Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Bovine Scatology? Still Bullshit to Me"

It has been quite a summer, what with “tea parties,” the contrived rallies made to look like individual citizens’ concerns over health care reform and the latest demonstrations on the mall in Washington, D.C. There is nothing quite as pathetic as having to bear witness to the full display of the empty minds among us who haven’t a clue as to what is really going on or what it all means. It would all be rather comical were it not for the fact that they have the same chilling affect as the famous Nurnberg Rallies of the 1930’s. I would have to confess, despite its perverse purpose, the discipline and pageantry of the latter was certainly more impressive than the exaggerated dress and chaotic behavior of those taking to the streets nowadays. They have given a new meaning to the term “transparency.”

Our democracy, by its very nature, requires an informed citizenry in order to function for the benefit of the electorate. Unfortunately, being informed has never been so out of vogue as it appears to be today. By reacting from the viscera rather than the cerebra, we have rendered ourselves incapable of being responsible stewards of democracy. By our very ignorance, we have abdicated any first line of defense against tyranny, and have readily yielded that power to oligarchs and corporations. Since 1980, the country has been theirs for the taking. They don’t even have to ask. They simply have to shape public opinion, define public appetites, and offer us easy credit and the means to satiate every conceivable kind of materialism and hedonism imaginable. We have been willing sheep through it all. Now, when our country is in shambles, we stand bewildered as to where it all went wrong, and feel totally helpless to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, those whose rapacious nature got us into this mess are, once again, planning their next assault on what remains of the last vestigial remnants of what is left of the carcass on which to feed. Only the total bareness of the landscape they have wrought will convince them that there is an end to everything and their time has come as well.

We are a people who love to throw the term “freedom” around at will, and the more we tend to think of it in terms of its absolute meaning, the more favor it incurs. In reality, absolute freedom is the barbaric state. Anything short of that has to give credence to some form of social order at the expense of certain individual freedoms. You cannot have a civilized and orderly society without that precondition. The concept of an unfettered free market is held up before us as if it were the Holy Grail, but without ever giving a passing thought to the fact that for such a system to exist there must of necessity be a population imbued with absolute honesty and one which is completely incorruptible. I would submit that the essence of our human nature makes that virtually impossible. Hence, all of our various manifestations of social intercourse must be subject to regulation in order to protect the common good. Society has to remain vigilant, however, and ensure that such regulation comes from the people and remains accountable to the people. Otherwise, the rights of society eventually become subordinate to the state and the ambitions of a select few, to our common peril.

If we are to be a truly representative democracy, we must guard against our tendency to operate according to our own vested self-interests at the expense of the society of which we are a part.

From my perspective, we have arrived at the point where our future is clearly in peril. It is in peril because we have either been too trusting or too lazy to engage in the hard work of ensuring accountability and integrity in exchange for our votes every 2, 4 and 6 years. Our federal system of government, in all respects, has become so corrupt and so insulated from those who put them in office that it is now a self-serving and a self-perpetuating system of tyranny. Every branch of government; the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial are tainted by their own power to some extent. Objectivity among them is, without question, a relative term.

Our elected officials are up for the highest bidder. Secrecy, lying and deception are the tools with which they ply their trade. Whenever money changes hands from those seeking favors from government to the hands of those who are government, the rights of society and its control over our system of government are compromised.

Corporations, although enjoying most of the privileges and rights accorded human beings, are not and cannot be the same. The nature of the beast makes that virtually impossible. They do not have a conscience akin to that of the people. Consequently, the human element within corporations is negated in deference to the “conscience of the corporation,” however that may be defined, and becomes manifest in society. I think it is safe to conclude that rarely, if ever, do they operate with the same enduring values we hold as human beings who are subjected to their power and avarice. Vested interests outside those of the governed cannot and will not serve the interests of the people. It just isn’t going to happen.

Thanks largely to the Clinton Administration, but going all the way back to the Reagan Administration, the industrial base of this country was systematically dismantled and shipped overseas to cheaper labor markets. Our current rate of unemployment is skyrocketing and we are lead to believe there will be an interval where it will only get worse before it gets better. I would ask, going back to work where and to jobs that are no longer there? Free trade and globalization has seen to that. We are assuaged by the rhetoric that we are now an information society. An information society of whom, by whom and for whom? Surely, they don’t expect us to believe that everyone is endowed with the same talents, skills and opportunities, so that great amorphous market can absorb them all! In the meantime, their homes are being repossessed, they have no jobs to go to and their unemployment benefits are running out. Are we to believe they will continue to be passive in the face of total and complete ruin without some backlash?

The barons of Wall Street are becoming just as emboldened as they were before the bottom fell out of the financial markets. They are hatching schemes that will game the system in much the same way as bundled mortgages, hedge funds and the like. Moreover, you can bet your bippy that the same players are behind it all as they were in the Clinton Administration, the long dark days of the Bush Administration and now transplanted to the Obama Administration. I would ask you, how transparent has the industry become? What new regulations and controls have been imposed on them? Do we really buy into all the crap about “too big to fail?” As an old cowboy would have said, “If you can’t break a horse, you will never ride him.” Seems rather fundamental to me.

