Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1917-2017: Jack Kennedy at 100

Jack kibitzing with Jimmy Durante
"Let the word go forth from this time and place - to friend and foe alike - that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans; born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."
President Kennedy, 20 January 1961
That was then. This is now.
I wanted to write this one yesterday but was unable to get online for some silly reason. Forgive my tardiness on so important a centennial. Things happen, you know?
Ten years ago yesterday on the ninetieth anniversary of JFK's birth, I noted that a nation couldn't fall any further when placing Jack Kennedy in comparison with George W. Bush.
I stand corrected.

I can still remember what my Kennedy-Democrat old man was wearing on that unseasonably warm November day in 1963 when he told me, "The president's been shot". I was only three months and six days past my fifth birthday. As young as I was, something as historically profound as that doesn't really fade away very easily, you know? 
Whenever the American people are asked in a poll to name the greatest president in history, the answer is always overwhelmingly John F. Kennedy. The fact of the matter is that, although it's not unreasonable to place him in the top ten, he was not the greatest. I just wanted to get that out of the way.
It was difficult not experience profound ambivalence yesterday on reflecting on the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. My emotions ranged between a sweet wistfulness and a blind freakn' rage. To paraphrase the great Mort Sahl, the fact that, in a little over fifty years, we can go from Kennedy to Trump only proves that Darwin was wrong. It also illustrates perfectly how completely dumbed down this country has become with the passage of time. When one views film footage of Kennedy's first European visit as president in 1961 - and compares it with the coverage of the Donald's nine-day-stomp last week - too many uncomfortable questions to list come immediately to mind; the first being: How is this possible? What does Donald Trump's very presence in the international spotlight say about our national character? I know at least a few of the answers to that question, but I'd rather not dwell on them now. Why depress you further?
From the New Frontier to Idiot Nation.

This was a man far from perfect. Like other great figures in American history, he was greatly flawed. But the frailties of character that made him all-too-human should not deflect our attention that this was a decent guy who wanted to do good by the country he loved; the country that he almost gave his life for in the Solomon Islands in 1943; the country that he did give his life for in Dallas, Texas in 1963. For a while at least, we were a better people because of Jack Kennedy. I just don't know if we are anymore.

By the way, one of the perks of being Irish Catholic is that we get to refer to President Kennedy as "Jack". NYAH!

I have a number of vinyl records of his speeches. That is one of the few blessings of living in modern times that I never take for granted. If only we could hear Lincoln's voice at Gettysburg. I'll probably curl up in front of the old turntable tonight and give those recordings a spin. It will be impossible not to reflect on all that was. It will be equally impossible to avoid reflecting on all that might have been - but for one demented jackass with a bad attitude and a high-powered rifle.

Was this a great country or what!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here is a link to view President Kennedy speech at American University on June 10, 1963. It is, I believe, the greatest of his career:


As someone once remarked,

"He spoke to us then. He speaks to us still".


On the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the LP has been rereleased as a multi-track re-mix. The sound is indescribable. The  1987 CD release sounds like an Edison wax cylinder by comparison. Highly recommended for fans of the Fab Four Action Figures.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Donald's International Stomp

Tom and Dorothy
When Pope Francis first visited America two years ago, he said that his four favorite Americans were Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Martin Luther King. As a gift, President Trump presented His Holiness with five books by Dr. King. It would have been more fitting if he had given him four books - one by each of them. That's never gonna happen, kids. There is no way a right wing "Christian" Republican is ever going to even vaguely acknowledge the words of Merton and Day. No two Catholic writers in the twentieth century were more adept at exposing the utter hypocrisy of American conservatism.

An interesting side note of the visit to the Vatican that hasn't gotten a lot of coverage is the fact that Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic, was barred by mein Trumph from meeting with the pontiff - while other members of the administration's hierarchy lower than Sean were granted the honor. I'm not used to being a champion of the press secretary, but was there any good reason for this? Probably not. I can only surmise that Donald Trump did this for no other reason than he is a mean and malicious bastard. That's all.
I must confess it has been quite amusing watching Donald stomping about the planet with one foot on a banana peel and the other in his mouth. The idea that he is the representative of the American people is a misnomer. He certainly doesn't represent me. I would venture to guess that he doesn't represent you either. His arrogant behavior on this trip - particularly toward representatives of America's allied nations - was arrogant, embarrassing and comical all at once.

