Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Within George, Without George

Such foolishness in man
I want no part of their plan

-George Harrison

I miss George Harrison.
The telephone
rang over two hours before sunrise, awakening me from a deep slumber in the early hours of 29 November 2001 - ten years ago today. It was my brother Pete on the other end. "George Harrison is dead", he told me.

I heard the
news today, oh boy.

Unlike the death of John Lennon twenty-one years earlier, this was no jarring shock. We knew that he was mortally ill and that the end was not far away. Within a half ho
ur, Pete called me back, telling me that he was at Strawberry Fields in Manhattan, the Central Park monument to Lennon's memory. The place was deserted - except for him and a small news crew from ABC. He told me that he was about to be interviewed and asked me to videotape it for him. For the first couple of hours on the morning that George Harrison died, brother Pete Degan was the spokesman for bereaved Beatles fans all across the planet earth.

Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloud burst doesn't last all day....
It's not always gonna be this way
All things must pa
All things must pass away
Every time I reach a ten-year milestone, the decade that has just transpired seems shorter than the
last. It is almost inconceivable to me that George Harrison has been dead for this long. 
He might have su
rvived his final illness. He might still be with us today. George was being treated for cancer in 1999 when on New Year's Eve of that year, he was attacked and stabbed several times by a deeply disturbed person who broke into his house in the middle of the night. He was only saved by the quick action of his wife Olivia who was able to subdue the attacker with a fire poker. Olivia and their son Dhani both believe his severely weakened condition as a result of that assault hastened his death less than two years later. I don't doubt it. Two of the Beatles are dead today because of mindless violence. The cruel irony is that these two men are most associated in the public mind with peace and love. Whenever I see a film or video of that band performing all those years ago, I am always somewhat haunted by the image. Gone forever is the pure, undisturbed joy of watching the Fab Four perform. When I watch those films today, always lurking at the fringe of my consciousness are the tragedies that awaited John Lennon and George Harrison.
I've got no time for you right now
Don't bother me
Almost fr
om the very beginning when they were introduced to the British public in the autumn of 1962, he was known as "the quiet Beatle". Those who knew him best would laugh at that description. According to close friend and Monty Python alumni Michael Palin, he was many things - "quiet" was not one of them. The fact is, George Harrison was never comfortable being a public figure and guarded his privacy very rigorously. I am what you might call a Beatles Scholar. I have spent many years researching and reading about them. But I know next-to-nothing about George's life outside the recording studio. I only recently discovered that for many years he battled alcoholism. I had no idea! In the almost forty years he was in the public eye, glimpses into his private world were rarer than a lunar eclipse. He was - and remains - enigmatic.

He seemed
to show so much promise when he, John, Paul and Ringo went their separate ways in 1970. His debut album, "All Things Must Pass", was by far the finest record of that year. But the sad truth of the matter is that George Harrison's career subsequent to the Beatles' breakup is disappointing in many ways. Although he would have more-than-a-few moments at the mountaintop, a number of his recordings as a solo artist are mediocre at best.

The absolute creative rock-bo
ttom of his career would be 1981's "Somewhere in England". I have played that record twice. The first time was when I purchased it; the second time was twenty years later on the evening he passed away. On that night, I decided that I would give the album a second chance. Maybe George Harrison was reaching a new plateau in his musical evolution that I just couldn't comprehend in 1981. I was correct in my initial assessment. Somewhere in England is beyond awful. In fact (and it hurts like hell to say this) it is unlistenable. Spell Check is informing me that "unlistenable" is not even a word. It is now. There is no other word to adequately describe that record. The followup LP, a forgotten relic from 1982 called "Gone Troppo", is almost as bad. He would not release another recording for five years.

He finally reemerged in 1987 with a minor masterpiece called "Cloud Nine". George Harrison was back and better than ever! His admirers all over the world waited in anticipation, wondering what he would come up with next. We waited....and waited....and waited. Nothing. Not until the very end of his life would George produce an album of new material. We shouldn't complain though, He owed us nothing. We owe
him a lot.
`As nothing in this life that I've been trying
Could equal or surpass the art of dying
Do you believe me?

