Friday, October 21, 2016

An Ominous Moment

 "The main threat to democracy comes not from the extreme left, but from the extreme right, which is able to buy huge sections of the press and radio, and wages a constant campaign to smear and discredit every progressive and humanitarian measure."
George Seldes
I nodded out quite early on the night of the third debate. Lying on top of my bed and watching a DVD, before I knew what hit me I was off to Snooze-ville. When I finally came to, it was 2:15 AM. Not to worry. I grabbed my trusty cellphone and watched a rerun via the nice folks at YouTube. Aren't modern times neat?
It was the one of the finest examples of unintentional comedy I have ever seen. There stood the glorious goofball, Sean Hannity, immediately following the debate, declaring a major victory for Donald Trump. Poor old Sean is way past the point of being a minor annoyance. The silly bastard is now a figure of complete and utter pathos. That a correspondent for a supposedly "serious" "news" organization could voluntarily expose himself as a mere propagandist the way this guy did - without a molecule of shame - was something to behold. The Donald was beaten to the point of senselessness. Anyone paying even casual attention was able to figure that out easily. When this entire debacle is, mercifully, only a wrenching memory, it's easy to foresee Sean Hannity spiraling into complete irrelevance. At this late stage in the game, if you're still watching Fox Noise for anything other that your own amusement, there's little hope for you.

Did you ever get the feeling that you were living through an amusing nightmare? You can't make this stuff up. That's a good description of American politics in 2016: "An Amusing Nightmare". If I ever write a book about this era, that'll be the title.

The incredible thing is that this election won't be a landslide like 1936 when FDR won every state but Maine and Vermont, or 1972 when Nixon won all but Massachusetts. Incredible as it may be to believe, Donald Trump will probably win more-than-a-few states. Before the Access Hollywood scandal unfolded, some talking heads were predicting he might win as many as twenty! Whatever the number turns out to be, it's not going to reflect very well upon this nation. Already the laughingstock of the planet earth, the results of the 2016 campaign will secure our place in the pantheon of political idiocy. That this nitwit was able to receive the nomination of a party whose one-time standard bearer was Abraham Lincoln is too sad to think about. From Lincoln to Trump: You just can't fall any lower than that - but they're gonna try in 2020! Count on it.
There were loads of milestones to behold at this festival of mediocrity (including the part where Donald referred to Hillary as "a nasty woman". Did you catch that?) but the highlight of the evening was when Trump refused to promise to concede the election to Hillary Clinton should she win on that night - which is not a foregone conclusion by the way. The following day, at a campaign rally in Delaware, he went on to declare that he would only make a concession, "if I win". Talk about arrogance.
It was an ominous moment. In case it's slipped your notice, in addition to being dumber than a box of moldy rocks, a significant number of Trump supporters tend to be a bit unhinged - not to mention armed and dangerous. One homicidal twit was caught on camera at a rally somewhere threatening to assassinate Hillary Clinton should she be elected on November 8. He proclaimed that by murdering her, he would be doing his duty as a "patriot". Can you believe that? For the last thirty-plus years these idiots have been egged on by Republican politicians, the NRA, and the right wing SCREAM machine. It's only a matter of time before they explode into an armed revolt. Mass murder made easy. Remember you read it here, folks.

The fact that Donald Trump would encourage the worst aspects of the character of his half-witted groupies is further proof (as if any more were needed) that the man is a dangerous sociopath. Were he to be elected in eighteen days I would have predicted that he would someday be remembered as the champion mass murderer of world history. Hopefully I won't have to make that prediction. Not even the American people are that dumb....I hope. That being said, I'm afraid that we'll have to somehow deal with the hangover of the Donald Trump For President campaign for some time to come - maybe even years,

Make way for the Nincompoop Army.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press

George Seldes
One afternoon in 1987, I was in a book store on East 86th Street in New York City (Don't ask me how I remember the location, I just do) when I came upon a new memoir by a man I had never heard of before. The book was called "Witness To A Century" and the author was named George Seldes, who was a few years shy of his 100th birthday. Seldes had been a crusading journalist, having begun his career in Pittsburgh in 1909. Browsing through the text and the photographs, it was obvious to me that this was a man who had led a very interesting and eventful life. I couldn't resist purchasing it of course. My instincts didn't fail me; it was, indeed, a fantastic read. On the dust cover, it said that he lived in the rural town of Heartland-4-Corners, Vermont. I decided to take a chance and try phoning the great man. Not only did he answer, we spoke for about a half hour. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Eight years later, on July 2, 1995, George Seldes died at the age of 104.

