Friday, June 25, 2010

"And The Music Plays As The Carousel Goes Round and Round"

I am beginning to conclude that the people of the United States of America are so numbed through years of seduction by all of those who effectively screw them into the ground that they are incapable of discerning right from wrong. They just go with the flow, hope for the best, and seem impervious at the extent to which they are a party to the selling of America to the most skilled crooks among us.

The so-called Financial Reform Bill, among others of this administration, is one of the biggest shams ever perpetrated against the common folk. The “Clinton Mafia” remains intact and are more powerful than ever. They control every key financial position in the Obama White House. They frame the arguments and our illustrious “Change We Can Believe in Boy, “sells them to the most vulnerable among us. He doesn’t even have to bother with a flowery speech anymore. Just a few words to a compliant news media and he is off and running with yet another coup that costs us, the citizens, dearly for years to come. Wall Street is flourishing with our tax dollars. The Federal Reserve is growing in power, influence and secrecy. Chris Dodd has proven himself to be the most consummate whore to ever sit in government, with absolutely no shame whatsoever. However, let us not lose sight of the fact that everything he does is carefully and deliberately orchestrated by the White House.

All of the above against the backdrop of the “Johnny Come Lately” advocates of fiscal conservatism, after having raped the country into a “recession” following their plunder of the country under the perverted inspiration and leadership of such paragons of virtue as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It didn’t bother them one damned bit to cut countless millions of the unemployed off at the ankles by not renewing their unemployment benefits in the midst of the greatest financial calamity to hit this country since the Great Depression. They have accused those unfortunate souls of the same dark motives and unsavory conduct that they seem so accomplished at themselves. As the old saying goes, “A dog smells his own hole first.” They are the most motley bunch of losers to have ever sat in the halls of government. They haven’t had an original idea since Teddy Roosevelt left the White House. They have elevated stealing and self-righteousness to new levels of obscenity. They are a disgrace to everything decent people stand for, and they know it. All of this under the inspired leadership of such towers of intellect and charisma as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Plain, Glenn Beck, Michael Steele, and others of the same ilk.

Then there is the whole army of “progressives,” that fawn all over our President and his henchmen who are behind every scheme to further plunder the country for the oligarchs and the plutocrats. A goodly number of them are among the pseudo-educated elite that rake in hefty salaries which place them in the higher income brackets. They cap out in their FICA taxes at $100,600 while the average person pays the same tax on virtually every cent he/she earns. When they don’t agree with the law they summarily ignore it, impugn the motives of those who believe in the rule of law, reframe the argument in language that has a lofty and noble ring to it, and champion the cause of all the illegals in this country at the expense of those who pay the taxes for the oligarchs and plutocrats steal. And the music plays as the carousel goes round and round. They skillfully and completely avoid any mention of the fact that we have this problem because of years of collusion between government, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a business community salivating at the thought of yet more cheap labor from south of the border just waiting to be reduced to indentured servitude so we, the consumers who complain about their numbers can, in turn, further binge on the cheap goods they produce.

But, where is John Q. Public in all this? Those who are still employed and living the good life simply sit back and say “hurray for me and fuck you.” That is so American, don’t you think? Do the bastards even have a soul, much less feel for anyone other than their gluttonous selves? Do they even know what is going on around them, much less care? I rather doubt it. They are utterly revolting to everything decent and good. So, let them pursue all of their wildest dreams rooted in an endless materialistic and hedonistic pursuit in life. But, take note, it won’t last forever and they, too, will have to face reality at some point in their poor wretched lives. I can’t help but wonder if any of them have ever so much as glanced in the mirror and asked themselves “How is the world better by virtue of my having been here?“ Damned few I suspect. It is time they get real and accept the fact that, rather than having been ordained by whatever deity they worship, they are probably not here by design. Rather, they are more likely to have entered this world through a moment of passion (hopefully more than just wanton lust). This is one game, however, where they can’t cram for the finals. They are what they are, and are likely destined to take it all to the grave, reduced to a pile of ashes or a rotting corpse just like the billions who have gone before believing they, too, were something special and unique.

Isn’t it about time we all took stock, sobered up and counted for something before the final bell tolls?

Cowboy Bob
June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“What Do Americans Mean By a Republic?”