And then there were two....

I am old enough to
remember the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 - a long time ago when they was fab. On that night, the eldest member of the band was twenty-three. Ringo Starr turned seventy-one last July. Paul McCartney turns seventy next June. Four years ago, on the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Sgt. Pepper LP, I wrote a piece on this site called, Why the Beatles Still Matter:
"In 1995, the night the video "Free As a Bird" premiered on national television (the first "new" Beatles song in over a quarter of a century) I watched it with a young woman who was born in 1970, the year they broke up. Hearing them sing together again - Paul and George sounding strong and clear; John, by that time long dead, his voice transferred from an old and faded cassette tape, sounding as if he were singing from far, far away - was a very moving experience. When she noticed my reaction, she laughed and said, "Oh, Tom! What's the big deal"? I told her that no one who didn't live through that turbulent era, could possibly understand what that band meant to their troubled generation."

Yeah, I'll fess up - I get awfully sentimental when it comes to the subject of the Beatles. On the night George died I remember pouring my heart out over the telephone to my friend Terri. I admire her patience. She listened gently while I waxed inebriate on the news of his passing, and what a drag it was that two of the Beatles were now dead, and how this was possibly the end of the world, and blah blah blah....But it moves me to realize that today the two survivors are elderly men, and that eternity is now beckoning them. When I was a boy, John, Paul, George and Ringo were the undisputed princes of the planet earth. They seemed to be invincible. The passing of the decades reminds us that the Beatles were as frail in their mortality as any of us. They really were a bit like you and me.

When you've seen beyond yourself
Then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come when you see we're all one
And life goes on within you and without you
I imagine I'll be spending a good part of this fine Autumn day listening to the Beatles in general and George's music in particular. I might even scoot up to the mall in Middletown and purch
ase the new Martin Scorsese documentary on George's life, Living in the Material World. Whatever the medium, this is a good day to reflect on his legacy.

I miss George Harrison.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

All Things Must Pass (1970)
The Concer
t for Bangla Desh (1971)
Living it the Material World (1973)
Thirty-Three and a Third (1977)
George Harrison (1978)
Cloud Nine (1987)
Brainwashed (2001)

Here's a link to listen to George Harrison from 2001. It is one of the final recording sessions of his life; a great rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea:

When George left this world he was tappin' his toes!

Here are some other Beatles-related pieces I've written on "The Rant" through the years:


A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - I think

I was strolling through the park, I remember
In the merry, merry month of November
When I saw a weird display
By a cop with pepper spray
In the merry, merry month of November!


Well, I guess we still have much to be thankful for. We could be living in Iraq, a country that has been systematically destroyed courtesy of our tax dollars. Say what you want, the United States is still a pretty nice place in which to live - comparatively speaking that is. The undeniable fact of the matter is that it used to be a whole lot nicer. While we were merrily destroying Iraq, we were also destroying - not only our economy - but our future as well. I would imagine that if I were an Iraqi citizen, I would view this as poetic justice. Hi ho.

Certainly I'm thankful for the Occupy Wall Street movement. I can't tell you how grateful I am that the American Left - sound asleep for decades - is today wide-awake and on the move. These are good days to be alive, no question about it. The events of the past two months have been enough to give even me, the eternal cynic, a renewed sense of optimism for the future. This much is certain: If America is to be saved, weeda peeple will have to be the ones doing the saving. Forget about our elected representatives. To foolishly rely on either of the two major political parties would be a fatal mistake. They threw us overboard a long time ago. We don't need them. We don't need any political party. What we need a movement. That movement has arrived. Don't look back.

So let's be thankful for what we've got, and hope that ten years from now America will be a better place to raise the children who have yet to be born. At this moment down in Zuccotti park, history is being made. The talking heads on the extreme right love to whine that historians
have always told the story of America with a progressive bias. This is true. In fact its one of the few things they have gotten right - and why not? What is history anyway if not the story of human progress?

