Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Government = Protection Racket for the 1 Percent"

I refer you to Common Dreams.org published today, April 22, 2014 by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship titled "Government = Protection Racket for the 1 Percent."  

Thank God for two of the best investigative journalists of our time - Bill Moyers and Michael Winship - for this excellent article.  

For all of you who are genuinely concerned about the escalating power of money, the subservient masses they find within the halls of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. and those who ostensibly represent the will of the American People, this is a must read.  Anyone who genuinely believes that any branch of our Federal Government gives two hoots in hell about the majority (disdainfully referred to as the "Will of the people,") has mastered the art of self-deception and has become so complacent that the masses are simply up for plucking by the highest bidders.   

Time is not on our side.  If we don't get serious about purging our system of government of the pervasive and burgeoning corruption and the evil influence of big money, we are not going to be around much longer to restore integrity to our democracy and power to the people who are the descendants of all those who this vision of the Founding Fathers was intended to serve and respect, and to whom it rightfully belongs.

The time is long past for us to become "informed," rather than "indoctrinated."  If we don't make an effort to know what is going on, rather than what those who are our adversaries want us to believe, we are in deep do-do .  To say that ignorance is bliss is a gross under-statement.  It is a travesty of major proportions, for all this country is, has been and has the potential to be. 

When the "Common Person" bites the dust, and that dust settles, we will be nothing but a totally decadent oligarchy/plutocracy where wealth, self-indulgence and ignorance reign supreme, and all we give a damn about will be gluttonous consumption and the pursuit of pleasure.  Any vestigial remnants of character, responsibility and a genuine concern for each other will be but a faded and tattered memory of what once was and is no more. 

Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire will rise, once again, from the ashes of what was once our finer angels ----- and we will be the poorer for it.

May God help us. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
April 22, 2014    

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"And They Tout All This As Progress!"

I find it utterly incredulous that, in this golden age of computers, passwords, etc., that it takes an act of God in order to just survive in this world of computer techies.

When I go to the Post Office, I put a key in the box, turn the key and "voila" the box opens and I get my mail.

When I go out to get in my car, I put a key in the ignition, turn it and "voila" the car starts and I am happily on my way.

When I return home, I put a key in the lock, turn it and "voila": the door opens and I enter into the safety of my domicile.

For all the foregoing, I have no need for a password and all the suicidal thoughts they engender when trying to penetrate whatever is guarded by them.  I simply go about my business, quite content that I can manage to operate a simple lock and key, and the world is mine.  I am inclined to believe that all of this crap they saddle us with is simply a way to drive up the cost of whatever it is they are selling and to reduce the population by slowly driving them crazy.

Are there any sane minds out there who can reintroduce those of us from an earlier age to the pleasures of a simple lock and key, all of the passwords be damned?

My life is sufficiently simple and ordered that I have no need for a barrage of secret words and other such paraphernalia in order to survive.  Are there any reasoned minds out there in cyberspace who has a trusting mind and an inclination for a simpler era?  

Today has been an absolute nightmare for me because the lower end of some large intestine in London tried to hack into one of my e-mails.  I can at least take some small consolation in knowing, because of the incestuous gene pool of the Royal Family, that it did not originate in Windsor Castle.  Perhaps it was one of the renegade whistle-blowers seeking a safe haven outside the United States.  Whatever source from which it may have come, surely it has to be part of a conspiracy that is out to destroy the world of the more sane among us.

If anyone can convince me that the world is better off because of the proliferation of this electronic age and all its gadgetry , I will gladly kiss their posterior in Times Square for the benefit of what remains of their perverted world of "progress!"

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
April 19, 2014


Monday, April 14, 2014

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study by Eric Zuesse

I would refer the reader to the online news publication, Common Dreams.org dated April 14, 2014.

The suggested article is authored by Eric Zuesse.

For those of you interested in the erosion of democracy in the United States of America and the rising influence of the growing oligarchy, I would heartily recommend that you take the time and effort to read and reflect on this piece of writing.  It is approximately one and one-half pages long and the conclusions are ominous for those of us who have serious and growing misgivings about this trend.  Moreover, it is of further concern exacerbated by what appears to be a growing antipathy by the population at large.

It is, in my humble opinion, time to take this matter seriously, to become informed and to become active, lest we lose this precious gift from the Founding Fathers.  It may be more fragile than we think.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
April 14, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“Where Is the Democracy In What We Presume Is Our Democracy?"

The longer I study politics and the twisted road we travel in trying to maintain some semblance of order in what we presume the Founding Fathers intended for this country the more confused I become.  I cannot help but wonder where simple Aristotelian logic is to be found in all this is?  Do we have some ingrained need within us that equates complexity with sophistication so we are somehow led to feel bigger and more important than we really are? 

Why is there not more simplicity in what we do so even the least among us can comprehend and react intelligently to what is going on in our name and, ostensibly, for the common good?  Instead, we blur that fundamental need with all sorts of ceremony, rules, regulations and privilege that serve no purpose for the body politic and the society in which we are consigned to live?  We have managed to make the people’s government and how it works the stuff, not of the common man, but of all sorts of specialists who have a corner on how we interpret the very tenets of how we are to behave and live?  Long ago, it was our complicity that set the stage for the greatest surge in the growth of what we now call the “legal profession,” in all its forms and manifestations.    

Who has benefitted most from this?  Why is it the politicians of every stripe and ilk we can imagine?  That is followed by the corruption of money, social strata, and a population that simply cannot hold those who pretend to be superior to the basics by which we should all live, work and prosper?  We just cannot seem to resist the temptation to put the noose around our own necks. 

What twisted mind came up with the notion that the Supreme Court should be appointed by the President?  Is that not a sterling example of a conflict of interest that is one of the President’s most cherished perquisites of the office he holds?  Understandably so.    

