Thursday, March 26, 2015

Charlie McCarthyism

"This is an administration that seems bound and determined to violate every single one of our bill of rights. I don’t know that they have yet violated the Third Amendment, but I expect them to start quartering soldiers in peoples’ homes soon."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz (with a straight face)

It's official; Ted Cruz made the announcement on Monday that he is a candidate for the presidency of the United States. The silly bastard has tossed his tinfoil hat into the ring. Life is beautiful.

My luck. How did it get so good? "Fortuitous" doesn't even come close to defining it. Ted Cruz's candidacy is the best news I've had since the moment I learned that the Bay City Rollers had disbanded. This, of course, is no surprise - in fact I predicted on this site two years ago that Ted would make a run for the Big House in 2016. It was obvious to me that this idiot had such a high opinion of himself, that he really believed he was fit for the job. And I do not believe this to be a cynical attempt to "up his brand" so to speak; he is in it for the long haul. That is what makes the very existence of Ted Cruz such a knee-slapping delight: He takes himself so seriously! And don't think the American people won't be naive enough to elevate a half-witted yahoo from the Lone Star State to the presidency. Just in case it slipped your mind, it has happened before. I don't really need to rehash the ugly details here, do I?

Ted Cruz is a satirist's delight. He requires little (if any) effort. All one has to do is quote the demented little freak verbatim and - HEY PRESTO - instant satire! Here, I'll show you what I mean:

"If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government."

You see what I'm talking about? With Ted Cruz hogging such a huge portion of the national limelight, these things literally write themselves! Should he ever make it to the White House, I'll be the most tickled person on the planet. Can you imagine how delightfully weird something like a Cruz administration would be? As mind-jarringly stupid as George W. Bush was, old Ted is starting to make the hideous little frat boy look like Albert Einstein. I know it's unnatural to wish for something as horrible as that, but since the American people are hellbent on self-destruction anyway, we might as well have a nice giggle as we descend into the abyss. Ain't politics the livin' end?


In the 2008 campaign, only one of the candidates of the two major political parties was born in the United States - Barack Obama. John McCain was born in Panama. And yet it was the black guy whose qualifications were brought into question - at least in your minds - although I'm sure that was just a coincidence (NUDGE! NUDGE! WINK! WINK!) Since you tea-partiers have gotten twisted up into such a comical snit over the birthplace of the president of the United States from the moment he announced his candidacy in 2007, I'm wondering how you're going to react to the news that Ted Cruz was born in Canada? Unlike your allegations against Barack Obama (Born in Kenya? REALLY???) Ted's place of birth is beyond dispute. He even went through the trouble of "renouncing" his Canadian citizenship a couple of years ago! I've got a feeling that the very real origins of Ted Cruz's birth aren't going to make much of a difference to you folks this time round. Call it a silly hunch on my part.

And can you imagine the howl these idiotic right-wingers would have made had Barack Obama's dad been one of the insurgents who overthrew the Batista regime in Cuba in 1959 and placed Fidel Castro into power? Well that's the history of Ted's father, Raul! He was one of the Rough Riders who went charging up the figurative San Juan Hill with Castro in the lead! He claims that he had no idea of Castro's communist leanings at the time - and I take him at his word. Back in the Fabulous Fifties, even the State Department wasn't sure where Fidel's politics were at.

Now, I realize that only an idiot would would even bother to bring these trivial things up in a campaign - that's why you can bet the farm that Ted's opponents will be sure to raise these issues during next year's GOP primaries. In case you haven't noticed, the collective IQ of that disgusting party has gone downhill just a wee bit since the days of Eisenhower. How's that for understatement? 

 ”The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”
-Ted Cruz
It's a only half step up  from uber racist and dingbat Jesse Helms to red-baiting blowhard Joseph McCarthy.  

McCarthy died on May 2, 1957, nearly fourteen years before Ted was born. I never dreamed that a character as completely warped as the infamous Wisconsin senator would appear in my lifetime; I was wrong. Ted Cruz is so McCarthy-like that it would be disconcerting if it weren't so funny. If he hasn't done McCarthy one better he's come pretty damned close. This was apparent a couple of years ago during the confirmation hearings for war hero Chuck Hagel, when Cruz accused him of somehow being in cahoots with the North Koreans. It was pure McCarthy - with every "t" dotted and every "i" crossed. Even his posture - the way he hunched over the microphone with his head slightly tilted - was pure Joe McCarthy! It was clear to me (and I wasn't the only one who took note of it) that Ted had admiringly studied Joe with all the devotion of a disciple absorbing wisdom at the feet of the master. And to think this knucklehead wants to be our next president. Imagine that. 

