Monday, July 23, 2012

"The Careerists"

Every discipline and academic field of endeavor has its share of outstanding minds, all of whom contribute a great deal to our understanding of the world we live in.  We would be much the poorer were it not for them.  However, there are a few "superstars," who seem to have  particularly poignant insights into and broader brush strokes of the panoramas they paint for us.  Two that most impress me are Chris Hedges of and Bill Moyers of Public Broadcasting.

On Common Dreams today, July 13, 2012, you will find a published article titled, "The Careerists" by Chris Hedges that is one of the most brilliant assessments of the players who figure most prominently in the sad state of affaris reeling around our heads today.  Chris says it most succinctly in one sentence of this treatise.  "They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality."  You will be doing yourself a disservice if you do not take the time to read this particular piece.  It is well worth the effort.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 23, 2012   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"So What Shall It Be Folks? Republicrat or Demican?"

With the constant din of noise emanating from the various sources of what passes for “news” offered in the name of political discourse, it is easy for rather enlightening tidbits to drift by our sense of awareness, only to fade into the vast labyrinths of the nothingness into which it all flows. If we made even a serious attempt to listen to it all we would surely go stark raving mad. However, the sheer magnitude of all that is beamed into our unsuspecting senses does offer an opportunity for much of what we should know to simply pass unnoticed. All of that missed information accrues to the benefit of the very sources that prefer we not be aware of what is being communicated.

I was reminded of that phenomenon the other day as I was watching a news segment on the presidential race and the forthcoming presidential debates. The candidate for President of the Green Party was being interviewed. Suddenly, I was gripped by one of those “wow” moments when something registered that I had not been consciously aware of. For the first time, I heard that the only candidates permitted to participate in the Presidential Debates are those who are running for President from the Republican and Democratic Parties. All others are excluded. Frankly, that pissed me off. Who in the hell decided, on my behalf, that I was only to be privy to the positions of those seeking election to the Presidency from the two “major” political parties? If that isn’t an infringement on my right to know I don’t know what is! God forbid that one of those lesser candidates might just proffer a resolution to a problem or an issue that might be more beneficial to the broader spectrum of the population, at less cost, and that is more honest and effective than what might spill forth from the mouths of the two heavy-hitters in the debate. I cannot think of more fertile ground for that to occur than within the context of a healthy debate with ALL interests represented. From my perspective, that little twist of the rules is the most egregious and outrageous affront to the American people that could be perpetrated against those casting their vote for the highest office in the land. We have an inherent right to hear all sides of an issue, not just what a bunch of self-serving elites have deemed, in their infinite wisdom, that we SHOULD hear.

I have no idea from where this notion originated, but I rather suspect it was hatched in some backroom by those who want to control the process so it comes as close to an outright monopoly on information as is humanely possible. Think of how ecstatic the oligarchs, the plutocrats, the bankers, the military/industrial complex, the intelligence services, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the political establishment and big corporations in all their manifestations must be with this rather cozy arrangement. With only two points of view on every major issue before the nation, they surely take some satisfaction in knowing that, regardless of who gets elected to office, the outcome for their individual and collective greed and benefit will be something they can live with and from which they can prosper handsomely. After all, what better way of ensuring it all falls into place according to their greater plan for yet more wealth and less regulation at the expense of all those who labor in their service?

Just think, folks, of all we are about to savor. A stage properly set, with the most effective lighting, all created by the mainstream news media in order to elicit the greatest visual appeal from the millions of humanoids who are about to be snookered by bovine scatology, compliments of the “news media.” The anchors from each of the networks, immaculately coiffed, intoning their voices to elicit the greatest possible effect from their perceived individual and collective authority on any issue they are about to present to the candidates. Enough to intimidate the most aggressive among us, don’t you agree?

If we are to be limited to the joys of hearing from just two of the great political minds of our time, why do we need to rely on such discreet labels in order to clearly fix political affiliation and responsibility? Why bother with one being a Republican and the other being a Democrat? Let’s just amalgamate the two into one Republicrat and one Demican? After all, they both feed from the same largesse that buys their loyalties and owns their souls.

In all seriousness, this entire concept is just one more fraud foisted on the American people. If that isn’t treating us like a bunch of mushrooms, I don’t know what is. Incidentally, mushrooms are kept in the dark and fed bull shit. Sounds strangely familiar, don’t you think?

One of the clearest mandates by our Founding Fathers was that we should have a “free and unfettered press,” to serve as a watchdog on government for the people. Why and how that morphed into ABC (Disney), CBS (Westinghouse), NBC (General Electric), MSNBC (General Electric), and CNN (Time-Warner), is beyond me. If that lot of unsavory characters that dominate the electronic news media isn’t a closed system that takes very good care of the dictates and needs of the Corporate Capitalists, I don’t know what is.

