Atypical America Leaves the World Perplexed

In view of their unjust imposition of seven decades of crippling economic sanctions on Cuba, has anybody ever imposed sanctions on the United States? If not, why not?

Just a Few Surreal By-Products of American Exceptionalism

The killing with a perfectly legal assault rifle of two innocent peaceful demonstrators, and the wounding of another, on the street in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Then the failure of a jury of his American peers to convict the perpetrator. Then an ex-president of the United States publically congratulating the killer for getting away with murder. This whole chain of events looks highly irregular–grotesquely so–to non Americans all over the world. To normal people from other countries the incident, its legal derivations and the social acceptance of it smacks of grave nationalistic illness of the sort that affected the German people during Hitler’s Nazi regime.

To this level of mindless brutality–on the part of the killer, the judge and jury and a large part of the American people–we must add the massive hypocrisy of Americans selling themselves as paladins of world democracy and the good life, the mythical shining city on a hill. If they believe that absurd and dangerous commonplace, why shouldn’t we?

The Americans Burden Themselves


Americans are encumbered with a set of anti-social, individualistic values, considered aberrant in most advanced countries, and a low level of education, which also suffers from a cruel ideological slant. Their primary and secondary schools teach children that their country is uniquely blessed by God and thus divinely empowered to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. But the truth is that they are not exceptional. They form a branch of the great apes of the species homo sapiens, just like the rest of the people in the world. Nor is their form of government, in its current state, superior. It is gravely and demonstrably flawed. And their fervent efforts to impose it around the world, while violently suppressing other people’s lifestyle choices, have given rise to at least a century of universal worldwide unease.

Commerce Against Humanity

The pursuit of commercial militarism underlies the system. In order to be even marginally legitimate, wars must be fought in defense of sane principles such as humane values or self defense. Today most wars are fought for the profit of the few: big bankers, big arms makers, big pharma and big everything else. Does anyone know the details of the commercial arrangements underlying all the war materiel that the U.S. and U.K. so liberally bestowed upon Ukraine? Are the Ukranians paying for all that big-ticket armament in comfortable monthly installments or are American and British taxpayers generously making them a gift of all those expensive war toys? If it’s the former, when does military solidarity cross the line into arms profiteering? If it’s the latter, and they are passing the cost of the arsenal to their countries’ citizens, have they bothered to inform them as to where their tax money is going?

The never-ending encroachment of revealed religion in the American government. For the wise American founders “freedom of religion” included freedom from religion. The Constitution of the United States accorded no role for organized religion in the new American republic. That lowbrow religion should have slithered into the American government’s highest offices, in the guise of “spiritual advisors” speaking in tongues, is seen by outsiders as a sad commentary on the state of the nation.

This Is Going to Hurt

The American disregard for human pain, suffering and life itself abounds. This hardly requires comentary. It’s enough just to mention the all-too-familiar names: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Irak, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan… Sometimes the American executioners don’t even need a war to reap tons of pain and discord. These are just some of their alleged victims: John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcom (X) Little, Martin Luther King and Black Panther co-founder, Dr. Huey Newton. His Black Panther colleagues, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were gunned down by 14 police officers as they lay sleeping–or having been drugged; it’s not clear which.

The (In) Human Factor

The killers and facilitators. While we’re at it we should name some of the Americans’ most illustrious killers and facilitators in this atypical history. The most egregious is seldom pointed out. He is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Heinz Alfred (Henry) Kissinger, President Nixon’s right-hand man during Nixon’s fruitless and unscrupulous last-ditch attempt to win the Vietnam war and the re-election to the U.S. presidency. The Nobel Prize was never the same again. Kissinger’s rapsheet includes cozying up to Latin American military dictators and retarding the Paris Vietnam peace negotiations in benefit of Nixon’s reelection, a delay which cost thousands of American–and many more Vietnamese–lives. For a compelling and detailed account of Kissinger’s time in the White House, see Seymour Hersh’s Kissinger, The Price of Power.

Then there’s Augusto Pinochet, the CIA-annointed dictator of Chile; and Jorge Rafael Videla, the military-junta-appointed president of Argentina between 1976 and 1981, the bloodiest years of fascist repression in that benighted country and further afield. Their outrages included the Operation Condor campaign of assassinations of some 60,000-80,000 suspected leftists all over South America between 1968 and 1989, a project designed by the CIA and carried out by a host of Latin American dictators. Nor must we forget to include in this rogues’ gallery Israel’s on-and-off-again president, Bibi Netanyahu, the architect of the ruthless apartheid regime against the Palestinians.

