Thursday, September 30, 2021

Long Live THE LIE


 
"We are already in a constitutional crisis. The destruction of democracy might not come until November 2024, but critical steps in that direction are happening now. In a little more than a year, it may become impossible to pass legislation to protect the electoral process in 2024. Now it is impossible only because anti-Trump Republicans, and even some Democrats, refuse to tinker with the filibuster. It is impossible because, despite all that has happened, some people still wish to be good Republicans even as they oppose Trump. These decisions will not wear well as the nation tumbles into full-blown crisis".

Robert Kagan
The Washington Post

Incredibly, after four years of the most corrupt, incompetent and dangerous administration in history, Donald Trump is still the front runner to receive the GOP nomination three years from now. In order to make sure he is elected again (which means he would become the first president since Grover Cleveland to serve two non-consecutive terms) Republican governors and politicians in red states all across the country are working overtime to ensure that people with dark skin are not allowed to cast their precious ballots. 

Jim Crow has definitely risen from the dead. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in recent years, the bastards knew exactly what they were doing. Their rationale was that the South has changed. Obviously they haven't.

Are these contemptible white politicians unhinged enough to seriously believe that our black brothers and sisters will be passive enough to shuffle back to the ol' plantation singing All God's Chillin Got Wings? Are they that deluded? Here's the good news (or the bad news depending on which side you're on): The're not going backwards - they are only determined to move forward. As the late Dick Gregory once said" "Repression is more detrimental to the repressor than it is to the repressed". In other words, history is crystal clear on this unmovable fact: Revolutions are unstoppable. One might as well try to keep the sun from rising in the eastern sky tomorrow morning. Good luck with that.

If the extreme right wing of this country is foolish enough to believe that it will be a mere cake walk in order to turn the clock back on nearly seventy years of civil rights progress, they will be in for a rude awakening when the bazillion dollar shit-hammer comes crashing down on them with a vengeance too terrible to adequately contemplate. As Lenny Bruce once observed, "There's gonna be a lot of dues, Jim!" A lot of dues indeed. Unless certain people wake up, there will be a shit storm to contend with. Let's just hope and pray that it is non-violent on our part.

Paging Doctor King. Paging Doctor King.

No doubt about it, the next four years are going to be the ride of our lifetimes as citizens of the United States of America. I promise you that it won't be boring - not at all, baby!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

The most important address to a joint session of Congress in the twentieth century was made by Lyndon Baines Johnson on March 15, 1965, when he announced his proposed Voting Rights Act. Here is a link to watch it on YouTube:


While Johnson was giving this speech, Martin Luther King was watching it on television in his home with his wife, Coretta, and a handful of friends. When the president quoted "We Shall Overcome", everyone in the room wept tears of joy. Three months later, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 became the law of the land.

Lyndon has Vietnam tarnishing his legacy. Had it not been for that war, I believe we would be remembering him today as the greatest president in American history. 

SUGGESTED READING:

LBJ: The Man We Hate to Love
from THE RANT,  May 9, 2012 


He was one of our most interesting and complex presidents.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Here Comes the Shit Storm


 
Next month will see the beginning of congressional hearings on who was behind and facilitated the January 6, insurrection. Think about that: For the first time in our history, there was not a peaceful transfer of power in the United States. Even during the Civil War, we managed to avoid bloodshed between Election Day and Inauguration Day. That all changed with the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020. An unhinged mob was encouraged by the president of the United States to head down to the capital building to kick some ass. Kick they did. It was the worst attack on Washington, D.C. since the War of 1812.

Not only are several of Trump's former aides expected to  be summoned to testify, but a few elected representatives in the congress, too. Trump has said publically that he has no plans of cooperating with the committee. He has also, again, called Biden's ascendency to the White House a "rigged election". Apparently, he is also still expecting - somehow - to be installed as president before January 20, 2024. Obviously, this is a man suffering from severe mental illness. It makes a reasonable person shutter to think that - for four very long years - this was the guy with his pudgy little fingers within reach of the nuclear codes; a very frightening reality any way you slice it or dice it.

Eight months after leaving office, Donald Trump is perfectly able (and apparently willing) to bring on yet another constitutional crisis.  Apparently there were scores of people who were working diligently to overthrow the popular will of the voters of the United States. These people need to spend time in federal prison. That would include the former president.