If we are all to suffer the “wisdom” of the Supreme Court, then I would ask why the esteemed justices are not the result of winning the confidence of the American people by popular vote of the people, rather than by what seems to be a kinship with buddies of the rich, powerful and privileged of the land.  It does not seem like it would be terribly complicated to make that change so we all have a say in who gets seated on the “bench,” for how long, and who can feign wisdom when it comes to our common welfare and what is best for those of us who comprise the “people” of this country.  If they have the power to make sweeping decisions that affect all of us, then why should we not have the power to decide who makes those decisions? 

I regard the Supreme Court as one of the greatest enigmas within our system of government.  They seem to have an aura of arrogance and a sense of superiority that should not be tolerated, much less encouraged and, even more ridiculous, revered. 

I, for one, think it is time for all members of the Supreme Court to be elected by popular vote of the people, with term limits, and the Chief Justice elected at the beginning of each session, by a majority vote of the entire court.  

That should put their role in proper perspective and remind them that it is the people of this country who put them there, keeps them there and to whom they are accountable; not a self-styled aristocracy predicated on wealth, privilege and ill-gotten power.

I, for one, think it is time we gave real meaning to what we euphemistically call a “democracy,” relegate “republic” to the dust bin of history and get on with the people’s business as it should be conducted in the world of today, and, sadly, is what most people actually believe we already have.

And that is the way I see it.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

April 8, 2014     

Friday, April 4, 2014

“There Just Has To Be Something Better!”

When one looks at the motley bunch we refer to deferentially as the Supreme Court, it should come as no surprise to anyone that our illustrious Chief Justice has made it abundantly clear that he, too, is a member of the plutocracy/oligarchy that has a stranglehold on our (ostensibly) democratic form of government.  Any illusions about where they stand on the issues relative to the governed of this country just flew out the window. 

But, let’s face it.  This country and all we profess and delude ourselves into believing about it being a “democracy” and the “land of the free” has just been proven wrong once again.  The villains who are disparaged by all those in high places still reside within the ranks of the “working class,” the “middle class,” and the “laborers.”  They are to be exploited and tolerated for the benefit of the greater good to which we have entrusted the complete health, welfare and growth of this country. 

We, the people, must bear the brunt of the blame for where we are.  We have become a people of “appearance,” rather than “substance,” and we are paying the price for it.  The visceral pleasures of life and the massive brainwashing that has led us to the Pollyanna style of life and hope we covet has worked.  We are now the product of the entertainment industries, the bill of fare offered to us by television, the numbness of our cranial tissue brought on by the myriad hand-held devices that have transformed what used to be thinking human beings into numbed-down automatons who have lost the ability to engage in original and critical thought.  Kaput!  It is gone and we are all the happier for it. 

Anyone who could honestly believe that NBC and MSNBC give us anything but what is the bill of fare emanating from the halls of General Electric is out of touch with reality.  Does anyone honestly think that Westinghouse is going to rely on CBS to feed us anything that deviates from the company line?  ABC never mentions its affiliation with Disney Enterprises, but you can bet your next pay check that, behind the scenes, Mickey Mouse and his cohorts are preparing and serving up to us what they want us to believe, not what we need to know in order to be informed citizens who can be trusted with the care of the greatest democracy in the history of the world.

CNN and Fox News?  Well, I suspect they are in it more for the income generated by their brand of notoriety than anything of substance and truth.  Thanks to Al Jazeera there may still be hope for a real news outlet.  The downside to that, of course, is who will bother to watch and listen to their broadcasts.  Don’t hold your breath.          

Global warming?  It will never happen.  After all, history has shown us that this, too, shall pass and we will never feel the sting of all we have brought down on our heads.  The entire history of our faux-rich class has proven that we are immune from the realities of what lies ahead, created by their ingenuity and greed, and all we have created by our own hand.  We seem incapable of operating from a base of principle.  Rather, we readily succumb to pretext.  That leaves nothing to move us to greater heights and a genuine common concern for what is in the best interests of all of us.  Commitment and creativity come cheap these days. 
The next big joke we have to ponder is how much power and control now rests with the massive monolith of agencies we call our Federal Government.  Who, in their right mind, could actually believe there is a clean and genuinely concerned statesman among them, excepting those few who stand on principle and honesty?  The majority of them are much too preoccupied with stealing and lying to the electorate in order to lace their pockets with all they have come to believe is their rightful share of the pie for playing politician.  Who are their real constituents?  Need I even bother to ask the question?  The answer is self-evident to any seriously concerned citizen of the Republic. 

If one were to administer a means test to any of them, be it the House, the Senate, the White House, or the Supreme Court, their attention would automatically be drawn to Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Hollywood and all of the other sprawling complexes dotting the country sides of Virginia and Maryland where so much of the real wealth, power and influence lie. 

I, also, cannot help but wonder why we have a sacrosanct two-party political system?  Who said we can only vote for a Republican or a Democrat who has been duly vetted and blessed by the political party with which they are affiliated?  What have the Green Party, the Justice Party, the Freedom Party and all the other minor annoyances played by fringe parties done for us?  What choice have we had to participate in a real election because of their place on the ballots so dutifully given to us when we venture in to go through the motions of really voting?  At best, it is a ritual, most of which has been stolen from us by the actions of the Supreme Court and the money machines of the oligarchs, plutocrats and corrupt benefactors that support the main stream political machines.  How much longer are we going to support and feign belief in this charade?  There is no grander form of deception than that we inflict on ourselves by our own stupidity and naïveté. 

Yeah, I know.  Bill Clinton is one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States and his wife is being pursued by the wide-eyed progressives and liberals who just know in their hearts that she is the one who can give new meaning to the Presidency, and show the world what a real woman can do in the White House.  I’ve got news for them.  Move over Hillary.  Elizabeth Warren has you beat by a country mile and she is the real deal.  Anyone with half a brain and a modicum of decency knows that.       

