Monday, July 27, 2009

Just an All American Boy

Barack Hussein Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in the state of Hawaii. That was the very same week the Berlin Wall went up.

Coincidence? I wonder.

Once again they're comin' out of the freakin' woodwork, boys and girls. This whole silly and stupid non-controversy was reignited last week during a Town Hall meeting that was hosted by Delaware representative, Mike Castle (one of the very last Republican moderates standing - Good for him). One of his constituents, a woman who was obviously bat shit crazy, removed her birth certificate from a plastic baggie and screeched:

"Congressman....umm....Castle, I wanna know - I have a birth certificate here saying I'm an American citizen....and I wanna know why you people are ignoring his birth certificate! He is not an American citizen! He is a citizen of Kenya!....I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!!!"

Oh, dear! This shrill, idiotic twit then proceeded to lead the entire gathering (most of whom were cheering her on) in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. To his credit, the good congressman tried desperately to explain to this asshole convention that the President of the United States was indeed born on American soil - but to little if any avail.

It was one of those moments - disturbing, weird and wonderful all at the same time - that makes the train-wreck of American politics so much fun to watch. But it wasn't merely the anonymous head cases who were joining in the fun. There was G. Gordon Liddy being interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball saying with a straight face that Obama is not only Kenyan-born, he's an illegal alien!

You've got to love G. Gordon Liddy - I sure do. Seriously! There is something to be said for a guy who would hold his finger under an open flame at Georgetown cocktail parties just for kicks, shits and giggles. The man is an inspiration!

On another Hardball edition, Matthews interviewed California Rep. John Campbell who is one of the knuckleheads behind a new piece of "legislation" which would make it illegal for a person to run for president without first producing a birth certificate. Again, the whole stupid purpose of this proposed "law" is to infer that Barack Obama is not a naturalized citizen. After asking him seven or eight times if he believed the president was an American citizen, Chris Matthews was finally able to get this jackass to concede, "As far as I know." As far as he knows. How white of him.

Congressman Campbell and his compatriots have been dubbed "The Birthers", a group of hard-line extremists determined to take advantage of the fact that an American president, by Constitutional mandate, must have been born inside the territorial boundries of the United States. Their purpose, obviously, is to cast a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of the Obama Presidency.

Anyone who seriously believes that our president's race is not the real issue here is kidding themselves blind. It's all about his race. Let's face facts. There are many Americans who refuse to accept the fact that the leader of the free world is not a white male. I'd love to be able to tell these idiotic people that they can look on the bright side of things and remind them that he is a Christian - but that wouldn't do at all for these clowns. They're hell-bent on believing him to be a Muslim.

If you are as big a fan of irony as I am, I've got a real dandy for you right here: Of the two major candidates for president in last year's election, Barack Obama was the only one born in the United States of America. John McCain was born in Panama. Isn't it interesting that it was the black guy whose citizenship would be called into question? Irony indeed!

If this is a Left Wing conspiracy - trying to pass this "Kenyan" off as an American citizen and, thus, a legitimate president - I must concede it's a damned brilliant one! Just for fun, what say we take these nutty, Right Wing theorists at their word, shall we? Here, for the very first time, I am pleased as punch to present you with....


This evil, subversive plot has been in the making for damned near forty-eight years! By all evidence, since the moment of Obama's birth! Here is a question that all good and decent Americans should demand an immediate answer to: Was the newspaper, the Honolulu Advertiser, in on the scheme when they printed little Barack's bogus birth announcement on August 9, 1961? Just where the hell does that paper lean editorially? To the hard Left, I strongly suspect. Wouldn't that just figure!

The NAACP, in collusion with the American Communist Party, Democracy NOW and Ed Asner, concocted this evil plot deep in the basement of Noam Chomskey's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the midst of a week-long peyote mushroom binge. The elevation of this dangerous and subversive man to the highest office in this grand and glorious land of ours is only the first step in their dastardly plan. Their next objective will be to force our daughters - our little personifications of patriotism and purity - to court and co-mingle with NEGROES.

