Saturday, September 28, 2013

Green Eggs and Scam

Say! I like green eggs and ham
I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!

-Theodor Seuss Geisel - AKA: Doctor Seuss

“Do we want the IRS determining whether our mother lives or dies?”

-Ted Cruz

Them Death Panels is gonna git'cha, Granny!
Dr. Seuss
Ted Cruz's "filibuster" this week wasn't a filibuster in the technical sense of the word, but that's the term we'll use to suit our purposes here. For twenty-one solid hours this bloviating twit talked and talked about everything from Nazi Germany to White Castle hamburgers. But the icing on the cake came when he trotted out a copy of the classic children's book by Doctor Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham. That was where I was able to discover that Ted and I have some common ground. On the floor of the senate he said that he loves to read his daughters the timeless words of Dr. Seuss. Although I never had children of my own, there's not a lot that has given me more joy over the years than the opportunity to read any of these books to my nieces and nephews or the children of my friends. 

And I still, to this day, read Dr. Seuss' books to them - even though most of these kids are now in their twenties. It's always a bit awkward but they're good sports about it.  They like to humor me.

But of all of the books by the good doctor that Ted Cruz could have read in the senate chambers on Tuesday evening, the irony of using Green Eggs and Ham must have gone right over the senator's head. I'm not the first one to point this out either.

As you may remember, the gentle plot of Green Eggs and Ham revolved around a guy named "Sam-I-Am" who is trying to get his narrow-minded and uptight friend to try something new:

Do you like them in a house?
Do you like them with a mouse? 

I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am!

Finally, by the book's end, this knucklehead (out of nothing more than sheer exasperation) relents and takes a bite out of the dish of green eggs and ham that Sam-I-Am has been imploring him to try - and he loves it! Replace the words "green eggs and ham" with "Obamacare":

Hi, Ted! My name's Barry Fair!
Would you like Obamacare? 

I would not like Obamacare
I would not like it, Barry-Fair

Would you like it in a jar?
Would you like it in a car?

I would not like it in a jar
I would not like it in a car
I would not like Obamacare
I would not like it, Barry-Fair

Would you like it cut in two?
Would you like it painted blue?

Not cut in two
Not painted blue
Not in a jar
Not in a car
I would not like Obamacare
I would not like it, Barry-Fair!

Would you like it in a song?
Would you like it in a bong?

I would not like it in a song
I would not like it in a bong
Not cut in two
Not painted blue
Not in a jar
Not in a car
I would not like Obamacare
I would not like it, Barry-Fair!  

Would you like it on the grass?
Would you like it up your....

Okay, I got a little carried away there - but you get the idea. It's a pretty safe bet that once the American people get a good taste of the Affordable Care Act, a lot of the doubters will be having a change of heart. 

I do so like Obamacare!
Oh, thank you, THANK YOU, Barry-Fair! 

The funniest thing about Ted Cruz's nearly day-long tirade was the fact that when his time was up, he proceeded to vote for funding the very thing he had been wailing against all through the day and all through the night. Credit must be given where credit is due; he's at least smart enough to know that if the government shuts down, he'll be able to say to his half-witted constituency that he's blameless and - of course - most of them will believe him. What is it about Texas?

The House Republicans ought to be really careful what they wish for. If they're successful in shutting down the government in the next week (and there are a lot of people who say that it's going to happen) it will merely be yet another nail in their own coffin. I've been saying that the GOP is a party that will disappear within ten years. Let me revise that: If the government ceases to operate on October the first, they'll be gone in less than five. One of their talking  points this week is this:


Please. They're not fooling anybody - or at least they're not fooling those of us with an IQ above room temperature. That would be most of think

Joe McCarthy 1908-1957
It would seem to me that Ted Cruz wants to be the modern-day incarnation of Joe McCarthy. It's certainly fair to say that no one has made more of a spectacle of himself in Washington than Teddy Boy since Tail Gunner Joe passed from the scene on May 2, 1957. He has so many McCarthy-like mannerisms that it's a bit eerie to behold. Take for example the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel a few months ago. Do you remember that instant when Ted accused Chuck of somehow being in cahoots with the North Koreans? That was pure Joe McCarthy - with every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed! Making mindless and unsubstantiated accusations against one's political enemies was something that old Joe specialized in. Although he had been mercifully dead for almost fourteen years by the time Ted Cruz was born in December of 1970, it is more-than-obvious that the Texas senator has learned from the master. 