By the way, just to give you an idea where this twit is coming from, of all the places across the country from which could have inaugurated his campaign, he did it from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, the college that was founded by another famous racist, the late Jerry Fallwell. That's not unlike Ronald Reagan, who announced his candidacy in 1980 from Philadelphia, Mississippi, a completely unremarkable little stain on the map whose only claim to fame was the murders there of three civil rights workers in the summer of 1964. Nice.

Whatever happens in the next year-and-a-half, I'm all dressed up for the ride. It's gonna be oodles of fun watching Ted and Jeb tear each other to shreds in the primaries. And if Cruz is denied the nomination at the convention next summer, who wants to make a wager that he throws a wrench into the GOP's finely oiled machine by launching a third party uprising? I wouldn't put it past the guy; he seems intent on destroying the Republican party.  

Tom  Degan
Goshen, NY


Here is a link to the first (but hardly the last) piece I ever wrote about Ted Cruz in May of 2013. He has only gained in comedic value in the ensuing two years. The man is a hoot:

The Seven Dumbest Things Ted Cruz Ever Said:
From our friends over at AlterNet. Here's to you, Ted!


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
Jon's take on the candidacy of Ted Cruz. As we've come to expect from this guy, it's as funny as it's insightful.

UPDATE 3/31/15, 1:30 PM: 

This is pretty funny. Some joker out there just put me on Ted Cruz's mailing list:

My fellow conservative, I need your immediate help.

We're less than 18 HOURS away from our first financial Quarterly Fundraising Deadline -- and it's the most important moment of our campaign.

I've launched an aggressive fundraising drive to meet our goal, and we must perform well. Can I count on you?


Sure, Ted.

Rob Waggoner

A gent from Tennessee by the name of Rob Waggoner just left this comment on my Facebook page:

"Going forward please only refer to him as Raphael Eduardo Cruz, since so many are hellbent on referring to our President as Barack HUSSEIN Obama."

Interesting idea, Rob. What goes around, ay?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Cotton Club 47


 "Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

The Logan Act, 30 December 1799

Just thought I'd run that by you. 

It's as obvious as a setting sun on a westbound, highway: Tom Cotton has a severe case of Ted-Cruz-envy. Two years ago Cruz, a bloviating gasbag from the Lone Star State, was a newly arrived freshman senator, all set to shake up Washington in whatever way he could. Not since Joe McCarthy in the late forties had the nation seen anyone like this extremist dingbat. In two short years, he is now viewed (by some at least) as being a major contender for the 2016 nomination. Certainly Cruz has a high enough opinion of himself that, in his delusional megalomania, he has convinced himself that he is going to succeed Barack Obama as the next president of the United States of America.

Can you guess why I love writing about this stuff so much?

Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas just took his senate seat in January. You can almost feel the little freak's lust for the same type of fame and notoriety that Cruz was able to achieve in so short a time. Less than a month-and-a-half after arriving in the senate chamber, this pathetic nonentity was able to talk forty-six of his colleagues into signing a letter addressed to the leaders of Iran, effectively torpedoing (or trying to - we shall see) negotiations in which the administration is presently engaged in trying to stop Iran's potential development of a nuclear weapons program. Some are saying that what they have done was in direct violation of the Logan Act, a law that has been on the books since January 30, 1799. Some even dare to call it "treason". Whatever the case, "the party of Abraham Lincoln" is looking crazier than ever - a feat which takes some doing.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the Obama Justice Department to prosecute these clowns. In fact there has some precedent set in the past for publicity-crazy politicians (on both sides of the aisle) sticking their noses, where they clearly don't belong, into foreign affairs. But the undeniable fact is that it has never been done quite at this level before. They basically informed the Iranians in this sophomoric message that any agreement they make with Barack Obama will be null and void come January 20, 2017 when the Grand Old Party is once again in control of the executive branch of the American government.