The entire protracted foreplay having to do with “reforming” the health care system is just another glaring example of how we, as a people, are being had without even so much as a modicum of KY Jelly! All of the players; the White House, the Congress, the lobbyists and the profit-making health care corporations, in all their various manifestations, already know what the eventual outcome will be. We are witness to a grand charade, all for our benefit. The stench of pure unadulterated bullshit hangs heavy over the marble city on the Potomac.

If we really want to reform the system so every citizen gets a better deal out of one of the most lucrative segments of our economy, it certainly is not difficult to accomplish, nor does it take a rocket scientist to make it happen. Have you heard the term “trigger?” I am reasonably certain the term, as used in Wyoming, is not quite the same as it is when used by the distinguished Senator from Maine, but it is close enough for company work.

Let us begin; as soon as Company Obama signs a bill into law, we set ourselves to the task of undertaking the modernization of the system through computerization of medical records, digitalizing technology and other improvements in our nation’s health care system. Then, at the end of the first year, the trigger mechanism comes into play.

The minimum age for eligibility for Medicare drops from 65 to 60 years of age. From that point on, the trigger will encompass all of those in population increments 5 years younger until the program covers the entire population. That will give the current crop of health care bandits a respectable period of time in which to steal as much as they can before the well runs dry, and the fat cats among them can then fly off to whatever tax haven is harbor to their fortunes. Goodbye and good riddance.

Concurrently, a well-respected, qualified and honest group of citizens should band together and form a new political party that will stand on old fashioned virtues of honesty, integrity and accountability in government at all levels. One that will cut out all of the vestigial remnants of privilege, largess and power now endemic to this rather fragile, but treasured raison d’etre for our democracy. A government truly “of the people, for the people and by the people,” without all the constant barrage of bull crap we get from the entrenched bunch of thieves and their minions in the corporate news media.

We, as a people, are simply better than what we are getting from government, and we sure as hell deserve better after all they have put us through. Call it what you will, but bovine scatology still amounts to nothing more than plain old bullshit.
Cowboy Bob
September 13, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

“Our Finer Angels - An Endangered Species?"

The year was 1945 on a ranch, 60 miles south of Cody, Wyoming, on the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

The ranch was owned by a wealthy heiress from a prominent Pennsylvania family, who was then married to her second husband, a rodeo cowboy of minor fame in calf roping on the regional rodeo circuit. A romance that was born, no doubt, amid the pungent aroma of manure and the glamour of a real western rodeo. Her first husband was a man of prominence, living in Philadelphia, who had custody of their only son more, I suspect, because of the superior environs of life on the Main Line versus those of living on a remote ranch in Wyoming.

My Dad was a hired hand working on that ranch who, also, harbored dreams of becoming the World Champion Calf Roper, dreams never to be realized. I was nine years old and, when I wasn’t helping my Dad, Smoky (the best horse I ever rode) and I would take off to explore the many wonders hidden among the foothills leading up to the mountain peaks high above the ranch site. As the sun would begin to set in the West, Smoky would take over, I would drop the reins over the saddle horn, and he would dutifully take me directly to the door of the ranch cabin we called home, just in time for supper. I was quite content to be alone with my own company, a cherished solitude that was to be interrupted by the son of the heiress who was to be my constant companion for the remainder of those precious summer months.

It was the first time I realized that people actually traveled in private railroad cars accompanied by a butler. That was totally alien to me, but he proved to be just another nice enough kid. We would divide our time between the working ranch from that of the owner, which was separated by a couple of miles. I recall the stately log structure of the main ranch house and its manicured lawn, with the utilitarian part of the home joined to the main house by a breezeway. He and I would often have lunch together at a small table in the main kitchen. On one such occasion, following lunch, he asked me to go with him to his room. His Mother happened to be in the kitchen at that time, and I can recall the incident as vividly as the day it happened, as she turned to her son and said, “Georgie, you know we never allow the hired help into the main house.” That was my introduction to the reality of the relationship between wealth and the hired help to which I, obviously, belonged at the ripe old age of 9! It proved to be a signature moment in shaping the values that have sustained me throughout my life. The Heinz 57 brand never graced our table again.

I don’t believe that most wealth is the product of dedication and hard work. Rather, I am more inclined to think it is from gaming a system for its own benefit, and usually at the expense of others of lesser stations in life. To the mouths of the greedy, there never seems to be enough. They always want more.

I, also, don’t believe that people who are dedicated to amassing great wealth are unaware of the cost of their ambitions to the society of which they are a part. Rather, I am more inclined to believe they know full well what they take for themselves and the attendant costs on those who work to provide it to them. Conscience is not one of their virtues. The free market, without regulation and safeguards to ensure honesty and fairness, simply does not work and does not accrue to the benefit of society.

