Friday, December 24, 2010

Thinking About Bobby

You might think of me as someone with way-too-much time on my hands, but I spend many hours thinking about time and its passage. And this Christmas Eve I cannot help thinking about Bobby Kennedy. You see, today marks a major milestone as he recedes into history. As far as I can tell, I am the only person out there in the media/internet carnival who has picked up on this, so you'll probably only read about it here. Let me explain:

RFK was born on November 20, 1925. When he died on June 6, 1968, he was exactly forty-two years, six months, and seventeen days old. That was forty-two years, six months and eighteen days ago.

Today, Christmas Eve of all days, will mark the first day in history that Robert Francis Kennedy has been gone from this earth for longer than he walked it.

I tend to get fairly depressed every Christmas (It's an Irish thing, you know?) and this year would have been no exception. But this revelation only adds to my holiday blues. I believe to my core that we would be a better country today had he not been taken from us on that terrible night almost forty-three
years ago. I can still remember vividly my father waking up my brother Pete and I with the news, "Senator Kennedy died a few minutes ago." I was in the fourth grade.

He was so unlike the caricature of what we've come to expect from most politicians: his voice was soft and he spoke with a slight lisp. In spite of his much heralded "toughness" there always seemed to be an almost fragile vulnerability about him. When talking to an audience of farm laborers or inner city youth, he could quote George Bernard Shaw or the ancient  Greek playwrights Aeschylus and Sophocles without showing even the slightest hint of condescension. Said his most recent biographer, Evan Thomas:

"He seemed so young when he died. He was young - only forty-two, a year younger than JFK had been upon his election as the second youngest president in the nation's history. But Robert Kennedy somehow seemed younger, more boyish. With his buck teeth and floppy hair and shy gawkiness, he sometimes came across like an awkward teenager. At other times, he was almost childlike in his wonder and curiosity."

He also had the political courage to tell the American people the hard and bitter truths they would have preferred to ignore. During the ill-fated campaign of 1968, during a `question and answer session after a speech, a smug member of a mostly college-age audience sarcastically asked the Senator just who he thought was going to pay for all of these proposed programs of his. Robert Kennedy looked the guy dead in the eye and said, "You are."

They just don't make Democrats like that anymore, do they?

To think where we might have gone but for the bullet of one deranged and confused mad man. A second Kennedy administration (which would have ended on January 20, 1977) would definitely have prevented five-and-a-half years of Nixon and Watergate and might very well have prevented the dawning of the insane right wing era that began exactly four years later with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan - and has continued for thirty years - an era which has ruined a country that used to be a nice place in which to live. We are a better people because, for one brief shining moment, Bobby Kennedy walked among us. I wish he had been allowed to stick around, don't you?

On the night of August 28, 1964, at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, Robert F. Kennedy was greeted by the delegates with a thunderous ovation that lasted almost a half an hour. When the crowd finally calmed down, he paid tribute to his late, martyred brother, dead only nine months. Quoting Shakespeare in a passage from Romeo and Juliet, what he said that evening resonates across the decades. It might also be said for Bobby himself:
When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of Heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
I, too, am in love with the night. There's a lot to love.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Robert Kennedy and His Times
by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

For more recent postings on this hideously LIBERAL site, please go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Shameful, left wing propaganda. I TELLS YA, THERE OUGGHTA BE A LAW! 

They're working on that - rest assured.


At 7:15 AM, Blogger yirrp said...

The best of the yule tide season to you as well Tom.

Like a big fish the peacemakers of yesteryear who shone so brightly left their legacy in people such as you.

You are here and you make a difference to those who come here and need to hear a sane voice of reason amidst the influence that took these people from us.

A safe and cosy Christmas to all.

At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Dan said...

Good Morning Tom,

Thougt I'd share this article with you. I don't know whats true or false in this World and I don't care about "Gold" and "Silver". I know the only place to find peace is within.

God bless you bro!


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Angela Cox said...

I was sent this link because I believe , as you do, that the World was robbed of a great man when R.F.K was murdered.
I wish you a Happy Christmas from the U.K .

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No need to finish up Tommy Boy....the Kennedy's are and will always be scum.

Harry from Mass

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That's what I love about the right wing. Their ability to distort while it may be prolific, it is also clumsy."

wikipedia Margaret_Sanger:

The Sangers moved to New York City in 1910, where they became immersed in the radical bohemian culture that was then flourishing in Greenwich Village and became involved with local intellectuals, artists and activists. Some of the better-known acquaintances they were affiliated with were John Reed, Upton Sinclair, Mabel Dodge, and Emma Goldman.

