Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gerry and the Glass Ceiling

A raising of the glass and a tip of the old fedora this evening to the late Geraldine Ferraro .

Of all the photographs in my archives, the one above I cherish the most. It was taken on a rainy day in the autumn of 1992 at the home of my cousin Hillary Cullen. That's me on the far left (Surprise! Surprise!) During that long ago, more innocent time, not only was I a registered Democrat - I was proud of the fact. It had not yet dawned on me that the Democratic party had sold its soul to the highest bidder. My awakening was another six years in the future. You live and learn. Someday maybe they'll wake up and remember what they're supposed to be all about; whom they are supposed to represent. I'm not holding my breath - you shouldn't either.

As casual as I appear in this picture, I was keenly aware at the moment that a photographer by the name of Abril Adams was enshrining my image - for all time and eternity -
next to the three Democrats of the post-Roosevelt era that I admired most.

To the right of yours truly: Geraldine Ferraro, my beloved uncle (and namesake) Tom Cullen, and the late, great Paul O'Dwyer.

On that day nineteen years ago, my dear friends Tom and Marisa Frederick were celebrating the christening of their infant daughter. Now that she is a young adult, I'll fess up to her: You were my first priority on that blessed day, Nicole. But I just had to break away from your party for twenty minutes (and only twenty minutes - I promise!) so that I could attend a fundraiser for and meet Geraldine Ferraro, who was in the midst of a particularly nasty primary campaign, seeking the nomination to run for United States senate. You and I are now friends on Facebook. I'll take this as a hint that you have forgiven me....

Okay, maybe I was gone for an hour - but not a minute longer!

The memory of this day came rushing back to me this week when I received the news that Geraldine Ferraro passed away at a hospital in Massachusetts at the age of seventy-five. It has been said that the "glass ceiling" was broken in 2008. It you're a Democrat it was broken by Hillary Clinton. If you happen to be a Republican (and Heaven knows why) it was broken by Sarah Palin. What seems to have been forgotten by too many was Gerry Ferraro's trailblazing campaign as Walter Mondale's running mate back in 1984. If she didn't actually break the glass ceiling that year, she put one helluva crack in it.

In my neck of the woods people were quite proud of her - and why wouldn't we have been? She was, after all, an Orange County girl, having been born in 1935 in the city of Newburgh, New York - across the river from Hyde Park, Franklin D. Roosevelt's homestead. Newburgh is also the home town of Sarah Delano, FDR's mother. Geraldine Ferraro was raised in a comfortable, middle class environment until 1944 when her father died suddenly of a heart attack. A year later her mother was forced to move the family to the
Bronx. Her life's journey from this point on would take Gerry on a long road from poverty - to college - to the congress - to a place on the national ticket of a major political party. That's quite a journey - no doubt about it.

I suppose the vice-presidency was never in the cards for Geraldine Ferraro. As we all know, she and Mondale went down in flaming defeat to Ronald Reagan and George H. Dubya Bush. The morning after Election Day 1984 was a grim one I remember all too well. By that time it was obvious to me that Reagan was a senile old reactionary who should have been tucked away in some cozy nursing home somewhere, being spoon-fed oatmeal. Instead the American people (for reasons I'll never be able to understand) decided that he hadn't done enough damage to their once-great nation in his first term. Somehow they came to the mass conclusion that giving the hideous old bastard another four years would be a really neat idea. Americans are funny that way, you know? They really are!

Gerry's political career post-1984 is anticlimactic. She didn't get the nomination in '92 - losing to a pretentious, self-absorbed twit named Robert Abrams - who ran the most despicable campaign I had ever witnessed up to that time. He spent the entire primary trying to link her name to organized crime for no other reason than her Italian heritage. A real class act. When she refused to endorse him when the primaries were finished, she was accused of being a sore loser. I never could blame her. On Election Day of that year- for the first and only time since I became eligible to vote - I didn't even bother showing up at the polls. Why bother? Bob Abrams was the most disgusting pol who ever wore the label "Democrat". Whatever became of that asshole?

