Wednesday, July 23, 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 I 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 that 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 prospects 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 sinks in that they have managed to funnel all they can respectably take after the mantle of “President” finally sinks in for the long haul.  It is reputed they are looking at a posh place in Rancho Mirage on 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 opulent residence of the Annenbergs, one of the richest men on the planet at the time he built it.  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 their 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 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 genitals 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 to all of us equally.  No one has squatter’s rights despite their insistence in the 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 and audit 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 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, 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    

Saturday, July 12, 2014

“Where Did We Go Wrong? "

I have to confess that I am one of those bringing up the back of the pack that has absolutely no mastery of technology.  As a consequence, I am at the mercy of every new piece of “gimmickry” that is produced and who is a victim just waiting to be “had.”  This fact was recently driven home when the “modem” on my computer went out and, concomitantly, my internet connection went down, as well.  So I had the remaining bits and pieces of what was identified as a computer setting on my desk and which quickly became apparent that it wasn’t worth a plug nickel.  I was both panicked and helpless.  Any effort for a quick resolution proved to be beyond the “carrier,” so here I sat, totally without any means of communicating with the outside world, while the company that was supposed to ensure the viability of my internet system, diddled and dawdled around with no apparent ability to identify and fix the problem within anything remotely resembling a reasonable period of time! 

So, any of you who may be at the mercy of Century Link for your basic package of computer and communication technology, should you have a problem, my advice is to proceed with extreme caution.  I would suggest the same degree of caution should you be considering Comcast or Infinity and, possibly HughesNet.  Believe nothing they say or what you may hear about them.  Verify, verify, verify!  They, collectively, have simply corroborated what I have long suspected; the propensity for American business to simply say whatever takes the heat off in order to proceed as they will, and charge you through the nose for what they call their “technological superiority” and “service.”  It all comes out of the same bag of tricks.  And you, CONSUMER AMERICA, pays dearly while those vested with the responsibility for regulating their activities simply look the other way while cupping their hands behind their backs.  American business and big money sold themselves to the Almighty Dollar and the Political Establishment a very long time ago.  Anything even resembling authenticity is an illusion designed to get what they want, at taxpayers’ expense, for more money and providing the least of what was promised to the consumer.

Any way, I am now back in business with a modicum of hope that nothing else of an unforeseen nature will come to haunt me.  I hope all of the followers of my blog, such as it is, have not lost faith in me and, moreover, I hope I still have the many cherished friends that were always there for me. 

This may be a bit ragged around the edges, but bear with me.

I believe there is always a blessing or two that comes with any adversity.  That is a vital and important part of the life process and one that I try to never take for granted.  But, that includes a few “zingers” that you never see coming that can throw you a curve and make you take stock of what you are, who you are and what you believe, not to mention how equipped you may be to deal with something that proves to be totally “off the wall.” 

I suddenly had to face the fact that my wife was falling victim to a serious “memory problem,” and would have to be admitted to a care facility for proper care and treatment.  The prognosis is not good and the sheer reality of that bit of news set me back on my heels.  The finality of what that may mean is not easy for me.  The sheer terror of facing a lifetime of being and living alone is daunting. 

I have had to seriously ponder all sorts of possibilities that may be a part of my future, how I will react and how I will handle those challenges.  This process extends from a very long past, the speed and complications of the future and a very vague and uncertain future.  Where have I been, where am I going and what lies ahead? 

A few of the things that have astonished me is harkening back to a simple but wholesome childhood growing up in small-town Wyoming.  While living it, it seemed at times to be a terrible ordeal.  With the passage of time it became a joy and with maturity it became a blessing for which I will always be most grateful.  The end result is what I am today.  For all of my faults, bumps and imperfections, I am alright with what I have become. Sure, I could be better, but that is for another day. 

What concerns me and terrifies me most is how we, as a nation, have discarded the finer aspects of whom and what we are as a people.  We have taken an inherent sense of decency and goodness and exchanged it all for the most vile, self-serving, and greedy aspects of only what humanity, in all its forms, has managed to apply the mantle of respectability while the sum total of all we are as a people has decayed to the point where the stench of it all must, ultimately, be the cause of a plague of celestial nausea the likes of which none of us ever dreamed.

I have nothing but unmitigated contempt and disdain for any form of deception and the spoils that spawn that kind of behavior. 

I have total disdain for great wealth.  There is nothing noble about its pursuit and its spoils.  It is what it is.  A poor excuse for the perception of human superiority and the belief that, somehow, it is divinely ordained.  There is nothing noble or inherently good about it.  Only the poor whose backs produce that great wealth have any redemptive value.  Those who reap those rewards are nothing but human garbage.  Take stock of those who have it and pretend it is their right. 

I have equal contempt for those who covet power.  Power, in my humble opinion, is just as pernicious as wealth.  It knows no limits and nothing is immune from the dubious rewards that all too often come with it.  You can rationalize anything that will come from it and it knows no limits to the exploitation and degradation of the human condition in its pursuits.  It has no mercy by those who provide the spoils to the powerful.  Just look at the youth of this country who have, and still do, labor under a burden of debt that would make the “robber barons” of recent history look like missionaries. 

