Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2011

I was going to try and write something profound and inspiring, but my barrel of profundities seems to be empty and the cask of inspiration is dry. So, let me sincerely say that each of you is special in your own way, and you have enriched my life immeasurably. I am enlightened when we disagree and reassured when we agree.

I cannot recall a time in my life when our nation was in such disarray and when corruption was so pervasive and insidious. The bad guys really are in control and they are using every evil means available to warp the minds and demoralize the souls of those who live at their mercy. We really do have to be vigilant and seize every opportunity we can to purge our government and those they serve from the darkest and most sinister forces that seem to have an iron-clad grip on all of the institutions we rely on to keep this country healthy and vibrant, and those on whom we depend by electing them to office in the service of the people.

When human beings are reduced to the subsistence level and survival becomes their preeminent concern, we are not at our best. Let us raise our sights to a higher level, difficult though that may be. Let us see human suffering for what it is and not demonize those whose misfortunes we may not understand and whose burdens we may not appreciate. Let us set aside our own personal preoccupations and ask our Dear Lord to let each of us be an instrument of His will and His loving peace in every facet of our lives. Let us not be swayed by emotions, but enlightened by reason. Let us dedicate ourselves to rebuilding the "we" among us and keeping the "me" within us in perspective. I honestly believe that the better part of our nature does not lie within the physical and material dimensions of our existence but, rather, in the mystery of the spirit within us that we are taught to believe is the essence and the promise of eternal life.

As we join in celebrating the birth of Christ, let us, also, celebrate the magnificence of God's creation that resides within the human soul.

I wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with real hope and promise for a better future.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

Sunday, November 13, 2011

“Vice is Nice, But Incest is Best”

As I have witnessed our system of government in action and the way in which we select the talent for the various positions in that system, it occurred to me that we really haven’t changed all that much since the Founding Fathers signed the papers that set this circus in motion. By what process did they deem that elected officials would, somehow, become the fount of all wisdom and virtue as they set themselves to the task of governing? Why do we so readily acquiesce to elected officials as having all of the knowledge, experience, honesty and integrity necessary to make the heady decisions endemic to our modern world? Why do we allow them to isolate themselves from the real folk of this grand republic, sequester themselves in the hallowed halls of their various branches of government and pander to vested interests for the information that best serves what is required in order to make “informed decisions” on our behalf and for the nation on the world stage?

It seems to me that what has evolved since the infancy of this country is the election of a collection of individuals who are anything but equipped to deal with the affairs of state and domestic health that are the very foundations of what government is all about. To presume political acumen is necessarily synonymous with what it takes to understand issues and make decisions based on evidence seems all rather naïve to me. We have, for all intents and purposes, created a system that is just crying out for compromise on principles and the ability to overlook corruption when it comes to individual integrity. They routinely do things that would not be tolerated by any reasonably good and honest business person.

What kind of business acumen would allow his/her employees to unilaterally determine their compensation and benefit packages, and bless the outcome with absolute authority? Does that make any sense to you? Why do they pass on issues of such monumental complexity and ramifications without having ever consulted experience and expert advice? Doesn’t that seem rather arrogant and self-serving? It is akin to using the barter system as the basis for a contemporary retail business.

What qualifies the Senate and the House to evaluate and rule on complex issues of our day? A general education and background hardly qualifies one for an intelligent, informed assessment of the myriad issues submitted to them for deliberation and action. What qualifies the President to sit in private meetings with the barons of Wall Street, the shysters of the health care industries, those who peddle prescription drugs at vastly inflated prices and still come to terms on issues that are vital to the citizens of this country, and who will be affected for years after those decisions are made? It is a system tailor made for the massive corruption we have today. Is it any wonder that huge amounts of money flow into their coffers in exchange for decisions favorable to their vested interests? It seems that elementary Aristotelian logic would require that good decisions be made on the basis of verifiable facts and sound knowledge. Corruption flourishes on graft. Academicians have the knowledge we require. Peddlers of influence favor the use of shady deals in order to buy the influence they need in order to plunder the taxpayers treasure and fuel their insatiable greed.

This country has some of the finest colleges and universities in the world, staffed by some of the greatest academic minds the world has ever known. Why don’t we require that those who legislate avail themselves of that talent and require that it be applied to the vital issues of the day in this country? Can it be done? You bet it can. All it would take is a good system of checks and balances that would prohibit conflicts of interest, and money in politics. It would, no doubt, prove to be far less costly than the so-called campaign contributions they demand for their services. We need to keep reminding ourselves that they work for us, the people who put them in office and who pay the taxes to support what they are required to do on our behalf. Moreover, we need to insist on a demonstrated ability to provide the leadership we expect before we cast our ballot for the next resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Further, the exalted and omnipotent position enjoyed by the Supreme Court needs to be toned down so they, too, are constantly aware of the fact that their “judgment” does not trump the will of the American people.

I place a lot of stock in leadership. It may well be that one can learn the principles of leadership, but the actual practice of leadership is not only the knowledge of what it is all about, but that rare intuitive ability to make it all happen against the backdrop of what is inherently known to be right and just. Compromise is the stuff of obsequious sycophants, not leaders. Haven’t we had enough of those who pretend to be leaders? Isn’t it time to declare an end to the charade and get back to basics? Isn’t it time to tell all the demagogues that “enough is enough?” Isn’t it time to tell those who seek public office that we hold absolute honesty and integrity paramount for daring to claim the right to represent any and all of us? Isn’t it time to call out all of those who pretend to have mastered the art and science of politics for what they are? Frankly, I am tired of seeing them wrap themselves in mantles of virtue and expect me to trust them? The proof is in the pudding, as the old adage goes, "Actions speak louder than words."

The President of the United States has failed the American people. The House of Representatives and the Senate have failed the American people. The Supreme Court has failed the American people. The entire banking system has failed the American people. The military/industrial complex has failed the American people. The Republican Party has failed the American people. The Democratic Party has failed the American people. The “Tea Party” has failed the American people. Corporate America has failed the American people. The oligarchs and plutocrats have failed the American people. They all swim in the same cesspool of humanity that has brought this nation to the brink of destruction.

No matter how imperfect their movement may be, is it not time for all of us on the sidelines to stand, take off our hats and salute every one in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement for at least recognizing that enough is enough? In my humble pinion, they are the personification of what real democracy is all about.

To paraphrase the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, has not the time come to give new meaning to “Believe none of what we hear and only half of what we see?” Is it not time for us to call out the demagogues who persistently and relentlessly engage in a frontal assault on our finest angels? Haven’t we had enough of their deceptive practices and empty words, and who flaunt our system of laws? Has not the time come for us to tell them to “pack up your tents and steal into the darkness from whence you came?”

The purveyors of hate and violence have no place among peace-loving people. And, it is the peace-loving people who genuinely seek answers to the tough questions that best serve us all and not just the will of a few. Those who labor in the quest for truth and justice are to be revered; those who revel in ignorance are to be pitied.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
November 13, 2011

Support a Constitutional Amendment to “Get Money Out of Politics.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Nothing Less Than Substantive Change Will Do"

It can be said with some degree of certainty that I am on the downside of the mountain when it comes to the average life expectancy for Homo sapiens. However, with age comes a resignation to the fact that all of life’s lessons were not learned in the classroom. I have come to realize that a sizeable portion of that education came from the native wisdom garnered from the people who walked in and out of my life over the years.

I was extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of being born and raised in the State of Wyoming. It was (and still is) a sparsely populated state occupied by people who were not afraid to be genuine. Generally speaking, they were people who took pride in being rugged individualists, but rarely ruthless. They could see wisdom in the most basic and simple forms of life, and the resultant behaviors that emanated from their unique makeup. I leaned a lot from the weathered faces of ranchers and ranch hands who grew up on and where they worked at being “real” cowboys, a labor of love throughout most of their lives. I learned a lot from the people who inhabited those small towns, looked out for each other and genuinely cared about their common lot. I grew up in a poor family, but when I left to go out into the bigger world, I took with me a wealth of life’s gems and the lessons I was taught that would sustain me for the rest of my life. Little did I realize at that stage of my life just how precious it was to become in the years ahead.

When I entered university little did I imagine that I would encounter the personification of that wisdom and the colorful patterns of speech I had taken with me as part of my youthful legacy. She was a Professor of English, but her name escapes me. At that time, I would estimate she was in her fifties. She was a bit on the full-figured side, with a head of hair dyed to a flaming red. She had blue eyes and an infectious laugh that kept things on a lighter note, but laced with profundities gained from her life’s experiences. She did her doctoral dissertation on the swearing habits of Alaskan Sourdoughs. She would often remark that there was no better music to her ears than someone who could swear with conviction. She regarded swearing as a colorful enhancement to what might have been an otherwise boring form of speech. She pitied those who were offended by mere “words,” and those who could not see beyond the form to the substance of what was being said. She, also, admonished us to cultivate the friendship of those who would enrich our lives, comparing them to the cracked pepper on the “salad of life.” An integral part of their makeup would be the ability to use colorful language to make a point and to spice up what could easily have been a dull and uninteresting verbal discourse.

