2014: The Worst of The Rant

2014: The Worst of The Rant

Photo taken on 22 December 2014, 2:30 AM

Another year gone by. Can you believe it?

Writing-wise, 2014 was not the most prolific of years. In December of 2013 my concentration was decimated by a personal bereavement. Then, two months later, my strength was sapped due to a near-fatal illness that sent me to the hospital. It wasn't until the end of the year that I regained my momentum. Still, forty-eight pieces in fifty-two weeks ain't too bad I guess. I'll try to do better in 2015. So help me Mitch Miller I will.
 
So join me as we frolic merrily down memory lane. Let us look back upon the year 2014. Wasn't that a hoot?
 
January 6:
The dirty little secret is out: Jesus' teachings in the New Testament are anathema to the ideology of the right wing.  Why do you think they hardly ever quote Him? [Pope] Francis is forcing all Catholics - and by extension, all Christians - to come face-to-face with the reality of what He was all about. I am not a theologian. The totality of my religious education comprises what I learned in Sunday School as a little boy and Catholic grammar school (grades six through eight). But as sparse as my instruction might be, I at least understand that Christ's whole purpose on this earth didn't involve catering to the status quo. There was a wee bit more substance to it. He was about love, and forgiving - and giving.
 
January 23:
Whatever happens in two years, I am certain of this: As delightfully twisted as the 2012 Republican primaries were, 2016 is going to be the icing on the cake. If I never live to see another campaign season I just want to make it to that one. Watching that disgusting party destroy itself these past ten years has been more fun than I think I've ever had in my life. 
 
February 14:
As they never tire of reminding us, two years is a lifetime in politics. That may be the case, but it's hard not to imagine Rand Paul as the GOP nominee in 2016. Something that weird would be the final nail in the coffin of a party hellbent on suicide. There are no more moderates. They've all been driven away by the mindless extremism of a relatively small group of people who have lost their marbles. Between now and then we can expect an exodus of voters disassociating themselves from the Republicans. This is too good to be true.
 
February 19:
Fifty years later we wait in vain for the music to show signs cultural senility. I'm happy to tell you that the Beatles still matter. I know personally too many young people to count, some born a quarter century after the band ceased to be, for whom the music is a continual presence in the soundtracks of their lives; another happy reminder that talent and substance will defy the passage of many years. The Beatles are the silly and joyful ghosts who refuse to fade into that unknowable, mysterious void.
 
February 28:
Fellow Caucasians, there are two sets of rules way down south - one for them and one for us. My message to any young, black male planning on visiting the Sunshine State is as simple as can be: Watch yer step, boy! Stay the hell up north if you know what's good for you. The racial situation is a little better here....I think.
 
March 8:
The problem with the modern day Democratic party (and it's a HUGE one) is that for every Liz Warren there are at least ten-or-more Chuck Schumers. Any political party with a tired old fuddy duddy like Harry Reid as their leader is in dire need some serious therapy.
 
March 17:
Race propaganda has always worked beautifully in the past. The problem for the propagandists is simply that it won't be working all-too-well for them for much longer. Within the lifetime of most of you reading this, we white folks won't be in the majority any longer. Those aren't the words of some smart-Alec lefty (as some of you may surmise). That is simply a statement of the cold, hard truth. The white plutocracy knows this and they're beside themselves to do something - ANYTHING, HEAVEN ABOVE! - to stem the sociological tide. But they can't! That's what they cannot see or refuse to admit. To even attempt to stop this unstoppable force would be as futile and silly (and dangerous) as attempting to keep the sun from setting this evening. Why are they getting so bent out of shape over the inevitable? Why not just lie back, groove with the changes, and let nature take its course? What the hell is the matter with these knuckleheads? Any ideas?
 
March 24:
You can dismiss what I say as the insane ramblings of an unhinged lefty (I get that every day) but the truth of the matter is that I'm a fairly moderate guy. It's only by the standards of these weird times that someone like me can be viewed - by anyone - as some kind of radical. You know you're living in the weirdest of alternate realities when a weak-kneed panderer to the status quo like Barack Obama is perceived by so many as a wild-eyed socialist. It really is funny when you think about it. Why don't I hear you laughing?
 
March 31:
Who knows what the hell will happen between now and Election Day 2016. It's going to be oodles of fun watching Jeb [Bush] stomp around the country during the GOP primaries - with one foot on a banana peel and the other in his mouth - saying the kind of moronic things that appeal to "the base" of the Republican Party, and then watching him try to ease his way back toward the center during the general election - assuming he get's the nomination. Whatever the outcome, 2016 is going to be a scream.
 
