America’s Price for Immoderate Greatness

You can’t view any major TV news show today without being bombarded with endless coverage and analysis of the early (some might say expected), 72-day divorce of Kim Kardashian. Neither can you escape the ad-nauseum ongoing look into Lindsay Lohan’s drunken cavortings and their subsequent legal repercussions.

Well-known media pundits, highly-placed legal experts, and shrinks offer straight-faced opinions about the intentions and life choices of people who are simply famous for being famous. What’s the point? I just don’t get it. Why should we give a good damn?

Tens of millions of Americans spend hours each day following the granular details and peripatetic lives of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and a few dozen other celebrities.

I’d like to ask these fellow citizens what percentage of their time they spend reading about and/or engaged in critical thinking regarding the underlying causes of America’s joblessness and economic crisis, our lack of a clear energy independence policy, health care access, K-12 education, immigration issues, border security, our aging population, sending jobs overseas, terrorism, the Fed constantly printing money, and so on.

I bet the answer would depress all of us…

Personally, I’ve never been enamored with nor have “followed” any pop icons. I’ve never understood the phenomenon, although a hugely profitable print and TV tabloid industry regularly caters to the public’s insatiable desire to know about such folks.

What’s deeply disturbing to me is what this type of mass cultural narcissism signals for our collective future.

The same moronic public that is fascinated with all this gets to vote on who makes the laws and who they empower to govern. Each of them gets the same vote I do… and I spend hundreds of hours each year trying to stay up with what’s REALLY going on behind the scenes in geopolitically and economically.

Politically, on both sides of the aisle, we bemoan a lack of leadership and a pervasive unwillingness to tackle tough issues. Are we getting the ineffective government we deserve rather than the visionary statesmanship we really need?

Edward Gibbon, the 17th century historian, best-known for his six volume tome The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, says

“The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.”

I think a solid argument can be made that our widespread (and growing) public fascination with celebrity is a telltale sign of immoderate greatness.

Further, much of America’s current prosperity has been “ripened” through the global outsourcing of much of both our basic and high-tech manufacturing base, gutting our jobs at home, squeezing the middle-class, and temporarily exporting our inflation to China.

Solid arguments can also be made that America is “overextended” in conquest, i.e., rabidly pursuing questionable elective military campaigns and wars overseas that have soaked our treasury for trillions… with very little in return.

When will our fellow citizens, currently distracted (some might say anesthetized) by the Circus Maximus atmospherics offered up daily by the networks and newspapers who are supposedly reporting on the 2012 Republican primary, figure out that we are selling ourselves and our children down the river… and ignoring the real issues critical to our survival.

A statesman tells the public the truth about what’s so, leads the charge, takes risks, and is willing to be held accountable for measurable results. Most of the politicians I know are, quite simply, loath to do any of these.

Renowned American architect and iconoclast, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said that “truth is more important than facts”.

Perhaps we need to be told the truth about our social and economic conditions, rather than hear a never-ending drone of inconsequential facts from unctuous, lazy-ass politicians with weak character and their co-opted media.

Is our immoderate greatness catching up with us? Is our decline and fall imminent?

Sam Kephart is CEO of Virtual Acumen Corp., a Spearfish, South Dakota-based creative agency specializing in digital media and marketing. He can be reached at


6 comments for “America’s Price for Immoderate Greatness

  1. Gordon Howie
    November 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Hey, Sam! Nice job writing what I told you to write! 🙂
    Really, thanks for your willingness to share your thoughts. We are delighted you are part of our team!!

  2. November 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm


    I appreciate your taking time to both read and comment on my piece.

    Some background: A few weeks ago I was graciously approached by The Right Side to see if I’d be interested in being an occasional contributing commentator. I accepted. [N.B. There were zero editorial guidelines given or point of view mandates discussed.]

    I am free to write about anything I so choose.

    I don’t support Barack Obama.

    Having said that, I think most of the sad characters in D.C. on BOTH sides of the aisle should be forcibly removed from office by the public for complicity with a Wall Street sell-out and gross negligence in protecting the American people from the machinations of the so-called 1% elite.

    Although he has cast himself as a President for the “common man”, Barack Obama is clearly not.