Clearly, the White House is up for sale to the highest bidder and what has now become the cadre of oligarchic and plutocratic benefactors for whom the cost of favors from that particular residence is pocket change.  What, for example, do presidential advisers do for us other than negotiate the deal that will most benefit those who now own our Federal Government and all its key players?  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both show signs of having been accepted into the club that will only result in fewer jobs for Americans and more money for those who own the offices and the occupants that dutifully offer their best advice on behalf of those to whom they are actually beholden.  Whoever may be the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania at any given point in time is, I am sure, well paid for his exceptional performance as the water boy for the super-rich and powerful to whom they owe their loyalties.            

I genuinely believe that our entire government apparatus and structure is severely fractured and those who are so readily available to pick up the pieces are benefiting the most.  It is certainly not the mainstream Americans who are more the victims than the benefactors of their activities, ostensibly for the common welfare and our collective behalf. 

If we are to reclaim the heritage left to us by the Founding Fathers and restore their intent for a healthy and long life for this nation, there has to be some serious thought given to what we can and should do for our collective welfare and this grand experiment of what is meant by self-government by the people and for the people.  It won’t be easy, but I am confident it can and should be fixed by those who own it, not by those who have bought or stolen it.   

Every major political party has been co-opted by those who claim a propriety right based on their membership and control of the party apparatus.  I see little real difference in the Democrats and Republicans, save that contrived to deceive all of us into believing they really give a damn about any of us and their every motive and move is for our common and collective welfare.  Yes, and for those of you who may be interested, I have a great bridge for sale at a bargain price. 

We need a new political party that encompasses the majority of working Americans, middle class Americans and all those who labor for an honest living by the sweat of their brow.  We can no longer afford to acquiesce to those who are convinced of their economic and social superiority, and their perceived Divine right to mete out their wisdom to those of us who simply “labor” for a living.  They have not earned the right to even stand in the same room with the average person who has made this country great throughout history. They are the social and economic parasites of our time. 

They are the ones who have sent their progeny off to Ivy League Schools and Military Academies so they can remain immune from any real sacrifice on behalf of the American people and the country that has given them all the privilege and power they covet.  They are the ones who send off the best among us to foreign lands to die for the wealth and power they have garnered from less than honorable means in order to acquire their booty.  They are the ones who plan and orchestrate the galas on the Mall in Washington, D.C., with all the glitz and glamour of show business personalities, blowing smoke up our back side to somehow make us believe those who have come back maimed and disfigured gave of themselves so selflessly for the greater good of this nation.  In reality, it doesn't take a stretch to remind us that most of those who went to war on our behalf did so because there were no jobs and the means for an honest living available to them here at home.  Those had all been sent off to enhance their foreign investments and the massive sellout of American industries through free-trade agreements and all of the secret deals made behind closed doors in the halls of government – a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  It is pretty to think so but it sure as hell doesn't square with the reality I see and hear about every day. 

We need citizens who care about this country and all those who labor in its service.  We have had enough of the deferential trips to Las Vegas, the Hamptons, and other environs of wealth and power, reserved for billionaires, where obsequious parasites bow and scrape before the most vile among us hoping a crumb will fall from the table so they, in turn, can pursue their lesser pursuits at the expense of those who have earned their place at the table.

Let us not forget that the word “public” refers to that rightfully belonging to the public, not private enterprise.  I have had enough of the epidemic of “privatization” that has overtaken this country.  Those who are making out like bandits from their exploitation of what was, and should continue to be public services, are costing this country and its citizens dearly in terms of a more efficient, healthier and more responsive system for the average American.  For starters, I refer to schools, parking meters, and a whole host of public services that have served the people of this country extraordinarily well. 

One of the most egregious examples of the greed and creative thievery set before us is the privatization of prisons, where vital services and minor criminals are sold into what I regard as slavery by contracted “privatized” prisons, aided and abetted by compromised judges and other officers of the court in order to further lace the pockets of those who are just as much of a criminal bent as those they sell into service for a fast buck.  These are but a few examples of how our tax dollars are being pirated from under our noses in order to simply feed the rapacious greed of those who cannot earn it honesty, so resort to less honest means and an aura of piety in order to convince those of us who have paid for those services, and who rely on their value to us, that they can do the job better, more efficiently and at less cost than can those we have retained to “work” and represent the public to whom they are accountable. 

The stench of the bull shit created by the “creative” minds who seduce the rest of us is beginning to smell.  It is time to revisit all those hollow promises and get back to basics, at a fair price and for a reliable service. 

It is time to burnish the patina of labor unions and organizations that represent the working people of this country.  They deserve to have their place at the table restored and to get the credit they deserve for doing what is right by this country.  There is a hell of a lot of talent floating around in the environs that does not require a “college” education in order to prove their worth and value to the society of which they are a part.  As a wise professor once said to his class, “When you send a jackass to college all you have at the end of the process is an educated jackass.”  Those words convey a fundamental fact to all of us.  Native wisdom and innate talent are worth something, even in today’s plastic and phony world. 

Isn't it about time we created a new political party that subscribes to and supports a constituency of people dedicated to a country governed by those who work for and labor in its service, rather than to massive wealth, power and privilege that exploit it and hold themselves above the law? 

Can we not create a party that fully supports the welfare of all the people, not just those who only believe in and support a self-imposed and false sense of superiority?  Can we not return to the fundamental prescription of “one nation, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all?”  Can we not return to “a government of the people, by the people and for the people?”  Can we not take it from the hands of those who disdain the notion of the public good, and return it to fair and just treatment for everyone?  Can we not all share in the burden of supporting this democracy that has, for so long, stood as a beacon to the rest of the world?  Can we not all rediscover that basic sense of decency and honesty we once knew?  Can we not do with less and give more?  Can we not be good stewards of this fragile planet on which we rely for life?

