Friday, February 6, 2015

I Just Discovered a Bevy of Comments on My Blog

February 6, 2015

I just finished reading a collection of "comments" on my blog written by a host of people who, I am sure, are much more qualified to evaluate what I have written than I.

Although late in life, all that I have written is from the very depths of my being.  I cannot profess to be a sage of any kind, but nothing that has been published on this blog is copyrighted.  Information is a tonic we can all share with one another.  I am humbled by what all of you have written and that is all I can hope for.

To all of you who have expressed an interest in sharing what I have written with others, my answer is GO FOR IT.  The more the merrier and, with Divine guidance, by your interest somewhere, somehow it will make a positive difference.

God bless each of you and keep reading!

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

Saturday, January 3, 2015

“Reflections on the Past and A Shot of Wisdom for the Future”

I am what I am today because of the foresight, wisdom and generosity of the American people, the legacy of our forefathers, and their undying belief and faith in the fundamental concept of “equality and justice for all.”  Within that system of beliefs is the essence of what we once envisioned for us all, only to have cast it to the winds in exchange for a hedonistic and materialistic lifestyle that is consuming all of the greatness we once cherished and for which we fought so valiantly.  All of those virtues we cherished and which we held out as a beacon for the rest of the world are evaporating into the mists of time.  As they become only a fading memory I ask myself and my fellow Americans, what are we getting in return?  There is no answer but the hollow and empty sounds of the nothingness we have become. 

I am grateful that I came from a better time and only wish we could collectively visit and rekindle the priceless value we saw in them and for which we so willingly and generously sacrificed.                                                                                    
There is no pain in anything within us that we freely give for the sake of us all and a better future for those yet to come after us.  It asks no real sacrifice of what we have, but it does reward us for that which we so willingly share and give to others.  That is what comes from mediocrity and selfishness within us when we place it on the alter of our common welfare and decency.    

I came from a modest background.  I am from a working-class home in Wyoming where I graduated from Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis in 1954.  My first job was that of a soda jerk that  helped to keep bread on the table at home until I graduated and set out to see the world on my own. 

I enlisted in the United States Navy in 1954, completed Boot Camp and Service School at the U.S. Naval Training Center in San Diego.  Upon graduation, I was assigned to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  My next assignment was to a fleet tanker for the remainder of my tour before being discharged in Long Beach, California in 1958.  All of this was a gift freely given to me by the American people for my own welfare and what was to be returned in kind after I had reaped the benefit of those with the vision and generosity and who had the foresight to see it as an investment in my own individual and our collective future.  

Thanks to the G.I. Bill, I enrolled and was accepted as a freshman at San Jose State College.  Two years later, I was accepted for admission to the University of California at Berkeley and received my Bachelor of Science Degree two years later.  With the benefit of the largess of the United States Government, I was accepted for a graduate fellowship and later received my Master of Public Health Degree from U.C. Berkeley, as well. 

I chose Hospital Administration as my profession in life, which proved to be the most ill-conceived choice I could have made.  But, it was a fast track to the top and a respectable salary for one whose roots were still very much anchored in the sod of Wyoming.  Lesson to be learned was “never go for the gold; always go for whatever is best for the common good and wherever your heart and head take you.” 

Sadly, after wasting all that time and effort playing the role of a healthcare executive, I finally listened to the wisdom of a few cherished friends and realized that my real calling was to the written word.  As to the veracity of that pathway, those few real friends were right on the mark and I was way off.  But, sometimes that is life, isn't it? 

My Dad often said the saddest thing a man can do with his life is to have to admit, “If I had all to do over again.”  Truer words were never spoken.  If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have set my sights on the School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley; rather than the School of Public Health.  With the benefit of hindsight I am inclined to think I might have made a respectable career had I taken the “road less traveled.”

My first “real job” out of college was in San Francisco and it was, to be quite honest, a love affair at first sight.  I just don’t see how anyone with a sense of romance in his being can ever quite forget time spent in “Baghdad by the Bay,” to quote Herb Caen.  The mystique of all that city is and ever has been captures your very soul.  There is no other way to describe it.

One of the first things that gripped me in that wonderful city of Cable Cars and hills was the plethora of real journalists who became famous by simply courting and wooing all that “The City” had to offer.  The San Francisco Chronicle had the best cadre of columnists of any newspaper in the business.  There was a running contest as to who was “the best,” but each had his trade mark.  Who can ever forget the aura of The City created by Herb Caen, Charles McCabe and Stanton Delaplane, all capped off with a dollop of Sally Stanford, Melvin Belli and Carol Doda?  It just doesn't get any better than that. 

I have to admit that I favored Charles McCabe, perhaps because of his background and the tempering of his Irish Background that was his heritage.  There is something special about a real Irishman, I have to admit.

So, here I sit having retired from health care and staring over the precipice of what will soon be eighty years of travelling the old sod of this earth we all inhabit.  Did I make the most of what was given to me?  Not one bit.  Do I regret those roads never taken?  In spades! 

When I hung up my yoke of a hospital administrator, I returned home and decided I would have a go at writing a blog.  It was like returning a very thirsty fish to fresh water.  I was finally where I belonged.  I started writing a blog in 2006 and I have posted 192 since I started writing.  Not bad for an old bird peering at the coming sunset on life. 

I have on my desk four books that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.  One was copyrighted in 1970.  One was copyrighted in 1973.  One was copyrighted in 1974 and the last of the collection was copyrighted in 1984. 

I have yet to read one of those books from cover to cover.  Why?  Because they were all written by one Charles McCabe ESQ, whose facility with the English Language and the ability to charm and inspire the least among us has no equal.  I do, however, thumb through them, from time to time, just to remind myself of how great poignant prose can be and its affect on my very soul.  I find it almost addictive.  To not share this rare treasure with a world starving from a diet of all that has been produced by computer technology at the expense of real writing is, in my opinion, downright obscene and blatantly shameful to the detriment of us all. 

San Francisco has been co-opted by some of the most shallow, tainted and vulgar people on earth.  They have no sense of the taste real writers give to us and to the world in which we live.  Instead, they revel in their ill-gotten gains of fabulous wealth.  They have bought up one of the greatest cities in the world for their own self-indulgence, callously disenfranchising some of the poorest among us for their own insatiable greed and gluttonous appetites for more, more and more!  Where is the civility in all this, I ask you?  I have yet to see a crumb.  They seem to be impervious to the fact that they have disemboweled a national treasure for the sake of greed.  Those of that ilk should, in my opinion, go back to Los Angeles, Houston, Manhattan and other such environs so those few remaining aesthetics can live in and savor what our ancestors (in their infinite wisdom) created for and bequeathed to the rest of us.

The greatness of these United States of America is on life-support for no other reason than the predatory nature of all those who steal favors from the working class in order to further lace their pockets with great wealth for their own indulgence.  If that isn't downright evil, I don’t know what is.  The final justice to all this is that The Grim Reaper waits for us all and it is a date with destiny that none of us can avoid.  The clock keeps ticking.                 

I recently wrote to the publisher of the four books by Charles McCabe ESQ and published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco, only to have my letter returned unopened.  I can only presume the books are no longer in print.  However, be assured I seek no personal gain from sharing these treasures with my readers.  They are just too good to allow them to be tucked away from prying eyes only to gather dust from those who could only be moved and treasured by their love of good prose. 