Aren't politics strange? Aren't politicians even stranger?

Tom Degan​
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

President Kennedy's June 11, 1963 address to the nation on civil rights:


The amazing thing about this speech is the fact that it was extemporaneous. It is the most important address ever to be broadcast out of the oval office. This was five months and eleven days before he went to Dallas.

Friday, September 24, 2021

POST #1,046: Random Observations


 

The following set of rambling observations are just the results of occasional comments made out in the Facebooksphere or notes scribbled in my notebook. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely intentional. The photo at the top of the page was taken by my old pal, John Harragin ten years ago during the Wall Street Occupation. That was a lot of fun!

1. Where the heck is Matt Gaetz?

It appears that Matt has slithered into the shadows. One year ago the guy's hideous punim was everywhere. Today, he seems to have fallen off of the radar. He is wise to keep a low profile. When the word got out that he may be implicated in a scandal gwhere minor girls were used in a sex trafficking scheme, it seemed very possible that his political career was about to blow up. It's a rare thing these days to see him as a talking head, waxing moronic on any conservative talking point on any given day. He is wise to keep a low profile.

2. GIULIANI UPDATE:

Andrew Giuliani is just one of many thousands of reasons why watching right-wing politicians in action is so much fun. The mystery is that he (along with his old man and Donald Trump) does not hail from Shit-For-Brains, Mississippi, he's from New York City - allegedly one of the most sophisticated cities on the planet! Why - it must be asked - does he say so many dumb things and take so many dumb positions? It is a question that I am incapable of answering. That being the case, it now appears that Andrew is preparing to run for governor of New York. The politics of our state tends to be somewhat boring in any year. That won't be the case when Andrew runs. I'm really looking forward to that campaign.

3. GOP Craziness:

It's sad and funny to see what has happened to the Republican Party in the last forty years. Sad because it was the one-time home of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Funny because of their capability of providing political junkies such as I with infinite barrels of riotous, unintentional laughter. To watch a group of grown men and women desperately trying to cater to the most unstable and non-intelligent members of society is an amusing thing to behold. Think about this: The unfortunately-named senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, is an Oxford-educated Rhodes Scholar! He can't be an idiot! But to hear him talk on any forum, you would think that the guy had the IQ of a rancid bag of moldy mangoes. That party has fallen about as far as it is possible to fall. Seriously.

4. Get The Vaccine:

Too many Americans are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The result of this refusal is a continued spike of deaths in (mostly) conservative states. The excuse used most often for not getting inoculated is that they don't know what's in the vaccine. A history lesson: Seventy years ago a polio epidemic was rampaging its way throughout the world. Many were killed by it and many more were paralyzed by it. One of its victims was the future president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was stricken one-hundred years ago in the summer of 1921 while on vacation in Maine. Then, nearly seventy years ago in July of 1952, a young Virologist named Jonah Salk discovered a vaccine that wiped the disease off the face of the earth. Americans were a lot smarter in 1952 than they are today. They had no idea what was in Dr. Salk's vaccine. They only knew that it worked. When was the last time you heard of someone being laid low by polio? Get the vaccine.

Tom Degan​
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

Here's a link to view my beloved and talented niece, Julia Degan, singing her heart out on Instagram:

ju 🐟 on Instagram: “I love this song so much!!! Billie's new album >>>> • • • • • @billieeilish @finneas #billieeilish #music #song #billiebossanova #producer”

Isn't she something? Her hair of floating sky is shimmering.

SUGGESTED READING:

For nearly forty years, Ken Burns has been producing documentaries on iconic people and eras in American history for the Public Broadcasting System. This week he has a five-part series on The Greatest.
Here is the eulogy I wrote for Muhammad Ali when he passed away five years ago:


There will never be another like him. Stop waiting.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Justice for J6?

 



There are some tragically iconic dates in American history:

December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963; September 11, 2001; January 6, 2021....Let's just hope that September 18, 2021 doesn't turn out to be one of those nasty days of infamy.  

I say that to you without a molecule of levity. Tomorrow morning, the same gang (or at least their ideological cousins) will be swarming en masse onto the temple of democracy to protest the prosecutions of the folks who attempted to overthrow the results of a presidential election eight months and eleven days ago. Naturally Donald Trump (being Donald Trump) is once again on the sidelines in a blatant attempt to stir up this projected army of dingbats. Here is his statement on the upcoming festivities:

"Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election."

