Monday, October 29, 2012

Pot Shots

I did something on Saturday that I hadn't done in over thirty years - I tried marijuana. The last  time I ever touched the stuff was on my nineteenth birthday which, coincidentally, was also the day Elvis Presley passed away. I always said that Elvis and I quit drugs at the same moment. The difference being that I did so voluntarily.  
Do you wanna hear the punchline? I'm fine. Not a single person was harmed by my actions, not even I.

I had to drive a very sick friend up to Poughkeepsie to purchase it. She suffers from severe nausea, the result of a congenital liver disease. Marijuana is the only thing that relieves the symptoms. She can't get a prescription for the stuff so she needs to engage in "criminal" activity in order to survive. She was never a recreational drug user.

When I finally got her home she offered me a couple of tokes. I sampled her medicine merely out of curiosity. I had forgotten what the feeling was like. I remember now.


Listening to the digital remix of Strawberry Fields Forever was quite nice. Nothing is real indeed. Also, I discovered the surrealistic video comedy of Ernie Kovacs in 1977, a few weeks after I stopped using. I had never watched Ernie while high beforeI watched him on Saturday. That was quite an interesting experience, let me tell you.

As interesting as Saturday afternoon was, I don't plan on smoking pot again - or at least not for a very long time. But here's something you need to know: After using it, I didn't have the urge to move on to heroin or other far more dangerous drugs. The experience did not turn me into an "addict". It only made me sleepy - and just a tad giggly. I do not physically crave marijuana. Nor am I going to go out and rob someone or steal from my friends in order to get my "fix".

I'm fine. So are you.

Do I advocate its usage? I don't - but I advocate the drinking of alcohol and the smoking of cigarettes a hell of a lot less.

Should the use and possession of grass be legalized - or at the very least, decriminalized? It most definitely should. Why in 2012 are we still having this idiotic conversation?

Let's grow up, Have a marijuana if you must.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY  


The photo at the top of the page is of me in the Spring of 1975 during my days as a  smoker of THE STUFF! Look at me. Can you not see what a complete and utter menace I was to society? It's written all over my face. You're all a lot safer now that I'm a drunk. Now where the heck did I put my car keys....
Here is a link to a little ditty I wrote back in June on this topic:


Hurricane Sandy is making her way up north. Batten down the hatches, everybody - AND BE SAFE!

For more recent postings on this hideous, commie-loving, latte-swirling, pot-smoking site, please refer to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Nation in Ruins

It looks like it might happen. In ten days - if present trends continue - we just might be looking at the dawn of four years (EIGHT YEARS???) of the age of Romney/Ryan. It would appear that the people of this doomed nation (or the ones who vote anyway) were sound asleep during the years 2001-2009. I've been bracing myself all week for this possibility. Give me a bushel of nasty-tasting lemons and I'll whip you up a couple of pitchers of the juiciest, sweetest-tasting lemonade it's ever been your pleasure to sip. For someone like me, the very idea of Mitt Romney in the White House is irresistible - all of those delectable morsels of unintentional comedy offered up for the taking on a silver platter! For those of us who make our names chronicling the utter catastrophe of American politics, this is something to look forward to indeed.

Then there is the schadenfreude aspect. There will no doubt be a certain element of shameful glee on my part witnessing the people who choose once again to go down this idiotic road getting everything they deserve. I know more-than-a-few people who were economically pulverized during the reign of George W. Bush, who plan on voting for Mitt Romney on November the sixth. It really is an amusing thing to behold. Some people just aren't very careful about what they wish for, are they.

And then there is the man on whom we pin all of our hopes. My first reaction to the president's troubles is to shout out, "I TOLD YOU SO!" but that would probably be a lesson in utter futility. Call it a hunch on my part but he probably doesn't read my blog (He should, you know, he really should). 

