Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thurgood Marshall Law?


I wasn't all-that-crazy about Barack Obama's latest nomination for Supreme Court Justice. Elana Kagan is hardly the progressive firebrand that I was praying for. What was needed, I felt, was someone with the heavy duty, left-leaning gravitas of the late William O. Douglas - that court's last, true Liberal. What was desperately needed was a counterweight to the five right wing extremists who are now in the process
of turning American democracy into a pile of shit. Still, she seems like a smart woman and is obviously quite learned in matters of constitutional import. Maybe she'll surprise us in much the same way Republican Earl Warren did so many years ago. I can dream, can't I?

Ms. Kagan's lack of Liberal gravitas notwithstanding, it sure was a scream watching Jeff Sessions yesterday expressing his innate terror over the possibility that she might turn out to be an out-of-control left-wing extremist. But what really had me amused was the worry he expressed about her connection to the late associate justice Thurgood Marshall. Not only had she clerked for him at one time, but (I hope you're sitting down) she actually admired him! Oh, Esther! Hand me my digitalis!

Thurgood Marshall??? Don't get me wrong; the man deserves credit for being a trailblazer. His role in the Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education case of 1954 - not to mention the fact that he was the first African American to serve on the high court - are more than enough to ensure his place in American history. But using Marshall as an example of an out-of-control, left wing ideologue is a bit of a stretch. Truth be told, he turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. While he was a fairly sensible moderate in most areas of jurisprudence, he was hardly the fire-bre
athing judicial activist that Sessions portrayed him to be during the confirmation hearings yesterday. What the hell was he thinking? Thurgood Marshall???

I have a theory that I'd like to bounce off you. Jeff Sessions is a senator from Alabama. In addition to being the state with the second highest obesity rate in the nation (Take a bow, Mississippi - YOU'RE NUMBER ONE!) Alabama has a bit of a - "history" shall we say? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has a history as well. He was born on Christmas Eve 1946. This would have made him sixteen when all them "outside, commie agitators" were trying to integrate his beloved south. It's obvious that the man has somewhat of a problem with people who are not white. I suspect that if he wa
sn't actually there on the front lines, beating the bleeding mortal shit out of the Freedom Riders during the summer of 1963, I have no doubt that he was on the side lines cheering them on. Is this an unfair judgment on my part? Consider this: The following allegations were made against Sessions by some of his peers (who were under oath):

* He once referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a "disgrace to his race."

* On one occasion he referred a black coworker as "boy" and warned him against talking disrespectfully to white people.

* H
e routinely referred to the NAACP as "Un-American" and "Communist inspired".

It should also be remembered that he made his name as a U.S. attorney by prosecuting black people for voter fraud and once unsuccessfully persecuted a former aid to Martin Luther King on the same charge. You know the old adage: If it walks like a duck, it's a freaking duck. Senator Sessions is a racist of the worst order. He has never even tried to hide the fact.


he would accuse a wishy-washy centrist like Marshall of "legislating from the bench" might seem a mystery to some. Actually the answer is simpler than you may think. He has a deep-seated hatred, borne of generations of resentment, for the man who (more than any other man) was responsible for desegregating the school system of the deep south. To sixteen-year-old Jeff Sessions, the very idea of being forced - "by them Yankee bastards in Washington" - to sit in a classroom with "a buncha god damned niggers" was probably more than the poor boy could handle. Back in the good ol' days, Jeff and his fellow confederates-in-racial-hatred were all proud Democrats. They could never even contemplate joining the party of Abe Lincoln. That all changed when Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. By the end of the decade most of them had fled to the GOP like hounds on a coon hunt. The "solid south" was now and forever solidly Republican. And so it remains.

As President Johnson said at the time to his aides Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We [the Democrats] have lost the south for a generation." It was an understatement. Say what you will about LBJ, the man had courage. But for the debacle of the Vietnam War he would today be remembered as the greatest president of the twentieth century. You broke my heart, Lyndon, but I still love you.

