Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 14, 2005

The Real America

Some sane person writes an LA Times Commentary, though I am not sure that the headline is correct:

This isn't the real America by Jimmy Carter

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

The best President the US ever had.

Posted by b on November 14, 2005 at 10:33 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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I reckon if you did a good hunt around the interweb usenet, irc and www you would find literally thousands of groups like imavictim.org or alt.binaries.self.flagellation.repressed so I don't know why anyone would want to turn MoA into that sort of space.

Most of us hang around here to share information about how it is that people are still getting fucked over, despite alleged 'protections' such as the US constitution, Brit's Magna Carta or NZ's Bill of Rights and protestations to the contrary by our community leaders.

It is inevitable that those societies who are at the 'cutting edge' of oppression are likely to cop more flack than those whose efforts are more subdued or at least more subtle.

Now we all realise that the tribal loyalty inherent in the human psyche means that people who attend MoA but come from one of the more oppressive societies can choose to be offended or miffed when their tribe appears to be catching a big time hammering. The thing is tho while rgiap might identify aspects of US society as being particularly oppressive, or particular natives of the US as being criminal I have yet to see him make generalised derogatory remarks about Amerikans as human beings.

Over the weekend the All Blacks showed the English Rugby team that they are a superior rugby playing unit. This was a particularly salutary lesson as it was given at Twickenham the spiritual home of English rugby.

This result was pleasing to me because as some may have observed I tend to have 'issues' with English culture. As well I prefer the style of rugby played in the Southern hemisphere, particularly by NZ. But I am under no illusion about whether the A.B. win demonstrates that I am a superior person to any Englishman. Of course it doesn't, but since it's Monday morning here in NZ there will be sad sacks heading off to work with a twinkle in their eye and a spring in their step because "we sure showed the Poms"; ie the the efforts of 15 young men half a world away has somehow brought credit to Joseph P.Sadsack as a person.

We should try and avoid making that mistake at MoA. I am pleased NZ government didn't support the invasion of iraq and angry that they are still supporting the mayor of Kabul in Afghanistan, but whichever they do says bugger all about me as a person.

We should endeavour not to fall into the carefully laid snare that the repugs have set. If they can convince their population that proof of torture must not be accepted because it says that all amerikans are bad people then they have won the battle for a little longer.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 20 2005 20:43 utc | 201

The repugs are out. We have other, deeper concerns. The war will be ending soon and we have a wilderness ahead of us of political problems to face.

I will continue to crusade for self investigation at this time when there is a crack in the shell around the truth.

To me, it is the most important thing happening now. To look at our flawed societies, our criminal leadership, amd most of all ourselves. Each and every one of us is perpetrating some lies in our political behavior. This is excatly the time to root it out. Where do we REALLY stand in the hierarchy from our privileged positions? How much are we REALLY willing to sacrifice for egalitarianism?

I have said this so many times, but if people continue to support these companies blindly who instigate and perpetuate these wars, no amount of compassion for the victimized will overcome this. The hardest things to do are the ones most people will not even face.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 22:47 utc | 202

Most of us hang around here to share information about how it is that people are still getting fucked over

This is correct. I an the odd man out. I am here to make sure we stop getting fucked over. Instead of waiting for them to stop or be gone, I want others to join me in living a free life now.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 22:55 utc | 203

As I said, I am an anarchist. No one has ever controlled me. I live outside the system as much as possible, never owing anyone anything, completely free from debt. When I run up against the system, I fight it and usually win. The system is not a person. It is not after you. You do with it what you want. You fit yourself into life the way you choose. I am never a victim, even when hurt. I do understand the tragic trap of life but I'm here, and it is between me and life, itself. That's my main relationship to work out. I know full well that life isn't against me any more than for me. It's what I make of it. I refuse to be a sucker, although I admit to being a fool.

I blame no one for the condition of my life and I blame everyone for the condition of the world.