Apparently it has yet to dawn on these assholes that their party - at least on a nationwide basis - has become virtually unelectable. You want the proof? In the last two national election cycles the American people chose as their leader a black politician from Chicago. Given this nation's sad history with respect to race, that's an extraordinary thing. Can they really be so demented to think that defeating a white woman at the polls two Novembers from now is going to be any easier? To quote the great Johnny Mercer:

"Dream when the day is through
Dream and they might come true
Things never are as bad as they seem
So dream, dream, dream...." 

The only way that disgusting party is going to be able to take back the White House in two years will be via the route of an electoral coup d'etat; they won't be able to do it any other way. That's what the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was all about. Remember you read it here, folks.

I don't lose any sleep over the knowledge that there are blathering imbeciles like Tom Cotton or Ted Cruz - or the forty-five other senators who were stupid enough to sign that letter - rampaging the floors of the nation's capital. I'll be honest with you: it makes life awfully interesting. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Bob Crane 1928-1978
AFTERTHOUGHT: Hogan Revisited

I go to see my mother twice every day at the adult care facility she lives in (it's called Glen Arden). Lately I've taken to watching about an hour of reruns of Hogan's Heroes when I visit. They run every morning on TV Land, replacing the Cosby Show which was removed from the lineup a few months ago for reasons I don't think I need to go in to.

I used to love this program when I was a kid; however in the forty-plus years since I last viewed it, it has made its way onto every list as one of the worst TV shows in history. I wasn't too surprised to hear this. Back in its day, I thought Rowan and Martin's Laugh In was a hoot. When I viewed a few episodes a number of years ago, I was taken aback by how embarrassingly bad it was. I only assumed that Hogan's Heroes would suffer the same fate of adult hindsight.

After watching it for about a month now, I can only say that it's not one of the worst programs in history - far from it. In fact, when compared to other shows of that overrated decade, it holds up remarkably well. Let's face it: the sixties were a dreadful period in the history of American comedy. Other than a small handful, most of the "comedies" of that era are virtually unwatchable today. Hogan's Heroes is the happy exception to the rule: It's funny - very funny. Recently TV Guide named it fifth from the bottom of the worst shows of all time. That's complete nonsense.

Perhaps in the politically correct culture in which we live, certain people cannot forgive a program that was able to mine humor out of a Nazi-era POW camp. I would only advise that if you happen upon it while surfing the channels, give it another chance. It's not only very funny, there is enough suspense - and even a bit of drama - to keep it interesting. In that respect it paved the way for M*A*S*H, another comedy set within a man-made tragedy.

The show disappeared from syndication for decades following the 1978 murder of Bob Crane, who played Colonel Hogan. When the details of his somewhat lecherous private life and the circumstances that lead to his killing became known to the public, perhaps viewers wanted to forget about him for a while. Enough time has passed, I guess. Maybe in thirty-seven years we'll be able to watch Bill Cosby again without wincing.

dear Abbie

Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture
by Abbie Hoffman

I first read his memoirs about thirty years ago and they're even better with hindsight on the second reading. What I always loved about Abbie Hoffman (and why I miss him) is that he was utterly fearless without ever losing his madcap sense of humor, despite his trials - real and figurative. He was too unique for emulation. It's unspeakably sad that mental illness implanted in his mind the belief that his life wasn't worth living. That happens to a lot of good and decent people. We sure could use him now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"A Sacred Place"

Overcoming since 1965
"Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed...Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence ...stands weakened."

President Barack Obama, 7 March 2015
at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama

The more things change....

In an interview Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Congressman John Lewis told Chuck Todd that he considers the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to be "a sacred place". And so it is. I drove over it once thirty years ago. Take it from me: the vibes are pretty intense. The bridge is named after an officer in the confederacy and a US senator who was also a Grand Dragon in the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. Given what his name has come to symbolize in the struggle for African American equality, I'm sure the hideous old bastard is doing somersaults in his grave at this very moment. I hope so.
Lewis: Walking into history
It's a disconcerting thing when you really think about it; the idea that what went down at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama fifty years ago this week could have happened - not only within my lifetime - but within my memory! The question of voting rights for all Americans should have been settled before the turn of the twentieth century. The dirty little secret is even more confounding: it's still not settled. The Voting Rights act of 1965, from which the blood spilled in Selma on that day was inspired, was effectively gutted last year. You're forgiven if your primary news source is FOX Noise and you were unaware of this rather revolting development....On second thought, you're not forgiven at all. What the heck is the matter with you? You ought to know better - seriously.

