Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“Elizabeth Warren Is the Real Deal; Hillary Clinton Is the Great Pretender”  

We Americans are a strange lot in many ways.  For reasons that I cannot explain, we seem to have an ingrained need to create idols in our minds to which we ascribe the mantle of celebrity.  That in turn, gives them the license to engage in all sorts of deceptive behavior which we not only covet, we swallow hook, line and sinker.  I never cease to be disappointed in myself when I fall for that same line, and vow to be more perceptive in the future.  But, like so many of us born under the red, white and blue, that vow always seems to elude me.  So much for indomitable will and personal resolve. 

No one in recorded history was so taken by the persona of Barack Obama as when he gave that great speech to the Democratic National Convention.  I was absolutely certain that he was a leader that had been sent from heaven to save the world.  You have to admit, he gave new meaning to the word “charisma.” 

However, in the intervening years the luster has faded and I am able to see and hear what he is really all about.  He may look and sound good, but at the end of the day I am  persuaded those who have him pegged correctly are right.  He is a fraud.  He is nothing but an illusion of what we want to believe, not the real deal.  He is not a leader.  Rather, he is a seducer of those who want or need to use him for their own ends.  That explains why he is the darling of every huckster who wants to make a quick buck by sweet-talking the average American out of what should be rightfully his and passing it on to those who only get fatter and richer off of his ability to pander to those who simply want more from those who have so little to give.  And, moreover, no one ever calls him on it!

Look at how cozy he is with Jaime Diamond and his cohorts on Wall Street and in the financial sector of our economy.  Look at how he panders to the advocates of free trade, the oil and coal industries, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, big defense contractors, the fat cats who are in a race to ship their businesses overseas for the benefit of tax breaks that only accrue to the detriment of the working people of the United States. 

Look at his penchant for “privatizing” everything for the benefit of great wealth and unlimited power.  Just take a close look at what he has managed to engineer for our prison system and education.  Now, I ask you, how are we better off because of those bright ideas?  Prisoners are used by the state for cheap contract labor and our children are given an inferior education all in the name of making more money for those whose greed knows no limits.  Look at the sad state of the entire infrastructure of the country so billionaires can pay less in taxes and shift the burden of public services, more and more, to the taxpayers.

I was mesmerized by the recent line up of the richest people in the United States, how they are giving most of their money away, not for the benefit of the taxpayers, but so they can control how their money is spent for the “common good” whatever that means.  It may have been their money that was going for a greater good, but you can bet your bippy they will have managed to maintain absolute control over how that money is spent, and I seriously doubt it will be for the common good!

One of the great benevolent billionaires of our time, Warren Buffet, who now owns one of the largest rail systems in the country (BNSF) is sending trains down the Columbia River Gorge and on to the pristine environs of the Northwestern West Coast, as far as the eye can see, all loaded with petroleum and coal destined for Asian countries.  I rather suspect he will be perceived as the entrepreneurial genius he has become, all because the polluting energy will not be burned on our soil and polluting our atmosphere but, rather, that part of the equation will occur halfway around the world.  The prize in all this is the ability to boast that the pollution is the fault of the consumer of those products.  All we are doing is making a quick buck from the process – the spirit of free trade.  Give me a break!  But, the local politicos are just lapping up the promises and the prospect of “bringing jobs to the Northwest.”  Go figure.

The latest to catch my eye is the current search for a permanent home for the Obama Family when it finally becomes reality that they have managed to funnel all they can respectably take after the mantle of “President” sinks in for the long haul.  It is reputed they are looking at an opulent place in Rancho Mirage in the California Desert that would be fitting, not so much for what they are but what they have become.  The place they ostensibly have in their sights used to be the luxurious residence of the Annenberg Dynasty, one of the richest men on the planet at the time he built it.  But, I supposed it would be asking too much to expect the newest graduates of the White House to settle for anything less.  But, they do like money, power, prestige and prominence, don’t they?

Bill, Hillary and the cadre of adoring admirers that became the legion of power and influence during their years in government were great mentors for the Obama’s.  The mere fact that they would select the Arkansas alums and their lot for their role models tells us all we need to know.      

Let me pose a few salient questions for us to contemplate:

1.                  Wealth and power do not equal preferential treatment at the expense of the common good.
2.                  Elected officials are there to serve the people; not vice versa.  They work for us and they should take their marching orders from us!
3.                  The cowboy mentality and renegade posturing we revere and emulate do not make us any better than the rest of the world, despite what we may want to believe.    
4.                  Republicans are not ordained by God.  They may think so but, at the end of the day, they are simply intoxicated by some false belief that God is on their side. 
5.                  Democrats do not have a corner on what is deemed progressive.  They just like to think so but, in the end, all that gives them is the license to steal less conspicuously than Republicans. 
6.                  Words and phrases that may suggest a common good and a common future are not subversive nor do they undermine the viability of the country.
7.                  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as vulgarity and poor taste.  Just because Mommy and Daddy think there is something magical about their private parts does not make it so.  There is such a thing as human decency and good behavior that trumps that myth. 
8.                  Money does not make the person.  The person makes the money and it is for the good of everyone, not just a select few who have managed to delude themselves into believing that it gives them preferred status in society.   
9.                  To work harder, longer hours and for less money does not diminish the stature of those who labor under those conditions.  They have just as much merit in the eyes of Our Creator as any other human being.  Work is honest and noble.  Stealing, pillaging and plundering are not. 
10.              Democratic Socialism is not a dirty term.  It is a democratic form of government that is there to serve the people and to make society a better and more equitable place to live.  The Scandinavian Countries proved that a long time ago and it remains one of the most viable and sanest forms of government in the world today. 
11.              This planet we fondly call “Mother Earth” belongs equally to all of us.  No one has squatter’s rights despite harboring a false belief that they do. 
12.              We are here as custodians of this country and all it has to offer its citizens.
13.              We are not here to save the world at our expense.  That is a common obligation we share with others, equally. 
14.              Wishing will not make it so.  Hard work, integrity, decency, honesty, fair play, and a common concern for each other will. 

In the final analysis only the collective “we” can make this one of the “Greatest Countries on Earth,” as can every other citizen of every other country can and should do for themselves.

Frankly, I think our system of government has outlived its usefulness.  It is not there to serve us all, equally, but to facilitate the dubious ambitions of those elected to office by those who still harbor the notion that there is such a thing as “equality.”  The only solution I see as realistic and feasible is a complete review of what we actually have compared to what was intended, and then we set ourselves to the task of righting the wrongs that have occurred since 1776.  Ambition not withstanding, it could and should be done.  The question is are we up to the task and are we up to the cost of making it a new reality for the welfare of all of us?     

Given what I see as a prevailing malaise that is endemic within us as a once determined and proud people, I seriously doubt that we have the will or the means to be sufficiently honest to set ourselves to the task and make it really happen.  Perhaps the pundits that see nothing but folly in that notion are right.  Maybe our reality is that while we may be watching Nero tune his violin yet again, our modern day Rome is in the process of simply preparing to incinerate itself all over again and right before our very eyes.  Then what do we do? 

By turning against each other and ourselves we may be setting the stage for the Great American Dream to simply evaporate before our very eyes.  That would be the ultimate tragedy, wouldn’t it?

Which of the two would best fit in the Oval Office?  Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton?  If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Walt Disney said it best; The Lady and the Tramp.  Nothing more needs to be said. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

July 23, 2014    

Monday, November 3, 2014

“Time for a Government by and For the People; Not Just the Rich and Powerful”

We had a long, hot and dry summer this year, which is unusual for the Pacific Northwest.  But, the autumnal rains are back with us and refreshing this part of the world as only they can.  It is nice to step out the door and have the misty rain brush my face again.  It has a way of saying that the world is still turning on its axis and, yes, there may still be hope for the human race that may yet salvage that which we seem to have done so much to destroy.  Yet, so much of what we see and hear, the pursuits of modern man to own and consume more than is humanly possible, plus the panoply of trash, vulgarity and the exploitation of the human race that passes for entertainment gives pause to stop and rethink that fleeting moment of faint hope.