Ironically the victor in the election of 1993 was none other than Al D'Amato: probably the most corrupt senator to come out of New York in the twentieth century. When Gerry made another try at the primaries six years later, again she was defeated. The tragedy is that she would have made an outstanding senator I think.

During the last decade of her life she pretty much kept out of the national spotlight. She caused a bit of controversy in 2008 when, as a supporter of the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, she told a reporter from the Daily Breeze "If Obama was a white man, he would not be
in this position." A statement that made absolutely so sense whatsoever. Subsequent television appearances she made in order to clarify these remarks didn't help matters at all. It was sadly obvious that advancing age was beginning to take its toll on her mental capacities. This was not the vibrant woman the country had been introduced to twenty-four years earlier. It was too sad for words.

Still, when her public life is eventually assessed, I believe historians will give Geraldine Ferraro both thumbs up. That her heart was in the right place on most issues there can be little doubt. The pity of it all is that her biography will be forever littered with those damned "What ifs". I hate those things, don't you?

Here's to you, Gerry!

Tom Degan


Abril Adams gave me that photograph on credit. She left the area shortly thereafter and I still owe her twenty bucks for it. Abril, if you're reading this....


Nicole Frederick is today a musician of impressive accomplishment. Although not yet twenty, she is a violinist with the Crane Symphony Orchestra. Here is a link to a performance they gave recently of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1, Movement 4. Nicole can be seen fourth from the left of the inner circle closest to the conductor - almost in front of him:


She is also a great singer and a fine actress. I can't even begin to describe to you what a privilege and a joy it is for me to be a mere footnote in this kid's biography.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All we are saying is....Never mind

To the shores of Tripoli....

A few minutes ago on MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough posed the musical question (and I am slightly paraphrasing here): "Where is the anti-war Left now that this Democratic president has gotten this country involved in yet another military conflict?" Come to think about it, it was a pretty good question.

THE MUSICAL ANSWER (sung to the tune of Hello Dolly):

Hello, J
We're right here, JOEY
And we're gonna tell you now right where we stand

Yeah we've been had, JOEY
This is bad, JOEY
And we're screamin'!
You ain't dreamin'!
We're just screamin' mad!

I hear the bombs fallin'
And the band callin'
One of them old John Lennon songs from way back when - SO....

Hear our pleas, fellas
Singin' on bended knees, fellas:
Joey, we won't get pushed around!
Joey, we won't get BUSHED around!
Joey, we won't get pushed around agaaaaaiiiiin!!!



Remember that Nobel Peace Prize you received around the time you moved into the White House? Give it back. Seriously.

Here is one of the many reasons why I love Dennis Kucinich: At least the guy is consistent - "Consistent Kucinich" - Try saying that three times fast. The Ohio congressman has suggested that President Obama is guilty of an impeachable offense. I agree. More than a few Republicans are saying the same thing. That's fine 'n' dandy. My only question is this: Where the hell were these assholes when George W. Bush illegally invaded the (like it or not) sovereign nation of Iraq? And it makes me wonder.

I sympathize with the people who are in revolt against Moammar Gaddafi - or Gadhafi, or Khadaffy, or el-Quaddafi, or however the hell it's spelled (the papers have never been in agreement on this) - but this could have been handled in a more intelligent way. Sanctions might very well have been launched against the regime. An economic blockade might have been enforced. There were many options. But we have a massive, out-of-control military industrial complex that demands it be fed - the same one Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about fifty years ago, in his last speech as president:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties and democratic processes."

We should have been smart enough to listen to Ike - the last Republican president worth a damn. Today he stands out as a prophet.

