Saturday, March 28, 2020

It's Time For Cuomo

The governor of my state is advising me to stay inside my home and isolate myself. Just what the heck does he think I've been doing for the past decade?
There is today talk among a few opinion-makers out there that perhaps the time has come to replace Joe Biden and think about Andrew Cuomo heading the ticket in 2020. I think it's a good idea.
For the last week during the most catastrophic natural disaster in the history of this republic, in what few public appearances he has been able to make, Joe is seemingly becoming more-and-more dazed and confused. The fact of the matter is that his advanced age is showing. I do not believe that he is physically up  to the riggers of the job. Andy Cuomo obviously is. His mobilization of forces in New York State, organizing the teams that will do battle with the coronavirus has been impressive as anything I've witnessed in my lifetime. More than anything, Donald Trump has to be defeated at the polls come election day. The country will barely survive his presidency as it is; four more years will seal our doom. Handing the White House over to an unhinged sociopath - even in the best of times - is never a particularly jolly good idea. This White House is proving disastrous. Something to think about.

In the meantime, Trump's response to this pandemic has been eye-poppingly incompetent and irresponsible. Against the advice of every medical expert, he is now urging Americans to attend Easter services next week. In the weeks leading up to the election of 2016, I wrote a piece on this site predicting that, if elected. Trump would prove to be the worst mass murderer in American history. After about an hour of sober reflection, I deleted the statement, thinking it to be a tad too extreme. Now I wish I hadn't. Four years ago Michael Moore predicted that, if elected, Donald Trump would get a lot of innocent Americans killed. I do believe that the man was possibly onto something. Trump refused to act quickly to bring this virus under control the moment he learned about it. Early in his administration he shut down all of the pandemic response centers that Barack Obama had put into place. A whole lot of innocent Americans will be dying in the weeks and months to come.

Don't listen to Trump. He's an imbecile. Stay inside.

I had a pretty bad case of the flu last week which made me wonder if I had contracted this thing. It seems to have blown over and I'm fine. This can't be emphasized enough, though: stay inside your home and have as little contact as possible with your friends and family. We live in such a time where instant communication with masses of people is as easy as it ever was in human history. In the coming year, the internet will prove as vital - or as harmful - as it's ever been. That will all depend on how we use it.

Stay safe and keep well.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Audrey Degan Gargiulo

Audrey Gargiulo was my father's sister. Although she was the oldest of my grandparents' seven children, she survived them all by a decade or more, living to the age of 100. She was laid to rest yesterday in the family plot at St. Columba's Cemetery in Chester, NY. In normal times she would have had a huge send-off - but these times are hardly normal. There were less than ten people attending her wake and burial. She was the last survivor of all my aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. This truly is the end of an era. This is a melancholy day in too many ways to count.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Partying Like It's 1918

They've always talked about "the luck of the Irish". If you think about it, all through their history, the Irish people have been anything but lucky. It wasn't until years after they became Americans that some serious luck start to catch up with them. It should be "the luck of the Americans". All through its history, whenever any serious crisis faced this country, the United States has always been blessed to have a leader of insight living in the White House. All of that changed nearly twenty years ago, on September 11, 2001. When the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor sixty years earlier occurred, America's luck ran out. I don't need to rehash the sins and blunders of the Age of Dubya; It's all too depressing to even think about. Now that we're about to face the worst pandemic in one-hundred-and-two-years, given the intellect and instability of the current occupant of the Oval Office....well....there's not a lot of room for optimism, we'll just leave it at that.
During the epidemic that ran between the years 1918 and 1920, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters-of-a-million Americans died. That's about twice as many Americans who died in World War One, which ended as the pandemic was exploding. The month of October of 1918 is still recognized as the deadliest month in American history. Think about that! So many people died that corpses had to be interred in mass graves; undertakers had difficulty keeping up with the demand for coffins. Many bodies went without. The world wide the death toll was estimated at fifty million.
The ground-zero of the Coronavirus (at least here in the states) seems to be New Rochelle, NY, a small city in Westchester County which is sixty-one miles to the southeast of where I live. As of this writing, a grand total of one-hundred and eighteen souls have been diagnosed. None, as far as I know, have passed away. Many people around the nation are starting to self-quarantine - probably not a bad idea - but the panic is beginning to be tangible.
Yesterday, as I do every week, I attempted to purchase a case of bottled water. The store, which is usually overloaded with the stuff, was bone dry. The same was true in another store I visited a little later in the day. The traffic outside of my window on Route 17K, is usually so heavy at this time of the day, at times it takes me ten minutes to get out of the driveway if I have to make a left-hand turn. The traffic is sparse this morning. Relatively few are venturing out. Probably a wise precaution. It has been announced that local schools are being closed for two weeks. If the president of the United States is not taking too seriously what is happening, local officials, at least, are.
FUN FACT: I'm suffering from the flu this week. Not to worry: it's only the garden variety type....I think.
Despite the idiocy emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Trump has put Mike Pence in charge. Ain't that somethin'?) we can get through this relatively unscathed. Precaution is the word of the day. Be safe. Be healthy.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Here is a link to an excellent documentary I found on YouTube on the 1918 "Spanish Flu" pandemic. Highly recommended.
Very informative.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