All in all it was a beautiful thing to behold: a mass gathering of the survivors of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, and the children of that movement, those born decades after people like Medgar Evers and Jimmy Lee Jackson and Viola Liuzzo and Reverend James Reeb and Martin Luther King paid the ultimate dues by laying down their lives to advance the freedom of us all. That's what some people don't seem to understand: They freed all of us - white and black. We - I - owe those folks, BIG TIME.

"If someone had told me when we were crossing that bridge that one day I'd be back here introducing the first African-American president, I'd say you're crazy, you're out of your mind, you don't know what you're talking about!"

Rep. John Lewis
Selma, March 7, 2015  

The martyred Viola Liuzzo
That things have moved forward since Bloody Sunday 1965 there's little room for debate; it's just that in recent months there has been a determined effort to reverse the gains which took many decades (not to mention quite a few lives and rivers of blood) to achieve. The eventuality that the power structure of this nation never foresaw was that, one day, they would no longer be the commanding majority. When the very first African American was elected to the presidency in 2008 (LORD, SAVE US ALL!!!) a lot of these bastards and bitches decided that the hour had come to take decided action. They were able to conjure - out of thin air, mind you - the make-believe electoral malady called "voter fraud". Last year the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was effectively gutted. By requiring voters to purchase ID's, they have made it difficult for the traditional Progressive constituency to cast their precious ballots. Somewhere, Jim Clark and Bull Connor must be smiling.
I hate to rain on this rancid little parade of theirs (Honest I do!) but it seems perfectly clear to me that what went down a half a century ago in Selma, Alabama was merely a sweet little overture for what is coming. Not only has Jim Crow been raised from the dead, he's on a nationwide comeback tour. This is a show that won't be closing any time soon. 

Paging Dr. King
Come Election Day 2016, a lot of people who, with no difficulty at all, have voted their entire adult lives will be denied that right because of these right-wing-engineered laws. I just hope the victims of that denial remember Dr. King's legacy of non-violence. Perhaps they will. Perhaps they won't. Of this you may be absolutely certain: The shit is going to hit the fan; there will be riots at polling places all across the land. Hang onto your hats, folks. There's gonna be a hot time in the good ol' USA on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Take that to the bank.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Parting the Waters
by Taylor Branch
This comprehensive history of the Civil Rights movement in America is, to the best of my knowledge, the finest book ever written on the subject. It's still in print, too. Here's a link to order it off of
Parting the Waters: 1954-1963 

Part two is called "Pillar of Fire 1963-1965"; followed by part three which is called, "At Canaan's Edge 1965-1968". All three volumes are excellent and hugely recommended. Taylor Branch is a first rate historian.


The speech that President Obama gave at the Edmund Pettus Bridge this past weekend was the greatest of his career. Here's a link to watch it on YouTube:
The guy was good.

Friday, March 06, 2015


I wrote about the CPAC convention two years ago. There really isn't a hell of a lot to add as far as their 2015 shindig is concerned. Although the folks at CPAC claim that they are not affiliated with any one political party (Nudge! Nudge! Wink! Wink!) we all know whose bread they are buttering. If by this late stage in the game you're still unconvinced that the Republican party has lost its marbles, observing what transpired at this year's event is not going to change your mind, so you might as well not continue any further

The highlight of the week was Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. He stated (with a face as straight as a two-by-four) that, as president, dealing with the international threat posed by ISIS would be a relative cinch. You see, he faced down protesters at the state capital in Madison who were demanding a decent wage just to get by. That's right, campers, this fucking idiot compared the working men and women of his state to an international terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands. Don'cha just love it?