Before very long our children - your children - will be physically forced to memorize verbatim whole chapters of James Baldwin's "Native Son" and "The Autobiography Of Malcolm X". Trust me, it's only a matter of time.

They must be stopped. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the country that we all hold so dear to our freedom-loving hearts. America is falling; victimized by forces who would put a foreign-born A-Rab in the seat that was once held by the sainted Ronald Reagan - RONALD REAGAN, I TELL YOU!

My friends, now is not the time for the faint-of-heart. It a time for boldness and stoutness of mind and spirit. Only our collective intestinal fortitude will defeat the Liberal cabal - those nattering nabobs of negativism - who would burn our beloved country down. The time has come to give America back to the real Americans.
My fellow citizens, you ignore me at your own peril....

And one more thing we must never ever forget: Barack and Michelle Obama named their two daughters, "Sasha" and "Malia". What's up with that?

Of course, what you just read is meant as satire. Only a complete and utter fool could possibly take any of it seriously. The really disturbing thing, however, is the fact that there are millions of people out there who would read those last six paragraphs and wouldn't even come close to getting the joke. While there is plenty of satirical gold to be siphoned from the bottomless mine that these lunatics have provided us with, they have created a dangerous atmosphere that is enabling the nuttiest angels of the American nature. That is something that would do us all well to think about.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The graphics under the photograph of President Obama at the top of this piece is from the August 9, 1961 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser, announcing his birth. At the time Hawaii had been a state for two years. Just a little reminder.


What's The Matter With Kansas?
by Thomas Frank

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"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Hideous, left wing ramblings. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite

"It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate - not as victors - but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best that they could. This is Walter Cronkite, good night."

February 27, 1968

I am a news junkie. You may be wondering who is responsible for the info-addiction that I have been trying to live with for over forty years now. My connection's name was Walter Cronkite.

Walter Cronkite died peacefully yesterday at 7:42 PM EST
. If you happened to be watching CBS last night, you'll be forgiven for missing this major piece of news. For reasons I can't quite figure out, they decided not to preempt their regularly scheduled programming in honor of the man who, along with Edward R. Murrow, made CBS News. The bulk of last evening's coverage was handled by CNN and the NBC-owned MSNBC.

Although most of the daily papers in the New York area placed the story prominently on their front pages, you might also have missed it had your major source of information been the paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the New York Post Toasties.
In what should surprise no one familiar with that awful rag, the passing of this giant of broadcast journalism was relegated to a single column on page eight. Apparently the Toasties' editorial department deemed the nervous breakdown of Mischa Barton - a women I had never even heard of until this morning - more newsworthy than the death of Walter Cronkite. How nice and typical.

Three years ago on June 27, 2006, in a piece called, "The Death of CBS News", I wrote on this site:

"I'm just barely old enough to remember November, 22, 1963 (I was born on August 16, 1958). In those days, whenever a major news story was breaking, you automatically went to CBS News - no questions asked. Think of its history: Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingswood. Walter Cronkite; those sons-of-bitches had gravitas, baby!"

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

In 2006, Dan Rather, who replaced Cronkite in 1981
, was forced out of CBS for reporting that George W. Bush had gone AWOL from the National Guard back in the early seventies. The fact that the story was true didn't matter in the least to the suits at Black Rock, the headquarters of the Columbia Broadcasting System. Rather had offended the homicidal little thug in the Oval Office who (by the way) controlled the Federal Communications Commission. That was enough for them. The network which in 1954 courageously took on Joe McCarthy, had spiraled into near-comic irrelevance.

After Bob Scheiffer took over the duties of anchor for several months, the CBS Evening News - the diamond of the "Tiffany Network" - was handed over to "cute 'n' perky" Katie Couric, a "journalist" utterly lacking in any journalistic credibility. And no accusations of sexism, please. Leslie Stahl would have been a much better choice.

