Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“The Winds of Change are Upon Us”

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 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 in a position to claim all the spoils provided by the American taxpayer to a system of government that will promptly forget how he got there and lose sight of the fact that he is claiming the right to spend what has been entrusted to him as if all of it is a rightful entitlement to be disbursed as he may see fit, and 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 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 are not rightfully entitled, the source of their obscene wealth being totally irrelevant. 

While the common person, under penalty of law, gives their taxes 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 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 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 wailing 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 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 each has 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 who 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 that is essential for such a quantum leap. 

We have the right to a couple in the White House that has the stature of the First Family.  Harry and Bess Truman may have been basic people, but they were honest, decent and down to earth.  Harry was a leader of principle and courage.  Bess was a dedicated and supportive wife.  That is more than I can say for the Clintons.

I, for one, believe we have had far too much testosterone in the White House for much too long.  Men posture too much and they are not always what we think they are.  Women, on the other hand, seem to be better listeners, studious and act on the basis of fact rather than supposition.  I think their time has come but we have better possibilities than Hillary Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren went to the White House and set herself to the task of creating a Department of Consumer Affairs, with the promise from Barack Obama that she would become the first Director of that endeavor.  However, typical of our resident chameleon at 1600 Pennsylvania, Barack Obama pulled the rug out from under that commitment and gave it to a man, about which little seemed to be known.  Senator Warren graciously accepted the decision and supported that effort during her remaining time in the White House. 

As soon as another opportunity arose that was compatible with her education, knowledge and experience, she set her sights on U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and won the office handily.  She has served with distinction, determination, strength, leadership and acumen.  She has garnered the admiration and respect of the country and those with whom she has served.  She has demonstrated a degree of honesty and resolve that few in the Halls of Government can duplicate.  She has all the attributes we need to clean up so much of what has been created by others who have gone before her in government.  She has consistently demonstrated courage and perseverance where others would have failed. 

Frankly, I do not believe we could find a better person to assume the mantle of the Presidency and to establish the precedent for a woman in the White House than Elizabeth Warren. 

My choice for a back-up would be U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota who has shown great promise for higher office by her intelligence, acumen, record of accomplishments and conduct during her time in office.

This country has suffered long and hard at the hands of a very corrupt government.  Moreover, President Obama has shown himself to be more a chameleon than a leader by his ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth and his complete adoration and accommodation of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  He has pandered to the rich and powerful plus the Republican power structure by his penchant for secrecy, Executive Orders and compromise at the expense of the Democratic Party and the multitudes who have suffered by his actions and which have adversely affected so many lives of those who could ill afford his folly. 

We need to demand a renewed sense of honesty, integrity and principled courage from our elected officials.  They all need to revisit their fundamental pledge and commitment to serve and defend the interests of the American people; not those of wealth, power and privilege, including the President, the Senate, the Congress, the Supreme Court and all the sundry departments and bureaus that have blossomed since the Founding Fathers affixed their signatures to the Constitution.  We, the people of this country, have had enough of being seduced by their rhetoric, their under-handed behavior, their thievery, their sense of entitlement and privilege.

The winds of change are upon us.  I see and hear it every day from people of all walks of life.  Their disdain is more than just a casual complaint.  Those of you who sit on high thinking you are putting one over on the people need to take stock of who and what you are, do your job and restore integrity and genuine service to the people of this country.

Cowboy Bob
January 28, 2014                


Sunday, January 19, 2014

“Something Is Sticking In My Craw”

When I was growing up in Wyoming, the natives would use a particular phrase to describe their disdain and impatience about something that just would not seem to go away.  They would say, “There is something sticking in my craw.”  Having grown up with that particular pattern of speech, it seems appropriate to invoke it in this particular instance. 

Frankly, I have reached a saturation point where so much of what I see, hear and feel seems beyond repair that I have decided to publish this blog.  The title aptly embodies those feelings about various issues that really piss me off.   