McNamara and Westmoreland in Vietnam

Robert McNamara’s middle name is “Strange,”as in “Strangelove.” The U.S. Secretary of Defense between 1961 and 1968, he ramped up the Vietnam war unconscionably, and having failed to defeat the Vietnamese communists, moved inexplicably on to a series of prestige appointments beginning with the presidency of the World Bank. McNamara’s mediocrity was superseded only by that of William Westmoreland, the commander of Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MACV) in 1964. U.S. troop strength on Westmoreland’s watch went from 16,000 when he arrived to its peak of 535,000 in 1968 when he was kicked upstairs to Army chief of staff.

After losing the war to the Vietnamese under, General Vo Nguyen Giap, the American commander permitted himself the luxury of criticizing the incompetence of his enemy. It is summed up in this summary from a 1998 interview for George magazine:

In the 1974 film Hearts and Minds, Westmoreland said that ‘The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient.’ “Westmoreland’s view has been heavily criticized by Nick Turse, the author of the book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. According to Turse, many of the Vietnamese killed were actually innocent civilians, and the Vietnamese casualties were not just caused by military cross-fire but were a direct result of the U.S. policy and tactics, for example the policy ‘kill everything that moves’. He concluded that, after having “spoken to survivors of massacres by United States forces at Phi Phu, Trieu Ai, My Luoc and so many other hamlets, I can say with certainty that Westmoreland’s assessment was false”.

U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger warmly greets Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in 1976, during the heyday of the CIA-engineered Operation Condor program of mass assassination by South American dictators of suspected leftists all over Latin America.

Wait, There’s More


Elliott Abrams was the scourge of Guatemala as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (a title which deserves a Nobel irony prize) under the Reagan administration. He collaborated with the dictator, General Efraín Rios Montt, in the genocide of the country’s Mayan people between 1982 and 1983. He was also involved in the Iran-Contra operation and twice convicted–later pardoned by George W. Bush–of withholding information from Congress. Abrams was still at it until at least 2021, appointed by President Donald Trump’s atypical Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as U.S. Special Representive for Venezuela and Iran. They considered that both of those countries required urgent re-directioning. Iran is a thriving Shiite Muslim society in the Middle East, with massive oil deposits. And Venezuela is clearly guilty of being the home of untold natural resources including a sea of petroleum and a mountain of gold, just waiting for someone with the capital and knowhow to exploit them.

There’s one more remorseless bully who’s necessary on this list, George W. Bush, the wholesale butcher of Baghdad, in company with his stellar running dogs, British prime minister, Tony Blair, and José María Aznar, the pathetic extreme-right-wing Spanish president who was desperate to come out in the photo with those he considered los caudillos.

The Americans haven’t fought on their own ground since the civil war which ended in 1865, but to how many countries have they exported disastrous wars in the past century and a half? How many civilian victims? How many dead and maimed soldiers resulted–including many thousands of their own? That’s indifferent to them; they’ve got an unlimited supply of gold stars for the grieving mothers. Robert McNamara decided to limit the number of college-educated white boys sent to Vietnam, lest they join the anti-war students when they got home. Since the the U.S. armed forces are made up increasingly of black and brown minorities that American plutocrats consider expendable.

In the end, even Colin Powell was sacrificed before the United Nations Security Council in 2003 in the Americans’ ultimately fruitless pursuit of Irak’s fabulous petroleum riches. I have one last question before we leave the subject of the Americans’ tragic story of murder and mayhem around the world. In view of their unjust imposition of seven decades of crippling sanctions on Cuba, has anybody ever imposed economic sanctions on the United States? If not, why not?

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You’re Overlooking a Critical Issue: It’s Not Just Trump

Trump & Cabinet

This graphic is not up to date. Since these appointments, a lot of people have been fired, eased out, or quit and new ones have been incorporated.

Is Getting Rid of Trump the Answer?

Approximately half of the voting population of the United States is in agreement on one thing: the urgent necessity to unseat President Donald Trump. The other half is determined to maintain him in office and advance his curious agenda, which essentially amounts to dismantling and destroying the government and the country. His recent, “I have second thoughts on everything…”  comment confirms his arbitrariness. It’s almost as if he didn’t have ideas of his own, but was in the business of adopting other people’s programs for a price–notably re-election but also the advancement of his personal business interests and those of his family.

President Trump’s government is not run on ideas, it’s run on personal self-interest and simple-minded ideology, the notion that less government and fewer taxes are better, and that the affairs of the nation are better left to the private sector, to business. His selection of personnel for his cabinet and staff to dis-govern the country is based on a wonderfully-simple idea which is fatally-flawed at its base. The authentic purpose of government is to assure the health and wellbeing of the whole nation, the principal objective of all the countries of the developed world–except one. The purpose of business is to make a profit. It should be clear even to a person of limited intellect that the two concepts are diametrically opposed and that favoring profit over wellbeing, though it’s great for a few rich men and powerful industries, is a ruinous policy for the vast majority of the American people.

