Tuesday, January 29, 2019

More Memes

One of the great disappointments of my life is that I do not posses the talent to draw. I have always thought that I would have made a pretty good political cartoonist, but I guess that was not meant to be. Since I acquired the technology for creating memes nearly two years ago, this problem has been partially solved. Last summer I shared a few on this site. Here are some recent ones:

There's gonna be a hot time in D.C. this year. Hold onto your hats.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Breakfast of Champions
By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

This book changed my life.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Paging Dr. King

I'm almost glad that Dr. King did not live to see his ninetieth birthday last week. The America of January 21, 2019 would have broken the good reverend's heart. Could he have imagined that, in the space of fifty years after his passing, we would go from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump? What would he have made of it all? It's a pretty safe bet that he would not have been pleased. The tumultuous times in which he lived are kind of low rent compared to today. I lived through both periods. As unsettling as things were to the ten-year-old boy that I was in 1968. I never thought for a second that I was witnessing the end times of America. Today I'm not so sure.

With the election of Barack Obama in 2008, commentators began to speak of "a post racial America". Within months of his inauguration that phrase all-but disappeared. The reaction by a significant minority of Americans to their first black president would have, I'm certain, broken Dr. King's heart. While we have come a long way in many respects, we haven't come very far at all. Trump's residency in the White House is all the proof we need to lay that fallacy low. The fact that a known white supremacist, Stephen Miller, is writing policy is all we need to know that the societal curse that Martin Luther King died fighting is still very much alive.

The memory of where I was the moment the news came over the car radio that Dr. King had been murdered in Memphis is as clear today as it was a week later. We were coming back from a long-defunct shopping center in Middletown, New York called Lloyds. My late mother was driving in the east-bound lane of Route 17 - known by locals as the "Quickway". We were just approaching Exit 122, the Fletcher Street exit where the local Catholic high school sits opposite. We were heading up the ramp when the announcement was flashed to the world. Being a mere nine-years old on April 4, 1968, I had only a vague knowledge of who Martin Luther King was. I would learn a lot more in the days that followed. This was the event that turned me into a newspaper reader. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy two months later only hardened my resolve to try and stay on top of things. If you're not old enough to remember, 1968 was that kind of year in America - not terribly different from 2019. In fact, I'm willing to make the argument that these times are far worse. Back then, it was only an occasional politician or civil rights leader being gunned down. Today it's whole classrooms of kids.
"A nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Well, what the hey! It appears to me that the good doctor was onto something there! In fact, we're way beyond "approaching spiritual doom", we're there, baby! Take a good look around you. This ain't your father's America. It's not even close. Paging Dr. King indeed.

"If we assume that mankind has the right to exist, then we must find an alternative to war and destruction. In our day of space vehicles and guided ballistic missiles, the choice is either nonviolence or nonexistence."

That's what I love about this guy! American history is littered with "Christian" religious leaders. Try as you might, you can't escape them. The thing that sets the right, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. apart from most of these guys is the fact that he wasn't a hypocrite. He never tried to twist the words of Jesus of Nazareth into anything other than what they were - a call to love one another and for kindness and gentleness. The Trappist monk Thomas Merton is another celebrated American Christian who took the gospel seriously. So was Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker. Give me a week and I might be able to name one or two others, but at the moment none come to mind. Both Merton and King died in 1968. Dorothy Day left this veil of tears in 1980. They're gone and they're not coming back.

I'm going to celebrate today by getting hopelessly drunk. I'm an American. That's what we do!
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must be true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire!
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York!
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that -
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi!
From every mountainside, Let Freedom ring!

It doesn't get any better than that.

Happy Dr. King Day, everybody!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
The Trump White House has no events marking Dr. King Day. Of course, they need to appease "the base".