In order to make what they do more palatable, wealth seems to have an ingrained ability to demonize those they exploit and whose pittance they plunder at will. The statistics showing the massive transfer of wealth from the common man to the top tier of the population in this country, since the days when “Ronnie” was our president and up to the present time, clearly shows what has been sacrificed by our working people in order to make all that possible.

Free trade, so strongly advocated and touted by our political establishment and the business “community,” certainly did nothing to improve the lot of working Americans. As business flourished in the new environment of globalization, with illegal aliens pouring across our southern borders, deregulation of business interests and the massive dismantling of our industrial base, the working Americans faced a dismal future, devoid of the hope and promise so cherished and embodied in the American dream. They were vilified by business and government sympathizers for looking to organized labor in order to help shore up their base and restore some semblance of control over their own destiny. As the service industries burgeoned, we witnessed massive numbers of people reduced to the minimum wage and consigned to menial labor; what we came to refer to as the “working poor.”

History has been witness to a string of First Ladies parading around like dowager queens in their expensive finery, deigning to acknowledge those who were not particularly high in the social register and patronizing those who hadn’t quite made it. Great role models for a country that so reveres the notion of equality as a fundamental virtue of what we are supposed to be all about. Most enjoyed that station in life by virtue of the compromises in character made by their husbands in supplication before the thrones of vast wealth and power.

Bill and Hillary abandoned the richness of their trailer park heritage in favor of pandering to massive wealth, whose favors could be had for the asking by casting their lot with the likes of Wall Street Bankers and corporate America. They made a bundle after leaving office, ostensibly from “speaking engagements” which remains suspect as far as I am concerned.

Then, of course, there was George W., The Village Idiot made good. What Bill did not finish, George and Co. did, and Obama is sweeping up the crumbs from all that is left. The impoverishment of mainstream America is now all but complete. It was just a question of time before their house of cards came tumbling down, but it did so with a bang not heard since the Great Depression.

It is utterly incredulous to me how so many mainstream Americans can buy into, and blindly support, the mantra of the rich, powerful, corrupt and morally bankrupt of this country and, indeed, the world. Their zealousness boggles the mind and the conscience of those who know better. Just look at them. Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Marc Sanford, John Ensign, tea parties, religious zealots, Ann Coulter, ad nauseum. Then there are those who are the masters of seduction when it comes to manipulating all those who profess to be so well-intentioned, all the while dutifully serving their masters of power and privilege, such as Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman, Ben Bernanke, Max Baccus, and a whole host of others who routinely sell out this country and those who elect them to public office. No amount of sanitizing by all those who aid them and the media who champion them can wipe the stains of shame from their dark and dirty souls. People suffer and die because of their empty rhetoric and their veiled pretense at giving a damn.

The Christ they all call on for the deification of the rotten remains and memory of all they claim to be, but are not, did not live in a palatial home, did not surround Himself with the powerful and elite of his time, did not travel in a golden chariot nor indulge his appetites with the finest foods and wines available in his time. Rather, he wore simple garments and sandals. He walked the dusty roads among the most humble of men. He lived in simple surroundings and was carried on the back of an ass. He championed the least among us, and admonished us to share our bounty and our treasures freely with all of those who had so little. How do those who mock Him in every aspect of their lives, yet profess such undying faith to his teachings, square the hypocrisy that seems to have claimed their immortal souls?

I take strenuous exception to the notion that “all men are created equal.” That statement defies reality. People come into this world with grossly disparate measures of genetic makeup. They are born to vastly different levels of affluence and opportunities laid before them as their birthright. The suffering and degradation that will follow and will dominate the lives of so many cannot be explained away by their perceived failure to seize missed opportunities and the burden of perceived indolence they carry.

With the onset of the economic bubble that has just burst, we came to revere and emulate the very ones who have plundered the country and laid fallow that which has given so many, historically, the means to pursue the American Dream. The massive advertising put before us an endless menu of materialistic and hedonistic offerings, made all the easier to acquire through easy credit has, I believe, caused us to lose sight of what we are all about. We now have a mega-church whose pastor preaches that Christ wants all of us to be rich, as if wealth is the beginning and end in our pursuit of redemption and salvation. But people have bought into that opiate and are flocking in droves to hear his message. For us to acquiesce to a world of such massive greed, avarice and callousness toward the human condition, without attempting to ease the plague of human suffering, has to be the greatest affront we can commit in the eyes of our Creator.

Wyoming, known as “The Equality State,” was the first state to have a woman for Governor and was the first state to grant women suffrage. Now, both U.S. Senators from the state are staunch supporters of a health care industry totally out of control, as they sap billions and billions of dollars from the lifeblood of people when they are most at the mercy of the system. So much for the historical banner of “equality.”

“For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” Luke 12:48

“Whatever you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me.” Matthew 25:40
What has happened to our finer angels?

Cowboy Bob
September 1, 2009