Monday, November 30, 2015

What Price Donald?

"Not one of them can win, but one must. That's the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy."
Matt Taibbi
From this week's Rolling Stone
That's what I've been saying for months, and yet Taibbi says it so much better than I. Hats off to the dude; he knocks 'em out of the park every time.
Image result for donald trumpIt wasn't supposed to come to this. And yet, this is the price that "the party of Abraham Lincoln" is paying for its three-decades-plus courtship of a class of people that had historically been politically apathetic: the terminally insane. Today the chickens have come home to roost in the guise of Donald Trump. Before this gets any better for the panic-stricken heads of the Republican National Committee, it's going to get worse. Five months ago, the very idea of the Donald receiving the GOP nod at next summer's convention was about was about as fanciful as Eric Clapton recording an entire LP of covers by Freddie and the Dreamers. Today, I'm not so sure.
You've got to wonder exactly what is going on inside the minds of your average Republican primary voter - particularly in the South and Midwest. The more this guy steps in it, the higher his stock continues to rise among these people. From mocking a New York Times Reporter with a neurological disorder - to insisting that all Muslims be registered and monitored by Big Brother - to referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers - he seems unable to offend any of these people. Even when he proclaimed that Iowans were idiots because his poll numbers were somewhat lagging in that state, he appears not to have offended a soul. You gotta wonder. You really do.

Image result for donald trump supportersThis is not to say that Donald Trump is a fool. I honesty don't think that he really believes one/tenth of the nonsense he adds to the national political conversation. He knows full well that - at least in this day and age - in order to get the Republican nomination, a candidate has to stomp around the country saying a lot of mind-bendingly stupid things. Once he gets the nomination (assuming that he does indeed get it), it will be quite an amusing thing watching him slither back from the extreme-right to the center-right during the general election. There's also this uncomfortable factor: forgetting his all-too-numerous faults as a candidate, there is (with me at least) a grudging admiration for the guy. I have always appreciated anyone with moxie - and Trump has moxie to spare. If the definition of successful parenting is instilling self-confidence in a child, Donald Trump's mom and dad were the best parents in history.

Sometimes I wonder if he is some sort of double agent doing espionage work for the opposition party. At one time he described himself as a "liberal", so anything is possible I suppose. The damage he is doing to that party is palpable and incalculable.

Trump's candidacy almost guarantees that for the first time in one-hundred and sixty years, one Democratic administration will be followed into the White House by another Democratic administration. The last time that happened was on March 4, 1957 when Franklin Pierce tossed the keys to the executive mansion over to pathetic old James Buchanan. It hasn't happened since. It will happen again on  Inauguration Day 2017 - mark my words, boys and girls. The curse is being broken. Aren't these interesting times?

 And yet, in spite of all these nasty little developments, progressives across the land are setting themselves up for a huge let down. For one thing, Hillary  Clinton is not the second coming of Eleanor Roosevelt - that's for damned sure.  And even if she ends up surprising us, she'll still have to deal with the aggravations from the disloyal opposition that her husband and Barack Obama had to deal with during their respective tenures. While the Republicans almost certainly have become virtually unelectable on a national level, they won't be going away any time soon. Barring a miracle, they'll still control the house and the senate for the foreseeable future. There's still no end to the damage that they can and will do. This is something we'll just have to live with.
Isn't this a time?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Image result for mark twainSUGGESTED READING:
Mark Twain
by Ron Powers
As once was observed by Ernest Hemingway, American literature began with Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain. If you want to understand the man, this excellent biography is the place to begin.  Every page is a revelation. I should be writing blurbs for a living.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bracing for the Nightmare