Given all that swirls around my head tells me that all of what we savor in this modern-day world is only a cruel illusion.  It only has the appearance of getting better and will soon fade from reality to be replaced by something even worse.  What once used to shock us now entertains us.  What used to instill confidence and trust in us is now scorned as something from a bygone era that has no relevance to what we covet at the moment. 

We routinely accept as commonplace that which used to stun the average person.  Moral standards used to govern our behavior which made what we were acceptable, noble and an example for others to emulate.  Now, anything goes.  Nothing shocks us or is off limits.  It seems to be whatever the traffic will bear.  It doesn’t matter how toxic it is, so long as it has popular appeal.  All I care about is if it is selling in the broader marketplace.  I have to have it; I want it.  Tell me, not what I need to know, but what I want to hear and, moreover, what I must believe in order to be a part of the “in crowd” at the moment.       

The most egregious of all is, of course, the conduct of those who covet great wealth, the entire political establishment and the insatiable greed, the preponderance of which they all covet without limits.  They belong to the same club that enables all of the others to pillage and plunder with no shame.  I suppose, however, that as long as you are doing nothing worse than those who make up your moral, social and economic strata there is probably little left to shock anyone.  So, why not go for the gold?  Who is going to care?

The most powerful and least expensive option we the people have to use at our disposal is the vote.  Somehow, there was little real interest or a genuine commitment to participating in that exercise this year.  There seems to be a malaise among us that has dulled our senses and any feeling that we have the power and will to do something about what is happening to us.   The forces of evil that are hell-bent on reducing the majority of us to a status little more than that of indentured servitude appear to have won without so much as a whimper from those they seek to enslave by their greed and total disregard for the common good of the country and, yes, all of those who have and continue to work for the welfare of us all. 

We seem to have reached the point where we have either failed to reign in the excesses that hobble us in our efforts to make this a better country, or have simply chosen to let them win the war with only a faint hope that they will do the rest of us justice.  Now, I ask you, just how naïve is that?
In more years than I can accurately count, the series of administrations and governments in Washington, D.C. have simply set in motion the means to plunder the wealth and resources of this nation for the welfare of the super-rich and for those who don’t even slow down in their pursuit of garnering as much of the nation’s wealth as they can for themselves, while taking care of all those who want to dismantle our industrial base, ship it overseas and leave the rest of us without jobs and the means to make a better life for those we love and cherish, all of whom are dependent on our labors.

We, the people of these United States, have been betrayed by all of those who campaigned for the offices they hold, and they have made solemn promises to all of us who cast votes for them with the sincere belief that they would be people of their word. 

The Presidency betrayed us.  Every member of those administrations sold out to big money, large corporations and their interests, investment brokers and big banks at the expense of those who believed in them and supported them in our names.  Not one of them went to prison for the heinous crimes they committed with total disregard for what they were doing to us, and plundering our resources in order to do it.  Since then it has only gotten worse and, with all we see before us, it is only going to get worse.  They totally disregarded their oaths of office and set themselves to the tasks of pillage and plunder of all we had in order to build a better future for us and for the welfare of the country.  The two most notable alumni from those years, Bill and Hillary, didn’t even slow down their quest to further enhance their spoils and the good life that was before them.  Yet, those who fail to take the time and effort to study them and their history still adore and revere them.  Hillary for President?  The wide-eyed liberals who are on that track better wake up to reality before the bell tolls on that one! 

In my opinion, the most glaring and worst betrayal of the American people and the government institutions they have built and supported, historically, has to be the Supreme Court.  If I had to fault one aspect of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers it would be the naïve notion that, somehow, lifetime appointments were good for the country.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that is stacking the deck against us, the people, by not insisting on term limits for the robed elites who have totally decimated any notion of meaningful “checks and balances,” by their blatant disemboweling of our election laws embodied in Citizens United, for starters.  I shudder to think what may yet be coming down on our heads that would further chain us to the oars in the lifeboats in our next futile attempt to keep the ship afloat.  Don’t hold your breath.  Compassion and charity appear to be two of the characteristics least likely to be seriously considered in their collective efforts on behalf of the American people.  Lifetime appointments simply work to the detriment of the governed.  It is time to rethink that folly.

No Democracy can work effectively for all the citizens of the country unless everyone pays their fair share of the taxes that support our common efforts.  Joseph Stieglitz and Bill Black, two veterans in the field of Economics and distinguished scholars have both made that case extremely well. 

Another chronic error we make, as a people, is the ingrained laziness so many of us have that precludes any real effort on our parts to know what is going on by applying a bit of hard work to understand the issues of our time, rather than simply seeking nothing more than telling us what we want to hear.  It just isn’t that easy. 

I would be quite surprised if a national survey did not reveal that most people in this country actually believe there are only two political parties; Republicans and Democrats.    Did it ever occur to any one that they both work, hand in hand, to lace the pockets and confer power, equally, into the pockets and coffers of both of those parties, all of which we pay dearly for each and every day of our lives, while they, being the fat cats they are, only get richer and garner more perks at our expense for the lives they lead?  It happens all the time and no one seems to give a toads bottom that it never stops! 

Just take a breather for a moment.  Can you imagine what it would do for this country if all the money that the privileged and bandit classes in Washington and New York skim off the spoils of what they have at their disposal (and with our tacit approval) were applied to rebuilding the infrastructure of this country?  Moreover, can you imagine what it would do towards dispelling the concerns about climate change and global warming that are coming down on our collective heads at meteoric speed because of our persistent state of denial about those two issues?

Did it ever occur to anyone that the United States of America may not have all the answers to the salient questions of our day?  Did it ever occur to any of us that there may be better political parties and collective ideas to solve our problems that we have not taken the time and effort to study and seriously consider? 

Has it ever occurred to any of us that our renegade mentality and self-styled notions of superiority have only further deluded us into thinking we are the only ones in God’s Creation who might have a better idea or two on how to produce a better mouse trap?

When are we going to wake up to the fact that the world is not just about ME AND YOU, but about US? 

There can, and should be, more than just two political parties.  There should be a panoply of ideas for better ways to accomplish all we want, that would serve us all better and be more efficient and effective than the smorgasbord we suffer each and every day of our lives by catering to and pandering to the hoards of thieves we now defer to as our “government” such as it is. 

Did it ever occur to any of us that the Scandinavian Countries have more effective governments that serve all the people, yet still have the wherewithal to support viable economies and social programs for the benefit of all their citizens?

I don’t think it is out of the question for us to look beyond our borders and see how others address and solve many of the similar problems we face each and every day.  And they do it by taxing everyone and without the need for each of them to carry guns in their pockets.  It can be done!  Yes, the spoils of what we produce can be shared equally for the benefit of everyone without any one or a few “having it all.” 

We need to start with public financing of elections, a multi-party system and a fair and equal tax applied to everyone.  A further caveat on those few items might be to start divesting ourselves of the need to be protectors of the world and let a few of those others start fending for themselves at their expense rather than ours. 

Has not the time come to tax our brains rather than just stimulating our hormones?  I think so. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
November 3, 2014


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“That’s All Folks!”

Given a long and arduous problem with Century Link, plus some pressing family issues, it has been sometime since I sat down and wrote a serious blog.  For those of you who have persevered, I am honored by your loyalty. 

