Tom Degan

Tom Degan
Goshen, New York, United States
August 16
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: TOM DEGAN is a former video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America's national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher. He was born in Goshen, NY in 1958 and, after living all over the United States and Canada, moved back there in 1992. He is a high school dropout who in 1977 received an equivalency diploma (HEY, IT'S LEGAL!) He attended SUNY in Middletown, NY and in 1986 studied journalism at the New School in New York City. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has worked as a truck driver, a radio DJ, and a metal worker... OK, he didn't ACTUALLY receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he DID get some kind of ribbon of sorts when he was in the Cub Scouts. He is the inventor of Cheez Whiz and lives off the royalties on the sales of that fine product. He loves children and little baby duckies. FULL DISCLOSURE: He didn't really invent Cheez Whiz. His address is: 2590 Rte 17M (PO BOX 611) Goshen, NY 10924 (845) 294-5714


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JANUARY 4, 2013 1:51PM

2012: A Very Weird Year

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Awaiting instructions from Moscow
Here it is, folks! Another recap of the WORST (and a little of the best) of 2012 When I was fifty-three, it was a very weird year. Very weird indeed. Here's living proof:

January 4:
Another example of the spreading intellectual rot of the United States of America; a country which at one time (Hold onto your hats, generation Xers!) was the best place in the world in which to live. It's not anymore. It ain't even close. Still, we do have the best reality shows on the planet. Stand proud, America!

January 17:
When even some "liberals" are expressing a sense of teary-eyed nostalgia for the likes of Ronald Reagan, that's all the proof you need to understand that the political wheels have come of the planet. And the fact that a Casper Milquetoast moderate like Barack Obama is viewed by many as a left wing radical is further proof that the American people have lost their bearings - to put it as mildly as possible.

January 22:
Here's another thing to take to the bank, boys and girls: Romney (assuming he will be the nominee) will be placed in the same position that McCain was forced into in 2008. In order to bring out "the base" he will be forced to place on the ticket with him someone (like Sarah Palin) who is such a right wing extremist that he or she is in serious danger of falling off of the face of the earth. Remember how well that worked out for them last time 'round? As it did four years ago, the choice of running mate will scare the living shit out of moderate Americans. Just you wait and see.

February 6:
In spite of everything - including a concerted effort to deny the ballot to traditional Democratic voters in Republican-controlled states all across the country - I'm more confident than ever that 2012 will not turn out to be a banner year for the right wing in this diseased land. That's not to say that I'm ecstatic over the thought of the Democrats in control of the government. Not at all. They're merely the lesser of two evils. Let me put it to you this way: The thought of the Dems controlling things might send me to the nearest tavern to drown my sorrows away. With the GOP in power again, I might very well be tempted to head toward the nearest bridge.

February 16:
It's almost i
nconceivable to me how much lower the standards of the GOP manage to fall with each passing year. Their new flavor of the month for February 2012 appears to be Rick Santorum, a man who could be mistaken for George W. Bush's not-too-bright younger brother. He kinda reminds me of Bobby Kennedy with birth defects. Is this yet another passing fad? Just a little over a week ago I was hoping against all odds that he would be The One crowned at the convention this summer. A Santorum candidacy would be bound to bring in a million laughs. I then dismissed the very idea as absurd. Fate has never been as kind to me as that.

February 25:
They have spent the last thirty years trying to appeal to the kind of people who historically were not too interested in the political process: insanity junkies. And all of their efforts have payed off quite well for them - a little too well as it turns out. The "party of Abraham Lincoln" has devolved into the party of Uncle Fester. That demographic that the political scientists refer to as "moderates" (I call them "purple agitators" myself) have taken a good look at what the GOP has become and they're headin' for the hills. And many the so-called "Reagan Democrats" are disillusioned to say the least. It's almost as if they got all decked-up for that dream date with Marilyn Monroe, but when the door opened, standing there to greet them was Typhoid Mary in her loveliest party dress.

