"Western European nations granted themselves important accommodations such as affordable universal healthcare,
tuition-free higher education, bountiful private pensions, powerful job protection laws, four weeks or more paid vacations,
accommodating public transit, paid family sick leave, paid maternity leave, and free child care.
People in the United States today, with the exception of some of those protected by labor unions,
have permitted the wealthy class to deny them these benefits, allowing their taxes, for example, to be spent on
what is, by far, the world's biggest military budget and an ultra-invasive national surveillance system that allows
the government to violate their privacy. People in Europe insist that their taxes be spent to enrich
the health, education and well-being of the entire population, not just those with extreme wealth. so
there is less grumbling." Ralph Nader: Breaking Through Power p15
No matter how severe the U.S.’ decline becomes, neocons and the Tea Party continue to espouse their belief in “American exceptionalism.”
But in many respects, the U.S. of 2015 is far from exceptional.
The U.S. is not exceptional when it comes to civil liberties (no country in the world incarcerates,
per capita, more of its people than the U.S.) or healthcare (WHO ranks the U.S. #37 in terms of healthcare).
Nor is the U.S. a leader in terms of life expectancy: according to the WHO, overall life expectancy in the U.S.
in 2013 was 79 compared to 83 in Switzerland and Japan, 82 in Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada and
81 in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Austria and Finland." Alternet 3/25/2015)
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. 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.
They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and
next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and
fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust
in a government that has done so little new for them over the past
three decades or more, except for Obama’s endlessly embattled health
care effort, which seems to most Europeans a pathetically modest
I have some bad news for you: You
have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide
“ in the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the
prime rogue state today is the United States. ” Robert Jarvis
"TeleSur" - An international poll found that the
United States is ranked far in the lead as “the biggest threat to world
peace today,” far ahead of second-place Pakistan, with no one else even
A rich country with millions of poor people. A
country that prides itself on being the land of opportunity, but in
which a child’s prospects are more dependent on the income and
education of his or her parents than in other advanced countries. A
country that believes in fair play, but in which the richest often pay
a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than those less well off.
A country in which children every day pledge allegiance to the flag,
asserting that there is “justice for all,” but in which, increasingly,
there is only justice for those who can afford it. These are the
contradictions that the United States is gradually and painfully
struggling to come to terms with as it begins to comprehend the
enormity of the inequalities that mark its society—inequities that are
greater than in any other advanced country. Joseph
A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
PRONUNCIATION: (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)
noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.
From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy
(rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to
defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography.
Earliest documented use: 1829.
"...Systemic risk in the financial system can be
remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the
environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an
institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting
propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic
global warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the
threat, but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If
they don't, someone else will. This vicious cycle could well turn out
to be lethal. To see how grave the danger is, simply have a look at the
new Congress in the U.S., propelled into power by business funding and
propaganda. Almost all are climate deniers. They have already begun to
cut funding for measures that might mitigate environmental catastrophe.
Worse, some are true believers; for example, the new head of a
subcommittee on the environment who explained that global warming
cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that there will not be
And today, JFK's great concerns seem more relevant
than ever: the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the notion that empire
is inconsistent with a republic and that corporate domination of our
democracy at home is the partner of imperial policies abroad. He
understood the perils to our Constitution from a national-security
state and mistrusted zealots and ideologues. He thought other nations
ought to fight their own civil wars and choose their own governments
and not ask the U.S. to do it for them. Yet the world he imagined and
fought for has receded so far below the horizon that it's no longer
even part of the permissible narrative inside the Beltway or in the
mainstream press. Critics who endeavor to debate the survival of
American democracy within the national-security state risk
marginalization as crackpots and kooks. His greatest, most heroic
aspirations for a peaceful, demilitarized foreign policy are the
forbidden debates of the modern political era. RFK
Jr in the December 5th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.
