My American Neighbours: Still Good Friends? It takes a lot of “moral imagination”


patriotic10

❝America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.

Poet  e. e. cummings

❝The American republic began with physical and economic assets as well as a rich intellectual legacy of enlightened ideas. It could afford to make mistakes, as it inevitably would, because the sheer potential of the continent would rescue and redeem blunders that would have proved fatal in a more constricted…contest.❞

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I confess, I’m more than a tad discomfited by my old neighbours to the south, the USA. I’ve always taken for granted that certain values were common to both of our great societies: justice, peace, fairness, common-sense thinking; civility, rule of law – a “Just Society,” as envisioned by our country’s greatest prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. These things seem messed up in America lately. Can we still be friends? Can I find the “moral imagination” called for by President Barack Obama on 12 January 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, to embrace this strangely morphed nation? I wonder.

How did America get from its original state of grace and plenty to today, where she is almost always engaged in vitriol and incivility at home, and in perrenial bootless military struggle abroad? Edward Teller – the man who invented “The Super,” the hydrogen bomb – (hard on the heels of Robert Oppenheimer’s creation of the first atomic bombs) wrote dolefully in a personal correspondence in 1945, ” The things we are working on today are so terrible that no amount of protesting and fiddling with politics will save our souls.

Though the traumatic birth of the atomic age   is now 65 years behind us [yet still just as frightening, at one remove away from the immediate moment], today the soul of America still seems traumatized by its realization of its own destructive power in the world. It’s as if  echoes of  the awful bang of  atomic bombs exploding reverberates in the soul of America all the time – never-ending. Danger is always near. In this post-9/11 era, America sees deadly foreign-sponsored terror hiding behind every tree and in every piece of carry-on luggage. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, citizens pick viciously at their own skins, always finding that no administration - so far - is up to the vital task of nurturing a just and fair society while producing The Good Life that most Americans feel they deserve.

The national economy stumbles and sways, shedding jobs every way it turns. An unemployment rate that never falls below ten per cent is somehow tolerable! Insane fiscal policy continues to shower treasure upon the richest citizens  while continually thumping the working and vanishing middle classes with staggering consumer debt, patchy health care [House votes to repeal health care law - click here], and entirely frightening futures. ←Privatized “Medicare”- solution? The federal government is going broke, while trying to go for broke!

What gives? Where is Ellis “rich legacy” and “redemption” ? What about e. e. cummings forward movement to a better tommorow? To return for a moment to the atomic metaphor, consider Robert Oppenheimer’s reported grim vision he experienced at Almagordo, N.M. upon witnessing the first awful fruits of his patriotic labours, the successful test detonation of the first atomic bomb. In horror, he took pen to paper and jotted down this passage from the the Bhagavad Gītā, the Hindu scripture, :I am become Death. The Destroyer of Worlds”  [click: to see first a- bomb & Robert  Oppenheimer's tears].”

If viewed through that all-seeing eye of modern life – the TV screen – the American tableau of mayhem, murder, soul-deadening gratuitous sex, violent video games aimed at youth, gunfire and fear in the streets, casualities everywhere – a pervasive psychopathy all around – you must ask yourself whether this country, this United States of America,  isn’t some kind of Death Culture?

Has Americabecome deathto herself and the rest of the world? How do we reconcile the promise of the American Dream with the imponderable accusation that the USA has become a terrorist state?

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Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

About.com. Teerrorism The website About.com says: “The United States is routinely accused of terrorism...” applying that accusation specifically to America’s providing armaments to Israel – weapons that Israel in turn uses in its terroristic attacks against Palestinians. Israel’s ceaseless rounds of deliberate slaughter of civilians in unprovoked, surprise bombing raids comprise real terrorism, says About.com. But even more harsh words have entered the public discourse in casting the USA as a terrorist state. For example, activist Noam Chomsky said to interviewer David Barsamian in Monthly Review : “The USA has become a terrorist state itself…the Reagan Administration set off a terrorist bombing [in Beirut] in 1985 that was very much like [the] Oklahoma City [bombing], a truck bombing outside a mosque timed to kill the maximum number of people as they left. Further on the topic of “American Terrorism, Chomsky continued:I don’t know what name you give to the attack that’s killed maybe a million civilians in Iraq and maybe a half a million children, which is the price the Secretary of State says we’re willing to pay. Is there a name for that? Supporting Israeli atrocities is another one. Where has all the promise and wonder of the Republic gone? What about Peace? Whence prosperity?