In 1916, Sanger published What Every Girl Should Know, which was later widely distributed as one of the E. Haldeman-Julius "Little Blue Books". It provided information about such topics as menstruation and sexuality in adolescents. It was followed in 1917 by What Every Mother Should Know. She also launched the monthly periodical The Birth Control Review and Birth Control News and contributed articles on health to the Socialist Party paper, The Call.

Thats what I love about Tom Degan. He sure has a selective memory when it suits him. Was Sanger part of the right wing Tommy?

Tommy says he is not a Democrat. Since you can't be a Republican are you a Socialist, Communist or will you hide behind the Independent moniker?


At 12:52 PM, Anonymous boltok said...


Especially you Red State Fred!

Cheer up, it's Christmas. We are alive for a meaninglessly small period of time in the history of the universe, be positive every day above ground.

I have a hard time not adding a BTW, so BTW, it is doubtful the Kennedys have ever lost sleep over anyone but themselves, especially on the holidays. Dont sweat RFK, he got a big school in LA named after him, and a bridge.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Rain said...

I hope you have a good Christmas season despite the burden that this time does place on us all to fit some expectations that rarely do humans fit. One good thing is the Solstice is past and we are on our way to more light. I wish I could believe that was also so for our country but I don't know. We have lost a lot through assassinations but also almost a backward turning. I am hoping though that we are also turning a corner. It could be...

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Bad Ass Biker said...

Good old Anonymous,

We can always count on you to make asshole remarks.

And Boltok, I am sure that the GOP never looses sleep over anyone either. As long as they get their big tax cuts, do they care if others live in poverty?

At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 3:18 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

Merry Christmas to you, Tom.

Yes, the world is definitely a sadder and much different place then it would have been if Bobby had gotten a chance to carry out his dreams for the USA.

He is and always will be my favorite of the Kennedy "boys."

The world is a little better because we were lucky enough to have him for the time we did. Most of his many children are also making a difference - which is an amazing thing!

Goodnight! And peace on earth and good will toward men.


At 1:47 PM, Anonymous MarkNDenver said...

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on...

Joni Mitchell

Making the most of a bad situation - enough said.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger tnlib said...

I've come here several times to read this very moving tribute to an exceptional human being only to have it marred by the ugly sentiments of a cretin.

Just like when Robert's brother was assassinated, time stood still and I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. My fellow students and I gathered at the union upon hearing about Robert. We were too stunned to talk much except in hushed whispers when we would remember something he did or said that had struck us as particularly notable. Like the time he tried to comfort those who were so pained, angry and hurt and in search of answers when MLK was killed.

We hardly ate, slept or drank - just huddled together to be close and try not to think the unthinkable. Alas, it was for naught. Despite our collective hopes and prayers we received word that this selfless man who held so much hope and promise, who dared to dream, had fought his last battle.

We were too numb to speak but somehow we knew we needed to stay close together, so without a word, we began gathering our things together and heading out. We ended up at a friend's apartment where we set for hours before the TV. Nobody said very much; we were all too afraid we might miss something. When I woke up in the morning most of us were where we had fallen asleep.

I thank you for this Christmas gift, for memory is a gift, and I hope the cretin goes to hell but not before he's hung by his family jewels in 110 degree sun for as long as it takes him to draw his final breath.

Merry Christmas all. Love and peace.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

Bobby was probably the best of a family of murders and rapists. I do think the Kennedy Senators was like the Corleone dream. Senator Corleone. Crooks made it to the senate.

BadAssLimeGreenVespaRider, I dont need the offspring of alcohol smugglers to lose sleep over me. Or anyone else for that matter.

For those who have an interest in Camus, Neither Victims nor Executioners is the required reading. You folks should question your mindless attachment to people like the Kennedys.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous boltok said...


the self-deception of the socialists

part 1

If we agree that we have lived for ten years in a state of terror and still so live, and that this terror is our chief source of anxiety, then we must see what we can oppose to this terror. Which brings up the question of Socialism. For terror is legitimised only if we assent to the principle: 'the end justifies the means'. And this principle in turn may be accepted only if the effectiveness of an action is posed as an absolute end, as in nihilistic ideologies (anything goes, success is the only thing worth talking about), or in those philosophies which make History an absolute end (Hegel, followed by Marx: the end being a classless society, everything is good that leads to it).