No Time for Tantrums

ATTN: SUPPORTERS OF BERNIE SANDERS: Joe Biden will more-than-likely be the 2020 Democratic nominee.
Let me state for the record that the former vice-president was not my first choice to be the standard bearer in this year's political contest. That spot was held in my heart by Elizabeth Warren, followed by Pete Buttigieg. Biden and Bernie were tied for fourth place. Although I  haven't been a registered Democrat since 1998, I tend to vote for Democratic candidates. Four years ago, when they nominated Hillary Clinton, I felt then (as I still do) that they had made a dreadful mistake. Show me a candidate unable to defeat a babbling moron like Donald Trump, and I'll show you a perfectly horrible candidate. As disappointed as I was with Clinton as the nominee, on the morning of Election Day 2016, I dutifully made my way down to the firehouse (my polling place) and cast my ballot for her.

One of the reasons I always give for bolting the Dems all those years ago is simply because that party has an absolute genius for taking a bottle of finely aged champagne and turning it - over night - into a worthless jug of donkey piss. This is precisely what happened on that fateful night in the summer of 2016 when that silliest of parties handed her the nomination on a silver platter. This year's election should be a foregone conclusion; the  political equivalent of shooting a school of half-witted fish in a leaky barrel - but it's not. Leave it to those idiotic Democrats to screw this one up. As far as I'm concerned, given their incompetence - and the utter stupidity of the American people - I give them a no-better-than 50/50 chance of unseating Trump this coming January 20, 2021. We shall see.

One of the reasons I feel as pessimistic as I do is the complete bitterness of some of the supporters of the defeated candidates (as well as the soon-to-be-defeated Sanders) are implying that if they don't have their way this year, they're going to take their ball and go home. This is what happened four years ago. A lot of Bernie supporters stayed home on Election Day - or went over to Trump. This is not unlike 1968, when former supporters of the slain Bobby Kennedy went with George Wallace in November. It made no sense then. It makes even less sense now. We need to support the Democratic nominee, regardless of who that turns out to be. The very future of our country depends upon it. Four more years of this bombastic jackass at the helm of the ship of state could very-well spell doom for this sick country - if it hasn't already.

Although he has evolved in his forty-eight years of public service, Joe Biden is still not enough of a real progressive to suit my tastes. But it should be remembered that Joe, for all his flaws, is a good man. I like Joe! He's what America desperately craves in this dark age of Donald Trump: an intelligent human being with a good heart. I won't be holding my nose when I cast my ballot for Joe Biden in 2020 (as I did when I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016). I know that, despite his age, he's up to the job. And we can all be sure that he'll surround himself with the best and the brightest.

But he's got to win! VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Ronan Farrow

Catch and Kill
by Ronan Farrow

This is an account of the journalistic process that Farrow went through to bring down Harvey Weinstein (who was sentenced to twenty-three years in prison yesterday). Here is a link to order it off of

Ronan Farrow will be around for a very long time. Mark my words, campers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


A few days ago the chief-executive informed us that, from this day forward, Mike Pence shall be in charge of All-Things-Coronavirus.
Gee, I'm so relieved.
Putting an imbecile like Mike at the head of something so serious is not a particularly good idea. In case you're not aware of this let me enlighten you to the degree I can: As governor of Indiana, Pence was solely responsible for the breakout of an AIDS epidemic - years after we that that sort of health emergency was in our past. You see, a certain part of the Hoosier state was in desperate need of clean needles a number of years ago, and Dense Pence refused to supply them - as he was authorized to do. The result was the worst breakout of the HIV virus in a very long time. And now this same man is in charge of overseeing this latest potential catastrophe?
This can only end badly.

