter disbelief that after four-hundred years of injustice and humiliation, this was finally happening.

Just this morning I was absentmindedly thumbing through a copy of Time Magazine from March 8 of last year when I happened upon the obituary of a ninety-seven year old, African American woman named Johnnie Carr. Born in 1910, she is described in the article as one of the mother figures of the Civil Rights movement who helped engineer the landmark 1955 boycott that ended segregation in the Montgomery, Alabama public transportation system. She was also the childhood friend of the late Rosa Parks. I thought how sad it is that for all they must have seen throughout their long lives, neither of them would live to see January 20, 2009. H
ow proud they both would have been. But for Rosa Parks and Johnnie Carr, yesterday would have been just another dull, boring inauguration of another dull, boring white guy. Wake up and face the dawn.
America was transformed yesterday. Isn't this a great time to be alive? Or as the late Tim Russert's dad, Big Russ, might have rhetorically asked, "Is this a great country, or what?" January 20, 2009 was a milestone day in American history that we'll all remember for the rest of our lives. Twenty-four hours later, it is just a little easier to believe that we will eventually arrive at the day when America will truly be a color blind society. You can see it in the way young white people reacted to candidate Barack Obama when he was on the campaign trail. The color of his skin wasn't even apparent to most of these kids! They loved the guy because he was handsome, smart, articulate and as cool as a freaking cucumber!
For the first time in a generation, college kids aren't thinking about majoring in business or banking, they're talking about getting into government service. Barack Obama has made government cool again! Not since the dawn of Jack Kennedy's New Frontier nearly half a century ago have young Americans felt this way. They're not asking their country to do anything for them. They're asking what they can do for their country. Twenty-eight years ago yesterday, on January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan told his clueless, fellow countrymen and women that government ("of the people, by the people, for the people") was not the answer, it was the problem. It is my belief that the Obama administration will forever prove the utter fallacy of that idiotic statement. There will be times - and this is just such a time - where government will be the only answer. My fondest hope is that one day the American people will wake up and realize what a complete fool Reagan was.
This is our new New Deal. This is our new New Frontier. The Freedom Train is about to leave the station.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Special thanks to my little commie brother (he lives in France and actually likes it there) Jeff Degan for forwarding the Obama inauguration photograph.


Obama's Challenge
by Robert Kuttner


At 7:48 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

That's interesting, Tom. This is the first time I've been older than the sitting president, also. Along with that, this past election is the first time, in my life, that my vote actually counted toward the election of the man that I voted for to be our president. With all the others I was on the losing end. Granted, I've voted third-party a few times, so it stands to reason.

Now that's pathetic, isn't it?

Today is the second day of a new presidency, and with some luck, and with a president who hopefully has the will of the people in mind, and not that of corporate and banking interests, maybe we're on the road to recovery and salvation. Only time will tell. I don't think it'll take too long to figure out.

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Tom! I am waiting for the rest of the story!...Where are you??? I am sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and that you had to watch the days events on DVR! Thank God for DVR! Please let me remind you. Mr Obama is as much white as he is black. It's not a black white thing to say the least. He is a man. A human. Does it sound better if we call him a black man over a white man? Arent we all one? All the same? He is no different than you are Tom! Let's get beyond the black and white thing and wish him luck as the new President of the United States of America. Not the new black President. Cockle Doodle Doo to you too Tom!...

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Saltwater said...

Thk you, Tom.
I am glad Bush and Cheney are finally gone. Looks like a new dawn in this country. Not that everything will get better overnight, because it won't; but hope itself has appeared in a way not seen in 8 years.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Yes! I too feel the change in the air. The "mourning" in America is finally over. A new day and era has begun. I agree with Anonymous above - let's stop referring to people as black/white and just call them people. I also want to see the death of blue/red states. We are one country - we may disagree on the direction sometimes, but divided

Peace to all of us~

Jo in AZ

At 1:15 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom,

I am sorry that you had to watch the inauguration on DVD rather than real time, but being at your friend's farewell was more important.