The consensus of opinion on the purpose of this mission (depending on which White House spokesperson you talk to) seems to be "to protect Libyan civilians". Here's the bad news: This incursion is only going to result in the deaths of still more innocents. That is what always happens. Why should things be any different this time around? They call it "collateral damage". Expect more American kids to come home in body bags very soon. Let's stop kidding ourselves here.

And while we're at it, let's face this reality: African despots are a dime a dozen these days. In case you haven't noticed, Libya is not the only country whose citizens have been hammered by the iron hand of totalitarianism lately.

Why this fixation on Libya?

That was a sarcastic, rhetorical question in case you were wondering. The answer is hilariously obvious. Libya, unlike the aforementioned countries, sits smack dab on top of a ocean of oil. We have wasted decades relying on the internal combustion engine - a technology that was invented a century-and-a-quarter ago. That's eight-hundred-and-seventy-five in dog years just in case you were wondering. I figured it out all by myself.

If we had heeded President Jimmy Carter's call to get moving on solar energy over thirty years ago, we would have cured our addiction to foreign oil by this time. The oil companies that own your government weren't about to let that happen. In 1979 Carter had a few solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. When Ronald Reagan stumbled into town on January 20, 1981, the panels were immediately removed. Reagan was kowtowing to his corporate masters. I can't emphasize this enough: The man was a complete imbecile.

This latest foray into "international diplomacy" is costing the United States one-hundred million dollars per day. At a time when our social and economic infrastructure is literally disintegrating before our very eyes, it is unconscionable that we would be further pissing away what's left of our national treasure on the extremely expensive enterprise of making war. We can't afford it anymore, folks. I had this silly idea in my head when I voted for this president two-and-a-half years ago that he understood this. So I was wrong. So sue me.

Tom Degan


Inside Job
a film by Charles Ferguson


BREAKING NEWS: Elizabeth Taylor has died.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newt the Hoot

It isn't very often that one happens upon a politician as delightfull­y sleazy as Newt Gingrich. The man is a walking, talking caricature. Thomas Nast - the legendary nineteenth-century political cartoonist most famous for his drawings of New York's corrupt Boss Tweed - would have loved the Newtster! This is the same guy who had eighty-four ethics charges filed against him during the four years he served as speaker of the House of Representatives.

Now our man Newt is attempting to pass himself off as a model of religious virtue. Isn't that a scream? It's amazing how quickly some politicians not previously known for their religiosity are
so eager to embrace the religious right with both arms when it suits their purposes. Ronald Reagan is a great example of this. In 1968 as governor of California, he signed into being what up to that moment was the most Liberal abortion law in the nation's history. When he sought the White House a few years later, Reagan, who never belonged to any church and rarely attended services, was transformed into the Almighty's very own representative on earth.

Newt Gingrich is now undergoing a metamorphosis very similar to the gipper's. After all, this is the guy who served his first wife with divorce papers as she was lying in the hospital, recovering from cancer surgery. You would think that anyone with half-a-conscience would have waited until the poor woman was at least back in the comfort of her home before doing something like that. For all he knew she could have literally been lying on her death bed at the time. One never knows after cancer surgery. No doubt about it, old Newt is one mean son-of-a-bitch!

And hypocrite? Let us not forget that while leading the effort to remove Bill Clinton from office for lying about an affair with a half-witted intern, Newt was having an extramarital affair with a member of his staff whom he would eventually marry after divorcing his second wife. In an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network he blamed his philandering on his patriotism. The man is just so amusing.

To John Edwards' credit, when he was busted having an affair behind the back of his cancer stricken wife, he at least had the decency to slither away into obscurity, eternally shamed. Newt Gingrich, by contrast, is not ashamed. He's patriotic. As Jack Parr used to say, "I kid you not"

It's also amus
ing to listen him out on the talk show circuit as he cynically clouds the waters regarding the nationality of Barack Obama. He has cheerfully placed himself in the middle of the Birther movement by saying that the prez was raised in Kenya by a Kenyan father and was taught from his earliest days to despise the British. The fact that Obama was not raised in Kenya and only met his father once doesn't mean a thing to Newt. Let's face it: The truth is just too inconvenient. Why bother with fact when there are volumes of lies waiting to be exploited? Newt fancies himself a historian. His specialty seems to be historical fiction. My advice to him would be to find another line of work. Gore Vidal he ain't.