Such is the problem confronting French Socialists, for example. They are bothered by scruples. Violence and oppression, of which they had hitherto only a theoretical idea, they have now seen at first hand. And they have had to ask themselves whether, as their philosophy requires, they would consent to use that violence themselves, even as temporary expedient and for a quite different end. The author of a recent preface to Saint-Just, speaking of men of an earlier age who had similar scruples, wrote contemptuously: 'They recoiled in the face of horrors.' True enough. And so they deserved to be despised by strong, superior spirits who could live among horrors without flinching. But all the same, they gave a voice to the agonised appeal of commonplace spirits like ourselves, the millions who constitute the raw material of History and who must some day be taken into account, despite all contempt.

A more important task, I think, is to try to understand the state of contradiction and confusion in which our Socialists now exist. We have not thought enough about the moral crisis of French Socialism, as expressed, for example in a recent party congress. It is clear that our Socialists, under the influence of Léon Blum and even more under the pressure of events, have preoccupied themselves much more with moral questions (the end does not justify all means) than in the past. Quite properly, they wanted to base themselves on principles which rise superior to murder. It is also clear that these same Socialists want to preserve Marxian doctrine, some because they think one cannot be revolutionary without being Marxist, others, by fidelity to party tradition, which tells them that one cannot be socialist without being Marxist. The chief task of the last party congress was to reconcile the desire for a morality superior to murder with the determination to remain faithful to Marxism. But one cannot reconcile what is irreconcilable.

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

part 2

For if it is clear that Marxism is true and there is logic in History, then political realism is legitimate. It is equally clear that if the moral values extolled by the Socialist Party are legitimate, then Marxism is absolutely false since it claims to be absolutely true. From this point of view, the famous 'going beyond' Marxism in an idealistic and humanitarian direction is a joke and an idle dream. It is impossible to 'go beyond' Marx, for he himself carried his thought to its extreme logical consequences. The Communists have a solid logical basis for using the lies and the violence which the Socialists reject, and the basis is that very dialectic which the Socialists want to preserve. It is therefore hardly surprising that the Socialist congress ended by simply putting forward simultaneously two contradictory positions - a conclusion whose sterility appears in the results of the recent elections.

This way, confusion will never end. A choice was necessary, and the Socialists would not or could not choose.

I have chosen this example not to score off the Socialists but to illustrate the paradoxes among which we live. To score off the Socialists, one would have to be superior to them. This is not yet the case. On the contrary, I think this contradiction is common to all those of whom I speak, those who want a society which we can both enjoy and respect; those who want men to be both free and just, but who hesitate between a freedom in which they know justice is finally betrayed and a justice in which they see freedom suppressed from the first. Those who know What Is To Be Done or What Is To Be Thought make fun of this intolerable anguish. But I think it would be better, instead of jeering at it, to try to understand and clarify this anguish, see what it means, interpret its quasi-total rejection of a world which provokes it, and trace out the feeble hope that suffuses it.

A hope that is grounded precisely in this contradiction, since it forces - or will force - the Socialists to make a choice. They will either admit that the end justifies the means, in which case murder can be legitimised; or else, they will reject Marxism as an absolute philosophy, confining themselves to its critical aspect, which is often valuable. If they choose the first, their moral crisis will be ended, and their position will be unambiguous. If the second, they will exemplify the way our period marks the end of ideologies, that is, of absolute Utopias which destroy themselves, in history, by the price they ultimately exact. It will then be necessary to choose a most modest and less costly Utopia. At least it is in these terms that the refusal to legitimise murder forces us to pose the problem. Yes, that is the question we must put, and no one, I think, will venture to answer it lightly.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Jan Marfyak said...

We seem to be of one mind in our remembrance of Bobby. And yes, the world would be different today had he lived.

When I first met him in 1959, I found him brash and even rude. He turned a lot of people off and I had to look past his strident demands for his brother to work for Jack's election. Wisconsin was the second primary, after New Hampshire and he needed a win to counter the notion that Jack could only win in New England. We managed a pretty fair split with Humphrey and then Jack went on to win in West Virginia and the die was cast.

Fast forward. I watched as he dealt with his personal tragedy and shaped his thinking and finally his determination to seek the nomination. He was a different person, more outwardly emotional, convicted and willing to take a more spacious view of what needed to be done for America - and the world - to regain its footing. Fairness and justice were at the heart of his thoughts.

He was too late in filing for Wisconsin's primary so a group of us went about getting him on the b allot as a write-in. It was a struggle, let me tell you but we pulled it off with a respectable showing. I was asked to join his team as a speechwriter - a real yuk because he has two fine writers already and despite my local acclaim, I was not match for them. I was, at the time, an employee of Wisconsin government and could afford the loss of pay that would accompany a leave of absence. But I promised I would join the staff if Bobby won in CA.

The rest is history.