As I bear witness to the continued unraveling of our national character, I ask myself in a thousand ways, what has brought this nation to the brink of total disintegration? There is a massive inertia and malaise that seems to have rendered us totally impotent to stop the juggernaut that has the propensity to totally derail the ship of state. In moments of anger and despair over all that we face, it is so easy to play the blame game but, at the end of the day, we all bear some responsibility for where we are at this point in our history.

I, like so many students of history, have a tendency to deify the Framers of the Constitution and their apparent wisdom in all they put together to create this marvel of democracy that, for centuries, has been the envy of the world. I really want to believe that history of perfection in governing a nation is still very much intact and relevant to what is going on today. But is it?

The prevailing social, economic, political and religious systems have had to have changed with the passage of time. Nothing is static. The value systems of those earlier times cannot have been what they are today. Time changes everything.

We like to think of ourselves as a democracy and often, with great pride, refer to ourselves as the greatest democracy in the world, but, are we? As has been rightfully pointed out, the United States of America is a “republic.” How does that differ from a “democracy?” I pondered that question and decided to start by looking for an answer in my trusted dictionary. There are four terms that have been applied to our system of government that warrant examination: a republic, a democracy, an oligarchy and a plutocracy.

A “republic” is defined as “a state in which supreme power is held by the people or their elected representatives or by an elected or nominated president, not by a monarch.

A “democracy” is defined as “a system of government by the whole population, usually through elected representatives. An egalitarian and tolerant form of society.

The common phrase in the two foregoing definitions that struck me was “elected representatives.” Elected by whom? To represent whom? Power is held by either the people or their elected representatives. Is the holding of power absolute or situational?

We could not have arrived at where we are today had there not been an evolution of what was intended by the concept of “representation.”

I have long been suspect of the intent vs. the outcome of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. I was disturbed by the fact that it appears to have taken a power that was vested with each of the individual states and summarily transferred it to the central government. My concern was that the amendment effectively conferred all power to the federal monolith in Washington, D.C. That did not seem quite cricket to me. However, as I have studied that action, I have come to the conclusion that the intent of passing that amendment was to correct a chronic problem of corruption at the state level in the way senators were appointed to serve and represent their respective states in the United States Senate. Further, who were they serving? The power brokers in state government or the people? I would have to conclude that the only constant with this whole issue is that the senators are “elected” by the people, but they “represent” a vastly different constituency. The element of corruption is still very much a part of the equation. However, it is being carried out for a different constituency and it sure as hell isn’t on behalf of those who elect them to office. So, I would ask, are we any better off today than we were when they were elected by state legislatures?

We have a House of Representatives that represents the citizens of individual congressional districts within each state. They are elected for a term of office of two years. Because of the size of their constituency and the short term in office, I don’t think there is any doubt that they are much more closely tied to those who put and keep them in office. They are far more responsive to the wishes of those who elect them.

We have a President that is elected to serve for a term of 4 years, with a maximum of two terms in office. Since the inception of this nation, the office has progressively evolved into one with increased powers and less accountability to the Congress and to the people who put them there. I regard what we have as being less like the elected titular head of state and more like the anointed divine head of state, much to our peril as a democracy. I see the office progressing further toward less transparency and greater opacity, to the detriment of the electorate. The trappings of that office tend to allow it much greater discretionary authority than what I view as good for the nation as a whole. As of this writing, I see the real constituency of the Presidency as big business, corporations, individual wealth and the military-intelligence apparatus of government. That is cause for grave concern, in my opinion, for those who believe we live in a democracy.

Then, we have the grand and imperious body called the United States Senate. They are by far the most arrogant and independent of those who seduce us into voting for them. With terms of six years in office, they are less beholden to the voters and have a wider margin of individual discretion. Once they are elected, they can comfortably relax, pander to special interests at the expense of those who put them in office, and lace their pockets with what we euphemistically refer to as “campaign contributions,” which is just another term for bribery. Their skullduggery used to be somewhat subtle, but it is so blatant anymore that one would have to be intellectually lazy, or mentally and emotionally deranged not to see it. The ludicrous number and types of rules under which they operate has rendered the body almost totally paralyzed from political inertia. To call them our equivalent to the British “House of Lords,” is not far off the mark.

