Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Four Thousand and Still Counting"

The news just broke that the total casualties for the Iraq War has reached 4,000 brave men and women. Those statistics will bring us to 4,000 coffins our illustrious “Coward in Chief” deemed we, the people of the United States, should not see as they arrived at Dover Air Force Base. Not that he gave a damn as to what we wanted or would think. Rather, it was to insulate himself from any public responsibility for the atrocities he and his cohorts were committing. Those are 4,000 whose funerals and graves will never be visited by our “Coward in Chief” or any of his "neocon" zealots who conspired to sell us a war based on a pack of lies. They are the same privileged elite (our own homegrown "axis of evil") who have insulated themselves from ever having to sacrifice one of their own in the service of their country.

Following must be the recipe they used for conspiring to attempt to co-opt an entire nation into believing that, through some perverted, convoluted and sick logic, there was a lofty and noble basis for what they did and continue to do:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. This is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship …. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” --- Hermann Goring

May Almighty God have mercy on their poor, twisted and empty souls. None is worthy to stand in the presence of just one of those still serving.

As a footnote, I hold what should be an open and vigilant press responsible for allowing this travesty to have progressed beyond the halls of Congress with hardly a ripple. They knew better and did nothing. They were all too willing to remain blind and silent; the thousands of lives lost or destroyed be damned. And they call themselves journalists?

Cowboy Bob
March 23, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"American Aristocracy"

In so many ways, we Americans are a mass of contradictions. We subscribe to ideals that we do not necessarily practice. Let’s look at the notion of aristocracy as a part of the American fabric.

We pride ourselves in being a nation of equals. Equality is a big issue with us. The credo, “All men are created equal,” is etched in the very foundations of our democracy. For the most part, we honestly believe there are no privileged gentry in our society. Opportunity is there for anyone willing to sacrifice and work hard. After all, that is the essence of the American Dream.

When I refer to “aristocracy,” I am not including the scores of movie personalities, rock stars, sports figures and all the others to whom we so willingly surrender up billions of our dollars a year just to vicariously savor their prowess, fame and fortune.

When I refer to “aristocracy,” I am thinking of a completely different class of people who, other than with close friends and associates, appear to be far more private, conservative in their lifestyles and a with a distinct absence of paparazzi around them. They carry a subdued aura of superiority compared to the rest of us. They are the elites who own and govern our political and economic lives. They are the ones who move in the shadows, with lives of wealth, privilege and power that most of us can only imagine. Yet, we revere them, honor them and we willingly yield up our lives to their benevolence. We feed on the opiates they dole out to us in order to dull our senses and suppress our ability to critically view them as they exist in reality. Their tentacles reach into every aspect of our lives, sapping the lifeblood of what most of us should be and which so few of us are. So much of their wealth and power derives from all they pander to us in terms of our materialistic and hedonistic appetites. They place a lot of stock in our collective ignorance. Their advertising machine has convinced us that there is no harm in easy credit and cheap goods. They have convinced us that a less than perfect body, erectile dysfunction and a whole host of other personal imperfections have reached epidemic proportions. But, fear not, for they have a program, product, regimen or pill readily available to cure any malady that may affect us. They have reduced us to an unhealthy preoccupation with the basest aspects of our human nature. All that is to be desired exists in the material and sensuous worlds they peddle. All we have to do is pay for it.

