Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion

The British website, "The Carnage Report", will be publishing an interview with me in a couple of days. The questioner is Alex Clarke. Here is the transcript:

CARNAGE REPORT: What got you into writing about politics?


TOM DEGAN: I'm just barely old enough to remember the assassination of JFK. I can remember what my dad was wearing when he told me, "The president's been shot". As young as I was, I knew that something dreadful had occurred and that everyone - myself included - would be affected by it. A few years later I followed the 1968 presidential campaign closely, or as close as a nine-year-old kid possibly could. I was rooting for Bobby Kennedy, the late president's younger brother - not for any deep, ideological reason - but just because I liked him. When he was shot and killed in June, I was completely devastated. It took me years to get over his death. For the longest time I refused to accept the fact that he was gone. But it was the Watergate hearings five years later that changed me forever. I became a hopeless political junkie at the age of fifteen, although I didn't start writing seriously about politics until 2000 when George Dubya sought the nomination. I knew damned well that if he ever got into the White House it would be disastrous for America. I called that one, didn't I?


CR: What inspires you to write?


TD: Comedy and tragedy. There's so much unintentional humor out there - particularly from the extreme right wing. Sarah Palin, for instance, is a satirist's dream; the gift that keeps giving and giving. She just won't go away - and I almost hope she never does. Someone once remarked how prolific I was as a writer. I told her that I really wasn't one/tenth as talented as she thought. Given the pathetic state of American politics, these things tend to write themselves. And then there's tragedy. What happened in Newtown, Connecticut in December moved me as you might imagine. I can usually mine a little humor out of any situation regardless of the tragedy. Newtown was the exception to the rule. My little niece attends a school less than ten miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. That one really hit home, let me tell you.

CR: In your blog, The Rant, you have a healthy streak of pessimism towards the political system and the establishment in general, what would you like to see happen in the US to ease your disappointment with both?



TD: There are a few things I'd like to see happen but I'm afraid that I've become too much of a cynic to think that we'll ever have meaningful change. Whenever the thought crosses my mind that there might be a brighter day down the road - not just for the United States but for everyone on the planet - I dismiss it as naive self-deception. Maybe it will happen; I hope so, but I'm convinced that not much will change in my lifetime. Degan men tend not to live too far into their sixties. I'm fifty-four. C'est la vie.

CR: What do you think of the need for a third party? 



TD: I think that a third party is a grand idea. But what I would love to see even more than that is the utter destruction of the Democratic and Republican parties. The Democrats have been thoroughly corrupted and the Republicans completely so. In fact, it would be a misnomer to refer to the GOP as a "political party" so to speak. They've devolved into an organized criminal enterprise. There are some Democrats whose hearts are in the right place - Sherrod Brown of Ohio comes to mind - and a few others. But for the most part I've given up on them.


CR: What other blogs do you like to read or would like to recommend? 


TD: AlterNet is a good site - although I'm a tad peeved at them at the moment. They will no longer allow me to post a link to my blog in their comments section, the bastards. I guess I've become a bit too controversial for them even - which is an unintended compliment, I suppose. The Huffington Post is still pretty good, although it's lost some of its bite since it was sold about a year ago. I love the columnists Gail Collins, Paul Krugman, Leonard Pitts, Frank Rich - and I miss Molly Ivins like nobody's business, God rest her soul. Hunter Thompson was another of my heroes. His suicide in 2005 sent me into a complete funk that took me a week to come out of. He was a great influence on me.


CR: What do you think of the state of the left in the US? 


TD: Actually it's doing quite well at the moment. I think the sleeping giant of the American left is awakening from a long and troubled slumber. During the so-called "Reagan Revolution", they (we) were sound asleep. America has come to realize that it is more liberal than it ever imagined. What people have to understand is that Ronald Reagan was essentially a mask - with a twinkle in its eye and a fine, Irish smile. Remove that mask and what is revealed is the twisted, hideous smirk of George W. Bush. That's the real face of the Reagan Revolution.

