Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Who Will You Choose?"

I have the good fortune of living in a small town on the outer fringes of a reasonably large city. Cities don’t do much for me, but that is in keeping with my nature. I like to have the freedom to drive down to the Post Office and get the mail. I like to stop in at the corner grocery store to pick up a few items, and chat with the clerk and the owner. I enjoy talking with the clerk at the Post Office who still can’t quite understand why there is such a frontal assault on an institution that has served this country well for so many years. I see a microcosm of what reality is in this country today. I see the middle aged woman, the wife of an absentee husband, trying to cope with raising two boys while her husband is away trying to earn a living in some distant state. They are all, each and every one of them, Americans. They are good and decent people who still reel in utter disbelief at what has happened to them and their fading dreams of a good life. They are a cross section of those who wondered how this country could have gone from the promises of a place for everyone, just a few years ago, to wondering what the final chapter in their lives will be as they sink, further and further, into the abyss of hopelessness that seems to be their common lot as they see a future that looms ever more ominous on the horizon.

We are, by our very nature, social animals. We were meant to engage in social intercourse with our fellow human beings. That means personal contact that is revered much more than the plethora of electronic gadgets to which we have entrusted our very souls. I like this small town because those are the folks that still find talking to others a worthwhile and enjoyable endeavor. It is the human element that is still primary in their lives. It reminds us that we are a part of something far greater than just “me.” And it is something for which I have a healthy respect and on which I place great value.

I don’t carry a cell phone because when I walk out the door of my home; that time is my time. It is mine to ponder the myriad thoughts about all that is around me and the dynamics of the human condition of which I am an integral, albeit small, but valued part. It is the warmth and the enrichment of all that gives my life meaning.

I, for one, don’t place much stock in the so-called wonders that have been wrought upon the world by Microsoft, Apple and the myriad “tech” companies that have numbed the human mind, all in the name of “progress” and a “better” world. Frankly, I can’t see that we are a hell of a lot better off because of the electronic gadgets that have come from the mental diarrhea of the “techies” that have created all that we are led to believe we can no longer live without. Rather, I see the richness of a world once dominated by feeling, thinking, caring human beings who gave us a world of wonder and enrichment that seems to be dying right before our very eyes.

Real education has given way to a curriculum that teaches us, not how to think, but how to achieve, the ultimate goal of which is the money and prestige one can amass before the final bell tolls. We are people that have forsaken the richness of intellectual discourse, the fine arts, the philosophical and still unanswered questions that generations have pondered for eons, and captured the minds of all that used to amaze us. For what? For the gimmickry that has taken away our ability to converse with one another? What used to be an inspiring argument with a professor whose legacy has vanished has been replaced by such great minds as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others of like ilk who have, at the end of the day, given us the wonders of electronics that have created a reverence for the silence of texting, twitter, facebook, iPads, iPods, staring blankly at a computer screen, and all that only serves to further insulate and isolate us from being cognizant of an unnoticed world that is all around us, and being an active participant in a life made up of real human beings. It has made us impervious to the suffering of all those who keep sinking further into the mire of life and drowning, ever so slowly and painfully, into the hopelessness created by all of those we now revere and who feed on the very essence of the poorest and least advantaged among us. We envy their vast fortunes based on creations that are destined to revolutionize the world one day and consign to the dust bin of obsolescence the next. At the end of the day all they have amassed is money and more money, most of which is acquired by plundering nations of their resources and exploiting the human condition of a population that has no choice but to work for a pittance in order to survive. They are the idols of today that, rather than emulate, we should fear. Their sheer gluttony may well, before it is ever satiated, simply consume the last vestigial remnants of what exists for the survival of this planet and the human element that depends on it for life.

They will have created a legacy that is nothing more than a wasteland of what once was and a can never be again. I don’t discount that as a possibility one bit.

Stop and think for a minute. How are we better off today than we were when the “Occupy Wall Street” movement was in full bloom? Do you recall how they were marching in the cities, demanding that the system be more equitable for the benefit of all? What happened to them? Do you see them anywhere anymore? Do you recall how the local and federal police were pressed into service, not to protect their right to engage in peaceful protest, but to protect the darkest and most sinister interests of those who brought this country, and indeed a large part of the world, to its economic knees?

Are you aware that MSNBC is a joint venture of General Electric and Microsoft? Who is beholden to them and all they covet? The people of this country? The system of government upon which this country was built? The resources that belong to all of us? The spirit and very souls of all those who look to them to make our lives better?

Are you aware that banks and financial institutions are making more money now than ever before? How does that square with you? Are you aware that corporations are making more money today than in their history, and that they are sending more of their ill gotten wealth to foreign tax havens in order to avoid their rightful obligation to share the burden of responsibility for keeping this country viable for all of us? Are you aware that, thanks to Bill Clinton and his emancipation of big business from its responsibility to the people who built this country that free trade is now sapping the very life-blood and vitality from an economic system that was to be there for all of us and future generations? Where did those resources go? It sure as hell isn’t to be found in the public treasury.

