Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Post #610: Random Observations

Apologies are in order. This is the first thing I've published in over two weeks. Have you ever had a time when you don't feel like saying anything to anybody? That's the way it's been with me recently. I'm coming out of it, thank you very much. Here is a little recap for late October:
1. No Go Joe
As you no doubt have heard by now, Joe Biden will not be a candidate for the presidency in 2016. I'm of mixed emotions about this. I've said here before that while I like Barack Obama a whole lot, I love Joe Biden and think he would have made an excellent chief-executive. The problem is that he probably would not have made a particularly good candidate. The right wing scream machine would no doubt have had a field day with his age and the fact that he is not a stranger to complete candor (some call it "shooting from the hip"). He had a great and distinguished career and there is no doubt that history will smile on he man. I'm sure that Joe sleeps very soundly a night.
2.  The Great Benghazi Backfire
Their intent was to totally destroy Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.  Here's how badly it exploded in the GOP's clueless faces: Before the hearings on Benghazi, my support for Ms. Clinton was non-existent. On my best days I was indifferent toward her. That's all changed. Although y heart is still with Bernie Sanders, I'm not half as hostile toward her candidacy as I was a mere two weeks ago. What a difference a day makes. It was nothing more than a political circus that they've wasted millions on - and anyone paying attention should be smart enough to see through their scam. The problem is that so few of us are paying attention. Go back to sleep America.
3. The Donald is Not Going Away
Back in June everyone was saying (myself included) that Donald Trump's candidacy was merely a weird flash in a rancid pan that would disappear as quickly as it dropped into the national spotlight. A lot of us are eating crow tonight, and nearly five months after he announced that he was in, it's obvious that the man isn't going away any time soon - which is fine by me. The self implosion of the Republican Party is the most entertaining political spectacle of my fifty-seven years on this troubled planet. He may even get the nomination next summer, which would be too good to be true. I come here not to bury The Donald, but to praise him.
4. Open/Carry in the South? Brothers Beware

There is a growing number of reported instances of black guys being gunned down by the police in states with those moronic open carry laws. In each case these fellows were murdered for no other reason then they were openly carrying a loaded firearm - perfectly legal behavior. It's high time we call these laws what they are. A war on the non-existent threat of African Americans. Did I say, "Go back to sleep"? On second thought: Wake the fuck up, America.

5. Eventually you've got to let go. Eric Servareid once said of his colleague, Edward R. Murrow: "He was pessimistic about tomorrow, but optimistic about the day after tomorrow." Murrow was wrong. We've had it. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
The photo at the top was taken about eight years ago. It only survives in the form of a photocopy I found buried in my briefcase. I'm not too sure exactly where this was taken or why - but I like it. Someone remarked that I look like Lou Reed. Cool!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

They Won't Govern Because They Can't

As was once noted by the late, great Molly Ivins, generally speaking, putting in charge of the government people who don't believe in government is not a particularly nifty idea - even on the best of days. Of course, she was understating the problem - in a way that only she could - when she wrote those words over two decades ago. Molly passed away in February 2007. It cracks me up just imagining what she might might have had to say about the complete and utter corruption and dysfunction 114the Congress. I miss that gal.
The chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance that even I could scarcely have imagined a mere decade ago. Thirty-five years ago the Grand Old Party began their courtship of a constituency that had previously been ignored by any mainstream political party in this country - the clinically insane. They cannot blame the liberals for what is at present happening to the party that at one time was the ideological home of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. They have no one to blame but themselves.
For any political junkie, the past week has been an absolute howl to witness. After House Speaker John Boehner  decided to call it quits, the speaker designate, Kevin McCarthy, was given the boot after he spilled the beans on national television (on the Sean Hannity program of all places!) that the entire Hillary Clinton/Benghazi investigative circus has been nothing more than a coordinated effort by that disgusting party to embarrass her prior to the 2016 presidential campaign. Anyone who was looking forward to another era of McCarthyism was sorely disappointed by his removal from contention. I know I was. The man's grasp of basic sentence structure was non-existent. He would have provide us with oodles of laughs. Alas, it was not meant to be.
The pickle that the Republicans now find themselves in is the simple fact that no one wants the job - and who can blame them? So completely unhinged has the GOP become, that the Speakership is guaranteed political suicide - as John Boehner could surely attest. They wanted Paul Ryan to go for it, but he has, thus far refused the gig (Family obligations he says. Right). So desperate have they become, some within the party, and without, have seriously suggested that Dick Cheney be given the gavel. As it turns out (and I never knew this) one needs not be a sitting member of congress in order to be voted speaker of the house. For my purposes, a "Speaker Cheney" era would  be the icing on the cake. Can you even fantasize how completely weird and twisted a rolling spectacle such as that would be? I hope he takes the job. I really do!
The Republicans are self-destructing before our very eyes. Did you ever think you'd live to see something as funny as this?
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Lenny Bruce would have turned ninety today (Margaret Thatcher also would have turned ninety today, but that's a different story for a different day).
Here is a link to a piece I wrote back in 2006 on the fortieth anniversary of his passing:
Lenny at ninety. Can you imagine? He would have mtde such a hip old man. It's just so sad....