In the nearly fifty-seven years since McCarthy's death there have been scores of Joe wannabes polluting the halls of congress. No one has come closer to hitting the mark than Senator Cruz. Somewhere old Joe must be smiling.

Ted Cruz's performance on Tuesday and Wednesday was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to impress the Tea Party base. As you're probably aware, he has every intention of making a run for that big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue in 2016. Although he has no chance of winning (in fact I predict that there will never again be a Republican elected to the presidency) his presence on the national campaign trail ought to be enough to keep us all rolling in the aisles for a better part of a year. Do you remember what an absolute scream the 2012 GOP primaries were? This next one is going to be beautiful.

We really are blessed to be living in such interesting times, aren't we? Somebody pinch me!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

Bob Shrum

No Excuses - Concessions of a Serial Campaigner 
by Robert Shrum

Anyone who's ever seen or heard Bob Shrum being interviewed knows that he always has an interesting take on the political situation. This memoir covers forty years at the center of the action. He's worked on every Democratic presidential campaign going all the way back to Bobby Kennedy's in  1968. A fantastic read. 


Would you like it with a pig?
Would you like it on a twig? 

I would not like it with a pig
I would not like it on a twig
I would not like it in a song
I would not like it in a bong
Not cut in two
Not painted blue
Not in a jar
Not in a car
I would not like Obamacare
I would not like it, Barry-Fair! 
I'm sorry, I could go on for hours.

UPDATE, 10/1/13, 9:32AM:

It's a done deal. At the stroke of midnight the government was shut down.

Saturday, September 21, 2013



It happened again this week - twice! - Can you believe it??? Actually come to think about it, two mass shootings in a single week should come as no surprise to anyone who's bothered to pay attention.  This is the new "normal" - if you want to call it that. In both cases the number thirteen was involved: thirteen dead at the Washington DC Navy Yard; thirteen people shot in a Chicago park. But in the Case of Chicago "thirteen" turned out to be a very lucky number. This time there were no fatalities and only one person injured critically - a three-year-old boy who was shot in the face. It appears he's going to be fine in the long run, God bless him.

Guess Who
Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's most visible spokesman, will be going on Meet The Press for a sit-down with David Gregory tomorrow. He's always loads of fun to watch. On his last appearance on that program, the hideous twit was literally foaming at the mouth. I'm not kidding! It must be a difficult thing to make one's living defending the indefensible. How this guy sleeps at night is anyone's guess. My theory is that he's simply a sociopath. Or maybe he's suffering from acute brain damage. Whatever the case, it should be an interesting hour.

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy of December 14, Wayne said something to the effect that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In the case of the Washington DC Naval yard massacre you had a bad guy with a gun entering a military facility that we must presume was packed to the rafters with lots of good guys with guns. And sure enough, one of them was able to take the bad guy out. HOORAY! The only problem was the fact that he was able to murder twelve innocent people before he was put down. OUCH! So much for the delightful idiocy of Wayne LaPierre.

I'm not going to mention the Washington Navy Yard shooter by name. I'm through giving these freaks another ounce of publicity. It's obvious that he was a troubled, mentally disturbed man. According to everyone who knew him he had recently been saying that he was hearing voices that weren't there. We can debate from now till whenever what the Founding Fathers were thinking when they inserted "well-regulated militia" into the second amendment of the Constitution. Can we at least all agree that this guy wasn't what they had in mind?

You can expect at least one more mass killings before the year is out. And as more and more people are increasingly able to gain access do these dangerous, rapid-fire, people-killing machines, the carnage will only multiply. Until we wake the hell up, this is the way it's gonna be from now on, kids. Get used to it. Deal with it. Why get all bent-out-of-shape over the inevitable? I'm not. I long ago adjusted to living in a nation in ruins. You ought to, too. Don't worry. Be happy.

Giron and Morse
Don't count on the distinguished men and women inside of the House of Reprehensibles to do the right thing. If the slaughter of twenty little boys and girls won't do the trick, a bunch of dead, middle-aged contractors won't get the job done either. As I said, we need to come to terms with this nasty new reality in America. Our elected "lawmakers" are too frightened of the political power of the NRA. Two Colorado state legislators who had the courage to take on that organization were recently defeated in recall elections. Neither of them regret doing what is right for their country. Their names are Angela Giron and John Morse. Neither of them is a Republican. That didn't surprise you, did it. I didn't think it would.


I've got two perfectly good candidates for next year's Profiles In Courage Awards that are given out every year by the Kennedy Library. That's just a friendly suggestion on my part. Do you read my blog, Caroline? Please tell me you do.