CR: Why do you think that leftist parties have not, as of yet, achieved the political gains that far right movements such as the Tea Party have managed in the US? 



TD: Again, they were in such a slump for so long that it's taken some time for them to get their act together. For over thirty years the right wing used the word "liberal" as an expletive. People believed that liberalism was responsible for America's decline. They didn't understand their own history. It was the radically progressive administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt that saved this country - and the average voter had forgotten this fact. That's starting to change. The plutocracy no longer has the political upper hand. The American people (or at least enough of them to make a difference) are fed up with conservative policies. That's what the Voter ID laws were all about. The GOP will never rehabilitate themselves - so they tried to make it impossible for the traditional progressive constituency (city dwellers in particular) to cast their ballots in the 2012 election. They failed miserably of course. The first piece I ever wrote on my blog was called "George W. Bush: The Last Republican President". At the time I was only being cheeky. I didn't really believe it then. I believe it now.


CR: We often hear the refrain that the people get the leaders they deserve, do you agree with this statement? 


TD: Do you mean, did the American people deserve George W. Bush? Yeah, absolutely they deserved him - or at least the ones who were silly enough to think that sending the half-witted little frat boy to the White House would be a really neat idea. They most definitely deserved him. For the record: I'm blameless.


CR: Do you have any political heroes or political figures you admire?


TD: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. About two months ago I was staying at a hotel across from the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY. I woke up at about three AM, unable to go back to sleep. So in the dead of night I walked over to the rose garden where they are buried for a few moments of meditation. It was a very peaceful experience. We owe the both of them so much. I loved Teddy Kennedy. Although a flawed man personally, he was always on the side of the angels. I really miss the guy. By the way, I'm pretty flawed myself. Ask anyone who knows me.

CR: Final Question. What’s next for you on The Rant?


TD: Nary a clue. There's so much to write about I don't know where to begin. It's almost like playing darts blindfolded and hitting a bulls-eye every time. Any suggestions?

************************** 

SUGGESTED READING:

The Carnage Report:


It's a great site. Gotta love them Brits!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let the Carnage Continue

Seven-year-old Daniel Barden, Killed on 14 December 2012
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Harry Reid
If you frequent this site with any degree of regularity (You're forgiven you if you don't; I know you're busy) you've heard me say that I have not been a registered Democrat for nearly fifteen years. Occasionally I forget why I ever deserted them in the first place. Whenever this happens, an hour will not pass before they cheerfully remind me - as majority leader, Harry Reid, did this week when he blocked the vote on Diane Feinstein's proposed assault weapons ban from reaching the floor of the senate. His lame excuse? The votes aren't there. He was unwilling to shame anybody (including himself) into voting for it. The NRA is watching, you know. Political expediency is the watchword of the hour. The children don't matter - not in the least. Are you surprised? If you are you haven't been paying attention. Fuck the children. Fuck 'em all.

A little over three months ago, twenty little boys and girls - mere months out of infancy - and six of their protectors, were slaughtered like rancid swine in their first grade classroom; murdered in cold blood by some goddamned maniac with a small arsenal of rapid-fire killing machines. Enough is enough - wouldn't you think? Apparently not. Harry Reid - and too many Democrats to count - are beholden, like whores to their pimps, to the National Rifle Association. I knew that the carnage that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on December fourteenth wouldn't be enough for the Republicans, but I truly believed that these worthless "Blue Dog Democrats" would finally get with the program. I was as wrong as I've ever been in my life. You live and learn, you know?

That's okay. Maybe in one-or-two months when the next massacre of innocents occurs (as it most definitely will occur) it will finally wake their sorry, clueless asses up - but I'm not counting on it. And let's not be naive enough to think that Newtown was some kind of horrible fluke. As our recent history has so cruelly and consistently demonstrated, what happened on December fourteenth will happen again before the year is out. It will happen more than twice. It could happen as many as four or five more times before we ring in the new year. In the years to come it will happen again and again and again and again....Get used to it.