There is no reason for us to mourn the death of Walter Cronkite. He spent his formative years at the top of his profession and no one did it better. He lived for nearly ninety-three years and by all accounts they were happy ones. In fact in the torrent of reflections on his life and career that have come pouring through the airwaves since the announcement of his death last night, one of his contemporaries described him as "the happiest man I ever knew."
I agree with Tom Brokaw. Instead of mourning his death, we should be celebrating his life.

What we should be mourning is the death of broadcast journalism in general and CBS News in particular.

It is touching that Uncle Walter's passing came when it did, on the fortieth anniversary of that weekend in July 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldren landed a lunar module on the surface of the moon. Throughout his career, Cronkite was a boyishly enthusiastic supporter of NASA and America's Space Program. When Armstrong transmitted the this message:

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed"

the normally stoic and articulate Walter Cronkite stuttered and stammered like a kid on Christmas morning:

"MAN ON THE MOON! Oh boy!"

It was riveting television to be sure. I was reminded of it yesterday morning when I watched that historic broadcast again, only hours before Walter Cronkite quietly slipped away from us.

In 1998, when John Glenn returned to space as the world's first senior citizen/astronaut, Cronkite, nearly two decades removed from his CBS News anchor chair, was sought after for his much-valued commentary - by CNN. Apparently the geniuses at CBS never thought to use him.

As pitiful as that might sound to you, consider this: In a perfect world, Dan Rather would have been leading the coverage of Cronkite's passing from his former desk in the CBS newsroom at Fifty-Seventh Street in New York City. Last night, the only place he could be found was being interviewed by Rachel Maddow on her relatively low-rated MSNBC program.

Let's not kid ourselves. If CBS News is not moribund, it appears to be going gently into that good night of oblivion. The only thing they've got going for themselves at the moment is their Sunday programming. It's only a matter of time, however, before Bob Scheiffer is replaced by Britney Spears. I can See It Now.

It isn't surprising that he was "the most trusted man in America". Did he earn that trust? I think he did. Although it used to make me cringe seeing photographs of him schmoozing with Henry Kissinger or sharing a hearty laugh with Ronald Reagan, I would remind myself that he often acted as ambassador for the entire CBS network. I am also reminded of November 22, 1963:

"From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at One PM, Central Standard Time, Two o'clock, Eastern Standard Time, some thirty-eight minutes ago."

Suppressing a tear, a catch in his voice for only a moment, he delivered those words with quiet dignity and gentle authority. Somehow, without even trying to, he was reassuring a traumatized nation that everything was going to be all right. Honestly, can you even imagine getting that news from someone like Bill O'Rielley? Yeah, we trusted Uncle Walter.

It was a different world in which Walter Cronkite thrived. Lord only knows how he would have functioned during the age of Twitter and the twits on FOX Noise. That he was unhappy with the direction TV news had taken since his final broadcast on March 6, 1981 is common knowledge. The world of mindless info-tainment saddened and bewildered him. I've often wondered if he ever sat through an entire edition of FOX and Friends - or even a few minutes of it. One can only imagine his reaction.

It is said that television news came of age with the death of John F. Kennedy forty-six years ago. I had vague hopes that cable news, too, would "grow up" after the trauma of September 11, 2001. Apparently those hopes were in vain.

Walter Cronkite is dead and he's not coming back.

And that's the way it is.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A Reporter's Life
By Walter Cronkite


Goodnight and Good Luck
a film by George Clooney

For more hideous ramblings on this awful site, go here:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Just awful stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun with Dick and Liz


The subject of this piece is not, in fact, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, but that other infamous Dick and Liz - Cheney. The only reason I place the legendary couple's photograph at the top of this piece is because, for all of their excesses of flamboyance and wealth, Dick and Liz Burton/Taylor are (let's be honest here) a hell of a lot nicer to look at. Also it must be conceded that they did make some undeniable contributions to American culture. The 1964 film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, is, in my humble opinion, one of the twenty-five greatest movies ever made. Dick and Liz Cheney's positive contributions to the country they seem intent on destroying is virtually nonexistent.

