Saturday, February 28, 2015

Crazies on Parade

Dig this! White Christian males (such as I) are an oppressed minority. This I never knew!

McGovern '72
I suspect that - subtly at least - the "white victimization" fantasy will - once again - be a key part of the right wing's attempt to appeal to the clueless American people. It's always worked so well in senate and congressional races; not so much in the presidential contests - for the simple reason that it was never really necessary. 2016 is going to be different, though. The GOP is these days facing some unsettling realities. And the nastiest fact of all it that they've rendered themselves unelectable as far as the presidential contest is concerned. How do you think that an African American politician from Chicago was able to get elected? Sure, the guy was loaded with substance (no argument there). But so were Al Gore and George McGovern. Everything has changed.  

Where is this white-Christian-male suppression coming from? Who is instigating this mass persecution?. Why am I not able to perceive it? Am I really that dense? Some of the folks who tune into this site might agree with that last assessment (I can almost hear the wise cracks now) but I think I'm a fairly perceptive guy. If I have ever once, during my fifty-six-and-a-half years on this sad planet, been discriminated against because I am a male and a Christian, I'm not aware of it. In fact, the only person in my life who ever put me down due to the fact that I'm Irish Catholic is me! You know how we Irish are with our self-deprecating wit! 

Here's what's happening:

Because conservative policies are doing such serious damage to the people of this country (particularly in the South and the Midwest) the right wing SCREAM machine has these assholes convinced that they're suffering because they're being persecuted by those nasty LIB'RALS who would like nothing better than to elevate the KNEE-GROW at their expense. Call it "the vast, left-wing conspiracy". Hence their nutty persecution complex. Ain't that a riot?
Okay, okay; I'll come right out and confess: It's all true. If we progressives have our wicked way (and we will  have our wicked way) within five years, after you white Christians are humiliatingly defeated in the race war that is now in the final stages of preparation, your young daughters will be forced into cohabitation with black men. Be afraid.

This is where I do my sinister-evil laugh. But seriously, folks.... 

A few years ago I predicted that the most crucial thing to watch in the next thirty years or so will be how white people in this country react to the unstoppable sociological fact that they will one day (and not too far into the future) no longer be in the majority. By all accounts they're (we're) not reacting as maturely as we should be. C'mon, fellow honkies! Let's act like grownups, okay? There's no way we can stop what is happening short of genocide. And although a few of us may very well be contemplating such an atrocity (white supremacy is not quite dead) it's not in the cards so put it out of your minds. Just sit back and roll with the changes. That's what I've been doing and I'm perfectly content with it thank you very much. It's not the end of the world. Take a minority to lunch and chill out.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Ship Without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart
by Gary Mamorstein

Larry Hart (1895-1943) was the most gifted lyricist in the history of the American theater. He was also a sad and deeply troubled man. Together with Richard Rodgers (pre-Hammerstein) he composed some of the most beautiful music ever heard by the human ear; and in the process single-handedly redefined how lyrics are written. This excellent biography attempts to unlock the tragic riddle of Lorenz Hart's life - and his eventual disintegration into alcoholism and an early death.

So don't change a hair for me, not if you care for me
Stay, little Valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines Day....

Friday, February 20, 2015

POST #577: Random Observations

Smoking more and enjoying it less 2/20/15
What you have here are nothing more than a series of aimless comments that I had posted on other websites or out in the Facebooksphere. Writing this blog is often more difficult than it should be; I mean - Heavens to freakin' Betsey! - there's just so much to write about. The problem is that there are times when one doesn't know where to begin. I'm having one of those weeks. Happy reading!


The accepted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to yield a different result every time. Forgive me for what may seem to some as my obsession with Jeb Bush, but if the people of this doomed country are ever again insane enough to send another member of this disgusting family to the White House, they'll deserve everything that happens to them. 

Fifteen years ago I was damned near everywhere - on local radio, in the newspapers, and four times on national television (C-SPAN - anyone can get on C-Span) warning everyone who would listen what a disaster a second Bush White House would be for this country. I was pretty much ignored then. Don't ignore me now, okay? They're trying to portray Jeb as "the moderate alternative". They're lying. How do I know? As governor of Florida, he ruled that state from the far right. Since his half-witted older brother mercifully vacated the Executive Mansion six years ago, he's been desperately trying to reposition himself as a "compassionate conservative". Remember that line? We won't get fooled again, right?....RIGHT???

I can't emphasize this enough, kiddies.

2. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My ISIS?
It gets stupider by the day. The FOX Noise pundits, along with the usual suspects on right wing talk radio, are implying (some even stating outright) that by referring to ISIS as "extremists" and not "Islamist extremists", the president of the United States is somehow sympathetic with the goals of these freaks. Obama has said that the United States is at war with all forms of extremism. Last week, when he merely pointed out the undeniable truth that bad things have been done in the name of Jesus Christ down through the centuries, including in the good ol' U S of A, conservatives had (and are still having) a mass nervous breakdown. I have no comment other than to say that this has been quite an amusing spectacle to behold. We'll leave it at that for now. 

3. Thinking About Malcolm

Tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of assassination of Malcolm X. He was one of the great visionaries of the twentieth century in my opinion. I was living and working in Naples, Florida when I first read his memoirs in 1986. This is quite ironic when one takes into consideration that Naples (at the time anyway) had the lowest per capita population of black people living in it than almost every other city in the country. Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It completely and utterly changed my life. I'm almost certain it will change yours, too. That is, of course, unless you're afraid of change. If that's the case then don't bother. 


"To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship of the day."

Theodore Roosevelt

"....the first task of statesmanship of the day"....Of that day. There are few statesmen left - and even fewer stateswomen....NEXT!

5. Rudy Can Fail

I think that Rudy Giuliani ought to fold up the tents and go home for a permanent rest. He's always seemed to me to be a tad off his rocker. I met him once, and while he seemed like a nice enough fellow, even in that informal setting I got the impression that there was something about the poor bastard that wasn't quite right. As mayor of New York City, he certainly wasn't one tenth as extreme as his Republican brethren nationwide; he never would have gotten elected had that been the case. And yet, since leaving Gracie Mansion over a decade ago he's taken a decided turn to the extreme right. That was not totally unexpected - he was eying the White House in 2008 and one can't get nominated by that party these days unless one is willing to sound like a complete psychotic.  Totally understandable.

But for this blubbering twit to say, as he did this week, that the president of the United States hates Americans in general - and America in particular - was too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Why is he still saying these horrifically moronic things? Can it be that he has on eye on the campaign of 2016? My goodness, I hope so. That should make things really interesting. 


I've just been informed by the nice folks at W-CBS News Radio that today has been the coldest day in New York State since they started keeping records over a century ago. If you live in the region of the country where I am writing from you're probably not the least bit surprised to learn this. Earlier, I attempted to fill up my jeep and got as far as ten dollars. The hell with this, I thought to myself, it's just too damned cold.

Be warm, everybody.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Autobiography of Malcolm X 
(with Alex Haley)


I don't smoke cigars. But every time a new Ernie Kovacs product is released onto DVD I always go out and purchase one Dutch Master. They were the company that sponsored the Ernie Kovacs program back in the late fifties and early sixties. That's my little way of thanking them for taking a chance on Ernie when no one else would. 

RUDY UPDATE, 2/21/15, 11:50 AM:

According to the front page of this morning's New York Daily News, the former mayor is now accusing the president of the United States of being a communist. Ain't that a scream?  Someone really ought to check this pathetic son-of-a-bitch's calender. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Selma in February

"They told us we wouldn't get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "We ain't gonna let nobody turn us around." 

Martin Luther King on the steps of the Alabama State House
March 25, 1965

Six days ago I finally got to see "Selma", the new film that chronicles the struggles of Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Council, in an uneasy alliance with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to bring about the basic right of people with dark skin to vote in the state of Alabama fifty years ago.  It's a great show and I can't recommend it enough. Traveling through the deep south back in the mid eighties, I made it a point to visit most of the places that are today hallowed ground in America's never-ending quest to make this a perfect union. Thankfully, eventually, we arrived at our goal. America is perfect in 2015. Isn't that a grand thing?

But seriously, folks....

Although I can't recommend this film enough, my only problem with it was how Lyndon Johnson was portrayed: as an unwilling participant in this struggle to the mountaintop. LBJ's historical reputation has been damaged enough by the tragedy of Vietnam. We really need to give the poor bastard credit where credit is long overdue. No keener an observer than Thurgood Marshall has rightfully made the point that, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, no other president in American history did more for the equal rights of African Americans than Lyndon - not Jack Kennedy, not Bill Clinton (the first "black" president) not even Barack Obama! In fact, Obama's presidency owes its very existence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both of which were signed into law by Johnson. I know it's fashionable these days to portray half-witted presidents from Texas in the most negative light (I'm guilty of that, believe me); it's just that Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush just aren't in the same league - it's not even close. Think of it as comparing apples with decomposing ravens. 