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I’m critical of of the Pilgirms’ progess down south. Highly critical. America was a noble experiment. But a failed noble experiment, I say. It’s very complicated, having a lot to do with some obvious issues, but just as much to do with many subtle, socio-political issues. Very complicated.

I’m a Canadian, and so a North American. Just like every American is too. We all live on the same block here, so to speak.

But you know how, sometimes, a neighbour family on your block starts out being such an ideal bunch – they have shiny new cars, are well-dressed; they’re sociable, family-loving and proud… but over the years sometimes an ideal neighbour can mysteriously morph into something you don’t quite recognize as “desirable” in the neighbourhood anymore? You’ve felt surprisingly bothered by them after too many incidents involving them being loud, aggressive, untrustworthy, violent; police-incident-inducing, drug-addicted, paranoiac, or possibly so deeply buried in personal debt that, finally, one day they file bankruptcy and fly the coop. Whew!

But then their cold, empty, foreclosed vacant house remains behind, sitting indolently on your street, spoiling property values ? Well, that’s approximately what I feel has happened with my formerly EXCELLENT American neighbours just across the border. Except, of course, they haven’t gone away. They’re still there.

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º Two questions come forward: “What is Wrong With America Today?” and “How Can We Fix A Broken America? “

braying donkeySince I’ve been writing critically from Canada about my neighbour , the USA, I’ve had  every kind of invective flung at me. According to my detractors I am : a Hater,Stupid“, Jealous of Americans; “a Liar,” “an Idiot“, “a Vicious Totalatarian{!!!**!!!}…the list goes on… Clearly, I’ve hit a nerve. It’s a hard thing for a person of any nationality to hear the name of his country disparaged – especially for that particularly clamorous Proud Eagle Patriot whose LOUD singsong is always U.S.A # 1 ! And for whom, no matter what the matter at hand might be – America is ALWAYS right. Period. The end

.

Some readers will accuse me of pushing my arguments about American transgressions far beyond what might be relatively inoffensive “disparagement.” They will say I amattacking” America.

Please! Every Canadian knows: we are like a mouse sleeping in bed with an elephant.

c.a.n.a.d.a    U.S.A.

When the elephant rolls over…well...!

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What is Wrong With America Today?

Hiroshima

(1) America has been, since 8:15 A.M. on August 6, 1945, the world’s most terrific terrorist state. America is the only state in human history to have used the atomic bomb – on civilians, no less – and celebrated the mass-murder. President Harry Truman was at seaon the day the first a-bomb reduced 75,000+ Japanese civilians to radioactive ashes at Hiroshima. Upon getting the “success” report from the Enola Gay, Truman reportedly almost levitated his way along the decks, humming a joyous tune in celebration of the mass incineration . [see "Bomb Power : The Modern Presidency and the National Security State" / by Garry Wills.] And shortly after that (a little-reported gem), with WWII finally wrapped up, Truman pulled out his big atomic tomato again! This time Truman threatened Russiawith another a-bomb, demanding that Russia back away from a certain East European country that the U..S. had its own eye on for occupation. Russia complied. [ibid]

Fat Man & Little Boy: World’s first atomic bombs vaporized 150,000 Japanese civilians

From that fateful moment in 1945, when America unleashed her horrific weapon – WWII being “won & done” and thus rendered an irrelevancy on the spectrum of worldwide, historical terror – human civilization would never be the same again. The nuclear peril will be with us forever. It’s horror is unimaginable. [click: see recreation of Hiroshima nuclear bomb ]  The estimated two-year death toll from the Hiroshima bomb, after counting deaths from “atom bomb disease” – nuclear radiation – is 500,000. This illustrates the essential American character: imperialist, aggressive and over-eager to use force and preemption to advance American power.

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(2) America since Bush Jr., and, perplexingly, the same under the Obama administration,  has become a Rogue State. The USA defies International Law, she stirs up fear and hatred both at home and abroad.