1.                  The whitewashing of the entire Clinton Family.  I simply fail to comprehend, given that Bill Clinton demonstrated to the entire world just how sullied and low-life he was, why he is now revered as one of the “greatest presidents ever known.”  His tryst with Monica Lewinsky and her private lessons on the skin flute should have been more than enough to relegate him to the dust bin of human decency.  Instead, he lied to us without a modicum of shame and threw himself on the sword begging forgiveness from political and ethnic leaders as a way of showing us that he was sanitized and really a great man after all.  As if that weren’t enough, he got back in the good graces with some of the worst personalities in government and politics, totally decimated safeguards on the financial community that had served this country extremely well going back as far as the Great Depression.  He enlisted some of the biggest sharks in Washington, D.C., not the least of who were Phil Gram, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, all of whom could not resist the smell of honest people’s money just waiting to be plundered for those whose greed and avarice knew no limits.  And, he got away with it!  That entire charade, of course, set the stage for the crash of Wall Street in the early years of the Obama Administration and the worst economic recession since the 1930’s.  His protégé quickly demonstrated that he was a willing student eager to please the big boys and show the nation just how adroit he was at screwing the American people without benefit of kiss.  Billy Boy, being the loyal mentor he was, wasted no time in transferring the most accomplished of his happy band of thieves to important and influential positions as chief political and financial advisors and confidents to the Obama Administration.   They taught the newest and youngest of their kind from the windy city of Chicago all the tricks of the trade, and they were off and running while the nation paid, and continues to pay, for their ability to ply their tricks of the trade. 

Billy Boy wasted no time in convincing George H.W. Bush that he was, in reality, a darling and the two of them have done a yeoman’s job of doing all sorts of illicit skullduggery with other people’s money, not the least of which is a virtual monopoly on anyone wanting to do business in Haiti that just might speed its recovery from that long-ago and almost forgotten hurricane.  Moreover, if that were not enough of his questionable skills, he sent over some of the biggest scions of industry and corporate raiders to “advise” the new president on how the game was really played, all the while blowing smoke up the backside of all those naïve but good souls who voted him into the White House.  And the so-called progressives were pleased. 

Hillary played the role of a United States Senator with some degree of aplomb, and set herself up to become President Obama’s first Secretary of State whose performance was, in the final analysis, a skilled part but lacking much substance.
The caveat of the entire role of the Clinton Family on the public stage was Chelsea’s career on Wall Street with a prominent hedge fund, for which I would imagine, true to the Clinton legacy, had to have been well paid.  The life of that career seemed rather short for reasons few, if any people, really understand.  The mystery remains. 

After all this, William Jefferson Clinton is now hailed as one of the “Greatest Presidents” in history!  If the history of that family does not prove the prowess of the media in white washing, I don’t know what does!  But for all of this, the so-called “Progressives” are deliriously happy, resulting in glaring speculation that Hillary is going to be our first female President!  Any rational mind must surely wonder why they are not held to account and called out for what they really are.  When, if ever, will truth matter in and around the environs of our nation’s Capital?  I am not making any book on that one. 

2.                  Giving Barack a free pass on every deception he has perpetuated against the American people, from his reverence for power, money and the military/industrial complex to his penchant for “Executive Orders,” “secrecy” and “compromise” with all of those he has sworn to oppose, whatever that means.

3.                  Although I voted for him, I am repulsed by Barack Obama’s lofty speeches and appearance of being on the side of the people when, in fact, he is an elitist of the worst kind, more often at the expense of the average American?

4.                  The broad-base of apathy and complacency on the part of the American people within the ranks of those who should be outraged and actively engaged in turning this country around.

5.                  Failure to recognize the fact that we have a two-party monopolistic political system that does nothing to open the doors for others seeking a shot at the presidency or a seat in any of the other houses of government.

6.                  Blithely accepting the power and influence of those seeking personal favors and influence from government rather than expressing public outrage at their backdoor and underhanded practices that spawn ever-increasing pain and suffering on the health and welfare of the common people. 

7.                  A corporate owned and managed press which is contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers.  Why do we not respect and demand a “free and unfettered” press that serves the people, not vested interests, power and big money?

8.                  The lack of a system of government that insists on public ownership and supervision by the public of all institutions that are there to serve the interests of the people, not special interests, unimaginable wealth and centers of power? 

9.                  Focus on making this country a beacon for the world and mind our own business.  We have no reason to be the protector of the world and the impetus for moving this country, and all countries, towards world government.

10.              Why we revere anything “private” and “entrepreneurial” as the alpha and omega of everything good and progressive for the people, but have disdain for anything that suggests public ownership and oversight that will best serve the majority of the people rather than power and money?  Why is anything remotely labeled as “socialist,” “organized labor” and “progressive” attacked as evil and wicked, while rigging the system to favor those whose greed and lust for power know no limits?  

11.              Why we don’t demand anything that smarts of a “conflict of interest” or “self-serving” by everyone elected to public office from their personal conduct while in office.