With this rather protracted introduction, let me warn you that I intend to use a few bits of “salty” language in this piece of writing which some may find offensive. Should that be the case, so be it. I make no apologies for my choice of words.

I continue to be more than mildly disappointed at where we are, as a nation, given our politics and the institutions of government that flow from them. I see the whole lot as being so corrupt that the stench of what they are and all they represent would make a host of celestial beings vomit. They are all cut from the same cloth and have not one modicum of shame at pandering to those who own their very souls in exchange for the favors they are pledged to return to their benefactors. There isn’t one branch of government that is immune to this pernicious corruption and the evil use of power it has spawned. But, it seems as if none is willing or has the courage to call them out on it. Rather, they seem more inclined to focus on what they want to believe and ignore what they find disparaging of their beliefs. None does this better than the cadre of television personalities who just cannot bring themselves to be honest about what is really going on around us, with the attendant consequence of literally destroying our system of government.

Barack Obama, is aided and abetted by prominent figures from the Clinton Administration, Bill Clinton himself, and the myriad members of the Democratic Party who have no compunction about compromising their characters for the sake of a buck. They are, at the end of the day, nothing more than the “kissing cousins,” of their Republican counterparts. The mainstream news media have no trouble in serving as the willing accomplices to the mass deception being perpetrated against the American people. As an old cowboy once said, “They are like an old bull with one horn and one testicle. They can’t fuck nor fight; all he can do is bellow and shit.”

Several of the commentators on MSNBC, who I regard as real champions of the working class and poor of this country, just cannot bring themselves to fairly criticize the President for his consistent betrayal of the American people. All it would take to throw that entire issue into sharp relief would be to engage a couple of broadcast interns, have them prepare a grid, then identify all of the promises Barack Obama made in his quest for the White House in 2008, versus the actual outcome of those campaign promises in their final form. I have no doubt that it would boggle the mind to clearly see and to realize just how consistent he has been in his wholesale sellout of the Democratic Party and the people of this country, all justified in the name of bipartisanship. Give me a break!

The President isn’t the only one who seems to be infected with “Potomac Fever.” That is a malady which has been endemic in our nation’s capitol for much too long. The symptoms are a genuine belief in the arrogance of privilege. They really believe there is one set of rules that apply to the governed and one set of rules that apply to those who govern. The rule of law is much more absolute and stringent for the former and much more flexible and permissive for the latter. Those who are elected to office vs. the electorate are worlds apart. A two-class society, if you will, and still growing. What is so repugnant is that those in power honestly believe in the overriding sense of entitlement they practice, with little or no empathy for those who must bear the cost of and suffer the consequences for what has been unleashed upon us without our consent. It isn’t just Wall Street; it is all that is subsumed within the Beltway, as well. Make no mistake about it.

We seem to be locked into a persistent state of self-delusion. We just cannot bring ourselves to the point of expressing our outrage at the way we are treated by the “privileged class,” so we just continue to bitch and take it with no real organized effort to rectify the situation. No one can convince me that there aren’t a few very well qualified leaders out there who are both honest and have the courage to embark on a program that would restore a sense of equality and justice that would apply to everyone. As much as I would like to see it happen, I don’t believe that time is on the side of creating a viable third political party that could challenge those ensconced in power within the two-party system. However, by identifying those few who are real leaders and who do have a sense of fairness within the fabric of their being, I have no doubt that a strong alternative could be groomed in sufficient time to effectively challenge Barack Obama for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in 2012. He or she just might shake the very foundation of all the self-righteous whores who flaunt their ability to effectively screw the common people of this country. Who, I ask you, in their right mind could honestly trust any of them to be genuine? There just has to be a concerned and interested group of people out there who have the means and the talent to make that happen.

Where are they and why don’t they come out of the shadows?” Why don’t they ferret out the views of a few real ‘Progressives” like David Michael Green at Hofstra University, Bill Moyers, Chris Hedges, David DeGraw, Tom Hartmann, Robert Reich, Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders and others of like mind?

I am thinking of people like Dylan Ratigan, Cenk Uygur, Keith Olbermann, all of whom have positions of high visibility and prominence, and those known by others with similar concerns. I am thinking of people like Eliot Spitzer, Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren, Peter DeFazio and others who make no bones of how seriously they see the lay of the land at the present time. Every one of them has the determination and the tenacity to light a spark that just might evoke the changes that we need to make.

Just step back and take a long, hard look at what we really have within the two-party system. It can be summed up in the words of that Wyoming Cowboy reputed to have once said, “They don’t know if they are afoot or horseback.” If a determined effort is not made to break the franchise of the status quo within the two major political parties, we are going to end up with just more of the same in the wake of the next national election that could cost and further imperil the democracy in which have placed all our dreams for the future. I honestly believe that is within the realm of possibility. The demonstrations of the Occupy Wall Street marches across this nation underscore that concern.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
October 28, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

“How Much More of This Bull Puckey Are We Doomed to Suffer?”

I must confess that I have more than a cursory interest in national and international affairs. I follow both closely and from a variety of news sources. I probably spend a disproportionate amount of my time on those sources of news with a more liberal orientation, given my political philosophy. However, I don’t place much confidence in sources that tend to skew their reporting at the expense of an honest effort to be objective. Given that perspective, I have been reasonably satisfied with MSNBC until recently. It seems to me that there is a decided bias in favor of the current administration with a disinclination to be critical of President Obama and his performance in office.

I don’t think it is a stretch to conclude, after lo these many months in office that the Obama Administration is clearly in the camp of big business, big money and the military/industrial complex, and his apparent confidence in Bill Clinton to keep him on target. His domestic agenda and actions on behalf of the working and poor people of this country have, for all intents and purposes, been difficult, if not impossible, to identify. To be sure, he talks a good story, but when it comes to delivering the goods, it is not to be found. All of our more recent Presidents seem to have an aversion to making an appearance with the common folk of this country. But, do they ever covet the title of “Commander-in-Chief.” It is always a better photo op when they can stand before a backdrop of cadets at one of the U.S. military academies, or a group of uniformed service men and women at one of our myriad military bases around the world. It almost brings a lump to my throat.

Despite the President’s aversion to the needs of the common people of this country, of which, to his eternal credit, Ed Schultz is a staunch advocate. But he only seems to get on his soapbox when “The President” does something extraordinary, like approving the assassination of terrorists in Afghanistan, Yemen and, more recently, his praise for the tangential part Obama may have played in the ultimate demise of Mummar Kaddafi by the rebels in Libya. I hardly consider that to be of particular significance when viewed against the backdrop of his faint support for the bottom one percent of Americans suffering through the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. In the three years he has been in office, the most glaring example of his “support” for the plight of the average American is his recent signing of yet another series of free trade agreements with Columbia, Honduras and South Korea at a cost of an estimated 200,000 American jobs. Now I ask you, is that “change we can believe in?” If my memory serves me correctly, as he was campaigning for the presidency in 2008, he promised to “renegotiate” NAFTA and CAFTA so they would be more favorable to American workers. I don’t recall that ever happening, do you?

Lawrence O’Donnell is, without question, a very bright man with a keen analytical mind. His commentaries and serious dissection of the salient issues of the day are, indeed, impressive and worth the time and effort it takes to listen. He spends a significant amount of his time extolling the virtues of immigration and what it has done for this country. But, how many times have you heard him mention the word “illegal,” as a preface to the word “immigrant?” Have I missed something? There is, in my mind, a distinct difference between their circumstances and that of those who came to our shores, legally, worked their way up the social/economic ladder and were assimilated into the fabric of American society. No small achievement, particularly when compared to those who seek a fast tract to the top at the expense of the American taxpayer. Frankly that offends my sense of fairness. I am a great believer that the rule of law applies to everyone, equally. I don’t see that same degree of objectivity reflected in the narratives of Lawrence O’Donnell. It seems as if there is a double standard. One for those who can walk across our Southern Border unencumbered vs. those who have to traverse oceans and continents only to find that, when they arrive, they don’t meet the immigration quotas for their nationality. That same mindset seems to be an unspoken strategy of a Democratic Party seeking to expand its political base.

Rachel Maddow is, without doubt, one of the brightest stars in the MSNBC lineup of news personalities. She is brilliant, knows her stuff and is always extremely well prepared. At times, she gets on a soapbox when it comes to some issues I respect her brilliance, her tenacity and her determination.

I think Dylan Ratigan is one of the superstars of MSNBC. His integrity as a journalist is reflected in his daily news program, always featuring a good group of guests, and he doesn’t shy away from controversy. He has a keen and insightful perspective on newsworthy issues and works to keep a balanced view. I am surprised he hasn’t had his wings clipped by senior management for his courage and candor, given the posture of NBC as a pillar in the mainstream news media.