Where is the investment in that much-touted “infrastructure” our illustrious President has been “selling” for years? I am beginning to think it is nothing more than a cruel illusion. His real attention is, instead, directed to the scions of Wall Street, corporate capitalists, the massive military/industrial complex and a compromised and corrupt government bureaucracy that serves those who ply them with massive wealth and a favored status, all at the expense of the American people who they are sworn to serve, aka Eric Holder for starters. Then, there is the burgeoning secret side of government we don’t even know about. Therein lay the cadre of chief advisors and chief confidents. For whose benefit? How would you know?

What dominates our national agenda today? What should be issues of paramount importance to us all have, instead, become a cleverly created collection of issues to divert our attention from what reality is and the attendant cost to the country and the health of the nation. Not that most or all of them are not noble endeavors in their own right, but are they the most paramount of all that looms before us?

We have “marriage equality,” “immigration,” “gun control,” “sequestration,” “the problem of our national debt,” “the problem created by entitlements,” ad nauseum. However where, on our national political agenda, are issues such as addressing the persistent problem of massively corrupt banks and financial institutions that are “too big to fail? Where is the discourse on the obscene profits of big corporations and their very successful efforts at avoiding payment of their fair share of taxes to support the pressing and urgent needs of this society? Why have they gotten away with ignoring all those who have been chronically unemployed and disenfranchised because of the insatiable greed of industries that set themselves above the law, and now own and control the very political institutions that were put in place to serve us, the people who are the backbone of this nation?

Just take a few minutes to seriously listen to what spews forth from the mouths of Republican “leadership” and Democratic “champions” of the people. How much of that actually pertains to and addresses the real and pressing needs of this country. You could put it all in a thimble.

Like it or not, folks. We are a nation suffering from an endemic complacency and those who can spot it for their own benefit are wasting no time in capitalizing on it. Dream on!  When the sun finally sets on all this we, the people, will be the losers because we did not keep our hands on the tiller and our eyes on the road. We let it happen and, we may rest assured, it won’t be pretty. We are losing the very legacy that rightfully belongs to us and to those who will come after us. But, as long as there is fun to be had, passive entertainment to amuse us and unnecessary things for us to covet, we will be fat, dumb and happy.

When the sun sets on this sad state of affairs, we will be left with a wasteland of what they, the ones who have plundered this country, have deemed to be all they have decided to be our rightful lot in life. We will only have ourselves to thank for it.

Keeping in mind the fact that you no longer have Concorde as an option, ponder this. You are on a transcontinental flight and you have your choice of one of two seat mates; Bill Gates or Bill Moyers. Who will you choose?

I rest my case.

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
March 30, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

“Happy Days Are Here Again?”

Let’s hear it for all those who believe the lyrics made famous by Franklin Delano Roosevelt – “Happy Days Are Here Again.” For whom?

Let’s hear it for all the fat cats on Wall Street who have stolen this country blind, aided and abetted by a compliant White House and Justice Department, all the while disparaging the very ones who have been reduced to life at the subsistence level by their evil and sinister schemes and practices.

Let’s hear it for all the fat cats in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government who have, without a modicum of shame, sold out the very people who cast their votes and gave their contributions to those already in or seeking a place in government, ostensibly to “serve the people.”

Let’s hear it for all the corporate capitalists who have sold out the means of earning an honest living to slave markets around the world that have benefitted from their unbridled greed in order to make the most from those who have the least, at the expense of Americans who once labored in their service.

Let’s hear it for all those living in opulent splendor as their inherent right while countless millions wait patiently in lines at local food banks, soup kitchens and employment offices hoping for just enough to support life and limb for yet another day.

Let’s hear it for all those who disdain those of lesser means as “deadbeats,” “moochers,” and “lazy parasites,” etc. as they covet the body beautiful, abs of steel, perennial erections and pendulous boobs that border on the obscene, all symbols of what they consider as having made it.

Let’s hear it for all the millions of those who have infested our domiciles of government like a bunch of lobbying maggots, peeling the last vestigial remnants of flesh from the bones of those who have sworn to represent the people of this country.

Let’s hear it for all the corrupt and compromised businesses and industries that have systematically destroyed our economy, our environment and our very way of life, by a greed that knows no limits, compromising standards that have been put in place to protect the consumers of this country.

Let’s hear it for the predatory lenders who have impaled students and all those trying to better themselves, by the mountains of debt that would put the loan sharks of yesteryear to shame.

Let’s hear it for all those who have enough to keep their heads above water, but show no compassion for those who don’t, complacent because they know they have theirs and don’t give a rat’s ass about all those who don’t.

