Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bad Craziness in Alabamy

Well now, isn't that precious!
We got guns!
Dey got guns!
All God's chill'en got guns!

The Marx Brothers
from Duck Soup (1933)

Oh I come from Alabama with an Uzi on my knee....

When I saw the headline on the Addicting Info website, I just knew it had to be a hoax of some kind - or at least that's what I thought it must be. "Oh, come now", I said out loud. "people just can't be that stupid - not even in Alabama!" I let the headline sink in, still not quite believing what I was seeing:


Sure enough, three state senators and four legislators  are co-sponsoring two different bills that would allow children to legally possess (with Mommy and Daddy's permission of course) potentially lethal, people-killing machines. As you've probably figured out by now, all seven of these "lawmakers" are Republican.

Here's another piece of information that should come as no surprise: The homicidal nincompoops at the National Rifle Association believe that armed-to-the-teeth kids is a perfectly wonderful idea. Ain't that a riot?

The writer of the article I'm referring to is named Jameson Parker. As he correctly points out, it's bad enough that one of the top ten accidental causes of death for minors in America is firearms. Count on it: This latest, idiotic proposal is not going to make those numbers go down. Kids die because they (or a friend) inadvertently stumble upon a weapon that an adult has not properly secured inside of their home. If this proposed law is passed, you can expect the rate of kiddie carnage to go through the roof in Alabama. 

Just what is it about the South?

Jeff Davis
April 2015 was (or should have been) a month of national reflection as we paused to take note of the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. The right wing of that mercifully bygone era, primarily located in the South, thought it a perfectly dandy idea that human beings be forced to work for no wages whatsoever. In order to perpetuate this economic Utopia of theirs, they went to war against their own government. The conclusion of a conflict that lasted four long years saw them forced back into the union. Perhaps we should rethink this. In recent years I've started to believe that Southern secession wasn't such a bad an idea after all - maybe not for Dixie but for the rest of the country. The complete and utter idiocy of that region has only kept the nation as a whole from advancing and realizing our fullest potential. This is something which needs to be seriously discussed on a national level.

This I can say without a molecule of uncertainty: Keeping dear old Dixie in the union was not worth the six-hundred and twenty-four thousand lives it cost to keep her here; it's not even close. Don't get me wrong, I still love Abe Lincoln, but jeez Louise!

I know it sounds like I'm being cruel. Disparaging the South is just about as bad as making fun of a severely retarded person - they're just so touchingly pathetic. I'm not trying to imply that most Southerners are dumb; I really do hope that that's not the case. The problem is the people who vote - or most of them anyway. The seven politicians who are sponsoring these guns-for-tots laws are all the proof you need to understand the intellectual limitations of your average voter in Alabama. My theory is that this is what should be expected when generations of folks marry their first cousins.

If these proposed bills become law way down yonder - and I have no reason to doubt that they will - Alabama will overnight become the most dangerous state in America in which to live. There's a dandy reason why children are barred by law from operating motor vehicles: They simply lack judgement. Who can be sure that some ten-year-old kid won't plug the mailman one fine, sunny day for "trespassing" on the family porch? Kids resolve conflict any way they can. Are we to expect an epidemic of child-on-child gun violence in the state of Alabama? Will that be the next norm in that moronic region of the country? You'd better believe it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there will be a miracle and intelligent people will prevail - assuming there are any down there. But the fact that a law arming children was even proposed to begin with should make the rest of us wonder.

You don't like your fourth grade teacher? She's a bit cranky and way too heavy on the homework? You know what to do, sonny. Time to take matters into your own hands. Problem solved! Now wasn't that easy?