And are you ready for the punch line? Here goes: What happened in Newtown, Connecticut last year is going to happen again. As I write these words, some sick, twisted little psychopath is smoldering in the basement of his mother's home planning another schoolhouse slaughter so brutal and appalling, it will make Newtown look inconsequential by comparison. Ain't that a scream?
Get used to Grief
And when the next massacre of thirty, forty, fifty - or more innocent children happens it will play perfectly into the hands of the half-witted extremists who are trying to do away with public education in this doomed nation. I can just hear it now:

"See? It's just too dangerous fer y'all to send your kids to them nasty ol' public schools! Now you good folks jes leave their edjukayshun to the private sector!"

Oh, yeah. That'll be the next idiotic right wing talking point. Just you wait, Henry Higgins. 

Recently on Democracy Now, an ex-NRA member named Tom Diaz posed the question, "What kind of society are we going to be?" His heart was in the right place but he's asking the wrong question. What he should be asking is, "What kind of society have we become?" You don't need a masters degree in sociology to come up with the answer to that. It's all-too-clear that we've morphed into a society with a homicidal, cowboy mentality. "Gun Culture": it's a term you're hearing quite often these days, and there's a damned good reason for that, pardner. We just can't get enough of those iron phallic symbols. That's the reason this is so-much-more of a "man problem". I'm glad I was born a male but I'm not proud to be one. Men can be real assholes. Have you ever noticed that?

We got guns
They got guns
All God's chil'en got guns.... 

The Marx Brothers
from their 1932 film, Duck Souop  

In 2004 when George W. Bush stupidly let Bill Clinton's ban on assault weapons expire, the surge in these sort of atrocities was predicted. If you consider a "mass killing" to be five or more people we've had a jolly total of at least one-a-month since Newtown. Expect that grim number to rise each and every year from now on. As I said, this is the undeniable reality of living in the USA in the twenty-first century. This is the way it's going to be from now on. Get used to the broken bodies of dead children; come to terms with the carnage. When you bundle your little ones off to school give them a hug - and say a gentle prayer. And while you're at it, get used to living in a nation in ruins.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


Mercy, Mercy Me
by Marvin Gaye

A beautiful recording by one of the more stellar victims of gun violence in America in the twentieth century. 

UPDATE, 9/22/13, 11:32AM:

There were eleven more shootings in Chicago the other night. Four of them were fatalities. Please tell me you're not surprised.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Channeling Jesse Helms

This should give you a nice little giggle:

”The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

-Ted Cruz

Yes, he really said that.

Jesse Helms died five years ago.  Do you remember him? You're forgiven if you do not. He was a North Carolinian senator for thirty years.  But other than that, the only thing memorable about old Jesse is the fact that he was a racist demagogue of the worst order - a real mean spirited buffoon. As soon as he was in the ground he was quickly forgotten. In fact it had been quite some time since the old bastard even entered my mind until Ted Cruz mentioned him this week in a speech to the Heritage Foundation. It would seem that Jesse was a real inspiration to Ted. He says (or he claims - you need to take everything the Texas senator says with a ten pound bag of salt) that the very first political donation he ever made was ten dollars to a Jesse Helms campaign; this at a time when his allowance was fifty cents a week. How touching. Since Ted Cruz was born in 1970 we must assume that this political awakening must have taken place sometime in the eighties. Knowing the rates of inflation as I do, this begs the question: What the heck could one purchase with fifty cents by that time? He is either lying or Papa Cruz must be pretty tight with a dollar.  

One thing that fills me with inconsolable grief is that Jesse Helms did not live to see the inauguration of the current chief-executive. Barack Obama had not yet won the Democratic nomination by the time Jesse bought the farm on the fourth of July 2008. I imagine the very sight of a black guy taking the oath of office would have given Jesse a fatal case of spastic apoplexy. I can just picture the old son-of-a-bitch confronted with the vision of President Obama giving his inaugural address. There is Jesse curled up in a fetal position, banging his head against the floor,  gagging on his own vomit. That would have been a lovely thing to behold.

Carol Moseley Braun
Here's a little example of just what a class act Jesse Helms was: Carol Moseley Braun of Chicago served one term in the senate between the years 1993 and 1999. She was only the second African American in history ever elected to that body. One day she was riding up in the senate elevator with Helms and Orin Hatch. Jessie looked at Orin and said, "I'm gonna make this girl cry!" He then put his face up to her's and started singing "Dixie". The man was a walking, talking piece-of-shit.