But it's not too much of a stretch to conclude that he does read Paul Krugman (photo on left). The moment the details of the administration's stimulus package was announced in the early months of 2009, Krugman wrote that it will help the economy - but not enough. As it turns out he was absolutely prescient. Mr. Paul said from day one that the package just wasn't big enough. He said a huge mistake was being made in allowing a bunch of politicians to put it together. I've said this too many times to count: we ignore Paul Krugman to our own detriment. If you look at his columns going back ten years, hindsight will tell you that he has been right about ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. If it had been me being inaugurated on 20 January 2009, the first words out of my mouth upon taking the oath of office would have been these:

"Get Krugman here - STAT." 

As I write these words, rumors are rampant that there will be a major role for Paul Krugman to play in Obama's second term - if there is a second term. Do not abandon all faith. 

We should never lose sight of the fact that although Barack Obama did get a lot wrong, he got a helluva lot more right. When he was handed the keys to the White House nearly four years ago, around 750,000 jobs a month were being swept away into the economic abyss. He has successfully stemmed the tide and reversed it. We are now at thirty-three months of straight employment growth, and November's numbers promise to be more encouraging than usual. How can it possibly be that we seem set to go back to the policies that brought on this calamity in the first place? Are we really that freaked out about having a black guy living in the Executive Mansion? It sure is weird.  


I know what you're thinking and I can relate. Barack Obama has not been what I would call "a progressive's dream". But aside from that, it must be said that at least he's been trying to do the right thing....I think. We can pray all we want that in his next term (Please, God) he'll become the reincarnation of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and we can hope that when he no longer has a reelection to worry about he will become the fighting liberal that we know he is to his core. These are not by any means unreasonable expectations. But four more years of Barack Obama - in any capacity - are light years more preferable than one minute of Mitt Romney in the White House. Time to get out the vote. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

The Ernie Kovacs Collection Volume Two 

Eighteen months ago I wrote a review on this site for a DVD box set called "The Ernie Kovacs Collection". Just last week the Shout Factory released volume two. It's every bit as good (although not quite as comprehensive) as Volume One. Kovacs was one of the twentieth century's most visionary comedians. On top of that, the man was a scream. Sadly, his importance as a visual artist was not fully appreciated until decades after his death in a 1962 automobile accident.  This set is essential viewing for any self-respecting fan of Ernie Kovacs. If you order it off of Shout's website, you will receive a bonus disc not available in the stores, eight installments of Ernie's absudist game show, Take a Good Look. Think of it as What's My Line meets Dada: Here's a link to purchase it:
Early in his career, he would close his programs by telling the audience at home, "It's been real!", a phrase he coined. He was a bit of a paradox in that respect. Ernie Kovacs was the real deal alright - and television's first surrealist. Go figure.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern 1922-2012

Early this Autumn morning, George McGovern passed away.

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."

-George McGovern

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

George McGovern failed daring greatly. I was almost tempted to call this piece, "History's Glorious Loser" but thought better of it at the last moment. For the last three days I knew the moment would soon arrive when I would have to write this piece - since Wednesday when it was announced that he had passed gently into an irreversible coma. For my purposes his death could not have come at a more apropos moment. I have spent the last two weeks thinking a lot about George McGovern.   

I had just finished rereading, back-to-back, two books that dealt with McGovern's campaign against Richard Nixon forty years ago: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson, and The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse. Also recently I watched again the documentary I purchased a few years ago called, One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. This is as good a time as any to unload one's thoughts about George.

Publicly Bobby Kennedy referred to George McGovern as "the most decent man in the senate". Privately he called him "the only decent man in the senate". In my opinion he was the only man who ever sought the White House who was a true "Christian", that is to say he took the words of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally and tried to live by them - both publicly and privately. He was the peace candidate in 1972. His entire candidacy was more-than-likely a lesson in futility. Americans didn't want a pacifist living in the White House in 1972. Forty years later they still don't want one. We do love our wars, don't we. We're a warlike people. That's primarily why we are today a nation in ruins. Deal with it.

