Permanent War Is Bad for You

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But It’s So Good for Business; What Can We Do?

I wonder if the American dedication to permanent war over the past quarter century worries you as much as it does me. And it’s looking more permanent every day, as if the country had developed a bellicose addiction. It comes in colors: black ops, pre-emptive strikes, war by false flags, war by proxies, mercenary wars. What to do about it? I’ll do what I normally do, write it up, in the vain hope that someone will at least notice the absurdity and injustice of the situation.

I’ve got some specific concerns regarding this “Permawar” business.  Permanent war means victims every day, victims of all flavors, young and old, saints and sinners, most every type of person in fact, except politicians and war profiteers. I do want to include soldiers in this list of victims. They are, after all, human beings, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, all with families, dreams and ambitions to lose in a war. And most of them don’t want to be there in the first place.

Then there are the elderly and children, the utterly helpless. Yours are safe at home for now, but theirs are daily exposed to the biblical wrath of American military might at the hands of GI’s, U.S. “contractors” or neighboring proxy killers on the ground. Or they are victims of the even-more-sinister remote death from the sky delivered by troglodyte mannish boys playing video games in Nevada.

The Effect on the United States is Devastating

I’m also worried about the kickback damage done to the Americans at home. War is expensive. The twelve-zero sums that finance the forever wars have to come from somewhere. They come from the domestic budget, and don’t leave much money for anything else. This is why any European country has better roads and bridges than the United States. Between the defense budget (“defense” being an Orwellian euphemism, of course) and the refinancing of the country’s biggest banks and finance companies, the American lower and middle classes were pauperized. Their poverty begat a deficient education system which begat inequality, which begat delinquency and the largest prison population in the world.

That’s another issue that is seldom mentioned by “responsible journalists,” the fact that most of these wars seem made to order for arms manufacture profiteering. Does the mass media live in another dimension that doesn’t permit them to see certain aspects of the permanent war game? Permawar is a hedge-fund manager’s dream: an unending stream of parasites to be parasited. The reconstituted banks, meanwhile, have ascended straight into heaven on the backs of their investments in the arms-of-mass-destruction business. (You’re not going to pretend that cruise missiles and nuclear bombs aren’t “arms of mass destruction,” are you?)

One is tempted to wonder if the Permawar Machine wasn’t created purposely by a group of demented plutocrats to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich–The Trickle Up Machine–which they, never to miss a chance to exercise their fine sense of irony,  dubbed benevolently the “Trickle Down Machine.” So it goes.

Self-Censorship on Auto-Pilot

It also strikes me as uncanny that scarcely anyone over there who writes or speaks on the subject in the mainline American media ever mentions the fact that most of these senseless wars are about “the enemies'” strategic natural resources, the main (but far from only) one being oil. “What about Afghanistan?” you ask. “They don’t have oil wells.”

That’s true but, according to surveys done by the United States Geological Survey  a decade ago, Afghanistan sits atop a trillion-dollar lode of gold, silver and platinum, as well as significant quantities of iron ore, uranium, zinc, chromium, tantalum, bauxite, coal, copper and natural gas. Some experts have suggested that this impoverished, war-torn Himalayan country might also be on it’s way to becoming “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”, thanks to vast deposits of the raw material used in phone and electric car batteries. In all it amounts to an Aladdin’s cave just waiting to be plundered. This article from The Independent (August, 2017) highlights President Donald Trump’s interest in the subject.

Small, Important Voices

The most compelling comment on this lamentable situation comes not from the all-powerful American mass media, but from the humble blogosphere. Here’s a moving paragraph from a 1915 blog post by Jase Short entitled The Permanent War on Afghanistan-A Personal Reflection:

“9/11 and the war on Afghanistan woke me up to the situation in the world and made me who I am today. But what is shocking is that … the people of Afghanistan have been subject to the same violence for 14 straight years. They do not have the privilege of shrugging their shoulders or enjoying the emotional distance of screens. They are there when the daisy cutter bombs hit, when the hunter killer teams collect their grotesque trophies of human body parts, when killer robots massacre wedding parties. Caught between the occupation, its local agents, and the Taliban itself, these are the people whose lives have been turned into instruments of global politics.”

I wish I had said that.