Which brings us to the point. The ongoing trashing of the United States for the benefit of sinister powerful interests is not actually Trump’s program. He lacks both the wit and the attention span even to outline such a vast program, let alone execute it. That’s why the powers behind the President have decided he needs a crew that can be trusted to do the trashing, firstly on behalf of the select tribe of business gangsters who put him in power and in second place, in order to benefit his personal interests and those of his family. So, if the people of the American opposition should succeed in ousting  President Trump, either through impeachment or the ballot box, they would still be far from solving the problem. The rest of the Trump team, with the most reactionary powers of the country behind them, would remain intact and active.

A Sea Change in Campaign Financing Changed Everything

73%

Just who are the aforementioned “capitalist gangsters” and how did they manage to concentrate so much political power in the United States? The answers are not hard to find. The gangsters are people, companies, and institutions that have accumulated so much money that they can purchase the power of the US government. This was formerly unthinkable. Democratic institutions were not for sale. Then, in 2010, that reality changed, with the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310, Supreme Court decision concerning campaign finance. The ruling effectively freed labor unions and corporations to spend money on electioneering communications and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates. Do not be tempted to think that the unions and corporations were therefore on equal terms. American unions were pretty well defenestrated by 2010. That left American corporations an open field for essentially purchasing the US Congress. That wholly-legal power grab started a brief 19 years ago and explains the situation the country finds itself in today.

In my first year in college, there was a required course called American Thought and Language 101. In it, my first left-wing professor introduced 30 or 40 naive 18-year-olds to “Conservatism,” a political philosophy that put property rights before human rights, profit before people. I was stunned. How was it possible that citizens of my own country could adhere to such a monstrous philosophy? Seven years later I changed countries and never looked back, but Conservatism went on to reign in the United States in an ever-more-monstrous version.

Let’s Take a Look at the Cream of President Trump’s Governing Team

Sycophant_in_ChiefAs the President’s cabinet stands today–there has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing since 2016–the top man is Vice President, Mike Pence, the one who would ascend to the presidency if Donald Trump should die, become disabled, or step down. Michael Richard Pence (born June 7, 1959), a former US Representative and Governor of Indiana, characterizes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and as “a born-again, evangelical Catholic,” who, since 1995,  attends the Grace Evangelical megachurch.

When queried about his “military experience,” Pence, a lifetime member of the NRA who never wore a uniform, brings up his family’s military tradition, referring apparently to his father’s service in the Korean War. He emphatically believes in armed solutions, having stated his support of Israel and its right to attack facilities in Iran to prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons, defended the actions of Israel in its use of deadly force in enforcing the blockade of Gaza, and referred to Israel as “America’s most cherished ally.” He apparently hasn’t noticed that Iran is internationally certified as having no nuclear weapons and Israel, the only Middle East country with nuclear capabilities has an estimated 75 to 400 nuclear warheads, complete with a submarine-based second-strike capability. He visited Israel in 2014 to express his support, and in 2016 signed into law a bill which would ban Indiana from having any commercial dealings with a company that boycotts Israel.

According to a FiveThirtyEight rating of candidates’ ideology, Pence was the most conservative vice-presidential candidate in the last forty years. During the campaign Pence stated that his role model as vice president would be Dick Cheney. (Source: Wikipedia)

Vice President Pence visited the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas in July of this year, where 382 immigrant men were packed behind chain-linked fences under “sweltering hot” conditions. Many of the men told reporters they had been there for 40 days or longer, saying that they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. The cages were so overcrowded that it would have been impossible for the men to lie down all at once, and no mats or pillows were provided so the men slept on bare concrete.

“I was not surprised by what I saw,” Pence said at a news conference. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff. He added later, “While we hear some Democrats in Washington, D.C., referring to U.S. Customs and Border facilities as ‘concentration camps,’ what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of.” (Source: People.com)

Orange California, West Point, the House, the CIA, Head of US Diplomacy

Mike PompeoPresident Trump’s Secretary of State since April  2018, is Mike Pompeo, born and raised in Orange, California, who graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, majoring in engineering management. After his military service in Germany, Pompeo was president of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment manufacturer that was also a partner of Koch Industries. He was subsequently a member of the House of Representatives (2011–2017) and the Director of the CIA (January 2017 until April 2018).

In March 2019, when questioned regarding Israel’s conflicts with Iran and following a visit to the Western Wall with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo spoke of “the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains…I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

In March 2014, he denounced the inclusion in a telecast of the whistleblower, Edward Snowden, at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, and asked that it be canceled, predicting that it would encourage “lawless behavior” among attendees. In February 2016, Pompeo said Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence”

Speaking about climate change in 2013, Pompeo said: “There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” He also stated that “climate change is actually good for the Arctic, since melting ice caps are ‘opening up new shipping routes’ and thus making it more economically viable to expand oil drilling in the region.” Now we know where he stands.