For those of you who might enjoy adding these books to your collection, I am sure you would have no trouble finding copies from book dealers and other like sources.  You will be glad you did.  After all, life is short.

Yes, there were better days and better people who preceded us, all of which we seem to totally disregard in our gluttonous pursuits of today that seduce us into believing that all we covet is somehow euphemistically superior.  Such is our modern-day folly.  Meanwhile, Our Creator weeps.      

“Cowboy Bob”
The Sagebrush Philosopher
January 3, 2015


 “On Being Poor”


Charles McCabe ESQ

The other day some flipping sociologist or other came out with some flipping survey or other which concluded that the poor aren't popular in this country.  The elaboration of the obvious is almost the
name of the sociologists’ game.  They set out to prove that black is black, and there is always a 
grant somewhere, to endow this dauntless quest.  

I spent my life growing up poor, and I can tell you that it is no fun.  There was no welfare and no food stamps when my family was poor, save the occasional and shaming handout from the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Our poverty wasn’t grinding poverty, because none of us had ever known any better.  My parents came from the bogs of Cavan and Longford, where their parents had often slept in bins with the pigs.  I knew nothing about any world other than my own except occasionally from rumors in the tabloids about the lives of people like Daddy Browning and John D. Rockefeller.  I really didn’t believe there were any rich people.  Your wisdom is your experience. 

None the less, I new I was poor and this was in the fabulously affluent 1920’s.  I knew it and I know it still, and there is nothing on God’s acre that angers me more than people who get angry with people because they don’t have money. 

I know all about the shiftless poor, some of whom aren’t poor at all, who collect welfare in three or four countries, and are more or less a criminal elite.  But the welfare system cannot be b lamed or the poor, worthy or shiftless, crooked or honest.  The kind of people who seem most to deplore the abuses of welfare are the children for whom the system began to be created, in the Depression days of FDR.  Ronald Reagan was a poor kid, and he has turned into a holy horror on the subject of the poor. 

The survey mentioned above said Americans associate poverty with “moral failure.”  Poor people are not loved by their non-poor contemporaries because they cost money and threaten the work ethic. 

I have a firm and old-fashioned belief in free will, but there is damned little free will about who is rich and who is poor.  A lot of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Nicaraguans are poor not because of any inherent incapability of being rich but because they do not possess adequately the language of this country, and because they look funny.  A lot of blacks are poor just because they are black. 

Someone said to someone else that the rich are different from us because they have money.  The poor, and those who have been poor, are a helluva lot more different from us than that.  The next worst thing to being destitute is being compelled to live off charity.  If you have ever undergone the experience, and I did so for years as a child, you are never going to forget it. 

Even to this day, one of the greatest sins in the world for me is throwing away money.  If there are any people in the world I loathe, it is the lavish tipper, the big spender, the guy who puts hundred dollar bills in the hands of head waiters so that he can feel secure for an hour or two.  I even get mad at people who leave food on their plates; even when the person is, as occasionally happens, myself.

Being smug and righteous about the “moral failure” of the poor is something I hope I have never been, and do indeed hope I shall never be.  I have been there, and I don’t want to go there again.  Being outside looking in is not the greatest fun in this damned world.

Being non-poor is mostly luck, as practically everything else is.  My luck has run well in the adult years of my life.  My children and grandchildren almost certainly never will know poverty, and that is something.  But I knew it, and shall never forget it, and that is something.  But I knew it, and shall never forget it, and I daresay the reason I am writing these words is to assure that I shall never forget it.  The poor are our brothers.


May the wisdom of Charles McCabe ESQ always be with us, to teach us, to inspire us and to bring out the best in us.

Our gratitude for saving these treasures to:

Chronicle Books
San Francisco, California 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“Elizabeth Warren Is the Real Deal; Hillary Clinton Is the Great Pretender”  

We Americans are a strange lot in many ways.  For reasons that I cannot explain, we seem to have an ingrained need to create idols in our minds to which we ascribe the mantle of celebrity.  That in turn, gives them the license to engage in all sorts of deceptive behavior which we not only covet, we swallow hook, line and sinker.  I never cease to be disappointed in myself when I fall for that same line, and vow to be more perceptive in the future.  But, like so many of us born under the red, white and blue, that vow always seems to elude me.  So much for indomitable will and personal resolve. 

No one in recorded history was so taken by the persona of Barack Obama as when he gave that great speech to the Democratic National Convention.  I was absolutely certain that he was a leader that had been sent from heaven to save the world.  You have to admit, he gave new meaning to the word “charisma.” 

However, in the intervening years the luster has faded and I am able to see and hear what he is really all about.  He may look and sound good, but at the end of the day I am  persuaded those who have him pegged correctly are right.  He is a fraud.  He is nothing but an illusion of what we want to believe, not the real deal.  He is not a leader.  Rather, he is a seducer of those who want or need to use him for their own ends.  That explains why he is the darling of every huckster who wants to make a quick buck by sweet-talking the average American out of what should be rightfully his and passing it on to those who only get fatter and richer off of his ability to pander to those who simply want more from those who have so little to give.  And, moreover, no one ever calls him on it!

Look at how cozy he is with Jaime Diamond and his cohorts on Wall Street and in the financial sector of our economy.  Look at how he panders to the advocates of free trade, the oil and coal industries, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, big defense contractors, the fat cats who are in a race to ship their businesses overseas for the benefit of tax breaks that only accrue to the detriment of the working people of the United States. 

Look at his penchant for “privatizing” everything for the benefit of great wealth and unlimited power.  Just take a close look at what he has managed to engineer for our prison system and education.  Now, I ask you, how are we better off because of those bright ideas?  Prisoners are used by the state for cheap contract labor and our children are given an inferior education all in the name of making more money for those whose greed knows no limits.  Look at the sad state of the entire infrastructure of the country so billionaires can pay less in taxes and shift the burden of public services, more and more, to the taxpayers.

I was mesmerized by the recent line up of the richest people in the United States, how they are giving most of their money away, not for the benefit of the taxpayers, but so they can control how their money is spent for the “common good” whatever that means.  It may have been their money that was going for a greater good, but you can bet your bippy they will have managed to maintain absolute control over how that money is spent, and I seriously doubt it will be for the common good!

One of the great benevolent billionaires of our time, Warren Buffet, who now owns one of the largest rail systems in the country (BNSF) is sending trains down the Columbia River Gorge and on to the pristine environs of the Northwestern West Coast, as far as the eye can see, all loaded with petroleum and coal destined for Asian countries.  I rather suspect he will be perceived as the entrepreneurial genius he has become, all because the polluting energy will not be burned on our soil and polluting our atmosphere but, rather, that part of the equation will occur halfway around the world.  The prize in all this is the ability to boast that the pollution is the fault of the consumer of those products.  All we are doing is making a quick buck from the process – the spirit of free trade.  Give me a break!  But, the local politicos are just lapping up the promises and the prospect of “bringing jobs to the Northwest.”  Go figure.