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

What America Learned from the Germans — 2/2

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(Continued from Part 1)

More on the Propaganda Techniques Employed by the Nazis

  • Glittering Generalities, which Yourman characterizes as “the use of “virtue words” to appeal to emotions of love, generosity and brotherhood. This phenomenon extends to references to German traditions dating back to the Middle Ages, especially the word “volk,” pronounced “folk.” German farmers were seduced to back the Third Reich with constant associations with “Blut und Boden,” (Blood and Soil) and bound by oaths of “Bauer honor” to tie them to the land and prevent them from changing their occupation or residence. The Nazis needed every sector of their economy dominated and running smoothly  if they were going to win the upcoming war.
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Every country has its own benevolent myths regarding their own folks but the Nazis milked them dry. The Americans did something similar after the war. The myths of the “self-made man,” the “hardy frontiersman” and other old saws were elevated to such heights of nincompoopery that they gave rise to a full-blown axiomatic truth called “American Exeptionalism,” a truth just as true as “Manifest Destiny” and The Tooth Fairy.

Americans Are So Special They Have Carte Blanche

It maintains that Americans are qualitatively different from the rest of the people in the world and therefore can write their own rules and apply them to everybody. Written down in black and white, this is patently silly, but right-thinking Americans take it as holy writ. And one American administration after another interprets it as a license to wreak havoc anywhere they fancy.
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  • Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. The pseudo-deification of Chancellor Hitler is an outstanding example of this device. Nazi propagandists seeked to establish him as a quasi divinity and to transfer to him the religious feelings of the German people; then to transfer from him the “divine” sanction to the policies, practices, beliefs, and hatreds which he espouses.
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    The concepts of patriotism  and terrorism work in similar ways. They become “trigger words” to be transfered to any cause the power elite want to promote. The former authorizes shipping young Americans to die in far-off places with funny names; the latter is a useful wild card for use at home (immigrant bans) and abroad (the invasion/subversion/devastation of any country possessing scarce natural resources.)
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  • The Testimonial makes us accept anything from a patent medicine or a cigarette to a program of national policy. From the fact that “the Fuehrer knows the goal and knows the direction,” it follows that his is the supreme testimonial. Hitler is the arbiter of everything. No specialist knows better than he does, no recommendation can be better than his. He can deny even the authority of science. Only the conclusions of “German science” as approved by the Fuehrer may be accepted. When the conclusions of science do not accord with his wishes, as in genetics, a new science has to be invented; its prestige then has to be established by his testimonial.’
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    It’s the same with the arts. Only that art which is approved by the Fuehrer and his subordinates as German art may be accepted by the German people.He also decrees how men and women shall live their lives. The kind of life which has the Fuehrer’s approval is that which is surrendered to the state. In this Hitler is the arbiter; his approval is the supreme testimonial.
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  • Plain Folks is used by politicians, labor leaders, business men, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people like ourselves, “just plain folks among the neighbors.” As for Hitler, at the same time he was canonized as a demigod an attempt was made to transform him into a “man of the people.” This plain-folks ploy has become increasingly popular since Hitler’s time. Who could be more man of the people than the current American President… “current” that is if he’s still in office by the time you read this.
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  • Card Stacking is a device in which the propagandist employs all the arts of deception to win our support for himself, his group, nation, race, policy, practice, belief, or ideal. He stacks the cards against the truth, using underemphasis and overemphasis to dodge or evade facts. Thus a regime has freedom to give publicity to falsehoods. Hitler approves such duplicity in Mein Kampf  when he writes: “Propaganda does not have to seek objectively for the truth so far as it favors an opponent . .. but exclusively has to serve our interests.” This sounds eerily familiar today. In a superb ideological double back flip its prime practitioner actually gave it a name: “fake news.”
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  • The Band Wagon makes us follow the crowd, to accept the propagandist’s program en masse. The technique can be used to further any agenda, no matter how vile. People in a well-ordered country love rallying behind a leader, just as they love a parade. One of the great unifying principles adopted by the National Socialists is that of hate. Among the passages deleted from the English version of Mein Kampf, Hitler has written: “Hate is more lasting than dislike, and the thrusting power for the  mightiest upheavals on this earth has at all times come less from scientific recognition than from a fanaticism that fills the souls of the masses and in a forward-driving hysteria” (vorwaertsiagenden hysterie).”
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    In accordance with this principle Jews, communists, liberals, and democrats became objects of hatred and scapegoats that could be made to suffer for the supposed distress the caused in German society. Unity is further encouraged by patriotic demonstrations. Typical in these are gigantic crowds of people, massed ranks of uniformed troops, bands playing patriotic and martial airs, voices declaiming from a hundred mechanical mouths, ecstatic marchers carrying flickering torches, their resinous smoke blending into the darkness, flags and swastikas everywhere.
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Excellent Propaganda Won’t Do It Alone

Yourman adds a caveat to his list of propaganda techniques that worked for the Nazis.