Can we not, once again, simply level the playing field for all of us?

Can we not all simply restore a value system that says to us and, indeed, to the entire world, there is a better way.  We have been there, done that, and know what we are talking about.      

What is to be lost by trying it?    

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

April 4, 2014              

Friday, March 21, 2014

“Where Is the Real You in All of This?”

I have to confess that I have an inherent mistrust of all of the “free trade agreements” started by Bill Clinton and given new life by Barack Obama, further compounded by Stephen Harper, Conservative Prime Minister of Canada.  The shroud of mystery surrounding each of them and the secrecy that seems to play an integral part in the process is, I believe, cause for concern by all of those who are likely to be affected by them.  Its alliance by the parties thereto seems to exceed the bounds of what we have come to accept as simply Chiefs of State as colleagues, but, rather, what smells more like an alliance of those serving big money interests in each respective country of participating members.  Rather, someone is coming up with the short-end of the stick in all this and, I rather suspect, are the citizens and working people of each participating country.  The constant echo of “trust me” is pause for keeping our backs to the wall and a response of “show me” before any agreement becomes codified and binding. 

I am particularly uncomfortable with the close association of President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  How is it that Harper seems to manifest an inordinate amount of power and influence in these matters, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline and of more concern is the role Harper seems to be playing in determining how that project evolves, even to determining the value to be placed on the land to be expropriated to make way for the worst polluting petroleum in the history of the continent.  It just doesn’t pass the smell test. 

I, also, have haunting reservations about what kind of a Chief of State this Harper really is.  Why, for instance, did he remain silent when Michelin recently gave 900 of their Maritime workers their walking papers without so much as a peep from Mr. Harper?  If he did what he should have done, in my humble opinion, would have been for him to hustle his buns to Nova Scotia to convene a personal meeting with the powers that be at Michelin and asked them just what they were doing and justify the rationale for their actions.  900 unemployed in one fell swoop is not a minor issue, by any stretch of the imagination.  The massive influence of the oligarchs in the United States is well known.  However, it would seem to me that Mr. Harper is well qualified to assume his rightful place among that less than august group of the super rich and powerful.  What role have Canada’s oligarchs played in all this, and at what cost to the environment?  I think it bears careful scrutiny by legitimate watchdogs before any precipitous action is taken to make it a reality that cannot be stopped or reversed.            

I am mystified by the extent to which we, like so many civilizations that have preceded us on this planet, have so readily acquiesced to power, influence and great wealth without even so much as a whimper by all of those who are likely to be adversely affected by the actions of those who perceive themselves as members of some elusive and undefined superior stratum of society and, indeed, the world.  Where did even the most basic principles and foundations of control by and the consent of the governed go?  We have given up all that underwrites equality for the people to those who simply take control and claim the spoils for themselves and those of like makeup and ambition.  That seems readily apparent as the complete antithesis of a democratic society “of the people, by the people and for the people.” 

How can anyone abandon the inescapable fact that this entire planet belongs to all those occupying space on it?  This piece of real estate is not for the exclusive use and ownership by other mortals who may have more money, power and influence just by their status in life and their ability to con the rest of us out of what is, and always will be, rightfully ours by Divine right.  Insofar as intellectual property is concerned, I fail to see why that could not be addressed by society to ensure fair and just compensation to those who have given the world a better mousetrap. 

However, one aspect of all this remains sacred, and that is the welfare and will of the people.  Nothing should abrogate that inescapable fact of our common existence.  That should always be the foundation of any action being considered for the welfare of society and those we have deemed to be our public servants – the acid test for it all being, does it serve the interests of the governed?  No amount of money, breeding, power or force should ever trump that essential part of who we are and what we are as a people and a civilized society.  No one element of that society should ever be a second-class citizen or claim veto power over the governed.  Moreover, every political party should always serve the social contract in some fundamental way; never the vested interests of any one or more factions within that society. 

The days of emperors, kings, queens, dictators and any notion of an inherent superiority over those to whom the world belongs are over.  Let them earn what they claim as theirs, just like the rest of us.  Let them be accountable to the people, just like the rest of us.  Equality is universal and it is time we all got used to that fundamental fact of life.  It may not be easy, but it is possible.  If we, the people, want it to happen we can and will make it happen. 

We can start by making every election based on what the electorate sees as the common will of the people, not when some selected group forks out a fortune to convince us that they have come up with a better mousetrap that just happens to give them and their ilk an edge over the rest of us; always couched in the rhetoric of some deity and admonition from a divine power that makes us tremble in our boot straps.

Is this world government?  Not by any measure.  We are all different by virtue of our birthright and a whole host of familial and societal influences.  But, as rational and intelligent beings, we can discern what is the best deal for the majority of us, and go for the gold. 

Every platform of every political party should be published and commonly understood by the electorate.  Every election should be publicly financed and any form of private financing deemed against the law.  We should encourage everyone to actively participate in elections, but no one should be allowed to buy the votes of anyone voting.  A conflict-of-interest by any other name is still a conflict-of-interest.  It doesn’t take a judge in black robes to figure that one out.  End of story.

The end game must always be that nothing is adopted for or by the people without the expressed consent of the people by a vote of the people.  The “expert” has yet to be born who can trump the common wisdom of the governed.  To believe otherwise and, more dangerously, to defer to that belief is the death knell to democracy.  We cannot, now or ever, succumb to any hint of the notion that anything better is possible or desirable.

It is time for us to take off the rose-colored glasses and stare reality squarely in the face.  Our tastes and desires are the exclusive result of the efforts of business, commerce, the entertainment industries, network news organizations, and producers of every kind of electronic gadget imaginable.  They determine what we see, hear, and want and all they feed us simply numbs the brain and reduces our ability to think critically and discern the difference between reality and fantasy.  We have become automatons that exist for the sole purpose of increasing their wealth, enhancing their power and growing their influence.  They are the most evil force the world has ever had to face.  They will sacrifice limb, life and, yes, the very planet on which we live in order to simply acquire more, more and more at the expense of human life and the world in which we live.