The latest to catch my eye is the current search for a permanent home for the Obama Family when it finally becomes reality that they have managed to funnel all they can respectably take after the mantle of “President” sinks in for the long haul.  It is reputed they are looking at an opulent place in Rancho Mirage in the California Desert that would be fitting, not so much for what they are but what they have become.  The place they ostensibly have in their sights used to be the luxurious residence of the Annenberg Dynasty, one of the richest men on the planet at the time he built it.  But, I supposed it would be asking too much to expect the newest graduates of the White House to settle for anything less.  But, they do like money, power, prestige and prominence, don’t they?

Bill, Hillary and the cadre of adoring admirers that became the legion of power and influence during their years in government were great mentors for the Obama’s.  The mere fact that they would select the Arkansas alums and their lot for their role models tells us all we need to know.      

Let me pose a few salient questions for us to contemplate:

1.                  Wealth and power do not equal preferential treatment at the expense of the common good.
2.                  Elected officials are there to serve the people; not vice versa.  They work for us and they should take their marching orders from us!
3.                  The cowboy mentality and renegade posturing we revere and emulate do not make us any better than the rest of the world, despite what we may want to believe.    
4.                  Republicans are not ordained by God.  They may think so but, at the end of the day, they are simply intoxicated by some false belief that God is on their side. 
5.                  Democrats do not have a corner on what is deemed progressive.  They just like to think so but, in the end, all that gives them is the license to steal less conspicuously than Republicans. 
6.                  Words and phrases that may suggest a common good and a common future are not subversive nor do they undermine the viability of the country.
7.                  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as vulgarity and poor taste.  Just because Mommy and Daddy think there is something magical about their private parts does not make it so.  There is such a thing as human decency and good behavior that trumps that myth. 
8.                  Money does not make the person.  The person makes the money and it is for the good of everyone, not just a select few who have managed to delude themselves into believing that it gives them preferred status in society.   
9.                  To work harder, longer hours and for less money does not diminish the stature of those who labor under those conditions.  They have just as much merit in the eyes of Our Creator as any other human being.  Work is honest and noble.  Stealing, pillaging and plundering are not. 
10.              Democratic Socialism is not a dirty term.  It is a democratic form of government that is there to serve the people and to make society a better and more equitable place to live.  The Scandinavian Countries proved that a long time ago and it remains one of the most viable and sanest forms of government in the world today. 
11.              This planet we fondly call “Mother Earth” belongs equally to all of us.  No one has squatter’s rights despite harboring a false belief that they do. 
12.              We are here as custodians of this country and all it has to offer its citizens.
13.              We are not here to save the world at our expense.  That is a common obligation we share with others, equally. 
14.              Wishing will not make it so.  Hard work, integrity, decency, honesty, fair play, and a common concern for each other will. 

In the final analysis only the collective “we” can make this one of the “Greatest Countries on Earth,” as can every other citizen of every other country can and should do for themselves.

Frankly, I think our system of government has outlived its usefulness.  It is not there to serve us all, equally, but to facilitate the dubious ambitions of those elected to office by those who still harbor the notion that there is such a thing as “equality.”  The only solution I see as realistic and feasible is a complete review of what we actually have compared to what was intended, and then we set ourselves to the task of righting the wrongs that have occurred since 1776.  Ambition not withstanding, it could and should be done.  The question is are we up to the task and are we up to the cost of making it a new reality for the welfare of all of us?     

Given what I see as a prevailing malaise that is endemic within us as a once determined and proud people, I seriously doubt that we have the will or the means to be sufficiently honest to set ourselves to the task and make it really happen.  Perhaps the pundits that see nothing but folly in that notion are right.  Maybe our reality is that while we may be watching Nero tune his violin yet again, our modern day Rome is in the process of simply preparing to incinerate itself all over again and right before our very eyes.  Then what do we do? 

By turning against each other and ourselves we may be setting the stage for the Great American Dream to simply evaporate before our very eyes.  That would be the ultimate tragedy, wouldn’t it?

Which of the two would best fit in the Oval Office?  Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton?  If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Walt Disney said it best; The Lady and the Tramp.  Nothing more needs to be said. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

July 23, 2014    

Monday, November 3, 2014

“Time for a Government by and For the People; Not Just the Rich and Powerful”

We had a long, hot and dry summer this year, which is unusual for the Pacific Northwest.  But, the autumnal rains are back with us and refreshing this part of the world as only they can.  It is nice to step out the door and have the misty rain brush my face again.  It has a way of saying that the world is still turning on its axis and, yes, there may still be hope for the human race that may yet salvage that which we seem to have done so much to destroy.  Yet, so much of what we see and hear, the pursuits of modern man to own and consume more than is humanly possible, plus the panoply of trash, vulgarity and the exploitation of the human race that passes for entertainment gives pause to stop and rethink that fleeting moment of faint hope.

Given all that swirls around my head tells me that all of what we savor in this modern-day world is only a cruel illusion.  It only has the appearance of getting better and will soon fade from reality to be replaced by something even worse.  What once used to shock us now entertains us.  What used to instill confidence and trust in us is now scorned as something from a bygone era that has no relevance to what we covet at the moment. 

We routinely accept as commonplace that which used to stun the average person.  Moral standards used to govern our behavior which made what we were acceptable, noble and an example for others to emulate.  Now, anything goes.  Nothing shocks us or is off limits.  It seems to be whatever the traffic will bear.  It doesn’t matter how toxic it is, so long as it has popular appeal.  All I care about is if it is selling in the broader marketplace.  I have to have it; I want it.  Tell me, not what I need to know, but what I want to hear and, moreover, what I must believe in order to be a part of the “in crowd” at the moment.       

The most egregious of all is, of course, the conduct of those who covet great wealth, the entire political establishment and the insatiable greed, the preponderance of which they all covet without limits.  They belong to the same club that enables all of the others to pillage and plunder with no shame.  I suppose, however, that as long as you are doing nothing worse than those who make up your moral, social and economic strata there is probably little left to shock anyone.  So, why not go for the gold?  Who is going to care?

The most powerful and least expensive option we the people have to use at our disposal is the vote.  Somehow, there was little real interest or a genuine commitment to participating in that exercise this year.  There seems to be a malaise among us that has dulled our senses and any feeling that we have the power and will to do something about what is happening to us.   The forces of evil that are hell-bent on reducing the majority of us to a status little more than that of indentured servitude appear to have won without so much as a whimper from those they seek to enslave by their greed and total disregard for the common good of the country and, yes, all of those who have and continue to work for the welfare of us all. 

We seem to have reached the point where we have either failed to reign in the excesses that hobble us in our efforts to make this a better country, or have simply chosen to let them win the war with only a faint hope that they will do the rest of us justice.  Now, I ask you, just how naïve is that?
In more years than I can accurately count, the series of administrations and governments in Washington, D.C. have simply set in motion the means to plunder the wealth and resources of this nation for the welfare of the super-rich and for those who don’t even slow down in their pursuit of garnering as much of the nation’s wealth as they can for themselves, while taking care of all those who want to dismantle our industrial base, ship it overseas and leave the rest of us without jobs and the means to make a better life for those we love and cherish, all of whom are dependent on our labors.

We, the people of these United States, have been betrayed by all of those who campaigned for the offices they hold, and they have made solemn promises to all of us who cast votes for them with the sincere belief that they would be people of their word. 