“We must guard against assuming that German Fascism or any other variety of fascism arises from propaganda alone. German Fascism came into being not primarily because of Hitler’s masterful skill as a propagandist but because conditions of unemployment, impoverishment, despair, anger, and resentment were such in Germany that any person or group offering salvation in terms sufficiently appealing could have influenced profoundly the political and economic decisions of the German people. Hitler was sufficiently appealing. With the financial support of certain individuals and the intrigues and incompetencies of men like von Papen and Hindenburg, fascism becomes a reality.

“The Germans, traditionally nationalistic and arrogantly proud, were defeated, humiliated, crippled, and degraded by World War I. Nazi ideology first made them racially superior, the Nazi politics and force proved their right as a world power and revealed again their interrupted “destiny.” It was a combination of economic breakdown, governmental weakness, frustrated morale, and propaganda which made pre-Nazi Germany ready for fascism. A similar combination could bring fascism elsewhere. Propaganda has no meaning and hence no effectiveness except in terms of life conditions of people-their needs, fears, hatreds, loves, aspirations, prejudices, and traditions. These affect propaganda as much as propaganda affects people.”

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How is your country doing lately for incompetent leaders and for attending the “needs, fears, hatreds, loves, aspirations, prejudices, and traditions of its citizens?”  Be prepared.

Go to: What America Learned from the Germans, Part 1

P.S. I just ran across this article in The Atlantic last night. I want to put a link to it here, as it’s germain to our ongoing discussion of American values. I always thought that white supremacy was an aberrance that was rejected by all mentally healthy Americans. The truth is quite different. It turns out that the Germans also learned something from the Americans.

Back to Part 1/2

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–2/2

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The Pledge of Allegiance is a Socialist Invention

The Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Pledge of Allegiance and I want to cite a couple of  quotes from it. I’m sure they won’t mind:

“The Pledge of Allegiance, as it exists in its current form, was composed in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898).

“In 1892, Francis Bellamy created what was known as the Bellamy salute. It started with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute, which was adopted in Germany later, the US Congress stipulated that the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the US would be the salute to replace the Bellamy salute. Removal of the Bellamy salute occurred on December 22, 1942, when Congress amended the Flag Code language first passed into law on June 22, 1942.”

On the same Wikipedia page as this second quote there is a Dorthea Lange photograph of Japanese-American first graders standing in line with their right hands over their hearts reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It is 1942 and they are standing outside the concentration camp barracks where they are interned with their parents for the duration of World War II.

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Flag Waving is Good Business

This inspirational quote is posted on the webside of a flag manufacturer in the state of Washington: “Show your support of our country by proudly flying your flag in 2016. If you have an American flag at home or at your business, it should be should be flown every day—especially on the national holidays and state birthdays listed below.” They would say that, wouldn’t they.

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

People from other countries have trouble understanding the Americans’ devotion to their flag. Other countries have flags but—with few exceptions—they are not objects of worship. Let’s let this BBC correspondent speak for himself:

“What you still don’t see in the U.K. however, are flags flying outside houses, so it comes as something of a surprise when we first set foot in the U.S. Indeed, some Brits have confessed to feeling a “bit creeped out” at the sight. We can stretch to the odd bit of red, white and blue bunting, but only if there’s a BIG occasion like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or a Royal Wedding. Over here however, it’s not uncommon to see Old Glory in glorious six-foot dimensions hanging right outside the front door of regular houses. Obviously they are everywhere around 4th of July, (American Independence Day), but many homes have flags flying throughout the year.

“In most cases, Americans who choose to fly a flag outside their houses are your normal, common-or-garden folk. Whether or not other nations agree or think it’s odd, these people are proud to be Americans and heck, it’s not harming anyone. Flag-flying and general love of country isn’t quite the neo-Nazi, skinhead thing that it’s often perceived to be in the U.K.

“And flag-flying is very serious business in the U.S.; there are federal guidelines with “instruction and rules on such topics as the pledge of allegiance, display and use of the flag by civilians, time and occasions for display, position and manner of display, and how to show respect for the flag.” I’m betting that not many Americans are aware of how often they break the law either,

“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. “ Oops. And even worse, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. (Imagine the revenue that could be generated if the government cracked down on this.)