Not that I believe everything I hear on television (I don't - Honest!) but the other day I heard it said on the tube that Dick Cheney's poll numbers have gone from the dismal, single digit level of January when he left office, to about thirty-six percentage points.

That can't possibly be true, can it? The American people (even 36% of them) couldn't possibly be that idiotic, could they? Can it be that so many of them are actually swallowing the propaganda blitz of spin, smoke and mirrors that Cheney and his lovely daughter (Keep a straight face, Degan!) have been unfurling on an unsuspecting public in recent months? Please, say it ain't so, Morning Joe!

The real motivation behind the Dick and Liz First Farewell Tour is now pitifully obvious. They know damned well that the quadrillion dollar shit hammer is about to hit the fan and they desperately need to take preemptive action. For months, it seemed, you could not turn the channel without seeing one or the other of these two chanting their mantra du jour:

"The Democrats are a danger to our security."

"We kept you safe for eight years." (That's assuming the Bush administration began on September 12, 2001)

"No laws were broken by our administration."

"Torture works. Try it! You'll like it!"

At the time, my theory - and fear - was that Cheney, because of his security clearance, had received intelligence that another major terrorist attack was just around the corner and was attempting to score major political points by saying, "See? I told you so!" I've never been happier to be so wrong about an initial assumption of mine. As it turns out, this is about something a bit more complicated. From the New York Times, 7/14/09 (Reported by Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane):

"Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Quaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials. The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the CIA director, canceled the program last month."

On the face of it, most people won't find anything inherently wrong with wanting to go out and waste a bunch of lunatics who are hell-bent on killing as many Americans as possible. After all, we are at war - I guess. Personally, I am a pacifist and a Christian; I am against all killing. "Blessed are the peace makers....", you know what I'm saying? That being said, when Dick and Liz Cheney try to sell you on the idea that the Bush Mob were only trying to protect the American people from another terrorist attack, that argument ignores a crucial point. According to sources, Cheney - the man who put the vice in the vice-presidency - ordered the CIA to keep the existence of this program hidden from the Congress. That, as I don't need to remind you, is a crime.

Another problem I have with the Times report is this: Why, pray tell, would anyone feel the need to go through all the trouble of putting a stop to a "vague plan"? If you think about it, that makes no sense whatsoever.

I once concocted a vague plan to fire bomb the home of my Sophomore science teacher. There were drawbacks to my little scheme to be sure. At the time, my father was president of the local School Board. Had I been caught, the resulting scandal would not have done him a damned bit of good - politically speaking, that is. It's a fairly safe bet that something as weird as that would have put a bit of a kink in his reelection strategy.

But it must be emphasized that this was just a passing daydream on my part. It came. It went. And while I left high school over three decades ago, my plan to become a teenage terrorist was so incredibly vague, I never really felt the need to go to the trouble of "canceling the program", so to speak. Although this particular teacher moved out of the area back in the seventies (He may even be dead for all I know), that plan is technically still on the table.
It goes without saying that I never made an effort to carry it out and have no plans, conscious or otherwise, to do so. But just to be on the safe side, if you're still out there, you might want to keep your night light on, Mr. Roukov. Just a suggestion.

There's something else that's been bugging me. According to the Constitution, the vice-President has only two responsibilities:

1. Breaking a tie vote in the Senate.

2. Assuming the duties as chief-executive should the president die or become mentally incapacitated.

While there is little doubt that historians will be debating the mental capacities of George W. Bush for generations to come, the question is just begging to be asked:

Who (or what) gave Dick Cheney the authority to order the CIA to do (or not do) anything? What's wrong with this picture?

If these reports are true, Cheney was acting way beyond his constitutional authority. Questions abound: Why didn't the spooks at Langley headquarters tell the Veep to go stuff himself? Why didn't the CIA lodge a complaint with the President? Or did they? Who was really in charge of that administration? Is our children learning? Are these latest revelations merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg?