Since Arlen Spector's defection to the Democrats last year, Sessions is the highest ranking Republican member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Isn't that a hoot? In 1986 he had his nomination to be a judge on the U.S. District Court of Alabama
rejected because of his racist past. Are you ready for the punchline? The committee that blocked his nomination twenty-four years ago is the one he now heads. No, I'm not makin' this stuff up, folks - but I wish I was - I really do! Last week saw Joe Barton apologizing to British Petroleum. Next week will probably see Jeff Sessions apologizing to the Confederacy. Anyone care to make a little wager?

I must pause here to pay gentle tribute to Senator Robert Byrd who died early Tuesday morning at t
he age of ninety-two. He served in the Senate longer than any other person in history, having been elected in 1958 - the year I was born! Byrd's beginnings were auspicious to say the least. A former member of the KKK, he was an avowed and shameless segregationist. But the man evolved - and not for reasons of political expediency either. West Virginia doesn't have a high population of African Americans. So what happened to him? What caused him to change? It was a simple case of seeing the light. He grew - as a man and as a statesman. In 1982, when the senate was locked in a bitter debate whether or not to pass a bill that would make Dr. King's birthday a national holiday, he explained to reporters that, because of his unfortunate past, he had to be the first in line to support that bill. God bless him.

Does Jeff Sessions have the potential for that kind of growth? We can only hope - but don't hold your breath. He's no Robert Byrd.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Losing America:
Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency
by Senator Robert Byrd

Robert Byrd was one of the few who had the guts to take the Bush Mob head on. in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. As historian David McCullough once said about Harry Truman, "He stands like a rock in history."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hey! Where's Dick?

Hey, that reminds me - what the heck ever became of Dick Cheney?. You remember him, don'cha? Sure ya do! A couple of months ago he was storming all over this once-great nation - the same nation he helped to destroy - in a nitroglycerin-addled frenzy, warning his brain-dead, clueless constituency what a danger the Obama administration posed for this troubled country. Three months ago you couldn't shut the hideous, gnarled old freak up. His silence since the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last April is quite deafening. What happened to him?

I'll tell you what happened to him: At this very moment, our esteemed, former vice-president is in some "undisclosed location", meeting with a team of the cleverest lawyers stolen tax dollars can buy. The gazillion dollar shit hammer is within months of crashing down on the spiteful old bugger with a vengeance he doesn't dare contemplate (bad heart, you know). Very soon the executives of BP will be standing before a court of justice. When that day arrives - OH, BROTHER! - they're gonna spill their miserable guts as to what REALLY went down in those secret meetings between the Bush Cabal and the oil industry honchos in the early months of that disgusting administration. It ain't gonna be pretty, boys and girls. Not pretty at all. This is gonna get really ugly; count on it.

Dick Cheney's days as a "beloved elder statesman" are seriously numbered. Very soon it will become apparent to damned near everybody (Tea Partiers excluded of course) what a hideous, dreadful mistake it was to send these people to Washington ten years ago. Take that to the bank.

I have a confession to make: I miss Dick Cheney. I miss him and his disgusting daughter Liz pounding the bejesus out of the talk show circuit, waxing idiotic on the subject of the evil socialist in the White House. Be honest; they were kind of fun to watch, weren't they? They always reminded me of two circus wagons stuffed with clowns that had crashed into each other on a main highway. You just couldn't take your eyes off the two of them! Then came the BP disaster. Liz lowered her profile and Sickie Dick all-but-disappeared! I'm sure that's all a big coincidence, though.

We know, beyond any doubt, that the mechanism - the so-called "Blow Out Detector" - might very well have prevented this disaster. (Come to think about it, "disaster" is too mild a term. This is a man-made catastrophe beyond any in all recorded human history). The above-mentioned device was deemed too expensive (five-hundred-thousand "big ones") and BP was allowed to proceed without installing it. When Bill Clinton was in the White House, the Blow Out detector was mandatory. When Cheney became president (No, that wasn't a typo) it became optional. Wasn't deregulation a neat idea?

Very soon, probably within two years, we will have in our hands the minutes of the meetings Cheney conducted in secret with the captains of the oil industry - if they haven't been destroyed. At the very least we will have the testimony of the British Petroleum executives who were present at those meetings. I don't mean to emulate Joe Barton, but I will offer a defense of British Petroleum (however mild): As far as I can tell, they broke no law. Don't forget the uncomfortable fact that they were only taking advantage of the rules - or lack thereof.

