Monday, July 26, 2010

Right Wing Lies

"A lie can go around the world while the truth is getting its pants on."

-Edward R. Murrow

This piece is not entirely about Shirley Sherrod; she's only part of the story; the latest victim of the right wing smear machine. She is not the first. She won't be the last. Somewhere, I am certain, old Joe McCarthy is smiling. Sixty years ago there was only one McCarthy. Today he is everywhere. He won.

By now
you will all have read all about the speech she made recently before a gathering of the NAACP, a small portion of which was seized by a Conservative blogger and quoted light years out of context. The story she told the audience of her personal evolution and her triumph over her own racism was turned on its head in order to make it appear that she is an anti-white bigot. The offender was a blogger named Andrew Breitbart. FOX Noise immediately ran with the story with the self-righteous demand that she resign her position as the USDA's Director of rural affairs for the state of Georgia. Within hours, she was literally forced to the side of the road by the Obama administration and ordered to tender her resignation. The NAACP initially denounced her, later claiming that they had been "snookered". Egg-covered faces all around.

Yesterday on CBS's Face The Nation, Bob Scheifer talked about old and new journalism, proudly identifying himself as an "old journalist". The difference between now and then, he said, was that in the good old days reporters and commentators went to some length to insure that a story they were putting it out for public consumption was in fact true. There are actually people who are expressing shock at the depths that certain "new journalists" sank in order to soil the reputation of a woman who by all accounts is a decent and conscientious public servant. Anyone who was surprised by this latest turn of events hasn't been paying attention. While the left has been guilty of this sort of thing in the past, as far as the nutty right wing is concerned, the spreading of untruths is now simply a matter of policy. It's the old Josef Goebbels trick: Keep repeating the lie and eventually an ill-informed, unenlightened public will swallow it whole. Seig heil.

I'm trying to put myself in Shirley Sherrod's shoes. This is somewhat difficult due to the happy fact that I grew up as an upper middle class white kid in the suburbs north of New York City. When we went on vacation we didn't go by car - we went in a private plane that was owned by my dad! I am at a loss to explain to you how I became as left-of-center as I am. I'm sure that my youthful obsession with people like John Lennon and Dick Gregory had something to do with it. They were both accused by J.Edgar Hoover of corrupting the impressionable minds of the youth of this grand and glorious land of ours. Blame it on those guys.

I didn't grow up (as Shirley Sherrod did) as a poor black kid in the deep south. I wasn't surrounded on all fronts (as Shirley Sherrod was) by the vile sort of prejudice - hammered into her soul day after day - that told her she was not worthy to drink out of certain water fountains, or go to certain schools, or eat in certain restaurants, or use certain rest rooms. When my father died he was at home in a comfortable bed, surrounded by family and friends. Shirley Sherrod's father was murdered - shot in the back by a Klansman who was never even brought to trial. Had I been raised under the same circumstances as Shirley Sherrod, I would not today be a Progressive - I would be a fucking bomb-throwing revolutionary, are you kidding me? You might, too, if you would dare to know yourselves better. The very fact that Shirley Sherrod was able to overcome her own racism is a testament to the woman's character. Let's all raise a glass in her honor. Cheers!

This brings me to the subject of the character of the right wing media. FOX Noise picked up this "story" and beat it to death. Apparently not one of the geniuses within that organization had the brains to examine a tape of the speech in its entirety. It didn't matter at all to these jackasses that the "Shirley as racist" story might be bogus on its face. The fact is, like Peter Pan, they wanted it to be true - they needed it to be true - and so they merely wished it to be so. We're talkin' Never Never Land here, folks. You see, they rarely have the truth on their side. All they have for ammunition is the BIG LIE. In this one respect comparing them to the Nazis is not beyond the pale. They are following the Goebbels playbook note by nasty note.

Is it a coincidence that in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq eight-and-a-half years ago, over seventy percent of the people who believed that Saddam Hussein was somehow culpable in the attacks of September 11, 2001 were habitual viewers of FOX Noise? Rupert Murdoch's organization has but a single purpose: keeping America stupid. Who would have dreamed that he would be this successful? Most Americans are unable to locate the continent of Africa on a map, or name a single Supreme Court Justice. FOX has a hand in this; I just know it!