I have to say that just as with Obama's acceptance speech, there were times when I choked up and the tears began. And THIS from an old white man born and raised in Georgia....but to my credit, I got the hell out as soon as I could and have never been back.

It was interesting to watch the Rethuglicans leave and I could not help but wonder what was going through the Jug Eared Jackasses mind (small though it may be) sitting there and knowing that everyone was glad to see him go and hoping for a brighter and better world because of it. Do you suppose that buried somewhere, anywhere in that dimwitted fool's brain he has an inkling of what a complete failure he has been?

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm three weeks older than President Clinton, and I remember the odd feeling of having a president younger than I.

The choice of Rick Warren for the invocation had rather deflated my enthusiasm for Obama, but I broke down and watched the event on-line. Now I'm pretty enthused again.

At 12:55 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

I'm heartily sorry to hear about your friend. My sympathies and prayers go out to you and the town of Goshen.

I watched the inaguration on a computer with a co-worker when we were supposed to be working - obviously!
Funny that the "suits" in our facility of this very conservative minded health-care corporation which runs many hospitals in this country and abroad that I work for were watching the inauguration on big-screen tv in the wood-paneled conference room of our main building.

Our CEO actually sent an email in 2004 to all employees telling us to re-elect Duh-bya! The Republicans were goind to save the health-care industry in the next four years, ya see? (They did?!? Wonder why parents are going broke trying to find healthcare for their little ones? And my mother is paying $75 every two months for a medication she needs to sustain her quality of life? Hmm...please, don't get me started on the state of the health-care industry...please, please tell me that this new administration will fix it!

When we got over being appalled by this lack of tact by the top man in our corporation, most of us ignored it and proudly voted for Mr. Kerry. He didn't send an email this year - good thing...I would've emailed him back and told him to sell his $3,000 overcoat so he could feed the homeless for a week or better yet - sell his Bentley and give all his employees a bonus (or a break in their health insurance deduction??) - and buy a real car...that gets real gas mileage!

I found out just last week that while I'm just 2 years and 20 days younger then President Obama, I am older by several months then our new first lady. It's strange to think that Michelle Robinson (someday to be Michelle Obama but we have no clue in high school about such things, do we?)could have sat next to me in history class! I think she would've been cool to hang out with! Barack himself would have also been in the high school when I was there - a senior when I was a sophomore. Hmm...makes me wonder...

As always, thinking, reading and writing too much

At 10:58 AM, Blogger sharon said...

It's okay, Tom, you're not going to miss anything. The excitement is just beginning. Already we have a freeze on executive salaries over $100K, an order to lock the revolving door between lobbyists and government employees, and a plan to close Guantanamo and stop torture. And it's only Day 3. By this time in 2001, GWB had already cleared a couple of acres of brush at the Crawford digs.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger sharon said...

p.s. I am almost a decade older than the new President. This is a first for me, too.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hope you don't mind, but I would like to respond to Charles Moore's question about if Dubya would ever realize what a failure he is.

Charles - Your question implies that the previous administration was a group of men with morals and integrity like your own. Dubya will NEVER admit failure because in his view he succeeded in doing everything his neo-con handlers asked him to do with the exception of privitizing social security.

In their eyes he is a complete success and he will bask in their glory for the rest of his life. Dubya never EVER cared what we the people wanted, needed or deserved. His constituency was the elite of this country, and I believe they are all clapping him on the back saying, "Heckava job Georgie".

So in his delusional, alcohol damaged brain, he is successful beyond his dreams and they will all enjoy the plundered treasure they have stashed off shore for the rest of their lives.

You could see the relief on his face when he got to hand the whole damn mess he created to Obama to deal with. He gets to ride his bike and clear brush (like Nero fiddling) while our empire burns.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I have listened to the media prattle on about Dubya's success/failure bullshit for the past month, and I just needed to say this to someone.

Jo in AZ

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Good point, Jo. They were in their own little way very successful - for their own purposes.


Tom Degan

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Phil said...

