Monday, December 21, 2009

"Change We Can Believe In? The Time is Now!"

Let me begin by commending the millions of Americans who believed, and still believe, so deeply in the Presidency of Barack Obama, a belief I shared until the reality of his character became apparent. We all hoped in a common belief that he would clean up all that is so contrary to the national interest, and that he would restore a sense of dignity and honor to the White House that has been missing for decades. Sad to say, his record has proven to be the complete antithesis of all those hopes and dreams brought about, not through naiveté and inexperience but, rather, through cunning, deception and design. That he fails the test of leadership is self-evident. He has deliberately abrogated every trust we so willingly placed in him. We have been betrayed.

We were led to believe there would be transparency in government. Instead, we have secrecy and obfuscation.

We were led to believe he would hold to account those who committed war crimes and torture. Instead, we got, “I do not believe we should live in the past but, rather, it is more important for us to look to the future.”

We were led to believe that he would stop warrant-less wiretapping, only to see it trumped in the interest of “national security.”

We were led to believe the controls that were removed and paved the way for the deregulation of the financial industries, and other contributing factors leading us to the precipice of another depression, would be reinstated in the interest of the economic health of the country. Instead, he lost no time in handing the responsibility over to the very people and institutions that had precipitated the financial crisis in the first place.

We were led to believe he would re-open NAFTA. Instead, he joined with his counterparts from Canada and Mexico to reaffirm their collective support for NAFTA and free trade, all at the expense of American workers. He is now seeking to accelerate the pursuit of free-trade agreements to numerous other nations.

We were led to believe he would fight for a national health plan, including a robust public option. Instead, in private meetings, the President assured the healthcare insurance industry and big pharmaceutical companies that (a) there would be no public option in the final bill, and (b) the pharmaceutical companies would not have to negotiate prices for prescription drugs with the U.S. Government.

We were led to believe the President would not be using signing statements on legislation. Instead, he has already resorted to that notorious practice by George W. Bush.

We were led to believe that he would ratchet down on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it appears he has caved in to the military establishment and, rather than reducing our commitment in Afghanistan, he has increased the troop compliment.

We were led to believe that he was going to require the large banking institutions on Wall Street to free up money given to them under the auspices of the TARP Program so community banks could loan to small businesses in order to stimulate the economy. The nation waits with baited breath.

His “Stimulus Program” was going to jump-start the economy, create jobs and get people back to work. Instead, we have an escalating unemployment rate with only meek assurances that there is a time lag to be expected between investment and results. Meanwhile, millions of people become ever more impoverished and foreclosure rates soar.

There are more examples, but I believe the point has been made. President Obama is skilled at making inspiring speeches that lifts ones hopes to the heavens. He is adroit in his ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth. He is masterful in his ability to pander to special interests and centers of power and influence, while convincing the nation that he really is doing something for the common man. He gives the sales pitch and Rahm Emanuel peddles the goods. We wait with baited breath.

I, like so many, wanted very much to believe in the person and the candidacy of Barack Obama. However, I am mindful of the hazards of believing without questioning the motives of the one who is asking me to accept his/her system of beliefs. Barack Obama is much too intelligent and shrewd to be accused of naiveté. He did not get to where he is, in such a short period of time, to have accepted very much on simple faith. As the old adage goes, “He is dumb like a fox.” In a short span of time, he has taken me from a state of complete trust to one of complete lack of trust. He is simply no longer credible.

While an entire nation of good and decent people cry out for the “change we can believe in,” with the leadership, commitment and dedication to make it all happen, we have instead one who only hears the call of the super-rich, the powerful, the greedy, those whose blind ambition overshadows any notion of compassion and, finally, the mesmerizing influence of gold braid, silver stars and the sheer perverse intoxication that comes only with the power to commit young lives to a violent and untimely death or, worse, a lifetime of suffering from the lasting wounds inflicted on distant battlefields.

When those without power and means plead for nothing more than the opportunity to earn an honest living and share in the American Dream, their cries go unnoticed by the White House, the Senate and the Congress - corruption being the common thread. When the rich and powerful call, it is almost as if I am hearing the stereotypical plantation owner saying, “C’mon now, boy. Ya hea?” Then the caricature of Step’n fetchit comes to life as the answer seems to echo from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “Yassa, boss; yassa, boss.”

In the meantime, the ghosts of Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Brooks and countless numbers of others who suffered, marched and demanded an equal share of the American dream in the name of racial, social and economic justice simply hang their heads in silent shame for what the President has done to all they fought for.

The President, in 2004, so eloquently stated in his Keynote Address to the Democratic National Convention that “There is no black America and there is no white America; there is only the United States of America.” There is, also, an old adage that says, “One is known by the company he keeps.” Your actions, Mr. President, are not consistent with your words. You no longer have any credibility, and for that, you are far more to be pitied than scorned.

Difficult though the path may be, I have complete confidence that this nation will again be the beacon of hope and justice it once was. Those who are destined to share in that distant triumph will rightfully share in the euphoria of that moment in time. Meanwhile, the 44th President of the United States will likely find himself an old man, alone and forgotten, because of all we had hoped he would be, but which he squandered on the altar of his blind ambition, avarice and the dubious legitimacy of his truly being the First African-American President of the United States of America.

When the ideals, values and guiding principles upon which this nation was founded and prospered begin to erode by benign neglect, fertile ground has been cultivated for sowing the seeds of complete decay of the social, economic and moral values that are so essential to a healthy and progressive nation. When a people become too lazy to research and question what is being done in their name, they invite the very fate they most fear.

When we can no longer trust in the government we have elected to serve us, we have no alternative but to look for a better means to serve our national interests than what we now have in the seat of our Federal Government in Washington, D.C. It calls into question the benefits to society of the financial houses on Wall Street, the image makers on Madison Avenue and the “faux“ news organizations created by corporate journalism. When those very institutions recoil at the notion of any transparency and accountability to the society in which they operate, we know we are in trouble and the time has come for “change we can not only believe in, but can trust, as well.

The most urgent realization we must realize, as intelligent people and responsible citizens, is that the time has come to get our heads out of our posteriors, quit spending our every waking moment with our faces in a hand-held entertainment center, and worrying more about what we look like than what we are as members of the human race. Living beyond our means because we are more concerned about satisfying the baser aspects of our imperfect nature in order to impress others than in acquiring what we need to live a responsible life is a potent elixir for our ultimate demise. When we have become too lazy to go through the rigors of getting an education, and cultivating a sense of wonder and curiosity that will lead to a thirst for knowledge and a natural curiosity about the world around us, we have taken ourselves and the earth to the brink of total annihilation.

Regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs, when we have shared in and contributed to all that will surely take us to the brink, we have become a party to the ultimate affront to whatever higher power we seek to guide and protect us on this mortal journey we all share.

When those we have put in power to serve us violate and prostitute their solemn obligation to society and the institutions of which they are a part, then it is time to turn to that time-honored avenue of redress so effectively used throughout our history -- civil disobedience, as eloquently codified in an 1849 essay by Henry David Thoreau.

“The time has come for change we can believe in. The time is now.” Sound familiar?

Cowboy Bob
December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"We Need A Real Leader For A Change"

I am writing for the benefit of the righteous, the high and the mighty, the self-sanctimonious, the Bible thumpers and those who are so quick to disparage the working class and the poor by the hollow and empty words, “If they would go out and make something of themselves like the rest of us they wouldn’t be where they are.” Now, I ask you, how in the hell do you know that? Your hypocrisy provides a convenient cover for your callousness and lack of conscience. It conveniently permits you to ignore human suffering and rationalizes your selfishness and greed. It sanitizes all of your ugliness and avarice so you can live with yourselves in pious self-satisfaction. You define your religion in your own terms so you can live with yourself, actually believing you are one of God’s chosen ones, instead of the despicable wretch you actually are.

How many of you are upright members of mainline churches so you don’t have to rub elbows with those of a lesser station in life, insulating each other from what you really are? Last night it was bitterly cold where I live. One, lone church in the community, operating on the fringe of mainline religions, whose pastor looked rather like what we used to call a “hippy” took notice. He was very young, with a boyish face, a meager beard and kind of on the “nerdy” side. But, guess what? He mobilized his church, chartered a bus and went to the streets and a neighboring city to pick up the homeless and bring them to his church so they could have a hot meal and sleep in out of the cold for one out of how many nights of absolute misery. One of his parishioners went out and spent six hundred dollars of his own money, purchasing underwear and socks. Another went out and bought fifty sleeping bags with money out of his own pocket for some of those who would be returning to the streets the following day. These common folk simply cared. Where were the mainline churches and synagogues? They were either silent, or were shuttered and bolted in order to protect their assets from the potential ravages of what might seem like unsavory trespassers, who could somehow damage or disturb the clinical sanctity of their facilities housing the symbols of their religious piety.