Lastly, and certainly an indictment of the big wigs in the NBC news organization, is the fate suffered by Keith Olbermann and Cenk Uygur at their hands. The mere fact that the NBC hierarchy decided to end their relationship speaks volumes about the objectivity and the integrity of their news organization. It simply confirms that there is a very fine line between real journalism and journalism as it applies to the bias of NBC News, and the power structure that owns and controls our government. It doesn’t take a lot of moxie to figure that one out.

As for Fox News and their ilk, well all they have to do is open their mouths in order to remove any doubt that there might be a brain behind their constant diatribe and prevarications.

Like our government and all that comprises it, the mainstream news media is, at the end of the day, owned lock, stock and barrel by the wealthy elite and the power structure they serve. The people of the United States of America’s interests be damned.

If Obama, or any of those comprising the lunatic opposition running against him, gets elected to the Presidency in 2012, it will surely be one of the biggest travesties to have ever been visited on the people of this country.

I would like to see the movement,, spearheaded by Dylan Ratigan and seeking an amendment to the Constitution, succeed beyond our wildest dreams, and restore this country and its democratic system of government to its rightful owners, the American people. Ideally, I would like to see a new political party emerge that would relegate the incestuous relationship between Republicans and Democrats to obscurity for having sold out the country in the pursuit of their own greedy ambitions and those of the masters they so willingly serve.

Short of any of the above, I still believe that Eliot Spitzer could easily challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President in 2012. We urgently need a real leader who has the intelligence, the determination and the courage to do the job for which he was elected. Eliot Spitzer has proven himself in that regard both as the Attorney General and, subsequently, as Governor of New York. I honestly believe he would be a President for all the people.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all established themselves as consummate masters of deception in the service of their country. Eliot Spitzer has been forthcoming and truthful. The others? Well I leave that to your judgment. But, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a renaissance in real leadership and a new direction that would serve the interests of the entire nation for a “change?”

Frankly, I have had enough of “you vs. me.” Isn’t it time to have another go at “us?”

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011


In the Spring of 1983 I was contacted by a representative of AMI in Los Angeles and offered a job on the administrative staff of the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in, of all places, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I never imagined that I would ever end up in a place like that. However, my circumstances being what they were, I was only too glad to accept the offer and entrust my fate to whatever was in store for me in that distant land.

I arrived and was assigned to my new home, Villa No. 13 on the KKESH Housing Compound. My first day, like all first days, was awkward and filled with apprehension. I was shown my office, introduced to the staff in Administration, then taken on a tour of the hospital and introduced to all the key players. The staff to whom I was introduced all seemed to be nice folks and happy to be a part of such a magnificent venture. When I was taken to the Nursing Department, however, I was immediately awestruck by the Director of Nursing. I could sense that Lee Brown was no ordinary person. She had a presence about her that conveyed someone who knew her craft, was secure within herself and could be counted on to do a better-than-average job. She was gracious without being saccharine. I could sense her strength and her self-assurance. She was what she was. She was the real deal. I instinctively liked her and my affection for Lee only grew over the years. She proved to be one of the best friends I ever had. A privilege I never took for granted and one I would cherish for the rest of my life.

Lee was justly proud of her many accomplishments in life. She was proud to be a Nurse and she was a staunch defender and advocate for the profession. She would go to bat for her staff without the slightest hesitation. Her loyalty and support was a given to everyone who worked for her. She might disagree with a person, but she never left them hanging out. The bunch she brought with her from UC Irvine were real professionals. They knew their stuff and they were always loyal to Lee. They might disagree with her, but they never disparaged her. She was a tough task master, but she was fiercely loyal and they all knew it. Every one of them was a true professional and reflected the benefit of having worked with Lee. She knew that and never took it for granted.

One of her staff once showed me a photo of Lee in her younger days. I did not recognize the ultra-feminine, fashion plate. Although I rather suspect she carried that period in her life with the same style and grace I came to know, I preferred the one I knew. That Lee was a mature woman, with a short hairdo of grey, a face etched by life’s experiences and blue eyes that reflected a special warmth and kindness that lurked just below the surface of her persona. She had a matter-of-fact way of talking that would be punctuated by a hearty laugh that was both reassuring and heart-warming. Her mode of dress was a pair of slacks, an appropriate top, flat shoes and a white lab coat. It never changed in all the years I worked with her. After hours and on weekends it was a pair of blue jeans, a casual top or a sweat shirt and a pair of flip flops.

Lee was the most egalitarian person I have ever known. She accepted everyone for whom and what they were, with no normative or value judgments. If you were fortunate to have her call you a friend, you were a real friend, never to be taken for granted, forgotten or dismissed. To be sure, she had her standards and she would never hesitate to express them. She might have been tough, but she was never mean. The worst that could be expected to come from her mouth in regard to someone she may have held in contempt was for her to dismiss them by saying, “What can you expect? He is a prick.” End of story.

Our villas were close and we would often walk home together at the end of the day. It didn’t take long before she casually said one day, “If you aren’t doing anything this weekend, come on over and I will feed you.” That was the start of a friendship I would treasure for the rest of my life. She was a great cook; not gourmet but just good, basic food that warmed the cockles of your soul. She would, occasionally, have a sit-down dinner, always well prepared and served in fine style. But, it was always comfortable, never stuffy. She would frequently share a meal of hot and spicy food with me, with both of us sitting at the table, perspiring profusely and repeatedly saying how good it was. A bit sadistic perhaps, but an epicurean orgasm for both of us.

Lee wasted no time in acquiring all the amenities of a real home. She was an aficionado of music from the big band era and she soon had a collection of tapes that would take her back to an earlier time in her life. She was an avid reader and her collection of books grew exponentially. A good book was always close by.

She loved old movies and we would watch them with some degree of regularity. I will always remember the time when we were watching one of the “oldies but goodies” that was laced with a heavy dose of sentimentality. She made it a point to sit slightly behind me. As we became engrossed in the plot, I could hear sounds that suggested Lee was crying. I knew, however, that was a side of Lee that was personal and very private. If I knew what was good for me, I would respect that and make no attempt to intrude in that special moment. I never mentioned that experience, but I was humbled by the fact that I had the good fortune to experience it. I wasn’t surprised. It was just another facet of a great lady for whom I had a profound respect and an abiding affection. That is ever so much more than just a fleeting moment with an acquaintance; that is the stuff of real friendship and something to be treasured.

As I moved up the ranks I was given the rare privilege of being assigned one of the white Oldsmobile 98’s. Because women were not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, I would always take Lee and a few of the other women for a Thursday morning grocery shopping junket to the local A&P. Lee was a serious shopper and always bought the best of what they had to offer. On one particular occasion, I completed my shopping before Lee was finished. I took my groceries to the car and went back to see about Lee. She was in the process of checking out and, as the groceries were bagged, I would take them and place them in her shopping cart. As she was paying the bill, I wheeled the cart out to the car and put her groceries in the trunk. Betty Becker and I waited and waited and waited. Betty and I soon began to wonder what in the world had happened to Lee. I went back inside the market and she was nowhere to be seen. I walked up and down the aisles and I finally spotted that distinctive walk as she was pushing her cart. I could tell she was royally pissed by the deliberate way she was walking. I caught up with her and asked what she was doing. She said, “Some son-of-a-bitch stole all my groceries and I have to buy them over again!” When I told her that I had taken them to the car, she replied, “Then why in the hell didn’t you tell me?” I wanted to laugh but I knew very well that, for my own good, I had better not.

Lee loved to travel and I dare say she was a real trooper. She was adventuresome, enjoyed fine hotels, good food and a shot of Glen Livet whenever she managed to free herself from the restricted lifestyle of the Kingdom. Those who had the experience of travelling with her always had a good time and a treasure trove of memories to last a lifetime. I was not so fortunate, but I enjoyed the stories and the narrative she always shared.

Lee enjoyed a good car (BMW 635 Csi), a nice home on Nordic Drive in Orange, California and her dog. The last one I knew of was “Bumsa.” When Bumsa died, Lee decided not to get another dog, citing her age as the reason. However, in my heart I am more inclined to think that she didn’t want to run the risk of the next dog outliving her, a consideration that would have been so typical of the Lee Brown I knew.

As with all things that are tied to the continuum of time, the day came when we went our separate ways. I stayed in Saudi Arabia and she returned to the life of retirement she would come to know in California. I only saw her a couple of times after that, once during a brief consulting gig in Riyadh and, the last time, at her sister’s home in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She never looked older and all of her endearing features were just as alive and delightful as they had ever been.

I am, by nature, a loner. I tend to place everything and everyone on a time/space continuum. Far from being a virtue, I regard that as one of my biggest failings. I reflect back on all of the birthday cards and Christmas cards that I always received from Lee. She never forgot me and I always had a sense of joy when a greeting card and a brief letter, in that distinctive scrawl, would arrive in the mail. I was reassured in knowing that I was never forgotten. I never returned those many kindnesses and one of my most painful regrets is that I never called her on the phone as I should have. She would never have treated me in like fashion.