Yes, in spite of everything, we can still be thankful today, and hopeful. Let's all hope and pray that one day our friends on the far-right side of the aisle will understand this. In the meantime,
liberals and conservatives alike:

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Thanksgiving Song
by Mary Chapin Carpenter


A message from my friend Tracy Murphy:

Spare the life of some poor turkey. Go veggie!

The Buffalo Vegetarian Society

I'm in love with a gal I've never even met.


Tomorrow is "Black Friday". Do you want to send a stern message to the plutocratic thugs who are raping the infrastructure of this once-great nation?


Sunday, November 20, 2011


Come se
nators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don't s
tand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he t
hat gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

-Bob Dylan

The mayors of Oakland, California and New York City apparently have no understanding of human history - not to mention human nature. They attempted this week to shut down the Occupy Wall Street movements in their respective cities through means of violence and intimidation. It didn't quite work out too well for them.
Quite to the contrary. Not only have they not weakened the movement, they have instead strengthened it - tenfold.

When people have been subjected over long periods to injustice, it's only a matter of time before they revolt. Revolution is not something that can be swept away by think tanks or police riots. It's a bit more complicated than that. Revolution-in-reaction-to-human-cruelty is as natural as the sun rising in the eastern sky. All the king's pepper spray and all the king's soldiers can't stop a rising sun either. Try it sometime.

The comedian-turned-activist Dick Gregory once compared revolution to a boiling coffeepot. When the pot starts to boil, it protests by making a whistling sound. It is giving us a fair warning and a choice: We can wisely take that pot off the fire, or we can plug up the spout that's making all that hideous racket. If our choice is the latter, eventually that pot is going to explode, burning everybody in the room.

The people who are now in the process of occupying this once-great nation can be likened to that boiling coffeepot. They are sending the "rulers" of this country a clear and unmistakable warning: Give us economic justice or be prepared to live with permanent civil unrest. Here's another pearl of wisdom courtesy of Dick Gregory:

"Repression is more detri
mental to the ones who are doing the repressing than it is to the ones who are being repressed."

Something to think about. The ground of the planet earth is littered with the graves of regimes and ideologies that fell of their own, bloated weight. The times they are indeed a'ch
angin'. Get out of the way or get rolled over.

It would seem to me that “the suits” don’t take the power of the American people all-too seriously. That shouldn't surprise us. Sooner or later they’ll realize that we have the power to shut this country down. They don’t. In fact, even if they did have the power, they wouldn’t dare shut it down. The need for the machine to keep churning out bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.

And as is usually the case, most of the main stream media refuses to understand what is happening. Rupert Murdoch's propaganda empire has been busy portraying the movement as a cabal of thugs and perverts. The main charge that has been leveled by the talking heads against the Occupy movement is this little gem:


Sure they do. I do not attempt here to define myself as a spokesman for this movement. One of the neat things about Occupy Wall Street lies in the fact that, unlike their Tea party counterparts, there is no cult of personality. We do not have our own Glenn Beck - and that's a good thing, I promise you! But let me take just a brief moment to step into the roll of interpreter. First, a quote:

"Governments are instituted among men [and women - fess up!] deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."


NO, that wasn'
t from the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. Nor is it from the pens of Che Guevara or Stokely Carmichael. That nasty little bit of revolutionary screed was written by none other than Thomas Jefferson, and is from a document which was ratified on 4 July 1776 and now rests snugly in our national archives. When this country was formed, those present - and succeeding generations of Americans - were given an instruction manual called the Declaration of Independence. It may be found at all public libraries and any computer search engine. I'm also certain you can find it in audio form on CD. Hell, it might even be available on 8-Track tape somewhere for all I know. Its message is as clear as sunlight. When those who govern become destructive toward the happiness and well being of the governed, revolution is not merely an option. It is a duty. Ting-a-ling-a-ling!

Thirty-one years ago this month, on Election Day 1980, the American people were placed on a path that would eventually lead to the destruction of their social and economic infrastructure. Deregulation of the marketplace - and tax cuts for a class of people who already had more money than they knew what to do with - were the new and seemingly permanent reality in America.