But what was most revealing about the CPAC convention of 2016 was not the screaming extremism of the knuckleheads who attend events such as this, it was their reception of a man who is truly and undeniably one of their own: Jeb Bush might as well have been a streaker at the funeral of a spinster librarian. In spite of the busload of supporters that were hauled in by the Bush Mob in order to give Jeb a grand ovation, the air at the convention in Maryland was thick with fear and loathing as Bush took the podium to make his pitch. He reminded me of a Berlin Rabbi, circa 1936, trying to warm up the crowd at a Nuremberg rally. Try as he might, the poor bastard just couldn't reach these people. If it hadn't been so screamingly funny it would have been kind of sad. 
I feel sort of sorry for Jeb. As it's been pointed out elsewhere, if the late Florida governor, Lawton Chiles, hadn't been so good at his job, Jeb could have easily defeated him in 1994 and been a sure thing for the GOP nomination in 2000. The fickle finger of fate is a cruel and unpredictable thing. Jeb's older brother, the one with the IQ of a moldy bag of rancid mangoes, won the governorship of the state of Texas the same year that poor old Jebbie lost in Florida. As a result, Dubya the halfwit was propelled into the Oval Office mainly by the machinations of his younger brother, who by that time was firmly settled into the governor's mansion in Tallahassee. All it took was the removal of 57,000 black people from the voting rolls of that state - a feat engineered by Jeb and his secretary of state, Katherine Harris. You know the rest of the story; I won't go into the hideous details.

Are comparisons of Jeb and George fair? On a certain level they most definitely are not. Jeb is processed s a certain, barely detectable likability which was completely absent in his older brother. The guy was such an arrogant schmuck that it was difficult (for me at least) to feel anything but complete contempt for him. It was said after the campaign of 2000 that people voted for George simply because they would rather have a beer with him than the nerdy, policy-wonk, Al Gore. I, myself, would rather have shared a brewski with Dubya as well - if only to smash the disgusting little frat boy upside the head with a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

There is no doubt that had Jeb won the White House fifteen years ago, we would today be remembering his term of office as a failure; but I'm sure it would have turned out to be barely one/half the utter catastrophe that his brother's administration turned out to be. That's a fairly easy call. 

And now, so desperate are Jeb and his team to distance themselves from his older brother, poor old Dubya isn't being seen in public these days. For the next two years the only appearances George will be making will be in those "Whatever Became of" articles. Aren't politics fun? 

I've never been a fan of George the Elder (although when placed in comparison to his two sons he's beginning to look like Theodore Roosevelt), there was a moment a few years ago when my heart genuinely went out to him: It was when Dubya was still in the White House. He was at some event, speaking extemporaneously  about the careers of his two boys. Then, without warning, the old man suddenly broke down sobbing. I felt really bad for Poppy on that day - and I know what he was thinking: One son had so much (in his mind) to offer. The other has been a tragedy (no argument) for this country. It was such an uncomfortably sad moment. There, laid bare for all to behold, was the tragedy of George H.W. Bush. What a drag. 

The funniest thing about the CPAC conference of 2015 was contemplating the complete cluelessness of the average attendee. JEB'S THEIR MAN! They should be thanking the gods of mediocrity that he has consented to seek the prize! Jeb only began to reposition himself as "a moderate" around the time brother George mercifully vacated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! While he served as governor of Florida he was as to the extreme right (in a few cases more so) as his brother. "Compassionate Conservatism" my eye! 

It's going to be an absolute joy over the next year-and-a-half watching Jeb stumble around the country with one foot on a banana peel and the other in his mouth, trying to convince the morons in the South and Midwest who vote in Republican primaries that he really is (and he really is) one of them. Then, as if that weren't funny enough, he needs to slither back to the center during the general campaign in the autumn - assuming he gets the nomination. Jeb is too much of a wild-eyed lefty for these jackasses. As I've said too many times to count, "the party of Abraham Lincoln" has morphed into the party of Uncle Fester. I'm lovin' this!

And that's the other dilemma that Jeb faces: if he does indeed get the nomination, what will stop the Tea Party crazies from bolting the GOP and starting a third party uprising? Ted Cruz is such a contemptible opportunist, don't put it past him. The dirty little secret is that it's already a separate party - they just haven't made it official yet. They will - count on it.

And you thought 2012 was a scream??

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 

Calvin Coolidge 1872-1933
Ninety-one years ago in 1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first American president to address the nation via the new technology of sound film. This was one month after his sixteen-year-old son died from an infection sustained while playing tennis on the White House court. Under the circumstances he's holding up pretty well I think. Here's a link to watch it on YouTube: 

I am now reading a biography of Silent Cal. Although I would never have voted for him had I been alive in 1924, I believe he was one of the most decent men ever to occupy the White House.



I wrote this one two years ago. 'Taint bad.