Newt Gingrich is one of those "lowest common denominator"
politician­s that litter the pages of American history. Like old Joe McCarthy, he is unable to appeal to the best in his fellow Americans because there is not a heck of a lot of substance there. But all that aside, Newt wants to be the next president of the United States so badly he can hardly contain himself. He's hell-bent on seizing the nomination at the GOP convention in 2012 - and nothing and NOBODY is going to get in his way. This is gonna be good!

All of the talk this week about the possibility of the government being shut down has reminded many people what a petulant crybaby Gingrich really is. Do you remember the last time that happened? It was back in 1995. Newt was upset with President Clinton for making him sit in the rear of Air Force One during an overseas flight. When he refused to give up his seat at the back of the plane for a white man....

Oh, wait, I'm confusing him with Rosa Parks, I'm sorry....

To make a long story short, Newt was so humiliated at having to sit in the plane's rear section, when he got back to Washington he literally shut the entire United States government down for a few days. What does that tell you about the former speaker? Between you and me, I would consider a seat anywhere on Air Force One - even the luggage room - to be a great honor. The fact that the seating arrangements were an affront to Newt's ego speaks volumes about the man's character. If I were Clinton I would have stuffed the hideous little bastard in the fuselage.

And now he wants to be the "leader of the free world".

It doesn't speak well of this republic that a corrupt, self-absorbed little freak like Newt Gingrich has gone as far as he has in politics. It speaks even less of the people of Georgia who sent him to congress for so many terms.

Newt definitely has his base, the "Newtsies" as the late, great Molly Ivins called them. But that does not necessarily translate into enough votes to be elected to the presidency. For a party that has moved so far to the fringes of American politics in the last three decades, a nomination for Gingrich, while improbable, is not impossible. The one thing (and only thing) that can wreck his chances is his personal life. Remember this is the "family values" mob. It doesn't matter in the least to these jackasses that he is as crooked as they come. What matters is the fact that he's been married three times. It won't look very good on his resume. If anything destroys him in the primaries, it will be that.

In spite of these negatives, I hope he
gets the nomination­. A campaign as brilliantly twisted as that ought to be good for oodles of laughs!

The ticket will have to be balanced. Newt is a man, he's white, he's smart - and he's relatively sane. His ideal running mate would be a screamingly crazy black woman who is also dumber than dog shit.
Unfortunately for him there are no women of color serving in congress as Republicans. Butterfly McQueen is dead. Their only option is Michele Bachmann. That would be the icing on the freaking cake. Can you even imagine?

Oh, please, fate! Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Who Let the Dogs In?
by Molly Ivins

I miss Molly Ivins.


To read more recent articles on this site, click on this link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Happy reading, campers!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Madison Revolution

"'Fascism' should more appropriately be called 'Corporatism' because it is the merging of corporate and state power."

Benito Mussolini
Father of the fascist state

Like it or not, the Madison Revolution is here.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the people woke up from their thirty year slumber. Better late than never as they say. When they finally opened their eyes, they found themselves face to face with a reality too horrible to ignore: The Republican party has been waging a covert war against the working class of this country for almost a century and-a-half - going all the way back to the administration of Ulysses S Grant. It used to drive me to drink (and other choice narcotics) that so huge a segment of the population refused to understand what was being done to them. "What the hell is the matter with these idiotic people???" I've shouted aloud too many times to count.
Everything changed this week however. This will be remembered as the week that "the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt" (two men that they don't even mention in their campaign literature anymore) declared open war on the working people of the United States of America. They're no longer hiding behind the phony facade of patriotism. And that's probably a wise move on their part. Very few of us are still buying that act. It would seem to me that they've cast away that stupid, ill-fitting mask of righteousness they've donned for all these years and have revealed for all to behold what they truly are: Corporatism's handmaidens. How many of you are surprised by this? Let's see a show of hands!