I woke up yesterday to hear on the news radio that New York State, where I live, has the highest number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the country - 118 at last count. This does not fill anyone bothering to pay attention with any serious degree of confidence. We've been rather lucky since January 20, 2017. There has been no major national emergency that has yet exposed - to even the most faithful - the utter incompetency of this administration. I have a feeling that's about to change. I sincerely hope and pray I'm proven wrong. During the tenure of the Obama administration, centers were set up at strategic locations all across the nation to deal with this sort of thing. Trump had most of them dismantled. That is why right wing form of governance is always such a bad thing for any nation's security. These people don't think long range.

Wasn't this a great idea?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Farewell, Chris Matthews

It's funny how the most extreme spokespersons on both sides of America's troubled political spectrum have found themselves in a giddy state of schadenfreude this week over Chris Matthews' unexpected announcement (on the air) that he will be retiring from his nightly program, Hardball, which has been broadcast on MSNBC since 1997. The fact that the most bombastic of commentators - right and left - did not approve of what Chris was all about tells me that the man was probably doing something right. Apparently Chris was not quite as politically correct as he might have been for a few people. On rare occasion I would find myself mildly embarrassed for him by a minor transgression of 21st century etiquette, but it was always something not even worthy of taking note of. What some folks failed to take into consideration was that Chris Matthews is a man who was born five years before the dawn of he second half of the last century. He was a man of a different era - who was still relevant.
My first introduction to Chris Matthews was not via Hardball - or even television. It was in the form of a book someone gave me for my birthday over twenty summers ago called Kennedy and Nixon - which chronicled the fragile friendship and, later, bitter rivalry of the two most visible political icons of the era in which Matthews came of age. It was the best book that could have been written on that subject. Months before Matthews became a household name across the American landscape, I already considered myself a stone-cold fan of the dude. This has not changed.

One of the things that made Chris so valuable, I believe, was the fact that he never condescended to his audience; he spoke to the viewers in language that any of us could easily understand. In a country that has become as depressingly dumbed-down as this one has in the last four decades, I have a sinking feeling that a lot of people are going to miss him now that he's gone - I know I sure am. My access to broadcast news is rather limited these days, and I haven't been able to watch his program recently as completely as I would have liked to. I would watch most of his program through YouTube, and I can say that the man was as on his game as he's ever been. Nothing good lasts forever and I suppose I should consider it fortunate that Chris Matthews has lasted longer than Water Cronkite lasted as the anchor of the CBS Evening News - but it still doesn't sit well with me. It never will.

Matthews has always been a fairly prolific author and I recommend every book he has ever written, all of which are available at In addition to Kennedy/Nixon mentioned above, I also highly suggest that you read his separate books on the careers of Jack and Bobby Kennedy. The only good news to come out of this is that he will still be writing. We'll still have more to look forward to from him.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Billy Meres
AFTERTHOUGHT: I composed this little meditation in the early-morning hours of March 6, 2020. It involves the memory of a boy that I once knew who passed away fifty years ago....

It is now three in the morning. I awakened about an hour ago with the most melancholy of feelings. On March 6, 1970, fifty years ago today, my little town lost a thirteen-year-old kid named Billy Meres. Being two years his junior I always looked up to him almost as a college freshman looks up to a senior. Whenever I come across a photograph of Billy all these decades later, however, I am always blown away by the realization that he was only a little boy on the day he passed away. I was introduced to him by our mutual friend, Kevin Kelly, in the spring of 1969. Sadly, Kevin stepped into eternity at the end of 2018, his life well lived, but far from finished.

On the day that Billy Meres died, the Beatles released their final single, Let It Be. It took me a full four years before I could listen to that recording without feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. On the day that he was laid to rest, there was an eclipse of the sun. It's funny, the things you remember, you know?

Tonight, Billy sleeps in Saint John's Catholic Cemetery, a little over a mile down the road from where I am now. I plan on visiting the graves of him and his brother, Ed, today. It's the very least I can do.