Friday, March 24, 2017

A Bill of Bads

Forty-five

Thirty-six
When I was a little boy attending elementary school, every classroom had a poster on the wall which contained portraits of all the presidents of the United States. I speak of a time when the number went only as far as Lyndon Johnson. We've added nine to the roster since then. I cannot help but reflect that Donald Trump's hideous mug will be adorning that list for all time and eternity. How will the teachers of the present (and the future) explain his presence? Perhaps they can add a little "THE VOTERS OF 2016 FUCKED UP" asterisk under his photo. It's going to be an awkward thing having to explain such mass civic irresponsibility to those so young, that's for sure. If that list was very tainted to begin with, it positively reeks now. In preparing this piece I googled the image of all of the presidents updated. The list with the Donald's portrait has yet to be manufactured. That's probably just as well, don'cha think?

ATTN: THINKING PEOPLE: Did you ever - in your wildest, stupidest dreams - think the day would arrive when you would find yourselves looking back on the era of George W. Bush with a feeling of tender nostalgia? I ask you.
 
The last week has been a breathtaking thing to behold. Not since Watergate over four decades ago has the American political situation gotten this strange and ominous. I'm ambivalent about it all. On the one hand, for someone like me who is known for no other reason than the fact that I get my jollies commenting on this stuff, it sure is an interesting time to be alive. On the other hand - Jeez Louise - it doesn't give me a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling to contemplate that the country I live in has been overtaken by a confederacy of people who not only aren't very bright, they're crazy to boot - a lethal combination that usually foreshadows catastrophe. Check the history books.
 
Sixteen
Last I checked about a half hour ago, Trump's favorable rating is at thirty-seven percent, which is about the lowest ever recorded for a president two months and four days into his first term. Not even Lincoln, who presided over a country at war with itself, had numbers that dismal after a paltry sixty-three days in office. That figure will sink lower still in the months and weeks to come - but not that much lower. There is a certain class of voters so comically blind and naïve that they will stick with their beloved leader till the bitter end, which will be sooner than any of them expect. Some of these folks have even publically expressed gratitude to Vladimir Putin for his assistance in getting this maniac elected! How's that for patriotism? We'll just have to live with the knowledge that a full third of the population are too civically unhinged to recognize the complete fallacy of their thinking. Fortunately, I live in New York's Hudson Valley. We're a bit more clear-thinking here....a bit....I think. Look at it this way: Mississippi we're not.
 
Each day that dawns, we awaken to find that the covers are being peeled away, slowly but surely, from the veil of corruption and deceit that allowed Donald Trump access to the most powerful desk on the planet. Not only is that desk powerful, it's also potentially dangerous - if seized by the wrong hands. Here's something you can bet your life on: It's in the wrong hands. And if you happened to cast your precious ballot for the likes of Trump, that's exactly what you did. It was not a good bet.
 
Thirty-two
I plan on taking a road trip up to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park in the next few days. Whenever I get to feeling hopeless about America (which, fortunately, is only when I am sober) I trek up to the joint. It's a hair less than forty miles from my home in Goshen, New York, and getting there is a relatively easy proposition for me. The last time I was there was back in July when I gave two young people of my acquaintance the tour. After spending a few hours there, I always walk away from the FDR Library feeling a bit better about my country. The place has always been a tonic for me, and I take the tour at least two-or-three times a year. The desperation I've been feeling regarding my country lately has almost been unbearable. I'm curious to see if, after all that has happened in the last four months, it still has the same effect on me. I think that it will. Being close to the Frankster's legacy always  gives me a much-needed lift. I could use it now - you'd better believe it!
 
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
 
George Santayanna, 1896
 
We will, more-than-likely, venture down this idiotic road again, and within less than a generation. That's okay with me. It always makes for an interesting ride. I long ago adjusted to living in a nation in ruins. You ought to as well.

TIMELY TIP: Vodka helps.
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

With Malice Toward None
by Stephen B. Oates

The finest single-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln ever written.

Friday, March 17, 2017

POST #700: Random Observations

The Blizzard of '17: Wasn't that a time?