The answer to that last question is, undoubtedly, yes. When Cheney and Daughter went out on the talk show circuit back in March, there seemed to me to be an air of desperation about them. What is this all about, I wondered aloud. Cheney never gave a hoot in hell about the security of the American people! Why this sudden change? What the hell is going on here? Now I know. Now we all know.

As the months transpire and the juicy tidbits of information continue to be made public, the depth of the hole that Cheney has dug for himself will become apparent to all but the most habitual viewers of FOX and Friends. After their "vague plans" were revealed the other day, Dick has apparently taken a vow of silence and has left Liz with the responsibility of "catapulting the propaganda". Poor kid. She has one hell of a task before her. This hole is just too damned deep.

Oh, and by the way! Yesterday on MSNBC, Liz Cheney announced that her future plans include running for public office! Isn't life wonderful?

Tom Degan
Goshen, New York


A few months ago, Google began advertising on this site. This was a vain hope that I might be able to earn a little extra cash in exchange for the hours of toil and torment I spend each week putting out "The Rant". (Truth be told, it's a lot of fun). If you've noticed, occasionally they will post ads for Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin's political action committee. Don't ask me why they do this. I am now in the process of trying to correct the situation. Be sure to tune into the Rush Limbaugh Show at Noon. (just kidding)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Implosion Continues

"And so Alaska may progress, I will not seek reelection as governor."

Sarah Palin
July 3, 2009

What the....DID SHE JUST SAY THAT??? You bet'cha!
My goodness! These Republicans are falling like rocks, aren't they? You would think that at least one of the geniuses who pose as her "advisers" would have had the wit to read that statement beforehand and say to her:

"Uh, gee, Governor, you might want to rephrase that. You see - Ha! Ha! - it's gonna look like you're saying that Alaska can't progress as long as you're governor - Ha! Ha! You see what I mean? Ha! Ha! [LONG, AWKWARD PAUSE] think the statement is fine, do you? Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, whatever you say, Governor."

It reminds me of a Bob Newhart routine come to life.

I prefer Rachel Maddow's take on the train wreck that at at one time was known as "the political career of Sarah Palin." On her MSNBC program last night she guffawed:

"Only quitters stay in their jobs. Only fighters have the courage to quit."

Perfect! A tip of the hat is in order for poor old Dan Quayle. Prior to Governor Palin's nomination as vice-presidential candidate ten months ago, he was generally regarded as the very worst choice of a running mate in living memory. All that has changed. Compared to Sarah, Danny boy is starting to look like Albert Einstein.

E=M.C. Hammer.

I guess the time has come for all of us breathe a collective sigh of relief
. But for the mysterious workings of fate, President McCain would at this minute be snoozing away in the White House and this idiotic woman would be a seventy-three-year-old heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Regardless of one's political viewpoint or party affiliation, it must be admitted that we really dodged a bullet with the defeat of the McCain/Unable ticket last November. Had these two been inaugurated on January 20, the law of averages virtually guaranteed that at some point between the years 2009 and 2013 this country would have been stuck with President Gidget von Braun.

In his column a few days ago in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen suggested that John McCain's judgment should be put into question for making such an abysmal choice when he chose Governor Palin. Much as I admire Cohen as a writer, his assessment isn't quite fair. McCain's first two choices were former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge or that doofus Joe Lieberman. It was the Right Wing extremists who control the Republican party that forced Sarah Palin down his throat.

Instead of focusing a glare of condemnation toward John McCain, the real target of our collective wrath should be aimed at the "grand old party" itself. Think about that for a minute: So far down the ideological deep end has that party fallen, the prospect of a probable Sarah Palin presidency seemed to most of them a perfectly fine and dandy idea. A new Gallup poll has just been released: Seventy-one percent of registered Republicans would be "likely" to vote for her if she runs in 2012. Medications, please.

What, you may well ask, is her motivation for committing political suicide by abandoning the office that the people of Alaska entrusted to her care two years ago? When NBC's Andrea Mitchell suggested to her that after ten months in the national limelight, the comparative drudgery of her duties as governor might have started to seem boring, Sarah Palin responded in words that should be etched in granite at the base of Mount Rushmore:

"The nitty-gritty, like, you mean the fish slime and the dirt under the fingernails and stuff that's me?"