The hideous little bastard just refuses to let it go. He's had eight months and eleven days to reflect on and review the facts. He knows damned good and well that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were legitimately chosen by the American people to be the commander-in-chief and vice-president until at least January 20, 2025 - but he continues to stir up a deadly nest of feeble-minded hornets. 

The barricades that were placed in front of the capitol building following the January 6th insurrection were taken down this past summer. They're back up again today. The capital police and the national guard will be out in force tomorrow. If the mob attempts to storm the building by force once again, the cops (federal and local) have instructions to shoot-to-kill. If any of these MAGA knuckleheads are armed (as I'm almost certain a good number of them will be) there could be a domestic bloodbath unparalleled since the days of the war between the states. Please pray with me that it doesn't come to that. This could get ugly, campers.

These fools are calling their rally, "Justice For J6". In other words they're demanding that everyone who was charged in the January rioting be set free. That's not justice at all. In fact, that would be a gross perversion of justice. We can predict that some of the schmucks who are still fugitives from justice will be brazen enough to show up tomorrow. Law enforcement agencies now posses facial recognition technology that would make the task of identifying some of these people a lot easier than it was even a decade ago. They would be wise to stay the heck away from D.C. tomorrow. None of them probably read this blog. Pity.

It's almost predictable that if there are mass arrests tomorrow, they'll be back on May 29, 2022 (eight months and eleven days from tomorrow) with a "Justice For S18" rally. It would be just like them, wouldn't it?

Keep your eyes on Washington tomorrow.

Tom Degan​
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

He's Out of His Mind
from The Rant, January 6, 2021

I wrote this piece while the insurrection was happening. Here's a link to read it in its entirety:


A very strange day indeed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Mad Drunk


Okay, here's where I roam into Pot-Calling-The-Kettle-Black territory. I'm not unknown for tippling the glasses more than a normal person should. Some who know me may find it hyper-hypocritical that I should be criticizing Rudy Giuliani for the same bad habits and bad behavior that I am also guilty of. My only defence is the fact that I am an Irish American writer. Most of us are drunks. So sue me.

Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea culpa.

But please bear in mind that I'm not out making public appearances in front of television cameras that are then beamed into millions of American homes. The only time I'm "out in public", so to speak, is when I write the blog you are now reading. I started this site fifteen years ago. This is Number 1044. In all of that time, I believe I only wrote two pieces where I was ten-sheets-to-the-wind. One of those incidents was in 2008 when I endorsed John Roberts for the presidency. Enough said? I was so completely intoxicated when I wrote the Roberts endorsement that I couldn't even remember writing it the following day. It's one of the only things I ever wrote that I am totally embarrassed by. Wouldn't you be? At this moment I am stone-cold-sober, I promise.

"And this is a caricature that the left is trying to put on me...I can't remember the last time I was drunk."

Rudy Guiliani 

Um, well....I can't remember the last time that I was drunk either, Rudy. I was in a blackout. That being said, let's cut to the chase: Rudy is a serious alcoholic. His recent public appearances have been embarrassing to watch - even to me - and I love to laugh at the craziness of the modern-day right wing! 

At an event commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America (which you would think would have been a fairly somber event) he did a slurring impersonation of Queen Elizabeth - and he then starting babbling incoherently about how he "never went out with" Prince Andrew. We can only hope that poor old Rudy was thoroughly intoxicated at that moment - otherwise there would be no other logical explanation for his totally weird behavior. For the sake of his own reputation, you would think that one of his handlers would reel the poor slob in and tell him that he needs to cool it. But no, every week or so we find him in yet another open forum, waxing inebriate on whatever subject happens to cross his clouded and failing mind.

Just prior to the 20th anniversary he warned Joe Biden (the president, I remind you) to stay out of New York City because he wasn't welcome there. What kind of crazy and idiotic thing is that to say to the president of the United States? If the Secret Service doesn't have a file on the former mayor of New York, they should start writing one - fast

Although I am hardly the one to talk, Rudy Giuliani really needs to ease up on the sauce. His historical legacy is already tarnished enough as it is because of his association with Donald Trump. He doesn't need to flush it any further down the toilet.