March 12:
In the Spring of 1992, Picture-perfect Mitt packed his picture-perfect Mrs. and their picture-perfect kids into the family station wagon and took off for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Toronto. Good ol' Mitt! He just couldn't bear to leave his dog Seamus behind languishing in a kennel. Isn't that sweet? Well, not exactly. He stuffed the poor creature into a dog carrier and strapped the crate onto the roof of the vehicle. En route, Seamus protested this harsh treatment by making a bit of a mess - which apparently started to leak down onto the windows of the car. This is the most apropos example of the "trickle down" theory I've ever heard of. Halfway toward their destination, Mitt pulled into a rest stop and calmly hosed-down the station wagon, Seamus and the crate. They then went on their merry way, Seamus and crate refastened to the roof. Once they arrived at their destination, Seamus ran away and became a temporary refugee of sorts . Legend has it that he sought asylum from the Canadians.

April 1:
The Stand Your Ground laws came into existence for no other reason than the fact that the National Rifle Association was able to bribe and threaten enough legislators in enough states to get them passed. It's almost as if these hideous bastards just can't get enough blood to spill on our streets. To make matters worse, the American people (the white ones anyway) have yet to stand up in mass outrage at what is happening. As long as the victims are disproportionately poor and (like Trayvon) black, why work oneself into a nasty snit over the carnage? Maybe what is needed to wake people up is an epidemic of middle class white kids being slaughtered. That'll change things pretty damned quick - you'd better believe it.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE, 1/2/13: Newtown, Connecticut changed things.]

April 8:
Let us face some serious facts here, campers: if Mr. Rick [Santorum] had been born with dark skin he'd today be organizing birthday parties for preschoolers at a Chuck E. Cheese somewhere in central Pennsylvania - Spring Grove perhaps - a nondescript little town where I attended prep school nearly forty years ago. The very fact that we're even talking about this guy tells me more than I really want to know about the pathetic state of American politics and politicians these days. Rick is merely a symptom of a disease that is consuming America's soul. That's not to suggest that the 2012 Clown-Car-Race-to-the-Bottom hasn't been an amusing thing to watch. Perish the thought please.

April 18:
If I'm writing about a person who has made the news, I usually spend about three to four hours researching them beforehand. I really can't be bothered with Ted [Nugent]. I know everything about him I need to know and I want to know nothing more. Quite obviously the man is a no-talented fool and a has-been. He hasn't charted anything in decades. The only way he can give his royalties a little boost every now and then is by coming out in public with a full-tilt freakout against commies, hippies, pinkos and lefties. It really is kinda sad when you think about it.

May 2:
John Edwards is finished as a public person. Richard Nixon was able to slither his way back from Watergate to become a respected (by some) author and foreign policy adviser. A scandal involving prostitutes ended the political career of New York governor Elliot Spitzer. Today he is the host of a program on Al Gore's Current TV and is doing quite well for himself. These guys - and more than a few like them - are proof that (contrary to the old adage) there are indeed second acts in American life. There will be no second act for John Edwards. His carefully scripted play has closed for good. When this public humiliation is all over he will disappear. He will pop up in an occasional "Whatever became of" article but that's about it. You will never see or hear from him again.

May 15
I really don't believe that Mitt Romney goes to bed at night dreaming violent dreams about stuffing gay people into a doggie crate and tying them to the roof of his station wagon for a twelve hour joy-ride from Boston to Toronto. I am sure that he has evolved along with the rest of humanity with regard to his true feelings about homosexuals and Irish Setters.

May 29:
When I was a kid, in the household I grew up in anyway, whenever a major news event would break, you involuntarily went to CBS News to find out what was happening. Back in the good old days, the CBS reporters and commentators had serious gravitas - Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid - it didn't get any better than those guys, They used to refer to the news division of CBS as "the diamond of the Tiffany Network". Of course those days are gone forever. As far as news and information is concerned, "CBS" might just as well stand for "Cowardly Bull Shit". Every bit of credibility they had left was forever destroyed in 2005, after they caved-in to the political pressure put upon them by Bush Mob and forced Dan Rather out the door.

June 17:
Marijuana should have never been made illegal in the first place. Why in 2012 are we still having this same, idiotic conversation? Is it a "gateway drug" as they never tire of reminding us? Quite possibly an argument can be made there. But if it is a gateway drug, so is Miller High Life - the Champagne of Bottled Beer. Let's get a grip here.
June 24:
GET THIS! Barack Obama and Eric Holder (two dark-skinned guys) concocted a scheme that would have forced good white people everywhere to voluntarily give up their guns. The plan was to run MILLIONS of weapons into Mexico. The spread of violence as a result of all those firearms would surely spill over across the border onto American streets - resulting in the countless murders of innocent white children with red hair and freckles and names like "Rusty" and "Muffie". The result of the carnage would force the American people to demand a ban on all guns. It's an evil, liberal plot, you know.