My goodness, this is going to get interesting! If this mind-jarringly stupid law is passed I'll learn to contently live with it. Besides, I haven't been to Alabama in exactly thirty years (May of '85) and I don't plan on going back any time soon. As I've said before, the lower this country sinks into the sociological shit hole, the higher my stock rises. For satiric reasons alone, the horrific results of a state packed to the rafters with little kids walking around armed and dangerous should prove quite amusing. Murder and mayhem lead to many things; writer's block is not one of them. For my purposes, that nasty little scenario works out very well indeed. Thank you, Alabama.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


I just found this posting on Craigslist:

"You southerners always have - by far - the highest rates of obesity, teen pregnancy, binge drinking, smoking, divorce, crime, pollution, and illiteracy. Your bad habits drive up healthcare costs for the rest of America. Of course, we up north have been supporting "y'all" since reconstruction, but all you send us in return is acid rain, guns, tobacco, and "family values" laws....and you hate us for helping you, just like you hate blacks, hate gays, hate Muslims, hate immigrants, hate anyone not exactly like you."

Sorry, but it needs to be said.


Here is a link to the Jameson Parker piece from Addicting Info that inspired this little ditty of mine:

Please, Mr. Postman!
Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)
by John Lennon
rock on, children.... 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Onward, Sociopaths

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows....Look out, kid, you're gonna get hit."

-Bob Dylan

It would seem that with every four-year election cycle, the campaigns are starting earlier and earlier. In 1960, Jack Kennedy didn't even announce his candidacy until a couple of days after the new year. A candidate couldn't do that today. It's a different world than the one JFK inhabited on November 22, 1963, the day he was blasted into eternity by the force of Lee Oswald's cheap, mail-order rifle - different faces, different rules. The extremists and the Birchers, relegated to the fringes of our national political conversation a half century ago, are now in the mainstream. "Up" is the new "down". One imagines where this is heading, where we might be fifty years hence. The happy thought is that most of us will be long dead by that point. Much as I love kids, I've never regretted not having any. I regret it even less in 2015. An ill wind is blowing down the pike, baby! 

I'm not going to get too worked up about what transpires in 2016. To tell you the truth I've come to the point where I can truthfully say that I really don't give a fuck what happens at the polls next year. All I can say with any degree of certainty is that I'll find the whole affair quite amusing. 

From the standpoint of April 22, 2015 it is obvious that Election Day 2016 will more than likely be a choice between another Clinton and another Bush - which is not much of a choice at all. I've voted in every presidential contest since 1980, but I've got a pretty good feeling that I'll find better things to do on that day. Perhaps I'll stay home and watch reruns of Leave it to Beaver. Better that than wasting my good time at the polling place. Are the Democrats so impotent that they can't puke up anything better than Hillary? Whenever I forget why I left that party almost twenty years ago, they always cheerfully remind me.

Did I say, "Not much of a choice"?

Okay, I concede the point: Anything would be preferable to any member of that disgusting family occupying the executive mansion for even half minute longer (I refer to the Bush family in this instance - just in case you were wondering). What galls me more than anything is Jebbie Boy's jaw-dropping arrogance. How is he going to convince people to change course after Barack Obama has spent two terms desperately trying to clean up the mess he inherited from the Village Idiot of Crawford, Texas? Talk about a sense of entitlement! A third President Bush in a generation? The American people will deserve everything that happens to them if that unfortunate little turn-of-events should ever transpire. Of course, for my purposes, a Bush Administration III would be the gift that keeps giving and giving (And giving and giving and giving). Bush 45? Bring 'em on!

The consensus of opinion seems to be that he's not the extremist that his brother was. Don't get fooled again, folks. As governor of Florida, he was about as extreme as any politician south of the Delaware Water Gap. Only since Dubya mercifully vacated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 2009 has Jeb sought to "moderate" his positions. Launching his candidacy was no overnight decision on his part. He's been planning this move for a long time, probably since his old man was president. Don't fall for that "compassionate conservative" jazz. Jeb Bush is merely a different side of the same old, counterfeit coin. We don't want go down this road again, trust me on this one, kiddies.