Lee made no bones of the fact that she was an atheist. She never disparaged anyone for their beliefs and was very private about her own. She was, in death, the matter-of-fact person she always was in life. If she could talk and anyone asked her why the end of her life was so simple and unceremonious, she would say, “What is the big deal?” To those of us who knew and loved her it is a big deal.

I have an ingrained need to believe that there is a life after this one. That is my choice and a belief I have no need to inflict on anyone else. However, if I am right and she is wrong, and I am lucky enough to cross the threshold from this life into the next, I have every confidence that Lee will be the first one to greet me, saying, “Well, Bob, I guess you were right.” I sure hope so.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"You Shall Be Known By The Company You Keep"

I have to confess that I had reached the point where I was pretty well convinced there was such a pervasive state of apathy and the loss of any hope that things could, and would, get better that any discernable change was seen as exceedingly remote. Then, along came the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. To me, that was like a breath of fresh air in a smoke-filled room. I could almost hear the faint refrains of Joan Baez and Pete Seeger echoing across time.

They have revealed that the “best and brightest” are still among us and are very much engaged in the salient issues of the day. They have demonstrated the wisdom of peaceful protest and have thrown into sharp relief just what Mayor Bloomberg and his dutiful peace officers cum henchmen really are and where their allegiances lie. Who said those ostensibly in the service of the people would not turn on those they are sworn to protect? Money and power talk.

Against the backdrop of many years of treading the sod of this land, I have acquired a certain sense of caution regarding the various environs in this country and the people who inhabit them.

I have an inherent mistrust of centers of great wealth and power, regardless of where they reside.

I don’t trust the obscure and insidious power of Wall Street and Madison Avenue. To me, they are more interested in how the game is played, than they are in the eventual outcome. They are the masters of deception at “creating” the appetites for all they peddle to us rather than on what is right and just. I don’t trust the scions of the corporate news media who comfortably reside at “30 Rock” and other posh sites, raking in multi-million dollar salaries in order to sell us on the company line that serve their masters extremely well. Few among them have the integrity and the courage that underscore a commitment to be honest with us, the people. The Fourth Estate was sold to the highest bidders a long time ago. The trade they ply is just another form of big business serving the interests of big business. Seems rather incestuous, doesn’t it?

I don’t trust the massive political and economic power that resides in Washington, D.C. Those who, by definition, live in a constant and persistent state of selling themselves to the highest bidder cannot be trusted to serve the people they are sworn to serve. Ladies of the night come in many forms.

I don’t trust the Pentagon, the CIA and the myriad other agencies tangential to their relentless pursuits of power and empire, and the voracious appetites of those they feed at taxpayers expense. They are to be feared more than trusted.

I am suspect of the Ivy League. I don’t question the quality of the education they produce, but I am suspect of the sense of superiority, the sense of entitlement and the elitist mentality they inculcate into the minds of so many of those graduating from their hallowed halls of learning. As a general rule, they exert far too much influence on the national agenda for our common good.

I don’t trust the power and muscle of the Chicago Political Machine. Their influence extends much too far beyond the Windy City to always serve the best interests of the many.

I am suspect of the demagoguery of the fundamentalist mentality that pervades much of the Bible belt, and the invective they peddle in the name of religion. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that people are capable of coming to terms with the concept of God and what He is all about, without the slanted and biased view for which they claim to have exclusive rights. It is that mindset that breeds intolerance and prejudice. It serves no higher purpose.

I don’t trust the massive wealth, the glitz and the mesmerizing influence of the entertainment industry and celebrities claiming the City of Angels as their home. It is pathetic how figures of national prominence seek out the largesse from their fame and fortunes in order to further their own political ambitions. They lose sight of the fact that it is the Mecca of illusion and fairy tales that has little to do with reality, and only feeds the elitism that is inherent among them.

I make no bones about claiming a certain bias for those from the Midwest and the Far West. They seem to be more grounded and more focused on the bigger issues that have a profound impact on our individual and collective lives. Perhaps it is the humbling effect of the plains that extend far beyond the horizon, or perhaps it is the majestic mountains that remind them of how finite we really are in the grand scheme of things, or the sparse population that dominates the landscape. Perhaps it is those people they see and hear more clearly just because of their limited numbers. Could it be the values they claim and the virtues they practice is what helps to keep their minds focused and their hands on the pulse of those who elect them to office? Or is it because they simply know and understand them better?

It is within that crucible of humanity where I believe the best among us live. They are the stuff of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry Truman who knew the value of truth and simplicity, and never waivered in their commitment to those tenets. They knew what real leadership was all about and had the courage to use it wisely. Moreover, they could be trusted. Few of those coming in their wake can lay claim to that legacy.

I have not been the least bit subtle about my feelings in regard to the fact that we have two political parties in name only. They are of the same ilk and feed on the fodder provided by those who own their souls. Few stand on their own two feet and refuse to serve the ends of those who seek to plunder our heritage and rewrite our history. They were bought a long time ago. But, reality suggests that time is not on the side for the creation of a new and viable political party. I accept that. But, there is always an alternative.

The current crop of Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers and others on the fringe of a sense of national purpose are just what they appear to be – out of touch with modern day life. They are the most obstructionist and the least committed to the common good than any I can recall in my lifetime.

On the other hand, Barack Obama forfeited his legitimacy to claim to a national mandate a long time ago by what he has consistently done in office versus what he vowed to do before taking office. One only has to undertake a cursory study of what he has accomplished as a leader compared to what he has given away in the spirit of “bi-partisanship.” And, I might add, he has remained true to that course from the day he took the Oath of Office. Soon after he occupied the Oval Office, we saw a massive influx of Clinton’s henchmen into all of the key positions in the Obama Cabinet. It was “Clinton Light” that was to be the order of the day. They occupied and controlled every key position in Obama’s White House. We voted for a leader to guide us through the most perilous period in our history since the Great Depression. Instead, we got a lackey for big banks, big corporations and great wealth. He has proven himself, without a modicum of doubt, that he is not worthy to occupy the office of President beyond his current term.

I do not think it is impossible for a qualified and credible individual to challenge him for the Democratic nomination for President in 2012. Moreover, I would hope that someone has the courage and the means to undertake just such a challenge. We need someone in that office other than a “slicker” and a member of the club that is hell-bent on reducing us to a two-class society and a second-rate power in the community of nations. We need someone who reflects the honesty and integrity we have every right to expect. We need someone who looks and acts like the “real deal.” We need someone who realizes and accepts that leadership is a calling, not a popularity contest, and who has the intestinal fortitude to use the power of the office for the benefit and welfare of the nation, not a bunch of cronies whose voracious and unbridled greed knows no bounds. Most of us have had a belly full of that crap sufficient to last us a lifetime. We deserve “real change,” for a change.

I honestly believe we need to look for that leadership from among a few, mostly from the Midwest and the Far West, who have demonstrated many of the qualifications and strengths we sorely need. Any one of them has what it takes to do the job, and to do it well. They look and act like the principled public servants I perceive them to be.

1. Mark Udall, U.S. Senator from Colorado
2. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator from Minnesota
3. Jon Tester, U.S. Senator from Montana.
4. Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator from Nebraska (Rep)
5. Peter DeFazio, U.S. Congressman from Oregon
6. Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator from Oregon

The one notable exception that cannot be called a “westerner” is Eliot Spitzer. Clearly, he distinguished himself as one of the brightest and best in the offices of Attorney General and Governor of New York. His professional career is sterling and his track record of accomplishments is outstanding. To be sure, he disappointed many of us in the conduct of his personal life. However, that was due to a human frailty, not a professional weakness. Unlike Bill Clinton, he did not bring disgrace to the public offices he held. He did not engage in a series of lies and deceptive behavior in an effort to sidestep responsibility for his actions. He has been forthcoming in admitting his indiscretion, but he has also made it clear that it is a personal matter between him and his wife, which they are working through together. Beyond that, he refuses to discuss the matter which I find rather refreshing. It reintroduces us to the concept of privacy as a virtue. If anyone has all that it takes to lead us out of the morass we find ourselves in, it is Eliot Spitzer.

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has laid the groundwork. Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC has started a movement to amend the Constitution in order to take money out of politics. Now it is time to ask the Democratic Party to unabashedly step up to the plate, give us the inspiration and the leadership we need in order to make it happen and to keep the momentum in our court………. for all of us now and into the future.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
October 9, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Nobody Wins In A Pissing Contest"

Given the fractured state of our social, political and economic structure in this country, I find it rather difficult to maintain a focused and coherent perspective on the total sum of the parts. I am beginning to doubt the mantra “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” It seems more like a non-system in total disarray with every vested interest pursing its own agenda at the expense of the common good. It is like watching a bunch of wild dogs fighting over one bone. There is a lot of growling and barking, some blood-letting and nothing ever resolved to the satisfaction of the entire pack.

People ask me what I am. What in the hell does that mean? I could apply any number of different parameters to that question and never come up with a definitive answer. If that isn’t confusing enough, we have myriad assaults on our senses as they all compete to get our attention and sell us on their respective points of view. As if any of them are motivated by honorable intentions or possess an objective perspective on anything.