Tom Degan​
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Flatbush Flannigan 
by the Harry James Orchestra (1941):

Listen to the quality of this recording. It was made eighty years ago and is a real toe-tapper! The fidelity is so clear it might have been recorded this morning. The arrangement is incredible!


FUN FACT: My father was one of the last people to speak to Harry James on the night of his death, July 5, 1983.



Sunday, September 12, 2021

9/11: Twenty Years On

 


I didn't spend too much time yesterday dwelling on the horror of September 11, 2001. It was such a bleak and depressing day that I try not to think about it at all. The woman I lived with on that day knew my habits better than anyone. She knew that, whenever there was a huge national news story, I would record the unedited coverage on videotape for posterity's sake - such as when Frank Sinatra, George Harrison and Bob Hope passed away. By the end of the day she asked me, "Aren't you going to  tape any of this?" ""No", was my answer. "I never want to look at this again". 

I still can't look at it twenty years later. I'll merely repeat this piece (slightly re-edited) that I wrote four years ago on the sixteenth anniversary:

************

It's a bit hard - STIKE THAT - it's impossible - not to let the memory stray back to the man-made catastrophe of 9/11/01. Late in the evening of Sunday, September 9, 2001, I gave my brother-in-law, Bob Borski, a ride to his home in Brooklyn. At around ten o'clock we passed just under the Twin Towers. I hadn't been that far downtown at night in a decade-or-so. I remember thinking how beautiful they looked towering over the night sky of Manhattan. Would George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue have sounded any different had those buildings existed in 1924? The 1993 terrorist assault on the World Trade Center was still a fresh memory. I speculated to Bob the damage a privately-owned D-10, it's aisles racked with 55 gallon drums of gasoline could do. It never occurred to me that a commercial airliner, filled with innocent human beings, would do the trick quite handily.
 
Thirty-six hours later, those buildings were gone forever.
 
The horror of September 11, 2001 has faded like the smoke that lingered over New York City for so many days afterward. I'm lucky in that I didn't lose any loved ones. My cousin, Patricia Cullen, who was working in one of the towers, barely escaped with her life. For about four hours we thought that she didn't make it. She was finally able to get through to us and let us know that she was safe and sound. The relief was palpable. Of course the families of many others wouldn't be as lucky as ours. My other brother-in-law, Jack Dermigny, lost his cousin Dan McGinley. Michael Stark, the brother of my pal, Joe, was one of the scores of firefighters who went into the towers, never to emerge. September 11, 2001 was that kind of day.
 
America's luck ran out on that day. Throughout all of our history, whenever we were confronted with a national trauma, the United States had been blessed with a leader at the helm who was able to guide the ship of state through the crisis with wisdom and clarity. Within months, in spite of the mass good will that was directed at him, it became clear what a mistake it had been to elect George W. Bush as president of the United States. His complete incompetence has been foreshadowed only by the corrupt and disastrous administration of Donald Trump. After nearly eight months of Trump, Bush is starting to look like Franklin Roosevelt. Never did I dream that things would get this weird. Did you? 

Hindsight is a funny thing, isn't it?

By noon on the day of the attack, all civilian aircraft across the nation were grounded. Late that night, for reasons I cannot remember, I found myself walking a deserted street in front of the commons building of the college I had attended over two decades before. It was there that I happened upon an old girlfriend. Of course, we were discussing the atrocity of that day when, from out of nowhere, the sky of Middletown, New York was jolted by the roar of what I assumed (and hoped) to be a military jet. Although invisible to us, it was obvious that it was flying at a low altitude. After a few minutes, we gave each other a hug in the darkened street and went on our separate ways. It was such a surreal ending of what had been a completely surreal day.

All of these years after the fact, 9/11 is still too depressing to think about - at least for me. The fact that the American people have foolishly turned over their government to incompetents who don't believe in government makes a terrorist attack on the scale of what happened on that day (or much worse) almost inevitable. This is the grave that the inmates of Idiot Nation have dug for themselves.

Have a lovely day!

********************

So there you have it. What happened on September 11, 2001 will be hanging over the nation's collective psyche until the very last person with a living memory of that day steps into eternity. Until then....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

America The Beautiful
by Ray Charles


If it were up to me, it would be a misdemeanor for anyone but Ray to sing this song. No one ever did it better. No one ever will. God rest his soul.