    His Cabinet, senior White House advisors, and appointed “czar” positions are filled with literally dozens of Goldman Sachs folks… hmmm. I wonder why?? (See detailed list below.)

    Among other voluminous dirty deeds, Goldman Sachs is the direct and proximate cause of the EU’s mess with Greece that continues to seriously threaten to bring down global finance and bring a depression to Main Street America.

    Goldman Sachs banksters, who facilitated much of Greece’s public borrowing transactions over the last several years, clearly created debt instruments and “off-book” borrowings to hide Greece’s illegal level of ongoing deficits from the European Central Bank, in clear violation of the covenants binding member states who use the common Euro as their national currency.

    In life, you get either reasons for a failure to perform or the desired results.

    The facts here speak for themselves.

    Did Obama “inherit” a mess from his buffoon predecessor, yes absolutely.

    And yet he’s gone on to make a much bigger (and more duplicitous) mess out of it.

    All we’re getting from both the Congress AND the White House now is a lot of dysfunctional yabba-dabba-doo and thieving of our national treasure. It’s pathetic!

    Truly independent thinkers and patriots have zero chance of running the gauntlet of traditional D & R party politics. Even here in little ole’ River City South Dakota…

    Here’s a partial list of former Goldman Sachs personnel in the Obama White House.

    Lael Brainard: Brainard is the United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the Obama Administration

    Gregory Craig: Former White House Counsel, Recently hired by Goldman Sachs

    Thomas Donilon: Deputy National Security Adviser(despite having a career that is mostly involved with domestic politics). Donilon was a lawyer at O’Melveny and Myers and made almost $4 million representing meltdown clients including Penny Pritzker (of Chicago) and Goldman.

    William C. Dudley: President and Chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs and was the firm’s chief U.S. economist for a decade

    Douglas Elmendorf: Obama Director of the Congressional Budget Office in January 2009, replaced Furman as Director of the Hamilton Project (Note that the Hamilton Project was funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs)

    Rahm Emanuel: Former Obama Chief of Staff, now Mayor of Chicago, on the payroll of Goldman Sachs, receiving $3,000 per month from the firm to “introduce us to people,” in the words of one Goldman partner at the time.

    Dianna Farrell: Obama Administration Deputy Director, National Economic Council, Former Goldman Sachs Financial Analyst

    Stephen Friedman: Obama Administration Chairman – President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Former Goldman Sachs Board Member (Chairman, 1990-94; Director, 2005)

    Michael Frohman: Robert Rubin’s Chief of Staff while Rubin served as Secretary of the Treasury and an Obama “head hunter” according to “Rubin Proteges Change Their Tune as They Join Obama’s Team” in the New York Times.

    Anne Fudge: appointed to Obama budget deficit reduction committee. Fudge has been the PR craftsman for some of America’s largest corporations. She sits, according to the Washington Post, as a Trustee of the Brookings Institution, within which the Hamilton Project is embedded.

    Jason Furman: directed economic policy for the Obama Presidential Campaign, served as the second Director of the Hamilton Project after Peter Orszag’s departure for the Obama administration

    Mark Gallogly: Sits on the Hamilton Project’s advisory council. He is also, according to Wikipedia, currently a member of Obama’s President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

    Timothy Geithner: Secretary of the Treasury, a former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. Also, Obama’s mother worked for Geithner’s father in Jakarta, Indonesia when Obama and Geithner were young children.

    Gary Gensler: Obama Administration Commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Former Goldman Sachs Partner and Co-head of Finance

    Michael Greenstone: the 4th Director of the Hamilton Project. Just as attorney Craig went from advising Obama to defending Goldman Sachs against the SEC complaint, Greenstone has used the revolving door to go from an economic adviser position to Obama to one of the Goldman Sachs outlets, in this case its think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution and funded by Goldman and Robert Rubin. All 3 previous Directors of the Hamilton Project work in the Obama Administration.

    Robert Hormats: Obama Administration Undersecretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs, State Department. Former Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs Group

    Neel Kashkari: served under Treasury Secretary Paulson and was kept on by Obama after his inauguration for a limited period to work on TARP oversight. A former Vice President of Goldman Sachs in San Francisco where he where he led Goldman’s Information Technology Security Investment Banking practice.

