Wednesday, May 28, 2014

California Carnage

Richard Martinez grieves

"Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live?....When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say 'Stop this madness, we don't have to live like this'? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, not one more."

Richard Martinez 
Father of shooting victim, Chris

From his cold, dead hands....
A father's anguished words following the latest, totally expected rampage of gun violence - this time in California - didn't really have much effect on the people in a position to do something to stem the carnage. It's going to be business as usual in America. Richard Martinez had some advice (really, it was more of an indictment) for the politicians sending him shallow words of consolation which was splashed this morning all over page one of the New York Daily News: "I don't care about your sympathy. I don't give a shit that you feel sorry for me....Get to work and do something!"

The poor guy ought not to hold his breath. Nothing's going to change - NOTHING. There will be more rivers of blood flowing. There will be the continued massacre of untold numbers of innocents. In time there will be another slaughter of little boys and girls at an as-of-yet unnamed elementary school in this doomed nation. Your elected "representatives" don't give a fuck about your safety or that of your children. Do you think otherwise? What the hell's the matter with you?

Then again, mountains of bodies and oceans of blood suits my purposes just fine, thank you very much. I'll never have writers block, that's for damned sure. A tip of the hat and a raising of the glass to Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. They've added so much meaning to my life that I'm at a loss to find the words to express my gratitude.

I read the news today, oh boy.... 

Christopher Martinez rests
When I saw a photograph in the papers of the maniacal nitwit responsible for the newest carnage I was a bit perplexed. He said in a video that was shot as he was seated behind the wheel of his car that we wanted kill women - blondes in particular. He was bitter toward them and he wanted to exact his vengeance in blood simply because he had never been on a date. I couldn't understand why this would be so. The truth is he wasn't a bad looking kid - better looking than I was at that age - and I never had any problem getting a date (Honest!). That was before I saw his video - his manifesto, if you will. It was at that moment that I understood all too well....

This kid was an insufferable asshole.

If you want to understand what I'm talking about, look up the video posting. It's all over the internet so you won't have any trouble finding the damned thing. I won't be providing any link to it here; nor will I be posting his photograph. I refuse even to mention the schmuck by name. We'll be forgetting what he did soon enough. Why bother remembering his name? Most people have forgotten Newtown, Connecticut. What's the bloody point? Pun not intended.   

The demented, half-witted piece of shit who goes by the name of "Joe the Plumber" had some comforting thoughts for the loved ones of the kids murdered in California last week:

"As harsh as this sounds - your dead kids don't trump my constitutional rights."

Harsh indeed. I won't be mentioning him by his real name either. "Joe the Plumber", like nearly everything connected these days with the agenda of the extreme right wing, is a fraud. Again, as quoted in this morning's Daily News, old Joe stated that Richard Martinez's gut-wrenching sorrow only provided ammunition (I'm just "loaded" with puns this morning) for the "gun-grab extremists". Ain't that a killer? ("Killer" - GET IT???)

I have no optimism for you on this grim, Wednesday morning. And I don't want to hear mentioned the fact that three of the seven victims were killed with knives. Had the murderer taken time to think this through (he obviously wasn't too bright) the body count would have been much higher than it is. The nasty little fact-of-the-matter is that the availability of firearms in America trumps the constitutional rights of every one of us - but don't hold your breath waiting for the congress to to figure that out. Just sit back and roll with the punches. Come to terms with the fact that this is the way it is going to be from now on. Why get all bent out of shape about it? Learn to live with it as I did. I long ago anesthetized myself to living in a country in ruins. You should, too. It will make the going a whole lot easier. 
Can't you feel that hard rain a'falling? Seriously.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
A Covert Affair
by Jennet Conant

Paul and Julia Child
My friends John and Ramona Harragin gave this book to me for Christmas in 2012. I finally got around to reading it this week. It's the interesting - at times gripping - story of Julia McWilliams and her future husband, Paul Child and the work they did for government intelligence during and immediately following World War Two. They were married after the war and she became Julia Child. We remember her today from PBS's "The French Chef".