In my time, there were hobos or bums, but they were few in number each, I am sure, with his own story. Homelessness was not a social phenomenon on a massive scale until the imbecilic and snobbish Reagan’s established the first imperial presidency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, only to be followed by those of like mind (or worse) all of whom have somehow made the very worst of our human nature seem respectable. It has enabled us to allow the institutions to shift their focus from the very people who put them in office to those who buy their favors through ill-gotten gains, literally stolen from the society of which they are a part. It has enabled us to become so abysmally complacent that we don’t have a clue as to what the reality around us really is, nor do we have the moxie and courage to do anything to improve the situation for all of us. Our national credo seems to have morphed into a unified cry of “Hooray for me and fuck you!” with God’s blessings, of course. We have allowed ourselves to be distracted from the reality around us by such vital issues of national interest as Sarah Palin pretending to know what is going on, Tiger Woods dipping his wick, Dancing with the Stars, etc. Ever so much more pleasant than the stench of all that is going on and, in reality, literally destroying our way of life and shredding the fabric of this country.

How many of you “successful” types were investing in a stock market out of control because of its reliance on slave labor, and the complete dismantling of our industrial base that shipped jobs overseas from under those who only sought the means to earn an honest living, pay their taxes and support their families? How many of you disparage those same people who are now working in fast-food businesses and other menial jobs because those are the only industries left for them to earn a meager living and attempt to ascend the socio-economic ladder to a better life? How many of you have disparaged labor unions because they dare to want a better life that will only come about through collective bargaining? If you need a reality check, compare the statistics regarding the standard of living for working men and women with those of the top one percent of the population in the United States over the last thirty years. If that doesn’t cause you to pull in your horns, you are either blind or stupid. But, you look the other way while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce champions the wholesale fleecing of the consumer public by corporations, huge conglomerates and patently dishonest business practices, all of which enhances your stock portfolio, and satiates your appetite for cheap goods flooding the American economy from overseas pockets of human misery, the likes of which you can’t even begin to imagine, much less feel.

Not everyone comes into this world on an even footing. Differences in our genetic makeup, the social and economic start we get in life, and our access to an education all mitigate against any semblance of real equality among us.

Some mistakenly equate a college education as a legitimate claim to more of the nation’s wealth. Not so. A college education offers no such guarantee any more than inherited wealth. As the old saying goes, “If you send a jackass to college all you have at the end of four years is an educated jackass.” The skills emanating from a vocational aptitude are as essential to a healthy society and economy as are the ill-perceived importance of most of what comes from academia. If you want to level the perception of yourself, contemplate for one brief moment the notion of equality and the extent to which you are at the mercy of your family physician, lawyer, accountant vs. the mechanic that fixes your car, the carpenter that builds your house and the electrician that ensures a safe and reliable supply of energy to every convenience you depend on in your daily life. A college education does not guarantee an educated result. By the same token, mastery of a technical discipline does not necessarily reflect the same discipline as that of an intellectual pursuit. Both, however, can and should rightfully claim an essential role in a healthy society.

What we most need to keep in mind is that the essence of our character is tempered, not by our station in life, but by the fires of adversity life has handed us, and which we have endured and survived. At the end of the day, we all, in some way, must earn our place by what we give to society rather than what we take from it.
In the time I have spent on this earth, I would have to say that I have found more inherent decency, honor and character among those who labor by the sweat of their brow than I ever did among those in the executive suite and the boardroom. I could count on a working man to be far less vulgar, more true to his word and less scheming than I ever could from those who regard themselves as part of the educated elite. Those who boast of having “made it,” deceive themselves by not realizing, in the end, all they really did was sell their souls.

I would not presume to speak for another’s system of beliefs. However, I have chosen to believe that, at the moment of our birth, God plants with each of us the essence of His Divine Grace, like a seed that will, if nurtured and cared for, one day germinate. Within that seed is the human manifestation of unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, from which comes a hope and charity that is forever with us. That is what our human decency is all about. So long as that hope is within us, therein lie the finer aspects of our human nature, there for us to call upon at will. That is what gives us the courage and determination to stare down evil, be it within us or outside of us. So long as that is a viable part of our individual and collective make-up, there is hope for the human race. Without it, there is only fertile ground from which to reap every conceivable evil known to mankind, and the seeds of our ultimate demise. Surely, we are better than that.

Given all that I read, see and hear, I am convinced that this nation is on a collision course with destiny, predicated on the cataclysmic forces coming to bear because of the insatiable greed, decadence and depravity of the political, social and economic institutions that are totally out of control and that are in the hands of the plutocrats, oligarchs, corporations and their government minions. Lest those in power become complacent because of their perceived superiority and control over those sworn to protect the nation, do not forget that the oath they took was to “defend and uphold the Constitution,” not the ruling elite. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the Constitution belongs more to those oppressed than it does to the oppressors.

My biggest fear is that we have no idea how much more people can be expected to bear. The Democrats and Republicans are different in name only, seeming to offer only meaningless latitudes and platitudes, while they busy themselves with their own vested self-interests. While we still have the time to change things through peaceful and lawful means, I don’t see that we have any alternative but to look to a third political party that is founded on and upholds the highest standards of honesty and integrity we can imagine, and the leadership to make it happen. The time for hot air is long past. We don’t need any more empty promises, lofty speeches and grand deceptions. The common wisdom is beyond all that. People know the reality we face and how remote the possibility is that much will flow from those who have profited so handsomely at our collective expense. In the extreme, I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw where two vultures are sitting on a branch of a dead tree. One says to the other, “Patience hell. Let’s go kill something!” You can only blow smoke up a man’s ass for so long before fire starts coming out of his nostrils.

We need a real leader and a statesman with a higher calling to inspire us, repair this nation and restore the democratic principles upon which this fragile republic was founded.

Chuck Hagel, where are you now that we need you?

Cowboy Bob
December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

“Is It To Be The Needy or the Greedy?”

I must confess that, after listening to President Obama‘s speech regarding the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan, I am confused.

We haven’t won a land war since World War II, but we seem to have some sort of perverted need to keep beating our heads against the proverbial brick wall hoping that an overwhelmingly decisive victory is yet to be ours. How can that be?

The Korean War resulted in a stalemate with a permanently divided country as the result. God only knows how much it has cost the American taxpayer to maintain a standing army for what must be the world’s longest staring contest in history. For what?

Vietnam? Well, we all know how that turned out and the sheer folly behind that debacle. How many American lives were lost on that one and for what?

Then there was the Iraq War. Ah, yes. Waged on totally false pretenses so a couple of sociopaths, who avoided military service because of wealth and influence, could play war with the lives of real heroes in a pathetic attempt to sanitize their cowardly images, and delude themselves into believing that, in the end, they really were war heroes. Meanwhile, the nation still clings tenaciously to the mantra that it was all done to “keep us safe,” and to “protect our freedoms.” I can’t quite figure out who is the most to be pitied; those who lied us into the war or those who actually believed we were under threat from a nation with which we were not at war.

Now, we are once again facing up to a struggle to “protect our freedoms” in Afghanistan. This is a place that has been over-run by ambitious conquerors going back to Genghis Khan, none of whom was victorious. I don’t hold out much hope for victory by the U.S. on this one, either.

With our history going back to the end of World War II, the classic definition of “insanity” comes to mind: “One who keeps repeating the same behavior over and over, hoping to get a different result.” Kinda fits, doesn’t it?

We seem to be locked into a long timeline of Presidents who have made a practice of professing to be a “man of the people,” only to prove themselves to be elitists of the worst kind. Our current President is doing a pretty good job of demonstrating to the nation that he is following the example of a good many of his predecessors in this regard.

He has pandered to the former Clinton Administration to the extent that he has brought several members of that administration into his own to, essentially, engage in much the same kind of self-serving and deceptive behavior that Willie Boy did so very well in cahoots with Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.

His hollow words and promises about holding the Bush Administration to account for their transgressions in fomenting a war based on a pack of lies, torture, questionable business practices, etc. all seem rather empty.

He has not increased the taxes on the super-rich that so obscenely plundered the nation under George Bush. In the meantime, the rich only get richer and the blue-collar workers are plunged ever more deeply into a state of abject poverty.

Wall Street has been given billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars at the expense of the taxpayers, with absolutely no demonstration of remorse for what they have inflicted on this country, or good faith in cleaning up their act for the benefit of the economy. The salaries and bonuses only get bigger and bigger, with our tax dollars, of course. Ah, what a man of the people he has turned out to be! By the way, did you catch the item on Tuesday night’s news announcing the engagement of Chelsea Clinton to (you got it) an investment banker. How does that square with the fact that (a) her dad, as President, deregulated the financial industries, and (b) Chelsea worked (and may still be working) for the largest hedge fund on Wall Street. There is much to be said for keeping it in the family. That seems to be the preferred means for staying at the top of the food chain by the wealthy of this country.

He has made backroom deals with health insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies so they can continue to fleece the American people of those basics most needed for a reasonably healthy and productive life. Ah, those little private meetings in the White House for the select few do accomplish wonders!

Community banks cannot loan to small businesses because the Barons of Wall Street refuse to part with any of our tax dollars, so they can continue to speculate with the wealth of the nation. Dollars that were supposed to go to the creation of jobs for a nation crying for the privilege of earning an honest living. Ah, not to worry. Just trust us. Yeah, right! The magnanimous size and scope of his so-called “Stimulus Plan” compared to the “Wall Street Bailout” wouldn’t even qualify as economic foreplay preparatory to screwing the nation.