April 7:
The system has also been stuffed even deeper into the seemingly bottomless pockets of the plutocrats. No one bothering to pay attention was surprised by the results. The Reagan/Bush/Bush appointees made it clear where their hearts are. The corruption of the American political process means not a thing to these assholes. The non-existent "plague" of voter fraud is a different story. Any judgement that will aid the traditional progressive constituency in having their voice counted needs to be "remedied". America just ain't as white as it once was - and it's getting non-whiter by the hour. Rich people tend to be very white indeed, and they have this unsettling habit of filling the coffers of candidates who aren't happy with the prospect of sharing America's treasure. Have you ever noticed that?
 
April 15:
Which brings me to the Affordable Care Act. The term "Obamacare" was initially their term of derision. They knew damned well that if it ever became a reality regular working people like us would like it a whole lot - and that's what is happening. At the latest count there are seven million folks who have signed on. If that number gets any bigger (and it's going to get a lot bigger) the plutocracy's handmaidens will be hard pressed to find an excuse to do away with it.
 
April 22
Cliven Bundy wants to be a GEN-YOU-INE folk hero - and by the looks of things - the silly bastard is well on his way to honest-to-goodness folk heroism, with the help of Fox Noise (Sean Hannity in particular) and hundreds of armed-to-the-teeth yahoos and half-witted "militia men" who cheerfully stepped forward this week and made my argument (once again) for stricter regulation of the firearms industry. You can always count on these assholes to cut off their noses to spite their bloated faces, but this week's spectacle in Nevada was something to behold indeed. When this is finally made into a movie, it will be the darkest of comedies.
 
May 5:
Barring any unforeseen scandal or catastrophe (you never know with those Clintons) Hillary will more-than-likely be the next president of the United States. I say this not with a sense of joy nor with any foreboding, but rather with a sense of resignation. Maybe she will turn out to be the second incarnation of FDR that I've been dreaming of - much in the way I thought Obama would be. He turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. She will probably end up being a let-down as well. This much is certain: In 2017, for the fist time since 1857, one Democratic administration will succeed another one on Inauguration Day.
 
May 13:
Forget the fact that sixty people were killed in assaults upon American embassies during the years in which the halfwit from Crawford, Texas was running the government. Forget the fact that one month and six days before September 11, 2001 he was warned in his daily briefing that Osama bin Laden was planning on striking in the United States very soon - and that the First Fool did absolutely nothing to try and prevent it. Forget all of that. Reality is a luxury that a nation filled to the rafters with distracted robots can ill afford.
 
May 28: 
Then again, mountains of bodies and oceans of blood suits my purposes just fine, thank you very much. I'll never have writers block, that's for damned sure. A tip of the hat and a raising of the glass to Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. They've added so much meaning to my life that I'm at a loss to find the words to express my gratitude.
 
June 5:
National Slave Remembrance Day is not only an idea whose time has come, it's positively shameful that it hasn't been established as a national holiday as of yet. Am I the first person to come up with the idea? I couldn't be! Only a century-and-a-half separates us from the time when human beings were treated like cattle in "the land of the free". In terms of the history of the human race, a hundred and fifty years is but a millisecond. On the day that I was born there were about one-hundred people still living who were born into slavery. The last veteran of the Civil War passed away a year after I was born - and I'm not that old....WELL I"M NOT!!!
 
June 11:
The weirdest thing about Congressman [Eric] Cantor has always been his demeanor of contentment. He always has this strange look of almost cherubic calm when spouting the right-wing agenda. At least Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, to their credit, have the decency to look somewhat ill-at-ease when defending the indefensible. Not so with Eric Cantor! He's perfectly at peace with himself: Buddy Holly on quaaludes. Weird!
 
June 18:
Time to face some unfortunate facts, campers: Iraq is broken, non-fixable - and we broke it. Come to think about it, "we" is a misnomer. I was never naive enough to cast my vote for a half-witted nincompoop like George W. Bush. I sleep quite soundly at night thank you very much. With each passing year, it will become more and more obvious - gut-wrecnchingly obvious - what a complete and dreadful mistake it was sending those people to the White House thirteen years ago. With each passing year the ramifications of that mistake will be compounded. Isn't life strange?
 
June 26:
GET THIS: A white, conservative Mississippian owes his political career to a handful of African American voters. Isn't that something? A pig just flew past my window. I didn't even blink an eye.
 
July 3:
It must be a difficult thing being Dick Cheney. Think about it: He must know that he will be remembered down though the ages as (next to J. Edgar Hoover) the most disgusting, reprehensible fool to ever accept a paycheck from the government. In fact, the comparison to Hoover is perhaps a bit unfair. For all of Edgar's faults, he and his boyfriend, Clyde Tolson, ran a  pretty efficient ship over there at the FBI. When all the dust is settled, historians will have no problem identifying a few positive contributions from Hoover's reign of paranoia. Not so with Dick Cheney. He knows this and it's driving him to some sort of a psychotic breakdown. So desperate the silly old sociopath is to rewrite history that he seems to have gone even further over the edge than previously. I'm getting such a kick out of watching this. I really am!
 
