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Pariah Nation


“Supreme power does not provide protection against reality.” -Noam Chomsky

 

 

 

 


PARIAH NATION

 

by William Thomas

 

 

“In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States,” warns Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association.

 

As 2013 drew to an end, the BBC reported on the results of an international poll on the question: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?” Noam Chomsky reports, “The United States was the champion by a substantial margin, winning three-times the votes of second-place Pakistan.”

Today, the big question on everyone's lips is: “Can the United States be contained and other nations secured in the face of the U.S. threat?

 

“In the Middle East, Chomsky goes on, “overwhelming majorities regard the U.S. and its close ally Israel as the major threats they face, not... Iran.”  

 

He cites a UN report showing how “far-reaching reforms have sharply reduced poverty in Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and some other countries where U.S. influence is slight, but that it remains abysmal in others – namely, those that have long been under U.S. domination, like Guatemala and Honduras.”

 

Rejection of international obligations “has grown so entrenched that foreign governments no longer expect Washington's ratification or its full participation in the institutions treaties create. The world is moving on; laws get made elsewhere, with limited (if any) American involvement,” David Kaye writes in the leading U.S. establishment journal Foreign Affairs. But the world is pissed.

 

Discussing Obama’s flying robot murder campaign, former CIA director Michael Hayden concedes, “Right now, there isn’t a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations. Except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel.”

 

 

 


























WE'RE NUMBER 1!

“American politicians are fond of telling their audiences that the United States is the greatest country in the world,” writes Lawrence Wittner. “When it comes to violence and preparations for violence, the United States is, indeed, No. 1.”

 

While the world's top weapons distributor “surpasses all rivals when it comes to international violence,” the United States ranks 20th in the world in “educational attainment” - playing catch-up to Poland and the Slovak Republic.

 

In 2014, the United States ranked last in healthcare (including infant mortality, healthy life expectancy, and mortality from preventable conditions) among 11 advanced industrial countries. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. healthcare system ranks 30th in the world. At the end of 2013, the United States ranked 26th among nations in life expectancy.

 

Regarding protection of human health from environmental poisons, last year the United States placed 35th in health impacts from corporate pollution, 36th in water and sanitation, and 38th in air quality.


In protecting ecologies, the USA ranked 32nd in safeguarding water, 49th in climate and energy sources, 86th in biodiversity and habitat, 96th in fisheries, 107th in saving forests, and 109th in agricultural practices.

 

In 2013, 24 nations topped the USA in nutrition and basic medical care, 31better assured personal safety, 34 boasted better water and sanitation, 39 offered better access to basic knowledge, 69 better- managed ecological sustainability, 70 led the United States in health and wellness. Among 34 advanced nations, only Romania had a higher percentage of children living in poverty than the USA.

 

Unfortunately, it’s a matter of priorities. “When most U.S. government discretionary spending goes for war and preparations for war, it should come as no surprise that the United States emerges No. 1 among nations in its capacity for violence and falls far behind other nations in providing for the well-being of its people. Americans might want to keep this in mind,” Wittner writes, as their government embarks upon yet more costly military crusades. (Can you say, Africa?)

 

Meanwhile, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education as Head Start reels from “the worst cutbacks in its history.” Only two nations on planet Earth still refuse to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: South Sudan and the United States. When President Obama said, “I believe America is exceptional,” he spoke an embarrassing truth.

 

As James Carroll writes with unintended irony in the Boston Globe, “The values of this nation have never been more dramatically on display before the world.” [Boston Globe Dec 30/03]

 

 

WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE SAY THE U.S. SUCKS?

“We've created a generation of people who hate America,” says Citzenfour filmmaker Laura Poitras.

 

“We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism,” explains Robert Bowman, Vietnam Veteran and bishop of the United Catholic Church in Melbourne Beach, Florida.


The remaining 96% of Earth's human population prefer to go their own way. Top nation in managing its economy: Norway. Ranked in order, the best places on Earth for entrepreneurship and opportunity are Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

 

Tops in education? That would be New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Want to feel safe and secure? Go live in Hong Kong, Iceland or Sweden. If you prefer to hang out with literate people who are clued into matters beyond their own borders, that would be Canada, ranking 99%. (More than 80% of Canadians have a high school diploma, more than half a college degree.)