Let the Trumpet Sound
by Stephen B. Oates

This is the only biography I have ever read about Dr. King, but it's a good one. Very much recommended.
The greatest Americans had mug shots!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Two Very Long Years

Those of us who have reached a certain age have noticed that, the older we get, the quicker time passes. By the time we reach our fifth decade we begin to understand how preciously short our time on earth really is That's the strange thing about living in the era of President Donald J. Trump. On January 20, 2017, time came nearly to a standstill. The inauguration of this corrupt and incompetent putz seems like a lifetime ago. Early this morning I came across something I posted on Facebook a couple of hours before The Donald was sworn in:
"Brace yourselves for the most unhinged administration
in American history."
Was that merely a lucky guess on my part? Nah! The simple fact of the matter is that I was paying attention. In fact, most of us were paying attention. But for the goddamned Electoral College, a constitutional snafu that was put in place over two-hundred years ago for no other reason than to appease the slave-holding states, this nightmare would have been avoided. We need to understand and come to terms with the fact that, as long as it continues to exist within America's voting process, imbeciles like George W. Bush and Donald Trump are virtually inevitable.

H.L Mencken
I only realized only a week before Election Day 2016 that a Trump administration was almost a foregone conclusion. Before that moment, I had been of the opinion that his victory over Hillary Clinton would never happen; that we would overcome this blight upon our political landscape. It was at that moment that I was reminded of this sage advice from the great journalist of the early twentieth century, H.L. Mencken:
 "NEVER underestimate the stupidity of the American public".

That was the moment I knew we were screwed. What made it all the more depressing was the fact that I knew a number of intelligent people - far smarter than I - who were conned into voting for this jackass. How could they not have seen this catastrophe coming? How could they not have perceived the chaos and turmoil that would undoubtedly have come to fruition? We now have - sitting in the White House - an agent of a hostile foreign government. Isn't this amusing?

Idiot Nation

I lost a few friends on Inauguration Day 2017. Three people, in particular, whom I had known and loved my entire life (and still do) gave me the old heave ho. That's okay as far as I'm concerned. What's the point of living if you can't risk alienating a few loved-ones? You've got to stand for something.

This is where we are. This is where we belong. The fact that we could possibly find ourselves in this mind-fuckingly, impossible situation is dark comedy at its finest. We should have seen this coming. We didn't. Shame on us. We should have known better.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Trump Must Be a Russian Agent. The Alternative is Too Awful:

From the Wired website


Friday, January 18, 2019

I Smell a Smocking Gun

 "President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation  of the matter."
According to BuzzFeed
Cut to the Dragnet theme.

Mr. Mueller shown laughing last
It's now all-but a foregone conclusion: There is no way on Heaven, Earth and Hades that Donald Trump will still be sleeping in the White House by year's end. If the BuzzFeed story is true, it is merely a trickle in a torrent of bad news that is at present consuming the administration of Donald J. Trump. And remember, as shocking as the things we know for certain are ("Known knowns" as Donald Rumsfeld once infamously called them) just imagine all of the information that Robert Mueller has inside his desk drawer that we're still in the dark about. Fasten your seatbelts, kids! And while you're at it, brace yourselves for the shit-storm that is about to commence. Our long national nightmare has only just begun. 2019 is going to be a year to reckon with as far as history is concerned. By the time this entire mess is over and done with, Watergate will be a mere blip on the scandal radar. I have no doubt that, at this very moment, Dick Nixon's descendants are giving themselves hearty high fives.

Can you imagine the good kicking that The Donald must be giving himself on this snowy winter's morn? The silly bastard wanted to be the most powerful dude on the planet earth in June of 2015 when he announced his candidacy - and in a mere four years - his dreams have been rendered ashes in the dirt. He had gotten away with fraud and theft all of his miserable life. He must have believed that the presidency would be more of the same; that - this time - he would be able to make the kill of all kills, the greatest heist in the history of uncommon thievery. He must have thought he would be able to do to the people of the United States what Putin and the oligarchs were able to do on such a huge scale to the people of Russia. Obviously the silly bastard miscalculated - BIG TIME!

What the Trump Mob failed to take into consideration was that, over here, we still have (for the most part) a robust free press. Unlike Russia, our leaders are still subject to be held to account for the crimes they commit against the people. Putin and his buddies have been able to rape their country's economy because, when a rare journalist has the courage to expose to the world the misdeeds of these thugs, that journalist often ends up dead. That's not the way things work here in America - or, at least, not yet. Don't be surprised to find out that, before this is all over, a handful of investigative reporters end up sleeping with the fishes. Does that sound a bit alarmist to you? It doesn't to me. I wouldn't, for a second, put it past these people. You shouldn't put it past them either. Seriously.