I think the time has come for us to insist on the following as the first jump out of the chute toward an unambiguous form of democracy that will serve all the citizens rather than a select and very rich few:

• Get money out of politics.
• Require that all aspects of the news media be independently owned and operated, totally free of any outside investment or absentee ownership.
• Term limits for all elected officials.
• Expansion of and term limits for all Supreme Court Justices.
• No special salaries or perquisites for elected or appointed officials that are not in line with those accorded civil service employees.
• No secret meetings within government or with other governments, unless clearly deemed to be for national security purposes, and only with the approval of the leadership and rendering of a report of any such meetings to the leadership of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
• No military officer or former military officer will be permitted to serve as the head of any defense or intelligence agency. All must be under the leadership of civilian appointees.

Transparency must be the order of the day. Under no circumstances, will it be permitted for any Executive or Legislative Branch of government to engage in secret activities without the expressed knowledge and approval of the President and the leadership of the House and the Senate.

It is the sense of privilege and entitlement that has gotten us into this mess. It is those same notions of exclusivity that has reduced the average American to a second-class citizen. It is time to open the windows, let in the fresh air and restore this nation to its rightful owners – all the citizens of the United States of America. Privilege is the stuff of royalty. We did away with that a long time ago. Time to go back to our roots and regain the respect we once had for ourselves and all we represent to the world. We can do it again, but only at the ballot box and by taking a genuine interest in what goes on in our names, in government, commerce, education and all of the other foundations of a civilized society.

Get interested, get involved and, above all, VOTE!

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 19, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Why Don't We Just Call It What It Is?

The barrage of information that has invaded my senses during the past few months has been some of the most sobering and despairing that I can recall during my lifetime. I cannot believe what is happening to us, as a people, our country and the world in which we live.

I have endeavored to identify the root cause(s) of what has brought us to the point where all hope has been abandoned, but where there might be some faint hope of saving us from ourselves. What we would have to do in order to simply understand and reverse the forces we have set in motion and continue to nurture seems insurmountable.

We are, by our very nature, social beings. I do not believe we were intended to live our lives as loners. We were meant to be a part of something bigger than any one of us. We were, as the laws of nature have said, meant to be a part of something where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I think we have simply forgotten or deliberately chosen to ignore that fundamental principle of life. We have evolved into a world where the singular predominates. We live by “I,” “Me,” and “Mine.” I don’t see where any great effort is made to cultivate and respect any notion of “We,” “Us,” or “Ours,” which might serve as the guiding principles by which we were intended to live. What brought us to the point where the singular is all that matters; that it is noble to pursue only those aspects of life that will nurture my sense of self-entitlement or self-indulgence, at the expense of a greater common good? Where did we buy into the notion that anything having to do with “me” is more important than that which focuses on “us?” At the end of the day, that is what has led us to becoming a people who are totally self-absorbed and patently selfish in our life’s pursuits. We are now living with the second generation of “spoiled brats,” who know absolutely nothing except that which will satiate their every desire. And, do I blame them? Not on your life. They are what they are because we encouraged and permitted them to become the socially aberrant beings they are. It is because we failed them. We did not take the time and effort to teach them that there is something greater in this world than him/her, and to nurture a respect for that inescapable fact of life. We are now reaping the harvest from the seeds we visited upon this earth.

Those “qualities” have now been incorporated into the institutions we look to for guidance, inspiration and enforcement of what makes a society civilized and orderly, with a sense of community that will serve the needs of us all. They see any sense of charity, sharing, giving and help as a sign of weakness; the complete antithesis of the now much revered sense of personal entitlement firmly rooted in and having only to do with “me.”

We are reaping the results of that failure on our part by the avariciousness and sense of privilege by the oligarchs, plutocrats, international corporations, financial institutions, political parties, elected officials, public servants and the vast number of minions who are all too eager to cater to their every twisted and perverted whim, hoping they will throw us a crumb from all they have taken from those of lesser means. Those are what they have created in order to profit from our self-interests and insatiable appetites for “more”. They have the means and the help of some of the most sinister creativity imaginable in order to determine our appetites and what it takes to satisfy those appetites, so they can, in turn, create and grow the vast fortunes that permit them to feed upon what little of our treasure may be left after their plunder. We, in turn, have dutifully become totally conformist and complacent, thereby ensuring the growth and profitability of the markets they have created from their vast wealth. We are now the willing and ever compliant serfs. They own and control us. They know it and we sense it. But, when, if ever, are we going to rise up and insist on something better? I do not see that as very likely in the foreseeable future.