We are now learning the extent to which private banks went to gamble on and squander the money - our mone
y - only to be bailed out of the mess by the same people whose treasure was squandered in the first place. We had no say in the matter, and not a single condition was placed upon the corrupted banks. In the meantime the middle class, the engine that once fueled our economy, is falling apart. The American dream is as dead as a doornail.

And they're wondering why we're pissed off. Imagine that.

What do we want? We want economic justice. When do we want it? NOW, BABY! But we're realistic. We can wait them out for as long as it takes. The plutocracy has one of two choices. This is black or white. There are no subtle shades of gray that can be misinterpreted. Either the wealth of this country will be redistributed via the route of taxation - or they
can expect civil chaos for as long as it takes to wake America up from its stupor. If it takes decades, so be it. If it takes a century, so be it. If it means the complete and utter destruction of the Republican and Democratic parties - even better. For as long as it takes. In the long run it will cost them a hell-of-a-lot less to give in than to keep obstructing the will of the majority. To paraphrase Mick Jagger (0r was it Keith Richards?) Time is on our side - yes it is.

You say you'll change the constitution,well you know
We'd all love to change your head
You tell me it's the institution, well you know
You'd better free your mind instead

-John Lennon

But if you go carrying pictures of Rush Limbaugh
You ain't gonna make it anyone anyhow


We are at a point (according to the pollsters) where the popularity of the congress is at an all time low (hovering just below nine percent). They're telling us that Paris Hilton and Communism have better numbers. I'm not surprised. What is surprising, and in spite of the propaganda aimed against it, is that the Occupy Wall Street movement's numbers are comparatively high, and rising by the hour. This movement ain't no fad, boys and girls, and the good people out in the streets are in it for the long haul. I was just reminded of a great quotation from Mahatma Gandhi:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

We win. Isn't this a neat time to be alive?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


In an appearance this morning on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul made the following statement:

"To argue that they attacked us on 9/11 because we are free and prosperous is dangerous because it's not true"

Old Ron is correct here on more levels than he realizes. We are neither free nor prosperous. Hi ho.


Creating the Founding Fathers' Vision of America
by Devon J. Noll

Special thanks to John Harragin and Brother Jeff Degan for the photograph at the top of this piece. To John for taking it; and to Jeff for doing all that cool stuff to it!

In the words of Lenny Bruce: "Is that an album cover or what???

For more recent postings from this LIBERAL CESSPOOL OF IMPUDENT, COMMIE PROPAGANDA, kindly go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for reading this stuff.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our New "Occupation"

Zuccotti Park is Morphing in the rain.

I got the phone call from Harragin on Saturday morning, the twelfth of November 2011. He was on his way to Zuccotti Park to be part of the occupation that is the focus of the nation. Would I like to come along for the ride?

When history is being made so close to where one sleeps, it is the duty of all true patriots to make their presence known. When the times call on one to choose sides, it is better not to hide within the comforting walls of bliss
ful anonymity. Wherever people gather to confront the forces of greed and destruction, those of good conscience must enlist in the armies of righteousness. This is not a time to be anchored by quiet desperation. Now is the time to stand up, my friends! Now is the time! CAN I GET A WITNESS!!!
"Uh, New York? This morning??? Uh, well, um....Aw, shit, Johnny, I've got nothing better to do. I'll come along, what the heck."

First a few words about John Harragin. Other than Kevin Swanwick and Mike O'Connor (both of whom you might have read about within these pages) he is one of my oldest friends in the world. It's hard for me to even fathom this but we go back almost forty years. He's always had a keen awareness of injustice and hypocrisy which makes him the ideal traveling companion to witness the Wall Street Occupation in "real time" so to speak. He's also proving to the world that solar power is a viable form of energy. He is now installing panels on his house and in six months time, the entire place will be powered by the sun. He says, "If I can do it, that means we as a society can do it."

He p
icked me up at around ten o'clock at my house across the road from the adult book store and the tattoo parlor, and we were on our merry way. Traffic was unusually light, even for a Saturday morning, and we made it to lower Manhattan in less than an hour-and-a-half. Parking our car at the corner of Clarkston Street and the West Side Highway, we hoofed it toward Zuccotti Park.