"What does seem clearer today is that the rise of the
national security state and the triumphalism of the corporate sector
(along with the much publicized growth of great wealth and striking
inequality in the country) has been accompanied by a decided diminution
in the power of the government to function domestically and of the
imperial state to impose its will anywhere on Earth. " Tom
Betrayal of the American Dream" is the story of how a small number
of people in power have deliberately put in place policies that have
enriched themselves while cutting the ground out from underneath
America’s greatest asset — its middle class. (Barlett and Steele)
Facing the challenges of a world on edge - from Japan
to the Greater Middle East, from a shaky global economic system to
weather that has become anything but entertainment - the United States
looks increasingly incapable of coping. It no longer invests in its
young, plans effectively for the future, or sets off on new
paths. It literally can't do. And this is not just a domestic
crisis, but part of imperial decline. The United State of Fear: Tom
Englehardt p 185
Any vision for America going forward must be
articulated as part of a global vision. As this global recession has so
forcefully reminded us, we all intertwined. The world today faces at
least six key economic challenges, some of which are interrelated.
Their persistence and depth is testimony to the difficulties that our
economic and political system has in addressing problems at the global
scale. We simply don't have effective
institutions to help identify the problems and formulate a vision of
how they might be resolved, let alone to take appropriate concrete
actions. (Joseph E. Stiglitz from his book, Freefall, pg 188)
Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old
republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose Is to wage
perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement?
February 27, 1947. Place: White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman,
Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional
leaders. Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could
have his militarized economy only if he first "scared the hell out of
the American people” that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The
perpetual war began. Representative government of, by, and for the
people Is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys
representation by the Congresses and presidents that it pays for In an
arrangement where no one Is entirely accountable because those who have
bought the government also own the media. Now, with the revolt of the
Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous
phase, Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue
states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We
honor no treaties. We spurn International courts, We strike
unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders, to the United Nations
but do not pay our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is
now the greatest terrorist of all. We bomb, invade, subvert other
states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source
of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented In
Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America
and its enforcer, the imperial military machine. We the unrepresented
People of the United States are as much victims of this militarized
government as the Panamanians, Iraqis, or Somalians. We have allowed
our institutions to be taken over In the name of a globalized American
empire that is totally alien In concept to an our founders had in mind.
I suspect that it is far too !late in the day for us to restore the
republic that we lost a half-century ago. from Gore Vidal's book Perpetual
War for Perpetual Peace.
What stands out is nearly every index [of social
well-being] the United States is rated at the bottom among developed
countries." Steven Hill: Europe's
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time,
government when it deserves it." Mark Twain
...we have 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of
the population.... In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object
of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise
a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this
position of disparity without positive detriment to our national
security.... We should cease to talk about vague and -- for the Far
East -- unreal objectives, such as human rights, the raising of living
standards, and democratization. George Kennan in his 1948 Biography
"There is a feeling today among too many Americans
that we might not make it. Not that the end is near, or that doom is
around the corner, but that a distinctly American feeling of
inevitability, of greatness—culturally, economically, politically—is
gone. That we have become Britain. Or Rome. Or Greece. A generation ago
Ronald Reagan rallied the nation to deny a similar charge: Jimmy
Carter’s worry that our nation had fallen into a state of “malaise.” I
was one of those so rallied, and I still believe that Reagan was right.
But the feeling I am talking about today is different: not that we, as
a people , have lost anything of our potential, but that we, as a
republic , have. That our capacity for governing—the product, in part,
of a Constitution we have revered for more than two centuries—has come
to an end. That the thing that we were once most proud of—this, our
republic—is the one thing that we have all learned to ignore.
Government is an embarrassment. It has lost the capacity to make the
most essential decisions. And slowly it begins to dawn upon us: a ship
that can’t be steered is a ship that will sink." Republic, Lost: How
Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It: Lawrence Lessig (links). Free pdf download.
"...what seperates successful states from
failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or
Extractive states,...are controlled by ruling elites
whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest
of society and to maintain their own hold on power." (Daron
Acemoglu and James Robinson)
* Studies show that Congress does
not do what people, when polled, would prefer. Instead it usually
accedes to the wishes of the wealthy
funders, who mostly do not agree with the wishes of the general
population. This is written
into law in the form of a budget, which
reflects priorities, but not the ones most people would support.
Congress is no longer acountable to the people, instead it does the
wishes of the funders.
In recent discussion of the US budget,
partisans, meeting in secret without any public oversight
do not agree on much of anything. The result was
across the board cuts in Federal spending, a
further weakening of the economy,
accelerated our race to the bottom. For decades Republicans have done their best to cut social programs (entitlements), while
putting even more resources into 'defense',
and serving their corporate masters with tax
cuts for the wealthy.