As I have witnessed the progress (if you can call it that) of the United States of America and where it is going to eventually lead us, I can understand why there seems to be a climate analogous to a state of apathy.  But, easy as it is to understand, there is a haunting sense of despair and hopelessness that I find almost frightening.  We seem to have given up on so many pressing and important issues which lead me to remind myself that nothing in this world is easy. 

As I survey the layout of every aspect of what this country is all about and what it is supposed to be doing for those who proudly call themselves “American,” I cannot help but ask myself, “Where has the real America gone, and for how long?”

There was a time in our history when we accepted that we had to face challenges from time to time but, on the other hand, there was always a sense that things would get better and we would be back in the swing of things.  That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore.

I cannot recall a time when we have taken such a cavalier attitude towards the manifestation of so many or the least virtuous aspects of our human nature.  People are murdered as if there is no conscience within the perpetrators.  Children and pets are left in motor vehicles with temperatures that snuff the life right out of them, by adults who know full well what they are doing.  There is no end to the crimes that are being committed, only to be summarily dismissed by those who bear the guilt.  The very moral fabric of what we have treasured and respected as virtues of mankind are no longer relevant.  It seems as if the credo we live by is, “Do whatever you want; who cares?”     

That we have a massively corrupt political and economic system is self-evident.  It is not subtle, it is blatant and we just seem to yawn, shrug our shoulders and say to ourselves and to those who will listen, so what is the big deal? 

Not one banker or financier has been tried and sent to prison for anything he did, and continues to do, in the wake of the last “great recession.”  None of them were held to account for their egregious failure to take appropriate action, supported by law, and to do all they could to act within the spirit of that law.  Instead, the taxpayers of this country were saddled with the cost of bailing them out, the political establishment passed legislation that was, at best, a very soft slap on the wrist and the green light to simply go after more of the taxpayers money!  Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, do you stand for anything?  You ought to hang your heads in shame before every voter and citizen of this country.  Instead, you live like fat cats and only lace your pockets with more money that does not, nor never did, belong to you.  Are we to presume that this is the prize for living the good life on the banks of the Potomac

Let us not forget the less subtle efforts of the likes of Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, the Moguls of Wall Street, the club of Billionaires and the legions of enablers in every corner of government in the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Supreme Court and the massive array of all the lobbyists and insiders, none of whom give a hoot in hell about the average American. 

Then there are the lesser known minions within the system, as well.  There are those who own and control the press, the electronic news media, the entertainment industries, plus the scions of business and industry too numerous to count. 

There is the monopolistic two-party system that has managed to convince the body politic that we are a real democracy of the people rather than the reality of the plutocracy of the super rich that own and control every aspect of our lives.  And we so willingly offer up whatever pittance they dare to claim as if they were somehow descendants of the deity that created the universe.

Wake up America!  Are you aware that two of the largest repositories of gold in the world are China and Russia?  And we think we are “the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth?  Get real.  How does that square with our mantra and the massive amounts of money that is squirreled away off-shore?  How does this fit with the fact that the plutocrats pay practically no taxes (thanks to those who so willingly aid and abet them in government)?

Why are working-class Americans and labor unions under constant assault because they want a fair share of the pie and the same considerations that are so willingly given to the super-rich barons that cry about over-taxation and the impending inability to compete in a fair market?  All of this as our infra-structure crumbles before our very eyes.  All this as they continue to ship jobs overseas while those who labor for a living sink deeper into the mire of poverty, rely on food banks to survive, go without healthcare and their kids are unable to get a better education because of the massively huge interest rates charged for student loans by the government.

Now, let us take a long and hard look at society, in general. 

Our appetites are created and fed by the huge and uncontrolled entertainment industries, the advertising businesses, the erosion of a moral base to guide us, millions of automatons who are no longer able to converse with one another as they clamor for the next electronic device from Silicon Valley so they can further numb down their minds and paralyze their brains. 

Basic reproduction, which we share with all other mammals, is no longer possible without the aid of chemical enhancements that will guarantee an erection on demand.  Moreover, we now have products on the market that will neutralize the odor of the feminine equivalent, no doubt so it will be more acceptable to those who have more exotic pleasures in mind.
Are you aware, as of now, that the new homes of today are, on average, larger than they have ever been in the history of the United States?  Just take the time to peruse the Real Estate Section in the Sunday Section of your local newspaper.

Where is our real commitment to saving the planet through more prudent use of carbon fuels?  Just look at the BNSF trains, owned by one of our most benevolent billionaires, transporting massive amounts of coal and oil from the East and Upper Midwest to the West Coast to be loaded onto ships for transport to the Orient, primarily China.  Do those who are doing this to our environment honestly think we buy into the notion that all of that coal and oil, burned in the Orient, will pollute only their atmosphere while ours remains squeaky clean and will do no harm to the air we breathe?  It may be pretty to think so but, as Scarlet O’Hara famously said, “Fiddle Dee Dee.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  And that, America, is just what we will do.  You can bet those getting rich because of this mindset already know what the outcome will be.  Meanwhile, this “greatest nation in the world” is crumbling right before our eyes.

This nation was created and sustained by the blood, sweat and tears of people from every corner of the world and every place on the globe.  Their blood was shed on domestic and foreign lands to ensure the survival and prosperity of this bastion of freedom in the world today, such as it is.  From my perspective it needs a tune-up and a reassessment of just how we handle and market what we have to offer to our own and to those from foreign lands. 

If all citizens are Americans, how come we have “Native” Americans, “White” Americans, “African” Americans, “Latin” Americans, and all sorts of other Americans distinctly identified by the countries from which they or their ancestors came, or the color of their skin?  Why are “White” Americans not offended by the absence of “Heinz 57 Americans?”  Why do we have and perpetuate this disparity?  Frankly, I disagree with those distinctions and I find it offensive by the fact that we use them every day just to separate those of color and other cultures from the vestigial remnants of those of fair skin who came here to expropriate the lands that rightfully belonged to those indigenous to what was already here?     

Why is it that those euphemistically referred to as “Indians, Redskins and “Native” Americans have always been relegated to remote areas of the country and to some of the poorest and least fertile land to be had?  Why have they, of all people, been isolated in remote areas and forced to live in squalid surroundings with little more than what was considered a “shack,” while others of European heritage were welcomed with open arms?  Why were so many of them forced to walk hundreds of miles so their vacated homelands could be re-settled by White Americans?  Why has their only chance for a quality education been relegated largely to missionaries, churches and other charitable organizations?  Why have their lives been located in some of the most remote and hostile geography in the country?  Why were they isolated and kept at a level of ignorance so they could be kept as second-class citizens better known as “savages,” with little or no opportunity to be integrated or exposed to those referred to “Whites?”  To this very day the majority of them are living in isolated parts of the country known as “reservations.”

(I am still inclined to believe that there is something to the notion that the Indian Service harbored a secret agenda to ultimately render them irrelevant so they would not have had to be reckoned with, and the spoils of what they claimed as theirs would be there for the asking.)  We have done as bad or worse more than once in our history.

There is no economic base from which to forge a decent standard of living and the skills needed to compete in today’s modern world.  Where are the resources, knowledge and means from mega-corporations to lift these people from the poverty that has become the only life they have ever known?  Or were their jobs shipped overseas to cheaper labor markets so the tribal leaders could make more money by contracting them to foreign powers? 