And yet in spite of everything, Trump's poll numbers continue to cling at, roughly, forty percentage points. Show me a nation with such a high percentage of the population so willfully ignorant, and I'll show you a country the composers need to start writing requiems for. In his latest film, Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore wondered aloud if, given all that it has become in the last forty years, America is even worth saving any longer. It's a question that has been on my mind for quite some time as well. Eric Sevareid once said of Edward R. Murrow, "He was pessimistic about tomorrow, but optimistic about the day after tomorrow. Since Murrow died over half a century ago, we must assume that we're still in the "tomorrow" that Sevareid was referring to. Not to appear impatient, but I sure wish "the day after" would get here quick.

Keep your eyes on the train-wreck. Remember, for all the stupidity that we have to deal with and digest at every turn and on every day, we are at a type of moment in history that few generations have the opportunity to bear witness to. That, alone, is worth the price of the ticket, ay?

Be vigilant, campers!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Trump's Showdown
from PBS's Frontline


This was produced a few months ago and is well worth your time. It explains how we got to this pathetic point in out history. Please watch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The All American Train Wreck

The Grand Old Party indeed

Watching the confirmation hearings of Trump's Attorney General-designate the other day was anything but reassuring. William Barr was evasive when asked about the Mueller investigation. It's possible that he has every intention of sabotaging the inquiry into Russian interference during  the campaign of 2016. Perhaps he is mouthing what he knows his idiotic boss wants to hear. There's no doubt that Barr has all the votes he needs - and then some - to be confirmed. He must understand that if he doesn't hand over the final results of that investigation to the congress, they will be leaked to the press in short order. Also, the storm of outrage that will no-doubt follow any attempt top cover up Team Mueller's findings will rock the country off of its foundations. It's obvious that, by putting Bully Barr on the job, the Donald truly believes that he is going to make this entire mess go away. It's not going to go away. It's here to stay - not only in the lives of Donald Trump and those involved in this - but in the eternal pages of history. As they say, he can run but he can't hide - but he's going to try like hell.

You know very well that this is going to end catastrophically for the president - not to mention us. Some serious political journalists are starting to imply that he's going to spend the rest of his life in federal custody. Last month on the Observer website, writer John R. Schindler quoted a senior intelligence official who told him a week before the 2017 inauguration, "He's going to die in jail". Pretty heavy stuff if you want my opinion. That's why we find ourselves, I think, in an excessively dangerous period: Donald Trump is mentally ill. At the moment he must be wild with rage and paranoia. This is a combination of traits that seems to be a straight path to disaster on many different levels. When crazy people get cornered in the wake of their ill-deeds, they tend to dangerously lash out in ways that get people hurt. If you have a child, friend or loved one who is considering entering the armed services anytime soon, you might want to advise them to wait until the era of Donald Trump blows over. Just a gentle suggestion.

By he way, unlike the official quoted above, I do not believe that Donald Trump should go to "jail". Jail is where you go when you've had one-too-many on a Saturday night and you accidentally back your car into the plate glass window of the local pharmacy. If Donald Trump is guilty of even one half of the things that I seriously suspect he s guilty of, he needs to go to a maximum security federal penitentiary.

These really are extraordinary times.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Monday, January 14, 2019

His Mouth: A Weapon of Self Destruction

I almost retired The Rant recently. I was feeling so worn out by the tsunami of daily bombshells that I was starting to believe that this rolling constitutional crisis was no longer amusing. Thankfully this little bout of exasperation passed quickly. Not to compare this periodic tirade of mine to The Daily Show, but I can well imagine why Jon Stewart might feel a pang of regret for not being able to report nightly on what is happening to America at present. No, I really should stick around for this. For anyone who makes his or her name commenting on the complete train-wreck of American politics in the second decade of the 21st century. the Trump administration is the gift that keeps giving. Thank you, Donald. I owe you big time, dude!

What struck me early this morning was an opinion I read somewhere (and forgive me for not taking note of the paper or the name of the person who wrote it). This person called the events that are currently destroying the Trump presidency as "the most astonishing scandal in the history of this country". "Astonishing" is hardly an adequate way of describing it. Watergate was pretty "astonishing". As snake-like as Dick Nixon was, even the people who bothered to pay attention to his quarter-century in the national spotlight were shocked to find out that the man was capable of taking part in felonious behavior. The Trump Mob's misdeeds are something else entirely. Treason was the crime that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for sixty-six years ago. And the weirdest thing of all is the fact that it was Roy Cohen, Trump's infamous mentor, who sent the Rosenbergs to the gallows. History: It's literally drenched with juicy little ironies like that precious little nugget.

