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Web Exclusive: Democracy and Empire

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In the MOYERS ONLINE web exclusive video above, legal scholar Bruce Fein and journalist Mark Danner continue their conversation from this week's JOURNAL. Fein and Danner suggested that America’s interventionist foreign policy has adversely affected its democracy at home.

Fein said:

“There can be a difference in the whole idea of what the United States is about, which then dictates what you do. My view is that the United States is about securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Insofar as that service is a model for others to emulate, fine… The process of trying to export our democracy abroad through military force is going to destroy our own democracy at home… Other people would think, no, the purpose of the United States is to go to every square inch of the planet and bring them what our conception of liberty is.”

Danner said:

“The Cold War made the United States an empire. And some people – I was one of them – thought that after the Cold War ended we would, to some degree, come home. The Clinton years, the 90s, were an interesting experiment in that. We had the Bosnian genocide, we had the Rwandan genocide… [Some said] ‘Gosh, America needs to stand for something more… It has to prevent this kind of thing.” And many of them were essentially convinced by President Bush’s arguments that we have to go in and remove the dictators. I thought they were profoundly wrong, and I agree that the United States, insofar as [it] becomes a power that intervenes around the world and fights wars of choice, becomes something wholly other than what the founders imagined it to be.”

What do you think?

  • Can America maintain both its democracy and an interventionist foreign policy? If no, which is more important?

  • Does America have a national purpose beyond “securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?”


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    Comments

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    Sadly, the "American Dream" was a delusion. We are not the moral authority we thought we were. We are not the smartest guys on the block, we bought into a money making machine that had not trouble chewing us up and spitting us out like we mean nothing. The system used us, abused us, lied to us and left us high and dry with jobs that left and there are not coming back. Our politicians tell us whatever so they can win and join the party where most most of us are certainly not invited. We need to make a radical change,but with a majority of people with just enough intelect to follow up a reality show, we have no hope. Just like I heard abroad recently: "the USA,WAS!".


    Bill, your show is terrific in so many ways. I wish *you* were President! I will be devastated when you retire next spring.

    Please e-mail me articles from Mr. Moyers; If you have such a service.

    Great Articles

    I hope this idea is not too late to have any effect and that you will seriously consider my proposal.
    I humbly suggest that we have two parallel health care bills.
    PARALLEL UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

    Bill #1 Primary Care and Prevention.
    Compliance is required for guaranteed care. Direct pay to the Doctor/Medical Team.The Doctor/Medical Team deposits payment in The National Health Bank. The National Health Bank pays the Doctor/Medical Team the national average cost of such services/patient/Month. Each and every person pays a percentage of their gross income. The total funds shall equal the 2010 census times the national average costs of PRICAP: Primary Care and Prevention

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    .Summary

    Bill l#1 PRICAP Primary Care and Prevention
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    thank you

    To W.S. Merwin

    I'm tired of America
    Tired of SUV's, Big Box Stores
    Freeways eight lanes across--
    one way--
    Jammed to the gunwales with
    Cars built for 100 mph
    Crawling along at 20
    Generating a Quarter of the
    World's Carbon Footprint.

    I'm tired of endless wars
    for endless illusions of
    Peace
    The lies of our presidents
    as they fan
    the People's too-lively fears of the Other.

    In Vietnam, in Cambodia, in
    Laos, in El Salvador, in
    Nicaragua,
    In Iraq, destroyed for no
    Reason,
    With records of U.S. dead
    but no records of the countless Iraqi dead or
    Those tortured at Abu Graib
    at Baghram, at the CIA's
    "black" sites where humans
    are extraordinarily rendered into the hands of
    compliant American clients.

    I'm tired of the reports of
    Iranian stolen elections
    As if we've already forgotten OUR stolen elections in 2000 & 2004,
    where our citizens tamely
    succumbed to the Supreme
    Court coup.
    At least, the Iranians hit
    the streets.

    I'm tired of complaints
    of nuclearizing regimes--
    N.Korea, Pakistan, Iran--
    while we ignore the U.S.
    role in peddling nuclear
    technology
    Around the world!
    I'm tired of our silence
    on Israel's nukes, on its
    occupation of Palestinian
    Land, on its illegal settlements, on its Berlin
    wall, snaking its way
    Through the lands of their
    neighbors--brothers, sisters, children.