To the day of his death, Jesse Helms was a proud, unabashed and unapologetic racist and segregationist. Although he has yet to make the admission, Ted Cruz must be one as well. Why else would he come right out and say what he did this week about the life and legacy of Senator Helms?

Decent people are trying to forget that a disgusting bigot like Jesse Helms ever desecrated the floors of our nation's capitol. His career as a legislator is not unlike the tenure of a priest who for four years was the pastor of the Catholic church in my home town. For the entire time he was there "Father Ed" was molesting teenage boys. People are trying to forget about him, too.

Teddy Boy

Ted Cruz is another story. We just can't put him out of our minds. The people of Texas (being the people of Texas) were foolish enough to send this bloviating gasbag to Washington as their representative. We can't merely dismiss him out of hand. He's here legislating and agitating and he's not going away any time soon - which is fine 'n' dandy for my purposes. You see, for those of us who make our reputations by commenting on the train-wreck that American politics has become in the last thirty years, Ted Cruz is the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving; the guy is simply fantastic copy. When your vocation is to make observations regarding a bus full of clowns, people like Ted and his compatriots in lunacy make the job fairly easy. I'll be blunt with you: These things write themselves. Seriously. The unintentional comedy of these unintentional comedians makes one dread the day that they're gone forever - and that day will be here sooner than you think.

A lot is made of the notion that Ted is a smart gent - why, he graduated from Harvard for Pete's sake! Really? Some of the most reprehensible dingbats in American history were Harvard alumni. If there exists a more overrated institution of higher learning than Harvard I'd really like to know about it. I knew many people - a hell-of-a-lot smarter than Ted Cruz - when I attended Orange County Community College back in the seventies. Please.

It is now obvious that the Canadian-born Cruz wants to take his weird act nationwide. He's planning on throwing his tinfoil-hat into the ring. It will probably be at least another two years before it's official, but Teddy Boy is planning on becoming president on January 20, 2017.

Oh, thank you, fate.

This what I'm talking about when I speak of the gifts generously given by the unintentional comedians. The Cruz for Prez spectacle is almost three years away, which seems like a lifetime-and-a-half from this vantage point. This is something I'm so looking forward to that I can't even put the anticipation into words. The primaries themselves are going to be a riot of mirth and merriment. You thought 2012 was a hoot? OH, BROTHER! With Teddy Boy in the running, 2016 will make last year's contest (as funny as that one was) look like the scene from Gone With the Wind when Bonnie Blue Butler falls off the pony and dies. This is going to be beautiful! 

It will be particularly gratifying when "birtherism" comes back to haunt the Tea partiers who are just wild for their man Ted. As I mentioned before, unlike Barack Obama (who was born in the USA) Ted Cruz really is foreign-born. How will the right-wing crazies be able to rationalize his candidacy? They'll find a way, I'm sure. They always do. Have you ever noticed that? 

So let us here and now raise our glasses in a toast to Ted and Jesse, two political ships that never had the joy of passing each other in the American night. It's almost comforting to know that Cruz is on hand to pick up Helms' torch of idiocy and ignorance. Ted Cruz is the rightful, political heir of Jesse Helms. He is in politics to advance Jesse's cause. He's proud of that fact. It kinda makes you wonder, huh? It really does!

Somewhere, Jesse must be smiling wide. You can't blame him either. I wonder if they serve lollipops where he is?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here's Rachel Maddow's comment on Ted Cruz's hero worship of Jesse Helms. As is her habit, she's right on target:

I'm just crazy 'bout that gal.


Here's a link to a piece I wrote four months ago on the subject of Ted Cruz:

Isn't life strange?


Grace Oddo Degan 

Last October 14 I made mention on this site of the death of Jerry Degan, my late father's last surviving brother. A few days ago I received a phone call from my sister informing me of the passing of Grace, Jerry's beloved wife of sixty-two years.

Tell me the truth, family: Did you ever know another human being in your entire life who was more aptly named than Aunt Grace? She was the sweetest, loveliest person I think any of us ever knew. I'm gonna miss that infectious laugh - AND THAT SMILE??? - you could read at midnight by it. Grace Degan was ninety-one when she left us on September 6, 2013 - a pretty good run any way you slice it or dice it.

For every one that goes before me I fear it less and less. You do, too. C'mon, admit it!

