Friday, September 27, 2019

Stand with Greta Thunberg

"My message is that we'll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering."
Greta Thunberg
I've fallen head-over-heels for a sixteen-year-old girl. A little over a week ago I only had a vague idea of who Greta Thunberg is. Now she is a permanent part of my life. Greta is trying to save the world; and the funny thing is, I think that she just may succeed. Kids.

Beast and the Beauty
Greta is a schoolgirl from Sweden who is in the process of shaking up the consciousness of the world by her outrage toward the apathy of so many members of the human race - particularly those in power - by what is happening to the fragile planet we all call home. It is thought by some scientists that in a mere eighty years the planet could very well become uninhabitable. Most of us will be long dead when that unthinkable day dawns. Greta is just young enough to know that she might live to see the end of the world.

In her home country she decided to stage a strike against attending school in protest against lax environmental laws. Her passion caught on. Soon, a wave of her fellow school-kids across Sweden were joining her. She is an environmentalist without a hint of hypocrisy. She only wears discarded clothes, travels only by public transportation, and is a strict vegan. When she set off for her first visit to the United States earlier in the summer, she came here via a sail boat. This young lady is the real deal - you'd better believe it, Buster.
"Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago."
Greta in Poland, 12/4/18

My biggest kick out of the entire phenomena of Gretamania is the way she drives the right-wing climate deniers to distraction - some even stooping as low as to compare her to the models that Nazi propagandists would use to portray their version of pure Aryan beauty. Two days ago, some fusty old fart in the New York Daily News wrote in a condescending column:
"A common refrain from Thunberg is that we should "listen to the science". I wholeheartedly agree. The science suggests that despite some environmental challenges, human beings across the planet are better off than ever before, and the future is not unremittingly bleak."
The writer's name is Adam Kalkstein. I have a strong suspicion that in a few decades, when the environmental shit-hammer comes crashing down, old Adam will also be long gone.
"Why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future?"

Keep your eyes on Greta Thunberg. She's here to stay.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Greta at the U.N.
Greta is the real deal.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower Blues

Zelensky and Trump

James Maguire
Acting Intel Director James Maguire's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee began a little over an hour ago. The man's excuses for going to the White House with the thus-far anonymous whistleblower's information about the nefarious doings of Donald Trump are pretty pathetic, but we're still early in to this. Anything can happen between now and when this thing is over in a few hours. It's quite possible, that by day's end, the trillion dollar shit-hammer may hit the fan. Last night on MSNBC's Rachel  Maddow program, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California said that she had seen the still-classified "whistleblower memo" and called them "explosive". She went on to say that their content is much worst than the synopsis of the telephone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky released to the press a couple of days ago - which was bad enough. That other memo is being released this afternoon. We shall see. 
To say that the political climate of Washington has been turned on its head in the last twenty-four hours is an understatement. It would appear at first glance that the president of the United States was engaged in an extortion scheme against the president of the Ukraine, withholding military aid in an effort to get dirt on the man who may very well run against him next year - and his son. If this is true, it's all over for Trump. My feeling is that there is something coming that's going to shake America to its foundation between now and the end of the year. My suggestion to everyone would be to stand back and contemplate this extraordinary moment in American history. Forty-six years ago today, this country was wallowing in the depth of Watergate. I was fifteen at the time. On September 26, 2019 I thought that it would never get that weird again. I was wrong, of course. The Nixon Gang are starting to look like a loft of Cherubic choirboys by comparison. The Age of Trump is something else indeed.

Sean Maloney
In an exchange just now with Congressman Sean Maloney (who represents my home turf of the Hudson Valley, by the way) Maguire has refused to state weather or not he ever spoke to Trump regarding the Ukraine situation, he refused to answer the question, saying that his conversations with the president are "privileged". He could easily have answered the question without revealing the content of his conversation. He's trying to avoid a perjury trap. This guy is part of the cover-up - no doubt about it. He was not obliged to take his information to the White House or the Department of Justice. He was obligated to take it direct to Congress. He didn't. This is getting more interesting by the moment.

OBSERVATION: Deven Nunes is an asshole - but I repeat myself.

Chairman Adam Schiff just now adjourned the proceedings. It did not go well for poor old Jim Maguire. As of now I have more questions than answers. The rest of the day should be explosive indeed.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Monday, September 23, 2019

Unprecedented Damage

In the hours and days following the catastrophic election of 2016, I was telling anyone and everyone with the patience to listen:
"Folks, this is going to end very, very badly."
In hindsight that statement has turned out to be the understatement of my entire life.
As it turns out, the damage that is being done to this once-great nation by this disgusting and vile administration will be present for the rest of the lives of every man, woman, boy and girl who might happen to be reading this. One hundred years from today, the president of the United States - who probably won't be born until at least the year 2069 - will still be dealing on a daily basis with the damage that Donald J. Trump and his accomplices did to the United States of America so many generations before.