    I'm tired of our "free
    enterprise system"--based
    squarely on
    Injustice to the working
    Poor.

    I'm tired of American greed
    six percent of the world's
    Population consuming 30% of
    the world's resources.
    The rich in their gated
    communities & extravagant
    Houses, driving Hummers and
    lobbying Congress for lower
    taxes and corporate favors.

    I'm tired of America's so-
    called Christian churches,
    Spouting family values
    While the evangelicals whine about
    their extramarital affairs
    and Republican governors
    run off to Argentina for
    trysts.

    I'm tired of the Church's
    near-total silence on our
    social injustices,
    Its catering to the prejudices of the middle-
    class
    Its endless squabble about
    female/homosexula clergy
    while sexual abuse of
    children continues.
    It maintains the world's
    deepest silence on U.S.
    nukes
    Still on hair-trigger alert
    20 years after the Cold War's end,
    and on U.S. refusal to honor
    our commitments under Article VI of the NPT and
    our Senate's refusal to
    ratify the CTB.

    The American Dream was
    Always a Lie,
    Based on our greed for land
    for gold, for Christianiz-
    ing the Natives so we could
    reservate them &
    Deprive them of their
    Culture.

    It's time to dream a dif-
    ferent American Dream,
    One more modest
    One less eager to send
    Young people to die in
    America's Imperial Wars
    and leave them to beg in
    the Streets when they come
    back--nightmare ridden, with
    Brains scrambled like eggs
    on Toast
    Holding up their cardboard
    signs: "Anything will help,
    God Bless."

    Time to stop singing
    "GOD BLESS AMERICA" as we
    Rape the land & TOPPLE
    mountains into Appalachian
    valleys and streams,
    as we subsidize BIG AG so it can destroy our children's bodies with
    processed foods and high-
    fructose corn syrup.

    Time to face up to our
    HYPOCRISIES, to our tainted
    political system, to our
    degraded education, to the
    fact that
    "democratic values" are 98%
    dead
    and our press is run by its
    corporate managers.

    Time to see who we really
    are, to give up our fantasy
    about AMERICAN VIRTUE,
    AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM and
    all the rest of our social
    shibboleths.


    All of this posturing and banter reminds me of Mardi Gras. Everyone is positioned as well as they can be along the parade route, clamoring for cheap beads and/or fake gold doubloons...throw me something, mister. Some are rewarded for their efforts as others miss out or even literally fight for these tacky trinkets. When it's all said and done, as the last float passes by, the crowd usually heads into the French Quarter and just gets plain ol' drunk, waiting for the next parade. In the mean time debauchery is rampant. On Wednesday, after nursing the hangovers and getting back to work, all is forgotten.

    When things get back to "normal", and they will eventually, very few are going to remember (without benefit of rationalization) as purchases of Louis Vuitton bags and Mercedes Benz' and Gucci sunglasses fill the coffers again. The float with Rex is going to roll by again...throw me something, mister will be yelled out from the sidewalks, again.

    Ever been in New Orleans the day after Mardi Gras?

    Democracy depends on two things; a free and independent press,and a well informed public.The United States of America is a long ways from having either one.

    USA today interacts with other countries of the world, some friends, & some not.

    What level of help do we provide when a friend is threatened? ICBMs, B2 bombers, ground troop-how long,etc.?

    Suppose we went to Iraq with Shock & Awe for a week or so & left Iraq to restructure itself vs our extended stay. What degree of support is appropriate & how is it approved? Maybe Iraq is a poor example, but there must be a way for the USA citizens to have a say.

    OH! Yeh! Congress acts by & for the people-right?

    The Seniority Scheme has moved the voter to the back burner-if we have choice "A" or "aa"-you call that a choice?

    Many well intentioned citizens are sent to Congress, only to fall victum to the Seniotity muzzle & they are not heard from until they are beaten into Washington form.

    Congress was behind the Bush administration & if one is proscuted then both should be. The Congressional Zombies are not interested in accountability, responsibility, anything other than being re-elected.

    Nov. 2010 vote OUT the Zombies, and the next war should hold all Americans accountable. If we win we don't pay should be the first rule, then fewer countries may allow the USA to be attacked.