Somewhere along the way we became a bit disoriented and John inquired of a police officer, "Excuse me, sir. Can you tell us how to get to Zuccotti Park?"

"No." was his gruff answer. We were in fact less than three blocks away. John flashed his mile-wide grin and began to gently tease the cop: "Aw, c'mon! I know you know where it is!"

"What do you wanna go there for?" he asked, obviously exasperated.

"We're going there f
or you!" said John. The guy just rolled his eyes. It was clear that he was fed up with this revolution, and that he just wanted things to get back to normal. How could we get him to understand that things would never be "normal" again? Best not to even try, I thought to myself. He'll find out soon enough, poor bastard.

I tried to convince him that we were important and respected journalists on a dual assignment representing the Nation
al Review and FOX News, but it was all to no avail. It was blatantly apparent that neither one of us were dressed for the part. We looked more like correspondents from Mad Magazine. We'd have to find our way to Zuccotti Park on our own. Fortunately for us this proved to be not-too-difficult a task.

Arriving at th
is gathering is hard to put into mere words. If you've ever been an eye-witness to something you were certain historians will be discussing a century after your death, you'll know what I'm talking about. There is an energy that is palpable. The people here know very well that collectively they are the seed that will eventually produce the fruit that's going to turn this country around. No doubt about it: Zuccotti Park is the place to be. Y'all come down now, ya hear?

We ran into a guy named Ryan Michael who was giving away purple peace signs (for a small, optional donation) which John and I both purchased. "I give a lot of credit to the people who stay do
wn here at night", he told us, "It's cold!" Indeed a good number of these faithful have been here since the occupation began on September 17. I'll be down here again, of that you can be sure. But if the weather starts to get out-of-hand, or if some "private security" army like Blackwater rolls into town with violence on their minds, I always have a cozy apartment on the corner of 8th Avenue and West 52nd Street that I can retreat to. These people are the real article. They have no intention of leaving regardless of the personal cost. You gotta love 'em. You just gotta!

If you're naive
enough to rely on Rupert Murdoch's propaganda empire for your news and information, you'll be forgiven for having a warped understanding of what is now happening down in Zuccotti Park. In this morning's New York Post Toasties, they ran a front page photograph of some guy they identified as a "Occupy Wall Street protester" being dragged out of some event he was disrupting - in Queens! Obviously he was not part of the Wall Street occupation, but that's how the Post and FOX operate. They send their cameras down there and seek out the most disreputable looking (in their minds) people they can find, broadcasting the images as your typical Wall Street Occupier: Filthy, unkempt radicals.


All of the people that John and I encountered on this day were very kind and well behaved. About the weirdest thing I saw was a young woman in a pink dress who ran past us at full-speed yelling, "I've gotta pee really badly!!!" Other than that little incident it was a very relaxed scene. And if some of them were a tad "untidy", well, how tidy would you be afte
r almost two months of being exposed to the elements? I tip my hat to them all. Forgive the cliche, but these are beautiful people.
We came upon a young and intense African American kid named named Dee Jackson who was giving away granola bars. He is going to be turning twenty-one on the twenty-fifth of this month. When we happened upon him, he was in the middle of a debate with a plump young woman who had come all the way from Oregon in an apparent attempt to convert us heathen who would dare try to overthrow America's sacred financial institutions. From New York she was headed straight to Washington DC to volunteer - full time - for the Ron Paul campaign. It was clear that Dee Jackson was not about to be converted. After she politely walked away in frustration, John and I talked to him.

"What people need to understand is that this revolution is in the embryonic stage", he told us. "I'm only twenty-years-old and I've been waiting for this moment my entire life."

Dee Jackson is in it for the long haul.

When the movie of the Wall Street occupation is made, the soundtrack CD will have drums - lots and lots and lots of drums. Having taken part in more-then-a-few drum circles in my day, I was in my natural element. I have my dear pal, the noted magician Jeff McBride to thank for this. The guy is seriously into communal drumming. Some believe that the continual, rhythmic pounding drives away the evil spirits. I think these different drummers might be onto something. If the spirits haven't exactly been driven away, they're definitely in a blind panic at th
is hour.