The Presidency betrayed us.  Every member of those administrations sold out to big money, large corporations and their interests, investment brokers and big banks at the expense of those who believed in them and supported them in our names.  Not one of them went to prison for the heinous crimes they committed with total disregard for what they were doing to us, and plundering our resources in order to do it.  Since then it has only gotten worse and, with all we see before us, it is only going to get worse.  They totally disregarded their oaths of office and set themselves to the tasks of pillage and plunder of all we had in order to build a better future for us and for the welfare of the country.  The two most notable alumni from those years, Bill and Hillary, didn’t even slow down their quest to further enhance their spoils and the good life that was before them.  Yet, those who fail to take the time and effort to study them and their history still adore and revere them.  Hillary for President?  The wide-eyed liberals who are on that track better wake up to reality before the bell tolls on that one! 

In my opinion, the most glaring and worst betrayal of the American people and the government institutions they have built and supported, historically, has to be the Supreme Court.  If I had to fault one aspect of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers it would be the naïve notion that, somehow, lifetime appointments were good for the country.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that is stacking the deck against us, the people, by not insisting on term limits for the robed elites who have totally decimated any notion of meaningful “checks and balances,” by their blatant disemboweling of our election laws embodied in Citizens United, for starters.  I shudder to think what may yet be coming down on our heads that would further chain us to the oars in the lifeboats in our next futile attempt to keep the ship afloat.  Don’t hold your breath.  Compassion and charity appear to be two of the characteristics least likely to be seriously considered in their collective efforts on behalf of the American people.  Lifetime appointments simply work to the detriment of the governed.  It is time to rethink that folly.

No Democracy can work effectively for all the citizens of the country unless everyone pays their fair share of the taxes that support our common efforts.  Joseph Stieglitz and Bill Black, two veterans in the field of Economics and distinguished scholars have both made that case extremely well. 

Another chronic error we make, as a people, is the ingrained laziness so many of us have that precludes any real effort on our parts to know what is going on by applying a bit of hard work to understand the issues of our time, rather than simply seeking nothing more than telling us what we want to hear.  It just isn’t that easy. 

I would be quite surprised if a national survey did not reveal that most people in this country actually believe there are only two political parties; Republicans and Democrats.    Did it ever occur to any one that they both work, hand in hand, to lace the pockets and confer power, equally, into the pockets and coffers of both of those parties, all of which we pay dearly for each and every day of our lives, while they, being the fat cats they are, only get richer and garner more perks at our expense for the lives they lead?  It happens all the time and no one seems to give a toads bottom that it never stops! 

Just take a breather for a moment.  Can you imagine what it would do for this country if all the money that the privileged and bandit classes in Washington and New York skim off the spoils of what they have at their disposal (and with our tacit approval) were applied to rebuilding the infrastructure of this country?  Moreover, can you imagine what it would do towards dispelling the concerns about climate change and global warming that are coming down on our collective heads at meteoric speed because of our persistent state of denial about those two issues?

Did it ever occur to anyone that the United States of America may not have all the answers to the salient questions of our day?  Did it ever occur to any of us that there may be better political parties and collective ideas to solve our problems that we have not taken the time and effort to study and seriously consider? 

Has it ever occurred to any of us that our renegade mentality and self-styled notions of superiority have only further deluded us into thinking we are the only ones in God’s Creation who might have a better idea or two on how to produce a better mouse trap?

When are we going to wake up to the fact that the world is not just about ME AND YOU, but about US? 

There can, and should be, more than just two political parties.  There should be a panoply of ideas for better ways to accomplish all we want, that would serve us all better and be more efficient and effective than the smorgasbord we suffer each and every day of our lives by catering to and pandering to the hoards of thieves we now defer to as our “government” such as it is. 

Did it ever occur to any of us that the Scandinavian Countries have more effective governments that serve all the people, yet still have the wherewithal to support viable economies and social programs for the benefit of all their citizens?

I don’t think it is out of the question for us to look beyond our borders and see how others address and solve many of the similar problems we face each and every day.  And they do it by taxing everyone and without the need for each of them to carry guns in their pockets.  It can be done!  Yes, the spoils of what we produce can be shared equally for the benefit of everyone without any one or a few “having it all.” 

We need to start with public financing of elections, a multi-party system and a fair and equal tax applied to everyone.  A further caveat on those few items might be to start divesting ourselves of the need to be protectors of the world and let a few of those others start fending for themselves at their expense rather than ours. 

Has not the time come to tax our brains rather than just stimulating our hormones?  I think so. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
November 3, 2014


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“That’s All Folks!”

Given a long and arduous problem with Century Link, plus some pressing family issues, it has been sometime since I sat down and wrote a serious blog.  For those of you who have persevered, I am honored by your loyalty. 

As I have witnessed the progress (if you can call it that) of the United States of America and where it is going to eventually lead us, I can understand why there seems to be a climate analogous to a state of apathy.  But, easy as it is to understand, there is a haunting sense of despair and hopelessness that I find almost frightening.  We seem to have given up on so many pressing and important issues which lead me to remind myself that nothing in this world is easy. 

As I survey the layout of every aspect of what this country is all about and what it is supposed to be doing for those who proudly call themselves “American,” I cannot help but ask myself, “Where has the real America gone, and for how long?”

There was a time in our history when we accepted that we had to face challenges from time to time but, on the other hand, there was always a sense that things would get better and we would be back in the swing of things.  That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore.

I cannot recall a time when we have taken such a cavalier attitude towards the manifestation of so many or the least virtuous aspects of our human nature.  People are murdered as if there is no conscience within the perpetrators.  Children and pets are left in motor vehicles with temperatures that snuff the life right out of them, by adults who know full well what they are doing.  There is no end to the crimes that are being committed, only to be summarily dismissed by those who bear the guilt.  The very moral fabric of what we have treasured and respected as virtues of mankind are no longer relevant.  It seems as if the credo we live by is, “Do whatever you want; who cares?”     

That we have a massively corrupt political and economic system is self-evident.  It is not subtle, it is blatant and we just seem to yawn, shrug our shoulders and say to ourselves and to those who will listen, so what is the big deal? 

Not one banker or financier has been tried and sent to prison for anything he did, and continues to do, in the wake of the last “great recession.”  None of them were held to account for their egregious failure to take appropriate action, supported by law, and to do all they could to act within the spirit of that law.  Instead, the taxpayers of this country were saddled with the cost of bailing them out, the political establishment passed legislation that was, at best, a very soft slap on the wrist and the green light to simply go after more of the taxpayers money!  Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, do you stand for anything?  You ought to hang your heads in shame before every voter and citizen of this country.  Instead, you live like fat cats and only lace your pockets with more money that does not, nor never did, belong to you.  Are we to presume that this is the prize for living the good life on the banks of the Potomac

Let us not forget the less subtle efforts of the likes of Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, the Moguls of Wall Street, the club of Billionaires and the legions of enablers in every corner of government in the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Supreme Court and the massive array of all the lobbyists and insiders, none of whom give a hoot in hell about the average American. 

Then there are the lesser known minions within the system, as well.  There are those who own and control the press, the electronic news media, the entertainment industries, plus the scions of business and industry too numerous to count. 

There is the monopolistic two-party system that has managed to convince the body politic that we are a real democracy of the people rather than the reality of the plutocracy of the super rich that own and control every aspect of our lives.  And we so willingly offer up whatever pittance they dare to claim as if they were somehow descendants of the deity that created the universe.

