Monday, February 22, 2010

"It's Time to Get Serious"

I don’t think it is a stretch to conclude that our system of government is, for all intents and purposes, incapable of functioning.

The President has proven to be a man of sweeping promises and little action. He has championed an open and transparent government, only to have climbed into the bed of vested interests on Wall Street, the health care industry, the pharmaceutical industry, big energy, big mining, the military establishment, big corporations and a whole host of other corporate and special interests, contrary to his own campaign promises. As an aside, did you notice that, today, he removed the “public option” from what is being re-submitted to the Senate for reconciliation? Proof, once again that he is nothing more than a corporate hack taking care of his buddies at the expense of millions of Americans in dire need of affordable health care. Meanwhile the average American still waits, patiently, for the help that was promised to end this “recession.”

The auto industries were given what I regard as a token gesture of help when compared to the giants on Wall Street, coupled with a ratcheting down on the unions to help bring it about. His penchant for bi-partisanship is pathetic. It may work in community organizing, but it is a poor substitute for the real leadership demanded in today’s world. He is the complete antithesis of a representative of the people. He is doing everything he can, and not in a very subtle way, to further impoverish those whose lot has steadily deteriorated under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. All we get from him are hollow speeches filled with hot air and no follow through. At the end of the day, we bear witness to the same complacency that enables him to rape the country at will, and those few diehard progressives who just can’t bring themselves to believe he is the fraud he has conclusively proven himself to be. He is no longer credible and I see absolutely no hope that he has any desire to regain it in order to rekindle the hope and support he had when he was first elected to office. I have concluded that he is a one-term president. However, I am not at all certain he aspires to anything more than that. Rather, when corporations and massive wealth own the country, he will leave the White House a very rich man and his legacy as the “First African American President” will be assured. That's the one distinction that can’t be taken away from him.

The Senate is pathetic. They no longer even try to hide the extent to which they are compromised by corporations and vested interests that own them and lace their pockets with money and favors. They don’t even do a good job of faking their intended roles on behalf of those they are sworn to serve. They run rough-shod over the people and pander to every special interest imaginable. They have given new meaning to the term “corruption.” They have elevated deception and lying to a new level. I think there is more than a simple desire to “retire from public service,” that is causing them to jump ship like a bunch of wharf rats.

The House of Representatives is probably the least corrupt of any arm of government. I dare say, however, were it not for the 2-year term limits that tie them closer to the people, they would be little better than the Senate.

The Supreme Court is, of course, a joke. They have proven to have absolutely no qualms about legislating under the guise of what is euphemistically termed “judicial review.” Their stealing of the general election for George W. Bush in 2000 and their recent ruling in favor of corporations relative to their massive ability to buy candidates and, therefore, elections, negates any residual notion that they are at all objective. They are not credible and certainly, to my mind, are not to be trusted.

The Pentagon, just by its sheer size, financial power and fealty to the seats of political power live and prosper, at taxpayers’ expense, in the bubble of corruption about which we were forewarned by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Their ability to spend money on weaponry, weapon systems, no-bid contracts and the like is unequaled anywhere in the world, exceeding the total budgets of a great many governments. But, all they have to do is wave the flag and hint at an impending national catastrophe if we don’t yield to their demands. We then gladly hand over our dollars and the lives of our young men and women, with no questions asked, and the system just grows bigger and more powerful.

The news media, which was intended to be the watchdog on government, is the biggest joke of all. They have become just one great big corporate empire designed to dupe us into believing what government and big business want us to believe. The diminishing pools of independence in the news media are drying up and, of those left, they are but a ripple on the ocean of what is created by the big boys for our consumption. What was intended to be an instrument of the people is now, clearly, an instrument of those who seek to dominate and control our lives. The next burr under the saddle of our country will be when they zero in on the Internet. I wouldn’t want to bet any big bucks on the projected half-life on that one, either.