In his infamous WAR blurt: If you’re not with us, then you’re against us,George W. Bush implied  that MY country, Canada, was somehow an evil outsider. But Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq was illegal. And immoral. Bush foisted lie, after lie, after lie about Iraq upon U.S. citizens, egging along Americans’ patriotic fervor to attack. Ultimately, American citizens in uniform went off to kill or be killed in Iraq for NO VALID REASON.  [see: What We've lost : Bush's War on Democracy and Freedom / Graydon Carter] America lies and steals to take what she wants, from whomever she wants it, whenever she wants it! (In Iraq and Iran, oil; on the American western frontier, the Indian Wars, to steal the traditional homelands of the First Nations peoples.) The USA can not be trusted. [see"Imperial America : Reflections on the United States of Amnesia"/ by Gore Vidal.]

Graydon Carter - What We've Lost


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(3) The USA is forever stained by the shame of black slavery and genocide of the Native Nations.
To this point, contemporary Americans will argue vehemently that they can not be held responsible for the “sins of the fathers.” But there are two unshakable arguments for generational guilt. The first and most obvious – though not quite universal in this putatively secular age – is found in Scriptures: Exodus 20:5: “God will visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the descendants because the fathers have failed to be covenantally faithful.” Americans of Faith must accept that God punishes the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation.

Madoff Jr. pays for Sins of his Father

But not every American today subscribes to biblical precepts.

Sons Pay for Sins of The Fathers?

Still, neither can secular thinkers escape the sins of the fathers. Consider Mark Madoff’s suicide: Wasn’t it the sins of the father that drove Mark to his own self-destruction? What else could it have been but the sins of Bernie Madoff ? Can anyone reasonably believe that Madoff fils had been a total innocent in the outrageous embezzling of $65 billion from investors? In this particular parable of American greed, generational guilt drills even deeper : Mark’s three children have been sued by the trustee assigned to pay back the investors. No, America can not just walk away from the unspeakable sins of its Fathers. There is no Free Pass Out of Jail for old sins. The one unceasing, unforgivable transgression shot through and through the history of America – racism – forever clouds the nation’s conscience, past and present.

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(4) The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, the “right to bear arms” is born of another age, and can not possibly rightly apply to modern America, where hideous mass gun shootings are a tragic fact of life. Need we bring up: Columbine, Tucson, Waco, Kent State, University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Tech, countless workplace killings and on and on? Any public “right to bear arms” in modern America is utterly unconscionable. It sends the message that violence is the answer to every problem.
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(5) The American president laughed-off global warming, sneeringly backed-out of the Kyoto Accord, then turned around and gave out huge tax credits to citizens purchasing gas-guzzling Hummers! WHAT WAS BUSH THINKING ?
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(6) The American military detonated more than 200testatomic bombs in the Nevada desert in the 50s and 60s. Were they all CRAZY??!! How long does nuclear radiation last in the atmosphere?[click here]. What effects can nuclear radiation have on human beings?
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(7) American-style all-out robber baron capitalism has bred the most unequal society in human history. In his paper, “Who Rules America? Wealth, Income and Power,” Professor G. William Domhoff, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, writes that wealth distribution has been extremely concentrated throughout American history, with the top 1% already owning 40-50% of the nation’s wealth.  Domhoff draws a direct relationship between money and power: “Just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth.” Hedge fund billionaires are earning more in one hour than most Americans earn in a lifetime! Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson earns $2.4 million per hour.
Huge corporations raking in $$ multi-billions in profits year after year, avoid paying ANY taxes whatsoever.
Microsoft  happens to base its corporate headquarters in a major tax haven, Luxembourg.
ExxonMobil paid  taxes in 2009!These Corporate Welfare Bums take, and take from American society, and PAY NO TAXES!
View the angry speech of Congressman Bernie Sanders about the greedy “Top 10 Worst Corporate Tax Avoiders“: 
This is surely an obscenity, when huge corporations contribute nothing to government coffers,  while tens of millions of American citizens can’t get basic health care, largely because, say detractors to health care reform, “We can’t AFFORD it !”
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(8) Americans elect Mickey Mouse  Hollywood actors to the presidency and other high political office. Americans so prefer Disney-fried Un-reality over reality! It’s scary. It’s goofy. It’s Just Plain Stupid! America has become a society so neurotically unable to face the truth that now it leans on the alluring, illusory artistry of Hollywood-style leaders to support its countless hypocrisies!
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(9) In domestic matters of trade, Americans are cheaters. Almost from the day The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) was signed into law in the 1990s, America began to challenge every trade restriction not perfectly to its liking. America has never honored NAFTA, neither in letter nor in spirit. American business runs to its partisan, paid-off Supreme Court judges for the trade decisions that suit them. America robs Canada of “free trade” every single day. Just raise the topic of softwood lumber to any Canadian lumber merchant, you’ll get an earful on “Free Trade” American-style! There is no free-trade in softwood lumber with America.
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(10) Permissive-materialism weakens America. The permissive-materialistic childrearing philosophy has had a radical impact on the character of American youngsters. American children have progressively become more resistant to desiring to be adults. Enough is enough!