Let’s hear it for all those who have worked to destroy the legitimate voices of the working people of this country by demonizing and criminalizing labor unions and citizens activists that have done so much to level the playing field between what is “fair and just,” vs. what is utterly obscene when it comes to profiting from the backs of all those who made their fortunes possible. (Waltons, Romneys, Kochs, Roves, Limbaughs, and all other human vermin, are you listening?)

Let’s hear it for all those who feed our fears in order to snooker us into pouring vast amounts of taxpayer money into defense, intelligence and all the hardware that goes with it, so they can become rich while struggling masses of good and decent people go without the necessities of life.

Let’s hear it for all those who have convinced themselves that they are good and righteous members of “God’s Army,” who ply their perverted beliefs against those they have deemed to be less than virtuous, and don’t know a damned thing about what real virtue and Christian charity means. (Tea Partiers, are you listening?)

Let’s hear it for all those who have “made it” at the expense of the thousands of our nations youngest and fittest because of “an all voluntary military,” while they live in opulent splendor fed by the blood, sweat and tears of all those who have returned in caskets or are permanently disabled or maimed and cannot get the care and help they so desperately need.

Let’s hear it for all the agents of government who have turned our prisons over to “private enterprise” creating gulags of over populated institutions for crimes that should never have put them there, all for the almighty buck because they have no souls and don’t give one hoot in hell about the human condition.

Let’s hear it for all the so-called “entrepreneurs” who are making millions of dollars off homes that have been repossessed from those who struggled to make their payments just to keep a roof over their heads, or to have a place of domicile in their later years.

Let’s hear it for all the abandoned cities, closed factories, and the other domiciles of what was once the means to an honest living and a healthy way of life, all systematically destroyed by the collusion of a government owned by big money, a political establishment that can never get enough, and a way of life that is no longer viewed as fertile ground for a new generation that can restore this country to the greatness it once knew.

Let us not delude ourselves one more moment. We are a nation of one, coherent and corrupt government. Any difference between what we call “Democrats” and “Republicans” is purely academic. They are beholden to the same masters that do whatever they want to do, at the expense of the greater population of this country, and do so without an ounce of shame. Until we have the will and the courage to take back the essence of what made us great, we will continue to languish and, ultimately, perish in our own feces. We need to open the doors to all political parties, not just the two incumbents. We need to make the process available to all who might just have a better take on how to restore our greatness, and the honesty and integrity to make it happen. There should be no imposed limit on the number or type. It should be us, the people who are rooted in the soil of what we once knew as the United States of America. We are the only ones who should make those decisions for ourselves; the politicians and all their minions be damned.

Otherwise, about all we can do is bend over, grab our ankles and wait for that long ago promised “change we can believe in!” At the end of the day, is that what we really want? I don’t think so. We do have choices if we will just relearn the skills of critical thinking, not just blind beliefs, and the attendant courage to make it happen – our way.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
March 9, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

“The Average American Has Been Had”

Well, folks, the “sequestration” is now in effect. I don’t know about you but, frankly, I am sick and tired of bearing witness to all the people in this country who are getting royally screwed without benefit of kiss.

Anyone who is na├»ve or simply living in a state of self-imposed ignorance, and who would believe one word that emanates from the mouth of Barack Obama should seriously consider professional help. He is about as much a Democrat as Vladimir Putin. He is one of the “insiders” who is as beholden to big money, big corporations and the military/industrial complex as anyone who has ever sat in the White House. He knew, full well, what he was going to “cut” from essential programs the average person depends on, in order to endear himself to the Republican Neanderthals who pretend to act from virtue and appear to know what they are doing. He is like the Pied Piper who leads all those who want to believe he is the personification of the Second Coming by his lofty speeches and who will lead us all to the Promised Land. Many of those of a liberal bent will always follow him into the bowels of hell, with stars in their eyes, and knowing with certainty that he is what he professes to be. With just a modicum of effort, all one has to do is carefully listen to what he says and watch what he does to know he is doing exactly what the oligarchs, plutocrats, corporate capitalists and all those who are raking in millions from the favored positions they covet through largesse and political favors given. They are the very ones who have managed to convince all those who act from a base of “tell me only what I want to hear; not what I need to know.” What a bunch of bull crap.

Republicans and “faux” Democrats that comprise the elite among the “fat cats” that continue to rape the country for their own material gain have no shame, whatsoever. They are completely devoid of any sense of decency, honor or service. At the end of the day they are nothing but a bunch of political whores. Those with whom they have cast their lot ply their multi-faceted sides of sheer evil and operate within the triangle of unbridled greed and avarice that extends from Wall Street, to the “hallowed halls” of government within the boundaries of Washington, D.C., to the suburban environs of Virginia. It is where secrecy and questionable motives hold our fate in their hands, and that work overtime to convince us that the “boogey man” is just waiting to rob us of our freedoms and our way of life.” Guess what, folks? It is they who are doing a number on us, not the mystical evil forces we are led to believe we need to fear into perpetuity.