Any notion that there will be any discernable effort made to clean up the two major political parties is but a flight of fancy. It just isn’t going to happen. The Democrats have proven themselves to be little more than a bunch of whimpering sycophants. Instead of championing progress in the social and economic spheres of our national life, they bend over so far trying to appease the opposition that they have fallen flat on their backs. They quiver like a bunch of dogs passing peach seeds, all the while refusing to acknowledge their titular head. They may want to believe the best about the current tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but they are acutely aware of the hand that feeds him, as well. He has no intentions of standing up for the common good of the nation. As the storm clouds of the mid-term elections loom on the horizon for 2010, the exodus of those who have stolen all they can is growing before they get their asses kicked out by some lame-brain Republican. The Senate is an abomination. They court our votes and, once elected, turn their entire focus and attention to their real constituents - lobbyists, corporations, and massive wealth.

The Republicans do a laudable job of consistently making fools of themselves. Now, mind you, they are just as skilled at stealing from the national coffers as any of the others, but resorting to Bible thumping, the “C” Street gang, tea bagging and drinking in the profundities of such intellectual giants as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Mitch McConnell, Michelle Bachman and the like is downright laughable. Lined up together they are, at best, the largest and most motley group of intellectually challenged figures to be found in the nation’s capitol. But, their mastery of but one monosyllabic word in the English Language, “No,” has proven to be a masterful achievement. Their credo should be, “Don’t bother me with details! I don‘t think, I just react to external stimuli.“ They have given new meaning to the art of lying, and scary though it may be, they just continue unchallenged and unabated, championed on by the most ignorant and ill-informed among us.

With what we deign to refer to as the “two major political parties,” I see faint hope for any meaningful and discernable change in what is floating on the surface of the national cesspool we fondly refer to as “Washington” The ideal means of purging our system of all that ails it would be to make a sweeping change from what we have to a parliamentary system of government, but the mere mention of such a thing would bring out the screaming multitudes, alleging that we were stealing their “freedoms,” (whatever that means) and is part of a left-wing conspiracy to create a socialist government. So, best to abandon any further pursuit of that rational avenue of redress.

The only means I can see of accomplishing what needs to be done in order to save the Republic is a new political party that is based on a return to honest government “of the people, by the people and for the people, “and predicated on the highest ideals of what is required to ensure that those institutions will never again be hijacked by the darkest manifestations of human depravity in the form of massive wealth, corporate power and military might. That needs to be underscored by the supremacy of the electorate and transparency in all actions taken by government, save those that are clearly in the interest of our national security. The only way a third political party can succeed is by focusing on mainstream voters in the Democratic Party, Independent Voters and Moderate Republicans.

Given that the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1789, I find it utterly incredulous that, in over 200 years, all the amendments, rules, protocols and other changes that affect the integrity of that document, have never been subjected to some form of retrospective analysis in order to ascertain ---

1. Were the changes consistent with the intent of the Founding
Fathers as embodied in the Constitution?

2. If not, why were the changes enacted and by what authority?

3. What were the unintended consequences of each of those actions?

4. What actions are required in order to restore the effects of those
changes to what is in accordance with the original intent?

5. If the actions are in keeping with today’s requirements, what means
are appropriate to properly ratify the changes in order to bring
them into line with constitutional intent and the law of the land?

The above analysis should be applied to the actions of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch, retroactive to the date of ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The evolution of what has become today’s “military-industrial complex,” and what is now peddled as an “independent” news media should receive the same scrutiny.

Although no minor endeavor, I see no reason why an independent body of the right minds and qualifications could not complete such a project, with their objectives to be [a] restoration of the authority of the government vested, exclusively, with the people as citizens of the country, [b] the elimination of opportunities for corruption and self-serving practices on the part of representatives and other officials elected to government, and [c] campaign reforms designed to eliminate, and prohibit, outside money and favors from interests seeking to influence government institutions and public servants.

Such a body should be free from political bias and vested interests, and should operate under the auspices of a reputable public university, based on the probability that private colleges and universities are more likely to be biased in favor of those at the higher ends of the social and economic spectrum.

