Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Worst of The Rant

My first (and last, I promise) "selfie", Spring 2015
Well, here we are again, kids, another year-end wrap-up. Is it my imagination but are the years beginning to just zoom by? As I predicted two years ago, the campaign of 2016 would prove to be a riot of mirth and merriment and, judging by the events of 2015, it certainly is headed in that direction. So sit let us back and have a jolly old, nostalgic look at 2015; the worst of the Rant....
January 6:
What will be more amusing than anything (assuming [Jeb Bush] gets the nomination) will be to watch him desperately trying to convince the country what a disaster Barack Obama has been as chief executive, and how we should go back to the policies that worked so well when his half-witted brother was in charge of things. You'll be so good to recall that in January of 2009, the month George W. Bush mercifully vacated the Executive Mansion, three-quarters-of-a-million jobs were being drained each month from the United States economy. We're now at month number fifty-seven in job growth (Or is it fifty-eight months? To tell you the truth, I've lost count). I don't envy Jeb at all. After all of the destruction they've wrought on the economy, he needs to convince the American people that they were better off under conservative "rule". I don't dare call it "leadership".
January 14:
I'm looking forward to the next two years. Let's face some harsh realities, people: There has never been, in the lifetime of anyone reading this, an era as delightfully weird as the one we are living through now. And the beautiful thing to contemplate is the fact that it's going to get even weirder as the months transpire. In November of 2014, the American people put back in power the very party that created the mess that Barack Obama has spent six years trying to dig us out of. In spite of the mountains of obstruction he's had to deal with that has been hurled at him by the disloyal opposition (Let's stop kidding ourselves about their motives) he's been fairly successful given the sabotage tossed his way by the loonies in the extreme right wing. You've got to admire his fortitude. Let's hear it for the dude.   
February 3:
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? 
February 11:
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. 

February 20:
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. 

February 28:

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! 

March 6:

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! 

March 12:

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

March 19:

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.

March 26:

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!

April 5:
If the Republicans end up nominating someone with an IQ above room temperature - in other words the type of candidate that doesn't appeal to the typical primary voter in the South and Midwest - you can bet everything you own on the fact that the Tea Party knuckleheads will bolt the GOP and start a third party uprising. That would be a wonderful thing for my purposes. The same should happen to the Democrats

April 12:

I often make a pilgrimage to the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. Being a resident of New York's Hudson Valley, it's not difficult for me to get there any time I choose. In fact, it's less than forty miles from where I now sit. It is where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on the night of January 30, 1882, and where he and Eleanor sleep side-by-side in the rose garden of the mansion. I need the place like a tonic! Whenever I get to feeling depressed about this country (which fortunately is only when I'm sober) I take a little trek up there. Without fail, I always leave the joint feeling a little better about America. If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods, I cannot recommend it enough.

May 2:

A not very telegenic Brooklyn-born Jew as the nominee of the Democratic party? I know that the Republicans must be salivating at the very idea. They shouldn't. For every day that goes by, it's increasingly apparent to people that "the party of Abraham Lincoln" has devolved into an organized criminal enterprise. He'll never gain much ground with the folks in the deep south, but the rest of the country should not be written off. All you need to do is listen to what the man has to say, and what he stands for. Bernie has called for a political revolution in America. Finally, a politician with the courage to say it! I think we might very well find ourselves at the dawn of a new era of good old days. Wouldn't THAT be cool!

May 16:

[Jeb's] most trusted, sought-after adviser on Middle Eastern policy is none other than (WAIT FOR IT!) George W. Bush! You heard me, campers! The imbecilic frat boy - whose eight year reign of error and incompetence ruined this country i is the man Jeb goes to whenever he seeks council on affairs in that part of this troubled globe. Here's something else you might want to take into consideration: Of the twenty-one foreign policy advisers who are now guiding him in his yet-to-be-announced campaign, seventeen of them are part of the team of killer-clowns who got us into this mess to begin with - including Paul Wolfowitz - the same schmuck who testified to congress way back when that the war in Iraq could be done on the cheap, and that the cost would be paid for by Iraqi oil money! 

June 3:

I plan on voting for the Democratic ticket next year. For all their faults and perfectly hideous flaws, the Dems are light years more palatable than anything the GOP has to offer these days. Just look at the mob of knuckleheads and psychos that are today seeking the nomination of what is still laughably referred to as "the party of Abraham Lincoln". For the first time in many decades, a statesman is seeking the presidency of the United States. His name is Bernie Sanders, senator from the state of Vermont. He's the one I'm supporting.

June 13:

What I love the most about The Donald - and why I cherish his presence in the national train wreck so completely - is the man's genius at being clueless. In fact, if lacking in self awareness were considered a human virtue, Trump would have received the Nobel Prize decades ago. It's bad enough that this nitwit takes himself so seriously, he's delusional enough to think that intelligent people take him with anything other than a grain of moldy salt. It really is rather touching and pathetic when you think about it.