The fact that so many people are getting their information from an outlet that is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the plutocracy is disturbing enough. What is even more unsettling are the methods they use to instill fear in their clueless viewership. Were you aware that Barack Obama is a radical Socialist who hates white people? The fact that our half-white president is barely a Progressive and that he was raised by his white mother and grandparents is irrelevant: They report. You believe. It's all so "fair and balanced" that it's hardly worth arguing the point any longer.

And so much of their assault on America's intellect has to do with race, have you ever noticed that? Their latest crusade is against something called the "New Black Panther Party". This is a "group" that is comprised of two nitwits from Philadelphia who recently made minor news when they stood out in front of a predominantly African American polling place, holding batons and trying to look intimidating. Although no one was actually intimidated from voting, the talking heads at FOX have spent the last week taking the Department of Justice to task for their failure to bring criminal charges against these two - in spite of the inconvenient truth that no crime was actually committed. Damn the facts, full speed ahead.

Why do they stoop so low? What the hell is wrong with these people? For many years I have heard horrible, really vicious rumors about the sex life of a certain right wing commentator. I have never printed them on this site because to do so would not only be mean, it would be unconscionable. I have no proof of this person's sexual transgressions and to make an issue out of unsubstantiated allegations would be the height of irresponsibility. And besides, to do so would only be sinking to the level of the extremists. We don't need to go there; we have the truth on our side. Take that, Andrew Breitbart!

It don't mean a thin
If it ain't got that spin
Do-wop! Do-wop! Do-wop!

This situation is not going to end anytime soon, I'm sorry to tell you. FOX Noise is not going anywhere, and an outright ban on half-witted extremists from the internet would be positively un-American. What to do? Combat - not the physical, bloodletting kind - I refer here to a battle of ideas. The fact that we have the truth on our side means that we are able to fight these knuckleheads with both hands tied behind our backs. In the war of words the truth will ultimately prevail. This has been proven in history more times than can be counted. It may take years - even decades - but the truth always wins in the end. As the old adage says, the truth will set you free. Think about it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Amy and Mark Goodman

Monday, July 19, 2010

Post #300: Random Observations

The following spasmodic drivel consists of a few minor observations that I had scribbled on the backs of envelopes (Lincoln used to do that!) or had posted on various websites throughout the internet. Best of luck making coherent sense out of any of it....

1. In spite of all the obstacles that the GOP has thrown into his path, Barack Obama can take credit for a few accomplishments. At this point most polls indicate that the electorate is hellbent on putting the House and Senate back into the hands of the Republicans this January - thereby guaranteeing that nothing will get done between 2011 and 2013. Personally I don't think that's going to happen. The American people are starting to be turned off by the mindless, shit-for-brains extremism of that party. The next four months are going to be extremely interesting.

2. Early Friday morning I was watching on TV Land an episode of the long-dead sitcom, Three's Company. It was even more awful than I remember it. Although I won't say it was worst program in television history, it was - beyond a doubt - the worst successful one: Bad (over) acting, bad writing - everything about that program sucked. The show was almost irresistible: so jaw-droppingly terrible it's actually fun to watch - very much like any of Mitch McConnell's speeches. During the closing credits I noticed that the particular episode I had just viewed was taped in 1980, the year America decided that sending a feeble-minded reactionary named Ronald Reagan to the White House would be a really cool idea. There was something in the water that year. There must have been.

3. The most amazing thing in the aftermath of the BP/Gulf of Mexico catastrophe is the fact that the Republicans (and a more-than-a-few Democrats) are not even considering a moratorium on deep water drilling. These assholes just don't get it. They never have. They never will. The problem with most politicians is that it is not in their interest to think long range. All that really matters to them is the next campaign. Those campaigns are paid for, in large part, by the very companies (BP for one) that are destroying the environment. This is a good argument for either public financing of the electoral process or term limits - or both. In the meantime the country will only continue on its downward spiral. Fasten your seat belts, kiddies!