Many of their friends - good and loyal Americans all - later had their diplomatic careers ruined for "losing" China - as if it was ours to lose. Untold numbers of diplomatic talent that had taken decades to cultivate were scattered like ashes in the wind. The multi-tragedies that resulted from the right wing's purging of the State Department in the nineteen-forties and fifties directly led to the foreign policy fiasco in Vietnam during the sixties and seventies, and which reverberates down to this day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keep voting Republican.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Lonely in the Gutter

Dubya and the Architect
"But it was never merely winning a political battle that was important to Karl Rove - he was intent on destroying any political opponent who got in his way - Republican or Democrat. There are too many stories to count of Democrats in the state of Texas who had investigations initiated against them at Rove's behest - two of them in particular would wind up going to prison on charges that they were absolutely innocent of. Their only crime was that they walked into the political cross hairs of Karl Rove."

From "The Rant"
August 14, 2007

That paragraph was written seven years ago. At the time I was predicting that Karl Rove was within days of being indicted for his part in outing the identity of CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and that the most overtly corrupt administration in American history wouldn't last the year. Naive on my part, I know. And to think that today the Republicans are talking openly of impeaching Obama for....What? I can't even remember.

It must not be an easy thing to be Karl Rove these days. As much contempt that I have for him, there's a part of me that feels a certain degree of pity for the poor bastard. Let's face some necessary and unpleasant facts, shall we? The man has fallen hard since that glorious day thirteen years ago when, through machinations that defy definition and comprehension, he was somehow able to take an uninspired and uninspiring halfwit named George W. Bush and make him president of the United States of America. Say what you want about the guy, that feat of political walking on water is too impressive for words. That he is - beyond any doubt - a political genius could be denied by only the most partisan of cynics. Let's give the man credit where credit is due. They didn't call him "Bush's Brain" for nothing.

That being said, this must not be an easy time to be Karl Rove. 

You could see the cracks in his demeanor begin to form in a serious way on Election Night 2012. There was our hero in the studios of Fox Noise, confidently assuring the masses of uninformed sheep that watch that network that Barack Obama - in spite of all the polls to the contrary - would soon be sent packing back to Kenya, and that Mitt Romney was on his way to glory. When the official word came down that the president had indeed been reelected, Karl refused to accept the news as fact. His reaction was nothing less than a case of a man in the throes of denial. I thought he would have a nervous breakdown right there on the spot. It really was a lovely thing to behold. 

Since that night, Rove has been in a blind panic. Bad enough his party got creamed in the presidential contest, now he is forced to deal with the Frankenstein's Monster that he himself is partially responsible for creating. 

It's "offical"
For the past year-and-a-half my man Karl has been scrambling like a crazy person across this diseased country, desperately trying to keep the Tea Party crazies from getting on the ballot this November, thus dooming the GOP on Election Day. Although most political commentators are predicting a comfy/cozy victory for the Republicans in the 2014 midterms, it is my belief that Rove is politically astute enough to see the writing (complete with misspellings and bad grammar) on the wall. He understands that there are some nasty tremors underneath the seemingly confident facade of "the party of Abraham Lincoln" (It's almost impossible to write those words and not giggle at the same time. Have you ever tried it?) 

And at the moment, Karl's utter panic is in the stratosphere. In an act of desperation that, as far as I can tell, is without precedence, he and the right wing SCREAM machine are trying to put the idea out there that (GET THIS!) Hillary Clinton is brain damaged. She is the presumed Democratic nominee for 2016 and virtually every poll has her as unbeatable when compared to anything the Republicans have to puke up at this point.They are totally unable to campaign based upon the merits of their ideas so they need to resort to this kind of stuff. This is going to get a lot more interesting before it starts to get boring. I'm just sayin'.