June 24:

The sight of the "stars and bars" does not fill our brothers and sisters of color with any degree of "southern pride". It hurts their feelings and makes them feel like strangers in their own land. It's time for that goddamned flag to be permanently consigned to the hall of infamy where it bloody-well belongs. Can I get a witness?

July 3:

We need to be patient with our conservative friends. Most of them will eventually get with the program. Most of them today will admit that the Voting and Civil Rights Acts were a pretty good idea in hindsight. It's the hard-core, Tea Party types that we need to write off. Don't hold your breath waiting for any of them to see the light. The NRA will rename their national headquarters after John Lennon before that ever happens, so forget it.

July 13:

What amazes me - more than anything - is how another member of this incompetent, corrupt and disgusting family would believe that it is now "my turn". Just pondering this makes the needle on my arrogance meter crack in two. When one considers too many of his campaign advisers are the neo-conservative crackpots who littered Dubya's presidency, it's enough to give someone paying even scant attention the dry heaves. I refer to the folks who made up the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). You don't hear much about them anymore, but in the few years before George seized power, they were all over the airwaves and in print, literally advocating the takeover of the planet. Many of them, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, ended up running the Bush II White House and dictating their foreign policy. Remember how nicely that worked out? Jeb Bush, by the way, was also part of the PNAC crowd - something he's not too comfortable about mentioning these days.

July 24:

Why is Trump ahead of everyone in the polling of potential GOP primary voters? That question is such a no-brainer that I'm almost embarrassed to pose it. The reason he is ahead of the pack at the moment  is simply because he is spewing out every one of the idiotic talking points (and inventing a few new ones in the process) that appeal to the half-witted "base" of that party. I'm fairly certain he doesn't believe three-quarters of what he says; he just knows exactly which buttons to press. Donald Trump is not an idiot - he merely plays one on TV. 

July 31:

I'm voting for the Democratic candidate next year, come heck or high water. Is it too much to ask that I be happy about for whom I cast my ballot? Are you listening, Senator Warren?

August 14:

The eventual Republican nominee will call Bernie a "radical". If he gets the nod by the Dems (still wishful thinking, I concede) that label will more-than-likely be the only true statement to come out of the GOP during the entire campaign of 2016. Bernie Sanders is a radical in the exact same way Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a radical. At a time in history where radical change in an insanely corrupt system is desperately needed, that's the type of person we need heading the executive branch of the government. What we don't need are Wall Street stooges like Hillary Clinton - or any Republican you care to mention.

August 24:

I'm going to be profanely frank with you: If the Republicans ever again seize control of the executive and the legislative branches of our government, if they're allowed one more appointment to the Supreme Court - this country is completely fucked. Look what happened the last time. I just don't believe we need to go there again. I'm being understated, in case you haven't noticed. Hillary Clinton is quite beatable; all of the potential Democratic hopefuls are I suppose. The only hopeful news on the horizon is the non-ignorable fact that the GOP is in the progress of imploding. Thank heaven for these little silver linings.

August 27:

This is the reality of life in America. This is the way it's going to be for now on: Mountains of bodies, rivers of blood, too many broken hearts to assess. Have you yet had someone you knew and loved murdered by some homicidal jackass with a gun? If the answer to that question is "no", I'll make a prediction now that you'll no doubt find quite disturbing: You will. In the not-too-distant future the law of averages will guarantee it. Our gun culture is compounding by the year - and it won't be going away anytime soon. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

September 16:

The Democrats have a history of taking fine champagne and turning it into donkey piss. Handing the nomination to Hillary Clinton would be foolish. They ought to be really careful about what they wish for. She is not the foregone conclusion she seemed to be only a year ago - and she is becoming more unwinnable with each passing day. 

October 3:

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.

October 13:

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.

October 28:

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.

November 13:

For every month that goes by, it becomes more and more apparent what a dreadful national miscalculation it was on the part of the American electorate in sending these assholes to Washington sixteen years ago. The happiest news of the last month is the fact that Jeb Bush's quest for the White House is all but dead. Anyone who makes the foolish argument that George's slightly brighter younger brother would be a different type of president hasn't been paying attention. They're two sides of the same counterfeit coin. As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was about as extreme as they come. Only since his brother vacated the executive mansion has he sought to "moderate" his positions. I hope we never again fall for that "compassionate conservatism" jazz.

November 22:

If you think that what happened in Paris last week cannot happen here - and with comparative ease - you're kidding yourselves. Chew on this for a while: Since the horrific slaughter of twenty-six human beings in a Connecticut elementary school almost two years ago, not a single law has been passed to ensure that something like that would never happen again. I used to think that America was worth saving. I don't believe that anymore.

December 11:

Most of the people who practice Islam are, in my experience, the sweetest, gentlest of people. There is not another religion I can make that claim about - not even the Irish Catholics! (Let's face it, some of us can be real assholes when the situation calls for it). So why are so many people picking on the Muslims? Some of us need to get a life. Seriously.