He who laughs last....
When the history of this comically turbulent time is finally written, it will be noted that the person most responsible for the complete and utter destruction of Donald J. Trump will not be Robert Mueller; it will not be Adam Schiff; it will not be Nancy Pelosi - nor will it be Michael Cohen. The author of this criminally inept administration's book of doom will prove to be none other than Donald Trump himself. The reason the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened this investigation into Trump's possible treasonous activity on the part of Russia (a hostile foreign power, in case it's slipped your mind) is simply because this fool could not keep his mouth shut. He admitted to Lester Holt - ON NATIONAL TELEVISION FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE!!! - that the reason for firing James Comey was because of "This Russher thing" (his words), and the tweets. Let's not forget the almost daily Twitter outbursts from the First Twit: a virtual cornucopia of direct evidence of obstruction of justice. It's a textbook case of this guy's arrogance and stupidity. As I said: "He's the gift that keeps giving".

As I've stated on this site before: Watergate was a paper-cut. This is a freaking bloodbath. The people who were naïve enough to vote for this disgusting jackass and common pervert should have known better. They should have seen this coming - as so many of us clearly did. They didn't. This is an error-of-judgment that will be a stain on America's soul for generations. Come to think about it, "error of judgment" is a little too easy. This was simply a case of mass civic recklessness and irresponsibility. Our descendants will never forgive us. They shouldn't. I don't.
Idiot Nation

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Democracy is Coming to the USA
by Leonard Cohen


We listen to Battle Hymn of the Republic today to illustrate the war between the states. One-hundred-and-fifty-four years from now, this song, this recording, will be the anthem that illustrates our struggle in January of 2018.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Fast-Motion Implosion

"Do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe pageant? If so, do you think he will become my new best friend?"
Donald Trump, 2013
Idiot Nation
With the tolling of each hour it is becoming more stupidly apparent that the president of the United States has committed treason. I should probably wait for the Team Mueller to conclude their investigation before conjuring up so bold an assertion, but there's a lot smoke behind what must be a raging, consuming fire. What we're witnessing, I believe, is the winding down of the most insanely corrupt and incompetent administration in American history. Take your pick of the very worst of them: Buchanan, Pierce, Harrison, Harding, Hoover, Bush 42 - Donald Trump is in a class all by his miserable self. It must be awfully lonely at the top.
The Latest bombshell to explode (and it's a biggie, kiddies) is a story that appeared this morning in the New York Times. It seems that in the Spring of 2017, the alert agents of the F.B.I. were so alarmed by the Donald's behavior in the days following his firing of James Comey, that they began to wonder whether or not he  might be purposefully doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin, or - at the very least - he was being used as an unknowing dupe by the Russians. However this scenario is eventually explained, it doesn't resolve itself very well for the commander-in-chief: he's either a fool or he's a traitor. My suspicion is that he's an unhealthy mixture of both. For the last two years he has been cheerfully acting as Vladimir's useful idiot, and he does not even pretend to love the country whose constitution he has sworn to "preserve, protect and defend". That charade ended quite some time ago. As impossible as this may be for many of us to swallow, an F.B.I investigation into the possibility that the president is a traitor to his country has been ongoing for over a year-and-a-half. We only found this out this morning.

When Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims (with a straight face, I assume) that all of his actions throughout his two years in the White House have been much more punitive with respect to Russia than the previous administration, it doesn't come close to passing the laugh test - not by a long stretch. 
What I would like to know is what, if any, state secrets were handed over to Putin’s government by this hideous cretin? It is almost inconceivable to me that he hasn’t. You must remember that the one thing that matters to Donald Trump - more than anything - is the wealth he is able to acquire, whether legally or otherwise. Since he was vomited onto the public stage a third-of-a-century ago, those of us who bother to pay attention to these things have been eye witnesses to Trump’s insatiable recklessness in pursuit of power and profit. Those who claim that he would never sell his country out by such cheap and disgusting means simply don't know the man’s history of justifying his cheap and disgusting ends. America is on the verge of revelations that will prove soul-shattering. Wait for it....