2012 won't have anything on 2016. As laugh-riotous as that campaign was, the next one is gonna be a scream. These are really good times to be alive, aren't they?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Easy To Love

by Billie Holiday

 I dreamed I was dancing with Billie. It should have been in Harlem, circa 1935 - but to tell you the truth, it might have been anywhere, any decade. All I remember distinctly is that it was at night, and Billie seemed serene, maybe even at peace. That's all you ever want for Lady Day. You just want to make her tragedy go away. It's impossible not to care for her even now, fifty-five years in the grave she entered too soon. She's so easy to love, you know what I'm talkin' about?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

just say "BENGHAZI"!!!

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided that they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and....prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."

-An understandably exasperated Hillary Clinton

The extreme right wing of America's political spectrum (which translates into the entire Republican Party these days) has got one hell of a problem. They are unable to to reach out to the American people on  the basis of their ideas because - let us face the hideous facts - those ideas are atrocious. What to do? That's easy: Just conjure up a few imaginary phantoms. That is what is behind these Benghazi investigations. Their motive is not to get to the "truth" of what happened on September 11, 2012 when our embassy in Libya was attacked and four Americans were killed. We know the truth. We've known it for a long time. What they are attempting to do is simply destroy the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state when the attack took place, and whom every poll shows will be virtually unbeatable in 2016. The fact that they will piss away untold millions of taxpayer cash on this kangaroo court or that they are deflecting our attention away from issues that are screaming to be addressed means nothing to these clowns.

Forget the fact that sixty people were killed in assaults upon American embassies during the years in which the halfwit from Crawford, Texas was running the government. Forget the fact that one month and six days before September 11, 2001 he was warned in his daily briefing that Osama bin Laden was planning on striking in the United States very soon - and that the First Fool did absolutely nothing to try and prevent it. Forget all of that. Reality is a luxury that a nation filled to the rafters with distracted robots can ill afford. 

Oh, and while we're at it, let's all forget the nasty little reality that in the months leading up to September 11, 2012, the Republicans in congress slashed funding on embassy security worldwide. Don't even bring it up, okay?

Just take a look at the damage the GOP is doing to your country. I've said it here too many times to count but I need to repeat myself: Forgive me for sounding like a broken record but that isn't a political party; that's an organized criminal enterprise. Sooner or later the pathetic sheep in this doomed country that try to pass themselves off as an "informed electorate" are going to wake up to that fact. When that happens, I'm afraid that it'll be too late. 

Listen to them pretty chimes of doom, baby!

FOR THE RECORD: I'm not beside myself with joy over the idea that - barring scandal or catastrophe - Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be the next president of the United States. Her progressive credentials are less than adequate as far as I'm concerned. I realize that we're centuries overdue for a "Madame President" but the prospect of Ms. Clinton in the Oval Office until the year 2025 is enough to send me tailspinning into a blue funk that will not be easy to recover from. There are a few damned good reasons why I am no longer a Democrat and she is one of those reasons. My only consolation is that the alternatives to Hillary are too vile to even make an attempt at contemplation. I'll learn to live with her I guess. She might even surprise me. Who knows?

Of this you can be sure: If something were to happen to Hillary tomorrow; were she to bow out of the race or, God forbid, die - this "controversy" (if  that's what you insist upon calling it) would disappear overnight. This is all about politics - nothing more. Can't you smell the elephant shit?

Darrell Issa
What is happening now does not necessarily anger me - in fact I'm looking forward to the clown show. It's just scads of fun watching the Republicans' self-crucifixion. Almost every pundit out there is predicting that the midterm elections in November are going to go very badly for the Democrats. I'm going to go out on a limb here by predicting that that won't be the case. With each passing day the conservatives are foolishly compounding the damage they're doing to their "cause" - such as it it. It really is too good to be true.

So sit back, grab a brewski, and enjoy what promises to be the political train-wreck of the year. I'm gonna be loving every minute of this.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway

"There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy."