This is
a war they have every intention of winning. But that's not going to happen. By the time this is all over - I promise you - the "Grand Old Party" will be deader than Abe and Teddy combined. The sleeping giants of the American working and middle classes have awoken. And it's about freakin' time, too. Did you have a nice nap, kids?

When the Hall of Fame of Useful Idiots is eventually constructed, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will have a wing all to himself:

"THE WALKER WING" - I can see it now....

It will be recorded that no other single human being was more responsible than he for inspiring the people to finally rise up and revolt against the economic injustices they had been suffering under for over three decades. When Walker and the GOP legislators in the Wisconsin State House illegally signed away the collective bargaining rights of union workers, did they really believe that that would be the end of it? I would suggest that they have their umbrellas handy. The shit storm is about to begin. Have a nice day!

The so-called, blue collar "Reagan Democrats" have finally realized that the sleep-inducing "fa
mily values" mantra that inspired them to rally behind The Gipper thirty-one years ago was nothing more than a cynical scam, a right wing lullaby whose only purpose was to lull them into unconsciousness while the plutocracy looted the social and economic infrastructure of a country that used to be a beautiful, wondrous place in which to live. In essence, they are finally waking up to the undeniable fact that they got royally screwed, not only by Reagan, but every one of his ideological heirs. We were told that the benefits would "trickle down" on the rest of us - and that is precisely what happened. We got pissed on, baby!

The corporatist cabal that runs this country long ago succeeded in turning the southern United States into an economic cesspool. (Have you been to Mississippi or Alabama lately?) They are now turning their attention to the north.

Why are they so hell-bent on destroying the unions? Because it is the unions that are the main c
ontributors to Liberal political campaigns. At this very moment Republican legislators throughout the country are writing laws that will make it difficult (and in a few cases impossible) for certain groups to cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice - the young, the African Americans, the college students. Why? Because these are the people who tend to vote for Democrats. It should be noted that the only unions Walker has not gone after are the relatively few that supported his candidacy during the last election. Are you putting two and two together? Good for you! I knew you could.

A little guidance from history:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for
light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

No, that is not a paragraph from Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Those are the words of Thomas J
efferson from our very own Declaration of Independence. It's a point of pride within my family that one of the signers of that document (Charles Carroll) is an ancestor of ours. Hey, Charlie! Whassup???

This week the good people of Wisconsin have loudly and forcibly declared their independence from a government that favors corporate profit over workers rights. They realize the necessity to "throw off" that government. They have the abso
lute right and "duty" to do so - and they're doing it.

We know you're in the process of spending billions to try and stop this. Don't waste your easy-earned money. This rapidly growing movement is as natural as a blue ring around a winter moon. Don't even think about trying to stop it. Don't even dream about it. You'll have an easier time trying to keep the sun from setting in the west this
evening. The Madison Revolution has been brewing for a very long time. The people are taking back what is rightfully theirs and you'd be wise not to stand in their way. It is a movement that is spreading faster than you might think - not only throughout the north - but eventually maybe even the south as well. Face reality: The plutocracy's party is about to end forever.
"I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate whenever the Government assumes a freer aspect and the laws favor a subdivision of Property."

-James Madison

Like it or not, the Madison Revolution is here.

Get the fuck out of the way.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Declaration of Independence

A special shout out to Amy Clements, the very youngest of all of my many cousins. She and her friends are there in Madison in the thick of things, giving Governor Walker indigestion. That's her in the photograph at the top of this piece. YOU GO, GIRL!