Hi, folks! How's President Donald Trump working out for ya? I'm sorry, I'll stop.

The following are a series of unrelated thoughts regarding the present-day train wreck in the life of Idiot Nation. So sue me.
 
1: BREAKING NEWS!
 
Secretary of State and Exxon Stooge, Rex Tillerson, is this morning threatening North Korea with military action. Here's a gentle prediction for you:
 
Before it's is all over, this maniacal administration is going to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. I do hope and pray that I'm not understating the situation.
 
2: A Pox Upon  the Elderly
 
In another perfectly hideous idea (The current administration is overflowing with perfectly hideous ideas - or haven't you noticed?) the Trump Mob has decided that the government will no longer fund something that is known as "Meals on Wheels". In a lame effort to justify the unjustifiable, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated (with a straight face, I swear!) that he has not seen any "effects" from the program. Really?
 
I once chauffeured a woman delivering those meals whose automobile was on the fritz. For three consecutive days I assisted her as she made her rounds, even entering the homes of the elderly and housebound people she helped to feed. If anyone reading this has any pull with Speaker Ryan, tell him that I have seen the "effects" firsthand. The looks of appreciation and thankfulness on the faces of everyone I encountered were impossible not to see.  The love was palpable. It's hard to estimate the number of folks who will be greatly harmed by the loss of Meals on Wheels.  Some of them will die. I hope the Republicans reexamine this one. Wishful thinking, I know.
 
I had this beautiful experience about twenty-five years ago. I'm sure none of the many people I encountered during those three memorable days lived to see the era of Donald Trump. That's probably just as well.
 
3: Blame the Limeys
 
Two weeks ago tomorrow, Donald Trump - in a pathetic attempt to distract attention from the ever-metastasizing Russian/wiretapping scandal - tweeted early in the morning that he had uncovered evidence that his phone had been tapped by Barack Obama. Apparently, the man is too heartbreakingly stupid to understand that he was accusing the former president of committing a felony. After a bi-partisan investigation proclaimed that Trump had not been bugged (electronically speaking only) he made the jaw-dropping declaration (via Sean Spicer) that it hadn't been American intelligence agents doing the dirty deed, it was British spies all along - possibly, we may assume, even James Bond himself. To say that the government of merrie olde England was not amused is putting it mildly. It's quite an achievement to piss off the Brits; in fact I do not recall any American president in my lifetime upsetting them at all
 
Are you last holdouts ready to concede what is by now an embarrassingly obvious point? The president of the United States of America is out of his fucking mind. Case closed.
 
4: Guns For All

In the wake of every mass murder for years, the right wing (within congress and without) have repeated the same stale talking point endlessly: It's not about the availability of guns, they say, the problem is all those crazy people out there. It's hard to argue with that logic. Certainly one of the many reasons for Idiot Nation's appallingly high murder rate is the fact that there are too many guns out there - and that way-too-many mentally ill persons have easy access to them. So what did the House of Reprehensibles do this week? They approved legislation that would make it easier for veterans who are "mentally incapacitated" or "deemed mentally incompetent" to obtain even more of them. Ain't that somethin'? Twelve Democrats joined two-hundred and forty members of the GOP in supporting the bill. If nothing else, this will make the suicide rate of those veterans (already disturbingly high) soar into the stratosphere. This is one way to lighten the load of caring for them I suppose. It also makes the NRA smile.

Three-and-a-quarter years ago, twenty-six human beings (twenty of them little children) were slaughtered inside of a Connecticut elementary school. You would assume that something that horrific would have touched the hearts of our "representatives" in Washington, wouldn't you? Think again. Fuck the children. Let 'em bleed buckets

I just now learned an interesting statistic that I'd love to share with you: If the members of congress committed suicide at the same rate as American veterans, the joint would be deserted within twenty-five days. Isn't that a lovely thought?

5: A Tip of the Hat to the S.S.