4. Other than C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Morning Joe on MSNBC is the best wake up program on cable television. The fact that the idiotic FOX and Friends has higher ratings is a better example than anything I can come up with as to how dumbed down America's political conversation has become in the last thirty years. Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough (whom I have to admit has grown on me) may be a bit of a pompous blowhard on occasion, but he has the slightly left-of-center Mika Brzezinshi there to keep him in line. The guest rostrum every morning consists of a healthy mix of opinions and ideas. It's pretty "fair and balanced" - as opposed to their half-witted counterparts over at FOX.

5. Regarding Sarah Palin, Keith Olberman put it perfectly when he said, "That woman is an idiot". I agree. She must be "refudiated".

6. There is no argument that Mel Gibson is a very talented guy. At this point it is also beyond doubt that he is an extremely disturbed human being. But, hey! Who among us isn't a bit nutty at times? He should disappear for five years into a monastery. I am serious! My suggestion would be Our Lady of Gethsemane - a Trappist monastery in Louisville Kentucky where Thomas Merton lived for the last twenty-seven years of his life and where he wrote his spiritual masterpiece, Seven Storey Mountain, among many others. Gibson has been described as a devout Catholic. That being the case, the place would be the ideal location for him. If there is anything the poor, misguided wretch could use at this stage it is a bit of meditation and inner contemplation. He could come out at the end of five years a new Mel Gibson. The old Mel Gibson could definitely stand a major overhaul. Maybe we all could.

7. I've said this before, but the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of his passing compels me to say it again: I sure do miss John Lennon.

8. Michelle Bachmann is a drug abuser. I know what I'm talking about. Have I any concrete evidence to make such a claim? No. All I have is a well-earned diploma from the University of Been There/Done That. I used to have a substance abuse problem and I can spot another user a mile away. Whatever the venue, it's obvious from her glazed eyes and her dilated pupils that the poor gal is usually so stoned that she is barely lucid. Also, her shrill monotone way of speaking - that on top of her paranoid delusions ("Obama wants to bring back slavery!") are textbook examples of a person far gone into drug-induced psychosis. This is a woman in dire need of treatment. I'd love to party with her. I really would.

9. As I mentioned within days of him taking the oath of office a year-and-a-half ago, the president should never have wasted a minute of his precious time trying to find common ground with the kooks, criminals and fools who have hijacked the Republican party. Their only agenda has been to see to it that he - and, thus, the American people - fail. That is the reason they were able to derail the Clinton presidency. At long last Obama seems to be coming to realize this nasty truth. Recent days have shown a new (and welcome) militancy in his rhetoric toward the "loyal" opposition. Better late than never. Give 'em hell, Barry!

10. Martin Luther King had a dream. Glenn Beck has a scheme. The Beckster is planning to mark the forty-seventh anniversary of the August 1963 March on Washington with his own gathering at the Lincoln Memorial, site of the original march. His purpose will be to call attention to the "radical socialist agenda" of the Big Black Boogieman currently in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only problem is the fact that he neglected to get a permit for the event. That fact alone is proof of the man's jaw-dropping arrogance. Al Sharpton will be commemorating Dr. King's dream on the same day at the same location. Al bothered to take the trouble of getting his permit. This ought to be really interesting.

11. Back in January any hope Harry Reid had of being reelected had vanished in the breeze. Then a miracle occurred in the form of a Tea Party caricature named Sharon Angle. This silly woman has been hopping around the state of Nevada with one foot on the ground and the other in her mouth, virtually guaranteeing victory for Reid on Election Day. I say this with no real degree of jubilation. Although he is preferable to Angle, Democrats like Harry Reid are the reason I left that worthless party over a decade ago. They used to be "the Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt". Not anymore.

12. It's going to be a long, hot and weird electoral season. Of this you can be certain: The campaign of 2010 will be the funniest, dirtiest, most entertaining midterm election in living memory. Have some popcorn at the ready.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


One Bright, Shining Moment:
The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern

An excellent documentary about McGovern's 1972 campaign against Richard Nixon.


The photograph at the top of this page, taken in the autumn of 1981, shows Tom Degan (left) turning a deaf ear to brother Pete's sage advice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


"The main problem in any democracy is that the crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy - then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece. Probably the rarest form of life in American politics is the man who can turn on a crowd and still keep his head straight - assuming it was straight in the first place."