July 14:
Say what you want to about the right wing in this doomed land. What they lack in brains they more-than-make-up for in chutzpa. They're now seriously talking about impeaching the sitting president for the failure of his immigration policies. Sarah Palin has condemned the prez for what she calls "years of abuse" (she wasn't specific on that point) and then went on to proclaim that Obama's failures at the border were "the last straw". It's my opinion that a former governor who walked away from her job for no other reason than to make a shitload of money in the private sector is the last person on the planet who should be proposing that anyone be forcibly be removed from office. The fact that this blabbering nincompoop was once selected for the second spot on a national ticket defies any sense of rationality. Gee, we do live in wonderful times, don't we?
 
July 21:
As I wrote way the heck back in 2010, when someone like Sarah Palin can make it as far as she has, it can mean only one thing and it's not a particularly good sign. We are living in a culture that has been custom-tailored for idiots. When a person who can barely put two coherent sentences together without the aid of a state-of-the-art teleprompter becomes one of the best-selling non-fiction authors of the decade, that's usually a pretty good indicator that society is spiraling downward at a fairly decent clip. Fasten your seat belts, kiddies!
 
July 29:
All that one can possibly hope for at this late date is that, by the November midterms, the voters of this country wake up and understand the the damage that the GOP is collectively doing to their once-great nation. That's the only chance Barack has to go down in history as a good, even great, president. If his administration is judged by future historians as being a failure, most of the blame will not be his. Look at all of the grief and obstruction the man has had to put up with. Hats off to the guy for being able to accomplish anything!
 
August 7:
There are three things that do not make for a good combination: A low IQ, a beer gut, and a semi-automatic weapon. This past week, some of the Cliven Bundy crowd, the clowns that threatened to shoot it out with US marshals in Nevada two months ago, have made their way down to the Mexican border. These cowardly assholes want to "protect" this grand and glorious land of ours from the children that are now fleeing for their lives from ultra-right wing dictatorships in Central America. Isn't that something? Most of them proclaim to be "Christian". I'm sure Jesus is just brimming with pride.
 
August 13:
He was a true American original. One-hundred years from now they will still be talking about and appreciating the artistry of Robin Williams much in the same way we pay homage to Chaplin and Keaton today. His like won't be passing this way again. He's gone and he's not coming back. This is just so sad. Isn't that funny?
 
September 2:
A FRIENDLY MEMO FOR FOREIGNERS:
You're out of your fucking minds if you bring your loved ones on a vacation to the "Land of the Free". We're not free at all. In fact we are now a nation of sheep being held hostage at gunpoint. I just thought you should know.
 
September 9:
Some day Barack Obama is going to sit down and write the memoirs of his eight-year stint as president of the United States. When that day comes I have a great subtitle for the book: "Damned if I Did, Damned if I Didn't". This poor guy never had a "loyal opposition" with an honest disagreement with his policies and programs. Since the day he took the oath of office on January 20, 2009, he has had to contend with a confederacy of dunces and lunatics, hellbent on sabotaging his every move regardless of the national well being.
 
September 17:
I can't tell you who won the 1932 world series for the simple reason that, eighty-two years later, it doesn't make a damned bit of difference to our lives who won it. I can tell you who won the presidential election that year, though. Four score and two years after the fact that does make a difference. Think about this: On the evening of February 15, 1933, less than a month before entering the White House, a would-be assassin named Giuseppe Zangara attempted to murder Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Florida. The bullet, instead, hit Chicago mayor, Anton Cermak, who died nineteen days later. Had FDR been assassinated on the eve of his inauguration the presidency would have gone to his running mate, a not-too-visionary bigot from Texas named John Nance Garner. If Zangara's bullet had not missed its mark on that night, the entire history of the world - not merely the United States - would have been much different. "What if...." It makes the imagination tremble.
 
September 26:
I'm of two minds about this: Yeah, I would love to see [Elizabeth Warren] as the standard bearer in 2016, Hillary Clinton, at present the presumed nominee, leaves me cold. Although Senator Warren's chances for living in the White House if nominated are not as sure as Ms. Clinton's, it's not the impossible dream that many people believe it to be. The problem she would have as president (and it's the same one that Barack Obama has encountered) is the obstructionism of the Republican party. This country is only going to be saved if the American people take a decided turn to the left. That's not going to happen any time soon, kids.
 
October 4:
FOR THE RECORD: As much as I despised the administration of George W. Bush, I never once - publicly or privately - wished for the hideous little freak's demise. In fact I used to pray that he be kept safe. The last thing the loony right wing in this country needs is the body of a martyr to rally around by torchlight. Spare us.
 