Except for the times when he engages in oral scatology for political purposes, I don’t think President Obama really wants much to do with the average person in our society. I have to give him credit, he fakes it reasonably well, but his actions are certainly not consistent with his words. I was impressed that he chose to make his speech regarding increased troop levels in Afghanistan at West Point rather than at Fort Bragg. After all, the ambiance and the station in life of the cadets are more in keeping with the privileged elite of this country. There is much to be said about keeping with your own kind, I suppose.

It should not go unnoticed that we are still depending on an “all-volunteer” army. There is no draft, which would, of course, make the follies of war in the Middle East a burden to be shared equally by everyone called on to serve. I suspect those who are at West Point are there because that is where they belong and where they want to be. Those on the ground fighting the war are, in the majority of cases, probably there because (a) they couldn’t find a job at home and (b) there are hungry mouths depending on their meager earnings for food on the table and a roof over their heads. Ham hocks and beans may not measure up to arugula with balsamic vinegar, vintage white wine, capped off with a nice peach flambé, but it sure beats the alternative, doesn‘t it?

The Pentagon is reputed to have over 600 corporations under contract. Why and how do the salaries of their mercenaries square with those of a foot soldier? I would hazard a guess that their families are not subsisting on the basics like those of our service men and women. Foreclosure, to them, is probably nothing more than a word in the dictionary. Why are we still doing business with KBR and Blackwater in Afghanistan after their massive negligence and swindles in Iraq? Are there no consequences for criminal behavior these days? For petty crimes, perhaps? For massive fraud, never!

I don’t understand why we have land forces fighting in a mountainous terrain of the kind to be found in Afghanistan. Isn’t that rather like sending gun fodder from New Jersey to fight a foe of seasoned fighters in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho?

Why do we have such a long history of shoring up petty dictators and corrupt leadership to the tune of billions of dollars? Karzai and Musharraf being the latest. What are we buying from those bastards and what did we get for our money?

Why do we persist on fighting what appears to be an elusive enemy in countries populated with Islamic radicals where, at best, we are tolerated. I would hazard a guess that we are not welcome guests and, were it not for the money we pour into their coffers, we would find ourselves very quickly persona non grata.

I am mystified as to how many land bases we maintain around the world in light of the fact that there have been such tremendous strides in weaponry and delivery systems. Why do we need to billet troops in foreign countries at all? I would not be the least bit surprised if, in the majority of cases, the countries where we have those bases would just as soon have us pack our bags and go home.

We have unmanned drones, ballistic missiles, intercontinental bombers, aircraft carriers, and submarines spread across the continents and oceans of the world. With all of that technology, why are we even fighting a land war anymore? Oops, I forgot. The number of stars on the shoulders is directly proportional to the number of troops under any given command. Right? And all those numbering in the tens of thousands of American service personnel to track down and destroy a threat from Al Qaeda of approximately 100 individuals. That does seem like overkill, but then I am just a simple man when it comes to understanding things like military strategy, 600 corporations under contract to the Pentagon, and known criminal practices of companies like KBR and Blackwater that just, as they say, “keep on giving.” I suspect more stars have been won through raw ambition and political acumen than were ever awarded because of military genius.

Decades ago there was an obscure little man from Missouri sitting in the White House by the name of Harry S. Truman. He subscribed to and lived his life by one simple principle called “honesty.” There was nothing glamorous about him. He was a man of modest means and his behavior was consistent with his words. In short, he was believable and because of that, we trusted him. He never let us down.

Harry may have only had a high school education, but he had the courage of his convictions. He was not intimidated by those of privilege and wealth. His crowning achievement was using the courage of his convictions and the superiority of his elected office to fire an arrogant general who had become a legend in his own time, but a danger to the country. That is leadership vs. politics. We need a few more like him today, but they just don’t seem to be around anymore.

Why can’t we bring ourselves to tell the rest of the world -----

The United States of America is flat-ass broke.

We no longer have the means to protect the far reaches of the globe.

We no longer have the means to subsidize mega-banks, international corporations, a severely bloated military establishment, and the hundreds of contractors that feed on their largesse.

We sold off our industrial base and exported middle class jobs to cheap labor markets around the world, from which the recipients are profiting handsomely today while the victims of their greed stand in unemployment lines in an effort to simply survive.

As a result of the foregoing, the number of unemployed in our country is multiplying at an alarming rate, because of the rampant corruption and apathy of our governing establishment, plus the fact that there are no jobs to which they can go.

A once industrious and proud nation of good and decent people, and the most generous in the history of the world, has been reduced to various degrees of destitution. Homelessness is mounting at an alarming rate, food banks are stretched to the limit and getting worse, there is not adequate healthcare for millions of citizens, and access to an education is dwindling because of escalating costs. AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE SUFFERING and that is no longer acceptable as the price of empire.

Millions of good and decent citizens of this country earned their money honestly, they paid their taxes willingly, and they supported what those taxes went to out of a sense of duty in the rightness of what was being bought by those dollars. They did not pay those precious dollars just to have the high rollers on Wall Street gamble it away in an attempt to satiate their avariciousness. They did not pay those precious dollars so the super-rich could indulge their gluttonous appetites at the expense of the common good. They did not pay those precious dollars to flow into the coffers of corrupt politicians and the sinkholes for money over which they preside. American citizens are suffering and they want that money returned to them. They have had enough of the cold piercing their bodies, the pangs of hunger gnawing at their bellies and the crying of their children ringing in their ears. Good and decent Americans who have given so much for so long are suffering and they want their money spent on their needs for a change. Enough of the speeches and the never-ending bull shit that flows from the marble city on the Potomac.

Avarice and corruption are no longer regarded as virtuous, but are cast as the crimes against humanity that they are, in reality.

Why can’t we face up to the reality of our national tragedy and let the world know that ---

We are now serving notice that, in keeping with our heritage and traditions, we want to live peacefully with and within the world community. However, let it be known that if any terrorist group launches an attack against the United States of America, we will hold the country from which the attack was launched completely responsible for the actions of those terrorists. The host country should have known they were there and what they were up to. Their actions will be met with a retaliatory strike against the country providing safe haven to those terrorists, using every means of modern warfare at our disposal, except the precious lives of our young men and women in uniform. Far too much blood of the valiant and the brave has been shed in the pursuit of human freedom, only later to prove to be nothing more than sustenance for vampires.

Those of our own who have so mercilessly plundered the treasure of this country have lost sight of the fact that there are over 300 million people who are perfectly capable of restoring real democracy to this beleaguered land. The super-rich may have the gold, but those who can boast of being real Americans have the guts. Never underestimate the will and determination of a man and his family without food, shelter and the necessities of life. History has shown that to be a potent cocktail for change, and history has a way of repeating itself.

For the moment, the winds of change may be little more than a breeze, but the air is stirring. When that gentle breeze becomes a roaring hurricane, we are all in trouble. As the soil of corruption and decay thickens, the more difficult it is for the seeds of honesty and decency to germinate and take root.

Cowboy Bob
December 5, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"A New Federalist Party"


The United States espouses a two-party political system, albeit there have been a few more from time to time throughout our history. However, the number has been limited to two viable parties, which have dominated our national political scene.

We have a republic based on the Constitution, and a series of amendments to the Constitution adopted and ratified over the course of our nation’s history. The first ten amendments are referred to as The Bill of Rights.

Within the context of those documents are set forth the structure and the defined roles of each branch within the overall context of our national government.

1. The Executive Branch, which consists of the Office of the President and Vice-President, plus all administrative agencies of government headed by members of the Cabinet, appointed by and accountable to the President, and ratified by the Senate. The President and Vice-President are elected by an Electoral College, largely, but not necessarily, based on the results of a popular vote of the people.

2. The Legislative Branch, referred to as the Congress, which is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of the House of Representatives are elected by the voters within defined legislative districts within each of the fifty states. The voters within each of the fifty states elect members of the Senate.

3. The Judicial Branch or the Supreme Court comprised of nine Justices appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate.

4. The roles and powers of each of the three branches of the government are clearly defined in the Constitution and Amendments thereto, properly ratified by three-fourths of the states.

* Comment: To my knowledge, I do not believe the consequences
of any amendment, subsequent to ratification, have ever been
evaluated in order to ascertain weather or not the passage
of a specific amendment produced the desired results
envisioned by that amendment. This raises the question as
to what extent any of the amendments may have inadvertently
served to enable conduct that may have been contrary to that
which was intended, and may be contrary to the best
interests of the people. That might prove to be a good
project for a group of graduate students to undertake as a
possible insight into how we arrived at the point where we
currently find ourselves.

Because we seem to have lost the ability to be shocked by any conduct or malfeasance, we no longer hold our public officials to absolute standards of honesty, integrity and transparency that should be inherent in the conduct of those we elect to public office. Rather, we appear to have evolved to the point where those terms have become situational and, essentially, render any meaningful standards moot.

Elected officials who serve the public and who routinely engage in conduct that is clearly contrary to the public trust, is a conflict of interest, is self-serving or compromises the standards of conduct the electorate should properly expect from them.

Too many elected officials pander to the influence of corporate power and money, and to the interests of the oligarchs and plutocrats, all at the expense of the common person for whom this democracy was ostensibly founded.