Hunter S. Th
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

As usual, Dr. Thompson was about as right as can be when he wrote those words in late March of 1972. So much sage wisdom emanated from that IBM Selectric of his - and in all-too-short a time. I realize that his best years were long behind him when he pointed a gun to his head five years ago and ended his life, but that doesn't mean that I miss him any less. It has been said by some that the poor guy was in a blind funk after the reelection of George W. Bush. I can relate. I might have followed him into eternity had I been so inclined. But at the time, I was just finding my groove, so to speak.

We can also forgive the good doctor for referring to "the man who can turn on a crowd". Thirty-eight years ago, women in elected office were few and far between. And the ones who were lucky enough to be pioneer feminists - women like Bella Abzug, Millicent Fenwick, Shirley Chisholm and Margaret Chase Smith - tended to be fairly sensible, rational people. As far as I can remember, not one of them was a bat shit crazy reactionary on the level of Sarah Palin.

Which brings me to the nasty subject of this piece you are reading. Back on January 19, I speculated on the possibility of a Palin candidacy in 2012. Actually, "speculation" is the wrong word. It was pure, stratospheric fantasy on my part. Not even when I occasionally experimented with LSD over three decades ago, did my mind ever conjure up a vision that weird. As I wrote at the time:

"I am going to wish upon a star that Sarah Palin gets the nod of her party in three years. It would only mean electoral doom for them. I cannot believe that the American people, in the end, would be nutty enough to send her to the Executive Mansion in 2012. I realize that this is merely a pipe dream on my part, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. So far out of the main stream has that party drifted in the last thirty years, a Sarah Palin candidacy is not only possible, it's damned-near inevitable!"

Again, I must emphasize that this was wishful thinking on my part; of course I was just kidding myself. To paraphrase an old Ringo Starr song, "pigs will fly and the earth will fry" before a situation that weird ever transpires. The sensible side of me kept saying, "It'll never happen". Now I'm not so sure.

Last week on his MSNBC program, Hardball, Chris Matthews (whom I think is one of the smartest sons-of-bitches out there) laid out the scenario in black and white:

1. Our Miss Sarah makes a good showing - and perhaps even wins - the Iowa Caucuses due to the heavy presence of the evangelical vote in that state.

2. She can't possibly beat Mitt Romney near his home turf in the New Hampshire primary, but she takes a respectable second place - which causes the Romney campaign to implode overnight.

3. Next stop: South Carolina - where the average voter in any given Republican primary has the IQ of a bag of soiled laundry. Remember 2000? It was in South Carolina that the voters practically handed the nomination to George W. Bush, thus obliterating the candidacy of John McCain - who until that moment had been the presumptive nominee. Predicting that Sarah Palin would win the South Carolina primary three years from now is as easy as predicting that the sun will set in the west this evening. At that point she will have all the momentum she needs to glide handily to the convention and the nomination.

Could it actually happen? My luck has never gotten that good! But what a treat that would be: FASCIST BARBIE as the nominee of a major political party? A woman who quit her job as governor of Alaska in order to make a quick buck (in fact many millions of them) and then had the gall to blame the naughty liberal media for her decision to bail out on the people of that state? Such a possibility would be too good to be true! Oh, please, fate! Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please!

Please bear in mind that I only wish her the nomination because she could never get elected. Her candidacy would only guarantee the reelection of Barack Obama come Election Day, right?....RIGHT??? I'm still enough of a cockeyed optimist to believe in my heart that the American electorate wouldn't do something as drastic and foolish as sending Gidget von Braun to the White House.

Whoa! But wait a minute....What if she were to be elected? What if we were to wake up on the morning after the election to find the jackasses on FOX and Friends beside themselves with glee, chanting like rabid little myna birds , "PRESIDENT-ELECT PALIN! PRESIDENT-ELECT PALIN!" What then? I have given serious thought to this mind-numbing, dreadful possibility.

After thinking the subject over carefully, I have concluded that I am one of the very few people in this country who make under a million dollars per year who would actually benefit from a Palin administration. As I wrote on this site a number of months ago, I'm the kind of guy who, if you give me a bag of nasty tasting lemons, I'll go out and make a delicious pitcher of juicy lemonade.