-Ernest Hemingway 

This is the closest Hemingway ever came to writing an autobiography. It covers the years he spent in Paris, 1920 to 1926. It was published in 1964, three years after his death from a self-inflicted shotgun blast. At the time his widow, Mary, was unfairly criticized for putting it out. Although not his best book (by far) it adds to our understanding of him, I think.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Post #538: Random Observations

Hyde Park, 11 February 2012
The following collection of commie drivel are a series of unrelated observations on the state of America in the Spring of 2014. The photograph at the top of this piece was taken two years ago in front of Franklin Roosevelt's birthplace and lifelong home at Hyde Park, New York. I have since shed over thirty pounds. Major lifestyle adjustments will do that to you. Happy reading!

1. The Hillary Factor

Barring any unforeseen scandal or catastrophe (you never know with those Clintons) Hillary will more-than-likely be the next president of the United States. I say this not with a sense of joy nor with any foreboding, but rather with a sense of resignation. Maybe she will turn out to be the second incarnation of FDR that I've been dreaming of - much in the way I thought Obama would be. He turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. She will probably end up being a let-down as well. This much is certain: In 2017, for the fist time since 1857, one Democratic administration will succeed another one on Inauguration Day.

2. "Net me tell you about Negroes" 

CLIVEN BUNDY UPDAYTE: The Nevada rancher who was slick enough to get an army of armed dingbats to "protect" him from the EVIL American government two weeks ago (he owes over a million dollars in grazing fees) stated recently that "Negroes" were better off as slaves. Watching his former champions in the right wing media (Sean Hannity in particular) fall over themselves in an attempt to create as much distance as possible between him and them has been a scream to watch. This week, Cliven's "soldiers" have been harassing his neighbors asking to see their ID's.  As I said two weeks ago, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. We really do live in interesting times, don't we?

3. Quote of the Month:

"I hope Jeb runs. I think he would be a great president."

-George W. Bush 

Oh, the things we have to look forward to. But seriously, folks.... 

4. Rush to Oblivion 

It hasn't been a good three years for Rush Limbaugh. Since he referred to college student, Sandra Fluke, as a "slut" sponsors and broadcasting outlets have been dropping el Rushbo in droves. A lot of so-called "ditto-heads" are starting to tire of the guy's sick and twisted act. It's only a matter of time before he's gone from the scene; a vague memory rotting inside history's scrap heap. I'm kinda gonna miss the hideous old freak. 
4. Just Say "BENGHAZI"!

The right wing in Congress, in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton candidacy in two years, is doing everything they can to keep alive the "Democrat scandal" of the attacks on the American embassy that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. As the president said a couple of days ago they'll have one hell of a time trying to accuse her of being born in Kenya. They can't run on issues that mean anything to the average voter so they need to resort to this sort of thing. Of this you may be absolutely certain: 2016 is going to be an interesting political year. Here's something else you can be sure of: There will never again be Republican elected to the presidency. They may survive for a few years in the statehouses and Congress, but as far as the White House is concerned, the grand old party is over.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Laughter's Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley 1889-1945
by Billy Altman

There's just something about Benchley - be it the writer, the actor or the man - that, to me, has always been irresistible. He is the personification of American wit! The short films he produced for Paramount and MGM between 1928 and 1945 are treasures in the history of American Humor. All of them should be released on DVD. As of this writing, only a handful of Paramounts are now commercially available.

Altman's fine biography is a sympathetic look at the man and what shaped him into being who he was. Particularly of interest is the death of his older brother in the Spanish American War in 1899 and the effect it had on Benchley as a child.

This book could have been better, no question about it. But until a better one comes along (don't hold your breath), it is as fine a reference as any ever written. Nearly seventy years after his death, no one has replaced him. He was a real S.O.B. Sweet Old Bob! God rest his merry soul.


I'm sorry I haven't been that prolific lately, folks.