They must be having one heck of a party on the other side.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Attn Tourists: We Will Kill You

Note to the rest of the world: Planning on a sweet and cozy vacation for the spouse and kiddies? Here's some sound advice you'd be smart to heed: Stay out of the this place. We here in the good ol' USA want you dead. And if we catch you in the wrong place at the wrong time you're a goner, Buster. Of course the odds are much better than fifty/fifty that you'll get out of here alive but why on earth would you want to take such a chance - particularly when your loved ones are involved? Go out and hug a tree during a thunderstorm. It's much safer than visiting the United States of America. Think I'm kidding? Don't mess with us. Stay away from here if you know what's good for you. I'm not kidding.

Consider this: The Missouri state legislature is in the process of passing a bill that will nullify federal laws with respect to firearms. If they have their way it will be a felony in that state for federal agents to enforce any nationwide gun law. In states all across this country lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that will make it legal for anyone to carry any kind of weapon anywhere - restaurants, churches, bars - even public schools.

Let me repeat myself in no uncertain terms: Stay the fuck away from the United States of America. We may not end up killing you - but we're gonna give it the old college try.

Visit France. It's a heck of a lot safer than the US. Their waiters may be rude but the food is not to be believed. Visit England. Although their food is not to everyone's taste, their waiters are very polite - and you've never had fish 'n' chips until you've had them wrapped in wax paper and sprinkled with vinegar. But if you're absolutely hellbent on getting a taste of America, try visiting Canada. They're a lot like us in more-than-a-few respects. I've always said that Canada is America minus the psychosis. Besides, their beer is better.  

You can visit Hawaii if you like. Although technically an American state, due to its climate and culture it's less America-like than Canada is. The thing about the Aloha State that makes it an ideal tourist destination is that it is the safest place in this doomed nation as far as guns laws are concerned. Being a group of islands thousands of miles from the American continent, it's next-to-impossible to smuggle weapons "across state lines" so to speak. You're hundreds of times less likely to be shot in killed in Hawaii than in places like Florida or Texas. Still, for all it's "safeness" you have an easier chance of falling victim to gun violence in Honolulu than in London or Paris. I just wanted to give you something to think about. 

Come to think about it, you also stand a pretty good chance in the upper Northeast. Although you're not totally immune from crazy people with guns in that area of the country, states like Maine and Vermont are fairly safe. The gun laws there are somewhat reasonable and the people very friendly. You can also get the best breakfast in that region than practically any other place in the country. Yankee hospitality, you know? Their winters can be particularly brutal, though. Be forewarned.

Yeah, some states are a lot safer than others. Here's another handy and very dandy tip: Do not - under any circumstances - venture south of the old Mason-Dixon line. I'm just sayin'.

I want to give you a heads-up as far as visiting the "land of the free" is concerned. A people who live in constant terror wondering when and where the next massacre of innocent children will take place aren't very "free" at all when you think about it. And there will be other massacres, let's not kid ourselves. Our politicians have seen to that. I know that there will be some of my fellow countrymen and women who will judge me unpatriotic by advising foreigners to steer clear of this place - but as a humanitarian I have no other choice. When human lives are at stake, the hell with the Chamber of Commerce. 

There are too many talking heads to count who are working overtime trying to keep foreigners from migrating to the United States; my vocation is to prevent tourists from visiting this place. America has become too dangerous for comfort, and the situation is not going to get any better in the years and decades to come. In fact it's going to get much worse. If you're reading this in Asia, Europe or Australia, the chances are good that you've never even known anyone that was shot and killed, right? Consider this: Not only have I known in my life several people who fell victims of gun violence - I had two cousins who died in that matter. How many of you can say that? Let's see a show of hands. 

Who was the last British prime minister to be assassinated? Spencer Perceval on May 11, 1812 - two-hundred and one years ago! In less than one-hundred and fifty years time, four American Presidents have died at the hands of gun-toting assassins, with Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan coming too-close-for-comfort to being numbers five, six and seven. 

And don't even think of falling ill while you're here. It could end up bankrupting you. Foreigners are not covered by Obamacare. NYAH!

Clip this little rant of mine out and send it to as many travel agencies all over the globe as possible. The United States is a dying country; in fact it's in ruins. As less and less billionaires are able to devour more and more of the nation's wealth, a lot of the rest are becoming increasingly desperate by the day. Paris was the place to be in the twenties. England was the place to be in the sixties. Japan was the place to be in the eighties. This is not the place to be in the twenty-first century. Trust me. 

I'll say it one last time: steer clear, ya hear?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


 Beef Jerky
by John Lennon


John, shot and killed December 8, 1980

Tracy Murphy 'n' Me

I have an announcement to make:

At 2:30 PM yesterday, after nearly a decade of correspondence, I had the honor and the joy of meeting Tracy Murphy in the parking lot of Petsmarts in Newburgh, NY. She actually exists in flesh and blood. All this time I almost believed that she was too good to be true.