    Billy Bob, Florida

    Shame on congress..shame on the politicans...and shame on the lobbyists..they are only looking out for their back sides. Look at some of the health care that is done overseas and you can see how they are way ahead in health care for their citzens.

    Having discussed Canadian healthcare with several Canadians, all middle class, everyone of them said the system is terrible.

    Only one, a rich lawyer in NH, said the Canadian system works well.

    I cannot find the healthcare forum -- I would like to be part of the discussion on that.

    Tells you a lot about a country and what its priorities are. The American health care "system" is a national disgrace and an international embarrassment. I am still waiting for someone to explain, why if the American health care is so great, do we rank way down the list in life expectancy, child mortality, and a host of other statistics right next to third world countries?

    Hi, just listening to the health care discussion. I am American, live in BC Canada. I don't know where these doctors got their info but Canadian health care sucks!. Yes it is cheap, yes you can go to a walk in clinic and not pay.
    But there is such a shortage of doctors it can be impossible to get a family doctor or you may have to wait and keep calling various doctors to see if they take new patients. Once you do get a doctor you really can't change as others are 'waiting' to get a doctor so since you've landed one no one wants you to change with so many waiting to find a doctor in the first place.
    Then try and get into a specialist, dermatologist, neurologist or anything else. It could be months and months. Try and get a hip replacement or MRI could be months or years! Try and get more extensive lab tests for special problems. Forget it. So those are some of the many drawbacks of Canadian Health care. And unlike the States there are no 'free clinics' or sliding scale doctors or dentists like I experienced living in Arizona where they have compassion and will lower their rates if you have no health care. No, they don't dare do that here espcially dentists. So yes I appreciate that I can go to a walk in clinic or my doctor once I get one but one could drop dead before getting the care you really need. I found the health care when I lived in the States with no health insurance to be excellent. I'm talking of course just basic health care but I could get so many free services and get good care at the local health clinic never paid more than $20.00. There is a lot in place in the States if you don't have health insurance. And my clients who did have health insurance got 100% quicker and more thorough care then here in Canada.

    So look elsewhere for a model. Good Luck.

    A single-payer national health system is the only solution. Everyone will be covered. The morass of confusion and inefficient, costly and unequal plans and programs will be replaced with one overall plan -- Medicare for all. Instead of being a strickly sick-care system, it should incorporate a significant prevention program, using public education, wellness initiatives, and traditional public health measures as part of a comprehensive healthcare and wellness program. Primary care should be strengthened as well. The overuse of unnecessary pharmaceuticals and procedures should be replaced with more rational medical approaches where appropriate. We should look at examples of the best national healthcare programs in other countries, and structure ours similarly, as Taiwan did. In the end, such as system will cost less and deliver more. It is the only moral thing to do; the only economically sensible thing to do, and the courageous thing that must be done.

    Here's that soldier, found him in"Is Cynicism Unamerican?" (I'm glad my memory was correct.)

    As a soldier ,coming home from war I had no idea how ill I was,mostly numb. Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind with a slight mix of cynicism and a jack in the box humor in his writings. I understood Kurt Vonnegut and his way of articulating life. All the separate countries tending their different forms of loyalties,trying to invent the best mousetraps. Perhaps we are all People without a country. I think its a good place to start. America, after all was invented in another time. Now is a time that people will reinvent something new
    Gary Alan Brumley

    Posted by: gary alan brumley | May 22, 2008 10:11 PM

    Gary Alan Brumley, wherever you are, I hope you are well.And let's hope the new comes in time to prevent horrible mass suffering.

    The United States is so lapsed and fraudulent it probably cannot maintain the fiction of a democratic republic or a hegemonic foreign policy much longer. When an individual gets in the shape of this nation the SWAT team and negotiators are called. Unfortunately, this demented fugitive is armed with world anhialating weapons and is ready to mow down the last negotiator, the American public.

    Peak oil spelled empire's doom, and now the shell game of finance is revealed. The oligarchy is too invested in the old technology that is destroying the environment to allow innovation. See how no real reform can be discussed? The end game is all that remains. Mercy!