Wake up America!  Are you aware that two of the largest repositories of gold in the world are China and Russia?  And we think we are “the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth?  Get real.  How does that square with our mantra and the massive amounts of money that is squirreled away off-shore?  How does this fit with the fact that the plutocrats pay practically no taxes (thanks to those who so willingly aid and abet them in government)?

Why are working-class Americans and labor unions under constant assault because they want a fair share of the pie and the same considerations that are so willingly given to the super-rich barons that cry about over-taxation and the impending inability to compete in a fair market?  All of this as our infra-structure crumbles before our very eyes.  All this as they continue to ship jobs overseas while those who labor for a living sink deeper into the mire of poverty, rely on food banks to survive, go without healthcare and their kids are unable to get a better education because of the massively huge interest rates charged for student loans by the government.

Now, let us take a long and hard look at society, in general. 

Our appetites are created and fed by the huge and uncontrolled entertainment industries, the advertising businesses, the erosion of a moral base to guide us, millions of automatons who are no longer able to converse with one another as they clamor for the next electronic device from Silicon Valley so they can further numb down their minds and paralyze their brains. 

Basic reproduction, which we share with all other mammals, is no longer possible without the aid of chemical enhancements that will guarantee an erection on demand.  Moreover, we now have products on the market that will neutralize the odor of the feminine equivalent, no doubt so it will be more acceptable to those who have more exotic pleasures in mind.
Are you aware, as of now, that the new homes of today are, on average, larger than they have ever been in the history of the United States?  Just take the time to peruse the Real Estate Section in the Sunday Section of your local newspaper.

Where is our real commitment to saving the planet through more prudent use of carbon fuels?  Just look at the BNSF trains, owned by one of our most benevolent billionaires, transporting massive amounts of coal and oil from the East and Upper Midwest to the West Coast to be loaded onto ships for transport to the Orient, primarily China.  Do those who are doing this to our environment honestly think we buy into the notion that all of that coal and oil, burned in the Orient, will pollute only their atmosphere while ours remains squeaky clean and will do no harm to the air we breathe?  It may be pretty to think so but, as Scarlet O’Hara famously said, “Fiddle Dee Dee.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  And that, America, is just what we will do.  You can bet those getting rich because of this mindset already know what the outcome will be.  Meanwhile, this “greatest nation in the world” is crumbling right before our eyes.

This nation was created and sustained by the blood, sweat and tears of people from every corner of the world and every place on the globe.  Their blood was shed on domestic and foreign lands to ensure the survival and prosperity of this bastion of freedom in the world today, such as it is.  From my perspective it needs a tune-up and a reassessment of just how we handle and market what we have to offer to our own and to those from foreign lands. 

If all citizens are Americans, how come we have “Native” Americans, “White” Americans, “African” Americans, “Latin” Americans, and all sorts of other Americans distinctly identified by the countries from which they or their ancestors came, or the color of their skin?  Why are “White” Americans not offended by the absence of “Heinz 57 Americans?”  Why do we have and perpetuate this disparity?  Frankly, I disagree with those distinctions and I find it offensive by the fact that we use them every day just to separate those of color and other cultures from the vestigial remnants of those of fair skin who came here to expropriate the lands that rightfully belonged to those indigenous to what was already here?     

Why is it that those euphemistically referred to as “Indians, Redskins and “Native” Americans have always been relegated to remote areas of the country and to some of the poorest and least fertile land to be had?  Why have they, of all people, been isolated in remote areas and forced to live in squalid surroundings with little more than what was considered a “shack,” while others of European heritage were welcomed with open arms?  Why were so many of them forced to walk hundreds of miles so their vacated homelands could be re-settled by White Americans?  Why has their only chance for a quality education been relegated largely to missionaries, churches and other charitable organizations?  Why have their lives been located in some of the most remote and hostile geography in the country?  Why were they isolated and kept at a level of ignorance so they could be kept as second-class citizens better known as “savages,” with little or no opportunity to be integrated or exposed to those referred to “Whites?”  To this very day the majority of them are living in isolated parts of the country known as “reservations.”

(I am still inclined to believe that there is something to the notion that the Indian Service harbored a secret agenda to ultimately render them irrelevant so they would not have had to be reckoned with, and the spoils of what they claimed as theirs would be there for the asking.)  We have done as bad or worse more than once in our history.

There is no economic base from which to forge a decent standard of living and the skills needed to compete in today’s modern world.  Where are the resources, knowledge and means from mega-corporations to lift these people from the poverty that has become the only life they have ever known?  Or were their jobs shipped overseas to cheaper labor markets so the tribal leaders could make more money by contracting them to foreign powers? 

Who conceived of the idea of bringing “Bra ceros” into fertile pockets of agriculture in the United States to work long hours in blistering environments, forced to live in makeshift shelters, paid a mere pittance so a more affluent and distant part of our society could enjoy some of the finest produce grown and available at bargain prices?  Who among us made the fortunes that came from the backs of not only the adults, but the children, as well?  Why did we come to resent them just because they felt they deserved a better share of the spoils?  Who said this was not and is not “slave” labor?  Moreover, why did our own government not prohibit this blatant exploitation of the human condition?  Where was the hollow oratory in Washington, D.C. condemning the way they were treated.  Moreover, where was the hue and cry over the massive amounts of money they made for being good minions to those who put them in office?

Who, I ask you, coined the phrase, “Liberty and Justice for All?”  When one reflects on that for just a fleeting few moments, it has a rather hollow ring, doesn't it? 

From my perspective, all of those who live in lavish homes, drive luxury cars, live sordid lives, engage in all sorts of obscene and vulgar behavior contribute very little to the common good of this country.  Their primary fixation seems to be more on what they appear to be rather than on what they are.  Image is more important than substance. 

If we are to become what we allege to be for the consumption of the rest of the world, we have a lot of work to do.  We need to be what we say we are, and we must disparage that which we abhor.  We need to have a sense of basic human decency; a sense of what is right vs. what is wrong.  We need to be less moved by what others think and do than what we know to be honest and what we know to be just.

I can empathize with the hoards of people crossing our Southern Borders, seeking a better life.  But I am disturbed by those who claim a higher purpose in life and summarily dismissing the cost to our country, our economy and our way of life by ignoring that there is no bottom to the cornucopia (translated to mean, “As long as I have mine, I can afford to claim virtue by championing those who have nothing.”

For those who seem to have conveniently forgotten that a price was paid, many times over, for what we hold near and dear to our hearts in so many ways, and take for granted every waking moment of our lives.  They need to take all of those who sneak across our boarders to savor the “free lunch” here for the taking, so they can take an excursion in order to view the thousands of graves created by the carnage of WWI and WWII all across the globe.  Then tell them that is the price for what they are trying to savor, but for which they have never paid the price.  Remind them that they need to go back to their countries of origin and do what it takes in order to pay the same price for what they want from us free gratis. 

There is a limit to how much of our national resources we can summarily give away at the expense of all of those unseen and lesser beings in our ranks who live from paycheck to paycheck, if they are lucky, or far less if they are not.  How much longer can we delude ourselves into believing “it will never happen to us?”  We have no alternative but to take care of the least among us first.  That should be a given.     

