Sunday, August 19, 2012
Well, the recent announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate should come as no surprise to political minds that are the least bit savvy. They are a good fit. Theological scholars dismiss any pretense of a religion that is the hallmark of Romney’s system of beliefs. Ryan, on the other hand, holds out his professed membership in one of the oldest Christian religions as proof that he is a true believer that only wants what “God” has deemed to be in the best interests of the American people. For anyone who actually believes either or both of these religious demagogues and their zealous followers, I have a slightly used bridge for sale -- at a bargain price.
Any astute person need not labor for long to identify the fallacy of what this particular brand of politics is likely to visit on the people of this country, already trampled into the ground by the sheer evil of those seeking to pound the last nails into the coffin of what is left of our fragile democracy – a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Yeah. Tell me another one. Given all that this sinister movement peddles, I ask you, where are the “people” in this equation? As I view the total economic and social devastation of the last forty years, I see only a wasteland of what used to be the finest and best about us.
If one will take the time to look back in history, the genesis of this plague that is upon the land will become glaringly apparent. Every fascist totalitarian system of government has emerged promising utopia for the society upon which it is built. They articulate a new and better order for the masses. They garner the popular support of the very ones they end up persecuting. The “new order” has no problem readily solidifying the support from those of wealth and privilege. They have no problem gaining the support of the zealots who, in one twisted form or another, believe they have a favored position with their divine creator. They preach “God” and practice a demagoguery that blames the disenfranchised for every ill which they claim has created the havoc from which their concept of society suffers. They are the ones who have no trouble brutalizing the least among them, who persecute them, who incarcerate them, who exile them and, yes, in some instances execute them. History shows that this is all done within the context of creating a more perfect society. It is utterly incredulous that any sane mind could possibly comprehend, and any civilized soul would not reject out of hand.
It all begins with a radical and simplistic ideology, from which emerges a charismatic leader who articulates a belief system that convinces a broad base of the population, motivated by greed and power, that he is the personification of all that will make life infinitely better and more perfect for all true believers. He will rout out the dead beats that are nothing more than parasites on those who have worked and sacrificed to make their world a better place. Mob rule sets in and feeds the mission. The rich and powerful join the movement. The military establishment aligns itself with the movement against those who are the objects of its disdain. The religious dimension has no trouble believing that God talks only to them and champions their efforts to cleanse society of those who have not seen the light, and are the thankless takers from good and virtuous people. They are the ones who have had to support and subsidize the indolent and marginal producers in their otherwise perfect world.
From this wellspring of self-proclaimed superiority and its attendant malice comes the simplistic and absolute concept of a perfect world that fuels the fires of their self-proclaimed system that ultimately becomes a cause. Knowledge and reason become their sworn enemies. Discourse is soon reduced to slogans. From all this comes such paragons of virtue and enlightenment as Dick Cheney, the Neocons, Herbert Norquist, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the Tea Party, the Fundamentalists, and all those who suffer from varying degrees of calcified cranial tissue that makes them want to plunder and destroy out of sheer ignorance and an insatiable greed. They are the disciples of Ayn Rand, and the others who see only what they want to see, believe only what they want to believe, rather than what knowledge might otherwise dispel. They are the epitome of a self-imposed ignorance fueled by an ingrained hatred that only seems to make them more embittered.
This is the stuff of Wall Street, Corporate America, opponents of science, destroyers of the environment and those who know no limits to their plunder of Planet Earth. Among them are those who comprise organized efforts such as the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, who buy and sell our entire political establishment, those who pander to the purveyors of all that goes into a bloated military establishment for which there is no rational basis and from which there is no escape. These are the ones who operate in the shadows, have conceived of and spawned an intelligence and security apparatus that is shrouded in secrecy and drains billions of dollars from our economy, based on an insidious fear that, in most instances, can only be asserted, not proven. Their ability to fan the fires of fear gives them the power to solidify their position in the “new order.” This has given us a plethora of agencies, the most prominent being the Department of Homeland Security which has become such a behemoth that it seems to have a life all its own. All this comes at tremendous cost to our economy and the social fabric that might well better serve the common good.
When did all the virtues that made us a good and decent people and that gave us a sense of trust and respect for one another die? When did it become acceptable to engage in every conceivable method of deception and manipulation in order to feed the rapacious appetite of our basest instincts and glutinous greed? When did those practices become the norm in every branch of government, in the world of banking and finance, in the boardrooms of corporations, and in every other institution that was once the bedrock and foundation of our ability to honor, respect and treat others as equals with a legitimate right to their part in the ownership of a fair and just society? When did our churches cease to be the moral compass for us all, only to morph into a mouthpiece for hatred and disdain heaped on those who they deemed to be little more than parasites on society? By what Divine revelation and authority did their demagoguery become a mark of virtue?