There is not one elected official sitting in offices in government, or in industry, finance and raw power in all its forms that has one ounce of integrity and human compassion in his/her whole being.  Make no mistake about it; we are all expendable in the pursuit of their insatiable lust for greed, power, money and all that goes with it.  There is no redemption for any aspect of their being.  Moreover, they have no ability to see what they are creating.  They are blinded by their own lust. 

If there was ever a time to revisit our finer angels and the best about our human nature, it is now.  Time is not on our side.  This world belongs to all of us and necessity dictates that we must reclaim it for the common good, not for the ambitions and greed of the few. 

Real democracy and the welfare of the majority is our only hope.  Together we can make it happen.  Divided we will disintegrate before all the gods of wealth, power and privilege.  Hopefully, come 2016, the nation will relegate Hillary Clinton to her proper place in history and welcome Elizabeth Warren as the nation’s first Madam President. 

It is imperative that all of us vote, know what we are voting for and realize that it is the people of this country who work for a living and carry the weight of their responsibility as a citizen with pride in all that they are and all that we are.  It is not those of privilege, wealth and power who will make the difference.  It is you and all those like you.

When anyone says that he/she “works for a living,” it should be with pride and a badge of honor.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
March 21, 2014


Sunday, March 16, 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/industrial 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

March 16, 2014    

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"A Hymn in Praise of Our Remaining Churches"

Demise of rural places of worship raises questions about our belief systems

This was written by Ron Macinnis who authors a column titled LIVING IN THE PROMISED LAND for the Halifax Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I was taken by his words because they reminded me of an earlier time in my life and the virtues that were such an integral part of the values, and that were so ingrained in our character and how we related to others.  True, it was a simpler life but, I believe, it was a better life because we did not have the diversions that took our attention away from those with whom we shared our lives and the community in which we lived.   We genuinely cared about one another and we were always ready to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever it was needed.  We did not have the wonders of the electronic age to trump our ability to talk to and relate to one another.  Each day was there for us to appreciate the essence of the life we shared and, above all else, to feel the pain and suffering that was often our common lot, but which were to be endured in one form or another.

The churches which were willingly supported by the people of those small towns sustained us and kept hope alive when that was about all we had.  That compassion is a characteristic I truly miss.  Nothing about what passes for “fun” and the mountain of visceral and material pleasures we covet today could ever tap into those finer aspects of what we were as human beings and which were a cherished part of each day we lived.  Those churches may look like tombs, but to some of us we know that deep within the recesses of those silent structures is a box of treasures somewhere from a golden age when people had character and decency but, sadly, seem long forgotten in the din, hustle and bustle of today’s hectic pace of life.

Are we really any better now?

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
February 19, 2014      


What I saw in my travels one day stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was in that moment that full impact of the metaphoric content of the scene hit me. 

For here was a vision that underlined the reality of what we, as a society, have done: we have, for all intents and purposes, albeit unavoidably put our churches, and all they stood for, out on the street.

While it is true that some of our old, gracious, highly symbolic, old rural Nova Scotia church buildings have been “repurposed,” and their physical form will take on new function, their demeanor, their aura, their evocative spirit and their important role as a gathering place will change indelibly, and in that I find there is, for our rural communities, a monumental loss of something deeply important to us all.

It is hard to know where to start with this one:  maybe with a nostalgic drive through our little rural hollows and hamlets, and the warming, esthetic pleasure I have derived from the presence of the tidy, little white churches dotting the green countryside, and how they spoke to me as would an open-armed, warm-and-welcome greeting on the doorstep of a friend – this would be a good place to stop and meet some of the folk, I would think.  Or if need be, for whatever reason, I could find help.  And certainly, at a deep level our churches spoke to me, based on my experience in rural community development, of the important role they played in holding our communities together:  of the dinners, of Christmas baskets, of the outreach to those in need and the endless but socially bonding conversations that took place when people got together as they did in the old days.  And, of course, there was the music, sometimes nothing short of spectacular. 

Perhaps most important, though, all of these churches stood for the virtues of compassion, of forgiveness, of loving one’s neighbor, of the importance of community and of keeping that fabric together.  I must say, in the years of community work I did in a small village, churches played a vital role in stitching community fabric together.  But it was one of ever-diminishing impact:  One could see their disappearance coming for years in the rising tide of grey hair in the pews. 

Why may that have been?

Perhaps because of the seeds of the demise of the church were planted many years ago.  I explored this at depth once out of curiosity and was gripped by the tale, tragic as it was.

Somehow, over time, the simple but beautiful everyday teachings of the man, Jesus, ended up being bought and sold by the early church’s heavenly gatekeepers: many of those precious lessons, scratched in the sand on a beach, became tangled in rhetoric, overrun with twisted brambles of myth and ritual, and frightening tales of a petulant, demanding and vengeful god who could all but hurl thunderbolts if He got ticked. 

And then there was the added burden through the centuries of rising costs to pay for buildings, the construction of which was specifically and ironically declared irrelevant by the church’s own spiritual master.  (“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Mathew 18:20)

Maybe Jesus understood something about human nature we did not. 

Little wonder then that our last couple of generations, with a sea of spiritualities and diversions on the other side of a keyboard, have little or no desire to do what is required
to keep those charming old buildings afloat, much less to be impassioned on a Sunday morning to go to church.

Our new cathedrals, after all, if we are forthright about it, are those big-boxes bursting with bargains, a sales flyer for a church bulletin, and an offering plate up front.  That is where all the cars are on Sunday.

But the big question is, what now?