Perhaps our massively huge, bloated and wealthy corporations whose gluttony is never satisfied, plus the military/industrial complex, could pony up the spoils from their favored position in our economy to support the cost of what it would take to change all of the despotic dictatorships into bastions of freedom for all of the citizens of their country.
I dare say all of those who have been out of work for more years than they can count would favor such a move.  Then let us not forget all of those who frequent food banks, shelters for the homeless and displaced, students who are and continue to carry massive debits in order to pay for a college education that should be rightfully theirs as a birthright. 

We could probably afford a national health system that would be the envy of the world.

We could probably afford a real social security system that would sustain those who have worked a lifetime only to be allocated a pittance in order to eek out a living in our world of monumental growth in fortunes, personal wealth, corporate power, and corrupt financial and investment institutions.

We could probably afford a cesspool of all kinds of diversionary activities that range from visceral pleasures, getting legally stoned on a buffet of hallucinogenic drugs and other mind altering substances that convince us we are something we are not.

There would be no limit to the number of “name brand” items we could afford, more house than we need, the latest energy-inefficient motor cars that we covet, not for transportation, but for the sheer hedonistic joy of being able to flirt with the notion that we do, indeed, have it all.  We can and will be able to rest assured that those who have less will be green with envy at all we have.  What more could one want?

We could live a life of complete indulgence, the limits to our decadence and depravity be damned.  We could even re-define our deity on our own terms and in keeping with what we have become.        

In the end, we could mock every symbol that might convey a sense of morality, decency and equality that we have ever known.  The world would then be ours.  We could indulge our every appetite with abandon.  We would be all that we ever wanted to be and we would not have a clue as to how to right all those wrongs that have come back to not only haunt us, but to own our very souls (for those who believe in such things).

Then, as in days gone by, the curtain would come down and we would see ………………

“That’s All Folks”


The end

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 30, 2014              



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“Freedom Taken to the Extreme Becomes the Barbaric State: Welcome to America!”

I cannot recall a time in my life when I have been witness to such an intellectual wasteland or the numbing of the human mind as has been set before us by the need for the American people to be passively entertained and the conscious choice to live in a state of self-imposed ignorance.  That is not only pathetic, it is an indictment of what we could and should be as a people.  Has not the time come for us to revisit the joys of original thought and dismiss the trite and meaningless nonsense that we accept as “fun,” and pursue with such vigor? 

Permit me to list just a few of what we have incorporated into our daily lives. 

·        We willingly allow the oligarchs and those who serve as their minions in government and industry to pillage and plunder the wealth of the nation for their own benefit by fostering subservience from the very systems that should be there to serve the needs and interests of the people of the United States.  They own and control every branch and agency of our government, minimize and denigrate any actions that may be taken for the benefit and welfare of the citizens of this country in favor of reducing their obligations to society and reducing the needs of the broader social order.  The rich just get richer and the poor get even poorer.  That is the new mantra of what we have become.  If that is not really what we want for this country, then why in the world don’t we change the system, and reign in the excesses they claim and which are fostered by those elected to serve us, the people?  They pollute our environment at will while dismissing the warnings of science and the perils to come by their blatant greed at the expense of the planet.       
·        We have completely abandoned any notion that we, the people, have a solemn duty and responsibility to hold our government accountable to us for what they do for us and to us because they have set themselves above the law and the will of the people.

·        We have allowed Bill “Fellatio” Clinton, Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Alan Greenspan to deregulate major financial interests in order to favor bankers, financiers and hedge fund managers at the expense of the American people and the viability of the financial institutions put there to better serve the body politic.

·        The Obama Administration bailed out renegade banks and other financial institutions at the expense of the taxpayers and at reduced rates of interest, for problems they, not we, created!  Moreover, he tacitly gave his approval for the massive and sustained “interest free loans” to failed banks by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

·        The Obama Administration has favored reduced rates on income tax and other forms of taxation for wealthy benefactors, the movement of offshore funds in order to reduce their tax liabilities and has favored big business, corporate capitalists and other entrepreneurs to further reduce their tax rates while the average American has labored to meet their tax obligations. 

·        The Obama Administration has favored big energy companies, free trade agreements and other forms of subsidies to various industrial enterprises, again at the expense of the average American.    

·        We revere and defer to the military and intelligence services as if they were royalty and touched by the hand of God.  To question them and their motives is almost an affront to the sanctity of all they profess to be and do for our collective benefit.  Sez who?

·        We have bought into the “privatization” of every conceivable kind of public service as inherently good, less expensive and far superior to anything that might accrue to our benefit by the efforts and work of public servants.  If so, why are the hucksters of the business and financial worlds in such a hurry to tap into that lucrative cornucopia of profit and greater wealth?  That just doesn’t compute. 
·        Why do we tolerate the massive cost of benefits and the loss of valuable time by our legislators so they can spend their time courting the favor of lobbyists, and taking vacations and excursions of various kinds at taxpayer expense?  While the “working” Americans and lower paid workers envy the perks they so freely flaunt, they turn a blind eye and go for even more.

·        Why do our elected government officials acquiesce to one-sided actions such as Citizens United by the Supreme Court, all for the benefit of those who claim their divine right of superiority to rig elections and the financing of those elections for the rich and famous so they can buy votes and the attendant benefits for the benefit of their insatiable greed and material gains?

·        Why is there such disparity in the funding of unemployment benefits, the minimum wage, student loan relief, etc. by the renegades sitting in the halls of the House and the Senate vs. what should be given to help all of those seeking honest jobs and bearing the responsibility for supporting their families with a living wage? 

From my perspective, our society has degenerated to a level where anything goes and we are not embarrassed or shamed by anything.  We are mesmerized by electronic gadgets that enable us to stare blankly into a hand-held device in order to “communicate” with others without ever having to talk, and to be passively entertained by every conceivable kind of titillating pleasure known to mankind.  How are we any better by ogling at girls with skirts up to the cheeks of their bottoms, the bare-chested and tight crotches of men’s clothing, and the use of gutter language as they emulate those who have managed to peddle that nonsense?  Do we really care to listen to a prolonged discussion about the private parts of human anatomy and the role those we are watching play in the entire scenario?  What does all that do for our sense of common decency and what sets us above the sewers from which it comes? 

We are a people who seem to find it attractive to use acronyms and other forms of abbreviated speech rather than proper language in order to carry on conversations.  We attach meanings to abbreviated forms of speech and react as if they were somehow subversive or vulgar, and convey some sort of disdain or prejudice by their very use. 

What comes to your mind when you hear the terms “Working American,” “Middle Class,” “Service Employee,” “Domestic Worker,” “Manual Laborer,” etc.?  Is there not more dignity to being a “Working American” than that of a “Senator,” “a Congressman,” a Consultant?  Where the former earns an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, the other earns his/hers by peddling knowledge of dubious value or by letting us know that he/she steals and deceives (with aplomb) for a living rather than stooping to that of a mere laborer.  Who are the more respectable and more noble in all this?   

What comes to your mind when you hear terms such as “Ivy League,” “San Jose State College,” “Junior College,” “Stanford University,” etc.  Does one strike you as superior or inferior to one of the others?  What does that say about you?

