Sunday, August 19, 2007

Are You a Proud American?

On vacation, I attended a concert during which one of the performances was “God Bless the USA,” a short stanza patriotic song that is lacking of any profound message. One of the repetitive lyrics is “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.” Everyone in the audience exuberantly sang along. They sang along and flagged their hands above their heads in collective exuberance as if they were truly proud to be an American, and not just caught up in the moment.

As the performers and audience sang, a melancholy came over me. I was saddened that here we were enjoying a beautiful summer evening while so much misery was imposed on so many American families, because of the war in Iraq. My thoughts included Matthew Bean, a Pembroke man recently killed in Iraq, and Christian Golczynski, the son of Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski who, also, was recently killed in Iraq. I remembered the image of Christian and the pain he was enduring during his father’s funeral. And, I thought of all the needless deaths that are a result of the Iraq War, and of our governments ambivalence and dereliction. That our government has been deceitful. That it is willing to kill Americans and others based on deceit. That it has desired, and has gotten away with operating in secrecy. That we have destroyed the respect that other nations once had for America. That we have a government that has fascist tendencies and is knowingly destroying our constitutional freedoms, and sadly, Americans do not seem to have any recognition of what is happening. Deceit and secrecy have become an intrinsic part of our government.

My melancholy was a result of my recognition that I am not proud to be an American. I don’t know who, if they are honest with themelves, can be. The people we have elected to political office have let us down. They have failed America miserably.

The America of my childhood was conceived by Americans and the World as an exemplary country offering opportunity, freedom, justice, equality, and a democracy given to trust and transparency. It was viewed as country imbued with human values.

Without elucidation, for there are numerous, documentary evidences, that America has failed at maintaining these values:


America has failed at providing opportunities in education, affordable housing and healthcare, because we have not provided opportunities for many to earn a living wage. The gap between low, medium, and high income is exponentially increasing year after year.

In the words of Jimmy Carter: “Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favours 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 industrialised nations) [$5.85 an hour as of July 24, 2007].” (1)

When America through their very overt action attempt to marginalize the poor, those who have an infirmity, or those who may not have had the “luck of the draw,” America is denying those Americans the same opportunities from which the rest of us benefit. A good example is New Orleans and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, exposing Americas disregard for the indigent.


Our freedoms have been seriously compromised because of the Patriot Act.

As Naomi Wolf has stated, “After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it [what an excuse, since when does anyone validate anything without thorough understanding]. We were told we were now on a ‘war footing’; we were in a ‘global war’ against a ‘global caliphate’ intending to ‘wipe out civilisation’. There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. ‘This time,’ Fein says, ‘there will be no defined end.’” (2)

Hate and fear have been the postulation of our government. It has instilled in Americans that if you criticize America you are not a patriot – you are un-American. This is denying freedom of speech to many of us who are critical of America. For many are afraid to speak out because of the fear of retaliation.


Justice -- defined as the quality or state of being just and unbiased; the state, action, or principle of treating all persons equally in accordance with the law – has been seriously impaired in America. Justice viewed as punishment rather than rehabilitation. What we need to do is to change behaviors.

“… imprisonment rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen because we have become progressively more punitive: not because crime has continued to explode (it hasn’t), not because we made a smart policy choice, but because we have made a collective decision to increase the rate of punishment.” (3)

Because of America’s view of Justice as punishment, and that those accused of a crime should be denied their civil liberties, the abrogation of the civil liberties of Jose Padilla occurred, and America supported the use of torture to gain confessions. (4)

America has embraced interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

America has not been in conformity with international law.

Our government has violated the Constitution of the United States of America.


Without reason, Americans today view themselves today as I did in the America of my childhood. They accept America’s leadership repetitive claims that we still have and hold these values. They, with this vision, have an arrogant attitude in their relationship to the world. A very unacceptable hubris exists. The reality is that America does not comply with this view. America has not given critical thought to the views they hold. America no longer provides the leadership that it at one time provided through its example. Americans have not recognized that fact. “We Americans are better than they are,” is the view.

With all the rhetoric Americans give to embracing diversity, the fact is that Americans do not embrace diversity. Americans do not consider themselves equal to others. ”Diverse communities … show dysfunction,” says Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. (5) This dysfunction is due to our underlying prejudices.

Americas debate over legal as well as illegal immigration -- albeit the issues involved do have merit for action. However, for most Americans the issue is inflamed, not based on the merit of the issues, but our oppositions are based on our prejudices.

