Thursday, June 26, 2014

Slingin' that ol' Mississippi Mud

Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel

What a dance do they do!
Lordy, how I'm tellin' you....
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud

Then again, maybe not.

I've said on this site many times something  that I need to repeat: I miss Molly Ivins More than words can express. She, Jim Hightower, and my cousins (the fabulous Barras Family of Port Arthur) were a constant reminder to me that there are still pockets of reason in the Lonestar State. She once offered up a prayer of thanks to the state of Mississippi:

"But for Mississippi we here in Texas would be dead last in everything."

That gal was a hoot!
Remember this guy?
GET THIS: A white, conservative Mississippian owes his political career to a handful of African American voters. Isn't that something? A pig just flew past my window. I didn't even blink an eye.

Thad Cochran came within an inch of joining Eric Cantor in History's Losers Club. A Tea Partier named Chris McDaniel, an unknown entity who is even more extreme than Cochran (four years ago I would not have thought that possible) challenged Cochran for his senate seat by claiming that the five-term senator just wasn't right-wing enough for the good folks of Mississippi. That unlivable state has something called "cross-filing", which allows Democratic voters to vote in Republican primaries and vice versa. The Democratic voters of Mississippi - damn-near all of whom happen to be African American - were properly horrified at the prospect of someone like McDaniel representing them in Washington. Mr. McDaniel is no relation to Hattie - I'm almost certain of this.

Cochran squeaked by with a mere 7000 vote advantage. McDaniel refuses to concede. He claims that Republican primaries in his beloved Mississippi should not be decided by a buncha goddamn elitist liberals. This is all quite amusing. 

Someone said the other day that if McDaniels loses this primary, it will spell "doom" for the GOP. Forgive me for not remembering the name of the person who made that statement. It was one of the few true things that have been said during this entire, tragicomic process. The clock is ticking for "the party of Abraham Lincoln". They are decades past the point where a good housecleaning might have saved them from their inevitable fate. It's too late for any of that now. The clown car is on fire, spiraling into the abyss. It's such a funny thing to behold. It really is!

For my purposes, a McDaniel victory would have been the icing on the cake - but then again, I don't live in Mississippi (as I'm sure you've figured out by now); I won't be effected one way or the other by whomever ends up winning the booby prize. I can't blame the black citizens of that shit-hole of magnolia for doing whatever humanly possible to sabotage the McDaniel campaign. Who could blame them? These knuckleheads in the party of Tea want to bring us back to the days of Jim Crow. This is not merely my opinion - this is a statement of purpose that has been made by enough of them to make a person with dark skin nervous as hell. 

One seventy-three year old black man, identified only as "Wilkie" (he was probably named after the 1940 GOP nominee - there used to be black Republicans way down South) was quoted this morning in Gail Collins' New York Times column saying, "First time in my life I ever voted in a Republican primary." He's no fool. It was an act of survival on Wilkie's part, I'm sure. I'm certain that not too many Jews voted for Hitler in 1932. That's not an unfair comparison either. Although at that early point no one could have foreseen the Holocaust that was coming, Adolf's vicious antisemitism was a matter of record. So it is with the overt racism of more-than-a-few "spokespersons" within the Tea Party.

How can it be that a fool such as McDaniels should come as close as he came to winning a primary for the United States senate? What is it about the people in that miserable place that they are unable to grasp the fact that the most right wing state in the union (as Mississippi surely is) is also the poorest? What the hell is the matter with them? 

Just as happy as a cow chewing on a cud....

This is - without a doubt - the most interesting of times to be alive. All I can say for sure is that the next two-and-a-half years are going to be many things. "Boring" is not one of them. My glee notwithstanding, put into it's proper, historical context, the ideological demise of the party that used to be the home of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt is a sad thing to watch. As an amateur historian, I say that in all seriousness....

Then again, we all gotta go sometime. Cheers!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Dr. John J. Dermigny

Please forgive the slight lull in postings. I fell down a flight of stairs on Sunday evening and banged my face up pretty good. A Special thank you to my doctor-in-law, Dr. Jack Dermigny (and nephew Pete) for bringing me to his office in the middle of the night and stitching me up. He is a conservative Republican. How's that for dedication? He does indeed adhere to the Hippocratic oath! 

By the way, recently Jack was made head of the residency program at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY. And to think that I knew him when!


Tchaikovsky: A Quest for the Inner Man
by Alexander Posnansky

If you're as infatuated with the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as I most definitely am, you might want to read this book. Then again, you might not. There is such a thing as "too much information" and that appears to be what I'm getting from this otherwise fine biography. Tchaikovsky was, in many ways, a good man. The problem is that he was not always an admirable one in many respects. That he was a troubled, tortured soul there is no doubt. I'll spare you the details. See for yourself if you insist. 