What makes a scion of Silicon Valley more valuable and respectable than someone who can fix your car, or build your house, or manage a cattle or sheep ranch, or serve you a well prepared hamburger in a fast food restaurant?  One works for a living and the other peddles technical expertise of a dubious value to society in general.  Both serve us in special ways and both are essential to a balanced life for all of us.  Why do we revere one more because he/she has money and the other is just a “working person?”

The nomenclatures we use by the names we attach to political parties convey a great deal about us and how we view those we put in public office.  What is the essential difference between a Republican and a Democrat?  Both are accomplished thieves and peddlers of all sorts of deception and manipulation that most decent people would find offensive. 

Did you know that the Presidential Debates to which we are subjected every four plus years are limited only to those who are candidates for the Office of President from the Democratic and Republican Parties?  Did it ever occur to you that is tantamount to a two-party political system to which we, the voters, are expected to subscribe?  Who deemed it a two-party political system to the exclusion of every other qualified candidate who may be seeking that office?  Why should the candidates from the Green Party, the Justice Party and the Freedom Party all be barred from participating in those discourses.  Might we, the voters, not learn a great deal more about who could and would serve us most effectively if we could hear their answers to the important and salient questions having to do with their occupancy of the Office of the President?  I would think so. 

Who deemed it appropriate that we should only have a limited number of political parties for any and all of our elections for public office?  I have never read where it was codified as the only option we were to have and, frankly, I think we (and the country) are the poorer for it.      

We Americans seem to have an ingrained disdain for any political party with the term “social” or “socialist” associated with it.  Somehow those terms connote some sort of subversive element that would surely undermine the purity and sanctity of what we currently have. 

For most of my life I labored by declaring my party of choice as the Republican Party.  With time and enlightenment, I came to my senses and shifted to the Democratic Party.  My greatest joy in that move was to have had the privilege of meeting John F. Kennedy.  I have had my moments with that political party, as well.  That discomfort has been largely created by the notion that, somehow, both of those political parties were more “American,” than others.  I no longer harbor that illusion. 

I now pride myself in being a “Social Democrat.”  A “Social Democracy” is defined as “a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means.”  That suggests to me that we have not done a very good job of using the proper nomenclature in the use of such terms and how they might apply to the greater society at large.  If the largest segment of our society is that of the “working” or “middle” classes, does that not suggest also, the greatest segment of our population is a social class?  If that is the pre-eminent class, then it seems logical for that class to be occupied by those who claim membership in the largest group of people dedicated to the health and welfare of society.  That being the case, then why should we be limited to just Democratic, Republican, Green, Freedom, and Justice Parties, all of which are minority parties.  Why should we not have a “Social Democratic” party that embraces the largest majority of voters having the greatest vested interest in a political establishment that would serve the greatest number of citizens?  It would seem to me that the Scandinavian countries have proven the case rather well.  What is to be gained by re-inventing the wheel?    

Moreover, why should any minority party control the institutions of government more than any other political party?  Would it not be more reasonable and logical for a socialist democratic party to represent the greatest potential number of voters in a system that is, ostensibly, there to serve all of the people?       
It seems to me that we could make a good start by revisiting the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, going back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by putting back into place the safeguards that were so wisely incorporated into our way of life.  We could start with a “free and unfettered press,” followed by well-regulated corporations, an impartial judicial system that served us all, equally. 

We should, and could, clean up the mess we have so we are a real democracy that we can all take pride in and have confidence in to ensure we are all, indeed, “equal under the law.”

Frankly, I am tired of the games our political, commercial, intelligence and military establishment play with us and the persistent wondering if we, the people, really are in control and are being heard, or if we are little more than sheep waiting to be led to the slaughter.

Aren’t you?

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

September 2, 2014    

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Time Stands Still, But Winners Never Die"

Recipe for Cream of Garlic Soup
 When I was younger I developed a real love for cooking.  I devoted a lot of time to it and came up with quite a collection of recipes sufficient to fill a cookbook that never materialized, but good enough to draw the attention of the publishers of Sunset Magazine which was one of the best, if not the best, magazine for amateurs who loved to cook. 

With the passage of time, my life changed and other things captured my interest.  My time at the stove gradually dwindled in the face of other interests that were more important to supporting a family and concentrating on other professional interests.   

A week or so ago I met up with a gentleman who I had come to know in one of the local restaurants.  The subject of my interest in cooking came up and he asked about a soup recipe I developed that he thought was exceptionally good.  Interestingly enough, the recipe was published in a column in Sunset Magazine titled “CHEFS OF THE WEST.”  Without the required amount of humility and time on my side, I offered to give him the recipe.  Well, I scoured the house and every magazine on the book shelves but, alas, the recipe was not to be found.  I finally resorted to creating one without a clue as to what was in the original creation.  What I gave him and what I shared with a few friends was, to be honest, a far cry from what I had created many years before. 

Today, I accidentally picked up a stack of old magazines and, if you can believe it, one was the issue with a recipe listed in the May 1985 issue of Sunset Magazine created by “yours truly,” for Cream of Garlic Soup.  Now, folks, I don’t pretend to be a megalomaniac, but I would say that I lean more toward the reserved side.  This I can say, it is the best concoction I ever created in the kitchen and is light years ahead of what I gave to those few other unsuspecting folks, gracious as they all proved to be. 

So, what follows is the complete copy and recipe published in Sunset Magazine in May of 1985.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed finding it.  And, yes, I had a better fix on the joys of cooking then than I do now.

“If you have had an experience that took your breath away, here’s a dish to bring it right back.  Its creator resides temporarily in Saudi Arabia, but he’s a native of Ridgefield, Washington, and hence a bona fide Sunset Chef. 

His silken-smooth cream of garlic soup has extracted all that is good and kind in garlic and left out all that is not.  Even the garlic haters among our tasters found it delicious, with an indescribable, somehow comforting flavor that called for second helpings.

Candor requires us to admit that spouses detected garlic that evening.  Serve this soup in a company of good friends, but don’t eat it before visiting your dentist or trying to sell an insurance policy.

Cream of Garlic Soup

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic (4 or 5 large cloves)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans (10 ½ oz. each) condensed chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
¼ teaspoon paprika
Salt and white pepper
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

  • In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook until bubbly, about 1 minute.  Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly, and bring to boiling.
  • Stir in half-and-half and paprika; cook until hot.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, stir about ½ cup hot soup into beaten egg yolk, stirring,  pour egg yolk mixture into soup and serve. 
  • Makes about 4 servings. 

Robert S. Crowder (my real name)
Ridgefield, Washington

Alias Cowboy Bob

August 31, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

“What Is The Value of One American Capable of Critical Thought?”

What is the value of one American?  That varies from one individual to another and one moment to another in time.  It is whatever that one American’s vote is worth that puts just one person in office and in a position to exploit the system to his/her own advantage.  It just takes that one American to create what will, in turn, give unlimited power and privilege to that vote seeker which will put him/her in a position to claim all the spoils provided by the American taxpayer to a system of government that will promptly forget how he/she got there and lose sight of the fact that he/she is claiming the right to spend what has been entrusted to him/her as if all of it is a rightful entitlement to be disbursed as he/she may see fit, all at the expense of all those whose vote has been so freely given. 