Madonna – Worth it?

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(11) American Hollywood worship is infantile and out of control!. Movie stars: They’re not exactly rocket scientists! The social value of people is determined by their monetary value. Athletes, business people and movie and music stars are more highly valued than teachers, religious and political leaders.
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Big Pig Banks!

(12) The US banking system nearly bankrupted the entire world! It may still finish the job. Time will tell. Read new book “MELTDOWN: The End

MeltDown – End of Age of Greed

of  the Age of Greed” by Paul Mason. The author describes how the banking system “wrecked the world…”

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(12) America seems unable to keep Religion separate from The State. Why should “God bless America” (over the other roughly 196 sovereign nations in this world?) Do Americans REALLY believe they are the Chosen People?
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(13) America has had several nasty patches of assassinating its brightest lights, then explaining each incident away with a convenient “crazed lone gunman” conclusion, to assuage its unspeakable common guilt and complicity.
Lee Harvey Oswald, we now know, was a witless toy-boy of the CIA – a “patsy“, exactly as he cried out.
It was JFK’s own government officials – The Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA, FBI, & NSC – who conspired successfully to perform a coup d’etat. It worked so slick, they did it again (RFK) and again (King) and again (M.X ). [see: "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters"/James W. Douglass]. Reviewing the book cited here, ["JFK & The Unspeakable"] about the events in Dallas in 1963, Amazon.com book customer Nick Anez summarizes Douglass’ thoughts about the ultimate meaning of the assassination to Americans and all citizens of the world : “If JFK had not been murdered, we would not have had the prolongation of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the purported War on Terror and the steady moral deterioration of America. Interestingly, one month after JFK’s assassination, President Truman wrote an article for The Washington Post cautioning about the threat of the CIA taking over America.”
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Secrets finally revealed: “JFK & The Unspeakable”

(14) The CIA has been the most long-lived, invidious, sinister terrorist organization in human history. More omnipresent and empowered than even the dreaded Russian KGB. The CIA is a virtual “black government,” operating independently under the radar of elected officials. ” Nick Anez continues in his excellent book review, outlining concisely the role Douglass says the CIA played in world affairs immediately after the assassination of Kennedy:Lyndon Johnson, the CIA’s ally, assumed the presidency. He canceled talks with Khrushchev and refused Castro’s pleas to continue dialogue. He reversed JFK’s withdrawal plan from Vietnam as well as his plan to neutralize Laos. The military industrial complex took control of the country. The policy of plausible deniability led the way to assassinations of foreign leaders, the overthrowing of foreign governments and horrors committed all over the globe.
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(15) America is  xenophobic.  America is not the Centre of the World!
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(16) The American political system is hopelessly broken and corrupt to the core. God is not going to save America. Nor will Palin {God Forbid!}. Or Limbaugh. or ‘The Donald‘, or FOX!

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(17)Americans are the FATTEST people in the world. America invented JUNK FOOD, which is responsible for more unnatural deaths daily than any other cause of death.
fatties

Fat America

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(18) American miltarism will one day totally break the bank! Guns, Guns, Guns!
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How Can We Fix A Broken America?

To Fix America:
(a) travel back in time to the date of George W. Bush‘s birth, and have The Powers of Heaven  produce a miscarriage. Alright, yes, that was a cheap shot! But when you’re dealing with a Bush…everyone now knows…you’re dealing with cheap trash. George W. Bush is behind many of America’s toughest issues today. He is the man that wrecked America’s international reputation. He is the man that dumped billions – trillionsof dollars into the banking system to save banks he believed to be “Too big to fall.” What a BAD idea THAT was! He is the man that drug America into two more meaningless, useless wars, ending and maiming the lives of thousands of soldiers. If only that man had never come around!
OK, now I’ll get serious:
(1) First, the  two-party government system has to go. It only leads to endless deadlock and desperation in the legislature. With only two parties in Congress, it’s always a “showdown” on every single vote. Laws that actually do get passed often carry with them hidden stink-bombs that had to be embedded in them, otherwise “the other” party would have killed them dead.

gold

(2) On the economy scene: return to the Gold Standardof pre-Nixon years. The US dollar is no longer a viable world economic anchor. At the present time, especially, the government is printing money like mad and only cranking up inflation, or possibly deflation, or possibly “stagflation” – take your pick! Who knows which direction the American economy will go now? With each passing month the US dollar  comes nearer and nearer to becoming $Monopoly$  money.