By Election Day 1972 it was obvious that the Nixon Gang were traitors to democracy. The Watergate scandal was in the process of unraveling; the trail of illegality from every direction led right to the Oval Office, and yet incredibly - mind bendingly - the American people chose to "stay the course" (whatever the hell that means) with the most corrupt administration in the history of human folly. The ultimate irony is that, given the hideous ethical standards of Reagan and King George Bush the Second, Nixon is starting to look pretty good by comparison. I need a drink. 

Within days of the end of the Democratic convention of 1972, it was apparent to all that McGovern's candidacy was self destructing. His campaign had been inadvertently sabotaged by Thomas Eagleton (his own running mate). During the vetting process, Eagleton never revealed to the McGovern people his history of mental illness and substance abuse. The press revealed it for him. He was replaced on the ticket by Kennedy brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, but by then the damage was done. In the end he would lose every state in the union with the exceptions of  Massachusetts and the District of the Columbia - to the eternal pride of those two regions, I'm sure. George McGovern was even defeated in his native South Dakota.

Forty years ago, right at this very moment, the legendary Gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, was covering the Nixon/McGovern race for Rolling Stone Magazine. Earlier in the year during the first primaries, George McGovern was thought to be such a ridiculous long shot for the nomination, no one in the press took him seriously - no one but Thompson that is. He rose so high that summer, only to plunge into the depths in the autumn. McGovern was even betrayed by his own Democratic party. The old-guard pols like Chicago mayor, Dick Daily, knew the direction this visionary statesman wanted to take America and they would have none of it. In the hours leading up to what everyone knew was going be McGovern's defeat, Hunter wrote these frustrated words:  
"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it - that we ar
e really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

Thompson was way off in his assumption. 1972 was not the year we were to come face to face with the sick reality of what the United States has become. Four long decades later we're still in denial apparently. I don't know about you folks but I'm bracing myself for eight years of Mitt Romney. Forget the drink, I could use some heroin right about now. 

"Blessed are the Peacemakers
For they shall be called, "Sons of God"

-Jesus of Nazareth 

Yes, then and for the rest of his long life, George McGovern was a passionate advocate for peace. He also forever altered the face of the Democratic party in 1972 when, during the platform hearings at the convention that summer, he expanded the participation of women and minorities. Just one of the direct legacies of that long ago campaign is the administration of Barack Obama. I wonder if on this beautiful October morning the American people truly appreciate the debt of gratitude they owe George McGovern. Probably not.

George who? 

Forty years ago the people of this country were handed - on a silver platter - one of the most decent and thoughtful men ever to seek the highest office in the world - and we blew it. We just tossed him aside for the likes of Dick Nixon - a president so completely mired in corruption he would resign from office in disgrace less than two years later.  Eight years after the '72 campaign, George was defeated for reelection, politically drowning in the tide that sent a feeble-minded, failed "B" movie actor to the White House. 

In 1984 he once again sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency. During this period he even had a go at hosting Saturday Night Live for an evening! By this time America was in a self-induced coma, a side effect of the so-called "Reagan Revolution". George McGovern's brand of liberalism seemed to most Americans a quaint relic of a past they did not wish to return to. The nomination went to the more centrist Walter Mondale.

In the ensuing years he would serve honorably as the distinguished, elder statesman of American liberalism, always off on the peripherals of America's political dialogue with those insightful nuggets of sage wisdom, the occasional book,  and advice for anyone with the good sense to seek it. George McGovern was one of the very few politicians I can honestly say that I loved. He's gone now, and he's not coming back.