As I write these words some demented, Adam-Lanza-wannabe is smoldering in his parents' basement, planning a kick-out-the-jams, copycat performance so vile and horrific it will render Newtown inconsequential. We might as well come face-to-face with the new reality of living in - What did they call it once upon a time? - "the land of the free"; a misnomer if ever there was one.  How "free" do you feel? Honestly.

What's the matter with Harry? Does his reelection in 2016 mean that much to him? Assuming he is reelected at all, when his next term begins in January of 2017 he will be seventy-eight years old. The chances are damned better than fifty percent that he'll be dead and gone by that happy day. Why not go out with a bang? (No pun intended). Why not be remembered as a statesman who did right by the most vulnerable among us; whose profile was the very definition of courage? Don't expect that kind of statesmanship from the likes of Harry Reid. OH, PERISH THE THOUGHT! To quote Theodore Roosevelt's description of another gutless pol of his generation, "He has all the backbone of a chocolate eclair." That would be too kind a description for Harry.

Do you understand why I left the Democrats so long ago? Any political party with a dithering old buffoon like Harry Reid at the helm is going to have certain issues that are too embarrassing and convoluted to even get into here. When a ship is going down fast, it's generally a good rule of thumb not to sit in your stateroom trying to analyze what the ship's sinking  means in the abstract. Your best bet is to run like mad out onto the deck, grab a lifeboat, and get the hell out of there while the getting is good. That's what I did as far as the Democrats are concerned. I've never regretted it. Not for a minute. That was one wretched vessel I wasn't about to go down with - thanks but no thanks.

We won't be able to place the blame for this nasty little situation solely at the feet of the GOP (as we who lean left love to do). There are plenty of candidates on both sides of the aisle eligible for this year's annual Cold Feet Awards.  At this hour the Republican party is in the process of committing suicide. Ten years from now they will only be a bad memory. The Democrats won't be too far behind them on the road to self-destruction and irrelevance. Count on it.

It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up - the piper must be paid
The party's over
It's all over, my friend.... 

Emilie Alice Parker
In the meantime (very mean indeed) we really have to come face-to-face with the prospect of living in a nation in ruins. We need to understand that there are just too many people in this doomed country - too violent, too stupid, and too stone-cold crazy - to ever see the light of day. This is not a situation that can be cured overnight by some magical, sociological panacea. This is a condition that will take a century or more to remedy - if it is ever remedied at all. We might as well deal with it as best we can. We The People are diseased. Congress is an organized criminal enterprise. The media is beyond dysfunctional. The chickens are coming home to roost - and they're armed and dangerous.

GUNS! Guns galore, baby! GUNS FOREVER! Lots 'n' lots of little baby body parts!  Little boys 'n' girls, blown to smithereens -  to teeny weeny bits! Decapitated heads and limbs - severed forever by the force of the explosion from the hand of some homicidal half-wit with a serious attitude problem and way too much time on his hands. This is what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Have a look at the autopsy reports if you think I'm lying to you.

BLOOD! WE CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF IT! WE NEED IT! 

Leave it to our hired morticians to deal with the remnants and the carnage. We pay these people good money to clean up society's messes. We're gonna need a lot more of them in the years to come. Welcome to America. Enjoy your stay.

Their message has been received a little too loud and all too clear. You could not have missed it had you tried:

"Fuck the children. Fuck 'em all. Let the little bastards and bitches bleed torrents."

That - dear friends - is the true message that was transmitted to us this week not only by the Republicans (That was expected) but by Harry Reid and the Blue Dog Democrats. I'm so proud that I was once a member of that party. Really I am!  

Somewhere beyond the unknowable void, Eleanor Roosevelt weeps I'm sure. Now who wants to get good 'n' drunk with me this evening? Somebody? 

Anybody???