(4) America needs to re-think the War on Terror. The Patriot Act and  its looting of important civil rights of citizens have been an insult to Liberty. Government has been spying on citizens – at home, on the Internet, at the local library, at  schools. It’s dreadful to see this happening. The Terror Alerts only served to terrorize citizens even more! [see above : "What We've lost"] The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have earned America only more enemies – secret, silent, creeping, vicious enemies. The War on Terror has made the world – and especially the USA – a more dangerous place.
(5) Related to (4) - Immediately slash the military budget by at least 50% by pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan (as has been perennially promised!). For the fiscal year 2010,  the Department of Defense Base Budget ate up $533.7  billion, mainly  supporting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s almost 1/4 of your money for social security benefits like health care! That money could go a long way towards a new universal  health care program. (In 2010 Medicaid  spent $201 billion, while Medicare took  $386 billion. With other social spending, the grand total for Social Security came to $612 billion.) Maintaining a massive U.S. military presence around the world only wins America enemies. It’s counter-productive. It generates fear and paranoia.
(6) STOP! electing actors and other various charismatic buffoons to positions of power. Yes, actors can make themselves – and by reflection citizens – look and sound just GREAT! But they’re ACTORS! Professional pretenders! Their calling in life is to fool and trick their audiences!
Definition: Roget’s Dictionary: ACTOR: noun:  Hollywood actors and actresses: performer, player,  film star, star, starlet, matinee idol; informal ham; lead, leading man, leading lady, stand-in.

Then there’s this sweetie-cakes, wannabe-in-power, Sarah Palin, the ultimate Buffoon-ette! She’s charismatic, yes! Sassy, perky.  Andbrain-dead. She reads from crib notes scribbled in ink on her cutesy manicured little hands! She’s never been anywhere in the world. Do you believe she could actually find Iran or North Korea on a map? Palin’s latest “cross-hairs” caper associated with the most unfortunate shooting of US Congrresswoman Gabrielle Giffords reflects so evilly on the sway of charismatic snake charmers over American citizens.

(7)America must GET GREEN. You do NOT need that polluting Hummer, or that speedboat. Get a Smart Car, or a hybrid, and buy a rowboat. No more SUVs! Re-reverse Bush’s cuts to environmental protection. Your wild spaces need protection. Ban offshore oil rigs. Boycott McDonalds and Burger King.

(8) America needs restrictive gun laws. Congress should excise that execrable “arms” 2nd Amendment from the constitution:”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Teach your children that guns and violence are not good for children and other living things.

(9) AMERICANS! Educate yourselves!  That simple-minded parking space for incohate contrarians of  multiple  persuasions -  The Tea Party – is no place to seriously exercise your citizens’ duty to participate in the politics of  the nation. Writing recently about the American Debt Ceiling crisis, Canadian political commentator Mitchell Anderson said of  the “Ungovernable Ignorance” of  the American citizenry, in theTyee.ca : “It could be that democracy in America is working just fine. The problem is that the electorate has become so badly misinformed that GOP lawmakers trying to save their nation (and the world) from bankruptcy are hamstrung by the collective ignorance of their constituents they pledged to represent.

(10) Finally, America could revolutionize the world by banning all nuclear weapons.

Hoorah for Obama for the recent “START” accord with Russia! That’sthe spirit of change the whole world hungers for! America, herself, should dis-arm first to set an example (No one is going to attack! The cold war is over.) Make pacts with all other nations to destroy all existing nuclear weapons, and enforce global supervision preventing any nation from ever again refining weapons-grade uranium or plutonium. Make WORLD PEACE.

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“More and more in our times Canadians have wondered  just what kind of continental neighbour America, is, exactly.  Where will it all end?”

That’s what this blog is all about.

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“Look ahead into the past, and back into the future…” 

Canada’s Margaret Laurence (1926 – 1987)

Margaret Laurence, “The Diviners” McClelland & Stewart Ltd 1966

  1. Carlie
    July 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Phenomenal breakdown of the topic, you should write for me too!

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