Now that the administration of Barack Obama is officially history, I can say out loud what I only dared think for the last eight years: For most of his stay at 1600, I honestly believed that he would not leave office alive. No president since Abraham Lincoln ignited such extreme hate from the less enlightened quarters of American society. No president since Lincoln had received as many treats against his life. Whenever I watched live televised footage of him mingling with crowds of strangers, it would make me wince.  It is a tribute to the Secret Service that the man was able to get out of town alive. Let's hear it or them.

6: Donnie and Angie

A few minutes ago the joint press conference in the East Room of the White House with Trump and Germany's Angela Merkel came to a merciful end. The tension between the two was fairly apparent. Merkel was probably wondering what the hell she was doing being seen on the same podium as this putz. The Donald was twice asked by German reporters about his wiretapping charge against Barack Obama. He denied making the charge and blamed it on Fox News. At an Oval Office photo-op, when asked by a photographer to shake hands with each other, both of them ignored the question. It was so awkward and uproariously funny. Say what you will about this president, he never fails to provide the unintentional comedy. In this respect he makes George W. Bush look like an amateur.

This is a president who doesn't do the diplomacy thing very well at all. This is black comedy at its strangest.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

A Drop of the Hard Stuff
by Peter Sellers

A St. Patrick's Day greeting from one of the greatest comic actors of the last century. This was recorded in 1958 in Studio Number Two at Abbey Road in London. Every ethnic stereotype is presented in this record - and yet it still plays well fifty-nine years later. That's the beautiful thing about being Irish. You just can’t offend us! Here’s a link to give it a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di6yX3yVAtM 

The man is irreplaceable.

SUGGESTED READING:

PBS Changed Our Lives
from The Rant, 3/5/11

Not to the surprise of anyone who bothers to pay attention, it has long been a dream of conservative politicians to kill the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Trump administration has announced that they have every intention of doing just that. This is a particularly atrocious idea (one of a bazillion perfectly atrocious ideas). I covered this touchy subject in a piece I wrote six years ago this month. Here is a link to read it if you’d like:
`
 
Understatement: Sending these nincompoops to Washington was not a particularly nifty idea.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Completely Surreal

The Clown Gang
America is now governed by a president and party that fundamentally don’t accept the idea that there are objective facts. Instead, they want everyone to accept that reality is whatever they say it is.
 
Paul Krugman
NY Times, 13 March 2017
 
I knew that this administration would end up as a rolling disaster (and constitutional crisis) but even I was unprepared for the speed with which it would come crashing down. The way I figured, it would take until the late spring or early summer for the unraveling to commence. Not at all, kind and gentle reader! Less than two months in and the administration of Donald Trump is falling apart - utterly so.  This is the darkest of comedies. For a politics/news junkie such as I, these are dandy times to be alive.  

 
Beavis and Butthead: The Movie
Ten days ago, when der Donald accused former president Obama of wiretapping his phone at Trump Tower, I suspect he isn't bright enough to realize that he was essentially accusing his predecessor of committing a felony. The explosion of disgust from Democrats and a few Republicans has forced him to "walk back" his accusation. According to Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, the president wasn't talking about wiretaps specifically, he was merely referring to surveillance in general - whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. Kellyanne even went as far as suggesting that the ex-prez might have used Trump's microwave to get his dirt on her boss. I guess the implication here is that, since the laws on the books don't mention microwaves as a means of obtaining intelligence, Trump wasn't actually accusing him of committing a crime. I suppose the relative question here should be:
 
What didn't the president know and when didn't he know it?
 
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have an antique Edison Wax Cylinder Phonograph. I think it's been spying on me. I just thought I'd put that out there. 
 
I know what you're thinking and I wholeheartedly agree: It just keeps getting stupider by the minute with these people. Isn't this fun to watch?
 
And the biggest laugh of the year is the inconvenient truth that fifty-nine percent of the knuckleheads that voted for Trump will be the ones most hurt by the new GOP health care plan, or "Trump Care" as they're now calling it. I find it interesting that Trump has let it be known that he doesn't want his name associated with the proposed bill. As John Oliver pointed out recently, this is astonishing when on considers that for decades, the man has exhibited a positive fetish for adding his name to the shittiest products ever conceived by human mediocrity. Do you remember Trump Steaks? Or how 'bout Trump Vodka? Or Trump University???
 