"A hard rain's a'gonna fall."
Uncle Bobby Zimmerman

"I'll say it again: If this hideous, clueless degenerate takes the oath of office in one week, this country is finished. These are depressing events, the likes of which so many of us never dreamed we would live to witness. It's quite a lonely thing when one is an intelligent person living in Idiot Nation."

From The Rant, I/13/17

The ironic thing is that this disgusting administration is turning out to be even worse than I dared to predict it would be on the eve of the inauguration two years ago. This situation is only going to metastasize in the coming months. It cannot possibly continue for another two years, one week and one day. It has already proved to be catastrophic. Fifty years from now, the president of the United States - who probably hasn't even been born yet, will still be dealing, on a daily basis, with the damage that Donald J. Trump did to his once great nation so many decades before. I used to say the same thing about George W. Bush with not half as much dread. Isn't this amusing?

And now we find ourselves three weeks into the longest government shutdown in our history. Think about that for a minute! Not even during the war between the states or the darkest hours of the Great Depression did the United States cease operating for three weeks and one day. You've got to ask yourselves: is this what is meant by making America great again? Trump was so completely spooked by the shrill reaction of the reactionary right wing media at the thought of compromising in order to keep the government running that he let it indefinitely go KAPUT. This is not a president who has the best interests of you and your children at heart. He has created a "crisis" at the border that is nonexistent. In fact, the amount of illegal border crossings have been shrinking for twenty years. In 1973 the problem was much worse than any time in 2018. What is wrong with this picture?

FUN FACT: As bad as things appear to be at the moment, it's only going to get worse before this corrupt nincompoop is removed from the presidency. As Al Jolson liked to say back in the day:


 Are you, too, amused? Brace yourselves.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here is a dandy analysis from the Vox News website of this morning's New York Times scoop on the Trump/Russia investigation. I would link the article itself but, alas, the Times requires that you pay for it.


Happy reading, campers! 

"When other friendships have been forgot...."

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Here Comes the 116th

I haven't been a Democrat in almost twenty-one years. That being said, I could not be happier over the fact that they will be controlling the House of Representatives starting today. Donald Trump cannot be a bit happy regarding this latest turn of events, that's for damned sure. 2019 promises to be the most tumultuous year in Washington in a very long time. It will be many things but won't be boring.
Nancy Pelosi is the first speaker of the House since Sam Rayburn to regain the speaker's gavel after having lost it. The prospect of her in such a position of leadership doesn't necessarily fill me with any degree of joy. It's because of politicians like her that I left the Democratic Party in 1998. I had great hope when the first African American took the oath of office ten years ago this month. That hope was short-lived. Barack Obama is a good man and turned out to be a mostly successful and capable president, but he hardly turned out to be the progressive firebrand that I've been waiting all of my sixty years for. The fact of the matter is - for my purposes at least - the man turned out to be a bit of a dud. The Democrats desperately need to wake up and remember that they are supposed to be the party of FDR. It's something they forgot a long time ago.
I may be going out on limb here, but my prediction is that, by this time next year, Donald Trump will no longer be president. I'm not saying that he will be impeached (not by this senate - are you kidding me?) but my gut instinct tells me that he will be forced to resign. That will leave us with Mike Pence as the commander-in-chief - a depressing prospect, I know, but something we'll just have to deal with when we cross that road. Perhaps Trump's thinking when he selected Pence as his running mate that he would be insurance against impeachment, much like Spiro Agnew was for Richard Nixon - until he was forced to resign in disgrace in October of 1973. When he was replaced by Gerry Ford, Nixon's presidency was living on borrowed time. By the winter of 2019, Congress will be so desperate for Trump's exit that they'll be thrilled to have even a hopeless imbecile like Mike Pence as president. It's that kind of time in America.

As completely off the rails as 2018 turned out to be, 2019 promises to be even weirder. With a real existential threat to his administration in the House, this president will begin to disintegrate under the pressure.  Shutting down the government didn't curtail the Mueller investigation and it seems to be going in a very bad direction as far as Trump and even his children are concerned. The presidency of Donald Trump can only end catastrophically. This is an interesting time to be alive.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Fahrenheit 11/9
a film by Michael Moore.

I received in the mail yesterday the DVD of this important documentary. Here's a link to order it off of amazon.com:


A keeper to be sure.