 

The “Good Country Index” ranks countries by combining 35 separate indicators from the United Nations, the World Bank and other international institutions. This year, the USA comes 21st - “dragged down,” the Independent reports, “by poor scores on international peace and security.”  

 

The Best Countries To Live In:

1. Norway

2. Switzerland

3. Canada

[Boston Globe Dec 30/03]

 

 


ALL MUST KNEEL BEFORE US

“Washington aims at nothing less than the propagation of U.S. notions of civil order and social justice everywhere,” observes Agence France Press.

 

This is not good news. With a record-breaking prison population over 2 million inmates, the USA leads the world in locking up its citizens, easily beating out Russia and China. Add those on parole or probation and the number of persons shackled to “correctional” control in the Land of the Formerly Free tops 7 million.

 

“Arrogant, aggressive, too unilateralist” are just some of the more polite terms used to describe the U.S., AFP reports. Frequent official displays of nationalistic arrogance “sell very poorly in the rest of the world,” explains Thomas Carothers, a foreign policy specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. [Agence France Press Sept 21/04]

 

 

YOU DO KNOW WHAT IT IS, MS. JONES

“America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase,” chimes in American expat Ann Jones. “I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied.”

 

No more. In the early fall of 2014, Jones traveled from her home in Oslo, Norway, through Eastern and Central Europe. “Everywhere I went in those two months,” she writes, “moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.

 

“Most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world,” she adds. “Foreign observers are far better informed about us than the average American is about them. America’s belligerence alone, not to mention its financial acrobatics, compels the rest of the world to keep close track of us. Who knows, after all, what conflict the Americans may drag you into next, as target or reluctant ally?”

 

More than 1.6 million shame-faced Americans currently residing in Europe often find baffled Europeans asking, “Why would anyone oppose national health care?” Other industrialized countries “have had some form of national health care since the 1930s or 1940s, Germany since 1880,” Jones points out.

 

 “In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have an equal right to education (state subsidized preschool from age one, and free schools from age six through specialty training or university education and beyond), unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining services, paid parental leave, old age pensions, and more.”

 

To encourage social harmony, these universal benefits are equally available to all as basic human rights. Imagine!

 


 

 

 

 











What happens when a country is run by informed and caring adults? “For many years, international evaluators have ranked Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman, and to raise a child. The title of 'best' or 'happiest' place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the other Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.”

 

Yeah, but taxes suck in those countries, you might be thinking. Actually, they deliver invaluable benefits to citizens, instead of to war manufacturers and the banks that back explosive “urban renewal”.


In Norway, where those with higher incomes pay more, taxpayers “though free to dispute the sum, willingly pay up, knowing what they and their children get in return,” Ann Jones has found.

 

“A Norwegian today is appalled to learn that a CEO of a major American corporation makes between 300 and 400 times as much as its average employee. Or that governors Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state’s debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from the pension funds of workers in the public sector. 


"To a Norwegian, the job of government is to distribute the country’s good fortune reasonably equally, not send it zooming upward, as in America today, to a sticky-fingered one percent.”

 

The Northern Europeans she knows are also “aghast” to learn that in the world’s richest country, one in three children lives in poverty. And that's before they're stuck paying off the tab on America’s multi-trillion-dollar wars.

 

“How could you set up that concentration camp in Cuba, and why can’t you shut it down?” Jones is often asked. “How can you pretend to be a Christian country and still carry out the death penalty?” (In the 2010 commemoration of the UN’s 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Sweden joined nearly two dozen countries in calling upon the US to end its pariah-like status as the only western industrialized nation to engage in executions. The US has over 3,200 people facing death sentences.)

 

The words Jones often hears describing the USA translate into English as “brutal”.


Other frequent questions aimed at Ann Jones and other expats like myself: “Why can’t you Americans stop interfering with women’s health care? Why can’t you understand science? How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change? How can you speak of the rule of law when your presidents break international laws to make war whenever they want? How can you throw away the Geneva Conventions and your principles to advocate torture? Why do you Americans like guns so much?  Why do you kill each other at such a rate?”

