It Was a Very Weird Year

When I was fifty-two
It was a very weird year
It was a very weird year of Tea party girls
And twisted extremes
With their right wing dreams
They didn’t have a clue
When I was fifty-two

Just call me Old Blue Eyes the Second.

Hasn’t this been the strangest political year of your entire life? It has been for me, that’s for damned sure! And to think that 2010 isn’t even over yet. As of this moment there are sixty-eight days left until the new year. It staggers the imagination to anticipate the holiday bundles of unintentional humor that await us! While it may be a horrible thing indeed to contemplate the damage that the right wing/plutocracy is doing to our beloved country, it sure is a rib-tickler to behold.

In addition to two brothers, I have several friends who live abroad. Their correspondence with me regarding America’s downward spiral cover all range of emotions imaginable – from genuine concern to incredulous amusement to downright horror. But all of them share the same twisted fascination with the national nervous breakdown that the good old USA seems to be undergoing. It really is kind of curious when you think about it. The nation that defeated fascism in 1945 seems hellbent on embracing it sixty-five years later. Does that sound a bit alarmist to you?

“Fascism should more properly be called “Corporatism” because it is the total merging of corporate and state power.”

-Benito Mussolini, father of the fascist state

I’m sure that it’s just my imagination though. Pay it no mind.

Then again, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that we are heading in that direction. The generation that defeated Mussolini and Hitler are dying at the rate of over one-thousand per day. One of the heroes of the greatest generation, my uncle Thomas J.V. Cullen, passed from this veil of tears on September 16. Tom Cullen was a turret gunner in World War Two who flew thirty-nine combat missions over Germany. That is him in the photograph on the left. He was, as he liked to say about other men he admired, “one tough old son-of-a-bitch” (If you were a woman he respected, you were “one tough old broad”). Five years after he came home from the war, in September 1950, he married my father’s sister, my late aunt Elaine.

He was one of the smartest men I ever knew; the sort of person who didn’t have to wear his extraordinary intellect on his shoulder like a boy scout’s merit badge. The guy could recite Shakespeare’s Henry V from memory. From my earliest childhood up until the day he died, I was in awe of him. He was also one of the most astute observers of American politics that ever walked this earth. Suffice to say, at the end of his life Uncle Tom was pretty much disgusted with the sorry state of America’s national political dialogue. He believed that the country he put his life on the line for all those decades ago could do better than this. He was right.

Here is a photograph from my personal collection that I cherish more than any other. It was taken in October 1992. In it are (from left to right) yours truly; Geraldine Ferraro; my beloved uncle, the aforementioned Tom Cullen; and the late, great Paul O'Dwyer.

Tom Cullen was a Liberal Democrat, and – in spite of what people like Sarah Palin would have you believe – a great American. He was also the bravest man I ever knew - and one of the funniest. This was the guy who put the “riot” in “patriot”.

Hoping that the American people will make an intelligent decision nine days from now when they storm into voting booths all across this troubled land is probably wishful thinking. Frank Rich recently made an interesting observation in his New York Times column.  As pissed off as they are about being taxed by the naughty negro in the White House, recent polling shows that the overwhelming majority of them are unaware of the fact that ninety-five percent of them are actually being taxed less under this president then they were under the previous one (Remember that guy?). They haven’t a clue that the economy has actually improved noticeably since he was inaugurated in January of 2009 – and they’re not about to give him an ounce of credit for saving three million jobs. Hell, most people who describe themselves as “Conservative” refuse to believe that he is an American citizen! Is this a great country or what?

I feel it my duty to emphasize here, the fact that he is the first African American president has not a thing to do with the people’s rage. That’s just a coincidence.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
I just made a twenty dollar bet with myself that I could write those last two sentences and keep a straight face. I lost.

You’ve gotta hand it to FOX Noise. These hideous fools would have done Josef Goebbels proud. They grabbed the BIG LIE and ran with it. Through constant repetition and non-too subliminal messages, FOX kept repeating the LIE into the ears and minds of its clueless constituency:

OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST!
OBAMA IS A COMMUNIST!
OBAMA IS A NAZI!
OBAMA IS A RACIST!
OBAMA HATES WHITE PEOPLE!
OBAMA KILLS LITTLE BABY DUCKS!

On November 2, 2010, the American people – or at least those who were stupid enough to swallow this nonsense – will be going to the polls en masse, salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the bells of doom.

But now the days are short
We’re in the autumn of the years
And now I think of this place
As Wonder Bread turned green from mold
To rocks from gold
We were gripped by fear
It was a very weird year….

Tom Degan

Published by the LA Progressive on October 30, 2010
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About Tom Degan

Tom Degan is a fifty-four-year old 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