 America is sorrow-bound. This is a train that I plan on missing. You'd better believe it, Bubba.
Image result for gun craziesThis is probably the easiest call I've ever made. If you're silly enough to believe that the most insanely lax gun laws in the western hemisphere haven't yet come back to haunt us (as in Newtown in 2012) you are within a few months of a shattering dose of reality. I really hope I'm wrong about this - and if I am, save this piece in your files and, by all means, come back a year from now and shove it in my face; I'll welcome the gloating - in fact I'll be thankful for it.
I saw a scene on the TV news that shocked me on the one hand, and amused me on the other: Armed security persons lined up in various positions in Times Square, New York City, guarding otherwise carefree tourists making merry in that town's most iconic landmark. It made perfect sense to me: Times Square is, after all, the most obvious spot for a terrorist attack upon innocent civilians. But it got me to asking myself the question that is begging to be put forward: what about all the not-so-obvious targets - tens of thousands of them - in the villages and hamlets scattered about this entire country? I get the dry-heaves just thinking about it.
In the last ten years, two-thousand people (that we know of) who have been placed on the so-called "no fly" list were able to purchase at least that many (if not more) fire arms. How is this even possible you may ask? Because the United States Congress has sewn itself securely into the linings of the pockets of the National Rifle Association. You see, denying a potential terrorist the right to purchase a rapid-fire, people-killing machine is an assault on their rights - intentions be damned. How are we supposed to protect everyone? The answer is simple: We can't. The American people are sitting ducks. Coming soon to a small town near you - or me....

The irony is that I cannot advocate the one remedy that would surely put a stop this madness: the targeted assassinations of key members of congress - or their families. That would solve the problem - overnight. Pretty sad.

By the way, don't deceive yourselves into believing that any terrorist attack on these shores will necessarily come from people not born in the good ol' U.S. of A. - or that the attackers will be Muslims. There are just oodles of imaginable scenarios here. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and squishy inside? I need a drink.

Image result for eiffel towerIf you think that what happened in Paris last week cannot happen here - and with comparative ease - you're kidding yourselves. Chew on this for a while: Since the horrific slaughter of twenty-six human beings in a Connecticut elementary school almost two years ago, not a single law has been passed to ensure that something like that would never happen again.

I used to think that America was worth saving. I don't believe that anymore.

Fuck it, I'm going back to bed.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Political World
by Bob Dylan 

Leave it to Uncle Bobby.


Terrorism in the World of Neoliberalism
by Kevin Swanwick

The latest humdinger from the blog of my oldest friend in the world (He's 112).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Poppy's Revenge

Image result for George H. W. Bush"The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State Department. I think they overdid that. But it's not Cheney's fault. It's the president's fault."

George H.W. Bush
Assessing the administration of the halfwit from Crawford, Texas

This cannot be good....

Let me rephrase that:

For my purposes this is very, VERY good indeed. Poppy Bush - AKA King George I, AKA George the Elder, AKA George Herbert Walker Bush - has spilled some very nasty tasting beans. After nearly fifteen years of relative silence on the subject of his moronic kid's disastrous administration, the old man is finally letting loose regarding what he really thinks about All the Idiot's Men - or at the very least two of those men.

Image result for Jeb BushOn Tuesday was released John Meacham's new biography, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. As some of us have long suspected, Poppy is not at all pleased with the way some of Dubya's subordinates served him during those eight dreadful years that the hideous little bastard served as president of the United States of America, a reign of error unprecedented in history that mercifully came to an end on January 20, 2009.
It sure must be an awful thing being Poppy Bush these days. Let's face some uncomfortable facts: the poor old bugger is not terribly far from the grave - and he is being forced to shuffle off into eternity haunted by the knowledge that little Georgie has forever soiled the "good" name of the Family Bush. George H.W. Bush will be historically remembered - not in his own right - but as the father of the most corrupt and incompetent chief-executive in the history of human folly. That very fact alone must grate on the guy's conscience. A few years ago, not long before King George II left the White House, the father was speaking in front of a fairly substantial gathering of people somewhere, talking about his other son, Jeb. All of the sudden, and without a smidgeon of warning, the old man broke into wrenching sobs.