    One year ago (on this blog, another page) a newly returned veteran wrote about how numb war had made him and how reading Kurt Vonnegut thawed him out. Reawakened, he stated that we all are "men/women/people without a country", just chattel to be used by the wealthy and powerful to keep the money rolling in. Now maybe things will get better, if the money valve can be closed. People-Power can cut it off... if enough of us wake up. Even Jesse Helms reasoned that if you can't regulate the guns you sure better ration the ammunition. Shut it down.
    (Cancel all your health coverage and spend the money saved to feed and house the poor. Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing but healthcare on a larger scale: Socialized medicine: Rudolf Virchow. Fry the insurance giants first to force government to do its proper job.)

    The United States isn't a democracy. To believe that it is one has to be ignorant, stupid, or simply in denial. It's an oligarchy. The vast majority of people have virtually no power. This has to be recognized before anythign can change.

    The purpose of our foreign wars is no to spread democracy. That's pure propaganda. It's for profit and power. This is obvious.

    Of course the US is an empire. It's expanding its control not bringing freedom.

    Adding to my prfevious post Dick Cheney must be confronted and someone of great gravitas like President Carter and or President Busch the 43rd (who should hate that Cheney stole his son’s presidency) could be called upon to elevate the debate and protect the young president from savage attacks by the most dangerous politician to eve had held office since Joseph McCarthy. Somebody should address Cheney and say “Enough Mr. Vice President Have you no shame.”

    The recent increased aggressiveness of Dick Cheney in defending his and Bush’s record seems to be based on the notion that if he with the help of Rush Limbaugh can stare down the Obama administration at this early stage, he can have won the battle over disclosure of the whole torture mess. He is trying to make sure that most of us will remain ashamed of our country’s history and Dick’s side will be able to stand proud for their misdeeds and gall us into action. IN some ways the battle over the nation’s soul is being fought right now. They can argue that few made a fuss about torture when it happened and now he will force us to condone it in concept.

    If the film "Salt of the Earth" is not available try "Miracle in Milan" by Vittorio de Sicca. The most honest film I've noticed recently is "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard, an educational piece intended for schoolchildren which cuts to the core of our material dilemma in 20 minutes. David Simon says we must start teaching truth in school and stop juking. This little gem would be a start, and maybe help parents too. The discarded people, like me and Johnny Rocket, are included in both Simon's and Leonard's accountings. If Johnny ain't got no home he could come to NC and help me make a video. How's the censorship thing going on this blog lately? All our names are written in the book by now, elbop.

    Captcha: Times beautify

    I amend my last post, better to read this. It is very controversial, and in any real Democracy, would have to be accepted and assimilated into the mainstream of debate. Not marginalized and known only by reference of its detractors. Take a read:

    http://books.google.co.cr/books?id=ygjmHruT2swC&dq=On+the+Justice+of+Roosting+Chickens:+Reflections+on+the+Consequences+of+U.S.+Imperial+Arrogance+and+Criminality+ward+churchill&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=es&ei=AVUHSvGABI-stge8s-CCBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#PPA3,M1

    Re: Democracy and Intervention...

    It strikes me that Democracy as it exists in the USA has never been realized in much more than name... usually less than half the "electorate" even votes, and the "electorate" doesn't include a huge number of eligible voters who don't register.

    The argument that I hear most often in its defense is "what else would you do? It may not be perfect, but it's better than anything else." Which strikes me as a very weak defense indeed.

    As for the interventionist part... there are at least two narratives that explain this, one is the official story:

    We "Americans" (and forgive me for saying but I am sick of United Statesians calling themselves that, they are generally the least informed of their own history or of the history of the hemisphere in which they live, generally speak only English and have no awareness of any of what has happened in américa in the last 500 years other than a comic book caricature they learned in elementary school... United Statesians are least authentic of all the inhabitants of this hemisphere... mostly recent European immigrants, they are the least American of all the peoples in the Americas) ... anyway, "Americans" go out into the world to "spread Democracy" and "Freedom" and justify their violent attacks with a discourse of moral values and motivations, rescuing oppressed people from despots, from ignorance and tyranny, etc...

    The other narrative takes into account more mundane values such as: Profits. Access to natural resources. Control over land. WR Grace didn't give a whit about the people of Central America, The Dulles Bros either. Banana plantations were cemeteries for thousands of so-called "periquitos", the men who sprayed the copper sulfate from fire hoses to kill the parasites and guarantee a bumper crop - for export, like the profits... and when in course of human history these men began to organize to protect themselves, in came the Marines. 184 US interventions into Latin America alone since the Monroe Doctrine. All violent, deadly... all motivated by cold hard cash and the right to take a profit from people who owned nothing. You have to look at countries that have EXPELLED the US to find even the beginnings of Democracy in Latin America.

