Monday, May 26, 2008

“He Is What He Is”

Last night I watched the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. on public television. As always, the pageantry and entertainment were dazzling. The scripted words were moving. I was touched by all it represented.

What most galls me about these events is the extent to which the architects of war bask in the glory of those to whom they refer as having “paid the ultimate sacrifice.” As they stand before us with the American flags at their backs, dripping in gold and uttering lofty words that ring hollow in my ears, I am overcome by a slight wave of nausea. I don’t trust military brass any more than I do the politicians to whom they are beholden. For the most part, they covet the trappings of power and privilege that goes with their station in life, often realized by the sacrifice of those they praise. I can’t even begin to imagine the silent cadre of those who walk the halls of the Pentagon, routinely selling out their country to the military-industrial complex, devoid of any shame, looking upon their dastardly deeds as routine business. As Lord Action so aptly stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

While those of lesser station pay the ultimate sacrifice, the military brass live lives of comfort and privilege akin to those on the upper rungs of the social ladder. They retire with fat pensions, become lobbyists and engage in other endeavors that are the direct result of having “served their country with distinction.” Those returning from their wars, whose lives are in shambles, have to fight and beg for every benefit they need in order to ease the pain and a lifetime of suffering that have become their lot by having served their country. Meanwhile, over thirty from the ranks of retired military “brass” lined up behind Hillary Clinton, extolling her experience as a superior qualifier for the presidency. What experience? She has no executive experience. That, alone, speaks volumes. Yeah, shower us all with more of your bovine scatology.

The greatest affront to the nation at last night’s gala on the mall was the role played by Colin Powell. Have you noticed the lengths to which his cronies are going to sanitize his character and polish his image? He is even being rumored as a possible candidate for vice-president in the forthcoming presidential elections, no doubt as part of the right “mix,” deemed by the political pundits as most marketable to the American electorate. This is the same guy who sat before the United Nations, knowingly and willingly peddling doctored photographs, and false statistics, all the while intoning the imminent threat of bogus weapons of mass destruction about to come raining down around our heads. His good looks and resonate voice not withstanding, he is nothing but a common, garden-variety liar! No amount of burnishing will restore the lost luster of honor to his blemished character. He is what he is.

I doubt that Colin Powell was a particularly remarkable military strategist or leader. He got where he is through his skill at playing the political game, and he has benefited handsomely from his success in that regard. He was at the right place at the right time. The most glaring flaw in his makeup is his total lack of character. He alone could have aborted the disastrous invasion of Iraq by simply telling the truth; exposing what was being asked of him and resigning his position as Secretary of State rather than continue being a part of the grand deception. He could have, and should have, been the chief critic of the war and those who sold this nation a bill of goods leading up to it. Instead, he chose his own personal ambitions at the expense of the nation and the lives of over 4,000 young men and women. Countless numbers of others have been physically and emotionally scarred by having served their country with honor and distinction. And the toll continues to rise. Their blood will forever stain the hands of Colin Powell. He isn’t worthy to stand in the shadow of one foot- soldier, much less extol the courage and sacrifice of all the real heroes we honor this Memorial Day.

That the apple does not fall far from the tree is further underscored by the antics of Colin Powell’s son, Michael. While serving as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, he presided over the wholesale giveaway of publicly owned airwaves to the corporate behemoths that now use those airwaves to serve their own ends, rather than the common good. His bank account, no doubt, speaks to the success of his public service. Good job, Michael. A chip off the old block.

Yes, the Powell’s will surely go down in history as one of America’s most distinguished military families for all they have given through their tireless efforts on behalf of the country. Hogwash! They are nothing but a bunch of elitist frauds. I rather doubt they have ever done much of anything that did not net them a seat at the head table.

In the absence of any genuine shame and remorse, I can only hope that Divine Justice and the ghosts of all those who have fallen victim to the likes of Colin Powell, and those of like mind, will haunt them every day for the rest of their lives. They deserve nothing less.

Cowboy Bob
May 26, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

“Whistling Past the Graveyard”

We Americans are a curious and at times a rather pathetic lot. We have a marvelous ability to deny reality and remain totally unaware of the constant state of self-imposed ignorance in which we live. We seem to have lost our ability to stand for much of anything beyond our own vested self-interests. The ability to hold ourselves and our public servants to some semblance of moral standards is seriously flawed. But, what can you expect from a populace that feasts on a diet of “Dancing With The Stars,” “American Idol,” “American Gladiator,” etc., at the expense of being informed about what is going on around them and how it may affect their lives?

We behave as if adversity of any kind is only a temporary phenomenon, so not to worry. Things will return to normal soon and we can revert back to our old ways of raping the earth of its bounty of finite resources in our gluttoness pursuit of pleasure and self-indulgence. We can tolerate corruption on the part of government and big business so long as we get our slice of the pie, even at the expense of our less fortunate brethren. After all, as was so aptly stated in “Gone with the Wind,” by Scarlet O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day.”

By the most conservative estimates, we are ten percent (10%) of the world’s population consuming thirty percent (30%) of its resources. Few seem to be particularly interested or concerned about this sad testimony to what we have become. It is as if we have some divine right to all the world has to offer, with absolutely no obligation to assume some responsibility for conservation on behalf of the rest of the world.