Another guy I've got my eye on is Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Since becoming governor of that state, he's made his national reputation by trying to make life for regular working people as insanely difficult as possible. He is the Union Buster from Hell; and he doesn't even try to hide the fact that he views Labor (and laborers) with utter contempt. Recently he compared protesters in his state (working people seeking a decent wage) with the international terror group, ISIS - an organization responsible for the brutal murders of untold thousands. Ain't that a riot? A political degenerate such as Scott Walker only comes around once in a lifetime. He should be watched - if only for your own amusement. 

"If his IQ gets any lower we're gonna have to start watering him twice a day"

-Molly Ivins, describing an unnamed Texas pol 

It's so unspeakably sad that Molly didn't live to see the phenomenon that is Ted Cruz. Can you imagine what she would have had to say on that subject? I giggle at the mere thought.

Election Day 2016 is a little less than a year-and-a-half away. What a long, strange trip it's gonna be between now and then. Be amused. Be very amused.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Jack Kennedy - Elusive Hero
by Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews is not known for his gifts as a historian, which is a shame because he's pretty good at it. This book humanizes Jack Kennedy in a way that no other biography has before.  Here's a link to order it off of

A really great read.


The Black Panthers Revisited

The Black Panthers were probably the most unfairly maligned, misrepresented group in the history of the republic - when in fact they were a source of great good. This seven-minute-long documentary appeared recently on the New York Times website. Here's a link to watch it in its entirety:
The Panthers' story has yet to be told. It needs to be told.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

FDR: Seventy Years On

The final portrait, April 12, 1945

Chillin' with the Roosevelts, 2013
"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

That was the closing of FDR's final speech. He would not live to deliver it. Moments after writing those words, he collapsed and died. The date was April 12, 1945.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt recedes even further into the mists history this morning. Seventy years ago today, he was at his winter White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. The month before he had come back from a grueling, fourteen thousand mile journey to the Yalta Conference in the Soviet Union, where he, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin had discussed the fate of post-war Europe. 

On his return to Washington it was obvious to everyone in his circle that the boss was seriously ill.  In the preceding year he had lost close to fifty pounds, his hands trembled and there was a noticeable slur in his speech. His personal physician, Admiral Ross McIntyre, thought that a couple of weeks nestled within the leafy pines of Warm Springs would bring the president back to form - as it had so many times in the past.

The last photograph
Early in the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt had just completed writing an address which he planned to give via radio the following evening for the Democrats' annual Jackson Day Dinner. There were five people in the room with him, his cousins Daisy Suckley and Laura Delano, his valet, Arthur Prettyman, the artist, Elizabeth Shoumatoff, who was painting his portrait, and Lucy Mercer Rutherford, a woman with whom Franklin had had a brief affair over a quarter century before. On this spring day in 1945, they we're just two old friends. They made each other laugh, something Franklin needed now more than any other time in his life. She also reminded him of his athletic youth, before the onslaught of polio withered his legs, leaving him completely paralyzed . 

Without warning the president put his right hand to the back of his neck and said to Miss Suckley, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head". With those final words he lost consciousness. His limp body was carried by Prettyman to his bedroom, where, less than an hour later, at 3:35 PM, Franklin D. Roosevelt was pronounced dead. He was sixty-three.

Seventy years later, the legacy of FDR is on life support in this country. There aren't many people still standing that have a conscious memory of what life was like in America before his grand experiment in unprecedented social engineering ushered in a New Deal for the American people. On the night of his inauguration in 1933, his outspoken distant cousin, Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Theodore's daughter), told him, "Franklin, if you fail you'll be the last Democratic president." The new president didn't miss a beat in his reply: "Alice, if I fail I'll be the last president - period".

It amuses me to no end whenever I hear Barack Obama described by the right wing SCREAM machine as "the most liberal president in history". He isn't. Truth be told, he's not even a close third. Not only was Roosevelt our most liberal president - he was a radical - at a time when radical change was desperately needed.

