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