Who conceived of the idea of bringing “Bra ceros” into fertile pockets of agriculture in the United States to work long hours in blistering environments, forced to live in makeshift shelters, paid a mere pittance so a more affluent and distant part of our society could enjoy some of the finest produce grown and available at bargain prices?  Who among us made the fortunes that came from the backs of not only the adults, but the children, as well?  Why did we come to resent them just because they felt they deserved a better share of the spoils?  Who said this was not and is not “slave” labor?  Moreover, why did our own government not prohibit this blatant exploitation of the human condition?  Where was the hollow oratory in Washington, D.C. condemning the way they were treated.  Moreover, where was the hue and cry over the massive amounts of money they made for being good minions to those who put them in office?

Who, I ask you, coined the phrase, “Liberty and Justice for All?”  When one reflects on that for just a fleeting few moments, it has a rather hollow ring, doesn't it? 

From my perspective, all of those who live in lavish homes, drive luxury cars, live sordid lives, engage in all sorts of obscene and vulgar behavior contribute very little to the common good of this country.  Their primary fixation seems to be more on what they appear to be rather than on what they are.  Image is more important than substance. 

If we are to become what we allege to be for the consumption of the rest of the world, we have a lot of work to do.  We need to be what we say we are, and we must disparage that which we abhor.  We need to have a sense of basic human decency; a sense of what is right vs. what is wrong.  We need to be less moved by what others think and do than what we know to be honest and what we know to be just.

I can empathize with the hoards of people crossing our Southern Borders, seeking a better life.  But I am disturbed by those who claim a higher purpose in life and summarily dismissing the cost to our country, our economy and our way of life by ignoring that there is no bottom to the cornucopia (translated to mean, “As long as I have mine, I can afford to claim virtue by championing those who have nothing.”

For those who seem to have conveniently forgotten that a price was paid, many times over, for what we hold near and dear to our hearts in so many ways, and take for granted every waking moment of our lives.  They need to take all of those who sneak across our boarders to savor the “free lunch” here for the taking, so they can take an excursion in order to view the thousands of graves created by the carnage of WWI and WWII all across the globe.  Then tell them that is the price for what they are trying to savor, but for which they have never paid the price.  Remind them that they need to go back to their countries of origin and do what it takes in order to pay the same price for what they want from us free gratis. 

There is a limit to how much of our national resources we can summarily give away at the expense of all of those unseen and lesser beings in our ranks who live from paycheck to paycheck, if they are lucky, or far less if they are not.  How much longer can we delude ourselves into believing “it will never happen to us?”  We have no alternative but to take care of the least among us first.  That should be a given.     

Perhaps our massively huge, bloated and wealthy corporations whose gluttony is never satisfied, plus the military/industrial complex, could pony up the spoils from their favored position in our economy to support the cost of what it would take to change all of the despotic dictatorships into bastions of freedom for all of the citizens of their country.
I dare say all of those who have been out of work for more years than they can count would favor such a move.  Then let us not forget all of those who frequent food banks, shelters for the homeless and displaced, students who are and continue to carry massive debits in order to pay for a college education that should be rightfully theirs as a birthright. 

We could probably afford a national health system that would be the envy of the world.

We could probably afford a real social security system that would sustain those who have worked a lifetime only to be allocated a pittance in order to eek out a living in our world of monumental growth in fortunes, personal wealth, corporate power, and corrupt financial and investment institutions.

We could probably afford a cesspool of all kinds of diversionary activities that range from visceral pleasures, getting legally stoned on a buffet of hallucinogenic drugs and other mind altering substances that convince us we are something we are not.

There would be no limit to the number of “name brand” items we could afford, more house than we need, the latest energy-inefficient motor cars that we covet, not for transportation, but for the sheer hedonistic joy of being able to flirt with the notion that we do, indeed, have it all.  We can and will be able to rest assured that those who have less will be green with envy at all we have.  What more could one want?

We could live a life of complete indulgence, the limits to our decadence and depravity be damned.  We could even re-define our deity on our own terms and in keeping with what we have become.        

In the end, we could mock every symbol that might convey a sense of morality, decency and equality that we have ever known.  The world would then be ours.  We could indulge our every appetite with abandon.  We would be all that we ever wanted to be and we would not have a clue as to how to right all those wrongs that have come back to not only haunt us, but to own our very souls (for those who believe in such things).

Then, as in days gone by, the curtain would come down and we would see ………………

“That’s All Folks”


The end

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 30, 2014              



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“Freedom Taken to the Extreme Becomes the Barbaric State: Welcome to America!”

I cannot recall a time in my life when I have been witness to such an intellectual wasteland or the numbing of the human mind as has been set before us by the need for the American people to be passively entertained and the conscious choice to live in a state of self-imposed ignorance.  That is not only pathetic, it is an indictment of what we could and should be as a people.  Has not the time come for us to revisit the joys of original thought and dismiss the trite and meaningless nonsense that we accept as “fun,” and pursue with such vigor? 

Permit me to list just a few of what we have incorporated into our daily lives. 

·        We willingly allow the oligarchs and those who serve as their minions in government and industry to pillage and plunder the wealth of the nation for their own benefit by fostering subservience from the very systems that should be there to serve the needs and interests of the people of the United States.  They own and control every branch and agency of our government, minimize and denigrate any actions that may be taken for the benefit and welfare of the citizens of this country in favor of reducing their obligations to society and reducing the needs of the broader social order.  The rich just get richer and the poor get even poorer.  That is the new mantra of what we have become.  If that is not really what we want for this country, then why in the world don’t we change the system, and reign in the excesses they claim and which are fostered by those elected to serve us, the people?  They pollute our environment at will while dismissing the warnings of science and the perils to come by their blatant greed at the expense of the planet.       
·        We have completely abandoned any notion that we, the people, have a solemn duty and responsibility to hold our government accountable to us for what they do for us and to us because they have set themselves above the law and the will of the people.

·        We have allowed Bill “Fellatio” Clinton, Phil Gramm, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Alan Greenspan to deregulate major financial interests in order to favor bankers, financiers and hedge fund managers at the expense of the American people and the viability of the financial institutions put there to better serve the body politic.

·        The Obama Administration bailed out renegade banks and other financial institutions at the expense of the taxpayers and at reduced rates of interest, for problems they, not we, created!  Moreover, he tacitly gave his approval for the massive and sustained “interest free loans” to failed banks by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

·        The Obama Administration has favored reduced rates on income tax and other forms of taxation for wealthy benefactors, the movement of offshore funds in order to reduce their tax liabilities and has favored big business, corporate capitalists and other entrepreneurs to further reduce their tax rates while the average American has labored to meet their tax obligations. 

·        The Obama Administration has favored big energy companies, free trade agreements and other forms of subsidies to various industrial enterprises, again at the expense of the average American.    

·        We revere and defer to the military and intelligence services as if they were royalty and touched by the hand of God.  To question them and their motives is almost an affront to the sanctity of all they profess to be and do for our collective benefit.  Sez who?

·        We have bought into the “privatization” of every conceivable kind of public service as inherently good, less expensive and far superior to anything that might accrue to our benefit by the efforts and work of public servants.  If so, why are the hucksters of the business and financial worlds in such a hurry to tap into that lucrative cornucopia of profit and greater wealth?  That just doesn’t compute. 
·        Why do we tolerate the massive cost of benefits and the loss of valuable time by our legislators so they can spend their time courting the favor of lobbyists, and taking vacations and excursions of various kinds at taxpayer expense?  While the “working” Americans and lower paid workers envy the perks they so freely flaunt, they turn a blind eye and go for even more.

·        Why do our elected government officials acquiesce to one-sided actions such as Citizens United by the Supreme Court, all for the benefit of those who claim their divine right of superiority to rig elections and the financing of those elections for the rich and famous so they can buy votes and the attendant benefits for the benefit of their insatiable greed and material gains?