As long as we don't grappple with our greed, that leads us into bondage to the money lenders, there is no way to freedom.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 23:08 utc | 204

Bear with me.

You can sit here comfortable and look at these pictures and tell these stories of torture over and over and over and over with their prurient preoccupation with human orifices and it will do NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING to stop it. Do it if you must. I've witnessed this all my life. But use logic. The whole entertainment industry has bled you to lifelessness on this lust. If every one of you stops feeding the desire, it will die. For every torturer you stop, another one starts. I truly believe that this armchair sport is holding us up. We had the Geneva Conventions and look what happened? We have to face it, but we also have to take action that will work. One million peeks at the same photo will not work. We're too jaded.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 23:34 utc | 205

"This is correct. I an the odd man out. I am here to make sure we stop getting fucked over.

And you KNOW that you are the only one fighting against opression HOW?

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 20 2005 23:38 utc | 206

Everyone is fighting against oppression. It's a natural instinct.

Just get up off your asses and fight NOW while the chance is here!

You know why the war is ending? Because the people have finally demanded it. We have won!

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 23:46 utc | 207

Debs, no one knows better about triumph than the man who wins over personal illness. The collective can be won too.

Posted by: jm | Nov 20 2005 23:50 utc | 208

Butting in a bit here . . .

Saw someone and something awesome yesterday: Eve Ensler reading this preface from her book, The Good Body, and talking about V Day.

In the midst of a war in Iraq, in a time of escalating global terrorism, when civil liberties are disappearing as fast as the ozone layer, when one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, why write a play about my stomach?

Maybe because my stomach is one thing I feel I have control over, or maybe because I have hoped that my stomach is something I could get control over. Maybe because I see how my stomach has come to occupy my attention, I see how other women’s stomachs or butts or thighs or hair or skin have come to occupy their attention, so that we have very little left for the war in Iraq—or much else, for that matter. When a group of ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged women in the United States was recently asked about the one thing they would change in their lives if they could, the majority of these women said they would lose weight. Maybe I identify with these women because I have bought into the idea that if my stomach were flat, then I would be good, and I would be safe. I would be protected. I would be accepted, admired, important, loved. Maybe because for most of my life I have felt wrong, dirty, guilty, and bad, and my stomach is the carrier, the pouch for all that self-hatred. Maybe because my stomach has become the repository for my sorrow, my childhood scars, my unfulfilled ambition, my unexpressed rage. Like a toxic dump, it is where the explosive trajectories collide—the Judeo- Christian imperative to be good; the patriarchal mandate that women be quiet, be less; the consumer-state imperative to be better, which is based on the assumption that you are born wrong and bad, and that being better always involves spending money, lots of money. Maybe because, as the world rapidly divides into fundamentalist camps, reductive sound bites, and polarizing platitudes, an exploration of my stomach and the life therein has the potential to shatter these dangerous constraints.

This journey has been different from the one I undertook in The Vagina Monologues. I was worried about vaginas when I began that play. I was worried about the shame associated with vaginas and I was worried about what was happening to vaginas, in the dark. As I talked about vaginas and to vaginas, I became even more worried about the onslaught of violence done to women and their vaginas around the world.

There was, of course, the great celebration of vaginas as well. Pleasure, discovery, sex, moans, power. I suppose I had this fantasy that after finally coming home into my vagina, I could relax, get on with life. This was not the case. The deadly self-hatred simply moved into another part of my body.

The Good Body began with me and my particular obsession with my “imperfect” stomach. I have charted this self-hatred, recorded it, tried to follow it back to its source. Here, unlike the women in The Vagina Monologues, I am my own victim, my own perpetrator. Of course, the tools of my selfvictimization have been made readily available. The pattern of the perfect body has been programmed into me since birth. But whatever the cultural influences and pressures, my preoccupation with my flab, my constant dieting, exercising, worrying, is selfimposed. I pick up the magazines. I buy into the ideal. I believe that blond, flat girls have the secret. What is far more frightening than narcissism is the zeal for self-mutilation that is spreading, infecting the world.