There a couple of old clichés that come to mind. One is that “birds of a feather flock together,” and “you shall be known by the company you keep.” Those of great wealth and power keep their exalted positions because they know the validity of those words and they are masters at practicing them. They “keep the backs” of each other so those on the bottom of the socio-economic-political ladder will not rise up and overtake them.

• The Bush Family has a well-established history of associations with some of the most unsavory and unprincipled scions known to the business and political worlds. That tradition has not been lost on George W. Bush and those who served as his enablers during his terms as President. Scratch the surface and you will find a tainted history that vastly improved their economic well-being.

• Are you aware that a close personal relationship has evolved between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton since each left the White House? Yet, on Clinton’s first Inauguration Day, President and Mrs. Bush hardly spoke to the Clintons. What changed that transformed them into golfing partners and bosom buddies?

• Are you aware that Bill and Hillary Clinton, ostensibly, left the White House paupers at the end of his Presidency? Are you aware that, as of today, Bill Clinton is reputed to be worth 200 million dollars, and Hillary is rumored to have a fortune worth 34.9 million dollars?

• Are you aware that Bill Clinton, as President, was the great enabler for Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan and a host of others of dubious stature that enabled them to totally dismantle all of the financial safeguards (Glass-Steagall among them) that comprised the bulwark that was keeping those institutions viable and secure for the people of the United States?

• Are you aware of their role in the de-regulation of the financial institutions spawned the financial collapse of 2007 – 2008?

• Are you aware that Chelsea Clinton is reputed to have been, during and after the financial collapse, a hedge fund manager on Wall Street?

• Are you aware that most of the key players in Bill Clinton’s administration were quietly and rather surreptitiously imported into the Obama administration shortly after President Obama assumed office? What, if any, benefit accrued to the electorate because of that thread of continuity, or were there sinister motives that served a darker purpose?

• Are you aware that Barack Obama has done an about-face on every major campaign promise he made that was supposed to accrue to the benefit of the American people who put him in office, and the working Americans to whom he promised so much?

1. Strengthening free-trade agreements, such as NAFTA, CAFTA, etc., all to the detriment of the interests of working-class Americans?

2. Are you aware that President Obama has capitulated to every significant interest in banking and health care, plus holding Bush Administration officials accountable for engaging in torture and crimes against humanity?

3. Are you aware that President Obama has soft-peddled any real effort to close Guantanamo prisons, support habeas corpus, and do away with the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists?

4. Are you aware that President Obama back peddled on his commitment to a single-payer option, health care reform and mandatory negotiated prices from drug companies seeking government contracts?

5. Are you aware that President Obama has soft-peddled any meaningful penalties against British Petroleum for the Gulf Oil Disaster?

6. Are you aware that, despite his promises to the contrary, President Obama is engaging in “secret” negotiations on free-trade with other nations in this hemisphere, plus a massive free-trade deal with nations on the Pacific Rim? All of these agreements will accrue to the detriment of working-class Americans, American business interests and the sovereignty of the United States of America?

This could go on ad infinitum, but the point is made. For readers who have an interest in exploring his consistent betrayal of the American people, it takes little or no effort to ferret out just how disingenuous this man has been and continues to be. From my take on him, his underlying interests have been, are and always will be with big money, big business and his own political ambitions. His rhetoric notwithstanding, I have yet to see anything that would convince me that he is, in anyway, the “real deal.” Frankly, I am astonished that the mainstream news media has the audacity to continue to heap praise on him and give him a free pass on the myriad promises made but never kept. But, then it isn’t a quantum leap from Obama being one of their boys, and the need for their news organizations to cast him in a favorable light with the electorate.

Now, my latest reading on the antics of our illustrious president, plus the cadre of cohorts he rubs elbows with, all of which accrue to our national detriment, brings to light the following:

1. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, has capitulated to pressure giving virtually all control over the European economic recovery to the major banking interests in the EU. The central banks have insisted that their control is to remain outside that of member nations, and the individual banks will have complete authority to do whatever they deem necessary to bring about stability and control of the economy in Europe. In other words, the people of Europe will be at the mercy of the very institutions that were instrumental in the collapse of the financial sector of the European Union.

2. That same mindset is now in the offing for these United States of America, all done, of course, within the shroud of secrecy that has become commonplace for whatever our government has deemed to be in the “best interests” of the country. The “country” being, of course, the oligarchs and the plutocracy that virtually owns the entire system.

The bottom line is that we, the people, are about to have the ability to govern ourselves usurped by the very powers that brought us to the brink of a total financial meltdown in 2007! Yet, we passively and unknowingly wait for the catastrophe that few of us know is coming.