What has happened to that one common thread that used to unite us? Where is that overriding rule of the game that taught us to play the game by “disagreeing without being disagreeable?” What happened to real compromise? It seems to me that what we are engaged in is a constant test of wills and an attempt to sell each other on one or several sets of values that cater to what someone else is pushing, our particular take on the matter be damned.

The result of all this disarray is chaos spawned by settling only for what we can get for ourselves and not what is best for the greatest number. Watching this charade is rather like watching a cock fight in Tijuana. We are fractured and fractionated, and there are no rules of the game. Anything goes; whatever the traffic will bear so long as the focus remains on me rather than us. There is no moral compass to guide us. Deception, lying and pilfering in all of their various forms are accepted as just part of playing the game. Sadly, to our collective detriment, we pay a supreme price for that perspective. We may not always suffer individually, but the collective “we” usually pays dearly for our myopic view of the world and our sense of entitlement. I can’t see where this attitude does any of us any good.

If we are to live in harmony with each other, pursuing a common good with the goal of a nation of plenty that we can all share in, there simply has to be a set of guiding principles that keep us focused on the finer aspects of our human nature. I don’t see much of that around these days.

We have a political, social and economic system that is totally corrupt. Any differences in the major political parties are an illusion. Both feed from the same sullied hands that buy their allegiance. Labels not withstanding, the final objective is to win at any cost with the greatest gain to me or those I represent. The common good be damned. We have Republicans, Conservative Republicans, Liberal Republicans laced with those who don’t know what kind of Republican they are. We have Democrats, Liberal Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats and Progressives. We have Libertarians, Socialists, Independents and, the latest horde of lunatics to appear on the national scene, the Tea Party. All seem hell bent on destroying what little semblance of civility we have among us. They stop at nothing to marginalize and demonize any point-of-view that even remotely looks like it might be a potential threat to their absolute and narrow system of beliefs.

The corporate agenda dominates every aspect of our lives, the most egregious of which is the sellout by the news media that were, originally, intended to serve the people. I get tired of the barrage of lies, half truths and the endless attempts to shape our values, our appetites and the bias they serve up to us.

Have you noticed how all of them seem to have “God” on their side in one form or another? The conservative mind set uses God to justify the most selfish and self-serving agenda among us. They don’t give one hoot in hell about the less fortunate. Let them starve. If God had wanted them to be more than they are, He would have made them conservative!

Liberals more than mildly annoy me, as well. They seem to be the self-appointed intellectual and compassionate among us. They champion the downtrodden with no regard for the law, individual responsibility or the rightful owners of the national treasury. Have you noticed how those coming across our Southern Border are usually referred to as just “immigrants,” not “illegal immigrants”. It is as if they don’t say the word, it won’t apply. I have to confess that I hold tenaciously to the notion that this country was, and still should be, based on a system of laws. The same laws that apply to the rest of us and the millions of “legal” immigrants who came to our shores and made it by respecting and abiding by the same set of laws that applied to all of us. The so-called “Dream Act,” is touted as the panacea for lifting all of these people out of the doldrums by giving them a free college education. They hold before us examples of those lucky few who have risen to the heights of professional achievement and reverence, as if there is a hidden but superior gene pool among them that is lacking in the broader tapestry of this country. Is this the same consideration that is going to be offered to the poverty-stricken of West Virginia and other poor parts of this country? Is that same consideration going to be offered to the Native Americans who have been marginalized and isolated for so long we seem to automatically assume that “God” ordained that they live out their lives on reservations, sequestered in some of the most remote and barren lands in the entire nation? Personally, if any segment of our population should get preferential treatment, I would start with those still seen in the eyes of many as little more than irrelevant savages.

The “Dream Act?” I see it as nothing more than a scam to create a massively huge voting block for the liberals of this country, to be underwritten not by the affluent, but by the working people whose hope is ebbing and whose means to a livelihood is shrinking. Meanwhile, the prodigy of their masters happily go to Ivy League Universities and Colleges, learn how to savor the bounty of a two-class system, steal with impunity, take ownership of the institutions of government that rightfully belong to the people and buy off the judicial system so they can control the outcome of their avaricious and evil deeds.
I can respect almost any point-of-view. Although I may not agree with it, I can accept it as long as it is honest. I just don’t see much of that around anymore. I have a profound reverence for people who go to the trouble of learning and practicing the rather arduous art and science of learning how to “think.” I have nothing but contempt for those who simply choose to opt out and believe whatever they want to believe. Intellectual laziness is their stock in trade. They are the most dangerous and, sadly, seem to be the most vocal among us in today’s discourse. That scares the hell out of me.

The most brutal dictatorships in the history of the world were built on a solid foundation of cherished self-ignorance, unquestioned beliefs, emotionalism, mob hysteria, demonizing the opposition, denigrating the less fortunate and rationalizing the most vile forms of human behavior so long as it was in keeping with the objectives of those in power and easily assimilated into the mind set of those to be controlled. I see signs of that all around us today. It happened before and it can happen again.

Do we not owe it to ourselves and to the nations of the world to open our eyes and see all that surrounds us for what it really is? Is it not time to recommit ourselves to reigniting that beacon within us which once inspired the entire world that there are indeed finer angels within us, and they are there to raise us to ever more noble heights that reside within our human potential?

Not only do I think we can; we have an obligation to nurture it and to make it happen. Despite all of the shouting to the effect that one religion or one philosophy has a monopoly on God, I believe that the essence of God dwells within the human spirit, and that essence is billions of times more powerful than anything we could ever possibly imagine. It best serves us all when it is shared by the many, not when it is held hostage by the few.

Nobody is the winner in a pissing contest.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
October 1, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Why Is Obama Cramming For The Finals When He Already Has The Crib Notes For The Second Act?”

Well, folks, he did it again. He gave another one of his famous speeches, and all of the liberals (real or imagined) of one stripe or another have been reduced to the orgasmic state because Our President has finally turned the corner and is going to be tough with the opposition. He has finally realized that he has a set of gonads! Now, I ask you, how many times is he going to have to go through the motions of an oratorical genius that would put Roman Senators to shame before we realize that is his stock in trade. He gives a speech that has nothing to do with his real agenda. We are lulled into believing this guy is, finally, going to show us that he is a real Democrat. Then, what does he do? He goes back to the White House, meets behind closed doors or in secret with the very ones he vilified in his speech, and strikes a deal that is diametrically opposed to what he said he was going to do for the American people. The script is so old and tired that it wouldn’t take much talent for a minor actor to write it with his eyes closed.

How many times do we have to be led down this path before we come to the conclusion that only one thing can be said about him with any degree of certainty? He is consistently inconsistent! He is a lifelong student on the subject of elitism, with a solid base of support from those who are in the business of destroying the Middle Class and working people of this country. Those are his constituency, not those who want so desperately to believe that he is the real deal. He has played the Democrats for a bunch of fools for over two plus years and still gets away with it. They still give him a free pass, the cost of which is nothing more but well-crafted rhetoric and a teleprompter.

He has just come out with a real barn-burner. He has reassured us, once again, that he is there to serve the lesser of us “Americans,” knowing full well that he has no intentions of living up to the letter of what he is preaching. The real deal is what he has in mind for the powerbrokers who lace his pockets with enough “moola” to keep him in office.

Without wishing to belabor this matter, permit me to simply pose a few random questions based on his campaign promises in 2008 in order to illustrate my doubts about how credible he really is.

1. When he campaigned for the Presidency in 2008 we were assured that he would hold to account the members of the previous administration who were guilty of war crimes. That was dismissed soon after his election with words to the effect that “he preferred to look to the future rather than dwell on the past.” Just an empty promise to the memory of all those who suffered at their hands.

2. What happened to his promise to outlaw the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens?

3. What happened to his promise to close Guantanamo Bay?
4. What happened to his original timetable for exiting from Iraq and Afghanistan?

5. What happened to his support for a national health plan that would include a public option and reign in the obscene profits of health care providers and private insurance carriers?

6. What happened to his promise that pharmaceutical companies would be required to negotiate drug prices with the government?

7. What happened to the stringent controls that were going to be imposed on the financial institutions on Wall Street? The Dodd-Frank Bill is an impotent second-best, most of which is yet to become law.

8. What happened to the consumer protection laws that were to insulate consumers from the predatory lending practices of every huckster in the business of lending, credit card companies, mortgage companies, etc.? Full financial disclosure and all of the other means of reigning in the bandits that sold out this country was to be the order of the day. Why was Elizabeth Warren so hastily marginalized before she could even get her sea legs and begin to do something meaningful? You don’t suppose the big boys in high places who stood to lose their license to do whatever they wanted in the name of the almighty profit set their sights on her, do you?

9. What happened to his promise to hold to account British Petroleum and the other opportunists that precipitated the Gulf oil crisis? What was done to make whole the legions of hard-working people living along the Gulf Coast who depended on a healthy Gulf for their livelihood?