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net  

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Bowling For Columbine
A film by Michael Moore

Moore's 2003 film on the killing field that America has become is essential viewing for anyone trying to understand where we are - and where we're going. It really is quite the delightful romp. Here is a link to order it off of Amazon.com:
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Bowling For Columbine
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This is a film that should be seen by every breathing American. You can pick it up for  half-a-song. Seriously.
 
SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Happiness is a warm gun
BANG! BANG!
SHOOT! SHOOT!  

John Lennon said that. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUhIEEwSSSo

"I need a fix 'cause I'm goin' down."

Monday, March 18, 2013

CPAC Follies of 2013


"And they call us crazy!"

Wayne LaPierre
CPAC Convention, March 2013 

Yes we do, Wayne. Yes we do.

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference is finally over. It was a weekend that seemed to last a month. The most comprehensive, yearly gathering of Conservative activists has folded up the tents and have gone their separate ways. Were there lessons taken away from the 2013 CPAC convention? You bet'cha! And what - you may well ask - was the fundamental lesson learned this past weekend? Hold onto your hats, kiddies:

THE GOP IS NOT RIGHT WING ENOUGH!   

As the late Jack Parr liked to say in his day: "I kid you not."

Chris Christie
New Jersey governor Chris Cristie has got to be thanking his lucky stars on this fine Monday morn. By not being invited to this freak circus he was spared the embarrassment of being photographed with any of the clowns - photographs that would surely come back to haunt him shoul he be nominated as GOP standard bearer in 2016. Of course he's dreaming if he thinks that's ever going to happen. The half-wits and maniacs in the South and Midwest who now control "the party of Abraham Lincoln" (What would I do without quotation marks?) will NEVER nominate a non-extremist Northeastern Catholic with a vowel at the end of his name. 'Tain't  never gonna happen, Bubbah. 

"If you're not free to protect yourself when the government puts its thumb on that freedom, then you're not free at all."

 Wayne LaPierre
That was uber-doofus, Wayne LaPierre, again. When all else fails you can count on this hideous jackass to try to make people paranoid about the big, bad government; that it's coming to kill them. By the way, the government he is referring to is armed to the teeth with tanks, predator drones, jet fighters, and nuclear weapons. There lies the idiocy behind poor old Wayne's argument. Forget about the might of the federal government; any state National Guard worth its weight in rocks could, within minutes, make mincemeat out of any self-raised army of anti-government yahoos and their puny little AK-47's. He must know this. Why would he keep broadcasting this message to a group of not-too-bright reactionaries - that they could take on the military of the United States - AND DEFEAT THEM??? What's the matter with this asshole? Does he even have a pulse? What gives?

Sarah Palin was there, mocking the attempt New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg made to stem the health crisis posed by obesity when he tried to initiate a ban on those huge mega-sodas (mega-pops if you live in the Midwest or Alaska) that are sold by nearly every fast-food restaurant in the nation. While she addressed these nitwits she was drinking out of one. Isn't that a scream? Last month I wrote that in the wake of her getting canned by Fox Noise, her fifteen minutes of fame were up and that she'd probably head back to Wasilla, destined for eternal obscurity. Although most people are in agreement that she is pretty-much irrelevant these days, that irrelevance is not quite apparent to the insanity junkies who plan these CPAC parties. To them, Sarah Palin's star is still on the rise. Go figure.

Our gal Sarah (or "Fascist Barbie" as I always called her) also had a few choice words for Karl Rove. Rove's latest cause has been a herculean effort to prevent the Tea party crazies from getting on the ballot and dooming the party on Election Day. He's trying to kill the Frankenstein monster he is partly responsible for creating. Show me a political party that has become too weird for the likes of Karl Rove, and I'll show you a political party that has lost its marbles; a party that is within less than a decade of disappearing into the trash heap of history. Remember, you read it here on The Rant, folks.