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Stuff Happens? REALLY, JEB (!)???

 Yesterday, all Jeb (!)'s problems seemed so far away....
It's not quite official but it's as sure as the sun setting in a smog-filled sky: Jeb (!) Bush's quest for the White House came to a pathetic, inglorious end yesterday. Campaigning in Greenville, South Carolina, Jeb (!) incredibly - stupidly - responded to a question about the mass murder at a college in Oregon on Thursday (and the desperate need for sane gun control laws) by saying, "Stuff happens". Just to dissuade anyone from accusing me of quoting the contemptible little knucklehead out of context, here it is verbatim:
"But I resist the notion - and I had the challenge as governor - because we had - look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."
Words that should be etched in silly putty.
This is a bittersweet morn for me. To say that I'm feeling ambivalent is somewhat of an understatement. The fact is, I was looking forward to Jeb (!) as the eventual GOP nominee. Let's face it: Those Bushes are always good for a million unintentional laughs. I was even bracing myself for the third Bush administration in a generation! As gut-wrenching  and horrifying a prospect as something like that would have been for this nation (and the planet earth) a Jeb (!) Bush administration would have been a satirist's dream-come-true. Just take his half-witted older brother as an example: Dubya never inspired writer's block, that's for damned sure. As horrifically corrupt and incompetent as the hideous little freak was, at least he was always great copy! Please, we must give credit where credit is due.
But, alas, any hope that Jeb (!) had of becoming the 45th president of these United States were blasted into eternity yesterday by his own complete and utter insensitivity to the families of the nine human beings murdered in cold-blood on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Gun control is not the answer, insisted Prince Jeb (!), stuff happens. Indeed it does. Cluelessness has been a staple of the Bush family for generations. Quite obviously poor old Jeb (!) has inherited the knack.
As of this morning, his polling numbers among registered Republicans stand at a dismal and embarrassing four percent. They will probably decline still further before the sun sets this evening. The reason his percentages are in the toilet has nothing to do with his callous remarks regarding the carnage in Oregon; instead, it has everything to do with the fact that your average Republican primary voter sees him as "too liberal" (if you can believe that). Whatever the reason, he's reached the point of no return. Not even Daddy's connections can help him now - as they helped his brother in 2000. They're all dead or, at best, residing in assisted-living facilities, being spoon-fed oatmeal. Unlike Poppy and Dubya, Jeb (!) is the first offspring of Prescott Bush being forced to stand on his own two feet. His candidacy is drowning in the quagmire born of his total unsuitability for the job of chief-executive - exactly as his brother's candidacy should have  drowned in 2000; or as his father's candidacy should have drowned in 1988. There's no one left to prop him up. If this weren't so knee-slappingly funny it would be kind of sad. But it is funny - very, very funny.

But wait! It gets funnier! Of the two brothers, Jeb (!) was supposed to be the smart one. So help me, Ayn Rand, you couldn't make this stuff up in fiction!

His political implosion is all for the best you may be sure. A third Bush White House would have made international laughingstocks out of the American voters. At least it will  be said of us that we weren't stupid enough to travel down that road again. Jeb (!) has stated too many times to count that Dubya is his most valued advisor with respect to foreign affairs in general and Middle Eastern policy in particular. Can you even imagine?

No, we seriously don't want to go down that road again. It is a non-debatable, historical truth that whenever any member of that disgusting family gets within reach of the Oval Office, a lot of people (in uniform and out) start to die in appalling numbers. Jeb (!) is part of the cabal that put together and promoted the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) You don't hear much about it anymore because its vision proved so disastrous with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan (among other places). Their ultimate (and unabashedly stated) goal was worldwide American domination of the globe which was damned-near Hitlerian in its scope. In addition to the Bushes, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld - the usual suspects - were part of this gang. We'll deserve everything that happens to us if we ever again put these murderous assholes in power.

Late last night I received a telephone call from the son of an old friend of mine. He turned eighteen on August 4th and enlisted in the Marines shortly thereafter. On October 19 he'll be on his way to California for three months of basic training and, after that, four years of active duty. We had a really nice conversation that must have gone on for at least an hour. When the call ended, I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving that his commander-in-chief will not be named "Bush". I am now certain of this. Be well, Danny. We'll meet one day, pal!

The era that future historians will no-doubt call "The Age of the Bushes" has come to a decided and merciful end. Jeb (!)'s inglorious quest for the presidency is deader than Grandpa Prescott and Ronald Reagan combined. There will be no Third Act in this American nightmare. The curtain has closed; the people have all gone home; the chairs have been folded; the auditorium is empty.

Stuff happens, you know?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Nothing to Fear:
FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America
by Adam Cohen
This excellent book is really not so much about Franklin Roosevelt, as it is about the extraordinary men (Rexford Tugwell, Harry Hopkins, Raymond Moley) and one woman (Frances Perkins) who were the engineers of the New Deal. I read this one in less than two days and can't recommend it enough. Eighty years ago, these detested liberals saved this country. We're not one tenth as grateful to them as we should be.

Tomorrow Never Knows
by The Beatles

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream....

This is the mono mix of that recording - a tad different from the stereo, with some unique sounds if you listen really closely. This is not dying....This is not dying....