Master Franklin 1890
The obscene economic inequality that preceded the Administration of FDR, has risen from the depths of hell and is making a comeback in the United States at this very moment. We've pretty much forgotten all we owe him. Think about it: The youngest voter to cast his or her ballot for FDR in 1932 would this year be 104. My mother, who will turn eighty-four on August 5, was in the eighth grade when Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed into eternity seventy years ago today. We suffer from historical amnesia. They tell us that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. Take a look at the American economic landscape on April 12, 2015. It's happening. Go back to sleep.

Maybe it's a mere coincidence that history is not emphasized more in American high schools these days. Maybe it's not. One thing is beyond certainty: A lot of people who vote are in desperate need of a history lesson. Most of them are unable to identify President Roosevelt in a photograph - or even his image on the dime. That's a pretty pathetic situation. 

A young man on his way
A google news search this morning informs me that there is not one paper, anywhere in this nation, that is taking note of this milestone anniversary today. FDR is not even mentioned in passing. That's pretty pathetic as well.
"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it, the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it, these forces met their master."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the 1936 campaign

Can you imagine a politician - Democratic or Republican - making such an utterance today? With a small handful of noble exceptions, I can't. 

The Frankster
I often make a pilgrimage to the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. Being a resident of New York's Hudson Valley, it's not difficult for me to get there any time I choose. In fact, it's less than forty miles from where I now sit. It is where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on the night of January 30, 1882, and where he and Eleanor sleep side-by-side in the rose garden of the mansion. I need the place like a tonic! Whenever I get to feeling depressed about this country (which, fortunately, is only when I'm sober) I take a little trek up there. Without fail, I always leave the joint feeling a little better about America. If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods, I cannot recommend it enough.

Seventy years later he still speaks to us. We're not listening. That is our eternal shame. Let me leave you with his best remembered quote:

"So first of all, let me express my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...."
Aw, hell. You know the rest of it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


No Ordinary Time
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin

The best book on the Roosevelt White House ever written. Here's a link to order it off of

It doesn't get any better than Doris!

Here is a link to a piece I wrote three years ago today on the 67th anniversary of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Here is an excellent little documentary about some of the crucial decisions made by FDR during his presidency:
"But the president who Championed the common man, was not like most Americans."

 Let's drink a toast to happy days!

February 11, 2012

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Why Hillary?

For the history books:

41. Bush
42. Clinton
43. Bush
44. Obama
45. [Fill in the blank]

It's nearly certain that number 45 will read either Clinton or Bush. Do you have any idea how idiotic we're gonna look to future generations? I have a really good idea.

The Democrats would be wise to exhibit a bit more caution in what they publicly wish for. A little food for thought.

Tyrone Power 1914-1958
Many years ago there lived an actor named Tyrone Power who was active in Hollywood for a little over twenty years. He was just a bit before my time. When I was a day shy of three months old, he collapsed and died of a massive heart attack on location in Madrid, Spain while filming a sword fight scene with fellow actor, George Sanders. He was only forty-four years old.

Orson Welles once said of James Cagney, "Every moment of Cagney is truth." By comparison, every moment of Ty Power was contrived. In fact, I've never been able to understand how he was able to survive in Hollywood for as long as he did. To his many fans and his heirs: I'm sorry but the guy couldn't act his way out a decomposing burlap sack. We're talking mucho lousy! There's a dandy reason why his name is not remembered today as reverently as Gable's, Bogie's or Tracy's. In every performance by Tyrone Power I've ever witnessed, he has all the conviction of the most popular Sophomore in the lead of a high school play. 

It's a little unsettling how I get the same feeling from Tyrone Power's acting that I do whenever I watch Hillary Clinton on the stump. 

The "party of FDR"?
If you want a perfect illustration for why I left the Democrats almost two decades ago, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better example than the entire "Hillary phenomena". As of this date she is virtually unopposed by any other Democrat as she prepares for what is obviously a long-planned run for the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue. The question that is screaming to be posed is this one: Is this the best that the "party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt" can come up with? True, she's light years better than anything the Republicans will be able to puke up in the substance department, but why settle on her? Are the Clintons so all-powerful that there is no one out there in the Democratic landscape who is able to muster up the courage to challenge them? Are they that gutless?