Where may we find the moral and spiritual guidance, however imperfect it may have been, that came from the churches of past days?  From whence the reminder of human decency that one saw from afar when approaching our little rural communities?  Of the importance of compassion?  Of the loving heart?  Of community?
Sadly, from where I sit, I do not know the answer to my own question. 

But one never knows. 

Maybe new churches will spring up online.  Maybe congregations will buy into the idea of adaptive reuse, wherein other compatible organizations can share space and responsibilities of support.  Maybe some of the old churches will be repurposed as a new kind of church with new and younger adherents and a more concise “gospel,” less complex, more relevant, and tailored to the longings of today’s citizens, young and old alike.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. 

But, in the meantime, we should keep our eye on the ball:  whatever happens we need a moral guiding light of some sort to help keep our social fabric intact and to get us across the shoals of our uncertain future. 

With our churches falling away at an alarming rate – I know of at least 20, but data is hard to get – we may do well to keep in mind in our quest for that guiding light the uncomplicated but sweeping theology of one Rabbi Hillel, who lived in Jerusalem in the days of King Herod. 

When a skeptical young infidel came to him and agreed to join his church if the rabbi could explain the contents of his holy book while he stood on one foot, the young man was humbled by the answer he heard.  Hillel said, in so many words,
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This is the whole book:  the rest is commentary.”

Ron Macinnis closes off with this request:  “Your thoughts on this matter, dear reader, would be most welcome.”  (promisedland@herald.can)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

“It’s About Time!”

I did not grow up in a religious home.  What was lacking, however, was compensated by the zealousness of my Grandmother Minnie.  She was from the old Baptist School and had a black, leather covered Bible that was well worn from the diligence of her study of all that was believed to be good and holy within those pages.  She was as certain of the absolute truth of what was recorded therein as most of her children were that it was not.

As a child, I was terrified of what was meant by all of the words printed in the text of that book.  As I came of age as a grade-school student, Grandmother Minnie decided the time had come for me to become familiar with the tenets of her religion, and took it upon herself to introduce me to the joys of going to my first service at the Jesus Saves Baptist Church and the oratory of Reverent Pulis.  As the pageantry of that experience drew to a close, I became even more terrified.  The culmination was the point at which those who had been inspired by the words of the Lord (as so aptly intoned by Reverend Pulis) were to “go forward.”  Those words had absolutely no meaning to me, but I was asked by Grandmother Minnie if I did not want to “go forward.”  It quickly became apparent to me that I would be required to stand in front of the congregation, profess my belief in all that had been inspired by and attributed to the Lord, and culminate in the ritual of being “baptized.” 

I quickly discovered that “being baptized” amounted to a healthy dunking in a watering tank for livestock at the hands of Reverend Pulis, at which point I would then become a believer in the Lord and would be well on my way to a virtuous life and guaranteed salvation.  That was the first and last time I placed my trust in the inspirational words of absolute certainty coming from the mouth of anyone even remotely associated with the label of preacher. 

As I matured and joined the United States Navy for a tour of duty, I came to wonder just how all the marvels of the world around me came into being.  The mere fact that there were more unanswered questions than there were answers led me to conclude that there must be a higher power that could come into being by more than a spontaneous cosmic accident and, probably, was beyond my comprehension.  There had to be something greater and more powerful than anything I could possibly imagine.  I never felt that it was anything I could ever clearly understand; much less explain in absolute terms.  Therein was the mystery and one that still remains with me.  That is a conclusion that is entirely mine and nothing I can empirically prove or disprove as part of the belief system for others.  Nor do I believe that what I have come to accept is anything more than part of the system of beliefs of anyone else, despite the certainty of what they profess to be otherwise.  In my view, it is nothing but a system of beliefs that is yet to be empirically proven.  It is a system of beliefs I have come to choose, but one about which I have no illusions of proving. 

No matter how hard they may try to assert otherwise, the absolute certainty attributed to the teachings of any religion are nothing more than what a willing group of people have chosen to believe.  I remain open to proof, but anything less is self-delusional.  What in essence really is a simple act of faith unfortunately morphs into a zealousness that becomes absolute and unquestionable resulting, too often, in demagoguery.
Throughout recorded history there has been unlimited numbers of divinely inspired minds that have stated and preached, with absolute certainty, that they are the holders of the inspired word of God.  I would invite anyone to simply embark on a cursory study of all that is “inspired” and explain to me what value lies in all the horrific tales of violence that have been, and are yet to be visited on the human race.  However, all I see is the growing decadence and limitless evil emanating from the minds of those we label as our fellow human beings.  Where, I ask you, is the compassion for the suffering of others?  What is it that moves us to do with less and give more to others?   Where is it within us to deny our own materialistic and hedonistic appetites for the greater good of all of us?  What has brought us to the point of absolute certainty that all of our worst attributes are somehow a rightful entitlement, and that those who believe otherwise are simply fools to be exploited by all the “haves,” with any notion of justice being nothing more than folly?

Never, in my entire life, have I seen the standards of human decency and human decadence so fluid and ill-defined.  There are no measures of what is right vs. what is wrong.  Rather, any such measures are left to the individual and it is a world of “whatever the traffic will bear.”  We are no longer shocked by anything.  Greed is good and any lesser ambition is patently stupid.  What is even more egregious is the mere fact that we accept it all with complete abandon.  And the world sinks deeper into the mire and toward complete collapse.  Chicken Little keeps saying “The sky is falling; the sky is falling,” and the only response she ever hears is, “So what? Tomorrow is another day.”  Anyone and anything perceived to be weak and vulnerable is fair game.  They are the prey for the stronger among us, simply for the asking; all based on a set of simple beliefs. 

The greatest legacy of my life was from a professor at the university from which I graduated.  For his parting words to those of us going out into the world for the first time we were admonished to adopt as our mantra for the rest of our lives, “Question, question, question, and never abandon that fundamental premise for so long as you shall live!”