FUN FACT: During a closed meeting with other members of NATO yesterday, Trump referred to Germany, one of our closest and most important allies, as "Bad. Very bad". I don't think an American leader has made that sort of comment since the late Spring of 1945. I'll look into it.

But the moment of this trek into nuttiness that stands out more than any other is the Shove Seen Round the World. Did you see? In a pathetic effort to be seen at the front of the throng of world leaders, the president of the United States of Embarrassment pushed his way through the crowd of world leaders, shoving the prime minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovi, out of his way. Once he was front-and-center, the leader of Idiot Nation stood there, posing and smirking in a manner that would have made Mussolini blush. Not quite il Duce - but definitely il Douchebag. It really was something to behold.

Donald Trump is what the people of this country deserve. I can't even articulate what fun this is to watch.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
The Newest Victims of ISIS:
A mass gathering of little girls

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Pied Piper of Idiot Nation

What Ailes Us 

"We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we're that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered."
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
I first heard the name "Roger Ailes" over thirty years ago when  read the book by Joe McGinness, The Selling of the President 1968. It chronicled how a total unknown, then based out of Philadelphia, whose only claim to fame was as the producer of the Mike Douglas Show, went to work on the Richard Nixon presidential campaign. His job was to "repackage" a thoroughly unlikable candidate like Nixon and make him palatable to the voters of America via the method of media manipulation. It worked brilliantly. Although the election results against Hubert Humphrey that year were close enough to make Nixon's people sweat bullets, he was able to win. Through the use of television advertisements that they market-tested on select audiences before they were aired, they were able to present The Trickster as an amiable, all American kind of guy. I'm sure I don't need to remind you how nicely that worked out for America, do I.

Think about that: Roger's first exposure to the American people was his responsibility for the presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon. It all goes downhill from there. 
Roger and The Donald
I didn't experience any degree of schadenfreude this week when I learned about the passing of Roger Ailes. The details of his death were pretty depressing in-and-of themselves - killed after slipping on the tiled bathroom floor at his home in Florida. How the mighty have fallen. Only ten months before he had been on top of the world as the head of the empire he created almost single-handedly: Fox News - only to be forcibly dethrowned from his perch after it was revealed that he had been involved in the sexual harassment of scores of the leggy blonde news starlets that have been the staple of that organization for over two decades. The best line I read concerning Ailes' passing came from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi. When he mentioned to a relative that he was going to tackle this subject in his next piece, the "relative" (probably his father, NBC reporter Mike Taibbi) said to him, "Say that you hope he's reborn as a woman in Saudi Arabia."

It was Ailes, more than anyone, who was responsible for getting John Lennon to appear on the Mike Douglas Show in the late winter of 1972. There you have it: Other than the unintentional laughs mined from the occasional viewing of Fox Noise, that is the only positive fact regarding the man's entire career that I'm able to come up with.
Fox and "Friends"
No, I can't get too worked up over the death of Roger Ailes. The damage the old bugger did to the country he professed to love so well is too immense to be catalogued in this limited space. Fourteen years ago, at a time when an appalling number of Americans believed Saddam Hussein to be responsible for the carnage of September 11, 2001, polls proved conclusively that around seventy-five present of the citizenry who believed such nonsense described themselves as habitual viewers of Fox Noise. In addition to Dick Nixon's, Roger Ailes - more than anyone - may take credit for the administrations of George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. He is not solely responsible for the atrocious dumbing-down of this doomed nation in the last fifty years, but he at least deserves a dishonorary mention. All of us today find ourselves stewing in the juices of Roger's sick vision. His success was due primarily to the fact that his entire career depended upon his appealing to the most appalling angels of the American nature. That's some legacy, huh?

He should have stuck with Mike Douglas. 
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever
by Matt Taibbi
Here's a link to read Matt's assessment of the life and career of Roger Ailes, and the damage he did to this country:
Read it and weep.