July 14:
The only way out of the ditch that the "job creators" have dug us into will be by raising their taxes. And I'm not talking about a modest increase - I'm talking about soaking the bastards. That'll create some jobs pretty damned quick. For a period of at least ten years, we need to bring the tax rates of the richest half-a-percent back to where they were when Eisenhower was president, when a lot of them were in a ninety percent bracket. Just to refresh your American history, the economy did pretty well back then. Am I waging class warfare here? You'd better believe it, Buster. And I ain't takin' no prisoners, baby!

July 20:
This is the way it's going to be from now on, kiddies. When a country has the stupidest gun laws in the western world (laws that are getting even stupider by the year) it's citizens should come to expect this sort of thing. Our lawmakers have no intention of correcting this unacceptable situation. Most of them are too terrified of the power of the National Rifle Association to do the right thing. Fifty-seven years ago John F. Kennedy (one of history's more celebrated victims of gun violence) wrote a book that profiled examples of great political courage throughout American history. He wouldn't have much material to work with were he around today to write a sequel. Cowardice abounds. Get used to living in a country in ruins. This is the way it's going to be from now on.

July 26:
It's sad that people who are not white need to wait until they are no longer "minorities" in order to receive equal protection under the law (At present they don't have that protection - and you're kidding yourselves if you think that they do. Just look at the prison population). But as long as they have waited, I don't think they'll have to wait much longer. As uncle Bobby said, "The old world is rapidly fading. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand". Or as Sam Cooke sang nearly fifty years ago, "a change is gonna come". Sam didn't live to see that change. Bob Dylan probably will live to see it. In fact, we're damned-near there. We have no other choice but to accept it. The history of the next century will primarily be the story of how well (or badly) white America dealt with that inevitable change. Deal with it well, my friends. History will smile upon you.

August 12:
If you cast your precious ballot for the Romney/Ryan ticket on November sixth, don't be expecting the kind of enlightened moderation that was personified by Theodore Roosevelt - that last great Republican president. The working and the middle classes will be shouldering most of the the tax burden - and the rich? (excuse me, I meant the "job creators") They will be taxed at an even lower rate than they already are. Remember how well those Bush Tax Cuts worked out last time around? It sent the economy right into the abyss. If you're expecting a different result the next time these knuckleheads are in control of the White House, that's the very definition of insanity. Stay the hell away from sharp objects, okay?

August 18:
FUN FACT: Two months ago the Texas State Republican Party announced that part of their platform at the 2012 National Convention will be the demand that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 be repealed as unconstitutional. Since they made that announcement there has not been a single word of reprimand toward them from the RNC - nary a peep. Was this a great country or what!

August 31:
Did you happen to check out last night's conclusion of the 2012 Clown Car Race-to-the-Bottom? If this is the best the GOP can do for der Mittster's Coming Out party they're in worse shape than I thought. It was a dud and-a-half from beginning to end. And did you catch Clint Eastwood's pathetic Bob Newhart impersonation? Painful and embarrassing! What the hell were they thinking when they allowed him to go out there unscripted? The very sight of him debating that empty chair gave me the same kind of almost sympathetic feeling I got watching Michael Moore interviewing a feeble-minded Charlton Heston in the film Bowling for Columbine. As George Carlin might have said, it's time to "check his calender". Too sad for words.

September 6:
Think about this, folks: When FDR was elected eighty years ago, he was not able to undo the mess he inherited from the Republicans in one term. He wasn't even able to do it in two terms. It took him nearly a decade! Unlike Roosevelt, Barack Obama will not be allowed the luxury of four terms. It will probably take two - possibly three - different presidents to clean up this mess.

September 11:
Forty-four years of biographical hindsight informs us that [the Beatles] were four, humanly flawed, imperfect - and in many respects - troubled men. Oh, but that music. That timeless, perfect and beautiful music. I'm willing to forgive these guys just about anything. I was only four months shy of my twelfth birthday when the Beatles broke up forever in the spring of 1970. When I was a little boy they were the undisputed princes of the Planet Earth. To me they seemed to be invincible. The deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison proved for all time that they were not. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are today elderly men for whom eternity now beckons. They were - and are - as vulnerable in their grip on this slender thread as any of us. Imagine.