At the time of his passing, a documentary on George was in the works. It was released shortly afterwards. It is well worth your time. A fascinating story of an equally fascinating guy. Here is a link to watch it on YouTube:

I really need to read that book again. For anyone who makes his or her name by the pen, George Seldes is inspiration and light.

Witness to a Century
by George Seldes
"A people that wants to be free must arm itself - with a free press."
George Seldes


At 10:03 AM, Blogger Harley A. said...

So, seriously, Tom, the activities of the DNC that have been exposed don't bother you? Your response is to vilify the Trump "crazies"?

At 12:35 PM, Blogger T. Paine said...

I am grateful that Trump will not likely win. I am horrified that corrupt and evil Hillary will likely win.

While some of Trump's supporters are indeed unhinged lunatics, as Mr. Degan described them, I would submit that there are as many or more that are similarly unhinged that are in the Hillary camp. It matters not. Our republic is in grave danger regardless of which fool triumphs. I think Jefferson's Guardian characterized it as choosing between civil war or nuclear war. Fearfully, I cannot fully be sure that he is wrong.

While I find Trump to be a boor, misguided, dangerous, and foolish, I do understand why some very good people have chosen to support him. They see this idiot as a Washington outsider that isn't beholden to the usual D.C. power brokers. They think he would upset the status quo and clean up some of the messes our politicians have made over the last many decades. Indeed, he might change some things for the better; however, his rashness and instability make him far more dangerous than not. The fact that his core values seem to be only what benefits him is also a reason to not vote for him. Indeed, in that regard he is no better than Hillary.

As for the NRA, your characterization of them is undeserved, Mr. Degan, and smacks of the elitist notions of those city dwellers in New York City. I have decided to upgrade to a life membership in the NRA in your honor accordingly, sir. :)

As for your conversation with George Seldes, that does indeed sound fascinating, Mr. Degan! How neat that he actually spoke with you for so long!

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a disgusting race traitor or a goddamned jew.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

I am a race traitor. You got me there. Although not a Jew, I am, in fact, an honorary member of the international Jewish conspiracy.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom, it appears John Svelt may be of the same persuasion as the two masked men pictured in your blog. I suppose it's an almost certainty that Mr. Svelt, had he been alive, wouldn't have been one to assist in the concealment of Anne Frank, as an example.

The hate just oozes out of every pore in creatures like these, doesn't it? It's a wonder the hatred and venom isn't killing them from the inside. Or is it?

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Mr. Paine, I agree with you wholeheartedly -- well, except for your comments concerning the NRA.

Harley, the Wikileaks revelations certainly are troublesome -- more than troubling. As expected, however, the corporate mainstream media choose to ignore them and instead key on the outsider's "locker room talk" and the probably mostly false allegations that followed. There was bound to be an October surprise.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Amicas Curia said...

I love you Tom

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Veronica Prior said...

I think you are spot on, as usual. As there is but one "race" here--the human race, I'd like to know where the individual originated who calls you a "race traitor." I'd also like to know what's wrong with being a Jew.

Some people just like labels, I guess...

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Count me in as a "race traitor" too, according to David Duke and Mr. Svelt, representatives of the angry white racist fringe.

The Right loves to tell us we need to call the enemy what it is, or more precisely what they say it is, Radical Islamic Terrorism. If we go that route, this demands the category of Radical Christian Terrorism for McVeigh, and militias, and the Klan too. They don't like that for some reason.