I understand that there are a lot of people (myself included) who would like to see a second, culture-shattering precedent established next year by electing the first woman as president of the United States. To go straight from the first black dude to the first gal is indeed tempting - no argument there - but Hillary is not the one for me. In fact, she's not even a close second. 

One has to wonder about the Dems these days. The situation is bleak everywhere you look - at least as far as the progressive cause is concerned. When I learned that Chuck Schumer (the gentleman from Wall Street) was in serious consideration for the role of Senate leader, replacing the retiring mannequin, Harry Reid, it seemed to me to be a classic case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. With Democrats like these guys, who the heck needs Republicans? Why is it that the party that was redefined generations ago as being the party of "Progress" has forgotten their roots? Is it any wonder that so many of us are becoming more apathetic with each passing year?

If the Republicans end up nominating someone with an IQ above room temperature - in other words the type of candidate that doesn't appeal to the typical primary voter in the South and Midwest - you can bet everything you own on the fact that the Tea Party knuckleheads will bolt the GOP and start a third party uprising. That would be a wonderful thing for my purposes. The same should happen to the Democrats.

Here is as profound a political quotation as any I've read in my lifetime:

"People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance, they live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations. We run it for people."

Elizabeth Warren 

I would love to see Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts toss her hat into the ring but apparently that's not going to happen. She has said - over and over again - that she has no intention of running and I have no reason to doubt her sincerity. One thing you can't accuse Liz Warren of is being insincere. Too bad. She is one of the few people out there with the heart and soul of a true progressive. I hope she changes hew mind.

There are those who would make the argument that electing a relatively unknown woman from New England would be an uphill climb. True, but those were the same arguments that were made eight years ago when an obscure, African American politician from Chicago (NOT KENYA) named Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the White House. Everything is possible in this age. The first time I ever heard Elizabeth Warren speak I fell in love with her. I like to think of her as Spencer Tracy to Hillary's Tyrone Power; a meadow at sunrise to Hillary's astro-turf.

Maybe Ms. Clinton will turn out to be a pleasant surprise. Maybe she won't. We can pray for a miracle here, but the nasty reality calls for us not to be naive. She is the best the Democrats can come up with. Let's deal with it as best we can. Remember, the alternative to Hillary is Jeb Bush. We don't want to go down that road again - trust me on this one, kids.

Yeah, barring a miracle, the former First Lady, senator and Madame Secretary will more than likely be the Democratic nominee in 2016 - which means it's all highly probable that she will become the next president of the United States. The only good news upon the horizon is that the GOP has gone so far off the deep end in recent years that they've become unelectable on a national scale. Otherwise I'm not-at-all happy about this scenario. Hillary is about as much of a progressive as "liberal" Republican Nelson Rockefeller was - in other words: not very progressive at all. I've voted in every presidential contest since 1980 and I'm probably not going to miss this one, much as I'm tempted to. But you can bet that I'll be holding my nose when I cast my ballot on Election Day next year.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY 


Be it Easter or Passover- or whatever - have a happy one! 


No identification needed
Here Comes the Sun
by the Beatles

Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter....
Sun! Sun! Sun! Here we come!  


Kevin Swanwick
Writing and Thinking
a blog by Kevin Swanwick

Kevin Swanwick is one of my oldest friends in the world - he's 102 - but seriously folks....

Long time readers of The Rant might remember Kevin as the gent who a few years ago took a pilgrimage with me to the Abbey Road studios in merrie olde England. He writes a blog called "Writing and Thinking" which has a lot less readers than this site - which is strange because it's a much better blog, and he's a much better writer. So have a look at this excellent site and put him on your list of bookmarks, okay? He has something important to say and we all need to listen. Here's a link:

This kid's got a future, no doubt about it.