I have read and re-read his speeches, his books and books about him. I'm aware that sometimes this borders on idolatry but then, what he said and what he believed fit so nicely into my own thinking, I sometimes think he read my thoughts.

Perhaps it was his compassion, learned maybe through the loss of his brothers, that ripened him and made him the open and direct person he was. While he could be self-contained and even petty, there was always the sense of his quiet understanding, a mind sorting through the injustices he found and tried not to fall into the emotional trap of anger and/or tears. That fat that his eyes often fill with tears and that he felt the plight of others deeply, made him unique in the world of politics.

Teddy could be more demonstrative and stood squarely for all the things Bobby advocated but he didn't have the sort of smoldering aura his brother had.

I am reminded of a Camus quote from Resistance, Rebellion and Death, in which he suggests to a group of Christian that while he does "not share their hope," he will "continue to struggle against this universe in which children suffer and die." And that was the heart of it. You could excuse his faults because he truly loved children and sought for them a happier place. You could see it in their faces when he hunkered down and talked to them, his voice soft, almost a whisper. When he was done, they would cling to him and his eyes would avoid those adults around him lest they see the deep emotional imprint they left on him.

Camus later, in the same treatise, says that he "cannot love all humanity except with a vast and somewhat abstract love. But that I love a few men, living and dead, with such force and admiration that I am always eager to preserve in others what will someday perhaps make them resemble those I love."

That's the way I feel about Bobby. I sense you share that feeling.

Jan Marfyak
New Mexico

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

The problem with rightwingnuts like blowtalk is that they see the world in black and white, that society has to either embrace the Malthusian ideal of social Darwinism, or be afflicted with the enforced altruism of Marxist Socialism.
They seem either unable or unwilling to grasp the simple fact that a working capitalist economy needs to embrace features of both, and a rational reasonable person understands that the only debate is in the ratio between the two.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger MichaelStivic said...

Right on Tom about Bobby,

If Bobby had lived to old age he would have brought LBJ's Great Society of social and economic justice to fruition.

Instead, trillions were spent on social programs and we don't have squat to show for it. In fact, poverty has gone up.

If you pay people not to work, is it any surprise if they choose not to work and try to sponge as much as possible off the government?

At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Boltok where did you cut and paste that from its above your normal bullshit ramblings.
One of these if you ever get beyond or narrow minded view of the world you might realise that neither the left nor right of the political spectrum is 100% right and both if they could see past winning would have something to offer but in the current political climate of the US that will never happen because of the crap the right is peddling to those fools who cant seem to get beyond Im right and the rest of you are fools because you dont agree with me.
I live in a country with full medical coverage and I can tell you paying taxes isnt the end of the world to have a decent all embracing system. So do some research on how other countries operate and you might learn the plague you have bought into is a curse on not only your house but the houses of the rest of the world.

Den from Oz

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Ronni said...

There's something a bit OCD about many right-wingers. They want everyone and everything to fit into a pigeonhole. Tom says he's not a Democrat, so he must fold himself up to fit into some other label? How about he's a man who thinks for himself? Very few of us actually fit into any given pigeonhole, without some serious scraping, sanding and squeezing. We are not pigeons.

Bobby Kennedy was a man who did the best he could in spite of being human and subject to being imperfect.

I am frequently suspicious of those who are very wealthy...they seem to live in a world that is different from that of the rest of us. However, it has always seemed to me that the Kennedys who held political office tried to bridge that gap and make the world a better place. They had some issues in their personal lives...but hell's bells! Nobody is a perfect human being.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Suzan said...

He was not "taken from us" accidentally, you know.

It was a part of the same plot that killed his brother and Dr. King, Jr., and many others including Paul Wellstone.

Please read (and make the lessons within a part of your further truth seeking) Russ Baker's Family of Secrets before you think any more sad thoughts about "fate" or "destiny."

That feared destiny is only the one we ensure the NeoCons are bringing about through our naivete and inaction.

We must begin to embrace the doctrine of true self defense.

Peace (and truth).



P.S. You should block those paid trolls.

They are everywhere.

Doing Satan's work.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear Suzan,

Why on earth would I want to block the trolls? They're always proving my point. Always!. I've been seriously considering renaming this blog:


Happy New Year, my friend!

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan

At 3:04 AM, Blogger finefroghair said...

a blog without trolls would be a lonely place indeed thank you tom for your blog and thanks to all the ignorant simple minded commentators who make this such an enjoyable place to visit especially that Ass from Mass happy holidays

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Cathy Deitchman said...

This is beautiful. I loved him too. Thanks for writing it.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Suzan said...

You mean other than the fact that you're providing a means for them to get paid?