Lastly, we have the Supreme Court. They profess to be objective, but they aren’t. They say they don’t legislate, but they do. They are reputed to be apolitical, but they aren’t. I am mystified as to what they are all about. What do they do with all that time on their hands? Aren’t lifetime appointments at times miserably boring? Their constituency seems to be defined by the bias of the political majority at any given point in time. At the end of the day, do we really get our money’s worth?

A “democracy” is defined as “a system of government by the whole population, usually through elected representatives.” It is a state so governed or any organization governed on democratic principles. It is defined as an egalitarian and tolerant form of society. Given what we have today, I would say that is a bit off the mark. Sounds nice, but it doesn’t jibe with reality.

Then, there is what is termed an “oligarchy,” which is government by a small group of people; a state governed in this way and the members of such a government. Those who really control the process are part of a small group who hold the real power in our system. We may like to delude ourselves into believing otherwise, but a bit of reflection readily puts the issue into sharp relief. We have institutionalized and legitimized those we have deified in positions of power, influence and fame. Without question, Washington, D.C. is the crown jewel of the elite, who rule the land.

And, finally, there is what is referred to as a “plutocracy,” which is a government by the wealthy; a state government governed in this way, and comprised of a wealthy elite or ruling class. There can be no doubt that is very much the case today. Any clear distinction between oligarchs and plutocrats is not clear. Perhaps the appropriate frame of reference is “individuals” within an oligarchy, and “organizations or corporations” within a plutocracy, might be a better way to think of the two. Or, perhaps, our perception of oligarchs is those who front for those who, in the final analysis, are the rightful owners of their souls and our national destiny.

So, all of this leads us to the question as to what we really are? I don’t see that we stand for much of anything anymore.

Things appeared to have started to unravel in the 1960’s with the advent of the “sexual revolution” and the “drug culture.” The genie came out of the bottle and unleashed the forces of hedonism, with the concomitant sounding of the death knell that would lead to the progressive demise of social conventions as we knew them. Our national focus seems to have shifted from a mindset of “we” to “me.” The pre-eminent rights shifted from those of society to those of the individual. Our kinship as a people was on the wane. We had set ourselves on the slippery slope of decadence; a journey from which we have never recovered. We have finally arrived at the point where all we have sown is now in full bloom. The finer aspects of our human nature have fallen victim to our baser instincts.

The culmination of our spiral downward to progressively more blatant forms of materialism and hedonism is now the norm. We have a population of young people that has never taken a course in civics. They haven’t a clue as to what our government is all about or how it is supposed to function for the common good. Their minds are numbed and their intellectual properties are atrophied by various forms of entertainment, most of which is of dubious value, at best. They stare blankly at computer monitors, blackberries, I-pods, etc., all the while completely oblivious to the potential richness of the people around them. Text messaging has replaced conversation. The output of Hollywood and Madison Avenue has supplanted intellectual discourse and any meaningful debate about the salient issues of the day. All that has been overtaken by cyberspace and all the electronic wizardry that makes it possible.

Today, everyone wants to be rich. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to have the perfect body. Pleasure is more important than substance. People seem to be obsessed by the desire to get laid, get stoned, and partake in an endless feast of ecstasy provided by all that is considered “fun," whatever that is. We have, in exchange for a panoply of materialism and hedonism, completely abdicated any real obligation to attend to our collective responsibility for making sure government works for all the people, rather than the vast wealth and power that rushed in to fill the vacuum created by our collective apathy and self-imposed ignorance.

We have a schism in the extremes of wealth because we allowed it to happen. We tolerate corruption and greed because we allowed it to thrive and flourish. We sunk to new levels of depravity because we wanted it. We lost control of our government because we permitted it. We are what we are because we allowed ourselves to become the victims. We are an empty people and have only ourselves to thank for having sown the seeds of our own demise.

I am not at all sure we have the means or the will to do what is required in order to restore the integrity of all that was envisioned by those who created this republic of ours.

Through the process of becoming absentee owners, perhaps we have allowed those we elected to represent us to become the representatives of all that seeks to destroy us. Has the corruption of power and money germinated in the fertile soil of an overly complacent citizenry?

I am more inclined to believe the shortest distance between the electorate and the government is more akin to a parliamentary system of government. Perhaps that, more than a republic, is the embodiment of what is meant by a true democracy.

Cowboy Bob
June 2, 2010