Now we are learning that The Donald attempted to extort the leader of the Ukraine by holding back billions in aid by  forcing them to lunch an investigation into the business and financial dealings of Hunter Biden, the apparently dug-addled son of the former vice-president. He apparently had eight different conversations on the telephone with the leader of that country, Volodymyr Zelensky. Team Trump is dismissing these allegations by saying it's just another left-wing conspiracy. This story is being simultaneously reported by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. American Newspapers are in a healthy and vigorous completion with one another. They don't have much of a history of comparing notes our of "professional courtesy". And besides, no one is going to convince me that The Journal is a hotbed of radical lefties. This is a story that is exploding as I write these words.

We now know that Trump is perfectly willing to persecute his political enemies to suit his perverted political whims. This is nothing new; Dick Nixon did that with gay abandon back in his day. What sets Donald Trump apart from The Trickster is that Nixon only went after the anti-establishment types - like Dick Gregory and John Lennon. Trump tends to go after previously respected members of the FBI and the CIA, trying to turn the American people against the institutions that no president has ever dared to go after before. This reminds me of The Night of The Long Knives in 1934, when Adolf Hitler an attack against  the leaders of the Brown Shirts, the very bastards responsible for the Nazis' rise to power. They were executed because of der furor's growing paranoia that any one of them might have their eyes on his position of power. If you don't think that this could happen in America, then, you're not paying attention. Go back to sleep.

I would like to write more about this but, to be frank with you, I'm drunk at the moment and need to go back to bed. The whole affair is too depressing to even contemplate. As disastrous as George W. Bush was for the USA, I never doubted for a micro-second that we would survive him. Now I'm not so sure.

Ain't these extraordinary times?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Orson Welles
by Barbara Leaming

I read this extraordinary biography about thirty-five years ago. I just picked it off of the shelf and read it again. It is every bit as good as I remember it being. Orson was as great as they possibly come. No matter how further he recedes into the midst of history, his accomplishments cannot be challenged or denied.

I really wish he could have lived forever.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Biden on America's Lingering Cancer

Joe Biden's speech in Birmingham, Alabama two days ago has got me to thinking about a few things.
I think, therefore I rant....
His appearance in that historically tainted city was perfect. Birmingham was the scene of the most appalling atrocity of the entire civil rights era, an event that - fifty-six years ago this week - still stuns the senses of anyone with a pulse.
On September 15, 1963m a Baptist church in Birmingham was bombed by a group of racist bastards who actually believed they were performing some kind of heroic deed. Four little girls were blown to smithereens by these "heroes". Sadly, their names have been forgotten over the course of fifty years. Their martyrdom was more responsible than anything for the passage the following June of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Let us bow our heads, tip our hats and raise our glasses in loving memory of these four little gals. It may be a bit of a stretch to attempt all three of these things simultaneously, but what the heck, let's at least give it the old college try, ay?
The Littlest Martyrs
Addie Mae Collins (age 14)
Denise McNair (age 11)
Carole Robertson (age 14)
Cynthia Wesley (age 14) 

At the time, only one of the four people responsible for this atrocity was brought to justice. He was fined $100 and received a six month sentence for the possession of dynamite - I'm not kidding. In 1977 he would be retried and sent to prison where he died. Two others  were eventually put on trial in 2000 and convicted of murder. Only one of the four escaped justice by conveniently dying. C'est la vie. None of their names are worthy of mention. 

Oh, I wish I was in Dixie
Oy vey! Oy vey!

Biden's very admirable attempt to lance the boil that has infected the USA for generations was something that was needed and long-overdue, particularly in the age of Donald Trump. I have always believed that one's knowledge of American history is lacking if one is unaware of the history of the black experience. If you don't understand the black struggle, you don't understand American history

Me back in the day
On September 15, 1963, I was about a week into Kindergarten. The most traumatic event of that week was my mother insisting that I wear short pants to Mrs. Peavey's class one day. I would not start paying attention to the news for another five years. Although my parents would keep me appraised of momentous events that were happening within the sphere of my consciousness (John Glenn's orbiting of the earth, for example) they mercifully kept this one from me. They probably figured that I would be too terrified to attend church otherwise. I would not become aware of the littlest martyrs of the civil rights movement for another few years.