 Tom Degan
Goshen, NY  


One Bright Shining Moment: 
The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern
narrated by Amy Goodman

This excellent documentary came out a few years ago. If you don't now completely understand what was lost when this doomed country rejected George McGovern forty years ago, you will after viewing it. Here's a link to order it off of

First my Uncle Jerry; now George McGovern. This really has been a particularly nasty week at casa de Degan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remembering the Moderates

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham You-Know-Who
Gettysburg, November 1863 

Moderate Republicans. Remember them? I'm old enough to remember a time when the House and Senate stunk with moderate Republicans. Of course they're all gone now. The last known passenger pigeon died at the Cincinnati zoo in 1914. The death of the last known moderate Republican? Well technically at least they still walk among us. Olympia Snowe is still the senator from Maine but her days as a lawmaker are few and far between. She's leaving Washington in January when her term expires. The partisan craziness of what we used to call "the party of Abraham Lincoln" got to be too much for the poor gal to handle. She had had enough. Who could blame her? When she leaves DC this winter, nearly the last semblance of sanity and reason within that disgusting party will be leaving with her.

The death of Arlen Specter on Sunday got me to thinking about these and other topics. Arlen Specter....the man I hated to love. He was a pain in the neck at times, and way to grumpy for his own damned good. But you always got the impression that the man's heart was essentially in the right place. He was the old fashioned sort of Republican that I can still vaguely remember from my childhood. They were a well-meaning (if incurably goofy) lot. 

There was the governor of my own state when I was growing up: Nelson Rockefeller. I couldn't stand him. His draconian drug laws (which are still in place) never did New York a bit of good. And yet in his day Rockefeller was considered by most people as (hold onto your hats) "A LIBERAL REPUBLICAN!" Rocky was considered by the John Birch wing of the GOP to be such a screaming lefty that at their convention in the summer of 1964 he was literally jeered off the stage. Yes, children, believe it or not Republicans like Nelson A. Rockefeller used to walk the earth in somewhat sizable numbers. [SIGH]

The nominee who emerged from that long-ago 1964 convention was named Barry Goldwater. During the campaign against Lyndon Johnson that year, the Goldwater campaign slogan was "In your heart you know he's right". The Johnson people countered with, "In your guts you know he's nuts". In his day, the Arizona senator was known as Mr. Conservative. And he was indeed a conservative - at least according to the standards of his time. But in the nearly half century since 1964, the Republcan party has moved so far to the extreme right it's in danger of falling off of the planet. At the end of his life Barry was so disgusted at the ideological disintegration of his party that he teamed up with John Dean to write a book which was to be called, "Conservatives Without Conscience" a play on his classic political tome, "The Conscience of a Conservative".

"Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Barry Goldwater
Republican National Convention, 1964  

Today the GOP wouldn't nominate Barry Goldwater to run as sewer inspector of Yuma, Arizona. It's gotten that weird. 

And then there is that screaming lefty, Dick Nixon - RICHARD FREAKING MILHAUS NIXON! - a man who by the standards of the modern-day Republican party would qualify for a statue in the old Kremlin. While he was president he wanted every American guaranteed a livable wage. This was suggested to him by one of his chief advisers (Hold onto your hats) Daniel Patrick Moynihan! It never happened because he couldn't get support for the idea from his own party (Are you surprised?) He also made a serious attempt to bring affordable health care every American man, woman and child. That effort was defeated in the senate by (another stunner) Teddy Kennedy. He didn't want national health insurance to be a Republican legacy. It was not one of old Ted's mountaintop moments, that's for sure.   

And Nixon, I miss you
And I'm feeling blue
I've lost all of my senses
I'm nostalgic for you....

To be sung to the tune of Bobby Goldboro's maudlin pop masterpiece, "Honey" 

If Nixon and Goldwater were raised from the dead tonight at midnight replacing Romney/Ryan on the ticket, I might seriously consider casting my vote for them....then again, I might not. Still, it's an interesting thought, huh?

What happened to all those moderate Republicans you may well ask? Well, they either died or they left that party in complete and utter disgust. They were joyfully replaced by the racist Dixiecrats who fled the Democrats like diseased rats after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965. The Republicans welcomed them with open arms. Isn't it strange that the party that was founded on the principle that the black man should no longer be bound by the slave master's  chains could have devolved  into something this perfectly hideous?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

In memory of
Gerard R. Degan

Sunday marked a sad milestone in my family's history. My late father's last surviving brother, my beloved Uncle Jerry Degan, died peacefully at his home in San Mateo, California.