I have, by my own volition and free will, been a member of the Roman Catholic Church for most of my adult life.  I did not choose it because I necessarily believed in all that it professed to be, but because I chose to believe in what I most wanted and needed to believe.  That is an issue of choice based on reason, not based on mystery or fear.  Is it an imperfect system of beliefs?  Of course!  Is it a system of beliefs that can be made more perfect?  Of course!  Is it the only inspired Word of God?  How do I know?  Is He the only God and when, where and to whom has He spoken?  I have no idea.  Obviously, that line of questioning could go on ad infinitum, never to be conclusively answered.  In the final analysis it is the choice of a system of beliefs we choose to adopt.  From that point forward we become the embodiment of that system of beliefs and, if we are the least bit inclined to be rational, we do all in our power to see that system continue to nourish our very souls and become the guiding light of all we are destined to become as human beings.  However, with the passage of time comes the illusory phenomenon of insidious change that may threaten that system of beliefs and undermine the validity of what it once appeared to be.  We can no longer see the forest for the trees.   

I believe that the strongest and most pervasive phenomenon of the human condition is the ability of outside forces to corrupt what we are most prone to believe by our very nature.   The same applies to organizations of whatever ilk they are likely to be.  The more corrupt they become, the more inclined to further corruption they are likely to be.  Lord Acton said it best; “Absolute power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Therein lies what I believe to be the greatest peril to civilization, as we know it, and what I believe is the most ominous for some of the greatest institutions of civilization in our history; not the least of which is the Roman Catholic Church.  I commend the United Nations for taking it to task and raising many of the unanswered questions that have yet to be answered, and for far too long.   

The Catholic Church has, in my opinion, been seduced by the very power within the hierarchy of the Church.  The corrupting influence of that power has caused so many of its real problems to be passed over at the expense of reason that could have been better applied to lesser problems, not that any of them should be minimized.  The focus seems to have been directed more at the priests who are the offenders, and less at the so-called “princes” of the church who overlooked and tacitly condoned what was going on.  Who most benefitted from that?  Those who were in positions of power and influence.  Why did the responsibility for what befell the Church not come raining down on the heads of the Bishops, the Archbishops and the Cardinals who covered up so much of what was occurring, and who continued to be revered by the Church and their station within the Church?  Clearly, I see a conspiracy of silence with what appeared to have been set in motion in order to protect the power of those in high places.  They were accorded deference and respect they forfeited when they became as complicit in what was going on as the actual perpetrators of those offenses. 

What befell Cardinal Dolan of New York while he was serving as the Archbishop of Milwaukee in whose diocese boys who were deaf and mute were being molested by clergy?  The last I knew he was comfortably settled in St. Patrick’s Cathedral surrounded by all of the trappings of power and prestige customarily accorded that station.  Where was he when justice was handed out?  What kind of retribution is promotion to one of the most powerful and prestigious offices in the American Catholic Church?

Where was the atonement that should have been demanded from Cardinal Roger Mahony for his complicity in the cover-up of sex offenses while he was in the position of Archbishop of Los Angeles?  It was subordinated to the power and prestige of the office he held rather than his conduct in that office.  How did his complicity differ from that of the parish priests who were known to be sex offenders and who served in his diocese?  The mere fact that he knew what was going on makes him as complicit as any one or all of the priests he was aiding in the cover-up. 

Where was the retribution that should have come down on the head of Cardinal Laws of Boston for his failure to address the problems of sex crimes among the clergy of his Diocese?  The penalty he paid was for Pope John Paul II to transfer him to the largest and most affluent church in Rome where he remains to this day.  What pain did he suffer and how did he atone for his role in the scandal?  Moreover, we now hear that Pope John Paul II is going to be canonized as a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church!  Where is the rationale and justice in the face of all this?  I see no evidence of it, whatsoever.  If that isn’t raw political power I don’t know what is.  Moreover, what rational mind who is cognizant of this kind of power and privilege could accept this as “punishment” that fits the “crime?”  I just don’t see it. 

The foregoing is just a miniscule number of those in the hierarchy of the Church who has gotten off Scot free and has never been held to account for their transgressions simply because of the power and prestige of the offices they coveted and abused. 

Rather than acquiescing to the ravage of the Church’s vital resources serving the poor and deprived of the world in the form of schools, hospitals, churches, monasteries, etc. by those seeking “justice,” (if you can call it that), why has the Church not chosen to punish all those who could have and should have taken the influential and powerful members of the ruling hierarchy of the Church to task, defrocked them and let them suffer the shame and scorn of the public they betrayed and the victims who will never recover from the stain that will be indelibly etched into the history of the church, the church they so willingly betrayed in the pursuit of their own avarice and lust for power and prestige.  Nothing about them justifies the least bit of deference or leniency. 

All of the vast resources of the Church belong to the people of the Church.  Those resources were obtained through the sacrifice and devotion of those seeking spiritual guidance and salvation from that same church.  Many of those same resources were willingly taken from the legacy left by coal miners, fishermen, and myriad others who willingly gave of themselves through arduous labor in the service of a greater good and to charity for others of less means.  Instead, who benefitted?  Those who were encouraged to adopt a sense of entitlement and the opiate of money to wash away the pain of what they had endured.  Behind them, as one would expect, are legions of those who claim membership in the union of those seeking justice on behalf of others, all for a price of course.

Money is not the issue.  What is rests with all of those who used and exploited an institution and a system of beliefs they were sworn to serve, but only ravaged for their own aggrandizement, ambitions and shame.  Yet, to this very day, the Church has lost a treasure of resources acquired over many years to be used in the service of the poorest among us because it failed to address the cancerous growth of what was in the offing for more years than most of us could possibly recount.  

