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