I have not come out in favor of any Democratic candidate thus far, and I won't until the day after the convention. All I can say is that the Democrats are insane to stay away from the polls on Election Day for no-other-reason that a blind hissy fit regarding who the nominee might turn out to be. I was not crazy about Hillary Clinton in 2016 - but I swallowed my pride and voted for her. We need to vote for whomever the nominee of that party might be. The alternatives are too horrible to even think about. Seriously.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A Good Life
by Ben Bradlee

This week I re-read this excellent memoir by the legendary editor of the Washington Post. It doesn't get any better than Benji. It really doesn't.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Come, Mr. Taliban....

It looked so easy from afar. Donald Trump moved into the executive mansion nearly thirty-two months ago seriously believing that he could effortlessly tackle the toughest job in the world; the spoils on victory would be his for the taking. He must realize today, deep down inside his psyche, what a complete mess he has made of things. Calling his latest blunder a "debacle" is being too kind. Allegedly inviting the Taliban to Camp David for peace negotiations, and then announcing that the offer had been withdrawn before anyone understood that it had been made in the first place....This is statecraft for crazy people. Even John Bolton and Mike Pence thought that concessions to the  very people who attacked the United States eighteen years ago on Wednesday was a spectacularly stupid idea. When the day comes that Bolton and Pence are the most reasonable people in the room, look out your window for flying pigs. Can you even imagine the massive shit-fit the loony right wing in this doomed country would have had if Barack Obama had attempted anything as ludicrous as that? It gives me a serious case of the giggles just thinking about it.

And yet in spite of everything, support for this sociopathic knucklehead continues to dwell at somewhere between thirty-five and forty percent. What does that tell you about us? Two days ago an acquaintance of mine, a forty-three year old woman I've known for many years, said to me in my living room, "Donald Trump is the best president we've ever had. I like him because he speaks his mind". Her willful ignorance alarmed and angered me. It took every bit of self-restraint I could possibly muster to hold my tongue. No amount of persuasion could make her understand that perhaps sending this guy to the White House was not a very good idea. This woman is no backwoods hick from rural Mississippi, this is a supposedly mature person living in New York's Hudson Valley. The conversation so depressed me that after she left, I went back to bed. There are some days when consciousness is not a viable option. I'm serious.

This is going to end badly, but I repeat myself.

There are some talking heads who are reasonably speculating that The Donald called off the whole thing for no other reason than politics. He might have been advised that talks with the Taliban will surely fail, and that waiting until the eve of the 2020 election would be the better part of expediency. Whatever the case, he has surely made a dangerous situation in Afghanistan more perilous for the men and women who are stuck there wearing American military uniforms. It's a cinch that the longest war in American history won't be ending any time soon, and that the bloodshed will continue without pause.

Just when you thought that this disgusting administration could not possibly outdo itself in sheer incompetence, they lower the bar yet again. I want to say that the only good thing that will come of the Trump era will be the eternal eradication of conservatism in America, but that would be wishful thinking on my part. From where I sit on September 9, 2019, I give Trump's chances at re-election next year at about fifty-fifty. In addition to consciousness, optimism is also not much of an option during these dark days in the history of Idiot Nation. Think of what might have been, what we could have been. Look at what we have become.

Fuck it, I'm going back to bed.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Democracy is coming to the USA
by Leonard Cohen
Get the fuck out of the way.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Not Too Sharpie

The title of this piece might very well have been "The President is Mentally Ill Part Two", but I chose to leave well enough alone. You get the idea any way. After another week of bizarre behavior from the commander-in chief, we find ourselves, not at a crossroads (we passed that point nearly three years ago), but at what should be the proverbial end of the line. This administration has over sixteen months until it is supposed to end, and I don't see how it will possibly endure for that length of time. I realize that it is unsettling to picture an extremist dunce like Mike Pence with his finger on the nuclear codes, but Donald Trump is another thing all together. The Donald is what happens when a political party spends over half-a-century panning to a demographic that had previously been ignored by politicians in this country: the clinically insane.
You all know the story by now: Trump predicted offhandedly that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. When it was pointed out to him that the storm would not move that far inland, he might have just admitted an honest error and let the matter pass. No one would have given it a second thought, all would have been forgotten, and we might have all moved on from there.
As John Belushi might have said back in his day,  "BUT NOOOOOOOO!!!!"
Remember, this is Donald Trump we're talkin' about here. He has spent the past few days trying to prove that his weather forecast was correct, and that the FAKE NEWS MEDIA has it all wrong and is only attempting to discredit him. He then arranged what has to be the stupidest photo-op that it has been my joy to witness since the days of Dubya. He dragged out a chart that was apparently created by a government weather bureau which charted the hurricane's path. He (or one of his yes-men) then used a Sharpie to extend the course of destruction into Alabama, just above the Florida panhandle. it was such an amateurish attempt at deception that one imagines that his loved-ones (and he does have a few I'm told) are weeping openly at this hour at the man's complete pathos.