I honestly believe that every aspect of our political establishment, our government and the institutions of government created to serve us, the people, is owned by those who seek to reduce us to a modern-day fiefdom; our lives reduced to a level of existence that makes us irrelevant in the grand scheme they have in store for themselves. World government is now being talked about in the dark halls of power. It may be only a whimper now, but let us hope it never reaches a crescendo.

Secrecy is never put in place for the common good. Secrecy serves the darkest motives and actions of those who have something to hide or something to gain. Secrecy is the enabler for those who live and operate in the shadows. They relegate to secrecy that which they do not want us to know. How has secrecy and the absence of transparency served the best interests of the people and protected us from the excesses of government, religious authority, intelligence agencies, military establishments and all the other major centers of wealth and power? What have we, the people, gained and how are we better off because of what those who covet secrecy have deemed necessary and in our “best” interests?

Given the milieu of our modern day society, I think it is prudent to exercise caution in how much and what we choose to believe. “Don’t tell me; show me.” I am not interested in what you think I should know, but what I know that I need to know.

What about South America, Mexico and other trade interests that he swore he would hold to account? There is not only his total capitulation to Wall Street, but to drug companies, health insurance and management companies, as well. The majority walked away from their “negotiations” with the President far better off than anything they expected when they entered into those negotiations?

Are you aware that not one officer among the major banks on Wall Street has been indicted or prosecuted for his complicity in the collapse of their banks during the financial meltdown of 2007 – 2008?

Are you aware that President Obama recently openly praised the reputation of J.P. Morgan Chase and the acumen of its Chairman, Jaime Dimon?

As I bear witness to the charade going on before us, euphemistically called a “presidential campaign,” I am sobered by the fact that Obama and Romney are merely actors on the same stage for the benefit of public consumption, and the grand seduction of us all for the benefit of the oligarchy and plutocracy that stands poised to inherit the spoils of the nation. There is not one scintilla of evidence to support the perception of anything but that they are common partners in a common crime. We are the least powerful and most vulnerable in the equation.

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton and the vast array of their minions all support one objective – corporate ownership and control of this nation and those who have no other option but to throw themselves at their feet, hoping for a crumb that will help to support and sustain them and those who are dependent upon them. There is only one label common to them all – that of “Corporate Capitalist.” No term could be more accurate to describe their objectives and our misfortunes. Of all the human predators, they are the most loathsome and dangerous of all.

To fall back on the wisdom of a particularly prominent and renowned author and journalist, there is only one avenue that will enable the common people to stem the rapacious and greedy pursuits of those who are a part of a system that seeks to destroy all that rightfully belongs to us, the people. That avenue is the use of “peaceful, nonviolent resistance.” That strategy is still very much alive and well. I believe it can and should be given new life, strength and purpose. It won’t be easy, but it must be done and it must not be late in coming.

From my perspective, to believe that his or her vote for President will make any real difference is naïve. That just isn’t going to happen. It will just be more of the same, indifferent packaging from whoever serves the same masters and feeds from the same troughs of corruption and power.

For those seeking election or re-election to seats in other branches of government, that will require some study and knowledge about each one seeking office. It has to be much more than what we hear them say. It has to be much more than what they look like and what they promise. If we are serious about the challenge before us, we have to accept the fact that it will require some serious effort on our part.

• We will have to be cautious when it comes to trusting the agencies of government that represent domestic security organizations. As we have seen in previous confrontations with the Occupy Wall Street movement, it cannot be assumed that they have our best interests at heart. Those agencies need to be reminded of the fact that they are there to ensure peaceful and orderly conduct by and for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, none is the personal army of any mayor or governor.

I would like to believe there is an opportunity for a real alternative to come out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Someone who could provide a real choice for the people and who could change the direction of this country. Someone who could mount a real challenge to the validity of Citizens United, and the wholesale capture of our electoral process and the democracy it was intended to serve. Perhaps there is a strong and capable person out there who could challenge the President for the nomination at the convention?

We deserve a real alternative. Perhaps it is time for a woman in the White House?  Perhaps that is the real “change” we need. Perhaps that is what will save this country and all the inherent goodness that is woven into the fabric of the Republic, and all who labor in its service. Perhaps the time has come to breathe new life into what the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us?

Maybe it is time to put an end to all the empty rhetoric, the din of which seems to never end. Maybe the time has come to revisit and seriously ponder some of the time-honored and proven virtues of “truth,” “honesty,” “fairness” and “justice.” I genuinely believe the best about us is laying dormant, waiting for the renaissance that will bring us back into the light and back to our senses.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 6, 2012