Those whom I hold most accountable for the erosion of the values that have made us a great people are the political elite inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C. They do the bidding of their wealthy benefactors, exploiting the human condition with the hope of eventually sharing in the largesse of the super-rich and multi-national corporations. They live within an amoral bubble of privilege where very different concepts of morality, integrity and entitlement exist; things they regard as their god-given right. They know better than we do what is good for us. We have created, perpetuated and deferred to this “aristocracy.” By default we have acquiesced to the belief that they really do know better than we as to what is best for us. Let’s look at just a few examples.
  • NAFTA and free trade agreements are good for us. We will all be better off with this new thing referred to as “globalization.” Ask all those who have been impoverished by moving our industrial base overseas that provided us with secure jobs, a living wage and decent fringe benefits that have evaporated right before their very eyes.
  • Ask those families who once lived comfortably from the income of a primary wage earner, but who are now reduced to the status of “faux” slaves, working two or three service jobs just to keep one jump ahead of the bill collector.
  • Ask those who were seduced by the greed and criminal behavior of the financial institutions who sold them a bill of goods with sub-prime mortgages, easy credit and a set of false values that have convinced us we are less than ideal; the perfect personification of all that we can be for “just pennies a day.” Vanity is now our national preoccupation.
  • Ask those who have given up their sons and daughters to a war based on lies and the glutoness appetites of business and political conies, few if any who have had to sacrifice one or more of their own on the altar of avarice and empire before which they worship.
  • Ask those who are demonized because they resent hoards of illegal aliens pouring across our southern border, laying claim to social and economic programs into which they have paid nothing, but which are safety nets for those of us who have.
  • They have given away our national treasures for commercial exploitation.
  • They have given away one of the most important foundations of our democratic system of government to corporate ownership - a free and open press. What was intended to be the major watchdog on our democracy has now become the means by which big money frames their case for their own political, social and material benefit. Journalists who were once the vanguard of truth and honesty have now become regulars in the social registers of the Washington elite. The fox and the chicken now share the same circle of friends and associates. The Bob Schieffers and Bill Moyers are a dying breed and we are so much the poorer for it.
  • They acknowledge the legitimacy of our vote every 2, 4 or 6 years. Once obtained they simply slide back into the Beltway Bubble to, once again, serve the oligarchy to which they are beholden, responding to our expressed concerns with canned letters, e-mails, etc., filled with latitudes and platitudes that say little and promise nothing.

Europeans have a long history of titled gentry as a part of their cultural collage. It is an honor bestowed by the vestigial remnants of royalty. Who and what they are is common and accepted knowledge. It is simply a part of their heritage.

The “American Aristocracy” represents our interests. We subscribe to the belief that they are accountable to the electorate. Instead, we go the Europeans one better without so much as a whimper; we allow them to ---

  • Set their own salaries and salary increases.
  • Determine their own healthcare plans, the likes of which are the envy of those of us struggling with the ever-growing burden of health care costs.
  • A whole host of other perquisites and largesse of which most of us are totally unaware.
  • They have only to flirt with public office in order to be rewarded with a lifetime of fat pensions and benefit plans, with rights of survivorship so their poor hapless spouses need not concern themselves with a lesser standard of living, or with having to tap into their independent wealth, which seems to be just another mysterious by-product of public service.

If the foregoing is not enough, and what I find the most galling aspect of their tenure in public office, is that we allow them to carry the title of the office they hold throughout the remainder of their lives. Therein lays the validation of American Aristocracy. Frankly, once their term of office is over, they should leave the title behind and go back to simply being known as Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. It would serve to remind them that they are, in the final analysis, just one of us; no more and no less. There is certainly no shame in that. No more president, congressman, ambassador, judge, councilman, etc., for a lifetime. Titles should remain with the office, not the individual.
Rather than being tainted by corruption, self-serving practices and power trips, serving in the seat of government in Washington, D.C. should be a treasured honor and a noble exercise in service and humility, not arrogance.

As our economy tanks and comes crashing down around our heads, perhaps there is an ironic grain of truth in the old adage to the effect that “the mettle of our character is tempered by the fires of adversity.” Perhaps, with impending national bankruptcy, we will no longer be able to wage immoral wars, our public coffers will no longer be a bottomless pit for the world and our for our massive give-away programs. We may just have to revisit the fact that we need to take care of one another. Just maybe we will have to acknowledge that we are all in this together, and begin to see each other as fellow human beings, sharing a common lot, and whose futures depend on all of us working together for the common good.

Blessings are sometimes manifest in strange and unexpected ways.

Cowboy Bob
March 20, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Lord, Bless Me"

I believe religion and religious beliefs are very private and personal. I respect everyone's right to his or her own system of beliefs, as I would expect them ro respect mine. It is in that spirit that I post this particular blog.

I wrote this prayer 7 hears ago for my own benefit. I have passed it on to a few friends over the years. Some of them have encouraged me to share it with a broader audience, so I make it available here for anyone who may find it of interest or of value in their life. This Lenten Season seems like an appropriate time to do so. No other motive.


Lord, bless me with a deep and abiding faith so that I may be worthy to stand in the light of your presence.

Lord, bless me with material resources sufficient to enable me to become all that I am capable of being without compromise.

Lord, bless me with good health so that I can carry the burdens of life with strength, confidence and grace.

Lord, bless me with an open mind so that I can see new horizons and never miss an opportunity to have my life enriched by those who dare to be different.

Lord, bless me with the spirit of your divine love, so that I may be free from prejudice, bigotry and hatred.

