The Exceptional Nation Meets the Surveillance State

Mass Surveillance

The script is nauseatingly familiar. An exceptional nation fulfilling its destiny by becoming the surveillance state. The cameras are always rolling — in the streets, where we work, in parks and playground, in every space Americans congregate for work or play. Many Americans unwittingly assist the feds by wall to wall cameras on their own property. The surveillance state has implemented a new kind of law enforcement called predictive policing — using racially biased data to target potential crime and criminals. We are a nation of spy masters and the spied upon. From the founding of the republic, the peculiar form of democracy in the Constitution turns out to have little to do with democratic guarantees of universal freedom and equality and a lot more to do with insulating the rich and privileged from the dangers of too much democracy. Surveillance is the key to that control. Since when does the unquestioned assumption of the need for security carry with it the corollary of invasion of privacy? Since the exceptional nation became the perpetual war machine with eight ongoing wars and another couple waiting in the wings. Are we on the way to fulfilling Orwell’s prophecy? Find out in “The Exceptional Nation Meets the Surveillance State

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Will the Real Exceptional Nation Please Stand Up

Perpetual War

From sea to shining sea the American empire stretches out to conquer the world. Eight wars and counting, 800 bases in over 70 countries, all financed by a defense budget that tops $700 billion. Selling stability at the point of a missile, invading nations that refuse to acknowledge U.S. ascendancy and reassuring the folks back home that all is well, we’re fighting the terrorists over there so they won’t come here. Or is the real truth that the U.S. has built a state that survives on making war, on killing lots of people to make a few people very, very wealthy while the rest of the population survives on crumbs? Is the growing might of the U.S. empire really a hedge against disaster? SA explores these questions in “Will the Real Exceptional Nation Please Stand Up.”

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Mike Pence for President? That’s What Happens If the Democrats Impeach Trump

Horrible Mike

Sad to say the culture wars of the 1990s are making a big comeback in the person of Mike Pence, heir to the Oval Office should the media clamor for Trump’s head or the Democrats’ threats to open an impeachment inquiry in the House come to pass. What does that mean? For openers, the rightmost segment of the Christian evangelical movement is holding its breath and praying that its left-leaning opponents will carry out their ill-conceived effort. Don’t be fooled by the scriptural references he sprinkles like salt on a stew of unpalatable moral pieties. This is one ambitious dude who wants to be the leader of the “indispensable nation.” He has plenty of buddies willing to help him get there, the likes of Charles and David Koch and the CEOs of numerous fossil fuel companies and defense contractors. What would a Pence administration look like? A return to the neo-conservative agenda of establishment Republicans shepherded by a president who was known in Congress as the “hawks hawk,” a renewed emphasis on military and economic alliances (long live NATO), an infusion of right wing social values into both foreign and domestic policy, a reawakening of cold war antipathy toward Russia and the political savvy to get a supine Congress to march in lockstep. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Democrats especially progressives, forewarned is forearmed: impeachment is like a grenade set to explode if the pin is pulled. Far better to look ahead to 2020 and a campaign to unseat the present demagogue and send his helpmate into the embrace of a Koch-financed think tank. That’s the ticket democrats of all stripes should be punching. You’ll find out why when you read “Mike Pence for President? That’s What Happens If the Democrats Impeach Trump”.

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Boots on the Ground, Bombs From the Air: Vietnam to Syria: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby (Or Have You)