A wise man once said, “Trust, like the soul, never returns once it is gone.” Trust is a precious gift that should be respected and revered by those who seek it. What happened to the value we once placed in that trust? Frankly, I simply no longer trust or respect any of those who serve at our pleasure, be it in government, commerce or all the other institutions of society that are there to, ostensibly, serve us and to maintain the health of and welfare of our nation.
I don’t fault those for whom the methods shaping our attitudes, tastes, values, etc have succeeded. In the end, they are the ultimate victims. However, I do fault those purveyors of the very sophisticated and refined methods that are used by those who seek to manipulate and control our perceptions of the world around us and who seek to create the system of beliefs and our appetites for all they want us to assimilate and covet. It is a very sophisticated science that is routinely practiced in every aspect of our daily lives. We feed on what they peddle and they profit from it, very handsomely.
Ours is not a system of government. It is a system of corruption. The Executive Branch is corrupt; the Legislative Branch is corrupt; the Judicial Branch is corrupt; agencies that operate in the shadows of secrecy are suspect; the mainstream news media are compromised and anything but objective or guardians of the public interest. Those who feed the corrupt in exchange for their favors are corrupt. The entire system is rigged in favor of those who have no sense of decency; those who plunder from the national economy for their own ambitions and personal gain.
Why is our sitting President revered by the press for being such a great President? Where, I ask you, has he stood firm on one single issue of principle calling for real leadership? Where and on how many occasions has he sold out the working people of this country in favor of the oligarchs, plutocrats, corporate behemoths and all of the attendant sycophants lusting for ever more from their never-ending pillage of this country? Where is the transparency and openness with the American people he promised? Why does he seem to have such an ingrained fear of the veto pen? The answer to all this is “Because he is not and never has been one of us. He is one of them!” He is the proverbial compromiser who keeps feeding the alligators, hoping they will eat him last.
As for the Legislative Branch, except for a few very notable exceptions who have a genuine fix on the responsibilities and dedication real statesmanship requires, they are just as corrupt, if not more so, than their kindred souls in other branches of government. They are just greater in numbers and more adroit at clouding the issues.
Then, of course, we have the august sages of the Supreme Court. Judicial integrity seems to have eluded the majority of the current crop of black robes. To think of themselves as anything but legal harlots is a stretch, if you ask me. They aren’t even subtle as to the going price for one of their “considered opinions,” that will cater to their particular brand of political bias. I refer you to George W. Bush and the super rich behind Citizens United, for openers.
I have developed an ingrained mistrust of those to whom we have entrusted our future. I just don’t see much consistency between their words and their actions. In the final analysis, the bottom ninety-nine percent is clearly regarded as the bottom feeders in our social and political systems. They are the mushrooms kept in the dark and fed excrement by those who sit at the top of the food chain. They are the fodder for their canons. They are expendable in their grand scheme fed by limitless wealth and unchecked power. At the end of the day, they count for little or nothing.
It is time for the love fest between Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Wall Street and the alumni of the Clinton Administration to come to an end. We have had enough of their seductive rhetoric and a free pass on every transgression against the nation they are sworn to serve. Where were their voices and actions when the “Occupy Wall Street” movement was met with civilian law enforcement fronting for the power elite against those engaging in peaceful demonstrations? Their only “crime” was to protest against the myriad injustices being perpetrated against those who, rightfully, want their fair share of the wealth, abundance and opportunity this nation is sworn to deliver. Although there seems to be a growing number who believe otherwise, we are not a nation of royalty. We are a nation of free people with every right to a fair share of all that is produced by their role in the wealth of this republic. That goes for equality and fairness in every dimension of our lives.
It is time for labor organizations to regain the equal treatment and opportunity under the law on a par, and with the same guarantees, as those who now reap obscene profits from their success in minimizing the rightful role of labor for the American worker to that of a token effort, at best. It is time to stop the rhetoric that it is government that is responsible for the deficits we are racking up. Where is the accountability that should properly be laid at the feet of every sordid and greedy profiteer that holds himself out as a pillar of decency? You cannot have equal opportunity by starving our public education system while the coffers of the private schools, colleges and universities amass endowment funds that would have been the envy of kings and queens of earlier times. You cannot have equal opportunity when we permit lending predators to reduce our young people to a state of indentured servitude and a lifetime of debt. You cannot have safe and secure communities by stripping them of law enforcement, fire and safety personnel sufficient to guarantee that basic human right. These few examples, alone, clearly state the case that we are, indeed, a two-class society. Call it what you will, but it is an inescapable fact that “a rose by any other name is still a rose.”