* The pernicious and pervasive dominance of special interests over our system of government runs from K Street to Wall Street to the Congress to the White House and to the Pentagon.

* We have come to accept, as routine, the massive amounts of money that flow into the coffers of our political system from special interest groups in order to buy favor from those in elected office who, in reality, serve as their minions in Congress and the White House.

* The only time our elected representatives in Washington appear to pay any attention to the people is when they are seeking votes for their re-election or support for an agenda that predominately serves the interests of corporate America or enhances personal wealth.

* Corruption has become a way of life within both major political parties and among our elected officials in Washington, as evidenced by lobbyists, the power of money, and the blurred distinction between the two major political parties. For example:

(1) Both parties feed from the same trough of graft and largess provided by big money and influence.

(2). The Republican Party has, historically, tended to favor big business and wealth over the welfare of the common person. Their efforts have become more blatant in recent history. For example, aborting the recount of votes in Florida in 2000 that enabled the Republican Party to steal the election for George W. Bush. We are seeing a reprise of that same tactic with current efforts at reforming the healthcare system.

(3) Massive deregulation of the economy that has led to a scale and concentration of economic and political power never before seen in the history of this country.

(4) The largest transfer of wealth from the common person to the super rich in the history of this country.

(5) The largest budget deficits in the history of this country, starting with the Reagan Administration and continuing to this day.

* Any real distinction between the two major political parties became blurred with the end of the Johnson Administration and has continued to the present time. Some examples are:

(1) The opening of the Social Security fund by President Carter to immigrants coming into the United States.

(2) The Reagan Administration piling more debt on the backs of the American people than all previous presidents combined, all in the name of smaller government
and fiscal conservatism.

(3) The role of the Clinton Administration and Republicans in Congress in the deregulation of the financial industries that led to the current recession/depression that has taken this country to the brink of total financial ruin, largely at the expense of the common person.

(4) The transfer of massive amounts of wealth through tax cuts for the top tier of the American social system by the Bush Administration.

(5) An illegal war and questionable practices associated with no-bid contractors benefiting from that war.

(6) The Obama Administration coming into office promising the American people “change they can believe in,” only to embark on placing former “Clintonites” in strategic positions that have served (and continue to serve) the interests of the
financial community, such as advice and counsel from Robert Rubin, the appointment of Larry Summers as the Chief Economic Advisor to the President, and the appointment of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.

* The shroud of secrecy that has been placed around dealings between the Administration, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street.

* The absence of any real accountability and transparency by the Administration, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street. The American people still have no idea as to what has really gone on, the magnitude of the financial obligation to be borne by the
taxpayers, and deliberately being kept in the dark because of specious arguments such
as “too big to fail,” and other forms of deception. In the meantime, Wall Street
profits handsomely while the economy falters and the common person suffers.

Clearly, the credibility and motives of Rubin, Summers and Geithner are called into
question by their previous associations with the Clinton Administration and the financial houses on Wall Street.

In the meantime, pre-eminent econimic minds such as Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate) at Columbia University, Nouriel Roubini at New York University, James Galbraith at the University of Texas, Paul Krugman (Nobel Laureate) at Princeton University,
Robert Reich at the University of California at Berkeley, and Simon Johnson at MIT have either been marginalized or totally ignored by President Obama. Why? Where do we see evidence of the old adage that “two heads re better than one?” The combined
knowledge and wisdom of those enumerated above would certainly seem to be infinitely
superior to the former “Clintonites” who appear to have the President’s ear in
dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

(7) The Obama Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are clearly in bed with those who dominate the for-profit healthcare industries to the tune of billions of dollars in profits at the expense of small business, individuals and those on the lower rung of the socio-economic ladder. We get more “smoke and mirrors” while Obama has racked up millions of dollars in contributions from the proprietary
health care industries, and Max Baccus and other prominent Democrats and Republicans lace their pockets with millions of dollars in “campaign contributions” from drug companies, private hospitals, insurance companies, etc., while denying any meaningful input from those advocating a single-payer system of healthcare, all to the collective detriment of the American people.

(a) It is interesting to note that the President nominated Kathleen Sebelius for
the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is reputed to be
a strong advocate for a private system of health care, and her behavior in
the current debate would tend to confirm that observation. She was picked
over a much more qualified individual in the person of Howard Dean,
ostensibly because Rahm Emanuel does not “like” Dr. Dean. Is that rational
and in the best interests of the country, or is it stacking the deck?

(8) Meanwhile, President Obama back-peddles on campaign promises, engages in conduct reminiscent of his predecessor and cozies up to the very interests he vowed to challenge when he became President. He has favored corporations and big business at the expense of untold millions who have lost their homes, their jobs and access to fundamental human rights such as health care.

(a) With time, Barack Obama appears to be acting more like a classic Chicago
politician and less like the statesman-like President of the United States
we have every right to expect.

(b) Secrecy, as we all know, does not foster trust and confidence. Contrary to
some of the greatest hopes for this administration, it is simply no longer
credible and appears to be just another dose of the Clinton “Republicans”
(euphemistically called Democrats) under the guise of “inclusiveness,”
“bi- partisanship,” etc.

(9) The arrogance of power and corruption, so endemic within our national government, and the political parties of which it is comprised, is so blatant and so formidable that people are scared and utterly bewildered as to what, if anything, can be done to stem the tide of what is rapidly becoming the complete unraveling of our national fabric. They want honest government they can trust and one that genuinely cares about the people of this country.

If there is one aspect of our world that forever remains constant, it is that the parasite never realizes, because of his insatiable appetite, that he will eventually kill the host and ensure his own demise. I fear we, as a nation, may have reached that point. We are in desperate need of a political party that will stand on the principles which made this country great and will set itself to the task of restoring honest government to the people, where it was intended and where it belongs.


The time has come to create a political party that clearly represents the will of the people, by reigning in the sheer power and influence (both political and financial) of corporations and the vast wealth that has corrupted both major political parties. The massive corruption that has permeated our system of government needs to be routed out, integrity restored and safeguards put in place to ensure a government that is, unequivocally, based on the principle of “a government of the people, for the people and by the people.”

There is fertile ground for a new political party, but not without its challenges. No matter how formidable it may appear, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for a more opportune time. There is a malaise across the land. People are losing confidence in the ability and the will of our government to help them and, consequently, are becoming confused and apathetic. I shall forever remember words of wisdom imparted to me by the captain of the ship I served on in the United States Navy many years ago, to the effect that “So long as the crew is bitching, I do not worry. It is when they stop that I do.” People can only go without the basic necessities of life for so long. When relief is not forthcoming, trust and confidence evaporates, and violence will surely follow.


1. The political party must be grounded in mainstream America. This is not the place for the extremist fringe. It must be made very clear that the party
advocates a government of, by and for the citizens of the United States. It is a party of inclusion, not vested interests.

2. Because of the extremely complex nature of the world today, and the place of the United States in the world community, the party advocates a strong central government.

3. The party stands for a government based on a system of and respect for the
rule of law rooted in the Constitution and the amendments thereto.

4. The party stands for the prohibition of all lobbies and vested interests
seeking to incur the support of government officials by incurring favor with
money and gratuitous gifts. The only legitimate avenue for making their
positions known to government should be in open meetings of the appropriate
congressional committees, and without any cash or compensation in kind.

5. The party stands for a mandatory retirement age in all branches of
government in order to prevent members from holding seats they can no longer
occupy. The business of the country is far too important for those seats to
remain filled but are, in fact, dormant.

6. The party is opposed to all forms of largess that have nothing to do with
the national agenda, such as Congressional “ear-marks,” etc.

7. Except in cases where national security is involved, the party is opposed to
any and all kinds of secret meetings or agreements by the Executive and
Legislative branches of government.

8. The party supports the publication detailing any proposed changes in
compensation and benefits for elected officials, at least three months prior
to any formal action by Congress.

9. The party encourages and supports a strong free-enterprise model to the
extent there is proper oversight and adequate regulatory controls in place
to ensure that the interests serve not only ownership, but accrue to the
benefit of the American people, as well.

10. The party supports re-building the nation’s industrial base and a
value-added tax on foreign imports in order to protect the viability of our
industrial base.

11. Free trade agreements will only be supported if they do not accrue to the
detriment of our economy and our workforce.

12. To the extent the business community cannot or will not serve the best
interests of the people, the party will advocate for government-funded
national programs to meet those needs. For example, health care as a basic
human right.

13. The party guarantees the rights of workers to organize and engage in
collective bargaining.

14. The party advocates reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, or comparable
legislation, as the regulatory and oversight mechanism for all financial
industries operating in the United States.

15. The party advocates and supports a tax system that supports a fair and
equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth.