It must be an awful thing to be Dick Cheney these days. To tell you the truth, I'm beginning to feel a bit sorry for the despicable old bastard. This is his Katrina. One cannot even blame Georgie Boy for this mess. The kindest thing I can say about George W. Bush is the fact that the guy was so mind-numbingly stupid, he was probably unaware of ninety percent of what was going on beneath him. Bush was a figurehead. It was only in the waning days of his term that he began to show a little presidential moxie - like when he refused Cheney's request that Scooter Libby be granted a pardon. But by then it was too little, too late. Bush will regret, to his dying day, his decision to have Richard Bruce Cheney nominated as his running mate. I am as sure of that as I am my own name. Do you remember how Cheney wormed his way onto the ticket?

In the Spring of 2000, when it appeared certain that Junior had the nomination locked up, George The Elder knew that his half-witted kid could not possibly win based on any intellectual merit, so he picked the Dickster to head a committee to find a suitable person to run with him - someone with "gravitas". That was the word of the hour. After only a few days, Cheney came back with the name of the perfect man for the job - DICK CHENEY! On March 10, 2007 - on this very site - I conjured-up for posterity's sake the dialogue that must have taken place:

CHENEY: George! I have found your ideal running mate!

BUSH: Great! Who is it, Dick?

CHENEY: You're not gonna believe it - IT'S ME!!!

BUSH: Whooa! What're the odds??

The very fact that our former president fell for this scam is proof of what I've been saying saying since the minute he announced his candidacy almost eleven years years ago: He was (and I'm being mercifully generous here) clueless. And to think that for eight long years he was commander-in-chief. Incredible.

This morning
I was looking at some video footage of Joe Biden on the morning news. Say what you might about the guy, he's such a breath of fresh air - good humored, amiable and thoroughly likable - such a welcome change from Dastardly Dick. You can't help but love Biden. At the moment there is talk along the Washington cocktail circuit about the possibility of dumping him from the ticket in 2012. That would be a grave blunder. He may shoot from the him every once in a while - but he's no Dick Cheney! He's Joe Biden - and if they're smart they'll keep him!

One can only imagine the panic that Dick Cheney is feeling. I know from personal experience the queasy feeling that overcomes the senses when one is certain that they're about to get busted. The sad thing is that he probably did nothing illegal when he loosened the rules that allowed BP to drill for oil in the gulf minus the most basic of precautions. One of the many sick perks of being a member of the ruling class is that it allows you to change the rules to suit your own evil purposes - consequences be damned and screw the people. What will certainly be revealed when they do go to trial will be still more tangible evidence of that administration's corruption.

Whether or not Twisted Dick crossed the barriers of legality in this instance remains to be seen. Wouldn't that be great if he did, though? I'd love to see him hauled off to Leavenworth in the back of an Ox cart, manacled from head to toe. Oh, please, fate! That would be a dream come true!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Trials of Lenny Bruce:

The Fall and Rise of an American Icon
by Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Scover

The tragic story of the persecution of the greatest humorist of the twentieth century. I am in the process of rereading it. A great book. It's available in paperback.


It was announced late last night that Cheney was rushed to the hospital. Seriously, I wish him well. But I have to ask; are the ramifications of what is presently happening in the Gulf of Mexico starting to get to him? I don't doubt that for a minute.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chris Matthews Nails It

"He [President Obama] is going to destroy this country, and we're either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist."

Alan Keyes

By the way, over a decade ago, Keyes had a nightly program on MSNBC. Are you ready for the punchline? It was called, Alan Keyes Is Making Sense. I'm not kidding you.

Just in case you happened to miss Hardball last night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews' special report,
The Rise of the New Right , was one of those rare (these days) moments of essential viewing that we would be wise not to ignore. It will probably be repeated several times in the next few weeks and I urge you to keep your eye out for it. Seriously, if Matthews doesn't get an Emmy for this program there is no justice in this world.