Allen West
That was the main problem with this year's CPAC gathering. So many of their speakers are walking illustrations of why conservatism in America is going the way of the 8-Track tape. One of their speakers was the recently defeated, former congressman Allen West. ALLEN WEST! The same guy who accused most of the Democrats in congress of being card-carrying members of the Communist Party! You can't get more irrelevant than this blabbering twit. My guess is that the geniuses at CPAC felt they needed to get as many black people into the act as they possibly could in order to spotlight their "racial diversity". As you're probably aware, African Americans are quite the rarity among the screaming right wing fringe these days. Gee, I wonder why.

Mega-knucklehead Ted Cruz was there. Since arriving in Washington in January, this freshman senator from Texas has gone out of his way to show the American people that he is the second coming of Joe McCarthy. He has so many McCarthy-like mannerisms that I am utterly convinced that he has thoroughly studied the long-dead Wisconsin red-baiter. Did you catch that incident a few weeks ago when he accused the now-Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, of somehow being in cahoots with the North Koreans? That was pure Joe McCarthy - with every i dotted and every t crossed!  Keep your eye on Ted Cruz. His will be an interesting sideshow.

What if someone gave a speech and nobody came? Donald Trump found out the hard way. When his turn came to stand before the masses, the "masses" (so to speak) had disappeared from view. Trump was forced to give his little tirade before a room that was nearly devoid of human beings. It really was oodles of fun to watch. I get such a kick out of the Donald.

Marco Rubio
To be fair, CPAC  is not affiliated with the Republican party - at least not officially. But let's be honest; we all know whose bread they are buttering. The interesting thing about the entire debacle is that it seems they didn't even attempt to get their stories straight  when they charged into this thing. This was emphasized by the speeches made by Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. According to Rand, the GOP has got to move further to the right. That's not what Marco thinks. According to him the party is fine 'n' dandy just the way it is, thank you very much. The whole affair was quite amusing.

The highlight of the weekend was Mitt Romney pleading with the Republicans to learn from his mistakes. My guess is that they turned a deaf ear toward him. I can see it now. When this party attempts to "moderate" itself, it will disintegrate into a million pieces. What we have here is the nucleus of the ideological thunderclap that could easily destroy and extinct the Republicans in a matter of a few years.  

I cannot wait for 2016. I'm giddy with anticipation.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net   

Molly Colgan
SUGGESTED READING:

Molly Colgan is the daughter and niece of some dear friends of mine. She is also a college student who is studying to be an educator. Below is a link to her blog. She explores the connections between literacy and education, among other choice subjects:
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ELAted Education

This is not a shameless plug. I was reading, sharing and re-tweeting some of the articles posted within this site for almost a week before I realized that Molly was the author. Take a look when you have a moment. She's an excellent writer. Her vocation is "making literacy dangerous again." That works for me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Here Comes Jebbie


Jebby and Dubya
The other son also rises....

Here we go again. Anyone who was still in doubt about John E. "Jeb" Bush's presidential aspirations for the year 2016 had those doubts shattered this past weekend during his media blitz on the Sunday morning talk programs. There he was plugging his new book, coming out strongly against a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants - a position he has strongly supported in the past. The problem is the fact that "the path", so to speak, is not supported by most of the knuckleheads who tend to vote in Republican primaries in the South and the Midwest. Watch him during the next four years as he stomps around the country during what promises to be the most comprehensive pandering campaign in the history of American electoral politics. That oughta be loads of fun to watch.

Are we really going to go down this road again? Part of me says, no, the Republicans have been seriously damaged, maybe even fatally, by the posse of criminals, halfwits and crazy people who long ago hijacked that party. It'll never happen, or at least that is what I'm trying to convince myself. Our luck couldn't possibly get that bad. And imagine how idiotic we're going to look as a country when future history books print the POTUS list:

41. Bush
42. Clinton
43. Bush 
44. Obama
45. Bush

Yikes! That would be too weird to even contemplate. Think of the semantic calisthenics that poor ol' Jeb needs to perform in the next three-and-a-half years: He'll have to transform himself from the essentially easy-going moderate, "compassionate conservative" (at least that is how he is perceived by most) into the screaming right-wing lunatic that appeals to "the base". And then, once he gets the nomination (if he gets the nomination) he then needs to move himself way back (and it's a long way back indeed) to the slightly-right-of-center. Best of luck to the dude.