Trust and transparency

Our democracy has not given to trust and transparency in American governance. There are many examples of American governance acting in secrecy, but none as blatant as in the Bush White House:

“John Dean, the former White House counsel who blew the whistle on Watergate nearly 30 years ago, told a Los Angeles audience that the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy and executive privilege has "turned back the clock to before Watergate" -- to before, that is, Nixon's crimes forced a national reckoning and led to a string of laws designed to prevent presidents from keeping too many secrets. It was then that the republic relearned an old lesson: The institutions built up to guard a secret can do more damage than openness could ever have done.” (6)

“This has been the drift of our politics for some 20 years. In a profound failure of the civic imagination, we now behave in a way that our founders never intended us to: When it comes to the actions of our government, we have surrendered to trust.” (6)

Bush signed an executive order that denied the public access to documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, which limits access to all public records from living presidents, as well to other documents..

Until its recent exposition, Patriot Act I and II were clothed in secrecy, and although there have been some revelations, they are primarily opaque programs.

The New York Times says, “Congress accidentally gave President George Bush the power to conduct warrantless searches and seizures when it passed a wiretapping bill earlier this month. Democrats are embarrassed they voted without understanding language that would allow—among other things—some physical searches, and the collection of business records, without a court order.” (7)

"The Bush administration is arguing that: a) It's no big deal, since they'll try to minimize the amount of spying on average Americans; and b) Who cares? Under the DoJ interpretation of the Constitution, the law ‘is just advisory. The President can still do whatever he wants to do.’ "(7)

George Orwell’s 1984 is alive and well, and its premise seems to be acceptable to America.

“Many reasons are given for our preemptive wars and military approach for spreading the American message of freedom and prosperity, which is an obvious impossibility. Our vital interests are always cited for justification, and it’s inferred that those who do not support our militancy are unpatriotic. Yet the opposite is actually the case: Wise resistance to one’s own government doing bad things requires a love of country, devotion to idealism, and respect for the Rule of Law.” (8)

In order to turn this country around to the America of my childhood, every American must be a leader. Every American must think critically and “Walk the Talk.” We cannot depend on those who we vote into political office to provide leadership in exemplifying opportunity, freedom, justice, equality, and a democracy given to trust and transparency. We must lead those who we have empowered with America’s leadership. It is every American’s responsibility to let America’s leadership know “where it’s at.”

(1) Jimmy Carter. This is Not the Country that I Once Knew November 20, 2005.
Former President Jimmy Carter believes that a warring America is abandoning its fundamental values.

(2) Naomi Wolf. Fascist America, in 10 easy steps Tuesday April 24, 2007.
The Guardian

(3) Glenn C. Loury. Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? Boston Review. Race and the transformation of criminal justice.

(4) The Rights of Jose Padilla NPR “Here and Now.” Story aired Monday, June 30, 2003

(5) Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. Diversity and Community NPR “On Point.” Aired: Thursday, August 09, 2007

(6) Rick Perlstein. A Surrender to Trust July/August 2002. Mother Jones. Commentary: Richard Nixon taught the nation a painful lesson about secrecy and the White House. How soon we forget.

(7) Barron YoungSmith. I Tapped That Slate Magazine. Posted Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007.

(8) HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS. Big Government Solutions Don't Work/ The Law of Opposites September 7, 2006. Before the U.S. House of Representatives

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Marine found guilty in the death of Iraq civilian

All Americans, along with Hutchins and his squad, are collectively responsible for this murder, as well. Those who are naïve and ignorant of what war foments, those who blindly support war without understanding that, as stated by Chris Hedges, "organized killing is done best by a disciplined, professional army"; But that "war also empowers those with a predilection for murder." Americans apparently do not understand that "Kill, kill, kill" is the mantra of a combat soldier, any combat soldier, not just an American, it's what they are trained to do. This, the American people have naively supported and continue to support, and only object when we are not winning.

The woman who made this statement is one of those naïve and ignorant Americans who don't understand the reality of war: "'No one who knew him believed he could ever do the things they said he did,' said Mary Hale, a neighbor who has known Hutchins since he was a small boy. 'You just can't picture it. It's just impossible for us to believe.'"

War is intoxication, a drug, it affects every combat soldier; it is a potent and lethal addiction. War destroys lives, it as simple as that.

I feel badly that every American, with the most responsible American being George W. Bush, and I, have put Sergeant Hutchins, his family and friends, in this position, not that overwhelming responsibility does not belong to Sergeant Hutchins.

Support our troops -- bring them home!


For the complete article: Marine found guilty in death of Iraq civilian

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I support Dr. Paul for President.
His views, from my point of view, are not arguable.

If he should become the republican presidential candidate, I will vote for him, no question about it.

“Many reasons are given for our preemptive wars and military approach for spreading the American message of freedom and prosperity, which is an obvious impossibility. Our vital interests are always cited for justification, and it’s inferred that those who do not support our militancy are unpatriotic. Yet the opposite is actually the case: Wise resistance to one’s own government doing bad things requires a love of country, devotion to idealism, and respect for the Rule of Law.” Congressional representative, Dr. Ron Paul

Take the time to read, “Big Government Solutions Don’t Work/The Law of Opposites.”