Heaven will be even more jolly tonight now that Jerry Degan has arrived. The man was an absolute hoot-and-a-half. Every one of my cousins and I agree: He was the the funniest human being who ever walked this earth. It's hard to believe that, having lived in the Los Angeles area for nearly half a century, no Hollywood big shot ever had the good sense to sign him up as a character actor. He would have been the best one that ever lived. Think Don Rickles on steroids. Only his humor was gentle. He never offended a soul. That was my Uncle Jerry.

Seventy-five years ago, on July 11, 1937, the writer John O'Hara learned of the passing of his old and cherished friend, the composer George Gershwin. What O'Hara wrote that day about Gershwin may be said on this day with only slight rewording. Yesterday I paraphrased him on my Facebook page:

 "Jerry Degan died on October 14, 2012, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to."  

This is going to take some getting used to.

For every one that goes before me I fear it less and less.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where have you gone, Joe Paterno?

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin' Joe has left and gone away?

-Paul Simon

I was only a little boy in 1967 when that song came out. The line quoted above always made me sad despite the fact that I was only faintly aware of its meaning at the time. Joe DiMaggio's glory days as an icon of baseball were long gone by the time I was born in 1958. When I first heard Simon and Garfunkel's recording of Mrs. Robinson, I didn't have a clue who the man was. All I knew for certain was that he had "left and gone away" and that this was a very sad, tragic thing indeed.  
We're always searching for heroes, aren't we? And it seems that, when we do find them, they invariably let us down. I'm tempted to say that we should never hope to find another Joe DiMaggio but that would be an exorcize in futility. As it turns out, Joe DiMaggio the man wasn't the Joe DiMaggio of our childhood fantasies. Decades of journalistic and historical inquiry informs us that Joltin' Joe was an egotist and a jerk of the highest order. He made people pay good money for the privilege of owning his autograph, and wherever he went, he insisted that he be introduced as "the greatest baseball player of all time" (He wasn't). And although at the time of her death fifty years ago he professed an abiding love for his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe, the biographers of both of them reveal that he wasn't particularly nice to her during the brief period they lived together as husband and wife.

All of this trivial nonsense went racing through my mind this morning when I read about the the latest deflation of an American super-icon. This time the fallen idol's name is Lance Armstrong...."Lance Armstrong"....It sounds like the name of a comic book hero, as in:

Tune in next week for another chapter 
in the thrilling adventures of 
And perhaps the comic book analogy is  not too far off the mark. Comic books are pure fantasy. Someone once told me that, as a kid, he believed Superman to be a living, breathing human being. When he matured a bit and learned that the Man of Steel was, in fact, the product of someone else's imagination (and a figment of his) he wasn't terribly shocked or upset by this knowledge. He learned to live with it and, last I checked, he is today quite stable - happy even.

So what if Lance Armstrong is a cheat? So what if he forced his teammates to "dope"? So what if his entire career is a lie and a sick joke? That's okay. Lance Armstrong was a figment of our collective imagination - as were Superman and Joe DiMaggio. As was a guy named OJ Simpson. Remember OJ? I wonder what ever happened to him. Fallen idols. Shattered dreams.

To be perfectly blunt with you, I don't give a rat's ass about sports. I never have. My opinion is that life is precious - and people (men in particular) waste those precious lives thinking about and obsessing over the topic of sports. Do you want to know what my favorite sport is? Figure Skating. I'm not kidding. I could never understand why so many of my peers found this to be somewhat "unmanly" on my part. What's the big deal? Watching a bunch of guys in tight-fitting uniforms hopping around an astro-turf field was never my ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon. But those figure skaters? THEY WERE GORGEOUS! That's just a peculiar personality quirk of mine. I've got loads of 'em. Pay it no mind.