 

And the big one: “Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up more and more trouble for all of us?”

 

As Andrew Bacevich, retired U.S. Army colonel and author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism told Bill Moyers, “There is nothing in the Preamble to the  Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool's errand.

 

Col. Bacevich went on to note that the U.S. foreign policy “concocted” in Washington, “reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we the people want. And what we want, by and large is ... this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods. We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the books are balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year.”

 

How is all this denial working out, colonel? “The fabric of democracy, I think, really has worn very thin.”

 

 

WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE?

(Peter, Paul & Mary update)

 

Hungry children? Potholed roads? Trains derailing? Bridges falling down? Unaffordable health insurance? No dough for more windmills?

 

Overall “national insecurity” expenditures since 2001 have vacuumed up around $11 trillion into corporate coffers.

 

“All that funding, especially the moneys that have gone into our various wars and conflicts, our secret drone campaigns and 'black sites,' our various forays into Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other places may actually have made us less safe,” notes Chris Hellman.

 

“Certainly, they have exacerbated existing tensions and created new ones, eroded our standing in some of the most volatile regions of the world, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the misery of many more, and made Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places, potential recruiting and training grounds for future generations of insurgents and terrorists.” 

 

Manufacturing endless enemies is locked into a hyper-militarized nation with an economy hooked on waging more mayhem.



BACK IN THE CIVILIZED WORLD


Everyone wants to know, what's happening to this foundering superpower?

 

“Europeans understand, as it seems Americans do not, the intimate connection between a country’s domestic and foreign policies. They often trace America’s reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order,” Jones point out.

 

“They’ve watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century.”

 

Wherever Ann Jones travels, “the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others. It’s past time to wake up, America, and look around. There’s another world out here, an old and friendly one across the ocean, and it’s full of good ideas, tried and true.” 

 

Meanwhile, the USA remains a “World Leader In Dysfunctional Democracy,” the Economist reports. In a survey based on electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture, the United States ranks 19 out of 24 “full democracies” - beaten out by the more complete democracies of Mauritius and Uruguay.


“Northern Europe is still tops, led by Norway,” Steven Rosenfeld reports. 


“Children no longer count for much in a society that makes virtues out of self-interest and greed,” observes internationally renowned political philosopher Professor Henry A. Giroux. With half of U.S. public school children living in poverty, “austerity” driven by deep tax cuts for the oilgarchs amounts to “social cleansing” as classrooms, public libraries, affordable housing, food assistance for 47 million hungry Americans, public transportation, and arts programs fall to the budget axe.

 

Then there's the epidemic of paranoid police shooting innocent people seemingly every day. Around the world, this Canadian professor notes, “it is largely recognized that the United States is wedded to mass incarceration and destroying its public schools and other elements of the public good.

 

Under such circumstances, racism has become not simply more visible, but more violent and repulsive in its attempts to kill young black men, turn back voting rights laws and empower the police to become an occupying army in many cities, willful of the fact that they can act with impunity,” writes Noel A. Cazenave.

 

What is happening looks and feels like a race war that pits the right of African-Americans to have their young people live with dignity against the right of angry white policemen and vigilantes with guns to kill them.”

  

Identifying the link between racism and poverty, “it became clear to me that a mix of racist stereotypes and emotions, hyper-masculinity and entitlement fueled their actions,” this sociology professor goes on. Problem is, “Today's post-civil rights era African-American youth actually expect to be treated as first-class citizens and will accept nothing less.”  

 

In fact, he adds, “militaristic violence is the new face of racism. As the bonds of sociality and social obligations dissolve, every human relation is measured against the yardstick of profit. The machinery of governance and the commanding institutions of the United States are now controlled by corporate political zombies who savor and reproduce death-dealing institutions that extend from paramilitarized local police forces to schools modeled after prisons.”

 

If evil is the absence of empathy, the “evil empire” may be much closer to home than most Americans want to admit. In this new “empire of the self”, the resulting “culture of consumerism and celebrity culture, and the rise of an expansive punishing and surveillance state” are morphing the terrifying U.S. war on terror into domestic terrorism aimed at whistleblowers, poor people of colour, immigrants – and other “throw-away” useless eaters the elite wishes would just go away. 