September 17:
It cannot possibly be understated, the mess this president inherited when he moved into the White House on 20 January 2009. If you'll be so kind to recall, we were losing three quarters of a million jobs a month. Barack Obama was able to stem the tide and then reverse it. We'll soon be approaching Month Number Thirty-One of continuous job growth. Are you silly enough to believe that even deeper tax cuts for multi-millionaires and billionaires will make those figures any better? Have another sip, pal. In fact I may join you.

September 19:
MEMO TO MITT: The little eight-year-old girl who skips over to the corner candy store to buy an Almond Joy candy bar pays taxes. Everyone pays taxes. Some pay too much. Others (like you, Mitt) not enough. That's your civics lesson for the day, Mitt. You could use a lot of them.

October 11:
In a matter of a few months a sixty year, unblemished career and reputation have been reduced to ashes on the alter on public opinion. His reputation as "the most winningest coach in football" has been erased from official memory. What a waste; what a pity, and how unspeakably sad. Where have you gone, Joe Paterno?

October 21:
Publicly Bobby Kennedy referred to George McGovern as "the most decent man in the senate". Privately he called him "the only decent man in the senate". In my opinion he was the only man who ever sought the White House who was a true "Christian", that is to say he took the words of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally and tried to live by them - both publicly and privately. He was the peace candidate in 1972. His entire candidacy was more-than-likely a lesson in futility. Americans didn't want a pacifist living in the White House in 1972. Forty years later they still don't want one. We do love our wars, don't we. We're a warlike people. That's primarily why we are today a nation in ruins. Deal with it.

November 1:
I do know this, though: those who love to wail and bitch about the evils of "big government" will be keeping their clueless mouths shut for the next couple of days - maybe even until Tuesday. Like last year in Hurricane Irene's aftermath, a lot of people will be thankful that the government which many Republicans want to "shrink until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub" is still large enough to deliver them from starvation and despair. A few days ago when Mitt Romney was asked fourteen times if he still planned on doing away with FEMA (as he said many times during the primaries) he refused to answer the question. Go ahead. Vote for Mitt; I dare you.

December 1:
These three chiefs executive - Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower - are just three reasons the present-day Republican party have to feel justly proud. Isn't it funny that not one of them are ever mentioned in the GOP's campaign literature? What's even funnier is the fact that most of the grand-old-partiers who lived in the White House are remembered today as complete failures. Reading their propaganda you would think that Ronald Reagan was the first Republican president, wouldn't you? History's final judgement has yet to catch up to Reagan. It will, though. It will. 

December 15:
The tragedy in Newtown this week defies reason and common decency; but don't think for a minute that a change is going to come. Any half-witted, psychotic little geek with an attitude problem and a fist-full of dollars will still be able to walk into any gun shop in Anytown, USA and take home a handy-dandy, semi-automatic, military assault weapon specifically designed to kill an entire roomful of men, women and little children  - and do it quite quickly and efficiently, too. Our lawbreakers disguised as lawmakers will still act as whores to expediency and campaign contributions. American children will still be slaughtered on the alters of greed and human stupidity. That ol' River of Blood is gonna still keep on flowin', baby! Nothing is going to change - nothing.  Why bother getting so bent out of shape over the inevitable? I'm not.


And what a long, strange year it's been. I don't expect the quality of our national dialogue to improve at all in 2013. That's okay. I thrive on this nonsense.

Have a grand one!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

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This is just...grand. So much so that I hate to wait until the end of 2013 for another one of these; could you maybe do a quarterly recap?
This looks like a collection of personal blogs, excerpted for the sake of making a year-end article. I'm not bothered by that, by the way. At least somebody is trying to write in Open Salon, after the grand exodus of the previous Worshipped Writers. (Although not enough, since we have that pre-election anti-Romney rant still listed on the main page.)
This looks like a collection of personal blogs, excerpted for the sake of making a year-end article. I'm not bothered by that, by the way. At least somebody is trying to write in Open Salon, after the grand exodus of the previous Worshipped Writers. (Although not enough, since we have that pre-election anti-Romney rant still listed on the main page.)
This is a very disturbing commentary of the state of affairs in America.

Insanity, stupidity, and inhumanity seems to be spreading, worldwide.

Why can't people, collectively, do the right things?