I watch a lot of news programs about every conceivable aspect of what our government and all those who comprise that dubious manifestation of all those who profess to be doing something for us rather than to us.  They really do believe they are the anointed ones and Mr. & Mrs. America are nothing more than nameless and faceless conceptual creations that are there to do whatever they may deem their rightful prerogatives, any accountability to the benefactors be damned.  We, the American people, are nothing more than enablers to those who see the government and all its real benefactors as theirs to do with as they please.  You can bet that none of those who bothered to go to the polls will count for one scintilla of what public servants will do with the trust we have placed in them. 

Those who go to Washington, D.C. on the strength of our votes and our tax dollars have no shame at using what we have entrusted to them for their own personal ambitions, in whatever forms they may chose to take.  They almost appear to become intoxicated by their newfound membership in the club of the elite and powerful.  They will now rub shoulders with the 85 per cent comprising the super rich who claim, with no shame whatsoever, an amount of money that is equal to that of the bottom 3.5 billion people in the entire world!  I would hazard a guess that it would be close to, if not impossible to identify any one of them who sees what they have taken with such abandon as anything to which they were not rightfully entitled, the source of their obscene wealth being totally irrelevant. 

While the common person, under penalty of law, gives to the government, ostensibly for myriad services that serve the common good, it is freely taken from them and re-channeled to the many vested interests who are the real benefactors of our government’s largesse to all those who grease the hands of those who do their bidding, more often than not at taxpayers expense. 

How did we come by a two-party system that, for all intents and purposes, is essentially the same?  They impoverish the bottom tiers of the population and pass their tax dollars to those in the form of tax relief to the very rich, bailing out banks and financial institutions that have pillaged and plundered our nation’s economy.  They, in turn, pay less in taxes, engage in monopolistic practices and operate with fewer and fewer regulations ostensibly there to protect the consumer public.  They operate in secret, make backroom deals and spy on us at will.  We, in turn, live in a flat-lined economy while the coffers of all the plutocrats simply bulge ever more with each passing handout from Uncle Sam. 

Those we have elected to office, meanwhile, engage in ritual waling and gnashing of their teeth because our national budget is out of control and we are overspending!  Alas, alack!  What misfortune faces us now?  Those of us who pay our taxes and live at the bottom of the food chain with barely enough to feed our families and pay our bills see what few social benefits we have evaporate right before our eyes.  Where has the unemployment insurance gone that was created to help those of lesser means to weather downturns in the economy?  Where have the food stamps gone that were put in place to help the least among us get through the tough times with barely enough to put food on the table for our children? 

What has happened to all those young people searching for a means to get into and graduate from college so they, in turn, just might have a shot at the American Dream by becoming a cut above all those living on a minimum wage?  Just ask any one of those aspiring professionals how much of a burden they are carrying and the constraints they live under for having taken the money from the government to finance their educations?  Is there any hope that their burden of debt will ever be paid off?  Then, just for the sake of watching the shock on their faces, ask those from the Ivy League Schools and environs sometimes frequented by the likes of Barack Obama how they managed to get through the system unscathed and financially sound?

Let’s face it, those who enjoy the most from all of those who have the least are the corrupt and compromised members of banking, law, hedge fund management, founders of successful companies, entertainers, senior managers and other scavengers who sit on the sidelines hoping, just hoping, one of the big boys will throw them a crumb once in a while in exchange for their loyalty and support. 

Call it what you will, but this country is owned by those of means and all those who serve them.  They are the wealthy, the privileged, the news media, the entertainment industry, the military services, the intelligence community, the military/industrial complex and all of those of lesser stature who all routinely engage in feeding frenzies at the public trough.  Those who shape public opinion and appetites in their favor are the complete antithesis to anything resembling a democratic system.  It is a myth to think otherwise. 

Personally, I think the entire fable of how this country was founded is questionable.  How many of those so-called “Framers of the Constitution” were men of modest means?  How many of them lived in mansions on plantations and owned slaves?  How many of them lived on Elm Street and drove a one-horse carriage to the office every day?  How many of them worked by the sweat of their brow and supported a family living at the subsistence level?  How many of their philosophical progeny now work in the halls of government with the avowed purpose of limiting all forms of “democratic” behavior that has the potential to impede the continued exploitation of all that rightfully belongs to the American people?

Frankly, I see little difference between the “Conservatives” and the “Progressives.”  The former seems to have God on their side on every issue.  The latter seems to have an “enlightened and informed” view of society on every issue, as well.  The former operates from a base of divine enlightenment and the latter operates from their concept of what constitutes a perfect world.  Both groups seem to have plenty of money and privilege at their disposal.  It must be rather easy to leave all that behind and return to the comfortable surroundings to which you have become accustomed.  It is quite a different thing to take a stand and fight for what you know to be right and just.

At the end of the day we have Fox News to keep one side happy with the knowledge that they really are right all the time.  On the opposite side we have those who are secure in the knowledge their view of the world really is on the side of all those who are continually exploited by the system in one form or another.  If that doesn’t beg the question of having a multi-party system, I don’t know what does.  Both of what we have continually feed from the same troughs of corruption. 

We Americans, such as we are, always seem to be looking for something “different” to entertain us and to occupy our minds.  No sooner were the Christmas trees taken down and the liquor bottles put in the recycling bins than it was announced that Hillary Clinton was retaining one of the best political packs to launch her bid for the White House in 2016.  The euphoric exhortations from every corner of the Democratic Party, the White House, and the “progressive” community were deafening, almost to the point of hearing that she was about to be elected by acclimation.  This was just a reminder to saner minds that the entire spin machine was already in place to make sure she was the only viable Democratic candidate for President in 2016.  I don’t share that view. 

First of all, I perceive our two-party system as an accepted means of controlling the numbers of people seeking office and limiting their numbers to those who have already proven their prowess in how to play to the plutocrats that already own and control our system of government.  Their strategy is formulated and fostered by the club that seeks to further their own vested interests at the expense of the preponderance of Americans who will go to the polls and cast their votes in the next national election.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that the conduct and behavior of the Clintons in the White House, the Senate and the State Department are necessarily ancient history and should be forgotten, nor has the slate been wiped clean as their supporters would have us believe.  Bill Clinton’s conduct while President was reprehensible and he proved himself to be about as base and vulgar as one could imagine. 

From the tales that have circulated since she left the White House, Hillary could swear like a drunken sailor with the style and ease of a seasoned veteran.  She supported George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on going to war with Iraq and, frankly, I don’t think her performance beyond that has been particularly remarkable or impressive. 

The Clintons are what they are.  They are in it for the money, power and prestige.  It is a testament to their prowess and skill that they have managed to get as far as they have and to have burnished their image so an entire nation sees them as ready to mount the white horse and ride, triumphantly, back into the limelight.  They haven’t earned the renewed respect and admiration of the American people.  We have the right to a couple in the White House that has the stature of the First Family.  The Clintons dispelled any notion of such a perception a very long time ago and they have done a laudable job of keeping it that way.  We, as a nation, certainly don’t need a repeat performance from them now or any time in the future.  Enough is enough!

Each of us can make a difference but, in order to do so, we must revisit the merits and value of thinking for ourselves.  Critical thought is not yet dead.  The time has come to treat what we get from all the spin doctors what it is in reality; pure, unmitigated bovine scatology, hoping what they peddle for us to believe is what we will claim to know.  It has worked very well for them for a good long time.  Why should they be concerned about what we might discover now?

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
August 22, 2014