 

 

PERMANENTLY PROFITABLE (For A Few) WAR

One answer to a restive populace is more distraction. More war. But “war is a poison,” writes correspondent Chris Hedges, who has seen too much of industrialized civilian slaughter. 


The poison of war courses unchecked through the body  politic of the United States. We believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have the right to wage war. We embrace  the dangerous self-delusion that we are on a providential mission to save the rest of the world from itself, to implant our virtues – which we see as superior to all other virtues - on others, and that we have a  right to do this by force.”

 

What goes around comes around. Usually with nterest.

 

“The rash of home foreclosures, the mounting job losses, the collapse of banks and the financial services industry, the poverty that is ripping apart the working class, our crumbling infrastructure and the killing of hapless Afghans in wedding parties and Iraqis by our iron fragmentation bombs are neatly interwoven. These events form a perfect circle. The costly forms of death we dispense on one side of the globe are hollowing us out from the inside at home... If we continue to believe that we can expand our wars and go deeper into debt to maintain an unsustainable level of consumption, we will dynamite the foundations of our society.” 

 

 

LEAD PIE

As 'Sixties civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael rightly remarked, “Violence is as American as apple pie.”

 

On January 12, 2011, 30,000 people attended a memorial service for the seven victims of the Tucson massacre.

  

Presumably they were not the same 30,000 Americans who would die from gunshot wounds that year. With nearly 100 persons gunned down every day in cities across the USA, are the kids signing up for overseas conquests trying to escape to someplace safer?

 

In 2011, annual gun homicides in Finland were 17, in Australia 35, in England and Wales 39, in Spain 60, in Germany 194, in Canada 200. The USA retained its unassailable top ranking at 9,484 confirmed kills. [Truthout Feb 22/11]

 

“Once you’ve shot up this drug,” Tom Engelhardt explains, “your thinking is impaired. Through its dream-haze, unpleasant history becomes bunk; what others couldn’t do, you fantasize that you can.” 

 

“We live in hair-trigger America, an America that's quick to kill, slow to think,” observes retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, William J. Astore. Predator and Reaper drones “kill 'enemies,' even when they're not completely sure they are the enemy.”

 

Forgotten every July 4th is the nation's founders' abiding skepticism of militarism and war, and their prediction that constant warfare would spell the end of liberty. “Hair-triggers often morph into trigger-pullers,” Professor Astore laments. “Domestically as well as internationally.” 

 

Bomb, bomb, bomb is Washington's mantra. Kill, kill, kill, is the grisley chorus. People everywhere are fed up with self-obsessed Americans and all their senseless bloodshed.

 

Last year, after 13 years of continuous civilian slaughter by heroic U.S. forces, Hedges tried again. “More violence is not going to rectify the damage. Indeed, it will make it worse. But violence is all we know.” 


When violence becomes normalized, “it is not politics by other means. It is politics. Democrats are as infected as Republicans. In endless war it does not matter whom we fight. The war machine... bombs, kills, maims, tortures, terrorizes and destroys as if on autopilot.”

 

Yet… 


“No one dares lift his or her voice to protest against a war policy that is visibly bankrupting the United States, has no hope of success and is going to end with new terrorist attacks on American soil.”

 

Seduced by Freud's “death instinct,” the USA is self-destructing. 


“Endless war is not sustainable,” Hedges helpfully reminds us. “States that wage endless war inevitably collapse. They drain their treasuries, are hated by the wretched of the earth, and militarize and strangle their political, social and cultural life while impoverishing and repressing their populations.” 

  

And Americans think the world is “jealous” of the messes they make at home and abroad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



LATER, I'M BUSY

Will Americans look up from their screens and awaken from their destructive trance in time? Don't bet on it.

 

“When societies get badly stressed, delusional thinking increases,” James Kunstler observes. “When you traffic in delusional thinking, you tell yourself a lot of lies and untruths.”