The program is the most comprehensive look yet (at least on non-public television) at the crack-up the Conservative movement in this country is now going through. Let's face some serious facts here, boys and girls: The right wing in this country has always been (since the days of the Confederacy and before) a tad crazy - not to mention dumber than doggy dung. What is happening to them now is beyond anything in their long and entertainingly weird history. In effect they've totally lost it. Here's a quaint little soundbite from last night's program that illustrates perfectly what I'm talking about. The words were uttered by some pathetic, bat shit-crazy woman at last year's "March on Washington":

"We are losing our country. We think the Muslims are moving in and taking over. We do not believe our president is a Christian - and he let us believe that. The president is a liar. God bless Joe Wilson."

Isn't that sweet? We can only assume she was not referring to the same "Joe Wilson" who is married to Valerie Plame, but that's just a hunch on my part.

Once upon a time people this - "ill informed" shall we say? - were to be found mostly on the fringes of the American political scene. Not even in the days of old Joe McCarthy did it get this strange - not on such a national level anyway. Back in the good ol' days, the type of behavior we are witnessing today was pretty much restricted to KKK rallies in the deep south and the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal. A half a century ago political extremism hadn't yet gone mainstream. It has now. In fact it's ready for prime time! For this we can all thank the nice people at FOX Noise.

It was Rupert Murdoch's "News Group" that promoted this movement from its inception. Murdoch himself has denied this accusation over and over again, but the videotapes are there - and video doesn't lie - unless, of course, it's a taped replay of a typical Sean Hannity program. The Plutocracy, with FOX as its propaganda arm, has brilliantly managed to convince a huge segment of the American public - a lot of whom could barely be qualified as middle class - that the problem with this country is all those damned, bleeding heart Liberals. The question needs to be put to them: "Where were you assholes when George W. Bush was driving this nation into the economic ditch?"

"We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out."

-Rush Limbaugh

Ah, yes! The language of inferred violence! It's out there, folks. They're not reporting it on FOX but it's out there. One person, a Tea Party candidate named Sharron Angle who is running for Harry Reid's seat, actually said that the Nevada senator should be "taken out". This hideous bitch then went on to say that what is direly needed was a "Second Amendment solution". You know what she's talkin' about, don'cha? Sure ya do! It's the same type of solution implemented by John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald when they "took out" two noted politicians of their day whose policies they disagreed with. It's the same "solution" Sirhan Sirhan used when he murdered Robert Francis Kennedy forty-two years ago this month. It is the exact "solution" carried out by (let's be fair to the ultra-Conservatives) Arthur Bremer in 1972 when he attempted to assassinate right wing icon and uber-racist George Wallace.

This is the new political atmosphere of the United States. I fear that it is only a matter of time before the ultimate act of violence is carried out. I pray to God that I am wrong, but I don't think I am; in fact I am certain of it.

"I have a message - a message from the Tea Party that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back."

- Rand Paul

"Take our government back"? From whom??? Is he referring to the same people who were duly elected via legal democratic processes? Is he implying that the administration of Barack Obama is somehow not legitimate? Of course he is! Most of these jackasses refuse to believe that the president is an American citizen in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. What we are dealing with here is a political movement made up of people whose senses have decided to take a permanent vacation.


Anyone who denies that the core of the Tea Party's rage is the fact that our president is an African American is kidding themselves. The evidence is too stark to ignore: This is a white supremest movement, kiddies. To be sure, at any Tea Party gathering there can always be seen on the peripherals of the crowd a pathetic, token Uncle Tom or two, chomping the hell out of some unfortunate watermelon. And while it would be unfair to categorically state that every member of the Tea Party is a racist, this is essentially a White Nationalist movement we're dealing with here. Let's stop kidding ourselves. By the way, Malcolm X had the perfect description of the Alan Keyeses of this world: "House Niggers". The man really had a way with words, didn't he? You gotta love him!