She's very true, and I am quite grateful for that. It was one of those mountaintop moments I'll never forget. Better than meeting your favorite rock star. I once met Charlie Chaplin. That wasn't half as cool as meeting Tracy Murphy. Seriously. She's my hero, you know.

She had driven over six hours from her native Buffalo to make a connection - a dog from Georgia named Samsara that she had rescued from certain death. She's that kind of human being.

What Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were to Human Rights, Tracy Murphy is to Animal Rights. I cannot even begin to describe to you how blessed I am to be even a mere footnote in this good and remarkable woman's biography. Life is beautiful.

At this writing, she and Samsara are safe and sound at their home in Newfane, NY.

I love you, Tracy Murphy.

Here is a link to a piece I wrote about Tracy nearly four years ago:

Here, also, is a link to Tracy's website, The Buffalo Vegetarian Soctiety:

Bon apetite!

Photograph courtesy of Tracy Murphy

UPDATE, 9/18/13:

One week and one day after I wrote this piece there was yet another massacre in the United States - thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard. You'd better get used to this sort of thing.

For more recent postings on this site please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan


(Psst! They're working on that!)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Making a Bad Situation Worse

"When innocent lives are taken in the most reprehensible of ways, to whom do their souls cry? Whence comes their justice? Is America's moral leadership in the world carved out by the tip of its sword?"

Charles M. Blow
from yesterday's New York Times

Words that should be etched in granite, Mr. Blow. Now what the heck did I do with my chisel....

Maybe this is the only positive legacy to come out of the disgusting administration of George W. Bush: he has left America, the planet's Super Cop, quite war-weary indeed. An attack on Syria - while the motivations might very well be noble - could create more problems than it solves. Maybe now is the time to come up with an alternative to military intervention. In fact the time is long overdue.   

The Syrian military's use of chemical weapons on civilians, particularly innocent children, is despicable. But do you remember the humanitarian catastrophe that occurred when we toppled the Butcher of Baghdad? Was it worth it? And don't forget that Saddam remained an ally of ours for years after he gassed his own people in 1982. At least we can give President Obama a little bit of credit for human compassion. That sort of thing never bothered Ronald Reagan. Bashar al-Assad is a brute - no doubt about it - but as Mahatma Gandhi once observed, people like that eventually (and always) fall of their own weight.

While it's true that giving peace a chance is futile in a situation like the one in Syria, an attack on the Syrian military could result in collateral damage that will only inflame the Arab world. In case it's slipped your mind, we poll lower than athlete's foot in that region of the planet these days. Why throw gas on the fire?

Let's say we go in there and blast Assad and his entire government straight to the pit of hell:

QUESTION: What happens next?

ANSWER: We don't know.

This is not a good idea.

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” 

– Barack Obama, December 20, 2007 

He now claims that a president does indeed have such power (He got it right the first time) but that he's going to let the House of Reprehensibles decide this matter. That is what is known as an "easy way out". No matter what Obama does, the right wing would be screaming bloody murder. This is a way for him to avoid that situation. Clever. It will be interesting to see whether or not this congress - which has obstructed him on every matter for almost six years - gives him the green light. Still, it's a refreshing thing to see a president seeking congressional approval to declare war (however limited) for the first time in seventy-two years. 

Isn't it ironic that we should be caught unaware when a president does something he is mandated by the Constitution to do? We surely do live in interesting times.

Read more here: surely do live in interesting times.

The headline in one of the New York tabloids the other day read, "THE BRITISH AREN'T COMING! THE BRITISH AREN'T COMING! Well, YEAH! And can you blame them for not wanting to go down this road again? I can't.

We'd be wise not to go down that road again either.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Please Tell Us the Truth; We Can Handle It
by Kevin Swanwick

"In a case of poignant imagery that echoes the photo-op of Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein shaking hands, Kerry’s demonization of Assad seems awkward when viewed next to the photograph of him, and his lovely wife, having a quiet and cozy dinner with President Assad and his glamorous investment-banker wife in 2009."

Kevin Swanwick
Kevin Swanwick is an old friend and partner in non-felonious crime (If you're a longtime reader of this blog you might recall the trip the two of us made to the Abbey Road Studios in England back in May of 2010). He's also the best writer I know. Above is a link to a little ditty he wrote late last night where he explains - more ably that I ever could - what exactly is wrong with this picture. I hate when he does that.