When visiting Montgomery, Alabama in 1985, the first thing that struck me was that this could have been the set of a one-act play; there would be no need for scene changes at all: The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the Trailways Bus Terminal (sight of much racial violence back then), and the state capital are not only within walking distance of each other, they're in view of each other. In May 1985, standing on the steps in the predawn hours of the church where the young Reverend King preached thirty years before, was an experience I would suggest you try if you ever have the opportunity. It was pretty freakin' awesome, let's leave it at that. That was thirty years ago and I can still feel it now. At that moment, Dr. King's tenure there seemed a very long time before. How could I know then that it was only yesterday. That's what May of 1985 feels like to me now. 

Standing at Dr. King's one-time home made me incredulous that something like the civil rights movement - in the "land of the free" - was ever necessary to begin with. Thirty years later I wonder why it's still necessary. Keep an eye on until Election Day 2016. Wait and see how many people with dark skin will be denied their precious right to vote thanks to these so-called "Voter ID Laws". The shit is gonna hit the fan, baby! Just you wait. 

As I said in my last piece, film criticism is not my bailiwick. I can only tell you what I like and don't like. The first time I saw Citizen Kane when I was twenty-two, I knew not a thing of it's reputation as "the greatest movie ever made". All I could say upon viewing it was that it was one of the best films that I had ever seen. My instincts are usually pretty good in that area....or almost. I still consider Bill Murray's 1979 summer camp film, Meatballs, to be a classic. So sue me.

I think I called this one. Selma is destined to be a minor cinematic classic, maybe not along the lines of Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, but well worth seeing - particularly if you're interested of the history of the civil rights movement in America.

When the film was through after a very brief (it seemed to me) two hours and ten minutes, I looked around the theater to see that I was only one of four people in attendance. Just out of curiosity I strolled across the hall to see how American Sniper was doing. It was doing much better business. I can't even begin to describe how depressed this made me feel. Isn't life strange?

David Oyelowo as Dr. King
 "The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man."

Dr. King, 1/25/65

Can you even begin to imagine this country without him? I don't even wanna try.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Parting the Waters
by Taylor Branch

This history of the early years of the civil rights struggle in America is much more detail than can be provided by any film. I couldn't put it down.

Here's a link to another piece I wrote about the good Doctor five years ago on the anniversary of his passing:

Paging Doctor King!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

American Sniping

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand."

Harper Lee
from To Kill a Mockingbird


"Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy 'savages.' There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there."

Chris Kyle

"Savage, despicable evil". It really is an interesting choice of words - and very possibly quite appropriate. But we need to take into consideration how the people of Iraq must have felt toward George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's illegal, unjustified invasion of their sovereign nation. One cannot help but wonder how humanely Chris Kyle would have reacted had Saddam Hussein invaded his hometown of Odessa, Texas. "Savage, despicable evil" indeed. Everything is relative. Then again, that was a quote from his autobiography, which was ghost-written. Who knows what the silly bastard was really thinking.

I have not seen the new movie, about the life and "career" of Chris Kyle,  nor do I plan to. Were I to stumble upon a copy of it on DVD, I might give it a whirl - if only out of morbid curiosity you understand. Other than that I have no desire to view it. My purpose here is not to comment on the film's merit - or lack thereof - as so many people who haven't seen it - (left and right) - seem to be doing these days. Besides, film criticism isn't really my schtick. I speak merely as a battle-hardened correspondent in America's never-ending culture war.

Clint debates a chair
The other day there was a posting on a friend's Facebook page that made its way on to my home feed. Someone had posted a glowing endorsement of Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, American Sniper, based on the memoirs quoted above. The only comment I could make was my opinion that Chris Kyle was the best advertizement I could think of for more regulation of the firearms industry. He handed a loaded gun to a person he knew damned well to be mentally ill. That carelessness cost him and another man their lives. Genius. 

When someone in the thread pointed out to me that the Second Amendment guaranteed "The right of the people to keep and bear arms", I responded by quoting that section in its full and proper context: 

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I wondered aloud, "What happened to that 'well regulated militia' bit?" As gently and as tactfully as I could, I pointed out that the part they love to quote so much is always quoted out of context. It is, in fact, only half of a much larger sentence.

This was probably a mistake on my part. You wouldn't believe the shit-storm of invective that I was subjected to....or perhaps you would. Their wrath didn't really bother me all that much. "If you can't stand the heat...." as Harry Truman once advised. In fact their complete freak-out was really kind of funny. 