I can't tell you who won the 1932 World Series beacuse, eighty years later, it doesn't really matter who won it. I can tell you who won the 1932 campaign for the presidency though. Eighty years later that does matter. Very much so.

I'm not completely indifferent to sports. There is my passion for the New York Yankees. Whenever the Bronx Bombers make it to the World Series, I become very excited. I always get down on my knees and pray - THAT THEY LOSE. A number of years ago, you may recall, they tore down the House That Babe Ruth Built, a historical landmark, in order to build a new stadium that actually has about forty-five hundred fewer seats. One thing it does have, though, are a lot more private sky-boxes for them to cater to their plutocratic clientele. To hell with the Yankees. A few years ago when they got beaten senseless by Boston in the world series, I was the happiest man in New York. 

I was born on the tenth anniversary of Babe Ruth's death.

And I'm not insensitive to the feelings of betrayal that sports fans feel these days. There will be asterisks next to the names of so many of their heroes (with a "doper" footnote) for all time and eternity. It's really not too difficult to understand the disillusion that so many of them experienced when they came face-to-face with the undeniable truth that their Action Figure icons were nothing more than a pack of steroid-injecting cheats and egomaniacs.

In fact there is some degree of empathy within me. I, too, was deeply let down by the behavior of a sports legend I had always looked up to for no other reason than an indirect, familial connection. I was reminded of this the other day when former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was handed a virtual life sentence in prison for the sexual abuse he committed against the children he took under his wing.

Joe Paterno was the first cousin of my late uncle, Joseph Gargiulo. He married my father's eldest sibling, Audrey Degan, in April of 1942. The physical resemblance between the two men was always striking. They might have been fraternal twins. Because of this connection, I always felt a great amount of pride and admiration for the guy. That his once-sterling reputation could have fallen this low is almost inconceivable to me. It's like a horrible nightmare from which one awakens, grateful at the realization that it was just a dream. Only this is no dream. In fact it's too hideous and real to even contemplate.

 I was hoping that, somehow, he would be exonerated. That's never gonna happen - not in this lifetime or any other for that matter. The release in July of Louis Freeh's seven-month-long investigation into this sordid affair put an end to any such hope. The kindest thing that can be said of Joe Paterno at this stage is that he was, at best, criminally negligent. A number of people - with a knowledge of the law far more expansive than mine - have said that had he not died on January 22, he would today be under indictment for felonious conspiracy. A few days after the Freeh report was made public, the statue of "Joe Pa" that had for years graced the campus of Penn  State was torn down. That was probably a wise decision.

Think about this: There is a website called "Find A Grave" which shows the final resting places of persons of note. Each deceased celebrity has his or her own page with a comments section where one can write their thoughts and tributes. Joe Paterno's comments page has been permanently turned off because too many people were posting rude and obscene things on it. Usually that only happens with presidential assassins and mass murderers.

In a matter of a few months, a sixty year, unblemished career and reputation have been reduced to ashes on the alter on public opinion. His reputation as "the winningest coach in football" has been erased from official memory. What a waste; what a pity, and how unspeakably sad.

Where have you gone, Joe Paterno?

Uncle Joe Gargiulo passed away on October 6, 1990. He would have turned one-hundred on March 12, 2012. I'm certainly glad he didn't live to see his favorite cousin's disgrace.

Don't be heartbroken when your heroes let you down. They always will, you know. They always will. They're just too damned human.

What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Congratulations to my pal Michael Sager for a sterling saxophone performance at Carnegie Hall this past Saturday night. He is a member of the Goshen Youth Jazz Band and they knocked 'em dead! I lived in that neighborhood for thirteen years and I'm ashamed to tell you that, prior to Saturday evening, I had never been to Carnegie Hall before. Good going, Michael. It's an honor to be even a mere footnote in your biography!