We seem to have abandoned any notion of personal responsibility or moral obligation for whom and what we are. Sadly, that kind of attitude comes at a horrific cost, the manifestations of which have only begun to come down on our heads. It isn’t pretty and it is only going to get worse.

In the 1970’s we experienced a gas shortage perpetrated by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Gas lines became a common sight and people were dumping their gas-guzzling cars as fast as they could get rid of them. Fuel economy and alternative forms of energy were the new buzz words in our lexicon of the latest fads. Conservation and innovation were to be a major part of the backbone of our economy. As soon as the crisis was over we went right back to our big cars, pickup trucks, motor homes, etc. The crisis was past and any interest in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, developing new forms of energy and improving mileage on motor vehicles was no longer of any interest or concern to us. The moment had passed and we were back to indulging our every appetite until the next crisis came along. After all, “tomorrow was another day.” The behemoths of corporate and government corruption gave a sigh of relief. We turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. It was back to business as usual.

Had we been a forward looking people with a common bond among ourselves, we would have put our shoulders to the wheel in order to solve the problem of our dependence on fossil fuels. Motor vehicles on America’s highways today would be powered by the most advanced and sophisticated hybrids, hydrogen cells, bio-diesels and other unimagined forms of technology. Now the foreboding prophecy of the 1970’s has come home to haunt us. Here we stand with our pants down around our ankles and totally bewildered as to what will be wrought by this latest misfortune or, better yet, catastrophe. Guess what folks? There just isn’t any quick fix and we are totally unprepared to deal with what we face. We did it to ourselves by our false optimism and a chronic myopic view of the world. We have dropped the family jewels in the proverbial vice, I fear. And the vice is just beginning to tighten.

I don’t for a minute believe that what we are facing is simply the result of the market forces at work. It came upon us too quickly and too severely. There just has to be more to it than that. I am more inclined to believe it is payback time.

Firstly, we have our Coward in Chief in the White House whose family has a long history of close ties to the rich and powerful of Saudi Arabia, most notably the Bin Laden Family. Secondly, we have a Vice Coward and crook whose ties go back to the oil and gas industry in Wyoming and Texas. Given the shroud of secrecy with which he has surrounded himself, God only knows where all of his tentacles of influence and corruption reach. Thirdly, we have huge petrochemical corporations making absolutely obscene profits at the expense of the people of this country, with not the slightest qualm of conscience. They aren’t even embarrassed by what they have done and continue to do. But, they have their buddies in the administration running interference for them. What more do they need?

George H.W. Bush, as the first Iraq war was coming to a close, stopped short of invading Baghdad at the urging of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia because the Saudis did not want to share a common border with a country ruled by a Shiite majority. Then, in 2003, along came our newly crowned Coward in Chief who invaded Iraq for the second time, based on a pack of lies. Our Congress readily acquiesced about which they have been moaning and gnashing their teeth ever since. The most egregious folly of his grand deception was to disenfranchise a Sunni Muslim minority in power and hand it over to the long dreaded Shiite Muslim majority. Now, the new ruling majority in Iraq (Shiites) has become cozy with their brethren in Iran, and the Sunnis, who once enjoyed a close relationship with their Sunni allies, sit on the periphery of this new alliance wondering what happened and what is yet to come. Georgie Porgie’s betrayal of Daddy’s promise to King Fahd has thrown the whole region into chaos with an uncertain future.

All of the foregoing is topped off with a long standing and one-sided foreign policy by the United States which clearly favors the State of Israel at the expense of the Arab and Islamic world. Nothing demonstrates our convoluted definition of “free and open elections,” more than our mandate to Gaza for such elections. There was no qualifier to the effect that the U.S. wanted “an open and free election that will guarantee the results the United States and the State of Israel desire." When things did not come out the way we expected and Hamas was elected by the Palestinians, we refused to recognize their government which was brought about through “a free and open election.” Now, folks, if that isn’t a lose-lose situation, I don’t know what is!

All of this has resulted in (1) a major betrayal of our Sunni allies by a precipitous invasion of Iraq, and (2) almost total alienation of the entire Middle East through a foreign policy that is clearly one-sided in favor of the State of Israel. None of this makes for solid and lasting friendships in the region.

We have lost a long-standing friendship with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states in and around the Arabian Peninsula. Iran is taking great delight in flexing its muscles and irritating the United States. Hezbollah is a formidable force with which we have to reckon, and Al Quaida continues to flourish in the remoteness of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lebanon is once again in turmoil, and we are uncertain as to where Russia and China stack up in all this.

When a friend of long standing figuratively seduces you, is it not a rather natural reaction to want to get even? I suspect that is much of what is really happening to us at the gas pump. Our friends on whom we have relied for so long are no longer with us. With China funding our war in Iraq and foreign interests buying up our financial institutions, compounded by the transfer of industry and technology, and the outsourcing of jobs from the U.S. overseas, all of our bluster about being the “richest and most powerful nation in the world" has a hollow ring to it.

We can take some solace in knowing that no one on earth does self-deception better than we do.

No point in whistling past the graveyard anymore. The demons are long gone and reside comfortably atop most of the oil reserves in the world. We will get what we pay for and nothing more. That certainly is not a pretty picture to contemplate. We need to grow up.

Cowboy Bob
May 22, 2008