    Oops. There I go, I sound like a Communist, don't I?

    Then put my name and picture on the same list as those thousands killed by the US Phoenix Program in Vietnam, or the thousands killed by CIA funded and Green Beret trained goons in Suharto's Indonesia... Or put me in a high Andean prison with Lori Berenson, or in an Egyptian dungeon with the nameless victims of "secret rendition," or haul me off to the National Stadium in Santiago Chile and disappear me like the worthless commie scum I am...

    Just don't expect me to buy this silly self-aggrandizing BS about "Democracy" and "Freedom" please. Read a little Ward Churchill... "Fantasies of the Master Race" is a good place to start...

    http://www.bookfinder.com/author/ward-churchill/

    Better yet, Mr. Moyers... invite Mr. Churchill on the show and ask HIM about this question, if you want to get some real perspective on the issue. Now that would be an interesting and brave move towards Democracy indeed.

    Do you consider yourself worthy, Ayr? I bet you do. So then the question is why you aren't fighting? Hopelessness? That will disappear.

    By the way, the problem in your scenario of warring leaders is the leaders. Change that relationship and the dynamic changes.

    There are no Solutions 05/09/09

    Humanity due to its selfishness and greed can not agree to anything outside of its vision of what must be.

    Every man finds a leader and his group and proclaims to know the truth, the way, what is right for the world….

    Then another man finds a different leader and a different group who also proclaims to know the truth, the way, what is right for the world, plus what is important i.e. what to say, what to do, how to be, “live the right way”.

    Each judges the other as wrong and evil. Each group is willing to lie, cheat, steal, and kill to see its beliefs are flowed and the opposing group is judged to be wrong in all things and destroyed.

    Since the beginning of time and history man has not changed and had sought to kill and/or enslave those who are not in his tribe. The tribes have grown bigger and the leaders eventually die, but the Status Quo lives on and although humanity now considers its self civilized and educated, the super rich still enslaves the vast majority of mankind.

    Even though the 1% is in control of vast numbers of people and dollars they still prefer WAR as the best way to get what they want which is “more”.

    There are solutions in math and science but they only affect technology which is toys and tools that give us products and services that may entertain us but offers us no sustenance for our heart or soul.

    Relationship, compassion, cooperation, are not valued by those who contend and compete to win the prize. The prize is always “power” and the powerful always seek riches and slaves.

    Desire for power, pleasure, and greed for more, will in the end win over anything seen as good. In the end man will destroy mankind through his unbridled appetites.

    Man began as a beast and he will end as a beast, unworthy of living on this earth.

    Concerning the question, "Can America maintain both its democracy and an interventionist foreign policy?", the problem is one of scale, i.e., the U.S. has simply outgrown democracy:

    http://cikehara.blogspot.com/2009/03/when-it-comes-to-imperial-presidency.html

    "Can America maintain both its democracy and an interventionist foreign policy?"

    The question is formulated as if there is a contradiction between both processes, but the past ten years have clearly shown that they are in fact two sides of one coin.

    American democracy in its current form operates through corporate media that consistently withhold proven facts and balanced opinion from the majority of citizens, and also through a legal system applied selectively only when it happens to suit the interests of the financial elite.

    Preventing voters from learning what is really going on ensures that there is no genuine electoral accountability, while failure to prosecute crimes committed by the powerful ensures that they can keep perpetrating more crimes. Both are prerequisites for pursuing interventionist policies that run counter to domestic and international law, while harming the interests of the larger part of the domestic and world population alike.

    Conversely, interventionist policies are dressed up as matters of national security that require governments and corporations to operate in secrecy and with impunity, thus preventing genuinely democratic elections and debates from taking place. Moving forward to a balanced and truly democratic society combined with a constructive international policy requires restoration of legal and political accountability at home as well as abroad.