The latest research shows that 80% of the trolls on blogs are being paid by knowing CIA/Mossad/NSA taxpayer-funded agencies to confuse the electorate and/or obfuscate the issues (and feed off blogs that allow them to continue their nonsensical commentary).

Seems like a good reason to me to block people who don't have a valid basis for being there, i.e., adding intellectually to the continuing commentary.

But that's just "ignorant, simple-minded" me.

Love ya,


Why on earth would I want to block the trolls?

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Why would anyone pay for that service? Doesn’t Washington do that 24/7?

No, Suzy, I think you’re not simple-minded but rather WAY over-thinking this one.

As they say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, so…. please don’t hit me with sticks and stones.”

At 1:53 PM, Blogger TSVDP said...

Since assassination was brought up, may I suggest the JFK Lancer dot com website, somehow, I think links often get spammed out here. It's got a good forum discussing the assassination of JFK and related issues. I've met different types there including some fellow from Ireland, they go into it in depth, photos, all of this. I've become neutral on that topic. I know for the record if anyone responds, they will think most likely there was a conspiracy, I would lean more into this thinking but the way out conspiracists don't do much for the cause. JFK Lancer tries to be balanced, have a convention every year on the subject. I'm neutral and I've read a ton on it, conspiracists often fall back on card stacking. The Lancer site is rather balanced in their examination of the issue and any new developments, anyone claiming to have been involved in as there is some guy, forget the name now, who claims he was involved. He was in prison. Lots of info around.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger TSVDP said...

Forgive me for my interlude on the JFK assasination: James Files is the name of the guy who confessed to being a part of the JFK conspiracy. There's always details about the JFK assassination that readily do not make sense, like that picture of the guy going to the Mexico City embassy and claimed to be Oswald, they have a photo. Isn't that basically proven?? The movie makes for good viewing but plenty to sift through to see what is reasonable and what may not be. I'd lean towards the mob having done it.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Suzan said...

"You mean other than the fact that you're providing a means for them to get paid?

The latest research shows that 80% of the trolls on blogs are being paid by knowing CIA/Mossad/NSA taxpayer-funded agencies to confuse the electorate and/or obfuscate the issues (and feed off blogs that allow them to continue their nonsensical commentary)."

Insert the theme from 'The Twilight Zone' here. I guess this proves that the right doesn't have a monopoly on crazy.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Sorry, should’ve said Susan, not Suzy. Honest mistake – didn’t mean to take liberty with your name…

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Okay - Suzan - not Suzy or Susan. I should just quit now...

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Browns44 said...

Well Tom, I'll give this much to you, you are being honest by NOT blocking those who disagree with your position unlike the red headed airbag Ed Schultz.
I didn't like RFK then and I doubt that if he had been elected, American today would be a better place.
Liberalism and socialist do not work, regardless who is in charge, it's that simple.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Ned Buratovich said...

At first I noticed little groups, three or four on a street corner. Then as the #43 bus took me down Foothill Boulevard through Oakland, I saw larger and larger gatherings, even mid-block, lining both sides of the street.

I asked the bus driver, "What's going on?"

"Bobby Kennedy's motorcade coming through here in a while." he replied.

I was about 19, on my way home from my college school day. I got off the bus well before my stop and joined the throng, now spilling over the sidewalks.

About an hour later, Kennedy's motorcade came through ever so slowly. Bobby was standing in the back seat of an open convertible and people were mobbing the car as he reached over to shake hands.

When his car came to our location, I was carried forward by the crush of people, my hand outstretched with theirs. For a brief moment, I got to touch Bobby Kennedy.

Then his motorcade passed us by, part of Bobby's journey south to LA for the democratic primary meetings there.

Two days later, he was dead.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger TSVDP said...

Joyeux Noel, Merry Christmas, the Franco/German/British movie on WWI, can you imagine Walgreen's was selling it? Everyone should get that movie.

At 2:38 AM, Blogger Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Happy New Year to you Tom :o)

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it’s a real shame what has happened to the good old USA (I was once a part of), the good die young and predators prosper under America’s peculiar form of democracy, which just might have been the best on earth had history taken different turns and corruption and ignorance minimized by a quality public school system and a fairer playing field for all American citizens. What’s happening now is unbelievable and that is what really depresses me; Obama, although it’s not all his fault, has been one of the main reasons for the resuscitation of the Republican party democrats thought were a goner.

And the moral landscape, values, are no longer brought by either political party or given hard scrutiny by big media since both are basically immoral.

Both political parties greatest talents lie in breaking instead of fixing things. Is there hope? I don’t like the question.


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