The partisan Supreme Court'sCitizens United decision
solidified this fact: Every Congressman who
favors an agenda for people will be facing
opposition. In addition,
where Republicans control State legislatures, they have been
gerrymandering, systematically making it more difficult to vote: requiring photo id's, restricting early
voting, making it more difficult for students to vote, plus their more
standard techniques of hacking voting
machines, engaging in dirty
tricks, or voter caging. Oligarchs
provide R's funding. They have been sucessful, the Republican wrecking crew will take over
The healthiest industry in the US is for weaponry as a result
of the runaway 'defense' budget and the
immense profits from war. Since every
Congressional district has jobs dependent on war profiteering, there is
always an incentive to increase 'defense' spending. There is no
particularly credible threat to account for all this weaponry. it
generates considerable ill-will around the world, but it is (pay
attention Republicans) an immense,
extremely unproductive, GOVERNMENT JOBS PROGRAM. The NRA is a
front group for a powerful arms industry. What
we get for all this spending on weaponry is an out-of-control
military-industrial complex, an intrusive
government that is strangling civil
liberties, and endless war on a world-wide
As a result of Republicans
dislike of government, all things public are deteriorating and private
entities perform former government tasks...but with no accountability,
and ofter in secrecy. (privatized activity
is often cloaked in
Many of our cities are rotting, our infrastructure is
in bad shape, our social safety net
is shredded, our rails in sad disrepair, many market choices for
automobiles...but no public option.
Government is dysfunctional because many of our elected
representatives don't like it and gleefully sabotage it. However, it is
the only institution that is capable of addressing the challenges we
are facing. Republican brinksmanship is
a major cause of the dysfunction.
* Leading economists tell us that austerity
is a bad idea now, and that it will further weaken the economy.
Republicans, partisan ideologues, know that a bad economy could win
them elections, so they have cut at all
levels of government and done
nothing about massive unemployment. The important result for them is
that the other side fails, not that the country thrives.
For their lobbying expenses, corporations
benefit from very little tax burden (which they are attempting to
completely shed), a military that protects
their interests at public expense, a safety net that assures, if they
are large, they cannot fail (taxpayers will pick up the tab). The
massive military expenses preclude civilization at home. Evidence of
this is everywhere: crumbling infrastructure, college debt, blighted
cities, unemployment, but those are mostly covered up by corporate media.
Corporations fund the Tea Party to
buy political gridlock. The message is designed to promote the corporate agenda: lower taxes, privatization, deregulation, shrinken
benefits, labor suppression, and paralysed government. The message is
carefully crafted so that people do not realize they are losing their
prospects, their wealth, and their freedom.
The predator must first fool, then paralyse its prey...but the
poisonous propaganda is paid for by the very deep-pocketed.
* The middle class has
been sinking since Reagan took office. Workers
bargaining rights have been systematically eroded and the minimum wage
has lost much of its value. Republicans
are intent on destroying any kind of social
safety net including Social Security
(not much of a problem really), healthcare,
sick-time, vacations. pensions, as the great extraction proceeds.
The postal service in the late 1700s, was the only media, and
because its important role was recognized, it was written into the
Constitution and subsidized for news and opinion. Toay it is on death
US corporate media has a strong
influence on culture, politicals, citizenship, and education. What it
does is sell product but its entertainment always has a message that
includes hidden advertising, sanitized history, celebrity gossip that
advertising, Right-wing demagogues on talk
radio promote a regressive agenda that can only lead to an imperial
state defending an empire that robs the
people and can destroy the planet.
* Probably the best indicator
that someone is a Republican is wether they are regular church
attendees. To have beliefs based on faith, lessons of history, informed
opinion, or evidence become irrelevent. This is how the Republican agenda can be conveyed by
misinformation. Don't be surprised that religion
is not just an unholy GOP ally, but
is, itself, a large industry and it is a leading perveyor of
uses empire, and empire uses religion." (Selina O'Grady)
* Science tells us that global
warming is man-made, that the population
has exceeded the planets' carrying capacity, and that further additions
to carbon emmissions can doom the planet.
Republicans, ever ready to claim science a
scam, are oblivious.