US / Syria Conflict

The music never stops when it comes to the U.S. war machine. The exceptional nation invokes R2P (Responsibility to Protect), or claims it’s upholding treaties and alliances, or reassures an uneasy public it’s keeping the enemy du jour away from our shores (domino theory). In the sixties, President Johnson used all three justifications but finally settled on the domino theory as his go-to argument for blunting the cries of anti-war opponents. “Without our support…Vietnam will collapse and the ripple effects will be felt throughout Southeast Asia and India…Indonesia and the Philippines.” That meme has been updated and in the twenty-first century version, hawks on both sides of the aisle speak darkly of withdrawal in Syria giving new life to the terrorism threat posed by Iran, Russia (where would we be without the international Communist conspiracy) and Israel’s favorite enemy Hezbollah. What does withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria really signify? Judge for yourself. 170,000 U.S. troops ring the globe in at least 80 countries (that we know about). 40,000 of those troops are on classified missions and it’s anybody’s guess where they are. Which brings us right back to wondering if the Syrian troop withdrawal is all it’s cracked up to be. The democrats think so and they’re steamed. Here’s Nancy Pelosi, indignation jets open to full throttle: “…a decision…made in a cavalier fashion…a decision that is dangerous.” Do the mistakes and missteps in Vietnam have anything to teach us 50 years later as the U.S. finds itself facing an even bigger quagmire all over Asia and Africa? Read “Boots on the Ground, Bombs from the Air: Vietnam to Syria: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby (Or Have You) and see if you can make heads or tails of it.

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How Many Presidents Lied Their Way into the White House and Beyond

Presidential Liars
“There are a generation of Americans whose instinctive reaction to a public statement is that it is false.” Frank Mankiewicz, national coordinator for the McGovern campaign, diagnosed the cancer in the U.S. body politic in1972. Trouble is forty-six years later Americans find themselves on the horns of the same dilemma. The demands of a phony national security crisis created the surveillance state and before you could say WTF led to historic invasions of privacy by U.S. leaders whose “arrogance of power” (Hannah Arendt) is matched only by their lack of morals. Turns out that most of the presidents Americans consider their best, the likes of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and LBJ have another trait in common. They are serial liars whose careers have been marked by their uneasy relationship with the truth. In a bizarre twist one president, himself a consummate liar, stepped up to pinpoint the perils of a lying secret government. “When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them and —eventually—incapable of determining their own destinies.” (President Richard Nixon, March 8, 1972). Want to know how virtually all U.S. presidents have used lies and secrecy to delude the public on a range of issues, how innumerable costly and deadly wars have started on the basis of big, fat presidential lies, take a gander at our latest “How Many U.S Presidents Lied Their Way into the White House and Beyond? All of Them!”

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BREAKING NEWS: Santa Claus Skips Town. Excessive Debt Blamed

Santa Claus Bankruptcy

Average Americans buying into the fairy tale that the economy is hunky-dory. A bought-and-paid-for media deluding Americans with visions of a healthy economy exemplified by a booming stock market (84% of stocks are owned by wealthy oligarchs) rising wages (swallowed up by rising inflation) and an upsurge in consumer confidence (based on phony statistics). Nothing to fear, go out and spend, spend, spend. Who can forget President Bush after 9/11 urging Americans to do what Americans do best —spend. That’ll show the terrorists we mean business. Ridiculous, huh? But American consumers are drinking the hemlock. This holiday season promises to be a blockbuster carrying a $1 trillion price tag. The oligarchs thank you for your generosity, retail shareholders rake in the dough and average Americans —what’s in it for them? An avalanche of bills. What’s wrong with this picture? Read “BREAKING NEWS: Santa Claus Skips Town. Excessive Debt Blamed” for a possible answer.

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American Bloodbath: Perpetual War Abroad, Mass Killings at Home

End Wars

People mowed down worshipping at a synagogue, kids murdered in school, churchgoers fleeing certain death, unimaginable loss of life at nightclubs and concerts, police violence adding to the carnage on city streets. Life in 21st century America is risky business. It’s not just guns, although with 265 million in circulation, wing nuts of every political persuasion can vent their rage and hostility on an unsuspecting public. But we ignore at our peril the contribution of U.S. foreign policy, where making war outruns diplomacy, threats and sanctions replace strategic policy-making and sky-high military budgets enable the colossus to maintain at least 800 military bases world-wide and carry on 7 wars simultaneously. Where will it end? Read “American Bloodbath: Perpetual War Abroad, Mass Killings at Home” for a possible answer.