Mrs. Robinson
by Simon and Garfunkel

One of the great recordings of all time. I never tire of it. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Obama Blows It


-Chris Matthews, MSNBC

Where indeed? Since I'm usually up each day two or three hours before the sun, the hours between 9 and 10:30 are kind of late for me. Because of this nocturnal habit  I watched last night's debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from the comfort of my bed. It's a good thing that I was lying down, too. I would have fallen out of my chair otherwise. The president should have been able to pull this one off with both hands tied behind his back and blindfolded. That didn't happen. For ninety solid minutes Romney successfully and effortlessly defended the indefensible.

While watching this debacle I got the feeling that Barack Obama has not read a newspaper in over a year. No mention of Bain Capital. No mention of Romney's sick and insensitive "forty-seven percent" remark or of his undisclosed tax returns. The Cayman Islands? Not even a dishonorable mention. If the president was waiting for moderator Jim Lehrer to bring these subjects up, he waited in vain. Lehrer is a terrible moderator. He proved it twelve years ago during Bush v Gore. Last night he merely sealed his reputation. He allowed Romney literally to control the night. He's perfectly fine on PBS. I respect his journalistic integrity, but please - PLEASE! - let this be his very last debate.

Obama's performance was beyond abysmal. The split screen shots were devastating. While Romney vomited out one lie after the other (while hardly being called on them by Obama) the split-screen shots showed the prez staring down at his notes, his lips pressed tightly together. He was hardly recognizable! And to make matters worse, all through the night he was caught nodding in smiling agreement with Romney! I couldn't believe it! It was the most inept performance I've ever seen. At times he reminded me of a befuddled Stan Laurel crumbling under Oliver Hardy's verbal tirade. I half expected him to scratch the top of his ahead and start wimpering.

I had a bad omen when I heard that John Kerry would be sparring with him during the debate preparations. John Kerry?  JOHN KERRY? He couldn't beat a half-witted little jackass like George W. Bush! Did the complete irony of that choice dawn on any of the people on Team Obama? It dawned on me!


You people need Bill Clinton now more than you ever needed him - more than you needed him at the convention in August. You need Bill Clinton more than a first degree burn victim needs a mega-dose of Dilaudid; more than a starving dog needs a plate of filet mignon. To paraphrase a seventies soft rock band, "Like a flower needs the rain, you know you need him."

John Kerry is a smart guy and a good senator - no one is arguing that fact. But why settle for a PT boat when you have an aircraft carrier at your disposal? You people need to bring in the heavy artillery, okay?  Three words: William Jefferson Clinton. He would be the perfect Romney stand-in. Just a suggestion.

If the Republican party is ever again allowed to take over all three branches of our government, it's all over. The next four years will see - at the very least - two more appointments to the Supreme Court. One more uber right winger within that body will mean the end of democracy in this country within a decade. Obama has got to win this thing. As Will Rogers once said, "Or else? Or else nothin'. There ain't gonna be no 'else'"

This should have been the political equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Obviously it wasn't. Although the campaign of 2012 is far from over, last night was a wake up call. If any of us were over-confident prior to nine o'clock on Wednesday, October third, we were just fed a stern spoonful of nasty-tasting reality.

"It ain't over till it's over."

-Yogi Berra

Barack will be back to form by the next time. Call it the audacity of hope!  

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


The Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960 and the Carter/Ford debates of 1976 were held within the confines of a television studio - no audience. It's time to go back to that format. A huge studio audience and auditorium is a distraction.

A gentleman by the name of William B. Wittmeyer just posted on Abbey Arletto's Facebook page that he only listened to the debates on the radio and that Romney's "win" was not as decisive as you might imagine. That reminds me of the Nixon/Kennedy debates of 1960. According to Pierre Salinger (Kennedy's own press secretary) the majority of the people who heard the debates over the radio believed Nixon had won them. The majority who watched them on television believed Kennedy to be the winner. One imagines that had the debates of 1860 been televised, the lanky and awkward Abraham Lincoln would have lost to the charismatic Stephen Douglas. Image is everything.