Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Donald is in Free Fall

For all we know this may only be a dream....
If only it were. Someone accused me recently of liking what is now happening in Washington. My response was simply that "liking" is a gross understatement. I'm loving every minute of this political meltdown. I had a stock answer three years ago whenever the results of the 2016 election were discussed: "This is going to end badly, folks". Although I live in the evil northeast, the Hudson Valley town in which I reside is pretty conservative. To those of you who tittered and rolled your eyes at the alarm I expressed at the time ("Oh, Tom! Isn't he amusing!") I can only say that I've been vindicated a hundred fold.
Watching Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week drive the president into complete freak-out mode has been one of the giddiest delights of the year thus far. Trump even stooped low enough to post on his Twitter account a doctored video of Pelosi in which she appears to be slurring her words. This is done by means of speed manipulation. The implication being that she was either drunk or losing her grip  on reality. She was neither. This latest incident only further illustrates - yet again - the depth of the man's unprecedented dishonesty. It was quite an enjoyable show - one I wouldn't have missed for all the tea in Tenafly. If it's an unintentionally funny spectacle you're seeking, this administration delivers the goods every time. True, this doomed nation is descending into the abyss, but we're all going to have oodles of laughs on the way down. Imagine, if you will, the Ritz Brothers at the apocalypse.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Monday, May 27, 2019

On This Memorial Day....

Lt. Edward J. Degan, Jr.

There was a time when everyone knew someone - friend or family member - who gave their life for their country. I cannot even claim personal familiarity with my uncle Ed Degan (pictured above) who was one of the first American servicemen to die in the Battle of the Bulge on December 15, 1944. He died fourteen years before I was born. He was just four days shy of his 24th birthday when he was cut down by one of Hitler's tank shells. I always wonder what might have been; what kind of cousins I might have had; what kind of woman he might have married. By all accounts, the guy had everything going for him and so much to live for. His siblings and his parents eventually adjusted to life without Eddie Degan. When I was growing up, whenever any of them reminisced about him, it was always with great affection and humor - with not a bit of sadness or bitterness.   Today he lies in the military cemetery in St. Avold, France.

A lot of Americans have given "the last full measure of devotion" since April of 1917 and the beginning of the first world war. Too many of those wars were unjustified - four of them by my count. That sad fact doesn't detract a bit from the ultimate sacrifice that was made by those who never came home. On this Memorial Day - of all days - let's reflect on those sacrifices. That's a form of patriotism that defies contemplation.

Happy Memorial Day, folks.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation - or any nation - so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg, PA
November 19, 1863

Friday, May 24, 2019

President Tinhorn

I have little doubt that, in the years to come, historians will look back on the Age of Trump as the longest constitutional crisis in the history of the republic. That's the beautiful thing about the times in which we live. Say what you want about Donald Trump, I have to give the old bugger credit in one area only: he sure isn't boring. For a politics/news junkie like myself, this horrible administration is the gift that keeps giving. This week has been even more of a stunner than we've become accustomed to. This nation's infrastructure has suffered from nearly four decades of neglect, and has been crumbling at an alarming rate in recent years. Yesterday at the White House, Trump informed Nancy Pelosi and a handful of Democrats that the government will fork over the cash to repair our bridges and highways only if they cease and desist their investigation into the Trump Mob. Speaker Pelosi, to her credit, was having none of it. She went eyeball-to-eyeball with the man - and Donald Trump blinked.
He's holding all of us hostage for no other reason than to sweep his crimes under the rug. Ain't that something?

This week also brought the disturbing sight of the president of the United States promising to persecute his political enemies - in this case the FBI and certain members of the Justice Department. He's got his own personal lawyer, the attorney general for God's sake, working on that. These are the kind of actions that we would normally expect from tinhorn dictator. Even Dick Nixon, who was not unknown for dealing harshly with his "enemies", ever got this completely weird. If you think for a moment that this is merely Trump's quaint little way of blowing off some steam, you might want to rethink your position. We have yet to even scratch the surface in deciphering what this lunatic is capable of. 