I have been to more than forty countries in the last six years. I have seen the rampant and insidious poisoning: skin-lightening creams sell as fast as tooth paste in Africa and Asia; the mothers of eight-year-olds in America remove their daughters’ ribs so they will not have to worry about dieting; five-year-olds in Manhattan do strict asanas so they won’t embarrass their parents in public by being chubby; girls vomit and starve themselves in China and Fiji and everywhere; Korean women remove Asia from their eyelids . . . the list goes on and on.

I have been in a dialogue with my stomach for the past three years. I have entered my belly—the dark wet underworld—to get at the secrets there. I have talked with women in surgical centers in Beverly Hills; on the sensual beaches of Rio de Janeiro; in the gyms of Mumbai, New York, Moscow; in the hectic and crowded beauty salons of Istanbul, South Africa, and Rome. Except for a rare few, the women I met loathed at least one part of their body. There was almost always one part that they longed to change, that they had a medicine cabinet full of products devoted to transforming or hiding or reducing or straightening or lightening. Just about every woman believed that if she could just get that part right, everything else would work out. Of course, it is an endless heartbreaking campaign.

Some of the monologues in The Good Body are based on well-known women like Helen Gurley Brown and Isabella Rossellini. Those monologues, which grew out of a series of conversations with each of these fascinating women, are not recorded interviews, but interpretations of the lives they offered me. Some of the other characters are based on real lives, real stories. Many are invented.

This play is my prayer, my attempt to analyze the mechanisms of our imprisonment, to break free so that we may spend more time running the world than running away from it; so that we may be consumed by the sorrow of the world rather than consuming to avoid that sorrow and suffering. This play is an expression of my hope, my desire, that we will all refuse to be Barbie, that we will say no to the loss of the particular, whether it be to a voluptuous woman in a silk sari, or a woman with defining lines of character in her face, or a distinguishing nose, or olivetoned skin, or wild curly hair.

I am stepping off the capitalist treadmill. I am going to take a deep breath and find a way to survive not being flat or perfect. I am inviting you to join me, to stop trying to be anything, anyone other than who you are. I was moved by women in Africa who lived close to the earth and didn’t understand what it meant to not love their body. I was lifted by older women in India who celebrated their roundness. I was inspired by Marion Woodman, a great Jungian analyst, who gave me confidence to trust what I know. She has said that “instead of transcending ourselves, we must move into ourselves.” Tell the image makers and magazine sellers and the plastic surgeons that you are not afraid. That what you fear the most is the death of imagination and originality and metaphor and passion. Then be bold and LOVE YOUR BODY. STOP FIXING IT. It was never broken.

* * *

Excerpted from The Good Body by Eve Ensler Copyright © 2004 by Eve Ensler. Excerpted by permission of Villard, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Dynamite!

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 21 2005 3:27 utc | 209

@ manonfyre

That was a great post. More so as I was listening to Kate Bush's new extraordinary magikal Album on great headphones. Tx!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 21 2005 4:02 utc | 210

Fat, man.

Posted by: jm | Nov 21 2005 7:50 utc | 211


Parameters of Power in the Global Dominance Group: —War Profits in Context: Military Contractors, National Security State, Public Relation Firms and Corporate Media
By Peter Phillips with Bridget Thornton and Celeste Vogler