October 14:
You wanna know why I left [the Democratic party] over sixteen years ago? Here's why: The 2016 campaign is two years away, and yet, as of October 14 2014, the presumptive nominee is Hillary Clinton. Could it be that "the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt" can't come up with anything better than Hillary? Have they lost their imaginations? Or have they lost their minds? A reasonable argument could be made for either scenario.

October 22:
One of the guilty pleasures I get out of reading American history  is that I find myself cheering for the Republicans. One-hundred years ago there were still enough politicians registered with that organization who stood for something decent. Even during my lifetime we had Dwight D. Eisenhower. For all of his cultural conservatism, old Ike was fairly progressive fiscally. He understood all-too-well that the key to a nation's greatness was investment in its infrastructure. When was the last time you heard a Republican politician bragging about the legacy of Eisenhower?  You would think that the Grand Old Party didn't even exist prior to Ronald Reagan.

 
October 31:
I'm a bit numb at the moment. That's not the sort of state one wishes to be in if your desire is to illuminate and enlighten. Whatever happens come Election Day, I'll get by. To be honest with you I don't give a fuck what the final result is. As long as the day's events are amusing - that's all I really care about anymore. Isn't that awful? Maybe by Tuesday I'll be a little less apathetic. Maybe not. At least I won't be bored. That's something to look forward to, ay? There's always a silver lining.
 
November 5:
On Sunday evening the American people set their clocks back one hour. Last night they set them back two centuries. Ain't politics oodles of fun?
 
November 12:
I'd like to be able to tell you that the chances of a another member of that disgusting family [the Bushes] occupying the Executive Mansion - for the third time in a generation - are less than zero; honestly I would - but I can't. Since the GOP will have control of both houses of Congress for the next two years you can count on them passing even more restrictive voter suppression laws between now and Election Day 2016. And you can take to the bank the certainty that the right-wing-dominated Supreme Court will declare those blatantly unconstitutional laws perfectly constitutional. Isn't that lovely?

November 19:
It's a funny thing. When Obama was elected six years ago this month, I was completely beside myself with joy: The first African American elected to the presidency? This was indeed a corner turned! But as the weeks leading up to the inauguration came and went, my excitement slowly began to dissipate. By January 20, 2009, it was gone. That's when it hit me!

What's Obama gonna be doing for the next eight years?" I asked aloud, "The same thing black people have been doing in this country for the last four centuries: Cleaning up the mess left behind by lazy and ignorant white people - WHAT'S THE BIG FREAKIN' DEAL???"
 
And think how things might have worked out for the better if the Democrats had embraced their progressive political heritage instead of hiding from it like frightened little mice. I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I used to be registered with that worthless party...."Used to be"....I came to my senses eighteen years ago.
 
November 25:
His meteoric career is over. We shall not hear from him again except as a figure of shame, ridicule or dark satire. There will be no second act in this American life. As tragic as Lenny [Bruce]'s end was, death and posterity would ultimately vindicate him. There will be no such vindication for Bill Cosby. The show is over; the curtain has closed. 2014 has been a horribly unfunny year for comedy, have you noticed that?

December 19:
MEMO TO THE ANTI-CASTRO CROWD IN MIAMI:

You'll live. I'm not crazy about Fidel or his brother Raul either. But don't make such a deplorable stink as you did in 2000 when the Clinton administration did the correct thing by sending little Elian Gonzalez back to his father in Cuba - where he rightfully belonged. Your collective hissy fit in the wake of that affair cost Al Gore the state of Florida and, hence, the election. The result was eight years of George W. Bush. Do you remember how nicely that worked out for you? Simmer down.

 
December 25:
This is not to imply that I'm in the "Christmas spirit" this year. I'm really not. Christmas has been permanently ruined for me and it's been that way for for many a year. The last time I had a really jolly Christmas was when Jimmy Carter was in the White House - although my happiness was in spite of his presidency, not because of it. Just prior to the Christmas season of 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president and John Lennon was murdered. It's been downhill ever since.

Keep your eyes open for the miracles all around you. And remember the simple truth that there is more music to be found in the laughter of a single child than can be found in all of the symphonies ever composed by all of the composers who ever lived.

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

So that's it for 2014! At least it wasn't as bad as the previous year, that's for sure! Thanks everybody for reading. And again, I apologize for not being as prolific as I usually try to be. I have a funny feeling that is going to change in the coming year. The 2016 presidential campaigns begin in a  matter of a few weeks.

Fasten your seat belts and happy new year!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Auld Lang Syne
by James Taylor

Something to ring in the new year with.

A toast to you all. Cheers!

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