What we have fallen victim to since John F. Kennedy was assassinated is a government, an economic elite and a compliant news media that are the most amoral enterprises one could possibly imagine. How many times have any of those who are sworn to serve us made an honest effort to actually consult with some of the best economic minds that reside among us? How many times have they availed themselves of the wisdom of great philosophical, social and intellectual minds that might just give them better advice and counsel they need to make honest decisions on our behalf? Instead, they look to their political cronies who are totally bought and sold by the likes of the bankers, corporate capitalists and the oligarchs who have destroyed our economy. How many of that ilk have been indicted, convicted and sent to the slammer for their criminal plunder of what rightfully belongs to all the good and decent people of this country. Instead, they just continue to sap the life blood from the national treasury, enabled by agencies of our government and with the skilled assistance of the Federal Reserve.

There are a few dedicated members of Congress who sincerely strive to act on our behalf with dedication, honor and integrity. There is a distinct minority who is constantly engaged in an uphill fight to do what is simply right and just. They deserve all the help and support we can give them. They are the ones who know there is no crisis in national spending that requires what “King” Obama has wrought, aided and abetted by the court jesters in the Republican Party that keep trying to wring every last bit of life from those who labor in their service and yet try to be all that patriotic Americans strive to be. They are the ones, who deplore, with all the fervor in their dark souls, in what we have been taught to believe is a solemn responsibility to be shared by all of us. But those they seek to destroy are, also, the ones who have been demonized and marginalized. They are the ones who are labeled “socialists,” “rabble-rousers,” and “deadbeats.” They are the ones who have been reduced to a lifetime of living on the edge and consigned to a life of poverty, all because of those who have snookered us out of our vote so they can take care of their cohorts in crime at our collective expense.

There is far too much secrecy in Congress, the White House, the Pentagon and the vast bureaucracies that comprise the intelligence agencies that profess to serve us. They keep us under surveillance in the interest of all the elite institutions, and their pursuit of an insatiable greed; an appetite that can never be satiated. They are the once who keep growing, not for the common good, but to suppress those who go to the streets in protest against what is being done to us. They are aligned against all those who engage in nonviolent protest with a never-ending hope and a valiant dedication in order to make things right for our mutual welfare and the least among us.

I have absolutely no confidence in a government that is aligned against the majority of those who simply ask for what is fair. I have no faith in either of the two major political parties that have managed, rather effectively, to marginalize any challengers to their monopoly on the political process. There is no crisis that warrants what is called “sequestration.” It is nothing but a ruse that gives our illustrious President, the House of Representatives and the Senate all they need in order to cut back on programs that are paid into by and serve the common people. They seek to shift ever more of the nation’s wealth to the most evil and rapacious among us; the very ones who continue the plunder of all that rightfully belong to the American people. But, the tide ebbs and flows. I cannot help but believe that the day of reckoning is not far into the future.

The malady of congenital greed is chronic. They never get enough. It is that which will lead to their downfall and, eventually, that which will bring them to justice, albeit at a horrendous cost to this country and to those who believe in it. The chickens do come home to roost. When the tables turn, as they always do, I believe that it will bring out the best in all who have never given up hope. We will become a nation of better people. That seed of goodness is not to be found in the Tea Party. It is not to be found in institutional religions that hold out false promises, and make the most spiritually fragile become demagogues. It is not to be found in all that is beamed to us from corporate news media and the entertainment industries. It is not to be found in a government that has worked overtime to seduce us into believing they really do subscribe to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and all that this republic was founded on. It is not to be found in the darkest corners of corporations, banks, and other institutions that want nothing more but growing their share of the nation’s wealth at the expense of our environment and the common welfare. Rather, it is to be found within all who believe in and are willing to fight for what is fair and just, for all those who subscribe to a code of decency that makes it possible.

I honestly believe there are better days ahead, but we must become actively involved in making the changes that will bring that about. We must remain vigilant against the hucksters who never give up on a two-class society. It is they who thrive by feeding on the flesh of those they deem to be inferior and expendable.

So, let us never acquiesce to the dark and dangerous forces aligned against all those who seek to make this a better country for everyone. Let us join in a common effort to truly make this a country “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Let’s open the doors to all the genuine political parties that may just have better ideas and values that were abandoned, long ago, by the two major political parties that euphemistically call themselves “democrats” and “republicans.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s get money out of politics and give back to the people the power that is rightfully theirs to define what we expect from those in power.

The time has come and it is long overdue. Always believe, not in what you may hear, but only in what you can clearly see.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
March 1, 2013