Here's the good news: When the Republicans stupidly embraced the Tea Party last year, they effectively kissed a viper smack dab on the lips. It is my belief that this nutty movement of freaks and malcontents will end up doing that party more harm than good. Last January on this site, I predicted that Harry Reid was a goner on Election Day next. That was before the Nevada GOP cheerfully nominated the Tea Party's newest sweetheart Sharron Angle to run against him - she of the "Second Amendment solution" fame. This extremism run-amok is starting to frighten the hell out of the segment of the electorate who identify themselves as "moderate". Without the support of the moderates, the "party of Abraham Lincoln" is screwed. Remember you read it here.

You know, I was just thinking: We sure do live in interesting times. We really do!

Tom Degan
Goshen NY


Here is a link to where you can watch The Rise of the New Right in all its nasty entirety on the Hardball website:�&from=en-us_msnhp&snid=18424736

Otherwise keep an eye out for it in your TV listings. They will be airing it again. It is absolutely essential viewing. Seriously.


What's The Matter with Kansas
by Thomas Frank

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Enough Drama?



It's bad enough that the harsh realities of this media age require that all of our presidents be "telegenic", it is now apparently mandated that they comport themselves like drama queens. Not only do they need to look like the model in an Esquire ad, they now have to behave like Greta Garbo: "I VANT TO BE ALONE" Since when the hell is this a prerequisite for effective presidential leadership? This new reality is just one more of the many nasty hangovers from the era of Ronald Reagan.

Many years ago when I was still in high school, I bore witness to an argument between a teenage couple that still makes me laugh when I think about it thirty-four years later. The guy had experienced a minor mishap of some kind - so minor, in fact, that I cannot recall even a single detail. After explaining to his girlfriend what had happened, this clown became indignant when she didn't break into tears on hearing about it. Seriously! He actually became incensed because she didn't cry! The reaction of so many in the media this week at President Obama's inherently calm demeanor during the Gulf of Mexico crisis brought this cherished memory back to life with a comical vengeance.

So the president of the United States is not "angry" enough. He's not "weepy" enough. He doesn't "emote". Has the mainstream media been hijacked by a cabal of petulant sixteen-year-olds? Do they expect Barack Obama to behave like the half-witted antagonist of a Lesley Gore tune?

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!
Cry if I want to!
Cry if I want to!
You would cry to if it happened to you!

Please. In this one respect Barack Obama is a lot like JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although many of us are not old enough to remember those thirteen awful days in October of 1962, we've certainly seen enough film and videotape footage of it. How did Jack Kennedy behave during that confrontation with Russia? He was as cool as a freakin' cucumber, Buster! Can you imagine how the Soviets would have reacted had the president taken the suggestion of some media adviser and "freak out" on Khrushchev ? Many of you reading this would never have been born. I would probably be dead. We would never have known the name "Sarah Palin". There would today be no such thing as FOX News. Oh, the humanity.

What is it with these black guys? Why the "cool detachment" of so many of them? What's that all about and where did it start?

It started with the jazz musicians of the thirties and forties. They adopted their apparently indifferent, "cool" demeanor simply as a means of survival. The fact of the matter is that back then (and even now in some cases) the very sight of an African American showing any emotion tended to put a certain type of white person ill-at-ease.

Seventy years ago these musicians traveled throughout the country on what was called the "Chitlin Circuit" - black performers traveling to venues where they would entertain predominantly black audiences. Their mode of transportation were buses or caravans of automobiles. Oft times they had to travel though the deep south which, if you'll recall your American history, was not Valhalla for people with dark skin in the weird old days. Remember, up until the mid-twentieth century, the quaint tradition of lynching was perfectly legal in that region of the country. In order not to draw attention to themselves, these groups of performers had to remain (figuratively and literally) COOL! So was born a very cool tradition. Ya dig?

Last night on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Newsweek's Jonathan Capehart - a "person of color" - related the story of how, as a boy, his stepfather once admonished him for showing "too much emotion in your face", and how he would be much better off getting through life as a black person by not revealing the intensity of his feelings. In his autobiography, Barack Obama wrote of his determination to present himself to the world as the most amiable of men in order to pacify the anxiety of white people. He knew instinctively (as do most African American males) that he would avoid a lot of problems if he were not perceived as "AN ANGRY BLACK MAN". By the way, his strategy worked. The guy is at this moment waking up - snug as a bug in a rug - in his bed inside the Executive Mansion. Smart fellow, that Obama.