By the way, do you want to enjoy a really hardy laugh? Monday morning, tune into the first fifteen minutes of Fox and Friends. You must see it to believe it. It's that bad.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Putin's Useful Idiot

"Everywhere there's lots of piggies, living piggy lives"
"Donald Trump's administration is beginning the way Richard Nixon's ended."
Eugene Robinson
on the Morning Joe Program
12 May 2017
Jim Comey is a career lawyer who, by all accounts, is precise and meticulous. He is also religious when it comes to taking notes. Apparently he has a vast paper trail with respect to his conversations with the president of the United States of America. This does not bode particularly well for the Donald. According to an anonymous White House insider yesterday, the dude is "completely fucked". We are told that the inmates of this disgusting administration are starting to "lawyer up". Chaos reigns supreme inside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. By all descriptions that have been provided to us, Trump has been behaving like a raging adolescent. These are indeed interesting times inside the executive branch of the government.
As anyone who knew anything about Donald Trump could have easily predicted, the Trump presidency is in the midst of an utter implosion. The surprising thing is the speed. I was of the opinion that it would take until the late summer/early autumn until things came apart. I was as wrong as I've ever been in my life. The wheels came off the clown car at the starting gate. This entire fiasco has been nothing if not amusing to behold. In a video essay that was posted online the other day, Keith Olbermann observed that the president is guilty of seventeen impeachable offences committed - not since January 20 - but in the last week! This is going to end very badly - but I repeat myself.
Trump is black comedy personified. I'm almost at the point of feeling sorry for the poor bastard. His week got off to a rather deplorable start a few days ago when he hosted a press event in the oval office that was covered exclusively by the Russian news/propaganda service, Tass. The American press was barred from the event. To make matters worse for the Imbecile-in-Chief, it was later reported that, at this very moment, he revealed classified intelligence to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. In his own defense, Donald sought to put our minds at ease by informing the country that, if a president declassifies anything, it is no longer classified. I feel so relieved. How 'bout you? The info he handed over to the two Russians pertainined to Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu is not amused.
The prez stepped out of one shit storm smack dab into the middle of another one when the New York Times quoted the details of Comey's private conversation with him regarding the investigation into Mike Flynn's contact with the Russian embassy. According to the notes, Trump tried to persuade the FBI director to stop the Flynn inquiry. It's called "obstruction of justice" just in case anyone asks you. But it gets worse (or "better" for my purposes). Incredibly, Trump then attempted to make Comey take an oath of personal loyalty - a pledge of allegiance to the Donald. James Comey, to his eternal credit, politely refused the offer. He has since been fired. Put two and two together.

Donald Trump is about to put America in his rear view mirror as he embarks upon his first foreign trip as president. I suppose that is just as well. It'll be scads of fun watching him stomp around the planet with one foot on a banana peel and the other in his mouth. For all the damage that he's inflicting on this doomed republic, he certainly is an amusing spectacle to study. The journey might also give him an opportunity to forget - for one brief, shining moment - the morass of political turbulence that awaits him when he returns stateside. Bon voyage.

In recent days, the Republicans have been sneaking a new talking point into the national dialogue. Are you ready for this one?

That's right, folks! So desperate are they to put as much distance between themselves and this unhinged nitwit that, when the catastrophe is complete, they're going to attempt to put the blame on the opposition party. You want to hear the sad part? It's probably going to work.
Idiot Nation.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


When the World is Led by a Child
by David Brooks


This excellent essay by David Brooks was published two days ago in the New York Times. It's worth a read. Thanks to Melinda Carroll for sending this one my way via Faebook.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Early this morning