The commission should be comprised of a workable number of recognized individuals of renown, in disciplines relevant to the requirements of the project. Some names that come to mind are: David Gergen, Chuck Hagel, Bill Bradley, Eliot Spitzer, Johathan Turley, Glen Greenwald, Bill Moyers, Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, Simon Johnson, James Galbraith, Robert Reich, William Grieder, Mario Cuomo, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Former Justice David Souter. Admittedly, these are but a sampling of eminently qualified individuals, many of whom are currently serving in government. The determining criterion should be “objectivity,” which should not be too difficult to ascertain.

The first task of any such study group would be to define their mission and their role in bringing about the changes necessary in order to reconcile what is (current situation) with what ought to be (intent relative to the Constitution). If we don’t know where we came from and where we are, it cannot be accurately determined as to where we ought to be going.

The actual work on behalf of the group overseeing such a project could be accomplished by a group of graduate students from various universities and from academic disciplines relevant to the charge given to them by those directing the overall effort.

1. There should be an independent group assigned to evaluate and report
on the functions and status of each of the following institutions:

a. The Executive Branch
b. The Senate
c. The House of Representatives
d. The Supreme Court
e. The Pentagon
f. The Press in all its forms.

2. There should be an agreed upon schedule of tasks with targets for the completion
of each.

3. Periodic reports should be submitted to the directors of the project for review
and approval.

4. With approval by the overseers, those periodic reports should be published on
cable television and the Internet for public consumption.

Given the degree of corruption and the massive amounts of money involved in all branches of government, the military establishment and the news media, I genuinely believe that we are looking into the abyss of the total decimation of the working class in the United States, with their ultimate fate being no better than that of indentured servants during less civilized epochs in history. I believe the situation to be sufficiently acute as to have placed this nation on the verge of becoming a third-rate power in the world. The evil that we face is so pervasive and so pernicious that it is going to take people of character, courage and determination to turn the ship of state around. Do I believe it can be done? Absolutely! Do I think it can be done without exacting a huge price? No! But, if not now, when?

I am a news junkie and I feed on every reputable form in which it is delivered. It is only because I genuinely care about what this country has been, and what we should ensure that it will be for future generations, that I embarked on my writing binge. I am not a professional writer, nor do I profess to be a particularly good writer, but I do believe I have something to say that comes, not only from my heart and soul, but that is of a deep and abiding concern to a significant number of Americans.

My blog, by its very nature, does not have a wide audience. Therefore, it does not find its way into the hands of those in high places who might be in a position to at least give my not-so-sophisticated ideas and words a cursory examination. I have tried, not because my ego needs the strokes, but only because I give a damn. I have been ignored by universities, the news media, government and others. I am not optimistic this attempt will get any further.

By today’s standards, I may be on the downhill side of the mountain and from humble beginnings, but I have no intentions of giving up until the predators of Wall Street, the healthcare insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the military establishment are contained and held to account before the people of this country. And, yes, this applies equally to the legions of those elected to serve the people of the United States, but who have become so corrupt as to have sold their very souls to the darkest and most sinister forces that have ever been unleashed on any civilized society in the history of the world. Only when the grave claims me, or those who I hold in such contempt are consigned to theirs, will I call it quits.

As for the future, the youth of this country must set aside what they regard as their inherent right to have “fun” without limits or moral constraints. They need to stop staring blankly into their electronic hand-held devices and communicating only in sound bites or abbreviated forms of the language required by Twitter or Facebook. They need to learn the value of reading, in all its forms. They need to learn the rewards that come from interacting with real human beings, and the joy that can only come from sharing ideas, concepts and goals directed at a common cause -- a better society for everyone. Democracy and government are hard work but they, also, can be one hell of a lot of fun.

Our colleges and universities need to wean themselves from the life-blood of corporate funds and massive fortunes coming from those sectors of the economy that dull natural curiosity and wonder that can only come from a real education. Yes, there is value in the liberal arts and it sure beats the hell out of what is sold for education but, in the final analysis, is only the stuff of technical zombies. They need to re-assert a commitment to the value of the wisdom of the ages, going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. Our real distinction is not in the degree to which we isolate ourselves from others, but the extent to which we actively engage others. By its very nature, electronic communications are impersonal and cold. That which warms our souls can only come by engaging and associating with real people.

Good luck.

Cowboy Bob
February 22, 2010