16. The party supports the concept of the full and complete separation of church
and state.

17. The party supports full equality and justice for all citizens.

18. The party supports a system of education that addresses the needs of
academically oriented students and vocationally oriented students,

a. Within the system of education, at the junior high and high school
levels, the curriculum should provide for education in civics and
the functions of government in order to ensure a working knowledge
and understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the United

19. The party advocates a re-definition of the status of corporations under the
law, divesting them of their status as citizens, equal to that of
warm-blooded human beings, and re-classifying their status as business

20. The party advocates prohibition of corporate or other forms of absentee
ownership of news media outlets, thereby reasserting the status of our news
media as a free and independent press, there to serve as a watchdog on


1. The organizing committee must be headed by a nationally prominent person who has a reputation for being principled, honest, intelligent and dedicated to
a better America.

a. Members of the organizing committee should be people of stature
equal to that of the chairperson who share a common vision for the
country, and who share a common concern about the current state of
the political system and its effectiveness.

2. The party will be governed by a committee and chairperson at the national

a. This is not the place for renegades, megalomaniacs or eccentrics.
The party must establish a reputation for leadership that is squeaky
clean, above reproach, intelligent, civic minded and that enjoys a
certain degree of national prominence.

3. Local committees should be established at the state and local levels.

a. Local committees should focus on campaigning for the election of candidates
at their respective levels. Initially, emphasis should be on local elections in
order to build a solid base of support for future political endeavors at the
state and national levels.

b. Every committee at a local level, and of a certain population base,
should have a speaker’s bureau, comprised of individuals whose sole
purpose is to educate the public on why a third political party is
necessary, a thorough understanding of what the party stands for and
the ability to impart that knowledge to others. Members of the
speaker’s bureau would be available for seminars and lectures at
universities, colleges, community colleges, high schools and
community organizations, for the explicit and exclusive purpose of
educating their audiences about what the party stands for and why. Education
and information must be the thrust, not campaigning or fund-raising. The
speaker’s bureau could, for example, be called The Wellstone Society.

4. The party must be prepared to reconcile and include a divergent range of
interests among the electorate who feel most disenfranchised by the system
and other political parties, particularly progressives, blue-collar workers,
service workers, professional and semi-professional workers, small business
owners, etc.


1. Image is paramount in our culture. The name and symbols of the party must reflect traditional American values; rooted in American history and that
convey a sense of strength, stability and patriotism.

2. The party should use colors and symbols reflecting our national identity For example, symbolized by the bald eagle, with red, white and blue as the
official colors. This is not the time for abstract symbols or colors that
are not associated with our patriotic heritage.

3. I would recommend the party be called THE NEW FEDERALIST PARTY, which reflects historical precedent and a commitment to a strong central government.

4. Founding members of the party must be of the highest caliber. They must
bring to the table the education, knowledge and skills necessary to make
this effort more than a flash in the pan, hastily put together and without
the time and effort necessary to build a lasting movement. They must be
statesmen and stateswomen, highly principled and above the fray of
politics. They must genuinely believe the time has come for a new direction
and one that is based on values that have stood the test of time.

I do not hold myself out as any kind of self-styled authority on matters of this nature. However, I do know that the political system we now have is not working. The two-party system is not solving the problems that have created the worst national crisis since the Great Depression. Without a moral compass to guide us and to restore some semblance of sanity to what we are all about, we are surely on a dangerous slope that could eventually lead to our demise as a great nation on the world stage. This is not an issue for a one-man band with a lot of money, a personal axe to grind or a radical outlook on life. This is an issue for serious study by scholars and intellectuals who have a genuine interest in rescuing this fragile republic and restoring the democratic form of government that once clearly established this country as the beacon of hope for the world.

The system is simply broken. It is desperately in need of fixing. No one person or political party can do the job. It is time to think outside the box.

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

-- George Bernard Shaw

The time is now.

Cowboy Bob
October 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Letter to President Obama

November 20, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Mr. President:

When I first saw you making the Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I was completely mesmerized. I was convinced you were the man to eventually occupy the White House, stop the insanity of the Bush Administration and reinstate standards of integrity and a commitment to the American people not seen since the days of John F. Kennedy.

I followed your primary and presidential campaigns as if there wasn’t another newsworthy program on television. Your demeanor, ability to speak and words that gave the nation a new sense of hope captured my entire family and me. I sat before the television the night you won the election and shed tears with my wife at your success. We cheered you on inauguration day and expected to see great things begin to happen when the euphoria of that event subsided.

When you re-established the former Clinton Administration in every major position in the White House, I knew we were in trouble. There must have been a reunion party among the Billy Boy Alums, champagne pouring out of every investment house on Wall Street, and a state of delirium among the health insurance industries. You wasted no time in stacking the deck with cronies from the past (much to the dismay of those of us who honestly believed your message of “change” was authentic). For the most part, they are a motley crew of consummate political whores, at best. From information I have gleaned, you got somewhere around 25 million dollars for “favors owed” (euphemistically called campaign contributions) when you were sworn in. What happened to all that money, Mr. President?

I refer you to an article published on November 19, 2009 in The Public Record ( titled “The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society, by David DeGraw. If it isn’t already required reading by your White House Staff and The Cabinet, it most certainly should be. It suggests you and your administration are the antithesis of all we had hoped and voted for. In the final analysis, Mr. President, your greatest skill is beginning to look like that of a consummate master of political double speak.

If you have one modicum of concern for this country and the millions of people who are suffering because of the questionable comprises you have made, and the shenanigans of the Barons of Wall Street and the Health Care Blood Suckers, you should take immediate steps to turn this political, social and economic Titanic around. Divest yourself of any association with all of those who brought this catastrophe down on our heads, hold their feet to the fire and get yourself some new playmates.

Don’t give us any more of the bull puckey about bi-partisanship. That is so hokey and transparent no one buys into it anymore. Since when did a bunch of charlatans, such as those the Republicans have placed on the national stage, demonstrate any credibility. They are what they are; a bunch of radical zealots, most of whom have a marginal intellect, at best. All they have accomplished is stirring up the radical right and virtually holding your legislative agenda hostage. On the other hand, how are we to know that, in the final analysis, it was not so much a smoke screen as a way of enabling you to buy more time to collude with your “buddies“?

If you are serious about pulling us out of this depression, then permit me to make a few suggestions.

1. Tell Geithner and Summers to take a hike and crawl back to their siblings at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, etc. and tell them to serve notice on those bandits that you are coming after them. Replace them with competent people who are squeaky clean and in whom the American people can have complete confidence.

2. Tell Bernanke that the Federal Reserve is going to be transparent and free of any secrecy in all its future endeavors. No more footsie with the sharks the Fed has been in bed with for decades.

3. Appoint an Economic Advisory Commission to advise you on all future economic programs for the purpose of restoring honesty, integrity, trust and competence to all economic institutions in this country.

a. The Commission should be chaired by Paul Volker.
b. The membership should include all of the following:
[1] Paul Krugman, Princeton University
[2] Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University
[3] Nouriel Roubini, New York University
[4] James Galbraith, University of Texas
[5] Simon Johnson, MIT
[6] Robert Reich, University of California at Berkeley
c. This group should be riding shotgun over a new and more effective economic recovery program that will serve all Americans.

4. You should serve notice on the House Banking Committee and the Senate Finance Committee that you are appointing a commission to design a comprehensive program for the oversight and regulation of all aspects of banking carried out in the United States.

a. The Commission should be chaired by Eliot Spitzer. Yes, Eliot
Spitzer. Just because he was indiscriminate in his sexual habits
doesn’t mean he isn’t smart as hell and a person of professional
integrity. After all, William Jefferson Clinton had no problem in
burnishing his rather tarnished image. Why can’t Eliot Spitzer?
Let’s throw hypocrisy to the wind and concentrate on the best minds
around to get us out of this mess.
b. Elizabeth Warren is one bright woman and a person of impeccable character. Her knowledge, experience and education are vital to any
effort of this nature.
c. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General for the State of New York.
d. Brooksley Born, formerly Chairwoman of the Commodities Exchange Commission, and one of the nations pre-eminent authorities on
derivates, graduated top in her class from the Stanford Law School.
She was marginalized and resigned because she dared to speak the
truth to the crooks in power. The price of being honest in an
otherwise sea of corruption, I suppose.
e. Give these people the authority to come up with a system of
oversight and regulation that will be the envy of the industrialized
world. You know full well they can do it.

5. Just for good measure, put Katherine Sabelius out to pasture and replace her with the more qualified and experienced Howard Dean. HHS is no place for politics these days.

6. Do your own strong-arming and politicking, and replace Rahm Emanuel with Jesse Jackson, Jr. He is smart, honest and a better fit for what your administration should represent to the nation.

You may choose to see this as nothing more than fodder for the shredder. On the other hand, it is past the time when you should get serious and do the job you were elected to do by ALL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. It is in that spirit that I took the time and effort to write this.

Respectfully yours,

P.O. Box XXX

cc: Vice-President Joseph Biden
Senator Christopher Dodd, Chairman Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman Senate Judiciary Committee
Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., Member House Joint Economic Committee
Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman House Finance Committee
Congressman Anthony Weiner, House Committee on Judiciary
Congressman Alan Grayson, Member House Finance Committee
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“Let’s Just Do What’s Right For A Change”

I spend a lot of time watching news on cable television and on the Internet from a whole host of sources. It is interesting, not only for the value of the information provided, but to watch the machinations of those with extreme points of view laboring to convince us (and probably themselves, as well) of the validity of their beliefs and the absurdity or threat by others that might challenge their preconceived notions of the world. As far as I am concerned, for any extremist or radical philosophy to take root and thrive, there has to be a certain prevailing level of ignorance on the part of the “true believer,” regardless of their political, social and economic points of view. Nothing is more conducive to enlightenment than the fresh air of an open mind. However, that does require a certain amount of laborious endeavor which, sad to say, is the antithesis of a frightening portion of the American minds.