 "Mr. President, you're making a big mistake."
Senator Chuck Schumer
in a telephone call to the Donald
I made this little announcement on my Facebook page this morning:
 "I've been fairly tolerant toward those who support this president - friends and strangers alike. From this moment on, if you insist on supporting this unhinged, common pervert, you're just too dense for rational dialogue."
Honestly, after all that has transpired in the last twenty-four hours, there's no more excuses for rationalization. We have placed in the most powerful office in the world an unhinged despot. The irony is the fact that things have turned out worse that even I dared to predict - and I'm a fairly cynical guy. You had to have been blind not to see how badly this was going to end. If Dick Nixon's infamous Saturday Night Massacre sealed his fate, what happened yesterday was the tolling of the bells of doom for the administration of Donald Trump. To paraphrase Churchill, this may not be the end, it may not be the beginning of the end, but it is most definitely the end of the beginning. It's all downhill from here for these people. Let the shit storm commence.
I was of two minds yesterday when I got the breaking news over the car radio that Mein Trumph had fired FBI director, James Comey. It was his bungling back in October that was more responsible than anything for this disgusting administration's very existence. Ten days before the election, when he made known that there was a new (nonexistent as it turned out) angle to Hillary Clinton's e-mail probe, a lot of people in middle America got severely spooked. But by all accounts he appeared to be sincere (or as sincere as it is possible to appear in Washington) in his desire to investigate what, if any, connection the 2016 Trump campaign had with agents of a hostile foreign government in influencing the outcome of the election. I think it is interesting to note here that the three independent players who have been investigating this president (Comey, Sally Yates, and Preet Bharara) have all been fired by him. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
The most comically ironic thing of all is the initial reason Trump's minions gave for the firing: His mishandling of the Hillary Clinton the same "scandal" mentioned above. After nearly a year of praising Comey on this very point, das Trumpster now feels it his obligation to punish him. Then in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, he admitted that is was all because of the inquiry into Russia. This is the gang that can't get its story straight.
I'm not making this stuff up!
I think it would be instructive to point out how completely politically tone-deaf the Trump Mob is: They seem genuinely surprised by the explosion of outrage that this latest blunder has caused. They apparently had no idea that the dismissal of the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation could quite possibly provoke a constitutional crisis. Trump's letter to Comey, informing him that he was being sacked, is so side-splittingly transparent that one is tempted to weep for the complete idiocy of the man:
"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation,  I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau." 
If Trump is dumb enough to believe that the page has been turned and now this scandal will simply go away, he doesn't have the intellectual chops to be sitting in the Oval Office. Of course some of us have been saying this from the moment he announced his candidacy two years ago next month. Ain't hindsight a scream?
Mitch: The Plutocracy's Bitch
Now the Big Question: Will the senate agree to appoint a special prosecutor? My feeling is, if the vote were held this morning, they would not. The good news is that this nasty little affair is compounding by the hour. At this stage in the game, even some of the inmates of Idiot Nation are becoming alarmed by the obvious crimes and starling conflicts of interest connected to these corrupt assholes. Mitch McConnell has promised that he will obstruct any and every effort to secure a special prosecutor. I wasn't surprised to learn of this. Old Mitch is into this mess up to his eyeballs. Last September he made several desperate attempts to keep this scandal from seeing the light of day. I'm not sure what he's hiding, but I suspect we'll find out in due time. The walls are closing in for the gentleman from Kentucky as well.

Very soon the Republicans will be shamed into doing what common sense and decency should have made them do without even having to think about it. Very soon there will be no place left for them to hide. It seems to me that Donald Trump's administration is unraveling before our very eyes. It's crashing and burning, shattering into a trillion pieces. Life is beautiful.

I never dreamed things would get this completely weird. Isn't this fun to watch?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


An interesting post-election, pre-inauguration documentary on Donald Trump from PBS's Frontline:


Enjoy....Maybe that's the wrong word. You get the idea.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Deeper and Deeper

Sally Yates
"Logic would tell you that you don't want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians had leverage over him."
Sally Yates, 5/8/17

Gee, ya think???

Although I paid close attention to the unfolding Watergate scandal forty-five years ago, I really was too young to comprehensively take in the constitutional ramifications of what was happening. I was thirteen on the night of June 17, 1972, when several burglars were caught planting bugging devices in the Democratic headquarters in Washington, DC. Dick Nixon resigned in disgrace a week before my sixteenth birthday in August of 1974. Only decades of hindsight allowed me to truly understand how big a deal the entire affair was. In 1972, I was only a casual user with respect to politics. Watergate turned me into a full tilt political junkie.
I understand things a lot more clearly in 2017. The scandal involving the 2016 Trump campaign's collusion with Vladimir Putin is proving to be a tidal wave that will make Watergate look like a bottle of leaky Perrier. It is not only the Trump campaign that is suspect. The suspicions now extend to the Trump administration. As impossibly devious as Nixon was, no one - not even his most vigorous critics - ever suspected that the demented old freak held even so-much-as-a mildly treasonous thought.