President Who???
The Dems in the House are now becoming more vocal recently about impeaching this disturbed president. I get their reasoning, but impeachment would be a waste of time and money. There is no chance at all that the Republican controlled senate would vote to remove Trump - not at this time anyway. His poll ratings would have to go into the toilet before something that drastic happens. And let's remind ourselves what his removal from office would bring - President Mike Pence - who's dumber than the Donald and damned near as crazy. Let's just deal with him for the next twenty months and pray that he doesn't do anything too violent and crazy between now and then. Who was it that said, "Be careful what you wish for"?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Gerald Clarke

Last week I recommended Mr. Clarke's biography of Judy Garland. The day I finished that one, I happened upon his bio of Truman Capote at the Thrall Library used book store in Middletown, NY. It is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Pox Upon Your Fox

"They're putting more Democrats on then you have Republicans. Something strange going on at Fox, folks. Something very strange is going on. Something very strange!"
Recent Tweet from the First Twit

Elizabeth Warren says she plans on boycotting Fox Noise. She has told us that she has no intention of giving that network a shred of respectability by appearing on it. She also said that a propaganda organization that makes its name by spreading fear and division among the voters has no right whatsoever to be taken seriously by anybody. Her intentions are honest - admirable even - and I totally respect her reasoning behind them. But she's mistaken. It's hard for me to find a grain of fault with a woman who is such a non-apologetic, decidedly left-of-center progressive. Warren is a breath of fresh air in a party that is bogged down by such a pathetic cabal of cowardly moderates. Should she win the nomination next year, voting for her on Election Day 2020 will be the easiest thing I ever did. A vote for Liz Warren next year would be the ultimate no-brainer as far as I'm concerned.
But the good senator from Massachusetts is as wrong on that point as she's ever been in her entire career in public service. If the nomination is indeed hers next summer, reaching out to the Fox crowd is essential for winning the election in the autumn. Beating Donald Trump will not be an easy thing - and anyone who believes otherwise - as Hillary Clinton believed three years ago - is mistaken. I hope she rethinks the Fox boycott. Knowing her, I believe that she will. I hope that she will.
Chris Wallace
First things first: Although I'm loathe to admit it, not everyone who watches Fox is a Nazi and a fascist. I know this from personal experience. In fact (hold onto your hats!) some very intelligent people of my acquaintance are regular viewers of the Fox News Channel. I'd even be willing to go out on a limb here and go on the record for all time and eternity by saying that it is my sincere belief that most of the people who watch that awful network are not idiots - although a significant minority of them are (and that cannot be denied). It is my sincere belief that the people who waste their precious time watching Fox (the smart ones anyway) do so for no other reason than mere force of habit. Those are the very people that liberals like Elizabeth Warren desperately need to reach out to. This only makes sense.

Another thing that progressives need not forget is the fact that not everyone over at Fox is Laura Ingraham - or Sean Hannity - or Tucker Carlson - or the halfwits over at Fox and Friends. You might find this hard to believe (and I always have to remind myself of this) but there are a few serious and sensible journalists there. Chris Wallace is worth mentioning. He has gone on the air recently to inform the viewers of his Sunday program that some of the "commentators" who spew their nonsense daily on the Fox Scream Machine should not be believed. Although he's no Edward R. Murrow (who is?) it took integrity for him to say that on the air.

Only last week, Wallace hosted a town hall with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in front of what we must assume was an audience packed with hundreds of Fox fans. Mister Pete pulled no punches and did not attempt to run away from his progressive beliefs - as so many Democrats are prone to do. When it was over the people in that hall gave him a heartfelt standing ovation!

Note to the Dems: You ignore the Fox audience to your own detriment. I'm just sayin'.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland
by Gerald Clarke

I always knew that Judy had a hard life, but I never knew the extent of her tragedy. Although I normally avoid Sow-biz bios, this one was so well-reviewed that I couldn't resist. It reads like great literature. The day after I finished reading it I happened upon his biography of Truman Capote. Again, I was unable to put it down. Gerald Clarke is one of the two best writers of non-fiction I've ever encountered. The other is Scott Berg (Charles Lindberg, Samuel Goldwyn and Katherine Hepburn).

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Nothing To See Here!

Donald Trump and his sycophants are really under the serious delusion that they will be able to sweep the crimes committed by this disgusting administration under the rug, to be forever concealed from the eyes of posterity. When Mitch (the plutocracy's bitch) McConnell announced yesterday on the floor of the United States Senate, "Case closed", with respect to Robert Mueller's investigation, it was the act of a man with a serious, almost pathological case of denial. Another example of the Grand Old Party's transformation during the last forty years into an organized criminal enterprise. The Kentucky senator - and everyone else - will soon learn that, far from going away, the worst political scandal in American history will be a constant irritant that will consume the party that at one time was the ideological home of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

While this utter festival of denial was occurring on Capitol Hill, a statement signed by over six-hundred former and current federal prosecutors stated that, after reading the Mueller report, they were unanimously in agreement that the president of the United States is guilty of multiple felonies. How these people believe that thinking Americans will merely shrug their shoulders and yawn in the face of the overt corruption of the Trump White House is puzzling. They appear to be unaware of the reality that is metastasizing  daily: that, far from going away anytime soon, the numerous scandals consuming the Trump Mob are the new reality of our national political conversation.