Apparently most (if not all) of the guys who commented are veterans of Operation Iraqi "Freedom". One of them said that I should show a lot more respect to the "men" (he neglected to mention the women) who fought over there for my "freedom". Another one even had the chutzpah to say that I was an idiot and an ingrate, and that I owe my right to free speech to the vets of Iraq. I responded that my First Amendment rights were fully in place when the United States Constitution was ratified two-hundred and twenty-six years ago. That's when the proverbial substance hit the old fan. I should have known better. The entire discussion went completely downhill from there.

It's time to take a deep breath, folks. I have no disrespect for anyone who believes that it is his or her vocation to don the uniform of the United States military. That's fine and dandy. But to imply that they were over there fighting so that I (or any of us) shall remain "free" is an absurdity too profound to contemplate. In March of 2003, George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney saw an opportunity to seize one of the largest oil reserves on the planet. They also sought to turn an armed conflict into a capitalistic orgy. Cheney's company, Halliburton, made billions in Iraq providing American servicemen and women with facilities and equipment, a lot of which proved to be of such piss-poor quality that it cost the lives of a few of the people who were unfortunate enough to utilize them - such as when some of these poor kids were electrocuted while performing the mere ritual of taking a shower in stalls provided by Cheney and his buddies. Nice.

That's what the war in Iraq was all about: a golden opportunity for a few obscenely wealthy bastards and bitches to become obscenely wealthier. "Freedom"??? Please. That's complete and utter nonsense. Don't insult my intelligence.

"Bring 'em on!"

-George W. Bush, Summer 2003

Cooper as Kyle
That it was the worst military blunder in American history only a fool would deny with hindsight. When Iraq exploded in sectarian violence in the summer of 2003, it was only a matter of time before the United States turned tail and got the hell out of there while the getting was good. The only problem was simply that the "getting" would never get very good at all; and it took a nearly a decade for our leaders to realize this nasty little fact.  Unfortunately by that time the death toll had risen so high that they have yet to accurately assess the total number of lives lost on the Iraqi side. It might be a million souls lost. It might be more. Most of the dead were not of the "savage, despicable evil" variety of Chris Kyle's memories, but innocent men, women and little children. Ain't that a scream?

And now there is an attempt being made by some of our friends on the loony right to turn Chris Kyle into a secular saint. That's the biggest joke of all - and quite a bit disturbing at the same time. Any criticism of American Sniper is seen by these nitwits as borderline blasphemy, can you believe that?

Tell you what: Would you like to see a film about a true, honest-to-goodness American hero? Go see "Selma". It's about a guy named Martin Luther King. Incidentally, he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 - by an American sniper named James Earl Ray. Not only that, Dr. King really did die for our freedoms - unlike Chris Kyle - who died simply because he was foolish enough to give a dangerous weapon to a guy on a shooting range who was as crazy as a bedbug. Real life is just drenched with juicy little ironies like that one, you know?

I'm afraid that my observations on my old pal's Facebook feed cost me a friendship that went back over four decades. My comments were deleted and I was immediately "unfriended". That's okay. What good are forty-year-old friendships if they can't be shattered into a million pieces overnight by something as seemingly trivial to human relationships as politics? I'll be fine, I promise. He'll be fine, too, I'm sure.

Every time I meet a person who served in Iraq, my inclination is not to thank them for their service to our country, but, rather, to apologize to them. "Sorry for the fuck up", I'm tempted to say, "I didn't vote for Dubya, Honest I didn't."

Respect? Sure. But I pity them much more than I respect them - much, much more

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


Hijacking Catastrophe
a film by Robert Greenwald

I left a link to watch this film a little less than three weeks ago, but I need to do it again. This excellent documentary details, with depressing accuracy, the incompetence and corruption behind the Bush Mob's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the financial killing that Cheney and other GOP-connected "entrepreneurs" made off of it. This is the most important documentary to emerge from the Bush years, and so few people have seen it. See it now.  You can pick it up for under ten bucks at I cannot recommend it enough. Watch it.


Here's a really funny posting I saw on Facebook back in November. At the time I shared it on this site. Forgive me, but I need to share it with you again. It really is a riot of mirth!

Yeah, Dubya 'cared about' the troops alright. The half-witted little psychopath "cared about" them so much that he sent them off to fight an illegal, un-winnable war in which over five thousand of them sacrificed their lives. Now he lives in cushy retirement while the vets that he "cared about" so much are committing suicide at record numbers. Yeah, George W. Bush "cared about" the troops.  Ain't that a fucking hoot?

 A real Texas hero

by Buddy Holly

"But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver...." The music died fifty-six years ago today:

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died....


Special thanks to Facebook friend, Judi Stately, for the Harper Lee quote at the top of this piece. 

Hi ho, everybody, hi ho....