Lord, bless me with a kind and generous soul so that I may freely share my bounty and never be impervious to the sufferings of others.

Lord, bless me with humility so that I will be one with the inherent decency and goodness of my fellow man.

Lord, bless me with the joy of loving and serving You.


Written 11/01
Posted by Cowboy Bob
March 13, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Folk Wisdom and the Old Dog"

I have never been enamored of the Clintons since they appeared on the national political scene. They are, without doubt, one of the most notoriously ambitious and ruthless politicians in the business. Their checkered past and the company they keep reveal a remarkable ability to elevate sleaze to a new low. They have the most fluid principles and standards imaginable, and with them, lying is not wrong, it is an art form. The disgrace they brought to the presidency and the Oval Office are etched for all time in our national memory.

Watching the current spate of primaries and caucuses reminded me of a time when I was a 9-year old boy on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. The ranch hands had gathered on the steps of the bunk house, having just finished “supper.” The western sky was beginning to take on the orange glow of a summer sunset. I was but a mere midget in the company of these giants among men. They were my heroes. The conversation turned to the foreman’s wife, who was unusually well endowed with a mouth so caustic she could burn the flesh off the back of any adversary. That particular evening she had engaged in a vicious assault on the character of one of the other women on the ranch. The “boys” took offense at her behavior and the incident was the topic of their conversation.

The senior ranch hand was a quiet man of few words. His face was wrinkled and weathered. His hands were calloused from years of fixing fence, branding calves, breaking horses and all of the other remarkable talents so peculiar to their ilk. His hat was stained by a band of sweat where the crown met the brim. His Levis were tattered, and his boots were rough and well worn. From the pocket of his shirt dangled the string and paper emblem attached to a bag of Bull Durham. This man was my mentor who taught me all of the skills required of a real ranch hand. I knew he must, in some rugged way, resemble God Himself. He was my Dad. As he listened to the conversation, he stared silently at the crude patterns he was drawing in the dirt with a stick. As silence began to descend on their words, he raised his head, looked into the eyes of his fellow cowboys and said, “Well guys, there‘s one thing for sure; “a dog always smells his own hole first.”

You don’t suppose that dog’s name was Hillary do you?

Cowboy Bob
March 7, 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


There is nothing like an election season to bring out the “true believers” of every ilk. We are overdosed on absolute truths to the point that there is all but a stampede to the nearest vomitorium. Extremism flourishes, extremism being the tendency toward the eternal quest for simplistic solutions to complex problems. Extremists have no concept as to what critical thinking and intellectual discourse actually mean. All they know is they have all the answers and the opposition harbors an agenda that, if left unchecked, will surely destroy us all. Really?

The mantra that most amuses me is the one to the effect that, if left unfettered, the free and open market will always operate to the collective benefit of society much more efficiently and effectively than government could ever hope to. Talk about naive. It totally overlooks the frailties and shortcoming that are an inherent part of our human nature.

Despite their wishes to the contrary, not everyone operates from a totally moral base, with only the very best of intentions. The person has not been born who is not fundamentally flawed by the very fact of their humanity. It is simply inherent in our nature. Admittedly, some do a better job of reining in those temptations than do others, but the fact remains we all have our share of bumps and warts.

Society must have in place the means to ensure that individuals and institutions operate within constraints that protect our collective interests. Call it regulation, oversight, accountability or whatever. The fact remains that the frailty of our human nature must be tempered by consequences when we operate outside the bounds of legitimacy for the common good. Teddy Roosevelt, probably more than any president in history, was acutely aware of the need for government to protect us from ourselves, and he put in place the safeguards necessary to maintain a reasonable and healthy balance. On the other hand, we as responsible citizens have an obligation to ensure that government serves the interests of the electorate and is not allowed to go to either extreme of over-regulation or under-regulation. It is within those extremes that government must always operate. It is for our democracy to define the limits of those extremes, and hold both government and private enterprise to those standards.

Ronald Reagan came into office hell-bent on reducing the size of government in favor of a free-market economy. It has only intensified with successive administrations. Now, I dare say that goal was not without some merit. However, like most minds that deal in absolutes, they have failed to recognize and acknowledge one of the most insidious of all absolutes, namely GREED IS AN INSATIABLE APPETITE.

Once greed is unleashed on a society, it knows no limits and, like most parasitic characteristics, if left unchecked it will ultimately destroy its host. The seeds of self-destruction lie within the very nature of greed. Rather than seeing greed as the cancer it is on our social and economic fabric, it has become an accepted part of our daily lives.