·        Why is there such disparity in the funding of unemployment benefits, the minimum wage, student loan relief, etc. by the renegades sitting in the halls of the House and the Senate vs. what should be given to help all of those seeking honest jobs and bearing the responsibility for supporting their families with a living wage? 

From my perspective, our society has degenerated to a level where anything goes and we are not embarrassed or shamed by anything.  We are mesmerized by electronic gadgets that enable us to stare blankly into a hand-held device in order to “communicate” with others without ever having to talk, and to be passively entertained by every conceivable kind of titillating pleasure known to mankind.  How are we any better by ogling at girls with skirts up to the cheeks of their bottoms, the bare-chested and tight crotches of men’s clothing, and the use of gutter language as they emulate those who have managed to peddle that nonsense?  Do we really care to listen to a prolonged discussion about the private parts of human anatomy and the role those we are watching play in the entire scenario?  What does all that do for our sense of common decency and what sets us above the sewers from which it comes? 

We are a people who seem to find it attractive to use acronyms and other forms of abbreviated speech rather than proper language in order to carry on conversations.  We attach meanings to abbreviated forms of speech and react as if they were somehow subversive or vulgar, and convey some sort of disdain or prejudice by their very use. 

What comes to your mind when you hear the terms “Working American,” “Middle Class,” “Service Employee,” “Domestic Worker,” “Manual Laborer,” etc.?  Is there not more dignity to being a “Working American” than that of a “Senator,” “a Congressman,” a Consultant?  Where the former earns an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, the other earns his/hers by peddling knowledge of dubious value or by letting us know that he/she steals and deceives (with aplomb) for a living rather than stooping to that of a mere laborer.  Who are the more respectable and more noble in all this?   

What comes to your mind when you hear terms such as “Ivy League,” “San Jose State College,” “Junior College,” “Stanford University,” etc.  Does one strike you as superior or inferior to one of the others?  What does that say about you?

What makes a scion of Silicon Valley more valuable and respectable than someone who can fix your car, or build your house, or manage a cattle or sheep ranch, or serve you a well prepared hamburger in a fast food restaurant?  One works for a living and the other peddles technical expertise of a dubious value to society in general.  Both serve us in special ways and both are essential to a balanced life for all of us.  Why do we revere one more because he/she has money and the other is just a “working person?”

The nomenclatures we use by the names we attach to political parties convey a great deal about us and how we view those we put in public office.  What is the essential difference between a Republican and a Democrat?  Both are accomplished thieves and peddlers of all sorts of deception and manipulation that most decent people would find offensive. 

Did you know that the Presidential Debates to which we are subjected every four plus years are limited only to those who are candidates for the Office of President from the Democratic and Republican Parties?  Did it ever occur to you that is tantamount to a two-party political system to which we, the voters, are expected to subscribe?  Who deemed it a two-party political system to the exclusion of every other qualified candidate who may be seeking that office?  Why should the candidates from the Green Party, the Justice Party and the Freedom Party all be barred from participating in those discourses.  Might we, the voters, not learn a great deal more about who could and would serve us most effectively if we could hear their answers to the important and salient questions having to do with their occupancy of the Office of the President?  I would think so. 

Who deemed it appropriate that we should only have a limited number of political parties for any and all of our elections for public office?  I have never read where it was codified as the only option we were to have and, frankly, I think we (and the country) are the poorer for it.      

We Americans seem to have an ingrained disdain for any political party with the term “social” or “socialist” associated with it.  Somehow those terms connote some sort of subversive element that would surely undermine the purity and sanctity of what we currently have. 

For most of my life I labored by declaring my party of choice as the Republican Party.  With time and enlightenment, I came to my senses and shifted to the Democratic Party.  My greatest joy in that move was to have had the privilege of meeting John F. Kennedy.  I have had my moments with that political party, as well.  That discomfort has been largely created by the notion that, somehow, both of those political parties were more “American,” than others.  I no longer harbor that illusion. 

I now pride myself in being a “Social Democrat.”  A “Social Democracy” is defined as “a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means.”  That suggests to me that we have not done a very good job of using the proper nomenclature in the use of such terms and how they might apply to the greater society at large.  If the largest segment of our society is that of the “working” or “middle” classes, does that not suggest also, the greatest segment of our population is a social class?  If that is the pre-eminent class, then it seems logical for that class to be occupied by those who claim membership in the largest group of people dedicated to the health and welfare of society.  That being the case, then why should we be limited to just Democratic, Republican, Green, Freedom, and Justice Parties, all of which are minority parties.  Why should we not have a “Social Democratic” party that embraces the largest majority of voters having the greatest vested interest in a political establishment that would serve the greatest number of citizens?  It would seem to me that the Scandinavian countries have proven the case rather well.  What is to be gained by re-inventing the wheel?    

Moreover, why should any minority party control the institutions of government more than any other political party?  Would it not be more reasonable and logical for a socialist democratic party to represent the greatest potential number of voters in a system that is, ostensibly, there to serve all of the people?       
It seems to me that we could make a good start by revisiting the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, going back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by putting back into place the safeguards that were so wisely incorporated into our way of life.  We could start with a “free and unfettered press,” followed by well-regulated corporations, an impartial judicial system that served us all, equally. 

We should, and could, clean up the mess we have so we are a real democracy that we can all take pride in and have confidence in to ensure we are all, indeed, “equal under the law.”

Frankly, I am tired of the games our political, commercial, intelligence and military establishment play with us and the persistent wondering if we, the people, really are in control and are being heard, or if we are little more than sheep waiting to be led to the slaughter.

Aren’t you?

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher

September 2, 2014    

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Time Stands Still, But Winners Never Die"

Recipe for Cream of Garlic Soup
 When I was younger I developed a real love for cooking.  I devoted a lot of time to it and came up with quite a collection of recipes sufficient to fill a cookbook that never materialized, but good enough to draw the attention of the publishers of Sunset Magazine which was one of the best, if not the best, magazine for amateurs who loved to cook. 

With the passage of time, my life changed and other things captured my interest.  My time at the stove gradually dwindled in the face of other interests that were more important to supporting a family and concentrating on other professional interests.   

A week or so ago I met up with a gentleman who I had come to know in one of the local restaurants.  The subject of my interest in cooking came up and he asked about a soup recipe I developed that he thought was exceptionally good.  Interestingly enough, the recipe was published in a column in Sunset Magazine titled “CHEFS OF THE WEST.”  Without the required amount of humility and time on my side, I offered to give him the recipe.  Well, I scoured the house and every magazine on the book shelves but, alas, the recipe was not to be found.  I finally resorted to creating one without a clue as to what was in the original creation.  What I gave him and what I shared with a few friends was, to be honest, a far cry from what I had created many years before. 

Today, I accidentally picked up a stack of old magazines and, if you can believe it, one was the issue with a recipe listed in the May 1985 issue of Sunset Magazine created by “yours truly,” for Cream of Garlic Soup.  Now, folks, I don’t pretend to be a megalomaniac, but I would say that I lean more toward the reserved side.  This I can say, it is the best concoction I ever created in the kitchen and is light years ahead of what I gave to those few other unsuspecting folks, gracious as they all proved to be. 

So, what follows is the complete copy and recipe published in Sunset Magazine in May of 1985.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed finding it.  And, yes, I had a better fix on the joys of cooking then than I do now.

“If you have had an experience that took your breath away, here’s a dish to bring it right back.  Its creator resides temporarily in Saudi Arabia, but he’s a native of Ridgefield, Washington, and hence a bona fide Sunset Chef. 

His silken-smooth cream of garlic soup has extracted all that is good and kind in garlic and left out all that is not.  Even the garlic haters among our tasters found it delicious, with an indescribable, somehow comforting flavor that called for second helpings.