"My guess is that history is going to be kind to my brother."

-Jeb Bush 

Seriously, if that gem of wisdom uttered yesterday by Jeb doesn't raise serious alarm bells nothing will. The undeniable fact of the matter is that history will not be kind to his brother. If anything, as the years go by, it will be even more apparent what a dreadful mistake this country made when they came to the collective conclusion that sending the hideous little jackass to the Executive Mansion would be a really cool idea. Jeb Bush is his brother's brother. Although it would be presumptuous to say that a Bush Administration III would be a mere mimeograph of the Bush Administration II, there are more similarities between the two than stark differences. If we are foolish enough to go back down this road in 2016, you can bet the farm that the neo-con crazies will be running our foreign policy again. Remember how nicely that worked out last time around? That was a trick question. It didn't work out nicely at all.

We should give credit where credit is due. If it was absolutely preordained that America would be cursed with a second Bush administration, it should have been the Jeb Bush Administration. He's certainly a lot smarter than brother George, that's for damned sure. It's a pretty safe bet that had he sent Dick Cheney on an errand to find a suitable running mate and Cheney had come back with a report that concluded "I AM YOUR MAN", I can just imagine Jeb pissing his pants in laughter at the very idea. No, in all fairness to Jeb, he's not one/tenth as dumb as George Dubya. That very fact, however, is not a qualification for the office of president of the United States of America. The job is just a tad more nuanced than that - or so I've been led to believe.

I can just see the reaction of the rest of the planet earth to another Bush presidency. We're already the laughingstock of western civilization, folks. Do we really need to make mattters worst? The day after King George the Second was reelected to a second (disastrous) term, a newspaper in England posed on it's front page the musical question:

"HOW CAN 59,000,000 PEOPLE BE SO STUPID?" 

How indeed. It was a damned good question when you think about it for a minute or two. Any takers?

Theodore Roosevelt
The most impressive person to seek the GOP nomination last year was Jon Huntsman. In fact I'll go as far as to say that he was the most impressive Republican to run in a primary since Theodore Roosevelt one-hundred-and one years ago. He could have beaten Obama easily in a general election. Unfortunately, given the extremist bent of that party in recent years, he never had a chance. If the Republicans are smart, they will nominate Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey in four years. He's got a seventy-five percent approval rating in his state and he's also one of the most popular politicians in the country. They would be fools not to make him their standard bearer in 2016. Of course that's never gonna happen for obvious reasons. C'est la vie.

Hear me out: If the American people are ever again stupid enough to send another member of that disgusting family to the White House, we'll deserve everything that happens to us - EVERYTHING. Trust me, we don't want to go down that road again. Call it a silly hunch on my part.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frotniernet.net 

SUGGESTED READING:

Shrub: The Short and Happy Career of George W. Bush
by Molly Ivins

In 1999, a full year before the "selection" (by the US Supreme Court) of George W. Bush, the late, lamented Molly Ivins tried to warn us what was in store. We didn't listen. On the eve of his second campaign, she wrote, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America. In the introduction she said, "If y'all had read the first book, we wouldn't have had to write this one." Sadly, we didn't listen to her second warning.

Damn, I miss Molly Ivins. Here is a link to a eulogy I wrote to her six years ago on the night she died:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2007/01/molly-ivins.html

The gal was a hoot-and-a-half

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Join me on Facebook....

https://www.facebook.com/tomdegan


"Friend" me. I have no life. 

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

"The rant" by Tom Degan  

Thanks!

Monday, March 04, 2013

March 4, 1933


It was eighty years ago today....