Clapper and Yates
Watching the testimonies yesterday of formers acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, one got the uneasy feeling that we've only hit the tip of the lice-berg. When both of them were asked if they were in possession of evidence that the administration was in cahoots somehow with the Putin government, neither of them would respond  to the question because the answer would hamper national security. For eighteen days after Yates informed White House counsel, Don McGahn, that National Security Advisor Mike Flynn had been having improper conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyac, the Trump Mob did nothing. Yates, however, was fired. The official reason for her sacking was her failure to implement the Donald's Muslim ban. That might be one reason, but I've got a hunch that it's not the only one.

Trump has made a pathetic attempt to deflect all blame for the Michael Flynn fiasco onto - SURPRISE! - Barack Obama. He says that the former president failed to vet Flynn carefully when he went to work for the Obama White House. A case could be made for that argument. But don't overlook the fact that Flynn was discharged by Obama. Also, NBC News confirmed yesterday that, in their first face-to-face meeting after the election, the president specifically warned the president-elect that Mike Flynn was a danger to national security. Nice try. 
A few hours prior to the hearing, der Trumpster had another one of his amusing tantrums on Twitter:
"Ask Sally Yates under oath if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. counsel".
More than one Republican senator obliged the president by directing that question to both Yates and Clapper. Both of their answers were convincing. In fact, anyone bothering to pay attention to the events of the last four months knows exactly where the Washington Post obtained that information. As you might already have surmised, this is the leakiest White House in American history.

You have to wonder why Trump would appoint someone like Flynn (who, after all, was so tight with Putin) to be his national security advisor. Why would he appoint someone like Rex Tillerson (who, after all, was so tight with Putin) to be his secretary of state? Do you see a pattern here? Could it be that these two guys were picked for no other reason than the possibility that they may have been Putin's choices? If that is case, what I want know is simply: How many others in this disgusting administration were vetted by Vlad?

Crackpot theory on my part? Maybe. But by not making public his tax returns, Trump is quite obviously hiding something. How deep is he indebted to the Russians? His own son admitted to a reporter two years ago that more cash flows into the Trump organization from Russia than any other country on the planet - including the United States. If you weren't around for Watergate you didn't miss much. The sins of the Nixon administration are about to become a trivial footnote in the annals of political crime. As Al Jolson liked to say in his day, "Folks, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

Fasten your seatbelts. 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Today would have been the twentieth birthday of my cherished little friend, Meghan Sager. Her sudden passing three-and-a-half years ago left everyone who was blessed to be in her orbit in a state of mourning that none of us who loved her (which was everyone who knew her) will ever completely recover from. I thought I knew what grief was. I hadn't even scratched the surface.
A few months after she stepped into eternity, her family established a scholarship in her memory. Its purpose is to help fund the educations of young people who, like Meghan, excel in scholastic achievement, artistic creativity, athletic prowess - or who merely possess in abundance the sweet milk of human kindness and decency. And although it's not a prerequisite, it would be appropriate if they were funny, too. Miss Meghan was a riot! Tonight the cherubs are beside themselves in giggles. Of this I  have no doubt.
Please, if you have any spare change lying around the house, make a donation to the Meghan Sager Memorial Scholarship Fund.
You’ll never know how much I adored this kid. I still do, you know. I still do.
Happy birthday, Miss Meghan.
Love and Peace,
Mr. Degan
Here is a link to donate:
Thanks, folks!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

That Was Then - This Is Then

Two historical thugs

Bad Joe
Yesterday, May 2, was a milestone anniversary for any student of history. On May 2, 1957 - sixty years ago - The junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy, died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital at the age of forty-eight. McCarthy, whose entire adult life had been plagued by the disease of alcoholism, had increased his intake demonstrably in the last three years of his life. The 1954 confrontation with the U.S. Army that he foolishly engineered wound up being his fatal overstep. After a four-year career of slander and innuendo, destroying the lives and careers of scores of government officials and politicians  with false accusations of disloyalty, Joe's luck had finally run out. His career as the slanderer supreme commenced in 1950 when the freshman senator remarked in a speech to a women's group in Wheeling, West Virginia that he had  - in his hand - a list of 219 employees of the State Department who were active members of the Communist Party. It was all nonsense, of course, but like a strung-out jazz musician who had finally discovered the "new sound", poor old, drunken Joe had found the new cause.
"Are you now or have you ever been
a member of the Communist Party?"