10. What happened to his promise to restore an level playing field for organized labor in dealing with management?

11. What happened to his promise to strengthen NAFTA and CAFTA so they would be more balanced in terms of ensuring the interests of American business and American workers were fairly served?

12. Why, as he rails on and on about creating jobs, is he quietly working to expand our “free” trade agreements with other countries around the world that will shift hundreds of thousands of jobs “overseas?” Think Columbia, Honduras and Korea.

13. Why did he so quickly phase out some of the best economic minds and trade specialists in the country in favor of the rogues that surrounded Bill Clinton and his happy band of thieves? Think Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Rahm Emmanuel, Timothy Geithner and a whole host of lesser sharks? He has, also, fortified that bunch with an economic advisor from General Electric and a son of the infamous Mayor Daley of Chicago? Does the aura of William Jefferson Clinton still inhabit the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or is the President simply doing what he does best? Fronting for the real power brokers. Who said corporate power is not alive and well in this administration?

14. Why has Obama managed to steadfastly avoid any close association with disenfranchised labor organizations fighting for a fair shake in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, etc? Has he lost sight of the fact that the majority of those same people supported him in his run for President in 2008? Or worse yet, does he even care?

Perhaps, at the end of the day, this is the manifestation of someone who, long ago, sold his soul to vast wealth, and massive political and social power. Does he see one of his paramount responsibilities as playing to the institutions of government that are so powerful and so compromised they have become impervious to proper oversight and accountability to those who, ostensibly, represent the American people?

Is his folksy rhetoric at town hall meetings or manufacturing plants the real Obama, or is his imperial countenance that we saw in Berlin and in Grant Park in Chicago the elitist so many of us are predisposed to seeing. But you can hardly compare the inherent worth of a waitress at Denny’s in Poughkeepsie, New York to that of a grand and narcissistic billionairess that sees him as nothing less than the reincarnation of Adonis himself.

This guy, insofar as I am concerned, is no friend or advocate for the Middle Class and working people that made this county great. He never was and never will be. What we are witnessing (and which will only intensify in the months to come) is a very well honed and skilled attempt to seduce all of those people into voting him in for another term so he can continue to serve the vultures that feed on the rotting flesh of this country. What does he have in his bag of tricks that he will take from the working people of this country and offer it to the Teabaggers and Republicans in exchange for their “bi-partisan support?” How about Medicare and Medicaid for starters?

At the very least he needs to be challenged for the Democratic nomination in 2012 by a real Democrat with the leadership skills, the credibility and the integrity to bring strength and honor to that office once again. Let the incumbent make a dignified exit and take his time shopping for a summer home on Lake Cuomo, a winter retreat in the Caribbean and a secluded mansion on the North Shore of Chicago. Surely, the rewards for being a loyal and devoted steward to the rich and famous, coupled with his government retirement benefits, would provide him with the means to live in the manner which he has coveted for such a long time.

I wasted my vote in 2008. The next time around, if President Obama is the only choice, I think I will take a pass and let the chips fall where they may. It couldn’t get any worse.

Cowboy Bob
September 20, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The End of America

This is extremely well done. It is a good example of outstanding journalism. It is profound, thought-provoking and very sobering. The video takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but it is something every conscientious American should take the time to watch. I, for one, take a critical, but serious, view of anything that might suggest collusion between government, big money, big corporations and the military/industrial complex. History is replete with examples of totalitarian regimes that have endeavored to lull those who are the object of their conquest into complacency, ultimately, at their own peril.

I hope you are successful in accessing this video presentation.

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 17, 2011

The End of America
based on The New York Times best seller
Click here to watch the complete documentary. From award-winning filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Devil Came on Horseback and The Trials of Darryl Hunt) comes the provocative and expertly crafted film, THE END OF AMERICA, based on The New York Times best seller by the same name. In a stunning indictment of sweeping policy changes during the Bush years, author Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth) makes a chilling case that American democracy is under threat.

Investigating parallels between our current situation and the rise of dictators and fascism in once-free societies, Wolf uncovers a number of deeply unsettling similarities—from the use of paramilitary groups and secret prisons to the targeted suspension of the rule of law. With this galvanizing call to arms based on her recent book, she urges regular citizens to take back our legacy of freedom and justice.

We are all in danger. A police state control grid is being established in the United States. Now is the time for all lovers of liberty to stand together and speak out against the growing tyranny destroying our Republic. We WILL be victorious against the New World Order.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

“The U.S. And Eliot Spitzer Deserve Another Chance”

My Grandfather on my Dad’s side of the family was a classic patriarch. He was, without question, the head of the family and he maintained that exalted position until he took leave of this earthly existence. He had his share of faults and had an eye for members of the opposite sex that was the cause of marital discord on more than one occasion. But, he redeemed himself in many respects through his generosity and his ability to be one of the greatest “Grandpa’s” of all time. He could be harsh in his assessment of his fellow men, often laced with some pearls of wisdom in his perception of them and their follies. One of his better insights was his observation that, “If a man waves a Bible in your face keep your back to the wall.” From my perspective, that was pretty good advice which I never forgot. In my lifetime I have seen far more hypocrites in church than I ever encountered in a good bar.

There is nothing that brings out our righteous indignation and plays to our need to be seen as a pillar of virtue more than when savoring the titillating delights of some other person’s fall from grace. My, my but how quickly we can become shocked! That entire manifestation of human behavior loses its “oomph” rather quickly when we honestly reflect on our own battles with the power of hormones. All of which, in turn, leads me to see the moral outrage espoused by others for what it really is --- complete hypocrisy and the naughty and titillating delight of reveling in what we will never know and can only imagine!

When one of these very sordid revelations hits the public arena, the sound of the gasps can be deafening and the shocked expressions can be seen for miles. I cannot help but wonder how many of those paragons of virtue dress like street walkers in the name of fashion, and how many of their significant others are watching porn at home while dinner is being prepared in the kitchen.

Now, I see a wide disparity between being weak when it comes to matters of the flesh versus outright vulgarity. The former I can accept for what it is – human frailty that falls within the realm of recovery and redemption. The latter I regard as the complete degradation of another human being and the complete abdication of any sense of basic decency. It is, in my opinion, an escape into every conceivable kind and degree of human depravity. It is an assault on our humanity and on our sexuality.

In recent history we have seen various manifestations of the salacious side of life, some rising to outright notoriety that captures the attention and the outrage of every defender of moral purity known to mankind. Political figures, in particular, seem to have captured the spotlight in that regard and to a greater extent than less notable mortals. Let me focus on just two who have found themselves in the spotlight during their public life.

The first of course, is William Jefferson Clinton. If there was ever an example of moral degeneracy and vulgarity personified, it was in the person of President Clinton. I find it rather incredulous that he, as the most powerful man in the world, could not have controlled the situation and avoided exploiting a poor little rich girl from Beverly Hills, who must surely have been completely awed by the charm, charisma and sheer power of the man in the Oval Office. He managed to get her under his desk in the Oval Office, providing oral delights for his erotic pleasure while he, a true master of the art of multitasking, fiddled with a cigar and talked on the telephone. The maelstrom that followed and which subjected the nation to every sordid detail of his personal life was front page news for weeks. He lied under oath, to the press and to those around him and, not least of all, the nation. He disgraced the office he held and the trust placed in him by the American people. He sought help and consolation from every Southern minister who would give him the time of day. But, despite his attempts and help from the establishment and the news media, the shadow of that stigma still follows him. He may be held out as the senior statesman among us and the paragon of redemption, but I still think the rogue is still alive and well somewhere within his person, the dubious title of “President of the World,” notwithstanding.

There is, to my way of thinking, a common thread in his relationship between his private and public persona. It centers around issues of personal morality and integrity. No amount of effort to sanitize him will ever convince me that he is anything but an unsavory character that serves a very suspect group of those who wield great power and influence within the world of national politics.

I find it all rather incongruous that we would be expected to believe that his relationship with Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Rahm Emanuel and other lesser but well-known characters in tailored suits were examples of devoted public servants. Those are the folks, among others, who completely deregulated the financial industries, which were laid waste for plundering by every huckster and profiteer in the business and in successive administrations. Does anyone really expect us to believe that the whopping surplus amassed during the Clinton Administration would not be a temptation for the taking by the incoming administration of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the Neocons and their dreams of empire. They had to have known that their assault on the integrity of our financial institutions, coupled with a massive federal surplus would be like putting candy before a baby to those who would succeed them in 2000. To conclude otherwise defies all rudimentary logic. What we will never know is to what extent all of those partners in crime profited from their schemes and the resultant paralysis inflicted on the nation for decades to come. I would not wish to suggest anything other than good networking, but I do find it rather coincidental that Chelsea Clinton is now a Hedge Fund Manager.