Greed invariably leads to corruption. It panders to all kinds of vested interests focused on an unbridled profit motive and maximum return to stockholders. Those who benefit the most are those who have the most. However, those who reap the bounty do so at the expense of the most vulnerable among us.

Despite the fact that greed subscribes to the mistaken notion that “all men are created equal,” and uses that as the basis for touting the benefits of a level playing field euphemistically referred to as the free market, it totally ignores some very real differences in the human condition, namely:
  • All human beings are not born with the same basic intelligence or physical characteristics.
  • All human beings are not equipped to go to college and move into the more affluent levels of the workforce and society.
  • All human beings are not born into and raised in a loving and well-rounded home that fosters self-confidence and the will to succeed...
  • Human beings will tend to settle into the stratum of society where they are the most valued and that provides them with opportunities that allow for their limitations.

The nature of the free market, being what it is, will seek to procure their labor at the lowest price possible in the labor market. Greed will reduce that force to abject poverty and a sense of total helplessness. That is deemed, by the “powers that be,” as their divinely ordained station in life. Ownership flourishes at the expense of the owned.

Some of the more poignant examples of the price we have paid as a consequence of legitimizing greed as a perceived virtue in this country are:

  • Easy credit with usurious rates of interest.
  • Payday Lenders
  • Cheap and unsafe goods flooding our markets.
  • An unsafe and under-regulated food supply.
  • The obscene cost of prescription drugs, aided and abetted by our government.
  • The sub-prime mortgage disaster.
  • Corporate ownership of healthcare delivery systems and their collusion with other sectors of the health care economy.
  • Over 45 million people who cannot afford health insurance and have no access to health care.
  • An energy policy that is the product of collusion and secrecy between energy companies and a government that is ostensibly charged with acting in the best interests of the consumer.
  • No-bid contacts.
  • Corporate ownership of a free and unencumbered press, the purpose of which was envisioned as society’s watchdog on our “democracy.”
  • A crumbling infrastructure.
  • The plundering of public lands held in trust for the people of the United States.
  • Massive closures and the export of our manufacturing base to cheap labor markets overseas.
  • The loss of millions of jobs to foreign pockets of slave labor around the world.
  • The failure of our government to secure our borders, resulting in millions of illegal aliens coming into this country so business (greed) will have an endless supply of cheap labor at the expense of a living wage for unemployed Americans.
  • A nation where ten percent of the worlds’ population consumes thirty percent of its resources.
  • The most polluting nation on the face of the earth.
  • And more ad nauseum ................

Greed seems to have fostered a prevailing characteristic within us that believes what we have sown will never come back to haunt us until there is a crisis. Then we want a quick and easy solution that will stave off the inevitable. We no longer seem to genuinely care about each other as a people. Rather, I see yet another manifestation of greed that essentially says, “As long as I get what I am after, I really don’t give a damn about anyone else.”

The worst and most perilous of all the consequences of greed as an accepted characteristic of our society is a government that is totally corrupt and self-serving. They seduce us every 2, 4 or 6 years only to return to pander to those who feed their own greed at the expense of the taxpayers. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the current spate of primaries. Those who swallow their every word as gospel are those doomed as surely as a herd of sheep waiting for the slaughter. Are they so desperate that they want to believe anything that will improve their lot in life, or are they simply content to live in a perennial state of self-imposed ignorance? God gave us minds for the purpose of thinking, analyzing and evaluating what goes on around us. To the extent we have those attributes, the time has come to start using them to our maximum advantage, rather than being spoon fed by those whose only goal is to feed on us!

I believe that our government is so compromised that there is little or no real distinction between the two major political parties. I have serious doubts that they genuinely care about any of us, particularly those whose lives are sacrificed on the altar of greed. That is the most vulgar form of exploitation. The whole lot of them should be ashamed for perpetuating a lie that has seduced the noblest intentions of the best we have to offer.

Our only alternative appears to be an independent political movement that will garner the support of the citizens of this country in expunging the cancerous growth on the government establishment from within the Beltway. I genuinely believe this election cycle is our last best hope to salvage the remnants of this great country. Otherwise, I shudder to think of what the future holds for us.

There is a finer side to our human nature and an innate decency within the fabric of the American people. We need to get re-acquainted with those values, and become all that we are capable of becoming in the very finest and best sense of the word.

Cowboy Bob
March 5, 2008