A long tradition of sociological research has established the existence of a dominant ruling class in the United States, which sets policy and determines national political priorities. The American ruling class is complex, and inter-competitive, maintaining itself through interacting families of high social standing who have similar life styles, corporate affiliations and membership in elite social clubs and schools. The American ruling class has long been determined to be mostly self perpetuating,  maintains it influence through policy making institutions such as the National Manufacturing Association, National Chamber of Commerce, Business Council, Business Roundtable, Conference Board, American Enterprise Institute, and other business centered policy groups and associations.  It is these associations that have long dominated policy decisions within the US government. C.Wright Mills in his 1956 book on the power elite documents how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US that comprised corporation, military and government elites in a centralized power structure motivated by class interests and working in unison through "higher circles" of contact and agreement. Mills describes how the power elite are those who decide whatever is decided of major consequence.  These decision-makers tend to be more concerned with inter-organizational relationships and the functioning of the economy as a whole rather then advancing their particular corporate interests respectively.  The higher circle elites constitute a broad segment of the American upper class who while having a sense of weness tend to have continuing disagreements on specific policies and necessary actions in various socio/political circumstances.  These disagreements can block fierce reactionary responses to social movements and civil unrest as in the case of the Labor Movement in the 1930s and the Civil right Movement in the 1960s, when the corporate-liberal elements of the policy elites tended to dominate the decision making processes by passing the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security in 1935, and the Civil Rights Act and Economic Opportunities Act in 1964. Whereas immediately after and during World War I and World War II, when policy elites were interacting in a consolidated war effort stronger reactionary elements of the higher circles where able to push their agendas more forcefully. During and after World War I we see repressive responses to social movements through the Palmer Raids and the earlier passage of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. And after World War II we see the McCarthy era attacks on liberals and radicals and the passage in 1947 of the National Security Act and the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. The Cold War lead to a continuing arms races and a consolidation of higher circle elites with military and corporate interests. President Eisenhower warned of this increasing concentration of power in his 1961 speech to the nation. "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." The higher circles support for the continuation military expansion after WWII was significantly different than after WWI. While after WWI there emerged a critical analysis within higher elite circles of war profits and the arms industry, after WWII the cold war buildup, Korea, and Vietnam continued an unprecedented level of military spending.  The top100 Military contractors from WWII acquired over three billion dollars in new resources between 1939 and 1945 representing a 62% increase in capital assets. Two thirds of these WWII prime contractor firms were controlled by five key interest groups: Morgan, Mellon, Rockefeller, Dupont and Cleveland Steel.  Economic incentives combined with cold war fears lead the US policy elites to support a continuing maintenance of an unprecedented military readiness leading to a permanent military industrial complex in the US. From 1952 to the collapse of the Soviet Union US defense spending was maintained in the 25-40% range of total federal spending with peaks during Korea, Vietnam and Reagen.  The break-up of the Soviet Union undermined the rationale for continued military spending at high cold-war levels and higher circle policy elites celebrating their victory over communism saw the possibility of balanced budgets and peace dividends occurring in the 1990s. Edward Kennedy in early 1992 called for the taking $210 billion dollars out of the defense budget over several years and funding a $60 billion universal health insurance plan, public housing, and expanded transportation. By spring of 1992 it was clear that strong resistance to major cuts in the military budgets had widespread support in Washington when the Senate in a 50-48 vote was unable to close Republican and conservative Democrat debates against a proposal to shift defense spending to domestic programs. I n 1995 former Defense Secretary Les Aspin — who during his tenure under Clinton had made minor cuts to pentagon budgets — explained how spending needed to continue to be high especially for intelligence on "targeting terrorism and narcotics…"  By 1999 Editorials bemoaning the loss of the peace dividend was all that was left of major cuts to military spending. At the same time as a corporate liberal element of the higher circle policy elites were pushing for a peace dividend, a neo-conservative element were advocating for using the decline of the Soviet Union to enhance US military dominance in the world. Leo Strauss, Albert Wohlstetter and others at the University of Chicago working in the Committee on Social Thought have been widely credited for promoting the neo-conservative agenda through their students Paul Wolfowitz and Allan Bloom and Bloom's student Richard Perle. Adbuster's magazine summed up neo-conservativism as "belief that Democracy, however flawed, was best defended by an ignorant public pumped on nationalism and religion. Only a militantly nationalist state could deter human aggression …Such nationalism requires an external threat and if one cannot be found it must be manufactured."  