As I have mentioned too many times to count, this president has been a bit of a disappointment. Although this is definitely "change", not all of it is change I can believe in. But I must give the man credit where credit is due. The calm, unemotional manner in which he carries himself I do not find unsettling. In fact, it gives me more confidence in this president than I have had in any president in my lifetime - and I was born when Eisenhower was in the White House.

He doesn't get angry or emotional? I'm cool with that. He tends to be contemplative and thorough? No problem! He keeps a poker face? Deal me in! I don't find any of these characteristics troubling in the least. In fact, I can't help but find them reassuring! Folks, let's remember that for eight years we had a shoot-from-the-hip, half-witted frat boy in charge of our country! We don't want to go back there, do we? I didn't think so.

Again, the comparisons to President Kennedy are unavoidable. What was the angriest statement he made during his all-too-short time in the White House? It was during an April 11, 1962 press conference, when he acidly condemned the "utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans" that Roger Blough and the executives at U.S. Steel were showing by raising the price of that metal by six cents a ton. But even in this instance, although his words bore anger and even rage, his presence exhibited the calm grace for which he was justifiably famous. Can you even imagine Jack Kennedy behaving in any other way? What the heck, let's give it a try, shall we?

"These contemptible bastards at U.S. Steel stabbed me in the back! That's it, man! No more Mister Nice Guy! I'm gonna kick the shit out of somebody, baby! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE MESSIN' WITH, ROGER BLOUGH? WHO YOU TALKN' TO? YOU TALKIN' TO ME? ARE YOU TALKIN' TO ME???"

I mean, seriously.

Yesterday, the unintentional comedians at FOX Noise were even more hypocritical that usual. On the one hand they were criticizing the chief executive for being a cold fish, on the other they were calling him to task for talking about "kicking some ass" during an interview the day before with Matt Lauher on the Today program. It's the same old story with these people. Damned if he does; damned if he doesn't.

The media's response to President Obama's "lack of emotion" is symptomatic of how dumbed-down we've become as a culture in the last three decades. I wish these people could realize how stupid they look when they complain - like that dopey teenager all those decades ago - that the president doesn't show enough emotion. As Capehart said last night on MSNBC, Obama "is just not wired that way". Indeed he's not. He is what he is. It's his party and he'll cry if he wants to. Some people really need to grow up.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye
by Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell

A funny and poignant memoir of their friendship with John F. Kennedy. A great book.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rethinking Big Government

Look toward the Gulf of Mexico this morning. Most of the states in that region seem to be an ever-so-slightly, deeper shade of blue. Most of the people in that area of the country in the past have tended to vote for Conservatives. Most of them have been brainwashed into believing that so-called "BIG GOVERNMENT" is bad. And yet all of them, I'm am certain, are saying quiet prayers of thanksgiving as the sun now rises on those troubled waters, that their government is big enough (we hope) to cope with the current catastrophe. Most of the states that make up the gulf region are doing some serious soul searching today. Most of them. Mississippi, I'm sorry to inform you, is terminally and incurably red. [SIGH]

Perhaps we have arrived at that moment where the essence of the argument against big government has started to shift in a slightly different direction. Shouldn't the argument be focused - not on "big government" - but rather on "good government"? Efficiency versus incompetence? We are now a nation of over three-hundred million people. The very idea that the government should be made smaller - or done away with entirely - is beyond idiotic. Rather than wasting our precious time trying to come up with ways of shrinking it, we should all be working overtime trying to improve it.

"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

-Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural Address
January 20, 1981

As the
decades ebb away and the judgment of history becomes more dispassionate, this truism will become increasingly apparent:

Ronald Reagan was a fool.

Once upon a time he was a liberal Democrat. As an actor in Hollywood in the thirties, forties and fifties he became fabulously wealthy by starring in a string of perfectly awful films. Back then, the rich were taxed more liberally than they are today. Reagan took a second look at his new fortune and decided he wasn't that much of a Lefty after all. For the rest of his life he dedicated all of his energy toward destroying the foundation of a new deal for the American people that Franklin Roosevelt put into place in the thirties - a new deal that had made a thriving and healthy middle class possible. Reagan was fairly successful in that destruction.