Candor requires us to admit that spouses detected garlic that evening.  Serve this soup in a company of good friends, but don’t eat it before visiting your dentist or trying to sell an insurance policy.

Cream of Garlic Soup

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic (4 or 5 large cloves)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans (10 ½ oz. each) condensed chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
¼ teaspoon paprika
Salt and white pepper
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

  • In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook until bubbly, about 1 minute.  Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly, and bring to boiling.
  • Stir in half-and-half and paprika; cook until hot.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, stir about ½ cup hot soup into beaten egg yolk, stirring,  pour egg yolk mixture into soup and serve. 
  • Makes about 4 servings. 

Robert S. Crowder (my real name)
Ridgefield, Washington

Alias Cowboy Bob

August 31, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

“What Is The Value of One American Capable of Critical Thought?”

What is the value of one American?  That varies from one individual to another and one moment to another in time.  It is whatever that one American’s vote is worth that puts just one person in office and in a position to exploit the system to his/her own advantage.  It just takes that one American to create what will, in turn, give unlimited power and privilege to that vote seeker which will put him/her in a position to claim all the spoils provided by the American taxpayer to a system of government that will promptly forget how he/she got there and lose sight of the fact that he/she is claiming the right to spend what has been entrusted to him/her as if all of it is a rightful entitlement to be disbursed as he/she may see fit, all at the expense of all those whose vote has been so freely given. 

I watch a lot of news programs about every conceivable aspect of what our government and all those who comprise that dubious manifestation of all those who profess to be doing something for us rather than to us.  They really do believe they are the anointed ones and Mr. & Mrs. America are nothing more than nameless and faceless conceptual creations that are there to do whatever they may deem their rightful prerogatives, any accountability to the benefactors be damned.  We, the American people, are nothing more than enablers to those who see the government and all its real benefactors as theirs to do with as they please.  You can bet that none of those who bothered to go to the polls will count for one scintilla of what public servants will do with the trust we have placed in them. 

Those who go to Washington, D.C. on the strength of our votes and our tax dollars have no shame at using what we have entrusted to them for their own personal ambitions, in whatever forms they may chose to take.  They almost appear to become intoxicated by their newfound membership in the club of the elite and powerful.  They will now rub shoulders with the 85 per cent comprising the super rich who claim, with no shame whatsoever, an amount of money that is equal to that of the bottom 3.5 billion people in the entire world!  I would hazard a guess that it would be close to, if not impossible to identify any one of them who sees what they have taken with such abandon as anything to which they were not rightfully entitled, the source of their obscene wealth being totally irrelevant. 

While the common person, under penalty of law, gives to the government, ostensibly for myriad services that serve the common good, it is freely taken from them and re-channeled to the many vested interests who are the real benefactors of our government’s largesse to all those who grease the hands of those who do their bidding, more often than not at taxpayers expense. 

How did we come by a two-party system that, for all intents and purposes, is essentially the same?  They impoverish the bottom tiers of the population and pass their tax dollars to those in the form of tax relief to the very rich, bailing out banks and financial institutions that have pillaged and plundered our nation’s economy.  They, in turn, pay less in taxes, engage in monopolistic practices and operate with fewer and fewer regulations ostensibly there to protect the consumer public.  They operate in secret, make backroom deals and spy on us at will.  We, in turn, live in a flat-lined economy while the coffers of all the plutocrats simply bulge ever more with each passing handout from Uncle Sam. 

Those we have elected to office, meanwhile, engage in ritual waling and gnashing of their teeth because our national budget is out of control and we are overspending!  Alas, alack!  What misfortune faces us now?  Those of us who pay our taxes and live at the bottom of the food chain with barely enough to feed our families and pay our bills see what few social benefits we have evaporate right before our eyes.  Where has the unemployment insurance gone that was created to help those of lesser means to weather downturns in the economy?  Where have the food stamps gone that were put in place to help the least among us get through the tough times with barely enough to put food on the table for our children? 

What has happened to all those young people searching for a means to get into and graduate from college so they, in turn, just might have a shot at the American Dream by becoming a cut above all those living on a minimum wage?  Just ask any one of those aspiring professionals how much of a burden they are carrying and the constraints they live under for having taken the money from the government to finance their educations?  Is there any hope that their burden of debt will ever be paid off?  Then, just for the sake of watching the shock on their faces, ask those from the Ivy League Schools and environs sometimes frequented by the likes of Barack Obama how they managed to get through the system unscathed and financially sound?

Let’s face it, those who enjoy the most from all of those who have the least are the corrupt and compromised members of banking, law, hedge fund management, founders of successful companies, entertainers, senior managers and other scavengers who sit on the sidelines hoping, just hoping, one of the big boys will throw them a crumb once in a while in exchange for their loyalty and support. 

Call it what you will, but this country is owned by those of means and all those who serve them.  They are the wealthy, the privileged, the news media, the entertainment industry, the military services, the intelligence community, the military/industrial complex and all of those of lesser stature who all routinely engage in feeding frenzies at the public trough.  Those who shape public opinion and appetites in their favor are the complete antithesis to anything resembling a democratic system.  It is a myth to think otherwise. 

Personally, I think the entire fable of how this country was founded is questionable.  How many of those so-called “Framers of the Constitution” were men of modest means?  How many of them lived in mansions on plantations and owned slaves?  How many of them lived on Elm Street and drove a one-horse carriage to the office every day?  How many of them worked by the sweat of their brow and supported a family living at the subsistence level?  How many of their philosophical progeny now work in the halls of government with the avowed purpose of limiting all forms of “democratic” behavior that has the potential to impede the continued exploitation of all that rightfully belongs to the American people?

Frankly, I see little difference between the “Conservatives” and the “Progressives.”  The former seems to have God on their side on every issue.  The latter seems to have an “enlightened and informed” view of society on every issue, as well.  The former operates from a base of divine enlightenment and the latter operates from their concept of what constitutes a perfect world.  Both groups seem to have plenty of money and privilege at their disposal.  It must be rather easy to leave all that behind and return to the comfortable surroundings to which you have become accustomed.  It is quite a different thing to take a stand and fight for what you know to be right and just.

At the end of the day we have Fox News to keep one side happy with the knowledge that they really are right all the time.  On the opposite side we have those who are secure in the knowledge their view of the world really is on the side of all those who are continually exploited by the system in one form or another.  If that doesn’t beg the question of having a multi-party system, I don’t know what does.  Both of what we have continually feed from the same troughs of corruption. 

We Americans, such as we are, always seem to be looking for something “different” to entertain us and to occupy our minds.  No sooner were the Christmas trees taken down and the liquor bottles put in the recycling bins than it was announced that Hillary Clinton was retaining one of the best political packs to launch her bid for the White House in 2016.  The euphoric exhortations from every corner of the Democratic Party, the White House, and the “progressive” community were deafening, almost to the point of hearing that she was about to be elected by acclimation.  This was just a reminder to saner minds that the entire spin machine was already in place to make sure she was the only viable Democratic candidate for President in 2016.  I don’t share that view. 

First of all, I perceive our two-party system as an accepted means of controlling the numbers of people seeking office and limiting their numbers to those who have already proven their prowess in how to play to the plutocrats that already own and control our system of government.  Their strategy is formulated and fostered by the club that seeks to further their own vested interests at the expense of the preponderance of Americans who will go to the polls and cast their votes in the next national election.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that the conduct and behavior of the Clintons in the White House, the Senate and the State Department are necessarily ancient history and should be forgotten, nor has the slate been wiped clean as their supporters would have us believe.  Bill Clinton’s conduct while President was reprehensible and he proved himself to be about as base and vulgar as one could imagine. 