Congress wants to talk to Bob Mueller, and the tentative date for his testimony is May 15. The president and his attorney general, William Barr, after initially stating that neither would have a problem with his testifying, are now hinting that they will try to force him not to reply to a congressional subpoena; that his being an employee of the Department of Justice will allow them to do as much. Do they really believe that they can intimidate a man who once stared down the Viet Cong? Don't they understand that the former special prosecutor can simply resign his post? Do they seriously believe that they can force a private citizen from answering such a summons? That seems to be the case. Former White House Council, Don McGahn, is, in fact, now a private citizen. Barr has hinted that he won't "allow" McGahn to appear. The arrogance of these people stuns the senses. 

A hostile foreign power has subverted - and is still in the process of subverting - our voting processes. Why is ending this crime against Weeda Peeple not a priority for Trump, McConnell, and the rest of the Republicans? On more than one occasion recently they have voted down efforts by the Democrats to beef up electoral technology and security. Why??? If you are unable to figure this one out, folks, go back to sleep. 

This is going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets a half-a-molecule better. Did you ever dream we would find ourselves living through such times?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Saturday, May 04, 2019

"context, nature and substance"

Teddy and Taft
Until the contentious campaign of 1912, President William Howard Taft and Former President Theodore Roosevelt were the best of pals. That all changed when Roosevelt announced that he wanted to live in the White House again and launched a bitter campaign for the Republican nomination against the incumbent. The contest got so insanely nasty on both sides that Taft privately lamented to a reporter that is was hard to behold so devoted a friendship coming to pieces "like a rope of sand". He then broke down and wept. Although Roosevelt won the primaries, the GOP was able to steal the nomination from TR. He mounted a third party campaign and, by doing so, virtually handed the presidency over to Woodrow Wilson. In the years that followed, although both men professed to have let bygones be bygones, their close friendship never fully recovered.

It's hard not to take this historic example of a cindered friendship and place it in a modern context. Former Special Prosecutor and Attorney General Bill Barr have, by all accounts, a close friendship that goes back decades. Apparently, even their immediate families are close to one another. Keeping this in mind, it's hard not to imagine the next Labor Day cookout that the Muellers and the Barrs spend together might be just a tad....ahem....awkward? Like the Taft/Roosevelt friendship of so long ago, The Bob and Bill bromance has gone up in smoke, forever to be consigned to the ash-bin of history. Stuff happens, you know?

On the morning after Barr's May 1 appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post Toasties published an editorial claiming that the Democrats "completely struck out" during their questioning of the attorney general. There's no better example I can think of that would illustrate why the fools who rely on the Murdoch empire for their news and information are the least informed suckers on the planet earth. The fact is that Barr's performance was so inadequate and pathetic, even I felt sorry for the poor son-of-a-bitch. The interrogation he underwent from Senator Kamala Harris alone was so withering that you could see his cheeks begin to turn red. Look it up on YouTube if you think I exaggerate. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee called Barr's responses, "torturous". Indeed.

Barr in the hot seat
Were you able check out any of Barr's testimony? I watched the spectacle from start to finish. It was quite a touching thing to be sure. It was amusing to watch the man twist himself into semantic pretzels in his lame attempt to justify, not only his gross misrepresentation of the Mueller report, but the criminal behavior of Donald Trump. When asked a couple of weeks ago whether or not Mueller had objected to his characterization of the nearly two-year investigation into the Trump administration, Barr implied - under oath - that he had not. Now we learn that on March 24, Mueller sent a letter to the attorney general accusing him of misrepresenting the "context, nature and substance" of the four-hundred page report. Yesterday, after being subpoenaed to appear for questioning before the House, Barr arrogantly refused to even show up. It was the House's intention to have experienced lawyers question him on his behavior. He did not have the courage to face them. These are not times for profiles in courage.

Lawyers lie for their clients all the time. That's to be expected. We should expect a little more from attorneys general. Quaint, huh?

It is my belief that the attorney general is guilty of obstruction of justice, perjury and contempt of Congress. That's just my humble opinion. Pay it no mind.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here's a link to watch Senator Kamala Harris of California "striking out" while she questions the highest law enforcement official in the nation. It's quite funny on the part of Bill Barr - unintentionally so, that is.


Here's Senator Mazi Hirono "striking out" at the same hearing:


I've seen the moon at Bali Bali
And the moon over Wai Ki Ki
I'd give it all for just one ball game
And Mazie to see it with me....
There are extraordinary times.