I don't have much of a history of compassion for any member of that disgusting family, but I must confess that, at that moment and for the only time in my life, my heart went out to George H.W. Bush. I knew then what he must have been feeling: The wrong son made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Junior made such a fucking mess of things, and now Jeb's candidacy is being dashed to oblivion - partly because of his father's outburst - but mostly, I believe, because of the legacy of his idiotic older brother. This would be really sad if it weren't do gut-bustingly funny.

Image result for Dick CheneyIt's not too difficult to figure out what Poppy Bush's biggest regret must be. Ironically it was he, after all, who commissioned Dick Cheney to head a task force that was charged with the mission of finding a suitable running mate for young Georgie after he won the GOP nomination in the summer of 2000. Can you imagine the sleep he's lost over the years just contemplating the ramifications of that decision? I've always had a good laugh imagining what that conversation must have sounded like:

CHENEY: Well, George, after searching high and low, we've finally found the ideal running mate for you!

DUBYA: That's great, Dick! Who is it?

CHENEY: You're not gonna believe it - IT'S ME!

DUBYA: Whoa! What're the odds!

Sixteen years after he announced his candidacy, it still boggles the mind how shockingly stupid George Dubya Bush was. We're talkin' dark comedy at it's darkest here.

Image result for Donald RumsfeldBush 41 wasn't any easier on Donald Rumsfeld, another architect of the worst military blunder in the history of this doomed republic. The quote is a  priceless example of the famous Bush Family syntax:

"There's a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks....I think he paid a price for that."

Both Cheney and Rumsfeld's responses were telling. In an interview on Fox Noise, referring to a quote in the Meacham interview where the elder Bush refers Cheney an "iron ass", the former vice-president said, "I took it as a point of pride". Rumsfeld implied that the former president was senile - maybe even brain-damaged: "Bush 41 is getting up there in years", he said. Nice.

What is even more incredible is the fact that, while H.W. feels complete and utter contempt toward Dickie and Donnie for the damage done to his son's administration (and the entire planet) via Iraq, he has nothing but praise for little Georgie for invading the country in the first place. Weird. Perhaps an argument can indeed be made for senility.

Image result for george bushFor every month that goes by, it becomes more and more apparent what a dreadful national miscalculation it was on the part of the American electorate in sending these assholes to Washington sixteen years ago. The happiest news of the last month is the fact that Jeb Bush's quest for the White House is all but dead. Anyone who makes the foolish argument that George's slightly brighter younger brother would be a different type of president hasn't been paying attention. They're two sides of the same counterfeit coin. As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was about as extreme as they come. Only since his brother vacated the executive mansion has he sought to "moderate" his positions. I hope we never again fall for that "compassionate conservatism" jazz.

As you're no doubt aware, warped syntax runs in that family. When asked about his father's views the other day, Jeb remarked that maybe the old man wants "to create a different narrative, perhaps, just because that's natural to do."

Perhaps. Which begs the musical question: Who creates "a different narrative" out of stark reality? The answer to that question is this: someone who has lost his or her reason, that's who. A simple "no comment" would have sufficed, Jeb. Seriously.
There are many of us whom, out of thin air, would just love to create "a different narrative". I know I would if I could. Here it is: Al Gore is inaugurated president on January 20, 2001. That's a "different narrative" that I - and over five thousand American soldiers, and as many as a million Iraqi men, woman and little children - could live with. Sadly, alternate narratives of historical realities are a luxury we will never have.

In the quote at the top of this piece of Poppy criticizing Dick Cheney, he said, that in the final analysis, "It's the president's fault." He was wrong. The fault, dear voters, lies not in our president, but in ourselves.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Image result for Bushwhacked by Molly IvinsSUGGESTED READING

Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America
by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubois

I recently read this one for the third time. The best book ever written about the catastrophe of the Bush years - which were only half way over when it was published in 2005. Tragically, she would not live to write its sequel. I sure do miss Molly Ivins.

UPDATE, 11/14/15, 7:24 AM:
I love Paris:
There are no words. I'm speechless this morning.