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Up To Your Eyeballs In Student Loans? Stuck In a Minimum Wage Job? Afraid to Get Sick?

Welcome to Life in Exceptional America

American Exceptionalism

Birth to death in the American imperium. If it were a play, most of us would be done for by the second act. Behold in act one the risky and expensive business of giving birth and the budget-busting costs of daycare. Act two features a generation of education moguls getting rich while U.S. children get a second-class education. Act three spotlights even more massive debt, helped along by spiraling education costs, sky-high student debt and a job market of mainly part-time, minimum wage, contingent jobs with zero pensions. The epilogue completes the rout: the “golden” years tarnished by bipartisan support for entitlement reform, which turns out to be a naked attempt to screw the vast majority of Americans out of the benefits they worked their entire lives to earn. Life in exceptional America has a long tail of discouragement, debt, and despair. Why then do we stand in reverent silence, head gear removed, hand over heart as the Star-Spangled Banner is sung? One place you won’t find a comforting answer is in: "Up to Your Eyeballs In Student Loans? Stuck In a Minimum Wage Job? Afraid to Get Sick? Welcome to Life in Exceptional America."

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Joe Biden: The kind of Leader the U.S. Doesn’t Need

Joe Biden

“Is this a dagger which I see before me… a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain…” it’s not really Macbeth’s preternatural visions that keep us awake at night, is it? It’s the real-life vision of the leadership crisis in the U.S. As the 2020 presidential sweepstakes begin in earnest on November 7, and democratic hopefuls dash to the microphones to parse bad behavior with excuses, defenses, and lies, Joe Biden, fresh off his vice-presidential labors, resurfaces for yet another presidential run (he hasn’t made it to the finish line two times before). In the tradition of the last few crappy presidents, his inauguration would guarantee four more years of “same old, same old. The oligarchs would have another friend in high places. What has Joe been doing since his first election 46-years ago? Let’s see —for openers, screwing tens of millions of indebted young Americans out of millions of dollars in order to land a cushy job for his son with a grateful bank, insuring that an unqualified, right wing nominee got a seat on the Supreme Court, using his political muscle to further enrich his already fabulously wealthy major donors, the big banks — that’s the real Joe Biden. Not the charlatan who rewrote history: “there are some things worth losing over” while he did his best to ban busing as a federal remedy for segregated public schools. His home boys, the likes of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, couldn’t have found themselves in better company. The clay feet of this “leader” are easy to spot. If you want to know why people like Joe Biden (and there are numerous Biden clones roaming the halls of Congress) should not apply for the job of president of the exceptional nation, don’t wait too long to read “Joe Biden: The Kind of Leader the U.S. Doesn’t Need.”

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Bezos Sticks It to Amazon Workers: Minimum Wage Up, Earnings Down

Make Amazon Pay

Here’s a headline grabber: “Richest varmit in the world breaks arm patting himself on the back for raising wages of his workers.” Fake news? Consider the facts: the reigning king of U.S. oligarchs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, announces what purports to be a historic income boost for workers. Operating on the principle that perception is the only reality that counts, he makes sure to get lots of media coverage. It works like a charm. Eager to change the subject from economic inequality to keeping their jobs, a bi-partisan group of politicians aren’t about to second guess a prospective campaign donor even one as soulless as Amazon’s boss. When will our “see no evil, hear no evil” elected leaders hear the voices of outraged workers at the mercy of corporate moguls who promise the moon but deliver “smoke and mirrors?” Seems like the only cure for the lopsided U.S. economic system is to reduce the incentives for bad behavior on the part of the captains of industry. Congress and the president have the power to make workers’ lives so much better. Care to make a bet on how likely they are to do it? Read “Bezos Sticks It to Amazon Workers: Minimum Wage Up, Earnings
” before betting the ranch.

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