Bom-boom BA-DUM!Bada-boom BA-DUM!
It's almost hypnotic - and very beautiful. Yeah, something is happening here and I do know what it is. Honest, Mr. Jones. Unlike their counterparts out in Oakland, California, the cops on this day - for the most part - were very nice. I think a lot of them sympathize with the aims and aspirations of the protesters. and why shouldn't they? They are, after all, a part of the middle class that is in th
e process of being obliterated. And if the cops in Oakland don't yet understand what is happening, I have a funny feeling they'll be understanding it soon enough. I'm just guessing

It would be a mistake for anyone to interpret what is transpiring down on Wall Street as a fad that will blow over the moment the weather hits the freezing mark. The fact of the matter is that weeda people
are doing what we should have done twenty-five years ago. This imbalance between rich and poor cannot possibly continue. I don't know about you but I'm not particularly crazy about returning to a new Gilded Age. This is not just an American phenomenon. This is happening all over the world. OCCUPY THE PLANET EARTH, BABY! Anyone who thinks they can put a stop to this is in for a seriously rude awakening. A historical tide cannot be turned back. Try it sometime.

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart."
-Dorothy Day 1897-1980

We might b
e near to that point. This is a revolution that is inspired and nurtured by love - love of country, and a boundless compassion for a suffering humanity. On November 12, 2011, John Harragin and Tom Degan saw it with their very eyes. Come down to Zuccotti Park and see for yourselves! Just be sure to bundle up.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A People's History of the United States
By Howard Zinn


This tune had me bouncing around the freaking room! It is by a guy from Hawaii called Makana. The song is called "We Are the Many" Here's a link to watch and listen to it on You Tube:

"We will occupy the streets
We will occupy the courts
We will occupy the offices of you
Till you do the bidding of the many
Not the few."

Thank you to Natalie Miller for sharing this one with me.

For more recent postings on "The Rant" please go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

All the hep cats are doing it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thane Plowman: Giving Despair a Face

Oh, can you see their world is crashing
Crashing down around their feet
And angry people in the street,
Are telling them they've had their fill
Of politics that wound and kill

-The Moody Blues

"They Call it the "American Dream" because you have to be asleep to believe it."

-George Carlin

Thane Plowman was born on August 7, 1968 and died on October 27, 2011 at the home he shared with his mother in Felton, California. His earthly remains were cremated yesterday.

Depressed an
d in utter despair, he had come to believe that the so-called "American Dream" he had believed in all of his life was just that - a dream. He was correct of course. It's a farce. It's a sham. It's a three-card-Monte hustle. Get a grip. And if the plutocratic power brokers who rule our lives have their way, in a decade this goddamned country won't be worth the paper the maps of it are printed on. Don't count on either of the two political parties to come to your rescue. The Democrats are littered with corruption and the Republicans have become so thoroughly corrupted that they're no longer a political party. They've become an organized criminal enterprise.

And yet these disgusting whores for the plutocracy refuse to comprehend the anger of the people who are occupying Wall Street - who are occupying America - who are occupying the fucking planet, baby! I'll use that contemptible Buddy-Holly-lookalike, Eric Cantor as an example of what I'm talking about. This asshole dismisses these patriots as a "mob". What he fails to understand - indeed what most of Washington doesn't even come close to getting - is that the American left has awaken from a very long and troubled slumber. This isn't a fad. This isn't some kind of mass, childish temper tantrum that will pass the moment the weather hits the freezing mark. This is for keeps. Wake up and face the dawn.

You may have the money, but the people whose economy you've destroyed have the power - lots and lots of power. And they're going to give you a example of their power on the day after Thanksgiving - "Black Friday" as you call it. On that day, which is usually such a boom for the economy, enough of them to make a marked difference will not be going shopping. As a matter of fact they won't be spending a dime. Think I'm kidding? That day will merely prove to be a nasty harbinger of things to come. Eventually the American people will bring you to your knees. In fact you won't even know what hit you. They have the power to shut this country down. You don't. Black Friday indeed. I get as giddy as a school girl just contemplating the possibilities. Forgive me.