    Karen Kornbluh: (sometimes called “Obama’s brain”) Obama Ambassador to the OECD. Former Deputy Chief of Staff to “Mr. Goldman Sachs”, Robert Rubin

    Jacob (AKA “Jack”) Lew: the United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. According to Wikipedia, Lew sits on the Brookings-Rubin funded Hamilton Project Advisory Board. He also served with Robert Rubin in Bill Clinton’s cabinet as Director of OMB.

    David Lipton: now at Obama’s National Economic Council and the National Security Council. Lipton formerly worked with Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner on the US response to the Asian financial crisis of the 1990’s. Merge Foundation reports that Lipton worked closely with Robert Rubin:

    Emil Michael: White House Fellow. Former investment banker with Goldman Sachs

    Philip Murphy: Obama Administration’s Ambassador to Germany. Former Head of Goldman Sachs, Frankfurt

    Barack Obama: Obama owes his career to Goldman Sachs which was not only his biggest financial contributor when he ran for the presidency but also his biggest contributor when he ran for the Senate.

    Peter Orszag: Obama Budget Director, founding director of the Hamilton Project, funded by Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin. Wikipedia indicates that Robert Rubin, Goldman’s ex-head, was one of Orszag’s mentors.

    Mark Patterson: Obama Administration Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner. Former Goldman Sachs Lobbyist 2005-2008 and their Vice President for Government Relations

    Mark Peterson: Chief of staff to Timothy Geithner. Former Goldman Sachs Vice President and lobbyist

    Steve Ratner: the shady billionaire financier who Obama appointed as his “car czar” and who resigned after it was revealed that his company, the Quadrangle Group, was apparently involved in “pay to play” for a billion dollars or so of New York State pension funds, and was under possible indictment by the New York AG and the SEC. He also sits on the Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs funded Hamilton Project

    Robert Reischauer: a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission from 2000-2009 and its vice chair from 2001-2008. He too sits on the Hamilton Project’s advisory board.

    Alice Rivlin: Obama named Alice Rivlin to his so called deficit reduction commission.

    James Rubin: Son of Robert Rubin. Served as a headhunter for Obama per the New York Times article, “Rubin Proteges Change Their Tune as They Join Obama’s Team”

    Gene Sperling: Advisor to Timothy Geithner on bailouts. Sperling paid by Goldman Sachs for one year of consulting work.

    Adam Storch: Obama Managing Executive of the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. Former Vice President in the Goldman Sachs Business Intelligence Group division.

    Larry Summers: Obama’s chief economic adviser and head of the National Economic Council. Worked under Robert Rubin at Goldman Sachs.

    John Thain: Obama Administration Advisor to Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner. Former Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer (1999-2003)

    Clearly, whether right, left, or center, Muslim or Christian, Obama is a proven elitist, globalist, and corporatist… and VERY DANGEROUS, because many morons who don’t do their due diligence, buy into his teleprompted crap.

    I ain’t buying it and, as a thinking person, neither should you.

    • November 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm

      Hey Sam,
      You should cut Corey some slack. All those libs from Madville are pretty sensitive souls. Beware though, sometimes they lash out at you personally because they can’t seem to deal with truth very well and facts are very troublesome and disturbing to them.
      Nice article, though. Wish I would have written it.

      • November 8, 2011 at 5:48 am

        Sensitive to injustice, propaganda, and really bad ideas? Why yes I am, Ed, and proud to be so.

        • November 8, 2011 at 7:13 am

          Sensitive to your interpretation of “injustice, propaganda, and really bad ideas.” I agree that you are proud…..proud to define the world in your terms. It’s not your world, Corey, it’s God’s world. You paint with a broad brush because your attitudes are driven by selfishness and self-absorbed thought. Details and facts are not your friends.
          Could you be more specific about which of Sam’s ideas and words were “injustice, propaganda, and really bad ideas?” Do you write “injustice, propaganda, and really bad ideas,” or are you ther infallible fount of all justice, information and really good ideas?

  3. November 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Sam, didn’t you get the memo? You can’t post on Gordon’s and Ed’s blog unless you tie every problem to Barack Obama’s childish Marxist pro-Muslim incompetence. What are you doing here talking sense about the harms of the celebrity-consumerist culture?

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