Take our ex-president - now hiding deep within the bunker under his home in Dallas, Texas: While George W. Bush was the worst thing to ever happen to the country that I love so much, the half-witted little bastard was the best thing that ever happened to me! The blog you are now reading is as much his legacy as anyone's. For a person who makes his or her name satirizing the train wreck that American politics has become in the last quarter century, the very idea of a Palin White House is enough to make all of us salivate like a kennel full of Pavlov's dogs, awaken from their blissful slumber by the bells of doom.

Who would be second on the ticket with her? It definitely could not be another woman (although Michele Bachman would be an answer to my prayers) and it couldn't be another white Christian male. My guess would be Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal or the Buddy Holly lookalike (and Jewish) Senator Eric Cantor. Either one of them would give the ticket the "balance" that was needed. Wouldn't a campaign as twisted as that be a scream?

What would the possibility of a President Palin mean for the United States? It would probably mean the death of this country - but that would be a fait accompli as far as I'm concerned. A people stupid enough to send someone like that to the White House deserves everything that happens to them.

Do I really want something that horrible to happen to America? Of course not. As disappointed as I am in Obama, I want to see him reelected two-and-a-half years from now. He may not be the ideal progressive but what alternative do we have? A third party uprising? That would be suicide. Barring the unforeseen, I have every intention of casting my ballot for him on the first Tuesday of November 2012. I'm just saying that, should the worst occur and America is cursed by one or two terms of a Palin presidency - I'll do quite well, thank you very much. I will be burdened with more material than I'll know what to do with. As Frank Sinatra once sang, "Don't worry 'bout me, I'll get along."

Scooby-dooby-do, baby!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ' 72
by Hunter S. Thompson

It's still in print and is one of the finest (and definitely the funniest) books ever written about American campaign journalism. I am now in the process of re-reading it for the fourth or fifth time. It is one of the essentials of political literature. Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ringo!

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues
And you know it don't come easy

-Richard Starkey, M.B.E

Ringo Starr is seventy-years-old today.

I wrote those words down and stared long and hard at them, scarcely believing it. This just might take a bit of adjusting.

I can remember the moment as if it were yesterday. On a vacant lot in my hometown, where the garage of the Goshen Volunteer Ambulance stands today, there once stood a majestic house that had long since been torn down. By July of 1970, all that remained of the structure was its chimney, which we neighborhood kids liked to climb. On this particular day I was standing triumphant at the chimney's top when I looked down and there stood my cousin Gene Degan. He relayed to me with the awful news:

"Today is Ringo Starr's thirtieth birthday", he said.

What? Thirty??? That is so old, I remember thinking. This will take some getting used to. The great adage of the day was "Never trust anybody over thirty". By and by, I got used to the idea - but seventy? There oughtta be a law!

Seven decades ago today,
on July 7, 1940 Richard Starkey, Jr. was born in Liverpool, England. Of all of his future band mates, he was the one who grew up in real poverty. Ringo would grow into maturity with no memory of the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was still a toddler. If he retained any bitterness as an adult it was never in evidence. John Lennon's emotional scars, on the other hand, were always apparent ("Mother, you had me but I never had you") and yet his boyhood, on the surface anyway, was comfortable and middle class. I once visited his childhood home in the suburb of Liverpool called Woolton, right around the corner from Strawberry Fields. It reminded me of the home of Beaver and Wally Cleaver.

Ringo's early years were a struggle - not only economically but physically. Hospitalized for months at a stretch with peritonitis (among other ailments) for a while it was no
t even certain that the child would live to see his tenth birthday. As a result his schooling suffered terribly. By the time he joined the Beatles in August of 1962, Ringo Starr was barely educated.

They're gonna put me in the movies
They're gonna make a big star out of me
We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
And all I've gotta do is act naturally!

Here is som
ething I've been saying in private for many years so I might as well repeat myself publicly: The Beatles never would have made it without Ringo. While John Lennon may have been the wit of that band, Ringo Starr was the clown prince. As funny as Lennon was, he was not always lovable. It was impossible not to love Ringo. When the Fab Four touched down on America's shores in the late winter of 1964, he was the main focus of the press and fans alike. Being the shortest member of the band he was often referred to as "the runt of the liter". When they made their first two films in 1964 and 1965, it was only natural that poor little Ringo would be the focus of both plots. At the time, many a respected critic were comparing him to Charlie Chaplin.