December 23:

What will they do now? As far as the presidency is concerned, they're dead. Even if Donald Trump's candidacy were to finally to self-destruct, none of the rest of the contenders have a molecule of the gravitas necessary to win the Big Prize. The American people (I think) learned a very powerful lesson from the catastrophe of the Bush years. When a party is able to somehow puke up a clown car full of of contestants who manage to make Dubya seem like a moderate, then it's time to strike the tents, fold up the chairs and go home.


So that's 2015 in a nutshell, folks. Wasn't it an "interesting" year? Stick around for 2016, I have a feeling it's gonna be a hoot!

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Friday, December 25, 2015

But Once A Year....

Christmas comes but once a year
So you'd better make hay while the spirit lingers
It's slipping through your fingers, boy
Don't you realize?
Christmas can be such a monetary joy....

Stan Freberg

Ah, yes! "The most wonderful time of the year" according to the late Andy Williams anyway. To be honest with you, this Christmas jazz has me more perplexed (and at times more thoroughly disgusted) with the passing of each year. It isn't you, dear and gentle reader, it's the whole consumer culture thing. Stan Freberg passed away on April 7 of this year - an indisputable legend of comedy. He was right on the mark when he recorded Green Christmas in  1958. God rest his lovely and zany soul.

I guess I'm just not in the spirit this year. My mom passed away two weeks ago tomorrow which might have something to do with it; but last year was just as bad - and the year before that was the worst Christmas of my life. Maybe one of these years I'll get with the whole Christmas program. I'm working on it.
This is just to hope and pray that you don't use this insufferable curmudgeon as an example and that you all have a grand holiday and new year. There really is so much to be thankful for that I have no right to complain about anything. My only request would be that if you know any people who might be spending this Christmas alone, stop by and see them if you're able to. Be safe, healthy - AND FOR PETE'S SAKE, GO EASY ON THE FREAKIN' FIGGY PUDDING, OKAY?
In the meantime, instead of cursing the darkness I just might light a candle or two tonight. What the heck....

Happy Christmas everyone!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Green Chri$tma$
by Stan Freberg

There'll never be another Stan. Stop waiting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What Next for the GOP?

Image result for abraham lincolnYou've really got to hand it to fate. As the old Frank Sinatra song lamented, "You're riding high in April, shot down in May". Although the utter implosion of "the party of Abraham Lincoln" took a little longer than a month, the irony is comparable. After spending nearly four decades pandering to a class of people who historically had been ignored by both political parties (I am speaking of the clinically insane) the GOP has got its work cut out for themselves to be sure. The chickens have come home to roost.

What will they do now? As far as the presidency is concerned, they're dead. Even if Donald Trump's candidacy were to finally self-destruct, none of the rest of the contenders have a molecule of the gravitas necessary to win the Big Prize. The American people (I think) learned a very powerful lesson from the catastrophe of the Bush years. When a party is able to somehow puke up a clown car full of of contestants who manage to make Dubya seem like a moderate, then it's time to strike the tents, fold up the chairs and go home.

But much to the terrible chagrin of the RNC, The Donald won't be going away anytime soon. You would think that after referring to Hillary Clinton as getting "schlonged" by Barack Obama in 2008, Trump's numbers would have fallen into the toilet. In 1980 that's precisely what would have happened.

That was then. This is now.

Image result for barry goldwaterThirty-five years ago, although an indisputably goofy lot, your average Republican primary voters (particularly in the South and Midwest) were, for the most part, reasonable, earnest people. Sure, there were a handful of half-witted neanderthals scattered among the ranks in 1980, but they weren't being considered as serious presidential contenders. In 1964 when Barry Goldwater sought the Executive Mansion, he was viewed by many as a radical extremist. Do a YouTube search of Barry's campaign all those years ago. By the standards of 2016, the old guy looks like a wishy-washy moderate in some cases. He famously declared in his acceptance speech that long ago summer:

"Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Ted Cruz is not your father's extremist. 

Image result for dwight d eisenhowerWhere they go from here is anybody's guess. The best kept secret in politics these days is the fact the Republicans were deflated by the rise of a permanent third party: the tea-baggers. I really hate to be the bearer of such bad news (actually, I love being the bearer of such bad news), but the Tea Party is here to stay, and they'll be holding the Republicans hostage for a very long time into the future. The damage they are doing to the party that was once the ideological home of Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower will very soon prove to be mortal. Isn't that a lovely thought?

Life is beautiful.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths. 
by Stephen B. Oates
I purchased this book thirty years ago and am now reading it for the third time. It's not so much a biography as it is an attempt to separate the Lincoln of legend from the real person. Oates is a first-rate historian.


Many thanks to the kind folks who sent me messages of sympathy (HUNDREDS OF 'EM!) on the recent passing of my mom. Your thoughts and good wishes are much appreciated. 

So I guess I'm an orphan now. Go figure.