Pompeo is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and has been endorsed by them. He is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church where he served as a local church deacon from 2007-2009 and taught Sunday school. In 2014, Pompeo told a church group that Christians needed to “know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world”. In 2015 in a talk at a church, Pompeo said that “politics is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Investment Banker, Asset Stripper, Home Forecloser, Secretary of the Treasury

Louise_Linton_M_wifeSteve Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury was born in New York City in 1962, the son of a Goldman Sachs partner. After graduating from Yale University in 1985, he worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years, eventually becoming its chief information officer. After he left Goldman in 2002, he worked for and founded several hedge funds. Mnuchin was a member of Sears Holdings’s board of directors from 2005 until December 2016, and before that was on Kmart’s board of directors. After Sears went bankrupt, the company that formerly owned it sued Mnuchin and ex-CEO Edward Lampert for “asset stripping” during their tenure. As secretary of the treasury, Mnuchin has been a vocal supporter of reducing corporate tax rates.

Betsy de Vos Has Oodles of Money

Trump_DeVosElisabeth Dee DeVos, born January 8, 1958, was President Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. DeVos’s claim to fame is primarily that she is rich, having fallen into a vat of family money when she was born, and then again when she was married. Suffice it to say that members of her immediate family own ten yachts. What concerns us here is the fact that every aspect of her education activism was designed to undermine public education. That means she favors school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools. All of these are thinly-disguised mechanisms for subverting and supplanting public schools by diverting parts of the education budget to religious models. Vouchers are popular with conservative Christians, and Vice President Mike Pence had expanded taxpayer-funded vouchers, as well as charter schools when he was governor of Indiana. According to the NY Times, DeVos has announced that she will no longer enforce a provision in federal law that bars religious organizations from providing federally-funded education services to private schools.

See What You’re Up Against?

Are these the best people President Donald Trump can find to lead the country? They all seem limited to just a couple of priorities: making (or inheriting) money and introducing religion systematically into the American government. I can detect no hint of dedication to public service in any of them, starting with the President, himself. Are these are the people who will take over the country when the President is no longer around? One wonders if there is an opposition think-tank committee somewhere trying to figure out how to get rid of them when the time comes. But, given the number of layers of Trump appointees and Congressional big-money lackeys that the opposition committee would have to sift through, the job would be like attacking a haystack full of needles.

You Have a Choice Between Two Solutions

From here, I can foresee only two possible solutions, one miraculous, the other military.

  1. The miraculous theological solution: Pray.
  2. The military solution: In the Army they prepared us for extreme situations such as this or seeing a blinding flash followed by a mushroom cloud. In these cases, the instructions were: “Bend over, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”

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What Went Wrong, America? 2/2

maga

The West Virginia Coal Wars 

The West Virginia Mine Wars are a dramatic and often overlooked chapter of American history. In the early 1900s in the coalfields of Southern WV, miners faced desperate circumstances. Below ground they withstood some of the worst working conditions in America. Above ground they dealt with brutal mine guards and a mine guard system that controlled the politics and economy of the region.

In 1921 mountaineer families from the nearby hollows, African Americans from the Deep South, and immigrants from places like Hungary and Italy all came together to fight for the right to unionize and basic constitutional rights. From August 20 of that year, miners began rallying at Lens Creek , approximately ten miles south of West Virginia state capital of Charleston. Estimates of total numbers vary, but on August 24, between 5,000 and 20,000 miners began marching from Lens Creek into Logan County. Many of the miners were armed. Continue reading “What Went Wrong, America? 2/2”

What Went Wrong, America? 1/2

Wizard_America

Most Everything, Actually

Why is the United States, allegedly the richest, most-advanced country on earth, so out of step with the rest of the first world? Why does a significant part of its citizens live on the streets in cars, tents or cardboard hovels? Why are prisons occupied by an unnatural preponderance of people of color? Why are its gun homicides off the chart? Why are its elections so dubious and its religions so militant and mercantile? Why is such a wide swath of the population without health care? Why is the economic inequality so grotesquely pronounced there? What gives the American behemoth the right to impose–or try to impose–its will on any sovereign nation it pleases? Why does the United States need 800-1,000 military bases around the world? Why is the country controlled by a fiendish cohort of industrialists and financiers, headed up by a lowbrow President who was actually elected? Why doesn’t somebody do something about all of these glaring anomalies? They’ve done it in the rest of the First World. What went wrong with you, America? Continue reading “What Went Wrong, America? 1/2”

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