Here it is. The truth is the most dangerous enemy is within us. It is our reaction to terrorism that is more dangerous than terrorism itself. Iraq, ISIS, and Afghanistan are examples. These reactions were taken by the authoritarian Bush/Cheney administration.

Authoritarianism is our weakness. Our primitive fight or flight centers of our brains become dominant. We all have this in our nature, but it is more pronounced in Right Wing Authoritarian personalities. This is research based, not accusation or conjecture.

The Republican Party and later the far Right media have been feeding the monster of American authoritarianism since Nixon's Southern Strategy.

Sure, there are the crazies and the haters, but more than that, the dark side of human nature has been fueled to the boiling point of Trumpism. And Trumpism is here to stay.

Not every Trump supporter is angry and racist as the rallies suggest. Some are frightened, and see Donald as their Big Daddy and protector. "Good Americans" if you will.

I recommend John Dean's book, "Conservatives Without Conscience" for a first hand overview of Republican Right Wing authoritarianism. But first I suggest this article:

"The Rise of American Authoritarianism"
Amanda Taub March 1, 2016

In South Carolina, a CBS News exit poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters supported banning Muslims from the United States. A PPP poll found that a third of Trump voters support banning gays and lesbians from the country. Twenty percent said Lincoln shouldn't have freed the slaves.


Vox partnered with the Washington-based media and polling company Morning Consult to test American authoritarians along a range of political and social views — and to test some hypotheses we had developed after speaking with the leading political scientists of the field.

What we found is a phenomenon that explains, with remarkable clarity, the rise of Donald Trump — but that is also much larger than him, shedding new light on some of the biggest political stories of the past decade. Trump, it turns out, is just the symptom. The rise of American authoritarianism is transforming the Republican Party and the dynamics of national politics, with profound consequences likely to extend well beyond this election.
How do people come to adopt, in such large numbers and so rapidly, extreme political views that seem to coincide with fear of minorities and with the desire for a strongman leader?
To answer that question, these theorists study what they call authoritarianism: not the dictators themselves, but rather the psychological profile of people who, under the right conditions, will desire certain kinds of extreme policies and will seek strongman leaders to implement them.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

I agree with Harley, even though I doubt you will publish this as you haven't any of my other posts saying in effect the same thing.

Under your new rules you said nothing would be published that insulted others, yet you choose to publish the post claiming you are a race trader.

Liberal censorship at its best is what your blog has become.


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Dave Dubya: "Count me in as a 'race traitor' too..."

Me too...card carrying, as a matter of fact. I wouldn't have it any other way.

How 'bout you, Majormajor? Can we count on you to be a "race traitor" member also?

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...


Which race?

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Majormajor: "Which race?"

How evasive of you, playing the coy misunderstanding one. I would think this is a term those of your alignment use almost daily.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Yellowstone said...

I wonder what your readers think of this: All anthropologists understand that "race" has no relationship to human biological diversity. That diversity is a natural product of primarily evolutionary forces. Race, as you folks are referring, is a social invention started in the 19th century. Not a scientific phenomenon.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Yellowstone said...

I wonder how this affects the reasoning of a few of your readers: Most Anthropologists understand that "race" has no relationship to human biological diversity. That sort of diversity is a natural product of primarily evolutionary forces. The word race, as it relates to a specific human group, is a social invention created in the 19th century when it involved the slave trade.

Just curious . . .

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...


Majormajor: "Which race?"

I'd guess the "trader race". You know, the "race traders".

Whatever the deflection Major Chuck makes, it is obvious he doesn't disagree with "You're a disgusting race traitor or a goddamned jew."

He and Herr Svelt are both loyal to Trump for the same reasons. Ach, so!

At 10:04 PM, Blogger woodenman1954 said...

Tom, if you are not going to be diligent in moderating this blog let things go back to way they were. Making everybody post with an identity is good enough. James

At 11:23 PM, Blogger StevesBees said...

Time for an anti Trump rant, ain't it Tom?

At 11:24 PM, Blogger StevesBees said...

Time for an anti Trump rant I'd say. Not that it will do anyone much good.


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