For more recent postings on this positively reprehensible, French-loving, lefty-leaning, latte-swirling, cheese-eating, commie-kissing site, please do go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

I tell you, THERE OUGHTTA BE A LAW!!!! Oh, wait a minute....There is.

Never mind

Saturday, March 05, 2011

PBS Changed Our Lives

"This instrument [Television] can teach, it can entertain; yes it can even inspire. but it can do so only to the extent that human beings are determined to use it toward those ends. Otherwise it's nothing more than wires and lights in a box."

-Edward R. Murrow

Since it is a given that Conservative politicians generally hate the public, it also goes without saying that they despise the Public Broadcasting System. And why wouldn'
t they? Any broadcast outlet that would focus on intelligence and the best in human creativity is probably not going to be watched much by the uber right wing. They've got their priorities, you know? Why waste your time on Charlie Rose when you've got Bill O'Riley?

I was rem
ind of their contempt for all that is good about America on Friday when Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn introduced a bill that would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is probably the only corporation these unenlightened knuckleheads don't act as handmaidens for. While they have no problem bailing out the corrupt titans of Wall Street who spent decades looting the American economy, they can't find it in their hearts to help PBS.

PBS changed my life in more ways than I can count. It has always, from its earliest days, been a source of inspiration. I can't imagine my life without it. Can you?
Some of my earliest memories of watching television are connected with Channel Thirteen, the PBS affiliate in the New York area. This would have been around 1962. Back then their logo was the wise old owl which I absolutely loved. But what I liked the most about Thirteen had nothing do with children's programming.

This was years before Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. My favorite program as a precocious four-year-old was "The French Chef" with Julia Child. For reasons I've never been able to figure out, I was fascinated by the black and white image of her in that studio kitchen, lovingly creating those mouth
watering examples of French cuisine. In this innocent time, it was still okay to admire anything French. "Freedom Fries" were decades into the future. She seemed like such a nice lady, I just could not take my eyes off of her! You would think that my early infatuation with Julia Child would have inspired me to become a chef, but that was never meant to be I suppose. To this day I am barely functional in any kitchen - my own included. No, the PBS broadcast that changed my life forever wouldn't come for another seven years.

as Day 1969: I happened to be channel surfing when I came upon a Charlie Chaplin retrospective that was being shown on Channel Thirteen. The host was a film collector from Brooklyn named Herb Graff. The film being shown the moment I tuned in was called "The Rink", a two-reel short made in 1916 when he was with the Mutual Film Company. I was captivated by the Little Tramp from the moment I laid eyes on him. Three and a half years after this Christmas Day epiphany, on April 3, 1972, my brother Pete and I would get to meet the great man at Lincoln Center in New York City. You want to talk about a mountaintop moment? My discovery of Charles Spencer Chaplin - purely by chance - began a lifelong admiration and study of him which continues to this day. I'm not just a Chaplin fan - I'm a scholar.

From the day of my introduction to Charlie - courtesy of the nice people over at Channel Thirteen - my dream was to become a film maker. The only problem was the raw material needed to make movies - it was so damned expensive! The alternative was videotape, but I did not believe that anything beautiful could be created within the confines of a little electronic box. I associated videotape with the atrociously bad sitcoms of the nineteen-seventies: "One Day at a Time", "Welcome Back
Kotter", "Three's Company", ad nauseous. In my mind, video was to the moving image what wax paper was to the canvas.

But then, in the summer of 1977 I was at the apartment of a friend of mine named Ronald Bevier (Whatever became of you, Ron?) By chance I turned the dial (they had dials then) to PBS. The program being televised at that particular moment was called, "The Best of Ernie Kovacs". This changed everything. What Kovacs was doing with the medium of videotape in the late fifties and early sixties was and is extraordinary. A half a century later despite all the technological advancements of television, his work still astounds. Today he is remembered as Television's Original (and in my opinion - only) "Genius". Ernie Kovacs was the world's first video artist - even though the term "video art" did not even come into being until four years after his death in a 1962 automobile accident. Early in his career, he would end his programs by saying, "It's been real", a phrase he coined. Ernie was the real deal alright. I'm a Kovacs scholar, too.
I became a video artist thanks to Charlie Chaplin and Ernie Kovacs - and PBS.