This is going to end very badly - but I repeat myself.
 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

 
SUGGESTED VIEWING:
 
As expected, John Oliver has damned-near cornered the market on all things Trumpian. Here's a link to watch a segment of a recent broadcast that I referred to in this piece:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifi9M7DRazI 

The truth may hurt but it can be quite funny, too.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Insanity Running Rampant in D.C.


MESSAGE TO SUPPORTERS OF DONALD TRUMP:

Ain't hindsight a bitch?
 
Idiot Nation.
 
Mika
The president of the United States of America is certifiably insane. I'm repeating myself, I know, but it needs to be drummed into the consciousness of all whom may still find themselves in various stages of denial. We can no longer pretend that this sort of behavior is normal. Of course this fact has been obvious to those of us who make a habit of paying attention to the American train-wreck. And it did not become apparent during the course of the 2016 campaign; we've known this for decades. You can almost see the little birdies flying out of the man's ears. On this morning's Morning Joe program on MSNBC Mika Brzezinski said, "This is no longer funny." I beg to disagree. What is happening at the moment in the White House is just about the funniest thing I've ever witnessed.
 
The latest chapter in our National Nervous Breakdown occurred early Saturday morning when the Donald let loose this humdinger of a tirade on Twitter:
 
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
 
Whoa! This is indeed something that needs to be looked into! Put Jefferson Beauregard on the hunt. He'll get to the bottom of this....
 
But seriously folks.

And where did Trump come up with this alternative fact? Not from a national security briefing, you may be assured. He read it on the white nationalist website, Breitbart, which lifted it almost verbatim from an on-the-air tantrum that was broadcast a few days earlier on the Mark Levin program. Levin is one of the more notable right wing crazies currently fouling the American airwaves. This is where the president gets his information. Ain't that a scream?

First of all, it would be kinda nice if Trump, in his capacity as commander-in-chief, would take the time to learn some remedial facts about the power of the presidency - or the lack thereof in this case. No president has the power to arbitrarily order a citizen's telephone to be wiretapped. That sort of unchecked power was ended over forty years ago, the direct result of the abuses that were committed by Dick Nixon and his gang. Obama could not have tapped Trump's phone even if he wanted to for the simple reason that he didn't have the power. A tap would have required an intelligence agency obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And if that warrant had, indeed, been obtained, the judges in question would had to have been convinced that there was, indeed, some dangerously illegal shit going down.

Either Trump is lying about (and libeling) a former president, or the wiretap was placed inside the tower because a few judges were utterly convinced that serious crimes were being committed. Either way, Trump is left with Borscht on his face. White House insiders have kindly leaked to the press that the Donald has been in a blind rage all week. Gee, ya think?

And who can blame him? Forty-five days into this disgusting administration and the wheels have become completely disengaged from the clown car. The clowns are all on fire, running hysterically in every direction. I'd be pissed off, too! So would you! Let me repeat myself: This is the funniest thing I've ever been privileged enough to bear witness to. These are wondrous times to be alive. They really are!

About a month ago my prediction was that we would have to wait two years for the Dems to take control again for this bat-shit-crazy thug to be removed via the impeachment process. Now I'm not so sure. There is no way in hell that this travesty can continue for any great length of time. It would seem that Trump's insurance against impeachment is Mike Pence. No one in his or her right mind would sleep very soundly at night knowing that someone possessing his perverted ideology was calling the shots. My only comfort in this scenario is that, although old Mike may be dumber than a box of dead snails, he's not insane....or at least, I don't think he's insane. Let me get back to you on that.

For a political news junkie such as I, the last forty-five days have been breathtaking. Obama was a good, capable president (in most respects) but - Geez Louise! - the guy could be boring at times. Say what you will about Donald Trump - he's not boring. Anything but!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Keith Olbermann might have proved too controversial for cable television, but he's still out there resisting. Here is his take on the rolling catastrophe that is the Trump White House. It's more than worth your precious time:
 
LOOK! UP IN  SKY! IT'S A BIRD! IT'S A PLANE! IT'S OLBERMANN!!!
 