Adante Cantabile
by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
from Symphony No. 5

Still, whatever my misgivings toward Tchaikovsky the man (Hey, who's perfect?) his music never fails to send me into the clouds. This particular piece, Adante Cantabile, is a particular favorite of mine. In the 1930's it was turned into a big band hit in America and retitled "Moon Love" - which is kind of nice in a way. The melody invokes an enchanting, moonlit setting in my mind.

Cha! Cha! Cha!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Perfect Nightmare

Let's blame the black guy!

"The World is reaping what Obama helped sow."

New York Daily News Editorial, 6/17/14


The topic of that editorial was the latest catastrophe engulfing Iraq. It was titled (GET THIS!) "What Obama Wrought". It's a jolly good thing that I wasn't sipping my coffee when I happened upon it, otherwise I would have spit it out all over the computer screen. What was all-the-more galling is that nowhere in its contents was the name "George W. Bush" referred to - not even in passing! What are they smoking over there at the News? Whatever it is, it must be triple-laced with hallucinogenics. There is no other explanation for their eye-popping lack of insight. Or are they merely lying to us? That's a distinct possibility. There's a lot of lying going on these days; have you noticed that? 

If, by the remotest of chances, you happen to be as clueless as the editorial board of the New York Daily News, here's a brief history lesson for your enlightenment:

Exactly eleven years and three months ago, the president of the United States made the stupidest military blunder in the history of this doomed republic when he recklessly invaded the sovereign  nation of Iraq.  He told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were a direct threat to the peace and security of the free world. He and his henchmen (and one henchwoman - HI, CONDI!) implied that the Butcher of Baghdad was also involved in the carnage of September 11, 2001.  It was all a goddamned lie - and anyone bothering to pay attention to the situation knew that it was a lie. They said their goal was to bring "freedom and democracy" to the people of Iraq. Again, total bullshit. Their goal was to seize some of the largest reserves of "black gold" on the planet earth. That was the real reason. If they had really been so concerned about human freedom they would have chosen a spot a little closer to home to invade - Florida perhaps.

"Bring 'em on!"

George W. Bush 

What is happening now in Iraq is a nightmare eleven years in the making. In fact, it was predicted. At the time, most of the experts on the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of global politics knew that the centuries-old conflict between the Shiites a the Sunnis had been kept in check by Saddam. It's bound to explode in our faces if he were suddenly out of the picture, we were warned. The naysayers were described as unpatriotic lefties by Fox Noise and the right wing scream machine. Keep voting Republican.

It has long been obvious that the illegal invasion of Iraq was a huge, tragic mistake of generational proportions. Sixty, even seventy years from now (maybe longer) the president of the United States - who more-than-likely has not been born yet - will still be dealing on a daily basis with the criminal incompetence of the Bush Mob. This is the legacy that these murderous assholes have left for posterity. Over forty-five hundred Americans - and untold numbers of Iraqi men, women and little children (the precise number will never be known) - died in vain. 

The Republicans, long aware of the enormity of that error, have seized on this moment to pin the blame of Iraq's inevitable failure on Barack Obama and the Democrats. Will they succeed? Yeah, they probably will. In 1950 the president of Boston University, a man by the name of Daniel Marsh, predicted that America was destined to turn into "a nation of morons" The guy was prescient. 

If you read my stuff with even a molecule of regularity, you know that I'm not a knee-jerk supporter of Barack Obama; the man has turned out to be such a huge disappointment in so many areas that it's difficult to catalog them all. But here is where I'll come to his defense: As far as Iraq is concerned, he did exactly what we elected him to do. He informed us during the campaign of 2008 that his first priority as president of the United States would be extricating us from what anyone with a quarter of a brain knew would prove to be an untenable quagmire. As big a letdown as Barack turned out to be, I've never regretted voting for him - not for a microsecond. Nor do I have second thoughts about supporting him during the 2008 primaries. The alternatives were too horrible to think about. Hillary Clinton? Please.

The prez is being condemned by the right wing media (you know which ones I'm talking about) for pulling us out of Iraq. What the hell was he supposed to do? How long were we expected to stay there: a thousand years - as has been implied by Dick Cheney with a straight face?

Time to face some unfortunate facts, campers: Iraq is broken, non-fixable - and we broke it. Come to think about it, "we" is a misnomer. I was never naive enough to cast my vote for a half-witted nincompoop like George W. Bush. I sleep quite soundly at night thank you very much. 