The current crop of Republicans has provided us with a vast array of those suffering from a terminal case of calcified cranial tissue, not the least of whom are the likes of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, etc. I am certain one could add up their IQ’s and come up with a combined total that would comfortably encompass two arithmetic digits. However, they sure do stir up a lot of heat generated by ignorance on overload. They do the Grand Old Party a disservice. What happened to the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, Charles Percy, Everett Dirksen and men of their stature who were revered and trusted to guide us by a sense of what they believed to be right and noble?

At the other extreme, we have the so-called “progressives” who, I am reasonably certain, see themselves as the anointed ones carrying the banner of true enlightenment so eagerly sought by an unsuspecting world. I find it all rather incredulous at the extremes to which they go to avoid, at any cost, the mere mention of any shortcomings by those deemed the leaders of the movement. To entertain the remotest notion of critically evaluating those in power in terms of their character, their agenda and their commitment to the American people is downright treasonous. God forbid! (Oops, I mean deity forbid.) Gotta be politically correct!

Aiding all of these marginal intellects, we have a news media serving both extremes. They fawn and fall all over their political heroes, trying to convince us they are doing their job as impartial and critical journalists. Do I detect the hint of a foul odor in all this? Investigative journalists dedicated to keeping government honest are now; I am sure, an endangered species bordering on extinction. We are the poorer for it.

Where and when did we go wrong? What became of the Americans who rebuilt the countries we destroyed by war because the objective of ending the war had been achieved? What was paramount then was to look to the future. There was nothing to be gained by leaving in ruins what had been wrought by war. We demonstrated to the world that we were not only the most resourceful people in the world but we were, also, the most forgiving, generous and caring people the world had ever seen. When did we abandon all that had made us great, good and decent? It certainly didn’t take long for us to squander that legacy, did it?

Did it start with the movie “Greed?” Did it start when organized religion let us down? Why did we simply walk away from the moral compass we had every right to expect from religion, rather than demanding the same degree of accountability we had come to expect from other social institutions? Somewhere in all that, we decided we were just as capable of defining a virtuous life as the Deity. Instead, we boarded the bullet train to social, moral and economic depravity. We entrusted our immortal souls to the barons of Wall Street, international corporations and our insatiable appetites for every kind of material and hedonistic pleasures imaginable. How many of you remember two of the great mantras of the sixties, “Do your own thing,” and “I owe it to myself; I am worth it.” From that humble beginning, we embarked on one the greatest gluttonous binges in the history of the world. As we reveled in a world of cheap goods from overseas that we didn‘t need, we evolved into one massive heard of sheep passively waiting to be led to the slaughter and didn’t have a clue as to what was coming.

We remained impervious to the moral implications of wars that had nothing to do with our national security. We waved the flag and sent innocent men and women off to their premature deaths for no legitimate reason, save the lacing of the pockets of corporations, big business and vast wealth, whose sons and daughters remain safe, secure at home, and attend the finest universities money can buy.

We remained passive while those we had elected to public office permitted the total dismantling of all regulations and oversight placed on financial institutions during the Great Depression, which we now lament since they became “too big to fail.” We didn’t learn the lessons of history very well, did we?

We were delirious with joy at the vast amounts of money we were making from our investment portfolios based on the dismantling and shipment of our industrial base overseas. We carried that same state of delirium over to the shipment of jobs abroad to cheaper labor markets. Now that unemployment is skyrocketing through the roof, we find we have no industrial base to support a swelling and idle workforce desperate for jobs.

Easy credit and cheap money were the order of the day. We threw caution to the winds as we moved into more residential space than we could comfortably occupy. They were adorned with vaulted ceilings and grand staircases that served no functional need and wasted precious resources, but oh, how they impressed the neighbors and phony “guests” crossing the threshold!

We threw all regard and concern for others to the wind, and now find the only notion of reality we can identify with is what is served up to us on television under the guise of entertainment.

What has become of us? When did we lose any regard for such admonitions as “feed the hungry,” “clothe the naked,” shelter the homeless,” “comfort the sick,” and the other clarion calls to the finer aspects of our humanitarian nature? You may recall, those virtues used to be advocated by something called “religion.”

Are we so hooked on the visceral pleasures of life that we have lost sight of the fact that, like it or not, we have a spiritual side that requires an equal amount of care and nurturing?

The so-called “establishment” in Washington, D.C. seems to be impervious to what they have inflicted on the people of this country. They still accept bribes from those who destroy all that has been created in just over 200 years. They go to the comfort of their mansions in Georgetown, McLean, Chevy Chase, etc, savoring the good life while those they profess to “serve,” are thrown out of their homes, lose their jobs and watch their families suffer because of no money, no access to healthcare and no road to recovery on the horizon. At the end of the day, about all we get is a bunch of hollow rhetoric.

The news of the day seems to be more concerned with “strategizing” about the prospects for the next election cycle, whether the timing of the next ration of economic crumbs will better serve the political establishment now or in six months, etc., as if the human suffering on which all their ambitions rest means nothing. Now I ask you, is that sick or is that sick? I cannot remotely imagine Franklin D. Roosevelt, as he struggled with the greatest economic calamity in our history, pausing to assess the political pros and cons of a contemplated action, before making the tough decisions called for at the moment. Rather, I would like to think he had the fortitude to simply do what had to be done “because it was the right thing to do.” Where has that level of concern for our fellow man (generic use of the term) gone?

The concept of suffering by millions of Americans today is vastly different in Beverly Hills than it is in Stockton. It is vastly different in Wilmette than it is in Gary. It is vastly different in Grosse Point than it is in Lansing. It is vastly different to a select few of those we label as “privileged” to the millions who are hurting and suffering. America, take heed.

The passivity of the masses will only continue for so long. It is in our nature to put the needs of our families and loved ones above the social seduction practiced by those who continue to rape and plunder those who have built the foundations upon which this nation rests.

One of the most ominous bits of news I have heard in recent history is the fact that stores are running out of ammunition. There is no doubt that we are very much a gun culture. If you look at the footage taken at gun shows, it is readily apparent that what is on display has less to do with hunting game and much more to do with killing human beings and destroying property. That is scary. The ones buying those methods of destruction are, also, skilled in how to use them.

It is no joke that, when people cannot earn a living, they will eventually take it by whatever means they have at their disposal. Complacency by those who feed on the poor and disenfranchised do so at their own peril. Those who serve as their minions share in that peril, as well.

The old footage of people taken during the Great Depression, where they are standing in orderly lines waiting for a handout to stave off the pangs of hunger, my find, in today’s world, that same example of orderliness and a respect for the law is only a distant image. Today, it may well be survival of the fittest, or more aptly put, “The law of the jungle.”

When did we opt for strategy in favor of decency? When did it become more important to study and assess the various probabilities of a given result in times of urgency before taking action? When did doing something just because it was the right thing to do fall out of vogue?

We seem to have arrived at a state of almost complete denial of the destruction we have brought down on this earth and those who inhabit it. We have beaten down the least among us to the point they can no longer resist the forces of power, corruption and degradation that has been unleashed against them. God’s most perfect creation, the human being, has been reduced to a consumable resource on the balance sheets of corporations, government and the military elite. We seem to honestly believe that it will never happen to us. Are we so greedy that we actually subscribe to the notion that all of the ominous predictions about the destruction of our civilized way of life and the end of Planet Earth as a viable place of habitation can never accrue to our collective detriment?

We are at a point where we have no alternative but to do all we can to restore the strength and integrity of our economic, political and social base. Corporations are the antithesis of that effort. Their insatiable greed, power and influence must be curtailed. The sheer size and power of the military-industrial complex has become a sinkhole for money that is starving our more pressing social and economic needs. (It is estimated the Defense Department now has over 600 corporations under contract, among them Blackwater and KBR). We must rebuild an industrial base that will provide stable and meaningful opportunities for working Americans. If we don’t reign in our penchant for easy credit, cheap goods and the pursuit of “fun” as our national preoccupation, we will surely have placed ourselves on a downward trajectory to total and complete disintegration as one of the greatest nations of all time. If other western industrialized countries can thrive and prosper by providing a safety net for their populations in terms of health care and other social programs, plus maintaining a reasonable military establishment, I fail to see why we can’t do the same in the interest of our long-term economic health.

We must subscribe, once again, to the fact that so much of our lives have to be predicated on a foundation of simply doing what is right, the strategic consequences be damned. Morality is absolute, not situational. Because of an all-consuming selfishness, the consequences of which are rarely learned and almost never heeded, our individual and collective survival may be lost to the absence of a basic human decency once the hallmark of the American people.

Cowboy Bob
November 18, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Why, mr. president, Why?"