Brilliant. Someone hand me my chisel.

Why did she resign? She says that as a lame duck governor she won't be as effective as she would like to be. The fact that she expects the voters of Alaska to swallow this nonsense without a chaser shows the utter contempt she must feel toward the people she was sworn to serve.

Does she really believe that she has a shot at the nomination three years from now? The answer (unbelievably) is yes. Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News put it well: The woman has "delusions of adequacy".
The pundits (most of them anyway) are starting to compare her rambling press conference on July 3 to Dick Nixon's infamous tirade when he lost the California governor's race in 1962 ("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore"). Some are even daring to suggest that, like Tricky Dick, she will ultimately be victorious. The only problem with that scenario is the fact that there are slightly over one-hundred things that separate Sarah Palin from Richard Milhaus Nixon: I.Q. points.
What else were her motivations for quitting? Money. She knows damned well that there is a nice chunk of change to be made in the lower forty-eight and that getting from there to here is an expensive and time-consuming process that infringes upon her gubernatorial responsibilities. Were you aware that the distance between Fairbanks and Washington is almost as great as the distance between Washington and London? What to do? To hell with her constituents and head off to the land of the golden goose.

She claims that one of the major reasons for abandoning her office is that she is sick and tired (Gosh darn it!) of the "politics of personal destruction".

"I'm afraid that this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country."

Sarah Palin
referring to candidate Barack Obama's "relationship" to Bill Ayers
October 3, 2008

Personal destruction indeed. When asked what her future plans were, she said that she will continue to work overtime for the people of Alaska. Bullshit! I'm willing to bet anyone that in the next twelve months, most - if not all of her time - will be spent in New York and Washington. Any takers?

The next three years will find her cashing in on her status as a....uhh....well, whatever her status just might be. Count on her making a national speaking tour for at least one-hundred thousand dollars a pop. A radio talk show? Probably. A gig on FOX Noise? That's almost inevitable. There is a fortune to be made here and she's not about to let something as trivial as her oath of office prevent her from making it. By doing what she has done, she has sent the same message the GOP has been transmitting since the administration of Ulysses S. Grant almost a century-and-a-half ago: FUCK THE PEOPLE.

It is a given that nothing is certain in politics - nothing but this, that is: Her action this week, abandoning the office of governor in order to make a quick buck, has virtually guaranteed that we will have Sarah Palin to kick around for some time to come.

Does she really have a chance at the nomination in 2012? I sure hope so. That would be a dream come true.

SAR-AH! SAR-AH! You go, girl!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A fellow who goes by the name of Jason Dylan has started his own blog. It's pretty good:

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I don't know about you, but I'll be sleeping a bit easier tonight knowing that Mr. Franken has gone to Washington.

When he first announced over two years ago that he was running for the seat that was once occupied by his dear friend, the late Paul Wellstone, people laughed. That's okay. Al originally made his name thirty-four years ago as a comedian. Laughter is a tool of the trade. Doesn't it just make you giddy to know that it is he who is having the last laugh? Since this country's founding, the halls of Congress have been littered with unintentional comedians. At long last, we have a true professional in Washington; and not just a comedian, but a humorist (there's a decided difference). Remember this: when Senator Franklin makes you laugh, that will be his intent.

"My dad said be an actor, my son,

Donald O'Connor
"Make 'em Laugh"
from the film Singin' in the Rain (1953)

Franken's victory (FINALLY!) after being elected eight months ago can only be described as poetic justice. The very image of Norm Coleman has always given me the dry heaves. I have never been able to forgive him for the utterly despicable campaign that he ran against Senator Wellstone in 2002.

Paul Wellstone was that rarest of Democrat. Unlike so many in that cowardly, joke-of-a-party, he never forgot that he was the political descendant of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. He was an unapologetic, card carrying LIBERAL and he was never embarrassed to say it out loud. He truly was a man of the people. God rest his soul.