There’s even Flag Day (June 14) which was made official by President Truman in 1949, and must be officially proclaimed by the sitting President each year.

And finally, did you know that the study of flags is “vexillology” and a flag expert is a “vexillologist”?

Other Pieces in the Puzzle

The National Anthem is up there with the flag for patriotic morbidity. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have had the recent brouhaha over the black football players “taking a knee” as protests against white police officers killing black people for no cogent reasons. In all fairness the matter was also driven by racism, which added fuel to the already considerable Godzilla issue.

Even the Boy Scouts contribute their part to the Godzilla cause. I loved the Boy Scouts with the marching and saluting, the fire-building contests (I still build a mean fire.) and winter toboganning outings. It wasn’t until many years later, after I was discharged from the U.S. Army, that I realized that the Boy Scouts were a Godzilla paramilitary organization. Religion also plays a part in the Godzilla game. The role of the clergy is to convince the populace that “God is on our side.” And that’s only one of their perversions.

The crowning experience of the Godzilla trip is military service. There you are under orders with a Godzilla obligation to kick down doors, detain all males, shoot family-filled taxis and bomb weddings. Either that or take out whole streets of villages with drone missiles launched video-game style from a bunker in the Nevada desert. There you truly become a star-spangled patriot. There’s only one higher step on the totem pole: to die in the line of duty. That makes you an American Hero. Your little brother gets your motorcycle and your mother gets a broche.

The most tragic result of the Godzilla phenomenon is that it’s virtually irreversible. Young people become old people and die without ever being able to shed the Godzilla mindset. It’s a life sentence. No amount of reasoning will change their minds, which are impervious to facts, logic and humanitarian considerations. Nothing can dent their empty, false and inhuman convictions. In the end the Godzilla society becomes a diabolical perpetual motion machine. We are all victims of the lies we were told as children. So teach your children well.

Now, when right-thinking Americans bewail the shape their country is in, and cast about for solutions, it’s possible that it’s already too late for solutions. This time Godzilla may not be stopped.

Back to Part 1

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–1/2

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Uncle Sam Wants You

A flag is just a rag but throughout history flags have been used to encourage and justify mankind’s most heinous crimes. And in the U.S.A nothing has changed in this respect. Whenever an American government—of any stripe—wants to recruit cannon fodder for any of their foreign adventures the first thing they haul out is the flag, “Old Glory.” Time after time young Americans respond in true Pavlovian style. And it’s not just any old bone they’re drooling after. It’s a death lottery.

What possible explanation can there be for young people to put so little value on their very lives? The answer is simpler than you might think. Just as collies are bred for herding sheep, Americans are bred to go to war. But why? That’s not too complicated, either. Because if the United States runs out of soldiers their policy of permanent war falls apart. And they can’t have that. Without war what’s left of the American economy—technology and arms sales—falters, along with the myth of American invincibility and their militarists’ dream of “full spectrum dominance.” They’re almost there. They have already conquered Grenada and Panama, though they found some unexpected resistance in Irak and Afghanistan. Now all they have left to dominate are North Korea and Iran. Oh, I almost forgot. There’s Russia and China, too.

Inside the Godzilla Contraption

Underlying all this bellicose folderol is a drive train of tricks and lies that I shall refer to here as “Nationalism/Patriotism,” codename “Godzilla.” In theory those two concepts are closely related but different. But in current American practice, as patriotism is invariably linked to militarism, heroism, conquest and glory, nationalism and patriotism are Siamese twins, linked at the hip. In order for the Godzilla contraption to work young Americans have to be brought up in an immersion tank of perfectly-coordinated mechanisms all pulling together. All are designed to make these young people believe that they are, in some magical way, exceptional, uniquely different, actually superior to people of other societies around the world. This is pure poppycock, of course, but it’s common currency to them and most Americans believe it implicitly or explicitly. Concomitant with this exceptionalism is the tendency to underestimate their enemies, a tradition that dates back to General George Armstrong Custer.

George Orwell’s Observations from 70 Years Ago

I ran across some notes on nationalism written by Orwell in 1945 and found some of them eerily applicable to our own times. He starts with a definition:

“By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”

More Vintage Wisdom from Orwell

“Nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

The Author of Animal Farm and 1984 Goes On:

“Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also — since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself — unshakably certain of being in the right. As nearly as possible no nationalist ever thinks, talks or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance.”