He also succeeded in deregulating industry and the financial marketplace. That deregulation was put into overdrive by his Republican and Democratic successors. What is now happening in the Gulf of Mexico - which could ultimately threaten the lives of every living creature on this planet - is their legacy. It is their gift to posterity. They can have it back.

I'd love to have a really frank discussion with one of the Tea Party types. I realize that this is wishful thinking on my part. It is impossible to have a rational debate with most of these knuckleheads. But just for the hell of it, let me give you what my side of the argument would consist of. It would be whittled down to a series of very simple questions :

Had the government been as minuscule or non-existent as you'd like it to be during the nineteen-forties, do you think for a moment that the United States would have been able to defeat Hitler and the Nazis - not to mention Japan and Italy?

Do you actually believe the U.S. military would have been able to carry out the West Berlin Airlift a few years later - supplying that ideologically landlocked city with food and medicine for over a year, thus preventing mass starvation?

Is it your opinion that the teeny-weeny government of your fondest dreams would have been able to create the incredible interstate highway system during the age of Eisenhower?

Are you actually that delusional that you think for a minute that the Soviet Union would have been very intimidated (if at all) by Jack Kennedy if he had had the watered-down, limited government that you're so fond of during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Would a small government have been able to send Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren to the surface of the moon forty-one years ago next month? Do you really entertain such thoughts?

Would the United States have been able to defeat and conquer Saddam Hussein in 2003 without the aid of strong and powerful government agencies behind it???


Okay, maybe that wasn't a particularly good example but you see my point, don't you?

I seriously believe that the governments of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy would have been better equipped to handle the current crisis in the gulf than the badly neglected and decayed one that was bequeathed to President Obama on January 20, 2009. As this mess spreads further out to sea and starts to effect a good deal of the planet, the United Nations (another perennial target of the extreme right) may have to become involved in the cleanup/rescue effort. It is laughably obvious that BP doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and the United States government simply does not have the technology. Time will tell, but unfortunately time is running out very quickly. As things now stand, the damage that has already been done will more-than-likely take a decade to clean up, and I'm being optimistic.

Here's the punch line. GET READY FOR IT! Some are now implying that this could go on until December - and beyond. Isn't that a jolly thought? Merry Christmas! I just did the arithmetic: We are now forty-six days into this crisis and look at the mess thus far. The Yuletide is not for another two-hundred and four days. Can you even imagine how desperate the situation will be by then? I need a drink. You do, too.

Here's a prediction that I've been making for quite some time: The GOP is not going to make any significant gain in the upcoming election. The events of the last few weeks are only going to seal the deal. Think of the videotape footage that the Democrats have in their arsenal. Scores of Republican events from the previous two years with that moronic mantra being chanted:


Day by day, more and more people - moderates in particular - are becoming turned-off by the mindless extremism. People are starting to ask themselves, "Do I really want to put these assholes back in control?" The answer will overwhelmingly be, "Nah, probably not." As befuddled and pathetic as the Dems have become in recent years, at least most of the silly bastards mean well - I think. With the Republicans it's a completely different story. The "party of Lincoln" has been thoroughly corrupted. They don't even pretend to be on the level anymore. It really is a wondrous thing to behold, isn't it?.

For the die-hards within the loony right wing, I don't suspect that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is going to change their peculiar way of thinking very much. They'll continue to bitch and moan, as they always have, about big government while calling for tax cuts for the rich. That is as it should be, I suppose. People like that never admit error and it is unrealistic to expect them to change their ways any time soon. It's the people straddling the fence who are the ones that will deliver the big blow come November. Like the old tune says, they're "beginning to see the light".

Tom Degan


Killer Politics:
by Ed Schultz


"The nation's economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent...."

How will the Republicans possibly be able to put a negative spin on those figures? They'll find a way. Count on it.


Please read Bob Herbert's piece in this morning's New York Times to learn what Texaco/Chevron did to the people of the Amazon Rain Forest. Here's a link: