Sunday, September 30, 2018



I can tell another drunk from a mile away. I just wanted to put that out there.

I don't want to be seen here as picking on Bret Kavanaugh. The guy has been through enough ridicule of late, and I'm hesitant to add any more fuel to a fire that is already completely out-of-control (did you happen to catch Saturday Night Live this weekend? Ouch!) I know this sounds strange, but I'm starting to feel a little sorry for the guy - and I really feel bad for his daughters! I  have to tell you that I was much heartened to see that, given his emotional reaction when he spoke of them during his conformation hearings, there are at least some daughters in America that this judge is capable of feeling such sincere compassion for - even if it's only his own daughters. Still, that's a good start. We must grab these little morsels of humanity wherever we may find them, ay?

His follow up testimony to Christine Blasey Ford's was revealing. From his ranting about left wing conspiracies to his claim that all opposition to his nomination was "revenge" for the Clintons, it was all I needed to see to understand that this is a man not in possession of a tenth of the temperament to be an objective and dispassionate jurist. We don't need political operators on the Supreme Court; we already have one in Uncle Clarence Thomas. I'm reminded of William O. Douglas. He was appointed to the Supremes by Roosevelt in 1939. He was probably the most liberal member of that body in history - which is precisely why FDR chose him. As a private citizen, Douglas had been very politically active, but once he found himself sitting on "the highest court in the land", all of that political activity went straight into oblivion.

Many of his law clerks remember him staring longingly at the morning papers reading about any given  cause that might have been brewing at any given moment in America (like the civil rights movement) and the good judge wistfully sighing, "Oh, if only I could have attended this rally!". But he never did. He knew it would be wrong for a sitting Supreme Court judge to become involved in partisan politics. That's not true for Clarence Thomas. It won't be true for Bret Kavanaugh. Count on it.

The most revealing (and disturbing) part of the Kavanaugh hearing was his interchanges with Amy Klobuchar and Dick Durbin. His back-and-forth with Durbin was particularly unsettling. The guy literally had what could only be described as a pre-teen tantrum. He refused to say that he would approve of an FBI investigation (as Dr. Ford has) and when he was pressed, he folded his arms and remained silent for a few seconds. When Klobuchar asked him if he had ever "blacked out", he turned the question around and asked her if she ever had. Like the Army/McCarthy hearings of 1954, it was one of those moments of political theater that people will still be looking back on in 2072.
"At long last, sir, have you no sense of decency?"
Joseph Welsh, 1954
I could not believe what I was witnessing. It was yet another reminder (as if another reminder was even remotely necessary) how depressingly dumbed down America's national conversation has become in the last half century.
Perhaps Bret Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford are both speaking the Truth. I've blacked out a number of times in my partying career and was perfectly capable of some reprehensible behavior that I only found out about the morning after when told by a  concerned friend of my inebriated exploits - although sexual assault was never part of the equation; that's never really been my shtick. Most of the trouble I've gotten into during any particular blackout involved my mouth - or my pen. I can really be one mean son-of-a-bitch when I'm intoxicated and someone has wronged me. Not violent, mind you - just mean. Maybe Judge Kavanaugh really believes he's innocent. That's why the other Judge (Mark) needs to be subpoenaed. But Mark Judge's problem is that he can't plead the Fifth. Spilling a whole can of nasty tasting beans about Buddy Bret would not be self-incrimination. He's not in a good place anyway you look at it.

Think about this: If Christine Blasey Ford created this story out of thin air, why the hell would she fabricate an eye-witness? Doesn't Mark Judge's presence in the room on that night in the long-ago summer of 1982 make her tale just a bit more difficult to prove? Or maybe it makes her more believable. I believe her.

This is not a "calculated and orchestrated political hit" as Judge Kavanaugh claims. This is something far more substantial than that.

These are indeed golden days for political junkies. I never thought that it would ever get any weirder than the Watergate era. I was wrong. Ron Zeigler was right. Comparatively speaking, Watergate was "a third rate burglary". 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Closest Companion
edited and annotated by Geoffrey C. Ward
I picked this one up at the FDR Library back in January. In the 1920s, in the months after he was stricken with polio, Franklin Roosevelt sought the company of Margaret Suckley, a distant cousin who lived a few miles up Route 9 from Hyde Park in Rhinebeck, NY. FDR was lonely and needed someone to talk to. Theirs’ developed into a beautiful friendship that lasted until the day he died in 1945. Margaret has never been anything but a footnote in his biography. When she died in 1991, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. a suitcase filled with twenty years of letters between them was discovered under her bed. Geoffrey Ward has unlocked a corner of Roosevelt's soul that none of his previous biographers knew existed. This is a wonderful book - and highly recommended for any fan of the Frankster.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Bill Cosby: From Ashes to Dust

Bill Cosby was sentenced yesterday to three-to-ten years in prison. This is too depressing for mere contemplation. My last childhood illusion has been permanently and irreparably shattered. It's all over.

I cannot recall in my lifetime a career crashing as completely as this. As a longtime fan and admirer, this is indeed a sad and disturbing thing to behold. He has fallen as far as it is humanly possible to fall.
Not all of the women who came forward in the autumn of 2014 with accusations of sexual assault could be taken seriously. One of them, who claims that her confrontation with Cosby took place in the year 1969, says she would jokingly call him, "Mr. Jell-O". Cosby would not become the pitchman for that brand until 1974. As of this moment I seem to be the only one to have noticed this little discrepancy. What does that tell you about our media?
Bill Cosby may very well end up as the Joe Paterno of comedy. A brilliant, scandal free career and reputation that has endured for over half a century has been completely and permanently detroyed.`

One of the first books I ever purchased to read - with my own money, for my own enjoyment - was called "Cool Cos". It was a biography of Bill written especially for kids. I sent away for it to a school book club.  I was around ten at the time. I had to learn as much as humanly possible about this man who had so captured my imagination and my funny bone.

In a lifetime that has been devoted to comedy in general and comedians in particular, Bill Cosby was my first comedic hero. When I was a kid I thought that he was the smartest, coolest, funniest human being who ever walked this earth. As I write these words his second LP, "I Started out as a Child", is lying atop a small stack of records directly behind my right shoulder.

Like Chaplin, Bill appealed to both adults and children. When I was a very small child I couldn't understand the humor of Bob Newhart. I understood and appreciated Bill Cosby perfectly well. Anyone who grew up in the sixties and seventies has their own, personal Cosby memories:

In June of 1968 my father came up with the wonderful idea that it would be a really neat thing to send my brother, Pete, and I to a summer camp in Lenox, Massachusetts, on the campus of Cranwell School. The place was inhabited by hundreds of spoiled-rotten, rich Catholic kids, and run by humorless Jesuit priests. Sound like fun? My only cherished memory of that utterly wasted summer was that every Monday night before we went to sleep, a seminarian named Jim Leroux would gather us in his room and play a Bill Cosby record. I can still hear the guy's voice a half-century later:


That threat was enough to get us moving, believe me. Bill Cosby was, for me, one of the very few bright spots in a perfectly miserable childhood. That is what makes this spectacle all-the-more heartbreaking for me to have to witness.

The only time in my life I ever saw a comedian in concert was in the mid-eighties when I took a date to see Bill Cosby at Radio City Music Hall. I could not resist the opportunity to see my childhood hero in the flesh. One of my nagging regrets is that I'm too young to have ever seen Lenny Bruce in person, but at least I could say that I saw Bill. 

All of the sudden that's not too big a deal any longer, you know? In November of 2014, I was driving home one night with the radio on when it was announced on CBS  News that the TV Land cable channel would no longer be airing reruns of the classic Cosby Show. In an era of hideously mediocre comedy, that particular program was one of television's depressingly few high marks. I won't even bother trying to explain to you how sad it made me to hear this.

I loved Bill Cosby. 

Again, it's all over. We shall not hear from him again except as a figure of shame, ridicule or dark satire. There will be no second act in this American life. As tragic as Lenny's end was, death and posterity would ultimately vindicate him. There will be no such vindication for Bill Cosby. The show is over; the curtain has closed. The last five years have been a horribly unfunny period for comedy, have you noticed that?

When the mighty fall, the sound can be deafening.`

Here would be a possible assignment for an experienced investigative journalist: 
It is not an unreasonable assumption to conclude that a drug-induced rape might turn fatal. It's happened before. When one introduces a foreign substance into the blood stream of an unwitting victim, that is always a remote possibility. When there has been a half-century pattern of such behavior, that "remote possibility" becomes a virtual inevitability. This is not irresponsible speculation on my part. In fact, it only stands to reason. Think about it.
This is something that has to be looked into. Did any aspiring model/actress in Bill Cosby's presence or proximity die suddenly of an unexplained overdose in the last fifty years? There might be a long-forgotten news report that, at the time, didn't sound any alarm bells. It would be worth knowing the answer to that question. I'm just putting it out there.
I might be accused of jumping the gun here. So be it. When these allegations were first made public in 2014, I didn't want to believe them - in fact I didn't believe them. But as the months transpired, and more and more women came forward with their stories, my doubts became as soft as, forgive the pun, Jell-O. As they say, where there's smoke....
The final straw came when the transcripts of Cosby's own testimony during a civil lawsuit over a decade ago became part of the public record. When he admitted to acquiring Quaalude to give to one woman in particular for the purpose of sex, it was all over as far as I was concerned. He convicted himself.
When his epitaph is written, he won't be remembered primarily as "America's favorite dad", or as "one of the great humorists of the twentieth century" (a title which I believe he deserved). There will be no two-hour documentaries on the life and groundbreaking career of Bill Cosby - as is the case with Chaplin, Keaton, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. There will be no more lifetime achievement awards for Bill. Nothing.

As I stated earlier, Bill Cosby was my first comedic hero. Ask anyone who knew me in high school. While my record collection was filled to the rafters with obligatory rock 'n' roll, I possessed a sizable collection of comedy LPs. Bill's early Warner Brothers recordings were always a prominent part of that collection. 

I cannot emphasize this enough: I loved Bill Cosby.

This is a nasty tasting pill indeed. That he could be so reckless, given all that he represented to so many people - forget about race - is beyond comprehension. I know that he did a lot of good in his time, and I think he was sincere in his desire to leave the world a better place than he found it. Maybe that's true. Just try convincing his victims of that. Good luck.

We believed in Bill Cosby and he played us for chumps for a half century. That's some legacy, huh?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Parts of this piece are re-edited from two pieces posted on this site in October of 2014 and January of 2016.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Complete Craziness

It stuns the senses to consider that over a third of the American people are so heart-breakingly naïve that they are under the impression that this common pervert, blundering asshole and psychopath is doing a dandy job as commander-in-chief. That he is now demanding the release of classified material pertaining to the conspiracy with a hostile foreign power that could easily put the lives of foreign sources of intelligence at risk is the final line to be crossed as far as far as many of his subordinates are concerned. Some are saying that we're on the verge of a full-tilt constitutional crisis. They're mistaken. We've been in crisis mode since January 20, 2017. It amazes me that so many of them took this long to notice. Did you have a nice nap, kiddies?

It all comes down to this: the president of the United States is seriously - dangerously - disturbed. This situation (amusing as it is) cannot continue. It is obvious that Donald J. Trump is a paid agent on a hostile foreign government. Vladimir Putin put the bastard in office for the sole purpose of doing as much damage to America's political infrastructure as is possible to do - and Trump is cheerfully complying. As things stand now, that damage will take a generation or more to be undone. If he is allowed to complete this first term, or, Heaven forbid, be elected to a second, we will be long past the point of no return. This is an emergency. Calling all cars.

Seriously, during the weirdest years of George W. Bush's reign of error, terror and stupidity, I never dreamed that I would be writing these words. I miss the hideous little thug. His dad is starting to look like Abraham Lincoln. Ronald Reagan is starting to look like Jesus. Someone shoot me please.

I don't know if Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be elevated to the Supreme Court. My guess is that he probably will be - despite the fact that he has been accused of sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl in the nineteen eighties. She is not, today, a hopeless dimwit on skid row. She is a highly respected law professor. Here's what the GOP needs to deal with: if it is proven that The Donald conspired with Putin to subvert our national election (and I believe that he did) all of Trump's appointments to the Supreme Court must immediately be impeached. We need to wash away the legacy of this disgusting and hideous piece-of-shit from our national reputation. We'll never be able to erase him from our historical reputation, but at least we'll be able to tell our children and grandchildren that - eventually - we woke the fuck up and did the right thing. We won't ever be able to bequeath to them a Trump-free heritage, but it'll be better than nothing. We seriously need to get moving on this.

The Republicans have a chance to save themselves. They can either stand up to this menace to democracy - or they can sink into the abyss. They have no other choice. Aren't these interesting times?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Donald J. Trump Memorial WHAT???

 I live less than forty miles from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. It is the place where he was born in 1882 and was his home all of his life. As I've stated on this site too many times to count, I go there often. It's a place where, no matter how desperate our national affairs may look at any given moment, I always walk away from feeling a little better about my country. Roosevelt was a flawed man and  not always a foresighted leader, but you knew in your heart that the man  always strived to do what was best for most Americans (citizens of Japanese ancestry would rightfully beg to differ I'm sure). Still, the legacy which FDR left this country reverberates nearly three-quarters-of-a-century after his sudden death, in office, in April of 1945. There are more than a few memorials to this great man in cities and towns all across the United States. In 2018 he continues to make a difference in our lives. If you or a loved one receives a monthly check from Social Security, you have Mr. Roosevelt to thank for that.
Recently while visiting the place, I was standing quietly before the two graves in the rose garden where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt today sleep side by side. While I stood there, the thought occurred to me about the possibility of a Donald J. Trump Memorial Library and Museum. What would it look like? I imagined that the entranceway would be a tacky facsimile of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. How would the rangers who give the guided tours explain the Donald to happless sightseers? And how would the pencil-pushers who administer the joint be able to put a smiley-face on the most incompetent, unhinged and dangerously corrupt president in American history? After a few short minutes of speculation, it hit me that such pondering was a lesson in futilely. There won't be any memorials to the memory of Donald Trump. 
There will be no Donald J. Trump Schools - public or private. There will be no Donald J. Trump Memorial Highways. There will be no Donald J. Trump National Parks. There will be no Donald J. Trump Airports. There will be no Donald J. Trump Hospitals. There will be no Donald J. Trump Centers for the Arts. There will be no statues erected to the memory of Donald J. Trump. There will be no Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum.
There's never going to be a Donald J. Trump Memorial Anything. Okay, I'll compromise: perhaps they might one day dedicate a Donald J. Trump Memorial Rest Area in the center of the Long Island Expressway; a place where weary motorists might stop to relieve themselves. Yeah, that would possibly work; but other than that....

And as for the presidential papers of Donald J. Trump? I suspect that they will be eternally stored in some windowless room deep within the bowels of the National Archives, where scholars, biographers and historians might go to scratch their heads in wonder and amusement.

November 1963
I imagine that when death finally comes to Donald J. Trump (as it must come to all men - and most women I'm told) he will not be interred in some ornate sarcophagus stately mounted on a marble pedestal surrounded by fountains of running water - like Martin Luther King. I don't believe that his body will lie in some serene, private mausoleum at the end of a majestic, marble-lined hallway - like President James A. Garfield. I don't even think he will be placed in a public cemetery next to the final resting place of his parents. What I suspect will happen is that the earthly remains of Donald J. Trump will be put into a secret and unmarked grave - The Tomb of the Unknown Donald. Either that or he'll be cremated with his ashes scattered into the East River off of Queens where he was raised; or maybe they'll be scattered on the grounds of the New York Military Academy in Cornwall, NY where he attended high school - and which is less than twenty miles from where I live - that is, if the faculty of that institution will allow it (which is doubtful. Those military types don't look too kindly on traitors). I only hope that the guy doesn't die in office. The last thing our national consciousness needs is to send this bloviating jackass off into eternity with a grand military funeral - ala Jack Kennedy. Spare us please.

Within a year or two, there will be a telephone poll of a broad cross-section of the American people, asking one question: For whom did you cast your precious ballot for on Election Day 2016? I'll bet the freakin' farm that close to eighty percent of the respondents will answer, "Hillary Clinton". Although Trump's poll numbers are down this week (37% according to the latest count) I don't expect them to get much lower - not in the foreseeable future anyway. It's going to take an earth-shattering event of seismic proportions for these silly Americans to lift their heads out of the sands of indifference and finally wake the hell up.

No, most Americans will not one day be stricken with a sense of collective, teary-eyed nostalgia for the reign of this unexplainable president - as they are now for the era of Barack Obama - and even George W. Bush (somebody shoot me please). There will never be an annual Donald Trump National Holiday, where the masses are bequeathed a nifty excuse for unlimited orgies of barbequed chicken and reckless inebriation during a three day weekend. The companies that manufacture those posters which portray the portraits of our presidents that are placed in school rooms across the land, will more-than-likely be forced portray Donald J. Trump as a blacked-out silhouette. When impressionable students of future generations innocently ask why this is so, the embarrassed teachers of future generations will have to awkwardly answer that question. I don't envy them one bit. No sir.

We won't ever be able to erase the Donald from our national memory bank. He's here to stay and we're going to have to deal with the embarrassment as best we can: that a so-called "civilized" people were deluded into believing that elevating so unqualified a man to the presidency was a noble idea. Perhaps the people have finally learned a lesson they should have learned over a century ago, but I really doubt it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


I'm on my way to the post office to pick up my copy of "Fear" by Bob Woodward. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into that one!


The Woodward book wasn't there. Two days too late. Damn you,!

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Resistance Anonymous

"It's not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations".
The latest parlor game is Washington is trying to figure out who it was that penned the op ed that appeared Thursday in the New York Times....that is, I am assuming it's the latest parlor game. To be frank with you, I don't think I ever stepped for inside a Washington parlor. Do they even still play parlor games in that city? Someone get back to me.
I am of mixed feelings about the piece. Although it wasn't a very courageous act on the part of the person who wrote it, I think that it demonstrates that the president of the United States is imploding. You would think that no further proof would be necessary - but you'd be mighty wrong, pardner! A full one third of the citizens of this place couldn't be happier knowing that someone as completely corrupt and unhinged as the Donald is eating gallons of ice cream in the Oval Office with his gnarled little fingers just inches away from the nuclear football. We should expect his poll numbers to drop a little further in the months to follow, but not too much lower. There are a lot of people of voting age in this country who are just as twisted and delusional as Trump.

As I write these words, the president (according to multiple sources) is in a blind, barfing rage. Many are using the word "volcanic" to describe his wrath. I would think so. The First Twit went a'twitterin' yesterday, demanding that the Times reveal the name of this treasonous letch and that he or she (more-than-likely a he) ne handed over to "the government" for performing this unpardonable act of "TREASON" - his exact word, upper case). Since treason is a crime that one could conceivably be executed for (remember Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?) we must reasonably assume that Trump's authoritarian tendencies have just slammed into overdrive. Last I checked, writing an op ed to any paper was not yet a capital offence. But they're working on it I'm sure. Of that I have no doubt.

My guess is that the author of the piece was Chief of Staff John Kelly or National Intelligence chief Dan Coates. Whomever it was, I thought it was wickedly tricky how they inserted the word "lodestar" in there. An obscure word that is used - a lot - by Mike Pence. It would be just like some of these clowns to deflect attention to poor old, pathetic Mike. He seems to be the one a lot of people are pointing the finger od suspicion at, but I don't believe if for a minute. First of all it was too well-written to have been composed by Mike - and secondly: The writer was implying that we should all just hang in there; that the "resistance" will continue to keep Trump from blowing up the world. I'm almost certain that if Mike Pence had written the piece the message would have been:


That would have been more Pence's style. He's got the most to gain from the complete disintegration of the Trump administration. And if you've noticed lately, he's even starting to look presidential - that is, the president as portrayed in any Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie.

From the same op ed:

"Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright."
That particular paragraph is revealing. It explains the GOP's strategy for dealing with the fallout from when this disgusting administration finally destroys the American economy. You see where if says that Trump, "shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives". When the shit finally hits the fan, they'll accuse Trump of being "a secret liberal Democrat". Just you wait.

With all the events happening from day to eye-popping, jaw-dropping day, you must admit that these sure are interesting times to be alive.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here's a link to read the anonymous op ed piece from Thursday's Times in its entirety?

Strange days indeed.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Divorced From Reality

One has to seriously wonder what the people in his inner circle are thinking these days. Are they walking on cracked egg shells? My suspicion is that they're telling this president everything he wants to hear. Those are the types of people Donald Trump has always surrounded himself with. That's why this disgusting administration was doomed for failure. Jack Kennedy, Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower always had advisors on hand who would let them know when they were blowing it. Not Trump. All he's ever known in his career are blubbering sycophants, yessing him to his heart's content. Now the silly dingbat is cornered with nowhere to flee to. Bobby Mueller and company are zeroing in and the Donald is desperate. This is ending very badly.
It was a something none of us, I'm sure, will ever forget: There stood Meghan McCain, passionately eulogizing her  late dad. At the same moment Trump, trying to deflect attention from the final tribute to the Arizona senator, unleashed a Twitter-storm that - it would be too generous to call it juvenile - it was completely infantile, not to mention idiotic. But there was something else that would have been clear to even the most casual observers: the president of the United States has lost whatever precious reason he came into this job with.

Andy Johnson
This would be poignantly amusing if the stakes weren't so high. This is a situation that is unprecedented in the history of the United States. Sure we've had chiefs executive who were a tad unhinged every now and again. Lincoln suffered from what was then termed "melancholia"; his successor, Andrew Johnson was definitely unstable (if you want to know what I'm talking about look up the transcript of his remarks at old Abe's second inaugural); during the final stages of the Watergate scandal that consumed his presidency, Dick Nixon was prone to staying up late at night, drinking heavily and talking to portraits of his dead predecessors. But Donald Trump is something else indeed. Never before have we been forced to deal with a president who was as crazy as a freaking bed bug. With the midterms elections fast approaching and the Mueller investigation closing in, it's an easy guess that Trump is on the verge of doing something drastic. We're at the edge of the worst constitutional crisis we've ever experienced. This is going to get quite interesting.

If you were silly enough to support this unhinged twit during the campaign two years ago, you will forgive those of us who warned you from gloating, I'm sure. We saw this catastrophe coming from ten thousand miles down the road. Perhaps America has finally learned the lesson it should have learned over a century ago. Perhaps not. I won't be holding my breath.

One thing I have to admit about Donald Trump: he sure as hell isn't boring.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


I can remember when the New York Daily News was one of the best papers in the country, with hard-hitting columnists like Jimmy Breslin, Bob Herbert and Mike Royko, powerful editorials and a standard of reporting that was almost without peer. Those days are long gone. This morning's edition was the worst I've ever seen. A full third of today's edition was devoted to sports, and for the third day in a row, there was not a word devoted to the political catastrophe that is compounding daily inside the Executive Mansion. They have fallen about as hard as a newspaper can fall.