It's amazing, Tom, and more than a little commendable, that during a period of epic national transition you were able to keep your priorities straight. Kudos.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thanks for the kind words, Phil.

Actually, it was the easiest call I ever made. You had to have known Bill Lotze to know what I mean. Sitting behind me was a man named Pat Boyle who has been actively involved with the Democratic party for half a century. I am more than certain that he didn't think twice about attending either. Bill was that kind of person.

As I told hiss widow Mary the night before at his wake, I loved Bill Lotze the moment I met him. He was one of the nicest, funniest, coolest guys I ever met.

A few months ago on this site, I published a photograph of me posing in front of my van (the one with the huge "IMPEACH BUSH" sign on the side) It was Bill who picked out that vehicle and sold it to me.

Goshen is a much sadder little village tonight.

All the best,
Tom Degan

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Tom, you are such an optimistic idealist. I can’t help but notice that your readers, as one used the term rethuglicans, are primarily far left liberals who are incapable of thinking that maybe someone with an opinion or approach to something which is different than theirs could possible be right; excuse me, correct. I get the sense that everything liberal is good, and that which is conservative is bad. It has little to do with liberal or conservative anymore. The democrats are just as sleazy as the republicans. They are both greedy and opportunistic. In fact, the financial mess we are in can be attributed in large part to the Democratic Party, and not Bush. You can deny all you want, but it is fact. I can appreciate the excitement over a guy with dark skin being elected president, given history. Let me know when a Native American or a Jew gets elected president, and I’ll get on board the “we shall over come” train. I think it is too early to get excited about what Obama has done. His requiring the use of the Army manual for interrogations is great until you understand the changes that are going to be made to the interrogation methods to give the military more lea way are probably just more of the same. His stimulus plan is BS and won’t work. Times are different than they were when FDR was in office. We will be better off by simply holding the line on spending and cutting people’s taxes. Stimulus dollars will make their way to special interests; mark my words. Tom, is Pat, Cait’s dad? Joel

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

A Jew or Native American as President ?? I want a HIPPIE as President !! Then there would be REAL change. Cut throat capitalism replaced by compassionate socialism. The vast wealth shared evenly among all citizens whose only responsibilities would be to do the best they can in all they do, share all they have.... wealth, knowledge, love etc. and not do anything that will hurt anyone. Pretty simple, huh ?? Focusing on our common needs instead of petty differences we could have a society based on peace and love, not war and hate !! The establishment should put that in its pipe and smoke it !!

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ellis, Where can I get some of whatever it is you're smokin! Aside from "enlightened liberals" and Buddist Monks, it is against human nature to share and love thy neighbor. The passivists are always taken advantage of by the aggressors, of which there will always be enough to create conflict. Besides, I like being a capitalist pig.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger PetitPoix said...

Daddy? Is that you? When are you going send me that check you promised?

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Sweetheart, you didn't really think I was going to send you check, did you?

At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"he showed a lot more grace than the late William Rehnquist who, after administering the oath to Bill Clinton in 1993, refused to shake his hand. Class act, that Rehnquist!."

Actually he shook the President's hand before swearing him in [Clinton offered "hello mr. chief justice along with his hand...rehnquist offered his in return] and after he was reciprocal as well.

As to the 2nd inaugural of Bill Clinton, he shook his hand as well.

Hate to nitpick but it's a fact.

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

I went to You Tube to look at Clinton's second inaugural. Sure enough, you are absolutely correct. Rehnquist did indeed shake hands with the president in 1993.

I searched further bu could not come up with video of Clinton's oath of office in 1997.

Although I remember hearing of this incident and Joe Scarborough even mentioned it on MSNBC's Morning Joe this week, I am going to throw caution to the wind and omit the line in its entirety.