 

Start believing your own bullshit in matters like fraudulent investment and banking practices, endless supplies of shale oil, and “adapting” to extinction – and “you’re really putting your culture, your society in peril,” Kunstler cautions, “a society that cannot and will not prepare itself for the reality of the future.”

 

But in a country Canadians call the “Excited States,” anxious Americans are too busy to analyze their angst. “We don't have the necessary conditions for reflection,” Kunstler laments. “I don’t know if a given people at any time in history has ever led more frantic and distracted lives.” Of course, he adds, “most of the distractions and interruptions of American life today are trivial. 

 

 

PSYCHOS

Relentless free-floating anxiety cripples lives and endangers the world through America's violently projected transference. 


“Has America become a nation of psychotics?” asks psychologist James Ridgeway. “You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States.” 


It doesn’t seem to be helping. In just one example of the country's mass psychosis, in just two years Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice dispensed 326,081 “antipsychotic” tablets in state-operated jails and homes for children. 

 

 

INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED

“Bleak, shallow and repetitive” is how Irene Angelopoulos describes the daily grind of virtual identity updates. 


She could also be describing U.S. politics, public discourse and official pronouncements. 

 

“Such, uh, lack of global awareness is the kind of thing that drives Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, up a wall,” writes Patricia Cohen in the New York Times.

 

Jacoby got the idea for her book in NYC on 9/11. Walking home “overwhelmed and confused,” she ducked into a bar, Cohen reports. “As she sipped her bloody Mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day's horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II...”

 

“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.

 

His companion asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”

 

“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied. 

 

 

HAPPY THOUGHTS ARE NOT A PLAN

Will Tiger Woods finally talk to the police? Who will replace Oprah?

 

“Our fantasies of belonging, of fame, of success and of fulfillment are projected onto celebrities,” Hedges observes.

 

“Our obsessions revolve around the trivial and the absurd.”  And as “we stand on the cusp of one of the most seismic and disturbing dislocations in human history... the chatter that passes for news, the gossip that is peddled by the windbags on the airwaves, the noise that drowns out rational discourse, and the timidity and cowardice of what is left of the newspaper industry reflect our flight into collective insanity.”

 

True Believers in a world of make-believe shun reality as “too negative” and scary. 


“Those who question, those who doubt, those who are critical, those who are able to confront reality, along with those who grasp the hollowness and danger of celebrity culture, are condemned for their pessimism or intellectualism,” Hedges concludes. “The worse things get, the more we beg for fantasy.” And “when we fall into despair we medicate ourselves.” 

 

 

LET'S PRETEND

Magical thinking has replaced the other kind in the United States of Amnesia.

 

Get 100 USA adults into a room and recent polls show:

 

· 100 believe they are uniquely “Americans” - deleting 

   590 million Central America and South Americans.


·  77 believe space aliens have visited Earth.


·  60 believe that the story of Noah is literally true.


·  47 believe God created humans in our present form.


·  39 believe global warming is not happening.


·  25 believe the U.S. won its independence from a

   country other than Great Britain. (Some say France;

   others China.)


·  25 believed it was at least “somewhat likely” a

   mythical Savior would “return” to Earth in 2014.


·  24 believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed

  about 4,000 years ago.


·  20 believe the sun revolves around the Earth.


·  20 believe UFOs have abducted someone they know.


·  6 believe in unicorns.

 

Those who ignore their history lessons are dialled-in to perpetuate them. Over half of U.S. adults don’t know which country dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; 30% don’t know what the Holocaust was. 

 

 

LIFE INSIDE A COMIC BOOK

How will US'ers smarten up when more than 42 million American adults cannot read a traffic ticket? Another 50 million Americans read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level, Hedges reports. “This leaves nearly a third of the nation’s population illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated two million a year.”

 

One in three high school graduates and nearly half of all college graduates “never read a book after they finish school.” In 2007, eight in 10 families in the United States did not buy a book.

 

As Truthout elsewhere reported, “An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education. Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event.”

 

Politicians know that uneductaed Americans conflate opinions with facts. So political campaigns “are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation,” Hedges writes.