The neo-conservative philosophy emerged from the 1960's social revolutions and political correctness of the era as a counter force to cultural relativism. Numerous officials and associates in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Presidencies were strongly influenced by the neo-conservative philosophy including: John Ashcroft, Charles Fairbanks, Dick Cheney, Kenneth Adelman, Elliot Abrams, William Kristol and Douglas Feith. Within the Reagin administration was a split between cold war traditionalists seeking to minimize confrontations through diplomacy and détente, and neo-conservatives who advocated stronger confrontations with the Soviet "Evil Empire." The latter group became more entrenched after George H.W. Bush was appointed director of the CIA. Bush allowed the formation of "Team B" headed by Richard Pipes along with Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Paul Nitxe and others who formed the Committee on the Present Danger to raise awareness of the Soviet threat and the continuing need for a strong aggressive defense policy. Journalist John Pilger recalled how he had interview neo-conservative Richard Perle during the Regain administration. "I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about 'total war', I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's 'war on terror'. 'No stages,' he said. 'This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing great songs about us years from now." The election of George H.W. Bush to the Presidency and the appointment of Dick Cheney as Secretary of defense further expanded the presence of neo-conservatives within the government and the consolidation of a global dominance policy especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In 1992 Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz produced the 'Defense Planning Guidance' report advocating U.S. military dominance around the globe in a "new order."The Plan called for the United States to maintain and grow in military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge us on the world stage. Using words like "unilateral action" and military "forward presence," the plan advocated that the U.S. to be dominant over friends and foes alike. It concluded with the assertion that the U.S. can best attain this position by making itself 'absolutely powerful.'   Controversial at the time the Defense Policy Guidance leaked to the press came under heavy criticism from higher circle policy elites. New Times reported on March 11, 1992 that, "Senior White House and State Department officials have harshly criticized a draft Pentagon policy statement that asserts that America's mission in the post-cold-war era will be to prevent any collection of friendly or unfriendly nations from competing with the United States for superpower status. One Administration official, familiar with the reaction of senior officials at the White House and State Department, characterized the document as a "dumb report" that "in no way or shape represents U.S. policy. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, called the draft Pentagon document "myopic, shallow and disappointing." Higher circles of policy elites were not yet ready for a unilateral global-dominance agenda, and with the election of Bill Clinton to the Whitehouse in 1992 the core of higher circle neo-conservatives and associated advocates for US military dominance of the world were out of direct power during the next eight years.     In the 90s many of the Neo-conservatives and their global dominance allies found various positions in conservative think tanks and Department of Defense contractors. They continued close affiliations through the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprises Institute, Hoover Institute, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Center for Security Policy. Several became active with conservative publications such as the National Review, and the Weekly Standard. The core remained connected and by 1997 had receive funding from several right-wing foundations to create the Project for  New American Century (PNAC).


Posted by: annie | Nov 21 2005 9:53 utc | 212

jeez, i'm sorry, i previewed it and it didn't look that long. i would have linked to it but i don't have one. ahh

Posted by: annie | Nov 21 2005 10:01 utc | 213

@annie

< a href = "" > < / a >

annie, if you take out the spaces in the above, put the link addy you want in between the "" then title it whatever you want in between the > < you'll have linked . For example, < a href = "http://www.google.com/" > search engine < / a > gives you search engine

does that make sense? or am I misstaken and you know how to link? I forget ata the moment...sorry


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 21 2005 13:55 utc | 214

@ Uncle $cam

See Annie's comment i would have linked to it but i don't have one.

Posted by: Redundancy clipper | Nov 21 2005 14:12 utc | 215

Interesting article. For News and opinion from New Zealand please visit http://terrorizethis.org.

Posted by: TTMF | Mar 5 2007 1:04 utc | 216

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