This is not the way leaders of the free world are supposed to act. To describe the president's behavior as inappropriate since the day he took office nearly three year ago is an understatement at best. I'll say it again: We should not wait until January 20, 2021. He should be legally removed from office as soon as humanly possible.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


When I was a kid, my late mother's favorite recording artist was a choral group called the Ray Conniff Singers. They're remembered today for taking the pop/rock standards of the time and watering them down to make the music palatable to the ears of the parents of the baby boomers. One would never have expected Ray to make counter culture history - and he never did. But one night, one of the women in his choir most certainly did. Read on....
Carole Ferace
January 28, 1972: At a bland event inside the bland Nixon White House, the bland president was honoring the founder of the very bland Readers Digest. The entertainment on this exceedingly bland evening was the fabulously bland Ray Conniff and his chorus of exquisitely bland singers. One of them, a young woman named Carole Ferace, had a message for the president on the nasty subject of the war in Vietnam, which (you'll be kind enough to recall) was raging out of control at that moment in history. She publicly shamed The Trickster for calling himself "a Christian" while allowing the American-funded carnage to continue. As you might imagine, this didn't go over too well with the seriously bland Nixon crowd. Also in the audience on this preposterously bland evening was the hysterically bland Bob Hope and the righteously bland Billy Graham. Apparently neither man was very amused by Ms. Ferace's anything-but-bland remarks. She was thrown out of the festivities.
You've got to see this to believe it. Here's a link to watch the incident on YouTube:

She showed extraordinary courage. Here's to you, Ms. Ferace!


A Good Life
by Ben Bradlee

The legendary editor of the Washington Post was recently depicted by Tom Hanks in the film, The Post. I read his memoirs when they came out over twenty years ago. I'm in the process of reading them again. Bradlee was truly one of the most interesting characters in American journalistic history. A good life indeed. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019


"I am the chosen one."
Donald Trump
Back in the late winter of this year - or thereabouts - I wrote a piece on this site suggesting that we would have no other choice than to ride out the administration of Donald J. Trump until its merciful end on January 20, 2001. My reasoning at the time was simply that Mike Pence was too much of a right wing extremist to trust with the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. My theory was that Pence was chosen by Trump as impeachment insurance. as was the case forty-six years ago with Spiro Agnew, no one with a smidgeon of sanity would have dared call for Dick Nixon being forced out of office with a wing-nut like Agnew hovering above like  demented vulture. When Spiro was forced to resign in October of 1973 for his longtime involvement in a kickback scheme as Governor of Maryland, Tricky Dick's impeachment became only a matter of time. He was sent packing ten months later.
I've since changed my mind as far as the topic of a possible "President Pence" is concerned. The president of the United States of America - the man with his hands near the nuclear codes - is bat-shit crazy.

Other than the quote above, I won't rattle off the litany of examples from the past week alone, The fact that you even bother to read this site at all means that you're probably paying attention to current events so I don't need to remind you of them. I also don't have to remind you that a crazy person with the kind of power that Trump possesses does not bode well for the United States - or the world for that matter. And the people in the Senate and the House (all Republicans) who have been enabling this maniac by doing his bidding? I have a funny feeling that more-than-a-few of them will be mapping out new careers after Election Day 2020. Mitch McConnell comes immediately to mind. It's obvious to me that The gentleman from Kentucky has not an ounce of historical perspective - or does he? Perhaps poor old Mitch is loosing hours of sleep every night knowing how harshly posterity will judge his time on earth. The old bugger has been looking a tad exhausted lately so perhaps I'm onto something. I have a feeling (okay, call it a burning hope) that Mitch McConnell is going to die in prison. You may say I'm a dreamer.

The insanity of Donald Trump is not something that can be denied any longer. If you're a registered Republican you should be twice as alarmed as I am. If enough GOP politicians finally throw up their hands and say "Enough is enough! Country before party!" then I believe that that disgusting party can be saved. Otherwise they will soon disappear into the shit pile of history. Don't forget that nearly all of the heroes of the Watergate scandal were Republicans. So far, there are no GOP heroes in the age of Donald Trump - not one.

They might want to think this through. Just a thought.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Pete Degan, 1978

Happy birthday to brother Pete Degan who was born sixty years ago today at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Talk about a milestone!

AFTERTHOUGHT II: Forgive the lack of posts lately, folks. August was just one of those months! Perhaps it was the shock of turning sixty-one!