You may remember back in May I wrote about the trek my brother Pete and I made with our friend Kevin Swanwick to the EMI/Abbey Road Studios in London. Last month Kevin and I journeyed up to Bethel Woods to see Ringo Starr in concert. It was amazing watching him. As Swanwick remarked to me when it was over, he didn't look a day older than the two of us - and we're both eighteen years his junior!

When all four of the Beatles were still alive I used to believe that the heavy smoking, hard drinking Ringo would be the first to go and that the sushi-addicted Lennon would survive them all. How ironic is that
? Who would have believed all those years ago that Ringo would eventually clean his act up and and that John would fall victim to an act of cold-blooded murder? Life is funny that way, you know?

One of th
e annoying myths about Ringo Starr, one that has persisted for almost half a century now, is that he is - at best - a mediocre drummer. What are the roots of this silly notion? Most of the films of Ringo in action were taken when he was performing in concert with the Beatles - in front of an audience of fans screaming at full decibel. What must be remembered is that in this type of venue the band could not even hear themselves. It was all the poor guy could do to keep up a basic back beat with no fills whatsoever. All one has to do is listen to the recordings to understand that he was not only a good drummer, he was one of the best! Just listen to what he does on A Day in the Life. No less an authority than Phil Collins once described his work on that track as some of the greatest drumming in the history of rock music. Just listen to those incredible recordings.

He never was as prolific musically as the other Beatles. While it cannot be denied that he will not be remembered as the greatest composer who ever lived, it is also undeniable that he has written some great songs. It Don't Come Easy, Photograph (co-written with George Harrison) and Oh My My are three of the finest post-Beatles recordings you can name. And while he probably won't be remembered as one of the greatest singers of his era, I have always felt (and I'm not alone here) that he has a beautiful baritone voice. Listen to What Goes On, Honey Don't and With a Little Help from My Friends. Can you imagine anyone else but Ringo Starr singing those tracks?
Not me.

He does indeed get by with a little help from his friends. It should surprise no one that he is one of the most beloved figures in show business history. He was and is the personification of the joy of living, good cheer and plain, old-fashioned silliness. In all these years I've spent Ringo Watching, I have seen him lose control of his emotions only once. It was in 1981, less than a year after Lennon's death. In a televised interview, Barbara Walters asked him to reflect on his beloved friend's life and memory. He started to speak but then the tears came to his eyes and he could not go on. Never was his humanity revealed as much as in this moment. No wonder we love this guy so much.

He has said that the proudest moment of his life was in June of 1967 when he, John, Paul and George made the recording All You Need Is Love
, which was simulcast to a worldwide audience of almost a billion people. "We were doing it for love and bloody peace, man!", he said many years later, "It was a fantastic time to be alive." To this very day "Peace and Love" is Ringo's trademark salutation.

Happy birthday, Ringo! Peace and Love to you, too, mate!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


It Don't Come Easy
by Ringo Starr:


The Beatles
by Bob Spitz

For more recent postings on this positively subversive collection of LEFT WING propaganda, please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Words to Ponder on the Fourth

And now a few words from the patriots....

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Thomas Jefferson

"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society."

John Adams

"....that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln

"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."

Mark Twain

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

"I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."

James Baldwin

"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."

Robert F. Kennedy

"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it."

Eleanor Roosevelt

The 'what should be' never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no 'what should be,' there is only 'what is.'"

Lenny Bruce

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

Martin Luther King

"There is nothing better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.

Malcolm X "

"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions."

Dorothy Day

"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal."

John Lennon

"The liberals in the House strongly resemble liberals I have known through the last two decades in the civil rights conflict. When it comes time to show on which side they will be counted, they excuse themselves."

Shirley Chisholm

"In America.... you can still reach through the forest and see the sun. But we don't know yet whether that sun is rising or setting for our country."

Dick Gregory

"The energy, the faith, the devotion - which we bring to this endeavor - will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"As I was walkin' that lonesome highway, I saw a sign there, said "NO TRESPASSIN'. But on the other side - it didn't say nothin'! - That side was made for you and me."

Woody Guthrie

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tom Degan


"On The Road" by Jack Kerouac