I have never printed a word on "The Rant" that I wasn't certain was the absolute truth. I intend to keep up that standard. What the hell


Tom Degan

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Hey hit the nail on the head !! 90% of humans are unenlightened. Maybe they NEED to smoke something, you know ?? That argument that sharing and loving thy neighbor is against human nature is the bullshit rap the establishment gives so people won't even consider being compassionate. Funny, but in my circle folks look out for and help one another !!! Wow what a concept !!! Capitalism breeds nothing but trouble. It's sad so many people accept a world filled with hate. See, I have a dream too.....that one day we WAKE UP and realize that living in competition is unnecessary and all work together for the common good...our mutual survival !!!!!

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous, I've been watching your dialogue with Ellis and decided I must give my two-cents worth. Certainly, some problems said to be associated with capitalism include: unfair and inefficient distribution of wealth and power; a tendency toward market monopoly or oligopoly (and government by oligarchy); imperialism and various forms of economic and cultural exploitation. I'd have to say that capitalism, per se, isn't "bad" or "wrong" or immoral, but the underlying principal of corporate-personhood, which has been acceptable and, for the most part, unquestioned, has had devastating implications for democracy and our Constitutional rights, not intended by our Founding Fathers.

Our Bill of Rights was the result of tremendous efforts to institutionalize and protect the rights of human beings. It strengthened the premise of our Constitution -- that the people, "We the People", are the root of all power and authority for government. This vision has made our Constitution and government a model emulated in many nations. But, corporate lawyers (acting as both attorneys and judges) subverted our Bill of Rights in the late 1800s by establishing the doctrine of "corporate personhood" -- the claim that corporations were intended to fully enjoy the legal status and protections created for human beings.

People need to understand, and acknowledge, that corporations are not persons, and possess only the privileges we (again, "We the People") willfully grant them. Granting corporations the status of legal "persons" effectively rewrites the Constitution to serve corporate interests as though they were human interests. Ultimately, the doctrine of granting constitutional rights to corporations gives a thing illegitimate privilege and power that undermines our freedom and authority as citizens. While corporations are setting the agenda on issues in our Congress and courts, We the People are not; for we can never speak as loudly with our own voices as corporations can with the unlimited amplification that money provides.

If you, and other unapologetic proponents of capitalism, see corporate personhood as acceptable, than I'm afraid, sir (or madam, as it may be, for you hide behind the cloak of anonymousness), you are the "far left liberal" -- not the majority of readers of this blog.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Some nice points. The notion of liberal or conservative - or republican or democrat is simply a means of dividing and conquering the masses. Always, but in recent years it seems more-so, the media has especially encouraged this culture of divisiveness. Perhaps thousands of years ago the 'karma-sutra' would define all of those stereotypical positions as 'being screwed by the man'.

One of the goals of of ruling classes throughout history is to create 'liberals** who are incapable of thinking' (** substitute any label you choose). Indeed, our public education system and so many other aspects of our society cultivate drones instead of thinkers.

I must not know my place. But in my own form of optimistic idealism, I am working on bringing my head to Idaho**.

Imagine That!

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, did JG accuse me of being a far left liberal? I must respond. Corporate personhood is an unfortunate exploitation and application of the Constitution to situations for which it was not intended. It isn’t so much the corporate personhood that is the current problem; it is the greedy and power hungry politicians. If we had true campaign finance reform and term limits, “We the People” would be a lot better off. Capitalism encourages free thought, innovation and hard work; socialism does not. Socialism creates two classes; the government and the people. If you work for the government, you are all set; kind of like the direction our country is going at present. I much prefer having the opportunity to better my lot in life through hard work, and not being provided for by the government. I think part of the problem today is the passing of wealth and power from generation to generation in a way which removes opportunity and creates aristocracy; what you would call unfair wealth distribution. Nobody is genetically entitled to the wealth and power of their ancestors, any more than am I to support from my government. I say, keep what you earn free of unreasonable taxation so that you can decide where your money is best spent, and not by some bureaucrat or politician on a special interest with which I don’t agree. You either spend it or give it away to your special interest charity before you die; no trust funds or tricky transfers of wealth. When you kick off, you can leave a million or so to each kid, and the rest goes to the social security trust fund. Yes, I think my work here is done. Thank you. No really; no applause is necessary.

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you may qualify for the socialist tag too from the last post...

The maintenance of wealth and power structure is always one of the goals of government - thus aristocracy (and frequently why and what money is spent on - of course other people's is always best which is why you buy politicians rather than fund policies directly). I would also point out that 99.9999% of hard workers do not become aristocrats - just make a living. The rags to riches vision in america is far more myth than reality. Almost always someone who 'makes it' big has some gift. Great golfer, killer instinct, fantastic idea, terrific tits... Still that is rarely enough to elevate someone to the level of the super rich. The surest way into that arena is to have a rich father!

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

I have a feeling my work here is just beginning....While capitalism might encourage free thought, innovation and hard work, it also encourages, greed, crime and cronyism. We have two classes of people now....those who earn an income that allows a decent standard of living and those who do not. The socialism I advocate would merely involve setting a minimum wage that will earn a full time worker enough income to at least reach the poverty level set by the same society that sets the unrealistic minimum wage. All of the problems we have with corporate domination and the like as so eloquently discussed by the other commentators just allow the inequities in our society to continue. As for the position that socialism doesn't encourage hard work, hard work shouldn't be motivated by money. Hard work should stem from one having pride in one's self to do the best they can in all that they do.This begins as a young child and if not lost during the socialization process of schooling can survive adolescence and young adulthood.If everyone was paid a realistic living wage and could live with security, pride would then motivate people and provide the impetus for the free thought and innovation Anonymous mentions.As a matter of fact if children were paid during this schooling socialization process say in a trust fund...that would begin to address the wealth situation. Accessing compensation paid to younger humans for their time and effort ( not just scholarships for some and all that competitive bs ) would begin to even the playing field as they enter the work force with the deck stacked against them. I guess that's more of my socialism !!!

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, a nation of motivated free-thinkers? That has got fall into the 'enemy of the state' category.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

[LOL] John, I totally agree with you. Anonymous's comment that "capitalism encourages free thought, innovation and hard work" struck me as funny, if not downright ludicrous. Possibly that's the case in Ayn Rand's fictional portrayals, or in the best case scenario employed by Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, but in today's America, and increasingly around the globe, market monopolies and oligopolies run slipshod over the citizens, and the governments that created them. To believe otherwise, in my mind, is naive at best and just plain ideology at worst.

Please understand, I never intended to indicate that Anonymous was truly a "far left liberal". I would never slander the good word for all the truth, and justice, people have derived from various liberal causes down through the ages. Far from it. I was just using his own label and throwing it back at him, for if he really believes that corporate-personhood is not against the dictates of the original intentions of the Constitution, and more specifically the Bill of Rights, than his ideas concerning capitalism are very radical indeed!

It's apparent to me that Anonymous lacks the true understanding of what corporate-personhood means, for if he did he'd understand that the problems that he cited (campaign finance reform, term limits, concentrated wealth, etc., etc.) are just the symptoms of corporate-personhood. Understandably, these are insidious problems that endanger and manipulate our republican system of governance, but the true malady is, and always has been, the granting of constitutional rights to inanimate objects (i.e., capital, or "corporations"). The accumulation and amassing of capital for purposes other than the specific reasons as outlined in each corporate charter, outlives and overshadows each citizen's solitary voice (i.e., vote) and creates a dominate class of "super being" that takes dominion over every aspect of natural beings.**

Under capitalism as it's practiced today, Adam Smith's idea of an "invisible hand", giving us everything in proportion to its value, becomes a lie and a sham. In reality, that invisible hand has been stroking us into believing it's true. It has felt so good, for so long, that we've inappropriately misconstrued the term to mean "free-markets", when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

** I find it ironic when another "means of production" -- labor -- seeks to even the playing-field by doing the same thing, capitalists cry foul and lament their shrinking profit margins.

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Jefferson's Guardian:

I was just coming in here to plug your blog only to find that it's not there. Didn't you have one?


You should start your on site, pal.



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