When you gave the Keynote Speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, you really captured my attention. I thought I was witness to an event that would surely change this country for the better. It came as no surprise to me that you captured the nomination for President and went on to win the election in 2008. I was convinced that, after all those dark years from Ronald Reagan up to and including George W. Bush, we were finally going to see sweeping changes that would even out the playing field between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” and which would blur the color barrier so long a blight on the fabric of this country. Boy was I and untold millions of Americans completely snookered by that performance!

Since then, your oratory (which comes in at a mere third compared to FDR and JFK) has been most impressive. As Hillary opined during the campaign, “Barack can always be counted on to give a good speech.” A rather lukewarm endorsement for one who is seeking the highest office in the land. But what really knocked our socks off was the progressively more “Romanesque” staging of your speeches leading up to the acceptance of the Democratic nomination for President, followed by the grand finale in Grant Park in Chicago. Hell, they made the biblical epics of Cecil B. DeMille look like second-rate Hollywood back-lot productions. You really did yourself proud!

But, now that the dust has settled are we beginning to see the real Barack Obama, or the morphing of the “second coming” you promised into the “real screwing” we are getting? By any measure, it sure ain’t pretty.

With your indulgence, let me proceed with a few unanswered questions I have and which, I am sure, are shared by millions of others who were taken in by your chicanery.

1. At what point in your evolution, culminating at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
did you decide to get in bed with the cast of characters known
affectionately as the Clinton Administration?

a. Why did you stack your Cabinet with the key players that aided and abetted Phil Gramm and the Senate Banking Committee in the total deregulation of the financial industries on Wall Street? I am
referring to the Harvard and Goldman Sachs Alumni, examples of
which are Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Robert Rubin and others
of similar ilk. Why does Goldman Sachs seem to have an iron-fisted
grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve? Meanwhile, you
deliberately ignored or marginalized some of the best economic and
financial minds in the country. Kind of looks like you were
stacking the deck in favor of an agenda to which we, the voters,
were not privy.

Why have you given carte blanche to your “economic advisers” and the Barons of Wall Street who brought this disaster down on the heads of
the American taxpayers, to fleece the taxpayers for an additional
sum estimated to be between 11 trillion and 24 trillion dollars,
without any oversight whatsoever, and carried out in secret by
Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke? Yet, you fake fiscal
responsibility by blowing smoke up our asses about the cost of a
national health plan. Even one of the better choices you have made,
in the person of Paul Volker, seems to have faded into the
background. Is he, also, a bit too clean for the likes of you
and your happy band of thieves, mr. president?

b. Why have you found it necessary to conduct the bulk of the
discussions regarding the nations’ finances in secret and behind
closed doors? What is the true identity of your constituency in
matters of this nature? This just doesn’t square with all the
rhetoric we heard about “transparency” during your campaign. Are we
missing something here?

c. Why have you given the bandits in all this the opportunity to
practically write the regulations and oversight that will govern
their conduct in the future? Isn’t that rather like putting the fox
in charge of the chicken coop?

d. Why do you appear to be resisting any meaningful oversight of Wall
Street? Elizabeth Warren is doing an outstanding job and is one
bright lady. However, isn’t she spread a bit thin given the
responsibility she carries for the House? If Billy “the Blowjob”
Clinton could have his image burnished, why can’t the same be done
for Eliot Spitzer whose reputation is no more sullied and whose
sterling record of accomplishments in the regulation and oversight
of Wall Street is legion? Seems to me he would be a good adjunct to
the efforts of Dr. Warren in terms of a meaningful set of
regulations governing the activities of those “too big to fail,” on
Wall Street and the banking industry in general.

e. Perhaps the following figures on the list of the top contributors to
your 2008 presidential campaign, obtained from, will
shed some light on these questions:

* Goldman Sachs $994,795.00
* Citigroup, Inc. 701,290.00
* JPMorgan Chase & Co. 695,132.00
* Morgan Stanley 514,881.00
* UBS AG (Swiss Bank) 543,219.00
* Sidley Austin LLP 588,598.00
* Wilmerhale Llp 542,618.00
* Skadden, Arps et al 530,839.00
* Latham & Watkins 493,835.00

Other than their deep-seated patriotic interest in seeing you get
elected President, what, if any, other interests did they have in
your being elected? I will leave that to the reader. As for me?
Your role in the “bailout” and continued cozy relationship with
those “too big to fail” suggests there is much more to the unholy
alliance between the Barons of Wall Street and the White House. It
would be a shame if they didn’t get their money’s worth, wouldn’t
it? Blue collar workers and the economy be damned.

f. Just as an aside, mr. president, with Paul Volker being the notable exception, what does the band of white-collar thugs you have
gathered about you to provide advice on the economy have to offer
that could even remotely compare with the credentials and wisdom of
those listed below?

1] James Galbraith - University of Texas
2] Simon Johnson - MIT
3] Paul Krugman - Princeton University & Nobel Laureate
4] Robert Reich - University of California at Berkeley
5] Nouriel Roubini, New York University
6] Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University & Nobel Laureate

g. If you are genuinely dedicated to getting us out of the depression
we are in, and rebuilding our economy, you need the best and
brightest among us to advise you, not the most cunning and corrupt
in the business dedicated to pursuing their own vested self-
interests to the detriment of the nation.

2. The whole issue of “healthcare reform” is your second most glaring and
egregious performance as President.

a. According to, you received a total of $19,493.801
from the healthcare industries leading up to your election to the
Presidency. The next highest contribution was to John McCain in the
amount of $7,403.173. Quite a difference, which suggests that the
heavy hitters in private healthcare were betting, big time, on you
and the largess they expected to receive once you were comfortably
settled in the Oval Office.

b. In keeping with your professed commitment to “transparency,” early
on you set about meeting behind closed doors with representatives of
private health insurance companies, drug companies and other private
purveyors of goods and services designed to alleviate human
suffering. Meanwhile, those advocating a single-payer option or a
strong public option were deliberately excluded from those
discussions. It is common knowledge that you assured the healthcare
insurance companies that there would be no single-payer or public
option in any of the proposals coming out of Congress. You, also,
guaranteed to the drug companies that they would not have to
negotiate with the government in terms of the cost of prescription
drugs, carrying on the tradition established by the late, great
George W. Bush.

C’mon mr. president, level with us. Lobbyist Tom Daschle was
lurking in the shadows somewhere during all this, wasn’t he?

c. Given the bullshit, packaged as a “healthcare reform bill,” coming
out of the House, I would say all those vested interests you serve
so faithfully got their money’s worth. The common American and blue
-collar workers be damned. If you and I share one common
perception, I suspect it is in knowing that what will come out of
the Senate and any subsequent reconciliation effort will be even
more favorable to the private sector in healthcare. Then we can
watch your campaign treasure chest swell to levels that are even
more lucrative. Wow! Gotta make sure we have enough money to
purchase the office again in 2012, don’t we?

d. You have elevated talking out of both sides of your mouth and
figuratively screwing the electorate without benefit of kiss to new
art forms. Nice job. We all wait with baited breath to see what is
yet to come.

3. You promised to prosecute criminal behavior by members of the previous
administration. I can’t see that happening any time soon, given your noble
desire to look to the future rather than allowing our national vision to be
clouded by the past. If I understand correctly, that translates to “Now
that I am a member of the Club, I see things differently and might
inadvertently be putting my own neck in the noose.”

4. You assured us that you were going to close “Gitmo,” but we haven’t seen any
real movement on this issue. Does Goldman Sachs hold the lease on
Guantanamo, mr. president?

5. You assured us that you were going to end the “warrantless wiretapping”
program but instead you seem to have strengthened it. Gotta be careful.
God only knows what all those rabble-rousers might be up to!

6. You said you would restrict the use of the state’s secrecy programs. I sure
don’t see any evidence of that either, mr. president.

7. You seem to be dancing around any decisive action regarding the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Clearly, it is a poor man’s war but, on the other hand,
you gotta do something to keep all those poor folks employed and off the

There are other unkept and implied promises too numerous to mention, but enough for the moment. Suffice to say, I am probably more disillusioned than most of my compatriots labeled as “Progressive Democrats,” many of whom seem to keep hoping that there will be some miraculous change in your style and the fabric of your person. From my perspective, integrity and character appear to be more elusive now than at any time in recent history.

Community Organizers lead through consensus, which means the end result is always some form of compromise. The last thing we need in times of crisis like the one this country now faces is compromise. We are urgently in need of and are looking for real leadership. That means the absence of fear and the courage to make the tough decisions required by the temper of the times. Frankly, I fail to see any of that in your performance to date.

What are we to believe? Are you the “Commander in Chief,” or the “Panderer in Chief?”

The nation and, indeed, the world waits.

Cowboy Bob
November 9, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Our Finer Angels on Life-Support?"

I find it utterly incredulous at the pervasive state of apathy in this country. The American public has fallen victim to the most unsavory bums among us; those who reap astronomical compensation for systematically dismantling our economy. Yet, they continue to collude with politicians while milking the Treasury of our precious tax dollars so they can enhance their balance sheets and resume the game of playing roulette with our money. The penalty for all this? Salaries and bonuses that boggle the human mind, all the while feeding us a diet of crap to the effect, if they don’t compensate their staff to the lavish extent they do, the whole house of economic cards could come falling down around our heads all over again. How, I ask you, can any rational and sane mind buy that line of bovine scatology? The truth of the matter is, if we don’t rein in the thieving bastards that is exactly what is going to happen to us. When are we going to get off our dead asses and take them to task? Of this, I am certain. The day will never come when they have a qualm of conscience, decide they are going to atone for their transgressions and suddenly become benevolent toward those they have so ruthlessly impoverished. I am not quite ready to accept the notion that the “Second Coming” is upon us.

