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