Thursday, May 23, 2013

“Are These The Real Stars In Our Theater Of The Absurd?”

Every day I get up and brace myself for yet another dose of the sad state of affairs in this country being reported by the myriad sources of news. It is enough to want the sanest among us to seriously consider suicide just for the sake of the relief it would provide. Then, I am brought back to reality when I actually look at how all this has descended on this country and why it is still happening. That is when I make the transition from resigned despair to outrage. The root cause, in my opinion, is clearly due to the complete erosion of any sense of decency and integrity among those in high places, and further compounded by the prevailing complacency in the population at large. At best, it is a rare attribute among their masses.

There are certain “professions” that seem to have migrated to their ranks and have wasted no time in discovering the massive amounts of money and influence they can garner by simply chucking all of those old fashioned virtues over the side and becoming quite smug about their ability to manipulate others when conscience is no longer a serious or contentious issue in their lives.

I have tread the boards of this old earth for a sufficient number of years to have drawn some conclusions about some of the more “revered” and “honored” professionals upon which we rely to do the honorable thing for those they profess to serve.

I would have to say that those for whom I have developed the greatest disdain are those who have settled into the various classifications commonly subsumed under the classification of “lawyers” and the various derivatives thereof, none of which I regard as particularly virtuous or honorable. Just look at the sheer numbers of their ilk dominating every aspect of our government, in every branch, and the hoards of lobbyists (also attorneys) that schmooze them and grovel at their feet hoping to incur some ill-gotten gain by the use of loose and dubiously acquired money. Then, shift your focus on the barons of Wall Street and how many of them claim to be members of the elite club of those who would have us believe that their sole professional pursuit is that of justice. Give me a break. Let’s call a spade what it is. Justice, in all its forms, is far behind the ability of their kind to simply win at any cost, the rewards for which are infinitely greater than any misdirected notion of “justice.” Obfuscation, deception and feigned sincerity are their stock in trade. None are more adroit in their ability to master those dubious virtues of their “chosen” profession. One has to hand it to them. No other group is as skilled as they are when it comes to moving in and out of various fields of endeavor, applying those same attributes for a very handsome return. Because of that, they have managed to infect a broad spectrum of vocational pursuits in their endless quest for the almighty dollar.

Now, I will grant you that there are people among them who still have a respect for integrity and all the measures of that term. They are due the respect all of their kin would like to imagine they have. But, from my point of view, the garden variety “lawyer” or “attorney” doesn’t really stand for much other than his/her own aggrandizement in its various forms. It is whatever the traffic will bear, truth be damned.

Academic scholars in law hold a revered place among those in their profession simply because they have a commitment to the pure essence what they hold themselves out to be and their reverence for all that embodies. I suspect there are a few who might not pass the smell test, but we have to allow for some degree of imperfection in the interest of fairness.

Then, we have those chosen ones who sit on high and pontificate to all of us mere mortals who simply cannot comprehend or understand the nuances of all they have mastered in order to “sit on the bench.” One need only look at the purity and clarity of their decisions, arrived at through collegial discourse and contemplation, and the resultant weight of their “opinions,” which we digest without any serious question. You need only to look at the absolute clarity of the reasoning that put George W. Bush in the White House and bounced Al Gore out on his gazetzah. Then, if that wasn’t of sufficient profundity, we were treated to the wisdom inherent in their deliberations referred to as “Citizens United.” How is that for an encore? Wouldn’t you like to know how much the intrinsic reward for their collective wisdom was worth?

The sheer arrogance of those holding themselves out as paragons of objectivity and omnipotence when it comes to the law, automatically make them the most suspect among those who claim membership in the exclusive club of “lawyers.”

Then we have a whole host of sullied characters who claim membership in the financial industries, the worst of whom take shelter in the caverns of Wall Street and the vast array of corporations. I rather imagine the preponderance of them are lawyers of one stripe or another, but they have taken up residence with an entire cadre of thieves who boast some claim to knowledge when it comes to finances and financial affairs. They have managed to infiltrate entire empires of wealth and privilege, not to mention the various halls of government that we, the people, so naively believe are there to serve us. Tell me another one.

Some of the most egregious are those who have sought haven and massive wealth in the various sectors of the health care industries. I have had personal experience of sitting among the entrepreneurs peddling health care to an unsuspecting and trusting public, only to be exploited for every dollar that could be wrenched from their hands in order to procure the hope of a better life because of their promises given in exchange. For anyone who would have the slightest respect in and trust for what they get from this bunch, I have a great bridge at a bargain price for sale at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

On a more serious note, I am reasonably certain there are many good and decent people among the ranks of those to whom I have referred in this epistle. However, I would also hazard a guess that, for the most part, the preponderance of them are among the bottom feeders of one sort or another. It utterly mystifies me as to why we have entrusted this fragile Republic to their hands. The only time we see them for more than a twinkling is when they want our vote and, moreover, they do all they can to stack the deck so the greatest number of those who are likely to vote against them are disenfranchised.