"We need to keep his image in the brackets of our vision, and his memory in our hopes for the future. We need to remember Thane to appreciate the best parts of the past, and to keep alive our hopes for a better future."

-Lance Hames

Thane Plowman lost everything - his means of living, all of his benefits, his self esteem - everything. He was a victim of a system that threw all of us overboard three
decades ago. On the twenty-seventh of October his mother became so alarmed at his visible deterioration, she momentarily left his side to get him the help he was in such desperate need of. When she returned a short time later, he was dead by his own hand. I won't go into the details of how he ended his life. He's gone. We'll just leave it at that. In an e-mail yesterday, his mother Christine told me:

"He was my best friend, my soul mate and my prankster in crime....He was in great despair. I want to fight back for him and for all Americans who are hurting so deeply right now. I don't believe Congress has a clue. My dream would be to speak before them. It's a tragedy beyond my ability to express."

I'll bet. I've always had this immense talent for empathy but this one is way out of my league. I won't even attempt to interpret this tragedy for you. Christine's words will have to speak for themselves. I cannot imagine the grief that she and Thane's family and friends are going through.

It's time to take sides, folks. You're either going to be on the right side of history or you're going to be left standing in the sewer. The choice has not been this stark in a century-and-a-half. We've got to put hideous bastards like the Koch brothers on notice. We need to make all of them realize that the people are standing up and they're not going to stand down under any circumstances.

Call it a silly hunch on my part but I've got a feeling that Thane Plowman would have approved.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Jungle
by Upton Sinclair

The p
roblem with the American people is the fact that there is no one left alive who remembers what life for ordinary working people was like in this country when this book was published in 1905, in the days before unions and workplace regulations. When Upton Sinclair died on November 25 1968, both he and his most famous book were pretty much forgotten. Recent years have seen a resurrection. Do you want to understand where the right wing wants to bring us back to? Read "The Jungle".

Here is a link to a Facebook page dedicated to Thane'e memory:


Stop by if you can and offer his family and friends a word of condolence and support.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There Goes Rick!

"This is such a cool state. I mean, come on: 'Live Free or Die'. You gotta love it, right?....I come from a state, you know, where they have this little place called the Alamo, and they declared 'Victory or Death'....We're kind of into those slogans 'Live free or die', Victory or Death'. Bring it."

Rick Perry

"Republican Rick Perry is a tough-talking Texan, but he was a good ol' giggler in New Hampshire on Friday - prompting pundits to speculate he'd had a few pops before giving his
pep talk."

Byran Browdi
New York Dail
y News, 11/2/11

There he stood on the mountaintop. Here was the man who had been called upon by history to lead his people out of the desert. He was the new Moses - re-visioned for the twenty-first century. This man of the Texas plains called out to the multitudes, "I will lead you to the precipice of this mountain of righteousness. Follow me." The people were overwhelmed by his very presence. Surely, they felt, here was a man who would do battle, in their name,
against the evil forces of liberalism. They knelt at his feet, some of them weeping in joy and gratitude. He found himself at the height of his life's mission, standing proud. "I am at fate's alter", he quietly said to himself, "Nothing and nobody will hinder my quest." And there he proudly stood on the mountaintop of history, prepared to go forth to do battle. At that very moment something horrible happened....

Rick Perry opened his mouth.

You know your
candidacy is pretty much blued, screwed and tattooed, when a certified headcase like Herman Cain is leading you in every poll. This is terrible news for me. I so wanted Governor Perry to be named standard bearer at the Republican Convention next summer, I could almost taste it. What a wondrously stupid and twisted campaign his would have been! I'm almost beside myself in my grief and frustration.