From the tales that have circulated since she left the White House, Hillary could swear like a drunken sailor with the style and ease of a seasoned veteran.  She supported George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on going to war with Iraq and, frankly, I don’t think her performance beyond that has been particularly remarkable or impressive. 

The Clintons are what they are.  They are in it for the money, power and prestige.  It is a testament to their prowess and skill that they have managed to get as far as they have and to have burnished their image so an entire nation sees them as ready to mount the white horse and ride, triumphantly, back into the limelight.  They haven’t earned the renewed respect and admiration of the American people.  We have the right to a couple in the White House that has the stature of the First Family.  The Clintons dispelled any notion of such a perception a very long time ago and they have done a laudable job of keeping it that way.  We, as a nation, certainly don’t need a repeat performance from them now or any time in the future.  Enough is enough!

Each of us can make a difference but, in order to do so, we must revisit the merits and value of thinking for ourselves.  Critical thought is not yet dead.  The time has come to treat what we get from all the spin doctors what it is in reality; pure, unmitigated bovine scatology, hoping what they peddle for us to believe is what we will claim to know.  It has worked very well for them for a good long time.  Why should they be concerned about what we might discover now?

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
August 22, 2014       


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“Are We Witnessing The Unraveling of America As We Knew It?”

When one looks at the motley bunch we refer deferentially to as the Supreme Court, it should come as no surprise to anyone that our illustrious Chief Justice has made it abundantly clear that he, too, is a member of the plutocracy/oligarchy that has a stranglehold on our (ostensibly) democratic form of government.  Any illusions about where they stand on the issues relative to the governed of this country just flew out the window. 

But, let’s face it.  This country and all we profess and delude ourselves into believing about it being a “democracy” and the “land of the free” has just been proven wrong once again.  The villains who are disparaged by all those in high places still reside within the ranks of the “working class,” the “middle class,” and the “laborers.”  They are to be exploited and tolerated for the benefit of the greater good with whom we have entrusted the complete health, welfare and growth of this country.  We, the people, must bear the brunt of the blame for where we are.  We have become a people of “appearance,” rather than “substance,” and we are paying the price for it.  The visceral pleasures of life and the massive brainwashing that has led us to the Pollyanna style of life and hope we covet has worked.  We are now the product of the entertainment industries, the bill of fare offered to us by television, the numbness of our cranial tissue brought on by the myriad hand-held devices that have transformed what used to be thinking human beings into numbed-down automatons who have lost the ability to engage in original and critical thought.  Kaput!  It is gone and we are all the happier for it.  Anyone who could honestly believe that NBC and MSNBC give us anything but what is the bill of fare emanating from the creativity of General Electric is out of touch with reality.  Does anyone honestly think that Westinghouse is going to rely on CBS to feed us anything that deviates from the company line?  ABC never mentions its affiliation with Disney Enterprises, but you can bet your next pay check that, behind the scenes, Mickey Mouse and his cohorts are preparing and serving up to us what they want us to believe, not what we need to know in order to be informed citizens who can be trusted with the care of the greatest democracy in the history of the world.

CNN and Fox News?  Well, I suspect they are in it more for the income generated by their brand of notoriety than anything of substance and truth.  Thanks to Al Jazeera there may still be hope for a real news outlet.  The downside to that, of course, is who will bother to listen to their broadcasts.  Don’t hold your breath.          

Global warming?  It will never happen.  After all, history has shown us that this, too, shall pass and we will never feel the sting of all we have brought down on our heads.  The entire history of our faux-rich class has proven that we are immune from the realities of what lies ahead and all we have created by our own hand.  We seem incapable of operating from a base of principle.  Rather, we readily succumb to pretext.  That leaves nothing to move us to greater heights and a genuine common concern for what is in the best interests of all of us.         

The next big joke we have to ponder is the massive monolith of agencies we call our Federal Government.  Who, in their right mind, could actually believe there is a clean and genuinely concerned statesman among them, excepting those few who stand on principle and honesty?  The majority of them are much too preoccupied with stealing and lying to the electorate in order to lace their pockets with all they have come to believe is their rightful share of the pie for playing politician.  Who are their real constituents?  Need I even bother to ask the question?  The answer is self-evident to any seriously concerned citizen of the Republic. 

If one were to administer a means test to any of them, be it the House, the Senate, the White House, or the Supreme Court, their attention would automatically be drawn to Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Hollywood and all of the sprawling complexes dotting the country sides of Virginia and Maryland where so much of the real power and influence lie. 

I, also, cannot help but wonder why we have a sacrosanct two-party political system?  Who said we can only vote for a Republican or a Democrat who has been duly vetted and blessed by the political party with which they are affiliated?  What have the Green Party, the Justice Party, the Freedom Party and all the other minor annoyances played by fringe parties done for us?  What choice have we had to participate in a real election because of their place on the ballots so dutifully given to us when we venture in to go through the motions of really voting?  At best, it is a ritual, most of which has been stolen from us by the actions of the Supreme Court and the money machines of the oligarchs, plutocrats and corrupt benefactors that support the main stream political machines.  How much longer are we going to support and feign belief in this charade? 

Clearly, the White House is up for sale to the highest bidder and what has now become the cadre of oligarchic and plutocratic benefactors for whom the cost of favors from that particular residence is pocket change.  What, for example, do presidential advisors do for us other than negotiate the deal that will most benefit those who now own our Federal Government and all its key players?  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both show signs of having been accepted into the club that will only result in fewer jobs for Americans and more money for those who own the offices and the occupants that dutifully offer their best advice on behalf of those to whom they are actually beholden.  The resident of 1600 Pennsylvania is, I am sure, well paid for his exceptional performance as the water boy for the super-rich and powerful to whom they owe their loyalties.

To all of those who so naively believe we truly have a “Government of the people, for the people and by the people,” I have a very nice bridge for sale at a bargain price.  That, of course, hinges on whether or not the American Billionaires Club has not already dismantled it and shipped it overseas to be duplicated by slave labor so it can be re-sold in massive numbers back to us at bargain prices.  Humorous as that may appear, it is not beyond the realm of possibility in today’s world.  They are the means we now politely refer to as “Free Trade Agreements.”

Meanwhile, Working Class America still reels in utter disbelief that the legacy that was left to us by their predecessors has become nothing more than a cruel and grand deception perpetrated by the insatiable greed of all those whose only legacy would be one which we could never have imagined, and that would simply be replaced by the simple phrase, “Made in China!”

As I bear witness to how rapidly and completely our national fabric is unraveling I shudder to contemplate what our ultimate demise may prove to be and how quickly it will be visited upon us. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
August 20, 2014


Monday, August 18, 2014


From the time I can remember I have always loved dogs.  My Dad was not enamored of dogs, so I didn’t have many while I was growing up.  Those that I did have were either put down or given away.  I grieved silently as each one departed from my life.  I decided early on that when I struck out on my own I would always have a dog.  Except for a stint in the Navy and my years at college, that has pretty much been the case. 

To me doges were extra-special beings.  They embody so much of what we should be.  Their love is unconditional and total.  They readily forgive and offer us endless chances to prove our love for them in return.  They protect us.  They are loyal to us.  They give without limits and as very little in return.  I find it of particular interest that “God” spelled backwards is “dog.”  My experience with dogs has convinced me that it is no coincidence.

There are few dogs I don’t like and, of those, my caution is probably because I don’t understand the breed or the animal.  I have reservations about trying to cozy up to a Doberman, a Pit Bull Terrier or a Rottweiler.  Dog experts tell me there is no such thing as a mean dog.  Rather, it is the way we treat them that makes them our adversaries. 