Look at all of those who have engaged in predatory lending, questionable investments and hedge funds without incurring any risk worth talking about.  Look at how many of them own politicians of every conceivable ilk and literally buy their loyalty in order to ensure their continued plunder of the nation, not to mention all of the good and decent people who look for honest work and a fair shot at the American Dream.

I have no trouble disparaging all those who have cornered every lucrative opportunity within our political, industrial and military complex in order to serve the masters who own them or who are likely to profit, handsomely, from all that awaits them at the end of their tenure.  Just ask any Veteran who has recently felt the sting of a service that was supposed to take care of them and their families. 

I have no respect, whatsoever, for the establishment that is the purveyors of vulgarity in every form.  It is evident in the way they dress, the way they talk and the way they display no hesitation, whatsoever, about baring to the world all of the flesh they think they have to offer and that will prove to be titillating to some poor fool who seems to think that is the “in thing” to do.  God help us!     

The legalization of marijuana (soon to be followed, I am sure) by other forms of “recreational drugs” as a further expression of our “God given right” to any freedom we may care to label as having been touched by the Divine.  Anyone going though life half stoned surely has a serious problem; one for which society will have to pay in the long term.  What, I ask you, could be more pathetic?

I have a particular disdain for all of those so-called “members of the cloth,” who have preyed on young men for centuries, not to mention the cadre of contemporary members of the clergy who will peddle whatever the traffic will bear, so long as they can attribute an endorsement from the deity in its marketing plan for a few bucks.  Hey, whatever will sell!  right?  And we don’t even wonder, for a fleeting moment, where the moral compass for the world has gone!  Every one who can enter the fold and make it work by scaring the hell out of people with the professed word of god has surely got a gold mine waiting at the end of the tunnel.   

I am particularly concerned about the sudden influx of children from Latin America seeking political asylum in the United States.  Unless I am totally off the mark, this country was founded by and for the citizens of the United States of America.  That, unless I am extremely naive, would exclude those who have yet to become citizens.  Now, let me draw your attention to the hoards of politicos and, elected officials and “wide-eyed” liberals who can hardly wait to become a part of the hoards supporting all of these poor people trying to get into this country.  Now I ask you, does any rational and sane person honestly believe this is a spontaneous act of “children?”  Is there anyone who has not wondered how something requiring this degree of organization and funding could have come about by thousands of children?  Who is profiting from this?  Those who are trying to ensure their next election by courting the votes that is likely to emanate from this latest scam? 

Surely this has got to be one if the greatest frauds of this century.  Our illustrious elected officials are asking for billions of dollars to support this latest example of a rush to democracy.  And, we are on the verge of saying “yes” because we gave away, long ago, our control over the purse strings controlled by all of those we have elected to office.  Where has “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” gone?  On the outside chance there are some among you who are caught off guard by that question, may I suggest a tour of the industrial wasteland that has been created by the insatiable greed and avarice of our entire industrial, manufacturing and financial sectors of the economy of this country.  Take a drive through any strip mall in your town or city and take note of how many signs have been taken down and all that remains is an empty and cold edifice that once provided honest work for honest people looking for an honest part of the American Dream.  Look at the bare fluorescent light bulbs that remain in what used to be viable signs advertising a business venture owned and operated by people who earned their stripes and now face a lifetime of handouts.  Handouts that will only become the object of disdain created by the very ones who consigned them to sleeping in shelters, under bridges or seeking a few bucks to sustain life that can emanate from any and all sorts of marginal or sordid forms of work thrust upon them by hunger and deprivation. 

Without exhausting every term that could be applied to what we are and should be as a people, I simply ask you,

“What has happened to our basic sense of human decency?” 

“What has happened to our basic sense of human compassion?”

“What has happened to our basic sense of charity?”

“What has happened to our basic sense of empathy?”

“Where did we come to adopt and accept a double standard of human value?”

“How did we come to believe that it is a basic human right to simply have frivolous abundance and fun at the expense of a greater good?”

“When did we cease to subscribe to the notion that there is a clear and discernible difference between what is right and what is wrong, and there is nothing vague about that difference?” 

You don’t have to be out of the mainstream and still subscribe to these values.  Ultimately, it is the society in which we live that must determine the kind of a society in which we will live and enforce those norms so there is a common standard we can all understand and unequivocally support. 

I could go on into perpetuity.  However, the simple fact remains that we have a solemn obligation to insist on virtue in the conduct of our daily lives.  Without that basic measure, we are a lost society.  The only alternative remaining is our continued descent into human deprivation and depravity.

Time is not on our side.  We have a burgeoning population throughout the world that is not inclined to a democratic way of life.  We have a planet that is overheating while vast wealth and unbridled greed disparage the notion of conservation and clean energy.  We still have vicious and petty dictators for whom human life is merely a concept; not reality. 

IT REALLY IS TIME TO GET SERIOUS.  The place to start are all those who drive our economy and determine the values by which we live.  Only each of us, working hand in hand, can make that a reality which will ensure a future for all those yet to follow us.

I happen to believe that is the path that whatever form of a deity that may exist would expect us to take.  Does it really make any sense to try and second-guess what may be real and about which we have no knowledge?         

The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 12, 2014