They feed from the coffers and the meager savings of the taxpayers who seem to never give up hope that things will, indeed, get better. But, as soon as the votes are counted, the acceptance speeches are made and the convention lights are turned off, it is back to business as usual. They turn their attention to their real constituency and partners in crime, and plunder this country for all they can wring from us. They have stacked the deck in terms of untold trillions of dollars in crooked financial pursuits, defense spending and international trade agreements and have converted those dollars into personal fortunes and influence peddling.

They have taken ownership of the taxpayers’ money for Wall Street, corporate capitalists, and personal wealth and perquisites for politicians. They have laced the pockets of big money with outrageous payments for services at inflated prices to an unsuspecting public that only gets left holding the bag.

Despite the fact that they are among the bottom feeders in all this, at the end of the day, they write the rules for us, steal the money from us to finance those rules, and assault us when we protest their actions. It sure looks like the cart is clearly before the horse on these deals.

Why, I ask you, do we sit by in a vegetative and complacent state, and simply allow them to go on without even so much as a whimper from those of us who are the rightful owners and beneficiaries of all this democracy has to offer?

The fragile body of Lady Liberty is being sacrificed for the sake of the maggots that have been allowed to control every aspect of our lives. Isn’t it about time we stopped the merry-go-round, got off and demanded more of what is clearly ours, including all the attendant costs of doing business?

And we, once again, ask ourselves, “Who among us is getting screwed without benefit of kiss? It sure looks like it is rather self-evident if we will simply open our eyes and react with all the ire we can possibly muster. Nobody is going to do it for us.

As an ancient Confucian philosopher once opined, “It is far better to be pissed off than pissed on!”

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
May 23, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I owe all my loyal friends, acquaintances and curiosity seekers a profound apology. 

I subscribe to a monitoring service for my blog postings for what I hope will be a mechanism for keeping me organized and abreast of what I may be putting out there for an unsuspecting consumer public.  I would be less than honest if I did not acknowledge that I am interested in my readership, not only in terms of numbers, but in terms of the comments that are proferred, as well. 

What I write is a reflection of my own perspective on the world and world events.  I am not out to convert anyone to my way of thinking nor to inflict my own set of biases on those who may choose to read what I have written.  I place a lot of stock in integrity, in all its forms.  Beyond that, take it for what it is worth.  We all know that, if we want to be offended, there will always be a few out there who will be more than happy to oblige us.  I respect your perceptions of the world as as much as I would hope you would respect mine. 

Now, for the big cahunah!  I have been writing this blog since 2007, and the biggest mystery I have had to contend with is "where in the world are all those comments that seem to be missing?"  Well, folks, I have to confess that the frailties of my mind are such that I never looked in the right place for that information.  Today, quite by accident, I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat overwhelmed by the discovery of the repository of all the comments going back to 2007.  I was completely stunned at all of you good people who must have concluded sometime ago that I did not give one hoot in hell about what you thought.  I cannot think of one thing we can do to others that is more insulting than to completely ignore their good efforts on our behalf.  For that I am truly sorry and hope you will forgive me for what must surely be the increasing fragility of an aging mind!

On February 10, 2013 I wrote a blog titled, "Time Is No Longer Simply A Choice.," which I failed to post.  I took care of that oversight earlier today in case some of you might want to peruse it. 

Let me end this by stating, unequivocally, that you are a special bunch to me and, with the help of Providence, I will do a much better job of demonstrating that in the future.  In the meantime keep well, be happy and may the wind be always at your back.

Cowboy Bob
May 20, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

“When Is Enough, Enough?”

I like to think that I am a reasonably well informed person. I pay attention to what is happening in this country on all of the major news fronts. I regularly patronize major news personalities and news programs. But, when I pause and look around me and talk to people face to face, my impression of what is really going on in this country is vastly different.

I see a burgeoning lower class that is, more and more, dependent on charitable organizations just to feed their families, the bill of fare largely meager and limited in nutritional value. But I, also, see vast numbers of people who seem totally impervious to the magnitude of the suffering and pain that exists all around them. It is rather like, “as long as I have my needs met, screw you!” We demonize the poor and revere the rich and famous. Where are the values of kinship and concern within that group?

I see a population that has sunk so low into the perverse pleasures of hedonism and materialism that they appear to have no souls. Where is their outrage at what is being done to this country and all those who have worked to make this a “land of the free,” and a “land of equal opportunity” for the benefit of everyone? Rather, I am met with an endemic complacency and indifference the likes of which I would never have dreamed possible in this great country.

Why are we so indifferent and so calloused? Are we afraid of all the manifestations of power and influence we see around us? Fear manifests itself in many ways. One can be terrorized, but people can also be gripped by a fear that they will be deprived of all the creature comforts and pleasures they have become accustomed to, but cannot bring themselves to the point of seriously considering that there are more noble pursuits in life that serve a greater good.

There is no secret about the growing disparity between the “haves” and the “have not’s.” It is all around us. We are bombarded with news about how that disparity is growing. The rich ARE getting richer. The rich are squirreling away their vast fortunes in off shore banks, openly and with no shame. Every action of our government favors anything they might do to enhance their wealth, all the while sticking it to those who have the least.