But where there is
even a wisp of life there can still be an abundance of hope. There are still two months before the primary season begins. Maybe there is time for him to get his act together. I know this is probably wishful thinking on my part. I have a history of self-delusion when it comes to my political hopes and dreams. Michele Bachmann's campaign has warped and died like rancid fruit on the vine. The Hermanator is about to be done in by a sexual harassment scandal he thought was long-forgotten. Rick Santorum petered out the moment he announced his candidacy. Newt Gingrich is diseased and brain damaged. Mitt Romney is just plain boring. Mr. Rick is my last and only hope.

Oh, please, dear and blessed fat
e. O cruel and wicked fate! Why dost thou torment we mortals so?
Talk about your luck of the Irish. You've really got to hand it to O'Bama. No, that wasn't a typo. This son-of-a-bitch has been so lucky throughout his career he must be a descendant of the Emerald Isle! In fact we now know he is! Certainly he's got to be the luckiest politician in American history! First he had the extremely good fortune to run against a stark-raving lunatic like Alan Keyes for the senate, then only a couple of years later he faces down blubbering John McCain and Fascist Barbie for the presidency. And now? Just have a gander at the insane clown posse that wants to take his job from him! I've said it before and now I'll repeat myself: Barack Obama is the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Somewhere beyond the curtain of that unknowable void, Lou Gehrig must be smiling. I hear you sigh.
Back on August 15, shortly after Rick Perry entered the race, I wrote the following on this site:

"The deeply disturbing similarities to George W. Bush aside, Rick Perry has also got that Ronald Reagan thing happening, have you noticed that? Good hair, telegenic, sunny disposition, smooth talker - and dumber than an empty box
of Rice Crispies. Ronnie with a Texas twang. The perfect candidate in this era of soundbites and snake oil. Just when you thought that the 2012 clown parade could not possibly get any stupider, enter Rick Perry, stage right - extreme right."

Exit Rick Perry.

I have to stop kidding myself. This campaign is kaput. The irony is that it wasn't the mind-bendingly stupid things our man Rick was saying in the debates that did him in with "the base". Ignorance goes a long way with this crowd as you know. And not even when it was revealed that he had spent years frequenting a hunting camp called "Nigger Neck" did it register a molecule with these assholes. No, what broke the deal for Perry was a genuine (and touching quite frankly) moment of compassion when he told this mob of half-wits that Texas has a duty to educate the children of illegal immigrants, and anyone who thought differently "doesn't have any heart". That sort of decency doesn't really play too well with the Tea party types. For good or ill, that was the moment the Perry campaign began to whither and die.

Republican governors throughout the land have been working overtime in the last year, rigging their respective states' election laws in such a way that would make it next-to-impossible for the people who normally vote for the Democratic party to cast their precious ballots. Under such a scenario even a sadistic twit like Rick Perry could have waltzed right into the Oval Office. But now it looks as if that's not going to happen - and too bad for me. A Perry administration - while bad for this already irreparably damaged nation - would have been the best thing that ever happened to me. For at least four (or possibly eight) years, I would not have had to so-much-as touch my keyboard. These things would have written themselves. Now it looks as though I'll be working a little harder than I had hoped to in the years to come. Bummer!

Still, we do live in interesting times, do we not?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

This Mother's Life
by Nina Mohadjer
Nina Mojadjer is a friend of mine who lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut. She has written a wonderful book that chronicles her thoughts and observations with regard to being a relatively new citizen of the United States and the joys and challenges of being a single mother, raising two precocious (but perfectly delightful) daughters. She was born in Iran in 1970, raised in Germany, and came to the Unites States in 1993. Her tri-cultural experience is not only truly amazing, but inspiring as well.

She is a tireless advocate of Women's rights - not only in this country but in her native Iran as well - and has written extensively and passionately on the subject. If you want to understand why immigrants are - and always hav
e been - so essential to America's soul, just look to Nina Mohadjer. Her story is an example that can light the darkest American night. She is also very polite, did I mention that? A real lady to the manor born.

At the moment
Amazon.com has no copies of her book in stock, but you can ask your friendly, independently owned book store (There must be one left) to order it for you. Or, better yet, contact Nina directly:


As I said, Nina Mohadjer inspires.


Nina is a legal immigrant. Chill.