The fact that most of those same players have so readily moved into the Obama White House in order to play an active role in the current administration. In concert, they further deprive the nation of the very lifeblood required in order to maintain a healthy economy and a decent standard of living for every American, all of which gives pause to the most trusting of people. I believe there is cause for concern. Obama and his minions may choose to call it “Change We Can Believe In,” but I am inclined to think there is more to the depth and extent of those relationships that trumps the welfare of the nation. The prominence of former Clintonites in key positions within the Obama Administration is, I believe, suspect. I don’t see any evidence that would suggest the nation and its people are better off because of those unholy alliances. Who is the real leader and who are the real power brokers? The closeness of that particular clique reminds me of an observation attributed to an old hillbilly – “Vice is nice but incest is best!”

In the final analysis, the conduct of Bill Clinton and his venue for his escapades is, at the very least, salacious. He not only disgraced himself and the office he held, but he shamed himself before the American people and, indeed, the world. That is history and no amount of image polishing will ever change that.

Now, let’s look into the matter of the other political notable who found himself in a maelstrom created by his sexual appetite and the manner in which he chose to deal with it. Because of the arena in which he served, he has generated his share of controversy. It is not for me to judge the man but what he did was, without question, beyond the bounds of decency. However, how he chose to address and deal with the matter suggests a person of infinitely stronger character than Mr. Clinton.

To my knowledge, Eliot Spitzer never hit on members of his staff and he never used the facilities of the offices he held for immoral purposes. What he did was done outside his official positions and the offices he held. He was by all accounts a dedicated public servant, with sterling credentials with a track record of diligence and integrity. He is considered to be one of the best Attorneys General in the History of New York and he conducted himself as Governor with dignity and strength of purpose.

Eliot Spitzer has accepted full responsibility for his conduct. When I recently saw him interviewed on television he was asked about his extra-marital affairs. He never sidestepped the issue, but stated, unequivocally, that what he did was wrong, but it was a private matter that was being addressed by him and his wife. He said it was a personal issue between the two of them and he would not discuss it further. I don’t think he could have been more forthcoming than that. I trust the man.

Eliot Spitzer is probably one of the most competent and effective political figures to hit the national stage in a very long time. He is an unusually bright, energetic and dedicated man in his professional pursuits, and he has maintained an impeccable public image since he resigned as Governor of New York. He has all the qualifications, experience and stature to be a strong and effective leader of national prominence. He has proven to be tenacious and determined in his professional and political life.

I would hope that a new political party could be created that would offer this nation what it needs in order to clean up the corruption and self-serving milieu within our Federal Government. But I am not confident there is the will or the time necessary to make that happen. Short of that, however, I do believe that Barack Obama should be challenged for a second term as President of the United States. He has failed the tests that would convince me he is a leader and a man of personal integrity. He has not been true to his party, to the people of this country and to the promises he made when he campaigned for election in 2008.
If Obama’s nomination for a second term were to be challenged, I would put my money on Eliot Spitzer to salvage our government, restore its ideals and principles, and return it to its rightful owners --- the citizens of the United States of America.

To paraphrase an old Native American, “Oh, Great Spirit, keep me from ever judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

Eliot Spitzer deserves a second chance.

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Our Growing Epidemic of Arrogance"

As I reflect on the demise of our country and all that it once stood for, I am struck by what appears to be an epidemic that has evolved over a very long period of time. It is pervasive and invasive in every facet of our society and our lives. It is the “arrogance of power.” It is the arrogance of political, economic and social power. It is particularly virulent in the centers of power that determine, advocate and nurture the so-called “values” by which we live. It is the power that has eroded the essence of what should be emulated as good and decent within us. It has destroyed the collective “we” in favor of the collective “me.” Everyone has his or her own agenda. We are a collection of very myopic and self-serving people hell-bent on self-destruction in the pursuit of our own self-defined “goals,” however one is inclined to see them.

The institutions that were once there to serve the body politic now have their own constituencies to which they give their allegiance. Serving the people of this country was once the ultimate goal of government, business and commerce. Now people are no longer regarded as living beings worthy of the dignity that was once inherent in that concept. The people have become little more than an abstraction. They count for something, in figurative terms, when specific interests need them in order to realize their goals but, once achieved, they become faceless and irrelevant.

“Arrogance,” has become a club of exclusivity, serving itself and all those they depend on for their survival and prosperity. They have ceased to be subtle. They flaunt their power and privilege before those they plunder and ravage. They have insulated themselves from accountability for their actions and the scorn that follows.

The institutions of government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial and the plethora of government agencies serve themselves. They no longer represent us and act on our behalf. Rather, they unilaterally determine what they deem to be “best” for us and impose their will on us accordingly. Who and what we are, what we want and what we need are no longer relevant.

Wall Street serves itself in the business of making vast sums of money, at our expense, then sequestering their ill-gotten gains in off-shore tax havens and investing them in countries where they can further exploit the human condition to our collective detriment. They flaunt their power, greed and avarice before the very institutions that should be regulating their activities and ensuring they serve the people of this country, as they were once required to do.

Corporate America is no longer discreet in their massive greed and exploitation of those they feed on. They have become masters of marginalizing every threat and challenge to what they have deemed to be legitimate means to their ends. They have bought and own every facet of the “peoples” government that now aids and abets them in their rape and plunder of what little is left of our nation.

The most egregious and threatening of all are those comprising the “Military/Industrial Complex.” The sheer magnitude of the resources they squander and the power they wield over our everyday lives is frightening. The largest share of our national resources go to support their fantasies and dreams of a new order, a new empire and global conquest. They literally control ever aspect of our defense, intelligence and surveillance apparatus. They operate, with the blessings of our civilian institutions of government, under a shroud of secrecy that defies reason. We really have no idea how big they are what they are up to and how they affect the everyday needs of the American people.

Some of the most glaring examples of the gross disparity in how they see themselves vs. what is good for us, are the extreme differences between the perquisites and compensation for our elected government officials in Congress and the White House. It is rather akin to the old adage that says, “Don’t do as I do; do as I say.” They have no compunction about telling us, repeatedly, about how Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety nets are bankrupting the country, but summarily ignore the real causes of our fiscal plight. Is that disparity reality or what they want us to believe? The answer is self-evident, but very few in power are willing to expose truth to the light of day and hold to account those who talk so ably out of both sides of their mouths. If Social Security is truly a public trust, as we are led to believe, then the incumbent resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should cease and desist from using it as his personal petty cash fund; a precedent so egregiously set by James Earl Carter, and continuing unabated ever since.

At best, all we get is one more lofty speech, followed by secret deals with the very ones who were vilified in the speeches. Obama has been as consistent in that little game as anyone could be. But, we always give him a free pass on his arrogance. Leadership and courage are not in his makeup.

When all three houses of government were in the hands of the Democrats, and some meaningful changes could have been made, rather than leadership and courage, we were overdosed on the merits of “bi-partisanship.” What, I ask you, did we the people, get from that bargain? Damned little, if you ask me. Now, the Democratic leadership is doing its thespian routine to perfection --- the hapless victim. How can any sane and rational person fall for that?

Arrogance is not endemic just to government. Its effects are very much evident in the ranks of the American people themselves. It takes one hell of a lot of effort and determination in order to ferret out truth. It is the stuff of lazy minds to accept beliefs at face value. Sadly, those beliefs are what convince us that our prejudices are noble and righteous. Beliefs are the stuff of zealots. They are predicated on ignorance and emotions, and they are irrational. But, look what they have wrought. We now have a raving bunch of lunatics on the right that tout simplicity and austerity in government, all the while playing the part of the consummate enablers for the oligarchs, the plutocrats and all those who serve them. A two-class society can’t come soon enough for them. As an aside, they always seem to have “God” on their side. Does anyone actually believe that He talks to them?
Then, of course, we have the so-called “Progressives.” Progressives, to my way of thinking, suffer from delusions of moral and intellectual superiority. They are the enlightened ones who never hesitate to take the high ground. Our system of laws, which should be the foundation for our entire system of government, is not to be respected, not to be systematically changed as circumstances dictate, but to be assaulted as the root cause of all the ills that plague us. Laws? Who cares? Just look all of the poor people who are being exploited by the establishment because of them. They will just ignore the law and demand what they see as virtuous, the law be damned.

I cannot help but wonder, as I look at all those claiming to be “Progressives,” but who are some of the most affluent and prominent figures among us, how they are likely to be affected by giving away the store to all of those they have deemed to be put upon by society. Did it ever occur to them that the ills of an illegal and underground workforce, consigned to a subsistence level of existence, are not the fault of the American people? They are the result of a compliant government relaxing the vigilance that was to ensure our national security, so big business and vast wealth could exploit those seeking an ostensibly better life over the abject poverty from which they came. But, guess what, the very social safety nets that belong to the people are fair game for bearing the cost of righting those egregious wrongs. God forbid that anyone would seriously consider raising taxes on the super-rich and corporations where the liability squarely lies! Where is the justice in all this?

Saving the best for last, I now turn my attention to the largest and most powerful instrument of the arrogance of power in our society --- corporate ownership of our news media. Who said that we had a free press that was there to ensure that government was to be, and remain, the watchdog for the people? It has become a massively lucrative business, imbued with the star-worship of celebrities skillfully selling us on the points of view of those of great wealth and power they so readily serve. They have elevated lying to a new art-form. They tell us, not what we should know, but what their masters want us to know. And, we accept it without question.