Starting with Ronald Reagan and escalating up to and including Barack Obama, the cozy relationship between the political establishment, corporations, big money and the military-industrial complex has only intensified. And John Q. Public is the loser; big time!

From Ronald Reagan to the present day, the country has been up for sale to the plutocrats, oligarchs and government stooges. You know, that bunch of elitists who treat us like the proverbial mushrooms - keeping us in the dark and feeding us a steady diet of bullshit. And what did we do? We sat passively by, continued to elect and re-elect them into office, all the while believing they had our best interests at heart.

So, what did we get for all that trust? A gluttonous appetite for a veritable buffet of materialistic possessions and hedonistic pleasures never before dreamed of. We became hooked on our faux mansions, luxury cars, backyard barbecues, physical beauty and sexual prowess that in mythology only belonged to the gods. Fun and more was our birthright and there was no end to what we could have.

We abandoned any semblance of requiring even a modicum of accountability from the powers that owned and controlled our lives. So long as we could satiate every manifestation of our appetites, we were surely in heaven itself. An aside to all this was that we simply turned our backs on any notion of a moral compass with which to guide us. Regardless of how challenging and difficult moral standards may be, without them we are like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly on a sea of nothing. We become empty and devoid of those aspects of our human nature that call upon the finer characteristics of what we should aspire to be. That abandon opens the door to all of the baser dimensions of what we are, thereby blinding us to what sets us above and apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. We seem to exist in a state of anomie - the delicacy of the parasites that are consuming us. They have all the tools to seduce us and they use them with a skill and cunning never imagined. They give us reality television, game shows, silly comedies, and all sorts of easy and meaningless prescriptions for an easy road to a life of sublime luxury and “fun.” And what do we do? We accept it all without question and total abandon.

With the Internet, all of the information one could possibly want in order to make informed decisions and to really know what is going on around us is there for the asking. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ferret out reality and the truth; something that you won’t find in the Pabulum fed to us by the entertainment industry and corporate America. But it does take a certain foundation of curiosity and interest; something we seem to be totally lacking.

I can’t quite figure out if we are where we are because of the inherent laziness required to live in a complete state of indifference and denial, or because we are so demoralized that we have abandoned all hope of things getting any better. Just for a moment, let us ponder a few facts:

1. As a nation we are completely broke. We are the largest debtor nation in the world and it is getting progressively worse. Yet, we are told things are turning around and getting better. What a bunch of crap!

2. Goldman Sachs has owned the Treasury and the Federal Reserve since the Clinton Administration. The same sharks operative then are operative today in the Obama Administration. By all the best estimates, the Wall Street bailout has put the taxpayers in hock somewhere between $10 trillion and $24 trillion. That is one hell of a lot of money, folks! Yet we are diverted by the endless quibbling over the few billion dollars needed to provide the nation with an efficient and cost-effective health care system. The whores in Congress have finally worn down the opposition to the point they are willing to take what they can get, giving the Health care Industry free reign to fleece the nation with even more obscene profits.

3. Our economy is in shambles and no amount of cheap rhetoric is going to change that. When Billy Boy wasn’t getting a blow job from Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office, he was busying himself with the task of enabling the total dismantling of our industrial base, shipping jobs overseas, and fleecing the Treasury - all in the name of free trade - only for Obama to pick up the same thieves and agenda as we had in the 1990’s - and further exacerbated by George W. in the first 8 years of the 21st Century. Our unemployment rate continues to escalate with no immediate hope for that much promised “change” we were sold in the last presidential campaign. How are people going to engage in meaningful work when there is no place to work????? How are people going to work at jobs that no longer exist????

4. We have finally arrived at the point where any notion of a real democracy is but a myth from days gone by. We are totally at the mercy of corporations, a military-industrial machine that has an insatiable appetite for money, and a political establishment that is so hopelessly corrupt and greedy that its attention to the voters is only discernible when the next election rolls around. We are now firmly in the grip of a “Corporatocracy” that owns and controls every aspect of our lives. While they thrive and prosper, the majority of us sit in waiting for the few crumbs we hope will fall from the table.

5. We live in a delusional state of a world power; a power on which the sun is setting. We have no means to continue this charade into perpetuity, but we still wrap ourselves in the flag, boasting of being the richest and most powerful nation in the world, while the poor fight and die in wars, the profits from which only enhance the rich who remain safe and secure in their gated communities and luxurious estates. They call this an “all-volunteer” army; an army made up of people who are mostly those who can’t find a real job and have no alternative but to place their lives on the altar of greed. Bill Moyers is right on the button when he states it is time to resurrect the draft so we all share, equally, in these wars; poor and rich alike. It is indeed time to share the burden and spread the risk.

6. We like to think of our system of government as a multi-party system. This is but another example of our national preoccupation with self-deception. Democrats and Republicans are different in name only. Both serve the same masters of the corporate world, the military-industrial complex and the financial institutions deemed to be “too big to fail.” While they pander to the sea of money and privilege made possible by impoverishing the country, they pretend to represent our interests in their official capacity as elected representatives, including the White House. They regularly meet behind closed doors and in secret with their real constituents, making a mockery of the much-touted notion of transparency so often championed by the current incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only real champions of anything resembling an independent political philosophy are to be found in people such as Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders. To be sure, there are a few stolid hold-outs who make an effort to stand on principle, but they are few and far between, and easily brought into line on major issues affecting those to whom the majority is beholden.

I love to watch the machinations of those who champion a free and unfettered market system. It is so apparent that, for any such system to accrue to the benefit of the society in which it operates, it would have to be completely free of corruption and self-serving practices. That is inherently beyond the reach of human beings, as imperfect as we all are. For anyone so naive and who would believe such crap, I have the secret formula for eternal youth for sale at a bargain price. Regulation and oversight is an integral part of any legitimate government and civil society. Except for the absurdity of it all, it is almost comical to watch the sexual exploits of prominent Republicans morph into some kind of divine cleansing of the soul, soon followed by a Bible in hand, extolling the virtues of having seen the light and the error of their ways. I believe Mark Sanford said it best when he paraphrased his conduct to the tune of “Pray for me, Argentina!” At the end of the day when they have concluded their charade of piety, they bend over and grab their ankles at the beacon call of those to whom they are beholden, and it sure as hell isn’t those who voted them into office! Just observe the sleazy creeps in action and listen to their pathological lies. They couldn't be honest and forthcoming even if their next bribe depended on it.

Democrats? Well they love to think of themselves as the great emancipators, but there are so many causes they want to foster in the name of diversity and equality that it would take a football stadium to hold them. Diversity? Yes. Equality? Yes. But certainly not as it is packaged and sold by those pushing their own vested interests. Those most squirming today are the so-called Progressives who are doing their damnedest to avoid having to even remotely entertain the notion that their “Golden Boy” in the White House may be the least bit corrupt, self-serving and deceptive (as in political). When I voted for him last November I thought he was the sainted one we had all been waiting for. Little did I realize we were getting an admixture of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, re-packaged with all the phony sincerity, integrity, Christian values and liberalism that came with it. I don’t believe, for one moment, that Obama does anything unless it fosters his own political agenda and serves the interests of big money, corporations and the elite of this country. I would be very surprised if everything he does isn’t scripted to the gnat’s eyebrow, including photo ops and public appearances of every kind. He just gives another speech and Rahm Emanuel does the dirty work. To think otherwise is sheer folly.

7. This country is in dire need of a new political party, founded on absolute standards of integrity, which will rout out the corruption within our political, financial and social systems. One that will rein in the excesses and polluting influence of corporate America. One that will put in place a system of checks and balances that will prevent the corruptive influence of power and money. We don’t need someone to start such a movement who has his/her own axe to grind. We don’t need a super-rich megalomaniac who hasn’t anything better to do with his/her money. We don’t need someone who is championing a radical cause, with big ears, a squeaky voice and who sleeps with the Bible under his/her pillow. We need a party, the governing principles of which are easily understood by those who vote them into office. We need a party that knows, understands and champions the clarion call for real liberty, equality and justice for all.

As long as we remain complacent, duped by all that numbs our minds and dilutes our intellect, we will continue to enslave ourselves, aided and abetted by the excess of the wealth and power of the few who have managed to bring us to the brink of the greatest catastrophe since the Great Depression. Until we have the courage and sheer determination to regain all that we have lost, and which came at the price of so many precious lives, the finer angels within us will remain on life-support.

Me thinketh the spooks we most have to fear are not the ones who come out on Halloween, but those who ply their dirty skills in the shadows and feed on the life-blood of a nation. Time to stop quivering like a bunch of dogs passing peach seeds, take our heads our of our behinds, focus on reality, take control of our destiny and do whatever it takes to restore some semblance of sanity and decency to this great country!

Cowboy Bob
October 31, 2009