My first inkling that the winds of change were upon us was when the so-called “all volunteer armed forces” was adopted. That opened the doors to those who would become the fodder for the canons owned by the elites who stood to profit, handsomely, from the blood, sweat and tears of those who would “volunteer” out of sheer economic necessity. Meanwhile, those from homes among the bastions of wealth and privilege went off to the Ivy League Schools to learn the skills needed to plunder and exploit our country, much like those who begat them, in order to preserve and enhance their massive wealth gleaned from the sacrifices of those who labor in their service. Enough blood has been shed by the oppressed in the service of the oppressor, the only result of which is yet more contempt and disdain for those whose labors they procure for a mere pittance.
The question has been asked, “Is this class warfare?” That is not the question that appeals to those in polite company. My retort? You damned right this is class warfare, and it is time to bring it to a screeching halt! And all those we elect to public office have a solemn obligation to support that cause with determination, honor, integrity and dedication. Anything less is an affront to the national conscience. That isn’t rocket science, folks, that is just plain old common sense.
It is time for that change, my friends, and I am referring to real, honest change and not just more of the bovine scatology that has been the only fare known by far too many and for much too long. We are, after all, a nation of laws, and everyone is supposed to be equal under those laws. The time has come to educate the “scum class” to that basic fact of life in these United States of America. A good start might be to create an opportunity for more than just the “knighted” two-party system that dominates our local and national political agendas. I dare say you could probably begin by entrusting that charge to a few of the outstanding scholars who have been disenfranchised from their educational pursuits by the alleged “mounting deficit” facing this country. We might just discover that there are, indeed, better alternatives that demand a forum and our support. Tell Romney, Ryan, the Tea Party and Corporate Capitalists we categorically reject, out of hand, all the hollow promises they make. Theirs is no utopia. It is just more for them and the same or less for the rest of us. They know it and so do we.
All politicians, regardless of their ilk, need a cardinal lesson in the virtues of basic honesty and simple truth. That would take us a long way down the road to a better future.
The Sagebrush Philosopher
August 19, 2012
Permit me to share a few vignettes from my earlier life that may cast some light on why I feel so strongly about what we, as a nation, are experiencing and the fear of what we might yet become.
• When I was a small boy, my Dad worked as a ranch hand south of Cody, Wyoming. At the end of the tourist season, he was one of the hands assigned to help move the horses to winter pasture. My Mother and we three kids were to meet him after the horses were safely moved. We waited in a tourist cabin. My Dad failed to meet us and my Mother did not have the means to contact him. As a result, what money she had did not last long. We were reduced to eating oatmeal for three days, with no sugar and milk. I know what it is to be hungry and the fear of an uncertain future.
• Later, my Dad was working as a ranch hand on a ranch owned by an heiress of the Heinz 57 Fortune. Her son, who was the same age as me, arrived in a private railroad car from Philadelphia to spend the summer with his mother. I was designated to be his playmate for the duration of the summer. We became good friends and, on one occasion, we had lunch in the dining annex to the main house. Following lunch, “Georgie” asked me if I would like to see his room. His mother was standing near by and reminded him that “the hired help were never allowed in the main house.” So much for that excursion into the world of the wealthy, and a stark reminder, at the ripe old age of 9, that I was, in the final analysis, just another member of the “hired help.” I know what is to be reminded of a lower station in life.
• On the Easter Day of my 7th year, I recall getting out of bed early and searching the house for the Easter baskets that were traditionally left by the Easter Bunny, all to no avail. My Mother was sitting at the kitchen table, her head buried in her hands, crying. She had to tell us there was no such thing as an Easter Bunny (she had no money). I know what it is to have the joy of a childhood mystery shattered by the reality of poverty.
• Every year my Mother’s sister in California would pack up all of the clothes her two children had outgrown, and send them to us in a large cardboard box. I remember the joy of seeing and wearing all those clothes. I know what it is to experience the happiness created by the thoughtfulness of someone who cared.
• My entire formal education was underwritten by the G.I. Bill. It took me through my baccalaureate studies, and a Public Health Scholarship took me through my Master’s studies. I know what it is to have the emancipating experience of a government funded education in exchange for my four years of military service. I know the feeling of a grateful heart because of a nation of people who genuinely cared.