In the final days of that contest, in a fit of desperation, Norm Coleman ran a series of ads which implied that if Wellstone was reelected, he would tax the family farms all over the state of Minnesota out of existence via the so-called "Death Tax". Like most of Coleman's campaign it was a lie. Not a single family farm throughout the entire United States had ever been effected by the estate tax. The only farms that had ever been taxed after the demise of an owner were the huge, corporate mega farms - the very institutions that were, in fact, putting family farms all over the country out of business; the very institutions which, by the way, overwhelmingly donated not only to the Coleman campaign in particular, but to the Republican party in general.

On the morning of October 25, 2002, while trying to keep up with the multitude of last minute appearances the campaign was forced to add to its schedule as a result of Coleman's lies, Paul Wellstone, along with seven other people (including his wife Sheila and daughter Marcia) were killed in a plane accident two miles short of a northern Minnesota airport. You will kindly forgive me for gloating over Norm Coleman's defeat.

Al Franken is, I believe, the very type of person the Founding Fathers had in mind as the ideal public servant when they initiated this bold experiment in democratic self-government two-hundred and thirty-three years ago this Saturday: a concerned citizen who would put aside his plowshares (or in Al's case, his Stuart Smalley costume) and head off to the nation's capital to legislate for the people. The thing that has always struck me when reading his books (and I've read them all) is his almost schoolboy-like attachment to - and belief in - all that is good in this country and its potential to do better.

At the conclusion of his 2005 book, The Truth (with jokes), Al wrote a letter dated October 2, 2015 to his three, yet-to-be-born grandchildren:

"Both my parents worked hard and had to overcome adversity in their lives. Like almost everyone does. My Mom developed rheumatoid arthritis at an early age and was in constant pain most of her life. She was married on crutches. Still, she told us, "It's a great life if you don't weaken." And she didn't. After my brother and I were old enough, she became a real estate agent. At dinner, she made sure we had meat and always - ALWAYS - a fresh vegetable. At the table she would tell us about business and things like "redlining." Banks wouldn't lend money to black people who wanted to buy houses in certain neighborhoods. She told us this was wrong. And that's why your Granddad works so hard [in the Senate] to make sure that banks continue lending money to the poor, to minorities and to women, not just to buy homes, but to start businesses."

Now that's what I call real moral values. That's the kind of person I wouldn't mind representing me in the Senate (Nothing personal, Chuck). By the way, in that same letter he predicted, not only his own career in politics, but also the two-term presidency of Barack Obama. This was a year-and-a-half before Obama even announced his candidacy. How's that for prescience? Not bad, Al! Not bad!

To boil it down to the essentials, Al Franken understands the fundamental difference between Conservatives and Liberals:

The Conservative thinks we're doing just fine. The Liberal knows we can do better.

Yeah, I'll be sleeping really well tonight knowing that Senator Al Franken has gone to Washington DC. The Far Right's main talking point today is that the Democrats have sent a comedian to the Senate - as if that were something to be embarrassed about. If someone is foolish enough to make this argument in your presence, be sure to remind them of this fact: Any jackass can be an exterminator (remember Tom Delay?) But the ability to make people laugh requires an intellect that is rare. If you don't believe me, look back on the history of American literature and try to name one dimwitted humorist. Think about it: Robert Benchley, Mark Twain, George Carlin, Fred Allen - all of them - have been exceptionally bright and perceptive human beings. Al Franken is in pretty good company. The people of Minnesota are damned lucky to have such a man in their corner. The Senate is fortunate to have him in their midst.

Now begins the Al Franken Era. He is not your father's politician, that's for sure. Watching the loony Right Wing trying to portray this as a great tragedy for democracy is amusing to say the least. Just remember these three, crucial facts: He's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it, people like him!

Somewhere, I am sure, Paul Wellstone is smiling.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (and Other Observations)
by Al Franken

LIES And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
by Al Franken

THE TRUTH with Jokes
by Al Franken