Where did the naïveté come from that convinced us that a bunch of radical bible thumpers would better serve the people of this country than the corrupt politicians who have no constituency, save themselves and those who enable them to plunder the resources of the people while they are in office? Where else can this bunch of motley bastards go, work half time, enjoy the riches and perks of the elite of this country, and brandish the flag in our faces at every turn without the slightest shame? Who among us are the bigger fools?

Why have we given a free pass to the President who, since his first term, has consistently pandered to the wealthy elite and business interests of this country at the expense of working people? Why has he gotten away with appointing scions of business and industry to government posts that are, ostensibly, there to serve all of us, equally? Why have his chief advisors all hailed from the ranks of that same bunch? Why does he covet secrecy when he is cooking up deals that will put more money in their pockets and further reduce those who work for a living to greater poverty and deprivation? Why has he managed to pull off “deals” that were supposed to have been conceived for the common good, but have only served to enhance the wealth of the providers at greater cost to the consumers? Has anyone been paying attention? Do any of those aggrieved by his actions really care?

What happened to negotiated drug prices by the government in order to protect the interests of the people, but it is now the drug companies that have flourished in the wake of that promise?

What happened to the single-payer option that was supposed to level the playing field between the cost to healthcare consumers and the insatiable appetite for more money among the entire field of health care providers? Instead, we got “Obamacare that will, ultimately, prove to be just another scam that will demand greater and greater amounts of money and from whom? The consumers, who else? And for whom? The providers, who else? Let’s have another toast to the Chameleon in the White House based on a wide-spread and continued false belief that he is the chief advocate for the common people.

What happened to the Presidential promise to revisit the entire issue of free trade agreements because, ostensibly, the ones in place had failed to protect the interests of the American worker? Rather, he has only expanded the scope and numbers of such agreements for the benefit of international business interests, and at whose expense? The working Americans, who else?

Who does the great champion of the working people of this country look to for advice and counsel on economic and social issues? The best economic and public minds in the world residing right here in the USA? Not a chance. To the largest and most powerful corporations in the country, who else?

Why has this government, in all its branches, managed to so completely abandon the welfare of the people and so blatantly catered to the wealthiest and most self-serving interests among us? Why are regulatory agencies so starved for funding in order to police the inherent greed of business interests and preserve the health and welfare of the people of this country?

It absolutely boggles the human mind that the vast majority of the population of this country is so enamored of power, money and prestige that they cannot see that we have one political party in power --- and that is the Plutocratic Party of the United States. There isn’t one within the environs in and around Washington, D.C. that isn’t so compromised that it would be a stretch to even remotely believe they are representatives of the people in a democratic system of government.

Why do only the Democratic and Republican Parties have an exclusive grip on what in reality is an exclusive two-political party in this country? Why do we allow them to completely ignore the basic tenets of what is commonly known as “conflicts of interest” and lace their pockets with ill-gotten gains in terms of money, privilege and power, and to do so with complete abandon? Are we so numbed by their largesse at our expense as to actually believe they give one hoot in hell about any of us? Get real, people! They aren’t doing a damned thing for us. It is all about them and those who own their dark and tarnished souls.

As for the wide-eyed “Progressives,” I would suggest they get real and re-name themselves for what they really are – “Regressive.” Call your hero in the White House what you want but, a reality check quickly reveals him for what he is – an Elitist Democrat of the worst kind. And, I might add, that mind set permeates every aspect of those elected and appointed to government positions and the majority of the agencies ostensibly created to serve the governed, not those who govern.

This country needs a new and viable political party. It needs to be based on the virtues of honesty, integrity and service, and firmly rooted in the tenets of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those who serve government must clearly understand that their primary purpose is to serve the people first by cleaning up the mess in Washington, D.C., and fostering the growth of a new political party within each state.

I cannot believe there are not a few wealthy individuals who share the concern and have the wisdom to contribute funds, properly accounted for on a regular basis, to such an endeavor without them having their egos involved in any direct control, enmeshed with the purpose and work of the party. An arms length relationship to the party and a clearly defined conflict of interest policy should be the order of the day. Surely, given the number of blue-ribbon universities and colleges in this country, a group of economists, political scientists and constitutional scholars could be brought together to create and get a political party off the ground within a reasonable period of time. A point of departure might be by having conversations with Rocky Anderson, Buddy Roemer and the leadership of the Green Party.

We should, also, find out why there have been no organized marches on Washington and other environs, led by the leadership of various labor unions and activist groups. Where is the Occupy Wall Street movement? Why are people not “mad as hell,” and why aren’t they manifesting their grievances by engaging in peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience? Are they afraid that law enforcement agencies are too firmly in the pockets of the power structure so as to leave them hanging out? If so, let that be an issue.

I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley during the student revolt by Mario Savio and his following. I can attest to the fact that protest efforts by well organized and determined activists work. But, it takes a “fire in the belly” by dedicated agents of change and the idealism of youth. Martin Luther King became a legend because he believed in that power. Who is to say anyone can’t do the same with conviction, dedication, decency and a genuine will to remake this country into what it was intended to be?

How much more do the basic citizens of this country have to take before they say “Enough is enough?” If not now, when?

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
May 3, 2013