Now, let us focus on much the same set of issues closer to home. 

Why is it that, historically, those who are the most vile among us almost always seem to get a mild slap on the wrist for their crimes against humanity, but those who are their victims suffer the most?  How does the history of the Roman Catholic Church differ markedly in comparison to the history of wealth, power and privilege in the secular world?  How does its history differ significantly from the Wall Street Bankers, and the scions of commerce and industry who have become billionaires at the expense of those they have so blatantly and wantonly exploited, aided and abetted by a willing government that is sworn to serve those very same people?  How is it that they are supremely confident that no misfortune will ever befall them and the wealth they so covet?  Do they honestly believe the day will never come when they will have to pay their fair share and assume the responsibility and accountability that comes with their ill-gotten gains? 

Why do we, as a people, disparage the simplicity and purity of honesty, yet defer so willingly to thievery and exploitation by those who have mastered and practice every conceivable kind of thievery and dishonesty that can be imagined?  Their reward is handed out every day by a compliant government that subsidizes their greed with money commandeered from the people whose sacrifice is gargantuan compared to the millions in pocket change for the rich and powerful?

Where is that “government of the people, by the people and for the people” that is so revered and so often quoted by those whose disdain for those words is almost palpable?  Their words ring hollow and I see nothing of value to the broader social contract by what they allege vs. what they practice. 

I think we need to refocus on the basics.  We need to break free of the bonds of the rich and powerful, reclaim this nation for the people, restructure the framework of social and political justice so it serves all of the people, all of the time, and there is no privileged among us who have not earned the right to be respected members of the society they have exploited for their own personal gain.          

Karl Marx is famous for the quote, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”  That embodies the essence of his contempt for a system of beliefs that can and should serve the common good.  I am more inclined to believe that, in the case of modern-day America, too many of those among us believe that materialism and hedonism is the alpha and omega of life’s ambitions, underscored by Marie Antoinette’s admonition for the masses to simply “Let them eat cake.”  There has to be more to it than that. 

Pope John Paul I said that Christ’s Church should be a poor church.  I think the time has come for the people of the United States of America to reclaim this democracy for the people.  Democracy should be a fair and just system, with liberty and opportunity for all and not a system for the wealthy, privileged and powerful to exploit at will for their own self-aggrandizement.  We need to start by culling from the system those who think they have deluded us into believing they proudly serve and genuinely care about the people while they work feverishly to guard the interests of the masters of that same wealth, privilege and power.  
Do I believe it can be salvaged?  Yes.  Do I believe massive reform will come to either the Catholic Church, the Government of the United States or the ingrained sense of entitlement claimed by the rich and the super rich will come about anytime soon?  No, because it will be a challenge of gigantic proportions simply because of its prominence in the world, its influence in the world and what it represents to the world.  What lies ahead is rather akin to the beast at the head of the herd that becomes injured and falls to the back of the herd.  The wolves have smelled that weakness and, if human nature proves correct, that same nature will motivate them to move in for the kill.  They are motivated by the same predatory skills that have befallen other bastions of power and influence throughout history that have so callously ignored the many humanitarian needs of people throughout the world, all in the pursuit of the “almighty dollar”, placing their own avaricious monetary gain ahead of their unbridled greed.  Nothing excuses the wanton plunder of what has, and will surely occur again, by the predators in the disguise of angels simply waiting in the shadows to further line their pockets at the expense of a greater need and a greater good.   

I have no idea as to why the rule of celibacy was invoked as a requirement for becoming a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.  I am totally mystified by that requirement. 

We are all living examples of God’s Creation, and God created mammals to procreate for survival of the species.  Man, as I understand it, is a mammal.  Mammals are infused with hormones that cause them to want to reproduce.  That is one of the strongest drives mammals have and one that is the most intense in gratification.  That is not lurid or titillating; it is simply a fact of life.  Why would God require that his church consign the most vital of His servants to a life that is contrary to that very nature?  It makes no sense to me at all.  It seems totally contrary to the essence of humanity, to me. 

If other religions, both Christian and others, can constructively deal with the issue of marital fidelity, then why can’t the Catholic Church?  My limited experience suggests to me that it is entirely possible for Ministers to be just as proficient in preaching the gospel and the values of the religion as can any Priest.  If the Catholic Church seriously wants to address this issue, then it seems to me it has to acknowledge that fundamental fact.  Celibacy has no place in a viable and dedicated priestly life to the religion it serves.  It only creates conflict and torment for simply being normal.  What does that achieve?  How does a life of loneliness and solitude serve God in any more noble ways than does a dedicated priest, a devoted husband and the father of children?     

In instances where sexual orientation precludes a married life and where there is a calling to serve, the Church has monasteries where those individuals could have the opportunity to devote their lives to intellectual, ecclesiastical and other callings that lend themselves to a celibate life, to the service of mankind and to the Church.  There is no reason why those same children of God cannot, and should not, be given the privilege of serving Him as well.

Pope Benedict showed tremendous courage by putting a significant number of pedophile priests out to pasture as his parting shot at what has been a smoldering fire within the belly of the Church for far too long.  It is time to open the windows, let in the fresh air and breathe new life into one of the greatest religious institutions in the history of the world.  It is time for his church to finish the job.  It is time for his successors to pick up the cudgel and get on with the challenge and promise of a better future for all the faithful.

It is, also, time for the American people to say “Enough is enough.”  The time has come to purge our public institutions of those who abuse the system, taking from the many in order to serve their masters of wealth, power and privilege.  We need a multiparty system of government, none of which should ever be allowed to enjoy special status over any of the others.  Democracy must always belong to the people, not vested interests of any kind.  It must be a society that belongs to us, the people and that democracy must serve all of us equally, fairly and justly. We have a long way to go before this even approaches reality; but it can be done.  

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
February 12, 2014                              

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This is too good not to pass on.