With each passing year, it will become more and more obvious - gut-wrecnchingly obvious - what a complete and dreadful mistake it was sending those people to the White House thirteen years ago. With each passing year the ramifications of that mistake will be compounded. Isn't life strange?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Robert Greenwald

Hijacking Catastrophe
a film by Robert Greenwald

Mr. Greenwald's EXCELLENT documentary about the incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration's incursion into Iraq is one of the most informative - and disturbing - films dealing with this nasty subject that I have ever seen. If it's not for sale at your friendly, local, independently-owned video store (C'mon, there must be one left!) you can pick it up cheaper-than-dirt from

 Hijacking Catastrophe

Robert Greenwald is a national treasure. 


Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America

by Molly Ivins.

What can I say? Molly was as good as it gets - or is ever gonna be I imagine. I miss her more than words can express. Her take on Dubya is hilarious. 

At the Goshen Plaza parking lot

This photograph was taken less than a half hour ago. It is my first (and last, I promise) "selfie". Do I really look this disreputable? Maybe it's the focusing. I don't know about you but I would never pick this guy up hitchhiking - not in a million years, Buster! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eric's Bad Night

When the news came over my computer early this morning, I could scarcely fathom what it was I was reading. Was this some kind of Onionesque parody, I asked myself? The news was so baffling - and unexpected - that I had a difficult time processing it. A quick check of the other news sources that make their way into my inbox each-and-every morning confirmed that this was not a hoax: the extremist conservative, house majority leader, Eric Cantor, just wasn't right wing enough for the knuckleheads in the state of Virginia who tend to vote in Republican primaries; defeated by an underfunded, unknown Teapartier with the curious name, "David Brat". Aren't politics a gas?

Harry gives 'em Hell
To say that this was a "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment would be about right. When the polls closed on Election Night 1948 everybody (with the exception of Harry Truman it seems) expected that New York governor Thomas Dewey would commence packing his bags for his new digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Dreams can die a ghastly death. Mr. Dewey, like Mr. Cantor this morning, had some unpleasant realities to contend with come the dawn. Both had expected, not a campaign, but a coronation. Both became, instead, charter members of history's Losers Club. On Election Day when he should have been campaigning in his district and reaching out to his constituents, Eric Cantor was at a Starbucks in Washington DC, meeting with some of his richest donors. How's that for arrogance?  

Yesterday wasn't just a calamity for Eric Cantor; the cracking bells of doom for the "party of Abraham Lincoln" could be clearly heard all through the evening and into the early morning hours. The damned things kept me up all night.

Sorry, I couldn't resist
The Republicans are undergoing an ideological earthquake that has been decades in the making.  When Dick Nixon rolled out the "Southern Strategy" in the long ago campaign of 1968, the GOP overtly sought the support of the racist Dixiecrats who had dominated the Democratic party for over a century. By 1980 the bigots were securely in the tent. It was then that candidate Ronald Reagan set out to woo the clinically insane. By 2001 the coalition was securely in place. The cabal of thieves, criminals and crazy people who have hijacked that disgusting party now seem hellbent on destroying it. 

Not that this hasn't been oodles of fun to watch. It has. It's just that one has to wonder what their ultimate goal is. The Tea Party is taking a stand, not merely in Dixieland but in a lot of regions nationwide. In the weeks to come there are twenty-three Republican primaries scheduled. Watch as the incumbents move even further to the extreme right. What happened in Virginia yesterday might very well be a nasty harbinger of things to come. That would be too good to be true. 

The weirdest thing about Congressman Cantor has always been his demeanor of contentment. He always has this strange look of almost cherubic calm when spouting the right-wing agenda. At least Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, to their credit, have the decency to look somewhat ill-at-ease when defending the indefensible. Not so with Eric Cantor! He's perfectly at peace with himself: Buddy Holly on quaaludes. Weird!

Howard K. Smith
I initially intended to call this piece "The Political Obituary of Eric Cantor" - until I remembered Howard K Smith.

In 1962, after Dick Nixon was defeated by Pat Brown in his quest for the California Governor's mansion, Smith concocted a piece for ABC News called "The Political Obituary of Richard M. Nixon". Nixon had originally been favored to win. A former vice-President who came so close to defeating Jack Kennedy for the presidency two years earlier, he seemed a shoe-in. It didn't quite work out that way. On the night of his defeat, Nixon had a public meltdown and told the assembled press, "Just think how much you're going to be missing: You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." Howard took him at his work. Tricky Dick had effectively committed political suicide. Who could blame Smith for pounding out the Trickster's epitaph? 

Six years and two months later, Nixon was living in the White House. Ouch!

Although Smith went on to distinguish himself during an illustrious career that lasted until his retirement seventeen years later, the "Political Obituary" broadcast was an albatross that hung around his neck for the rest of his life. Bearing that in mind, I'm not going to make the mistake of writing off Eric Cantor as a goner - much as I'd love to, mind you. 