What's the Matter With Republicans
? They oppose measures to provide a social
safety net and in many ways foster divisiveness using religious bigotry, dirty election tactics, racism, homophobia, and the big red scare (often
an excuse to suppress labor organizing). While
they also oppose measures to protect civil
liberties with the possible exception of the Second
* Like other empires, the US no
longer responds to its people. To
pay for the empire, there can be no social programs like healthcare or social
security. Union busting, offshoring jobs, and now robotics assures
wages, but has the side-effect of weak demand...the real reason why the
US economy will not recover.
The Republican Party, along
with corporate media
have sponsored the world's largest military
to guard corporate interests, most notably the interests of oil companies, but many others as well. After
losing the 'big red scare' which was justification for the world's
largest military, Republicans had to find another reason to maintain
the military-industrial complex, so they engineered a culture war with
the Muslim world. They don't much care who is armed, after all arms are
profitable. We now have an arrms race of Americans against their
R's are completely oblivious of global challenges. They spurn international law, and attempts to
reach international consensus...unless, of course, it is to the
advantage of Corporate multinationals.
They are tireless in their efforts to undermine the UN.
Bear in mind
that global problems need to be addressed by global institutions.
Republicans are willfully ignorant about climate change because it might reduce
their funders right to pollute. They have
a lot in
common with Jim Jones.
Republican so called 'conservative'
values are about money, not the environment and certainly not people. Their agenda
is more about
accumulating money than working for the public
good. Their economic
agenda is counterproductive. Their attitude toward government makes
failure a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Republicans are driving a very bad bargain: "we are in the process ofdestroying
a great many things which are real— soil, water, energy,
resources, other species, our health — for the sake of something that
exists chiefly in our imagination: money."
Recent studies show that Congress
responds to the preferences of the wealthy, not the people. The Federal
budget is about the reverse of what
people, when polled, would want. We have reached new extremes of income inequality and, according to
scholar Thomas Piketty, it tends to get worse. The U.S. is now an oligopoly, not a democracy.
None of this is accidental, it is the result of policy. Lawrence
Lessig's book, Republic,
Lost (free pdf) documents that we have a government that is
responsive to the funders, not the people. The Supreme Court has been treasonous
in facilitating this fascist coup.
The Court has sided with corporate
interests consistently for
a long time: It decided that corporations are people, that money is
speech, and that the only motive for corporations is profit. A person
whose only motive is profit is a sociopath, and so it is with
corporations that have set us on a (geologically) fast path to
Elections clearly are for sale
now, media is Corporate,
Congress is dysfunctional, the Supreme
Court is partisan, the military-industrial complex is powerful, and
covert agencies are out
of control, the empire
is unsustainable, there is no reason to think that the system will
self-correct barring massive and unlikely structural change.
Republicans, like the Bush
family, were supporters and financiers of Nazi Germany. They nearly
accomplished a coup during the
Roosevelt administration and they continue to promote policies that
lead to fascism: defined as rule by corporations.
US media, particularly broadcasters,
see no obligation to serve the public. Since concentrated media
controls almost all information, the US is mostly run by corporations. They have demonstrated the
create storms of misinformation that trigger protest mobs. Because most
of the economy is corporate, they also can buy the Congress. That is, by definition, Fascism.
Media is key to keeping people
ignorant. It is largely responsible for our failed democracy,
dysfunctional government, schools. If people
are reminded of any history, they would know we are on a rapid path to
the bottom and environmental destruction.
The US was the last advanced country standing after WW II. As
a result, for a while, it became the leading supplier of product to the
world and its
currency became the most important. It was predictable that this status
would not last in the long run. But its misguided concept of itself as
exceptional or a superpower is no longer
defensible, it has continued to fund the military
at levels that exceed the rest of the world's combined. There is no
credible risk to justify that magnitude of expense. Democracy will not
be spread with guns and bombs, and it no longer exists in the U.S.
In short, the US has become an empire,
it's President a strong-man head of State
increasingly unaccountable, the Congress a
quaint, (and corrupt) irrelevant appendage of dysfunctional government,
and a foreign policy that mostly works at the point of a gun, its
industry has migrated to low wage countries, its economy
has visibly weakened, the currency is facing competition and
corporate war profiteers are running the show,
it is controlled by a corporate elite so by definition is fascist.
Its government is corrupt. It has all but bankrupted itself.
It no longer serves its people. (See the agenda)
It is dysfunctional. Although it will
maintain itself by force if necessary, its legitimacy is now