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and a whole host of ignoramuses do a yeoman’s job of peddling their questionable truth to all the true believers who desperately want to accept the fact that the sky is falling. On the other hand, the martyrdom of the liberal news media and their faux concern for all the downtrodden is the stuff that feeds into our need to rise up in righteous indignation. In both cases, have you noticed, when one of them steps out of line and ventures into the world of knowledge, truth and challenging the company line, they are cut off at the ankles and sent into exile?

However, there are those who have chosen a career in journalism as an honorable and noble profession, and who honestly try to live up to all that stands for. Theirs is a rocky road at best and often have a tough time surviving. They deserve all the respect and admiration we can give upon them. Thanks to the Internet, there has been a renewal in the pursuit of freedom that once was the hallmark of the trade they so ardently ply. If there is any facet of our society that we should make damned sure remains open and free, it is the Internet. Without it we are doomed to an unenviable fate at the hands of those who profess to be on the side of the people.

Do I hold out hope for the future? I must confess that maintaining a sense of optimism is difficult. Why? Because of the laziness, selfishness and sheer brutality of all the true believers, the zealots of whatever ilk. The people of this country are losing that which rightfully belongs to them, all because of an internalized set of values that supports our perceived sense of entitlement, and the arrogance that is a natural byproduct of the accompanying mindset that has infected every facet of our lives.

We are rather akin to the band of sheep being led to the slaughter and can no longer detect the smell of the blood spilled by those who have gone before them; those who were willing to stand for and defend all that made them great.

Regardless of the ultimate price, as long as I get what I want, who cares?

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 12, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Meanwhile, Decent People Suffer"

After bearing witness to the endless charade in Washington these last few weeks, I do not hold out much hope that the situation is going to get any better. I look at the incestuous relationship between the various branches of government, compounded by a distinction of the political parties in name only, and the endless fawning of the main stream news media over those who don’t serve, but wield power. It reminds me of a small town social where everyone is trying their damndest to be on their best behavior and follow all of the accepted social norms of the occasion. I ask myself, “What did the Founding Fathers create for us what with all of the phony traditions and protocol the political whores go through in trying to convince us that those institutions in which they serve (or plunder) are somehow so hallowed that one dare not simply be “real.”

I don’t know about you, but all of this “my good friend,” “my esteemed colleague,” “the honorable,” etc., makes me want to flee to the nearest rest room and purge myself of all the sickening malarkey fed to us by what passes for civility and demeanor prescribed by centuries of “tradition,” whatever that is supposed to mean. Does anyone actually believe these parasites on the backside of the national character really give one hoot in hell about each other? Do they have one scintilla of real respect for one another? I rather doubt it. Probably the only constraining force among them is the ever-present fear that if they started spilling the beans about each others “compromises” and the cash tendered by those who have benefitted from them would create a scandal that would rock the entire continent.

But, in the final analysis I believe it does serve one very useful purpose for the benefit of those who elected them to office and now suffer, and at their total lack of regard for those who put them in the “Marble City on the Potomac.” We have become lulled into a false sense of believing that they really are ladies and gentlemen who give a damn about those they are sworn to serve.

All one has to do is scratch the surface of this ceremonial theater before we are overcome with the noxious fumes of what really lies behind it all. It is a total fraud put on as a ploy to convince us that we really did exercise good judgment by putting them in the seat of power to represent us and act with our best interests at heart. Give me a break!

As much reverence as we show for it all in the name of our “heritage,” I find the parliamentary system of government to be much more transparent and far more authentic than what we see in Washington. Have you noticed how they stand up across the aisle from each other and really duke it out? Have you noticed how they manifest real anger and disdain for their adversaries? Have you noticed how they get red in the face and show their contempt for what they perceive to be an affront or a disingenuous act? Now, that is what I call real political theater and something that gets my attention. I have a healthy respect for those moments. None of this, “my good friend” crap. At the end of the day it really is a superior system.

Despite what appears to be an ingrained need among us to revere all that the Founding Fathers put together as a blue print for governing this nation, I don’t think they did a very good job. Just look at the history of the Senate, the Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court and the cadre of those comprising the massive bureaucracy that serve their ambitions and, we are led to believe, are there to serve the people of the United States of America. There isn’t one of those institutions that have not been compromised by their greasy palms and blind ambition. And, as much respect as I have for real, authentic journalists and an independent news media, one cannot overlook how corporate news aids and abets all they bring down our on our heads as they seek to “govern,” however one cares to define that term. If it isn’t a very unhealthy symbiotic relationship, I will put in with you.

Are we really better off with politics rather than statesmanship? Are we really better off with hoards of “lobbyists” that somehow resemble cockroaches scurrying about in the shadows and into the cracks as they ply their evil agendas at the expense of those who put their benefactors into office, and who pay the monumental bills that keeps the whole thing afloat. Are we really better off when those who are supposed to be regulated by those who are elected to serve when, at the end of the day, they write the very regulations that are supposed to keep them honest? Are we better off, as a people, when those very same interests reduce this nation of good and decent people to the subsistence level while they feed off the very flesh of those who only want an honest shake and their rightful share of the American Dream? Are we really better off as we continue our obsolete and over-bloated sense of empire, committing those who can’t find a decent job at home to the perils of life in a war zone?

Just step back for a moment and contemplate the political and social rubble that has become the landscape of America. We have a resident in the White House who has only one redeeming talent. He consistently goes out, gives a mesmerizing speech, goes back to Washington and sequesters himself behind closed doors with the very ones he has been railing against on the stump. That has been his modus operandi from the day he took the Oath of Office. Let us not lose sight of the fact that he is the product of one of the oldest and most corrupt political machines in our history. Chicago politics are not for the faint of heart or the soul of decency.

We don’t have two distinct political parties. Instead we have a collection of rather sullied characters all feeding from the same troughs of corruption and scratching the backs of all those to whom they have given their allegiance. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that big money, big business and powerful vested interests dictate and control out destiny. As an added measure of assurance, the Supreme Court is there to make sure their interests, not ours, are served by what we euphemistically refer to as “government.”

The loudest and most consistent mantra of the day is “where are the jobs?” Well, we certainly can’t credit the Republicans for doing much about that, can we? Yet, neither can we trust those Democrats, going back to the Clinton Administration, with doing much to support and encourage a healthy Middle Class. After all, they are the very ones, who have championed, and still champion, the whole notion of “free trade agreements,” which translates into the systemic bleeding of those comprising the very backbone of this country. They are the ones who sit on their hands and do absolutely nothing to draw a line in the sand and call out China for the gross disparity in the terms of trade between our two countries.

It is Bill Clinton who set the stage for the complete deregulation of the financial institutions that have brought this country to its knees. If that were not enough, we have had the comfort of sitting on the sidelines as Barack Obama has imported all of his key Cabinet positions and White House Staff from the former Clinton Administration. You don’t have to be very astute to see how this country and its citizens have benefitted from that exercise in “continuity.” Ask Elizabeth Warren.

Folks, we are in deep doo-doo. No amount of attempts to assuage the reality of our situation will change things for the better. The states are crumbling under the burden of debt they carry and their inability to garner enough resources in order to provide basic public services necessary for a civilized society. It is time we stopped deluding ourselves into believing that all those tantalizing and titillating hedonistic and materialistic pleasures are really there for us to savor. It is an illusion that seduces us into believing that, if we will just be patient, Nirvana awaits.

For all the pleasures held out to us, there is nothing that makes a person feel better than having done something kind for one of his fellow human beings. That is the higher calling we must shift our focus on. It will make us a better people and a better nation.

At the head of every human endeavor that changes history for the better is real leadership. We haven’t seen that in so long it is hard to conceptualize what it really means. Politics, as it is practiced today is the antithesis of any sense of a noble human endeavor. Statesmanship and leadership creates and nourishes hope and the promise of a better future. We need someone who has those qualities to step out of the shadows and commit to restoring this country to what it once was and can surely be again. Those lost virtues of honesty and integrity that have served as the foundation of a government we can truly believe in are not lost, only forgotten.

The motley collections of individuals who have come to Washington and now hold this nation hostage are pathetic in their ignorance and ominous in their zealousness. They, and those who follow them, are incapable of original thought. They are believers without knowing what and why they believe. They are pathetic, but dangerous. They seek a quick fix and simple solutions to every dilemma we face. They are the followers of the Koch Brothers and those of the same ilk whose greed will see them to the end of the only life they will ever know and their wanton destruction of everything in their path, including this country. Those who march with them are reminiscent of those who keep feeding the alligators hoping they will eat them last. Meanwhile decent people suffer.

Real leadership and a calling to a higher purpose are gifts for which there is no price. They are rewards in and of themselves. But Bernie Sanders, and the valiant and dedicated few like him, can’t do it all. I sincerely hope there is an inspired leader in the making who will hear the clarion call and say, ‘Now is the time; and I am ready.”

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
August 7, 2011