Come to think about it we really shouldn't be all that surprised by the outcome of the Cantor/Brat contest. The Frankenstein monster in the guise of the Tea Party was created by the Republicans to do their ideological bidding. Unfortunately the monster has turned on them. What no one is saying is that this is now a separate party. David Brat may technically be a Republican, but if they try to nominate a "moderate" in 2016 (Mitt Romney was too much of a lefty for these clowns) there is every reason to expect a third-party uprising, dooming the GOP on Election Day of that year - and every four years from here on. 

The Republicans' extremism has rendered them a self-inflicted, mortal wound that will eventually destroy that party. Last night was but a prelude of still nastier things to come. The Clown Car is on fire. It really is amusing watching that elephant have a nervous breakdown, isn't it?

I'm loving every minute of this. Seriously.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Events Leading Up to My Death:
by Howard K. Smith

The journalistic memoirs of a giant from the golden age of television news.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

National Slave Rememberance Day

"I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man."

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Okay, there I was, driving down Six-and-a-half Station Road, less than a mile from where I live, listening to some satellite radio station, when I heard an ad that almost made me lose control of the vehicle. Some unnamed, idiotic right wing group (they're all pretty idiotic - just in case you've never noticed) wants me to contact my local representative in the congress (that would be Sean Patrick Maloney) and DEMAND that he passes a law that designates the third Tuesday of every November as - I'm not kidding - NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURS DAY!!! So help me Mitch Miller, these jackasses want to set aside a national holiday that honors the sacrifice made by Donald Trump.

Why November - a month that already has Veterans Day and Thanksgiving? Why not make it in August, June or April - three neglected months of the year that have no holidays whatsoever? Could the reason be that November the first is the birthday of Charles Koch? I wonder. The ad on the radio that almost caused me to hit a herd of innocent deer that were grazing in a field to my right, instructed me to remember the people "who built" this grand and glorious land of ours.

Come again?

If we're going to honor the people "who built" America, let's get it right, shall we? Tell you what; the next time you're walking past the White House or the Capital in Washington, ask yourself the following question:

Who built that?

Both of those buildings were built by human beings who were being held in bondage - slaves

I've got a dandy idea: How 'bout a national holiday to coincide with the weekend closest to August 16 (my birthday but that's only coincidental - HONEST!) that would have us take pause and pay tribute to the people who really built America. The plutocracy does not need their own special day of remembrance. Every single day is a jolly holiday for those who don't need to work. Think about it!  

National Billionaires Day is a mind-bogglingly stupid idea. National Slave Remembrance Day is an idea long overdue. This ain't rocket science, kids. 

Donald's bad hair life
People who have more money than they know what to do with don't need to be honored for having the talent (or the luck) to make all that cash. How do you think Donald Trump became as rich as he is? Certainly brilliance had nothing to do with it. Have you ever seen the guy being interviewed? The Donald is an idiot. How was he able to accumulate his wealth? He inherited it from his father. Why should we honor Donald Trump in the same way we used to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln? (It's now called "Presidents Day" in honor of all presidents. That would include George W. Bush). 

National Slave Remembrance Day is not only an idea whose time has come, it's positively shameful that it hasn't been established as a national holiday as of yet. Am I the first person to come up with the idea? I couldn't be! Only a century-and-a-half separates us from the time when human beings were treated like cattle in "the land of the free". In terms of the history of the human race, a hundred and fifty years is but a millisecond. On the day that I was born there were about one-hundred people still living who were born into slavery. The last veteran of the Civil War passed away a year after I was born - and I'm not that old....WELL I"M NOT!!!    

Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home
'Tis summer and the darkies are gay....

Stephen Foster

It's not quite like it was in the movies, folks. Hatttie McDaniel was an actress (and a damned good one). She was not a historian. The image of slap-happy, banjo-playin' ol' Uncle Tom - shufflin' along 'n' yacking it up 'n' chompin' on that watermelon - is a fantasy straight out of the mind and morals of Cliven Bundy. Just to refresh your memory, he is the Nevada rancher who recently made the incredible statement that "Negroes" were better off as slaves. A lot of people who call themselves "conservatives" have the silliest notions when it comes to African Americans. Have you ever noticed that? 

So what do you think? This coming August 16 - and every August the sixteenth from here to eternity - shall be recognized as "National Slave Remembrance Day". And if the right wing crazies freak out about the idea (as surely they will), we must explain that it'll be a good deal for them in two ways:

First (and foremost): they'll have yet another thing they'll be able to bitch and moan about and....

Second: We'll all have another excuse to have a barbeque and get rip-roaring drunk! WHOOPEE!

I'm telling you, it's a win/win situation!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


One of my bragging rights is that I once met Maya Angelou. God rest her soul. There will never be another one like her. 


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou 

Weep no more, my lady.