 

“Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that... fosters a state of mindlessness. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia.” After all, “We prefer happy illusions.”

 

Images and slogans are all nearly 100 million Americans can understand. “Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures.

 

No wonder the rest of the world is appalled.

 

“We ask to be indulged and entertained by clichés, stereotypes and mythic narratives that tell us we can be whomever we want to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities and that our glorious future is preordained, either because of our attributes as Americans or because we are blessed by God or both,” Hedges adds. “It feels good not to think.”

 

Fascism thrives in such a lush petri dish.

 U.S. troops spreading Nazi SS goodwill in Ukraine

 

 

 

U.S. SCORES ON U.N. REPORT CARD

In May 2015, as the Universal Periodic Review begins its regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 UN member countries, 


“The world will be asking hard questions of a country that considers itself a human rights champion,” writes ACLU Human Rights Program director Jamil Dakwar.

 

“From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention… unlawful and discriminatory border killings and surveillance of Muslim communities... and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program, to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.”


The UN “will be expecting meaningful answers and a concrete plan of action, including in the area of economic justice, which the U.S. submission to the Human Rights Council regrettably referred to as social and economic 'measures' rather than the universally accepted framework and terminology of 'rights',” Dakwar discloses.

 

President Obama will be remembered for approving secret kill-lists, institutionalizing the use of indefinite detention, expanding immigrant family detention, completing the ruin of Afghanistan, handing Iraq to Iran - as well as failing to stop torture, close the Guantanamo gulag and end unlawful surveillance practices of American citizens and allies alike. That's one hell of a list of “accomplishments” for a Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

 

 

REALITY 101: FAIL

But instead of taking time for quiet reflection on their perspectives and priorities, US'ers demand constant stimulus. “News” and political “debates” are reduced to theatre that must entertain instead of inform. 


Huge segments of our population, especially those who live in the embrace of the Christian right and the consumer culture, are completely unmoored from reality. They lack the capacity to search for truth and cope rationally with our mounting social and economic ills,” Hedges worries.

 

“The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable... ” are going as rapidly extinct as one out of every five species on this dying planet. [Truthout Feb 22/11]

 

 

PUTTING IT SIMPLY

Eschewing big words like “eschewing,” the late, very great Joe Bageant asked simply, “How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon.”

 

Bageant supposed, “We could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? Those wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

 

“But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out. Not knowing shit about why your society does what it does makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That's why they are called dumb.”

 

Self-righteous ignorance disguised as knowing what's best for “sand niggers,” “gooks” and polar bears feels so cosy.

 

“Purposeful ignorance allows us to enjoy cheaper commodities produced through slave labor, both foreign, and increasingly, domestic, and yet 'thank god for his bounty' in the nation's churches without a trace of guilt or irony. It allows strong arm theft of weaker nations' resources and goods, to say nothing of the destructiveness of late stage capitalism – using up exhausting every planetary resource that sustains human life,” Bageant wrote.


“The American defense, on those rare occasions when one is offered, runs roughly... Go fuck yerself!

 

Practicing duck-and-cover in Mexico, Bageant wondered at Americans so fearful and brain damaged

they feel compelled to ask, What is the allowable weight range of a school child to be tasered?

 

Relax, America.

 

Taser manufacturers say a 60-pound child qualifies for zapping.

 

After overseeing the overthrow of democratically-elected Pinochet in Chile and the subsequent slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Henry Kissinger, 91, lost is appetite over going to war in the Ukraine to prevent ethnic Russians from exercising their vote to reunite with their Motherland.

 

“Do we know where we are going?” Kissinger cautioned.  In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.” 

 

“Come on, people, let’s get a grip,” David Brooks urges. “Maybe we should calm down a bit.”

 

Regarding protection of human health from environmental poisons, last year the United States placed 35th in health impacts from corporate pollution, 36th in water and sanitation, and 38th in air quality.

In protecting ecologies, the USA ranked 32nd in safeguarding water, 49th in climate and energy sources, 86th in biodiversity and habitat, 96th in fisheries, 107th in saving forests, and 109th in agricultural practices.

 


TAKE ME AWAY

件人     William Thomas 2017