12.              Prohibit any form of religion from interfering in our politics and limit participation in our politics to the population at large.  Lobbying has no place in our system of government.      

13.              Why we don’t insist that our government be an open book, for all to see, scrutinize and hold to account. 

14.              Why so few of our great academic minds choose to remain sequestered in the halls of ivy rather than taking an active interest as change agents in giving real meaning and purpose to this democracy, and what their knowledge could contribute to making the system more democratic and more responsive to the will of the people.

15.              Why do we tolerate continued financial support for big banks with interest-free loans from the Federal Reserve while re-building our infrastructure, valuable services that create jobs and support for the poor go begging? 
16.              Why do we tolerate the arrogance of a government that clearly is in the hip pockets of the super-rich, corporate capitalists, the military-industrial complex, largesse and sweet-heart support for those who have been elected to “serve” us in public office?   Why do we tolerate their blatant excesses in terms of compensation, perquisites and privileges (working half-time), secret meetings and deals behind closed doors that, by all rights, should be transparent, open to the public and against the law?

17.              Why have we allowed public figures to sell out the interests of the people by their penchant for “privatizing” every conceivable service imaginable so their “buddies” can make fortunes at public expense while the quality of those services go begging?

18.              Where are all the improvements to our infrastructure that we were promised?  Why is there little or nothing being done or demanded by those of us who have a right to expect that those promises will be kept?

19.              Why, when domestic industries and services are withering on the vine, do we fall for the hollow promises and questionable results that flow from “free-trade” agreements and the shipping of industries and jobs overseas?  How does that benefit the United States of America now and into the future?

20.              Why do we continue to give a free pass to those in power for deceiving us with sheer abandon and taking care of their rich and powerful cohorts?   

21.              Why do we tolerate the blatant deference to the rich, powerful and privileged while the needs of the common people of this so-called democracy go begging, with all the attendant suffering and pain they endure?

22.              Why do we blithely accept the corruption and self-serving practices of our elected officials and the so-called “justices” of the Supreme Court”?  We seem unable to discern the difference between “judicial review” and “legislating from the bench.”

23.              Where is the “free and unfettered” press prescribed by the Found Fathers that now is owned lock, stock and barrel by big business and serves as the mouthpiece for all of those who seek to shape public opinion and our appetites, rather than questioning and challenging their motives for advocating them? 

24.              Why do we tolerate so-called esteemed justices who blatantly interpret the law, the Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers that simply play to the most corrupting and powerful influences in our society, yet deprive the broader public of power that rightfully belongs to the body politic?  Just look at what they have done in terms of fair and open elections and all the safeguards to ensure that those elections are always open and free.  Let’s hear one for North Carolina!

25.              Why we are so deferential to wealth, power and privilege yet so willingly demonized those at the bottom of the food chain and the jobs they rely on for a living?  I thought we abolished slavery a long time ago. 

26.              Why are we so willing to “privatize” public services that are essential to the broader society and that serve as the foundation for a free and healthy democracy?  Who benefits vs. those who lose?

27.              Why do we invest so little treasure and knowledge in responding to the impending perils of “climate change” but subsidize fossil fuels and food producers who continue to pollute the environment and destroy the health of the people?

28.              Why do we tolerate the excesses of business interests while depriving those who work for a living with the right to engage in collective bargaining to ensure a fair and just work place and fair compensation for their labors?

29.              Why do we allow the hollow offers from television, movies, the internet and the myriad social networks to determine our basic values and what they have deemed to be fundamentally sound and moral for a civilized and functioning society?

30.              Why do we allow the religious institutions to operate as “tax-free” entities and amass wealth and influence without returning a sound moral compass and a clear voice to society that just might inspire us to reach for higher and nobler standards in our daily life, rather than reveling in the sewer that is sold to us as “entertainment?”  Surely there is a balance between what is good and decent vs. what is licentious and “free,” whatever that means?  

31.              What has happened to our fundamental belief in what is inherently good and decent about all we are as a people, and our insistence that the foundation for those virtues can only thrive in an environment where the common people are the bedrock of society, looking out for each other and supporting all that has been proven by the test of time to be the essence of the health and welfare of our nation? 

32.              And, last but surely not least, why have we chosen to focus on and talk to inanimate electronic devices rather than just talking to each other?  From my point of view, that remains the most bizarre mystery of all.       

Keep hope alive and let’s all pray for better days ahead.      

Cowboy Bob

January 19, 2014