Good Joe
In June of 1954 Joe made the astounding claim that the United States Army's radar facility in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was crawling with commies. During the historic, thirty-six days of the Army/McCarthy Hearings during the Spring of that year, the gasbag from Wisconsin finally met his match in the form of the Army's mild mannered counsel, Joseph N. Welsh. When McCarthy let loose with the charge that a young lawyer in Welsh's Boston law firm, Fred Fisher, was a card carrying communist, Welsh came back with words that tolled the bells of doom for the embattled senator. Bear in mind that when Welsh uttered these damning words, every home in the United States with a television set (and millions more with a radio) were tuned in to the unfolding drama. Looking at ancient kinescopes of those hearings today, it must have been a riveting spectacle to witness live:
"Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
You can see at this point McCarthy literally dissolving in humiliation. At that moment, Tail Gunner Joe's career as a senator effectively ended. A good and decent New England lawyer had exposed him for all time and eternity as the contemptible scoundrel he was.

He was dead in three years.
I wanted to write about this yesterday but  was completely distracted by the continuing implosion of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Sixty years of historical research tells us that Senator McCarthy was mentally ill. More than anything, at least in retrospect, he is a figure of pity. In the era he lived, he wasn't the despised  demagogue we recoil at today. He had a huge following of friends and admirers who filled any arena that he spoke in. More than hated (at least publicly) he was deeply feared by his enemies. Only in hindsight does Joe McCarthy come sharply into focus as the comical oaf and buffoon he is viewed as today. Sixty years later it is difficult to imagine anyone ever taking the decrepit, rumpled  old bastard seriously.

It's ironic that in 1954 there was only one Joe McCarthy. In 2017 the halls of congress are, quite literally, crawling with McCarthy wannabes. Texas senator, Ted Cruz, springs immediately to mind as the most McCarthy-like senator in recent memory. Things have gotten that completely weird.

It didn't take the rest of us too long to understand what a complete, demagogue and fool Donald Trump is - or, at least, those of us who bothered to pay attention. Between the years 1947 and 1957, as unhinged and dangerous as old Joe was as a politician in the national spotlight, no one seriously thought that there was even a molecule of a chance that he would one day find himself living in the Executive Mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here's a little historical comparison to ponder: One of the more alarming developments regarding the new Trump administration is the fact that they have been gutting the State Department. Career diplomats with an accumulated centuries worth of experience between them have been given the ax. The same thing happened during the era of the communist witch hunts in the fifties. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, untold scores of people at State were sent packing by paranoid right wing politicians of both parties. The result was the foreign policy disasters of the sixties and seventies, Vietnam being the most notable debacle.

“Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana
Roy Boy
I think it is instructive that one of Trump's early and most imporatant mentors was Roy Cohn. In case you've forgotten him, he was a key player in McCarthy's "investigating" committee. Roy was about as despicable a creature that ever snaked its way through the moldy pages of the American history books. He and some jackass named David Schine made headlines during the fifties when, with McCarthy's blessing, they went on a crusade, plundering American libraries all across Europe, purging the shelves of books that were not - in their view -  ideologically "pure".  A closeted homosexual, he would take gleeful pleasure from destroying the careers of other closeted homosexuals - whether through blackmail or exposure. Trump has always said that Cohn's influence on him was incalculable. Two birds of a rancid feather. Cohn died of AIDS in 1986 at the age of fifty-nine, adamantly denying his sexuality till the very end - the worst kept secret in his hometown of New York City.

Over the past weekend it has become clear to the most casual observers that there is something seriously, psychologically wrong with Donald Trump. This has been obvious for decades to people who have studied this guy. But his scattered thought and speech patterns have become even more alarming than usual. Donald Trump personifies what we've allowed ourselves to become as a nation. He is the roadmap to where we are heading. I've got a little hint for you: It's not a good place.

This is going to end badly. Get used to living in a country in ruins. Enjoy your stay in Idiot Nation.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


No Sense of Decency: The Army/McCarthy Hearings
By Robert Shogan

How Joe McCarthy was taken down by Joseph Welsh, and the moment television became a  major force in breaking news.


Yesterday was also the forty-fifth anniversary of the passing of McCarthy's pal, the red-baiting, uber racist director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. Ain't American history a riot?