Hats off the dude!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

J'Recuse!


 
I recently saw a few video clips of George W. Bush being interviewed on his latest book tour. Are you ready for this? I actually found myself liking the guy! That's how completely weird things are getting. The Trump era is so shockingly unhinged that someone like Dubya - whom I had previously perceived to be the political anti-Christ - is starting to appear perfectly amiable. I guess there is some degree of empathy in my heart for Bush. He must realize that the history books will not be kind to his administration. His fatal error was bringing Dick Cheney and the PNAC Mob into his sphere. Remember PNAC? It stood for "Project for a New American Century". You don't hear much about them anymore. They screwed things up so totally that they've gone the way of the 8-Track tape and the Bic Banana. Good riddance.
 
The latest debacle in the electoral catastrophe that is more popularly known as the Trump White House (Idiot Nation) involves one Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, former Alabama senator, professional bigot and, presently, United States Attorney General. Sessions was caught - red handed - perjuring himself during his confirmation hearing last week - or at least that's how it seems. In response to an inquiry from Al Franken, who asked if he would be able to impartially investigate whether or not any members of Team Trump clandestinely met with representatives of the government of Russia during the 2016 campaign, Sessions volunteered the statement that he had never met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Brilliant.
 
Sergey: From Russia with love
`
In fact, he had met with the Ambassador - on two different occasions. Jeff's self defense is that the meetings were only in his capacity as a member of the senate armed services committee, and that he doesn't "recall" discussing the campaign with him. This begs an interesting question: What purpose would any member of that committee have in meeting with the Russian ambassador? A member of the Foreign Relations Committee would have a lot of reasons, sure. But Armed Services? Maybe I'm speaking out of ignorance because, thus far anyway, I seem to be the only one to have pointed this out. Strange days indeed.
 
But I'll be generous here and give old Jeff the benefit of the doubt. In fact, it behooves us all to give him the benefit of the doubt ("Behooves". Isn't that a funny word?) Perhaps he really did "misremember" contacting the ambassador. The only reason I bring this up is simply because the Democrats (and a small handful of Republicans) are now calling on Sessions to resign at once. In the words of Noel Coward:
 
How can I make it Cleah?
This is not a good idea!
 
Because of Sessions' involvement - however peripherally - in this newest Trump Mob debacle, he has been publically shamed into recusing himself from the investigation. Were Sessions forced to remove himself from office, there is no doubt in my mind that the Donald would replace him with another hard-core, right wing stooge - who would not be obliged to recuse him or herself, throwing a political monkey wrench (and possibly ending) the entire investigation. Every day it seems, the reality of this administration is becoming more-and-more obvious. A special prosecutor will probably be called in at any time now. We cannot afford to mess this up by handing it over to some brainless, political hack. It might do the Dems a bit of good to start thinking long range. Just a suggestion.

The next - and most obvious - thing we need to do is to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns going back the last quarter of a century - IMMEDIATELY. He's hiding something, kids. And I'm guessing that, once the fat cat is out of the bag, the American people (or at the very least the ones with IQs higher than a bag of rancid Cheese Doodles) will demand his impeachment.

Heaven only knows where or how this is going to end. My suspicion is that we've barely scratched the surface of what I am convinced will prove to be the most insanely corrupt administration in history.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Oh, Coward!
SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington
by Noel Coward

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a huge Noel Coward Fan. This is the song quoted above. Here is a link to listen to it on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7ay6E345e0

I repeat, Mrs. Worthington, sweet Mrs. Worthington
Don't put your daughter on the stage....


The guy was a hoot-and-a-half!

BREAKING NEWS, 11:23 AM:

The Donald has just unleashed this posting on Twitter:
 
Time to have a little heart-to-heart, America. Can those of you still in denial finally see how dangerously disturbed the president of the United States is?
 
AFTERTHOUGHT:
`
Eighty-four years ago today marked the dawn on the New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt saved this nation from the worst economic catastrophe in its history. And when he was done saving America? Just for shits and giggles he decided to save the world.
I wrote this one four years ago.
 
From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald J. Trump. You can't fall any further than that. It's just not possible.