My family and I have had a variety of dogs over the years, each one a personality unto itself.  We loved each one of them, and our hearts broke when we had to part with them.  However, we just couldn’t quite live without one, so we always got another.  I would find myself perusing the want ads looking for one that needed a good home.  Before the scab had barely formed on the wound caused by the loss of the previous one, there was another to take his place.  Not one has ever been a disappointment.  Each brought his or her particular personality to our home and hearts, but all were the wonderful, loving and giving creatures peculiar to their kind.  The tremendous sense of loss we feel when one leaves us, I suspect, the result of the unconscious realization that we always got more than we gave in return. 

It was about ten years ago that I was going through the want ads in the Sunday paper when one ad in particular caught my eye.  It was for a Schipperke that was available for adoption, free of charge.  I found that rather odd given the rarity of the breed.  I had only seen one in my entire life, a puppy in a pet shop.  When the owner let him out and he had the run of the store, he was the most animated and adorable dog I had ever seen.  That brief exposure stayed with me. 

The Schipperke is unique among dogs.  They are 10 to 13 inches in height and weigh between 12 and 18 pounds, on average.  They are jet black with a heavy coat.  The head is shaped like a fox’s, with small dark brown eyes that have a devilish but questioning expression.  They have small pointed ears. 

Schipperkes are full of boundless energy.  They have a temper, a great spirit and are protective.  Although wary of strangers, they are devoted and loyal to their families.  The dog is territorial and protects it’s environ against all intruders.
Schipperkes readily accept other pets in the home, and they are intelligent, curious and mischievous.  They can (and do) try the patience of a saint, but when the dust settles whatever stress they may have caused is readily forgiven and the love of the breed takes over. 

The origin of the Schipperke was as a captain’s dog on the barges in Belgium and was a popular breed throughout the country.  Today, they are canine companions to those who have a particular affinity for this kind of dog. 

Back to my discovery of the ad in the Sunday paper.  I called the number and inquired as to whether or not the dog was still available.  I was assured he was and I man an appointment to go and see him.  From the moment the woman opened her door, I knew he was meant to be mine.  He was four years old, pedigreed, neutered and a sterling specimen of the breed.  I was asked if I wanted the papers.  Given that he was no longer able to procreate, that seemed rather superfluous so I declined the offer.  I noticed there were no tears or remorse in giving him to me.  I wondered why but it was too early to draw any conclusions.  He immediately became apprehensive as he was put in the car and occupied the seat next to mine.  I experienced the gnawing feeling of sadness that comes with seeing the confusion surrounding that supreme act of rejection he could never have

I left and merged into the traffic that would take us home.  All the while, he remained standing in the seat.  I reached over to pat him and to let him know that, even though
Those who had just banished him from their lives didn’t care; he was mine to be loved for the rest of his life.  He bit my hand.  Time to back off and take it slowly.  We arrived home and I took him into the house.  He took a stand on the couch in the Family Room. 
He was insulated from the back and both sides.  He felt safe from an imposing family of four, another dog and a cat.  His growls served notice on us all that we were indeed the enemy.

His given name was “Bear,” which just did not quite fit.  Therefore, I chose an enduring term from German and he was known from that day as “Schotzy.”  He soon settled in and became one of the clan.  There was never an altercation with the other dog or the cat.  They were all in it together.  He quickly surveyed his new found castle and the limits of his kingdom on the acreage where we live.  He never strayed from those boundaries in the ten years he was with us.  He would regularly check every square inch of ground to make sure everything was in order. 

Typical of his breed, he was fiercely independent.  He had his own special places to hide, but never for long.  He loved to ride in the car with his muzzle into the wind.  He would bark at passer-byes, but more to let them know he was there than to serve as a warning. 

When we returned home, he would bound from the car and run for all he was worth back up the road from whence he had come.  As to where he was running, to this day I have no idea.  All I know is that it wasn’t far because he would immediately return. 

Everything was on Schotzy’s own terms.  If he wanted to stay outside in the weather, he did.  If I wanted him to come into the house, he would pause and have one more drink of water just to remind me who was really in charge.  He would sometimes stay in the house.  At other times, he would stay the night outside within the confines of the fenced portion of the yard.  He was always on guard against a band of marauding coyotes (boogies) that might venture onto the property.  He would bark into the wee hours of the morning to let them know he was on duty. 

Wherever one of us might be, he could be found sleeping somewhere close by.  He would lie between my feed when I was watching television to the point of self-induced paralysis.  I would, of course, suffer the agony in order to accommodate him.  He was my constant companion when I was working on the computer.  He love to have his head rubbed and his ears scratched.  In the morning, when I would let him out, he would run for the same small Alder tree to sniff it and leave his mark before venturing on to the first inspection of his realm. 

During my long absences in Saudi Arabia, Shotzy never forgot me.  Upon stepping out of the car, as soon as he heard my voice he would run to greet me.  When we went to Seattle to visit the kids, rather than me taking him for a walk, he was the one who would take ME for a walk.  The song, “I Did It My Way” could well have been written for him. 

Schotzy was in good health and active.  However, on the morning of April 21, when I opened the door to let him into the warmth of the house, he appeared to be fast asleep on the deck where he always laid to keep tabs on his precious estate.  When I approached him, I realized he had died peacefully during the night.  His passing has left a horribly painful void in my life to this very day. 

We called a vet and he wanted forty dollars to cremate him with all other animals and road kill.  That didn’t do much for his memory in my view.  Given the speed with which I was given the pitch, I had no confidence that I would get his remains back if I asked for them.  Veterinarians are becoming as greedy as their medical counterparts.  So, I dug his grave at the base if his favorite Alder tree, laid him to rest in his own blanket and tied a yellow ribbon to a branch above where he is buried.  I have cried a lot these past two days.  The night he died, as I was drifting off to sleep, I could hear the coyotes screaming into the dark void of the night.  Schotzy is gone and the boogies are back. 

People who are familiar with the breed generally say they wouldn’t want one for a pet because they are so difficult.  Those who have had one often give qualified answers or hedge their bets. 

It will take some time before I start perusing the ads for pets in the newspaper again, but I know in my heart I will eventually return to those pages.  Would I consider another Schipperke?  I will ask myself if I really want to go through all that he was again.  I would probably skim over any ads for Schipperkes that might be looking for a good home in favor of an easier breed.  On reflection, I would go back to that ad and ponder it, knowing that one encounter could be hazardous.  Curiosity and a faint tug at my heartstrings would take over and my first sight would cause any resistance I might have to evaporate.  I would be hooked all over again. 

A Schipperke us not just a dog; it is a life force all its own that is utterly irresistible.  Life for them is just on big adventure and one endless playful game.  I suspect those who would say “no” to that experience have lost the child within.  Those who still have it will be sorely tempted to accept the challenge. 

Schotzy, I know, forgave me for all the times I was impatient and indifferent with him.   Much to my chagrin and regret, I got the best of the deal.  Rest in peace. My Dear Schotz, and may God see fit to let us meet again in that better world where you are and where I hope to be one day. 

First written April 23, 2007
By Bob Crowder
Ridgefield, Washington

Rewritten from the misplaced original on August 18, 2014
By Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher


I shed a lot of tears when I lost Schotzy.  This may be the first blog I ever wrote, but I shed a few more tears by just re-doing and re-reading this.  I honestly don’t believe there has been a more magnificent creation than a dog, God’s most generous and loving gift to mortal human beings.  They are what all of us should be and what so few of us ever become.  I can’t imagine being without one.  I have loved all I ever had and I will always have one as long as I tread the terra firma of this earthly home. 

May all those who read this always have the love and loyalty of a dog, and I sincerely hope all of those who don’t know what that means discover it.