"This is a day of national consecration. I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
First Inaugural Address
March 4, 1933  

At 1:08 PM, eighty years ago today, Franklin Roosevelt placed his left hand upon an old and cherished family bible which was opened to the thirteenth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians:

"And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

So was inaugurated (in my humble opinion) the president who is second only to Lincoln in terms of sheer greatness. Some historians ague that he is America's greatest chief executive. I'm more than willing to go down that road, too. 

In his excellent (and highly recommended) book on the New Deal's first one-hundred days, "The Defining Moment", Jonathon Alter describes vividly what FDR was facing in the weeks leading up to his swearing in:

"The banking crisis peaked just before his inauguration. With the upper Midwest in turmoil, Cleveland banks began to fold, threatening the Ohio banking structure. New Jersey passed an emergency law limiting withdrawals, causing a spread of panicky behavior in the East. In a three-day period starting February 23, Indiana, Arkansas and Maryland declared holidays [in order to close the banks], kicking off a round of more closures the following week. By Saturday, February 25, the Hoover White House received word to expect rioting on Monday in Detroit. where the banks had been closed for nearly two weeks. People couldn't buy gasoline, milk, or bread. Railroad cars stayed on sidings. Thousands of automobiles were abandoned, out of gas in the middle of the road. The only good news was that this lack of transportation made starting a riot harder."
 
Twenty-five percent of the American workforce was out of a job - not underemployed mind you - completely out of work. By the end of his second term, the unemployment figures had been cut in half. But it would take the massive rush of war spending in the early forties to end what is now called the "Great Depression".

"The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to their ancient truths. The measure of restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

Franklin Roosevelt saved this country. When he was finished saving the nation that he loved so well, he set about the task of saving the world. At the beginning of his fourth term the toll could be seen etched in his face; he was exhausted and mortally ill. On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, while chatting lightheartedly with two female cousins at his cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia, the president collapsed and died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was sixty-three years old.

There is now a sick form of revisionism that is trying to get us to swallow the nonsensical notion that he destroyed America, that he made the Depression worse; that he was a dictator; that he was a racist; that he let the attack on Pearl Harbor happen....all of it bunk. The propagandists really need to keep to the facts. As I said - and I cannot emphasize this enough - Franklin Roosevelt saved this country. Deal with it.

From the final paragraph from chapter forty of Jonathon Alter's excellent biography of FDR:

"Roosevelt's point was plain: Government counts, and in the right hands, it can be made to work. Strong federal action, not just private voluntary efforts and the invisible hand of the marketplace, was required to help those stricken in an emergency. The American people expected and deserved leadership in addressing their hardships, not just from state and local authorities but from the White House. This fundamental insight would guide politicians and help millions of people in the years ahead, but it was lost on others, who ignored the lessons of Franklin Roosevelt at their peril".

Couldn't have said it better if I tried.

I imagine that I'll be spending a good deal of the rest of the day thinking about and savoring the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. So many of the things we now take for granted would not have been possible without him. You would think the American people would be grateful. Most of them can't even recognize his face. As far as I can tell there has been no mention of this milestone anniversary thus far today in the electronic or print media.  America has forgotten its pre-Roosevelt history. That is the reason we were doomed to repeat it. And repeat it we did. Pretty sad.

Oh, and did I mention? By all accounts he was a nice guy.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net 

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Here are a handful of links to a few pieces I wrote on this site over the years about this great and remarkable American:

Franklin Roosevelt's Endangered Legacy:
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2007/09/franklin-d-roosevelts-endangered-legacy.html
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April 12, 1945-April 12, 2012 
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The FDR Library Revisited:
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2012/02/fdr-library-revisited.html

The New Deal at Eighty, Nixon at 100
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http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2013/01/new-deal-at-80-nixon-at-100.html

Obama Could Learn from FDR:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/11/obama-can-learn-from-fdr.html

Here is a YouTube link to watch a film of President Roosevelt's first inauguration, March 4, 1933, eighty years ago today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX_v0zxM23Q

It doesn't get any better than the Frankster!