This observation seems to me particularly apt considering the outrages being perpetrated on the world today by American militarism:

“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.

“Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder to discover what is actually happening. “Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.”

Orwell’s prescience is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is how little this state of affairs has changed over the past seven decades.

How Do They Build Their Godzillas?

Let’s look at the factors involved in converting an innocent child into a full-fledged American Nationalist/Patriot. First (and I say “first”because it hits most American children in the first grade) is the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. I was one of those little shavers in 1949 and I clearly recall standing up beside my desk, putting my hand over my heart and reciting a magical incantation. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands…” I had no idea what these words were about but I knew they were magic because you had to stand up and put your hand over your heart to invoke it.

Go to Part 2

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

Is the Trump Tail Wagging the American Dog?–2/2

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In the Meantime What Was Happening at Home?

On the home front a set of similar phenomena was set in motion that led to a sea change in American values—induced, not natural. Little by little, principally but not exclusively under Republican administrations, priceless American values have been eroded beyond recognition.  Where they once had a measure of solidarity—“…unity of a group or class that produces or is based on a community of interests, objectives and standards…” Merriam Webster dictionary—the Americans now subscribe to the “every man for himself,” or “dog eat dog” philosophy. Where they once respected the hard-earned dollar they now lust after easy money. A majority of Americans used to believe in equality. Their racial politics are now turning increasingly racist or white supremacist. As for economic equality, that is a thing of the past. They have exchanged generosity for greed.

Remember open-mindedness? You might have noticed that it has largely given way to adherence to one orthodoxy or another. Simple kindness and good manners are yielding to bare-fisted rudeness and trumpulence. Truth telling, especially telling truth to power, is on the way out. It can actually be dangerous. As for the “official truths,” they are products of the most sophisticated systems of lying ever foisted upon the human race.

Critical Thinking, Anyone?

Where there once existed a healthy  current of critical thinking in the U.S.A., along with citizen activism and protest, that luxury is now relegated to admirable old timers like Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone and a few others. The very word “think” has been debased with its use by the septic think tanks which abound around Washington. Now thinking has been replaced by blind faith. Common sense has become common nonsense, and knowledge belief. So much of the common currency in the U.S.A. is “faith based.” Too many people have forgotten—or never learned—that anything faith based is baseless. If you’ve been taught otherwise you’ve been duped.

Then there’s patriotism; what a tricky subject. Let’s try a Spanish approach to it. The Spanish have two words for two different varieties of patriotism. “Patriotismo” refers to the healthy love of country that exists around the world. They employ another word, “patrioterismo,” for patriotism wedded to aggressive nationalism, jingoism or chauvinism. This brand of patriotism is a favorite of demagogues who like to wrap themselves in the flag and appeal to voters’ prejudices and lowest instincts in order to advance the demagogue’s own political agenda. The American language doesn’t make this distinction but it should, as patrioterismo is rampant over there. Last but far from least is the most extreme—and dangerous—form of patriotism, that which implies full spectrum dominance, patriotism that kills. And there’s no shortage of that.

The Unasked Question

There is one last question that usually is left unasked. How did the powerful interests who dumbed down and vulgarized the American people get away with it? What was the secret that enabled them to steal, twist, degrade and substitute healthy, humane American values for cheap imitations based on consumerism, ignorance, greed and selfishness? It’s no secret really. It’s just good marketing, the same time-tested sales techniques that made the United States the greatest salesman in the world. Promise them dreams, promise them flash and pan, promise them fast online sex and easy money in financial services. Activate the powers of ego and envy. Pitch to the lowest common denominator. Who sells more, Walmart or Neiman Marcus? There you have it. That’s where America’s decency—and with it her greatness—went.

The United States Has Metamorphosized; Where’s the Butterfly?

So much for the metamorphosis of American values over the past half century and a bit. That’s what derailed the decent, “normal” America. Now to find a “decent, normal country” you have to go to places like Canada, or Europe, Australia or Japan. Japan is a country deeply steeped in centuries of pride and respect, a country where American President Donald Trump gave a speech the other day to their combined legislature, the National Diet. It was a solemn occasion. There the President of the United States admonished them in his own brand of diplomacy. He said, “Don’t underestimate me; don’t try me…”

With all due respect, Mr. President, you’re not on the streets of Detroit or Baltimore. You’re in a civilized country, addressing civilized people.

Needless to say, none of the respectful Japanese reminded him of that fact. Which is not to say they have forgotten what he said.

Go to the first part of this post

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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