One of the many complaints lodged against public broadcasting over the years is their "left wing bias". This complaint is more than justified. Big Bird is a Communist. Mister Rogers was a devotee of Karl Marx. But seriously, folks....

The bias charges are ludicrous of course. Certainly some of the hard hitting documentaries of recent years rubbed the Plutocracy the wrong way. In the excellent 2007 program, "Selling The War", Bill Moyers claimed (rightly) that when the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March of 2003, they "took leave of their senses". That isn't left wing bias, that's the truth - and any news outlet that tells the hard and bitter truth will naturally disgust the very people who make their names and their livings spewing right wing gibberish. That's why they love Fox Noise so much.

Here is what needs to be understood: The Conservatives want to dumb-down the American people even more than they already have. That is the only way they are going to succeed in creating the plutocratic utopia they long for. An institution like PBS stands in the way of that goal. Without public broadcasting, you won't see the hard-hitting documentaries that will remind you what life was like in this country prior to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. A few nights ago they aired a documentary called "Triangle Fire". A little synopsis:

On March 25, 1911 - a century ago this month - one-hundred and forty-six human beings, most of them women, perished when a dropped match sparked a fire that would
end up as the worst industrial accident in the history of New York City. These poor "girls" (most of them were barely out of childhood) were trapped in an eighth floor sweat shop. The two owners of the establishment had locked them in for fear of their walking off the job and going on strike in the middle of a work day. This was at a time when the Labor Movement, still in its infancy, was just learning how to walk.

Conservative politicians would rather you and I not watch "Triangle Fire". They don't want us to be reminded what life was like for regular people before workplace laws and regulations were put firmly into place - the same regulations they are now so desperate to have abolished. They don't want us to understand how unionization was critical in correcting this hideous situation. They don't want us to see how deregulation - be it of the workplace or the ma
rketplace - is such an insanely bad idea. They want to keep us stupid. These are only a few of the thousands of reasons why PBS is so valuable.

By the way, if you missed this important documentary when it aired last week, it is available on DVD from PBS video. Everyone should see it. It is an invaluable history lesson.

Where el
se on television are you going to see grand opera? Where else will you find something like Masterpiece Theater? Or Frontline? Or Ken Burns' excellent series of documentaries. And how could I forget Monty Python? We Yanks across the pond would never have been exposed to their brilliant lunacy had it not been for PBS!

The forces
of darkness would have us believe that these programs are nothing more than video caviar, produced solely for the amusement of an isolated cabal of elite, latte-swirling intellectuals. Nonsense. It's programming for all the people. You don't have to be rich - or college educated - to enjoy the beauty of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Ballet, or Louis Armstrong's West End Blues, or George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue. That music was meant for everyone to enjoy! Why do you think they call it Public Broadcasting?

The tax payer funding of PBS amounts to less than five percent of its annual budget. Nonetheless it is a crucial part of that budget, without which they could go under. Hopefully the bill to end its funding will be defeated in the senate. I hope so. America needs the Public Broadcasting System like it needs oxygen. It's a lot more than mere "wires and lights in a box".

Tom Degan
Goshen, New York


Hey there, fans of Miklos Molnar, Percy Dovetoncils and the Nairobi Trio! On April 19, the Shout Factory Entertainment Company is releasing a six-DVD collection that covers Ernie Kovacs' remarkable, all-too-brief career. If you pre-order directly from their
website you will receive a seventh, bonus DVD absolutely free! (How cool is that??) Here is a link to order and watch a video clip from the series:


It's been real!

For more recent postings on this hideous, positively un-American blog, please go to the link below:


Shameful, left wing propaganda. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for even reading this stuff.