    One example of the degree to which both are connected at the hip, and may be transformed in sometimes unexpected ways, is Mr Vincent Bugliosi's call for domestic prosecution of the former president for murder of American soldiers knowingly sent to inevitable deaths in Iraq, under the pretext of protecting freedom and serving the national interest. For this and many other reasons, it would be very interesting to see Mr Bugliosi in a future episode of the Bill Moyers Journal.

    The core of the problem is that our nation has gone over to our darker past side and placed the rights of corporations and the rich over the rights of the people and the environment.


    We have a shameful history of Ameican exploitation. We also have a rich history of being noble people in the face of evil. Currently I watch American jobs being taken out of our country to maximize the profits of a few.

    Locally, I watch D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York (located down the street from my home) being allowed to purchase, destroy, and turn homes into parking lots without a transparent process of development expansion. I see a college that places parking lots up against the walls of my working/retired neighbors homes on two and three sides. A college that is supposed to be teaching ethics and enlightenment but practices manifest development over community self determination. I observe the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority blighting homes and pushing a development agenda that contributes to increasing respiratory disease and pushes people out of their homes for expanded truck and car movement over the health of this community. I observe slum lords on my block filling our street with drug dealers/users and a city that turns it's back on housing enforcement. My neighbors and I see the value of our homes being decreased, and our rights as citizen's being trounced for housing profit mongers who have no stake in our community. The quality of life is now better in Rwanda than it is in the City of Buffalo.

    As a firefighter I am told by the City of Buffalo that the cancer I suffer is not the responsibility of my employer. I am told that I am sick from cancer and not injured on duty from cancer. Cancer for firefighters is an occupational hazard in our line of work and cannot be totally prevented. Firefighters are exposed to more toxic first and second hand smoke than our predecessors. Now I understand how miners with black lung disease, Vietnam veterans exposed to agent orange, Bethlehem Steel workers exposed to radioactivity from the Manhattan Project, Love Canal (Niagara Falls) and Hickory Woods (Buffalo) residents exposed to buried toxins, citizens on the West Side near the Peace Bridge exposed to elevated levels of ozone and particulate matter from car and truck exhaust feel when their government lies to them.

    My current life experience places me on a common ground with Japanese Americans who were caged in U.S.concentration camps, Seneca Nation people who had their land taken for authority dams, the Cherokee people who were robbed of their land and marched on the trail of tears and people who were enslaved and workers who are being exploited.

    If water boarding was a wrongful practice for a sheriff in Texas and WWII Japanese generals than as far as I'm concerned it is still a wrongful practice in the United States of America. The war that began on 911 should not be used as an excuse to abandon our countries values and laws. In fact we play into the enemies hands when we behave like them and become like them.

    The ethical failure in our country to allow those who are rich and powerful to get away with high crimes and misdemeanors is an injustice to our dignity and humanity. The failure to hold those at the top responsible while punishing the masses is the path of privilege and selfishness that runs through our species history.

    Our government is tainted like the government of Chile and Argentina was when they disappeared, tortured, and murdered those they pronounced as enemies of the state. There is no way for a government for, by and of people to determine if their government is working the way it was designed when secrecy and subterfuge is being employed by a President. President George W. Bush was on my television set telling me that the United States of America does not torture. We were collectively lied to about this issue and about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    As a citizen I am profoundly disappointed that the Obama Administration is not bringing U.S. government officials who broke International law and basic, ethical, human decency into court to allow a jury of their peers or a military tribunal such as the one in Nuremberg to decide if crimes against humanity were or were not committed. A person in my city is not allowed to torture an animal. Would we allow another human being to water board a dog? Torture is wrongful and is an excuse used by those who break laws by convenience and willful intent.

    We have an ethical disaster as a society when we do not stand up to those who torture and call them out for this wrong doing.

    We also have a problem maintaining our freedom when the control of our government and information is in the hands of a few corporations. The corporate strangle hold on our process of government and news coverage requires a leveling of the playing field that gives greater control to we the people.

    @Johnny Rocket:
    Sorry to hear your unemployed Johnny. It's not just the loss of income but the sheer time wasting of whatever our talents are that could be now turning the cogs of society instead of spinning near-uselessly in private, empty rooms. The psychopaths who bust the sound and firm system granted to them 50 years ago have handed us all penal sentences to boot. Unemployment is like prison with a minimum period of unknown years.

    Skoal, Comrade Rocket.

    As the grand illusion tears, as the brotherhood of justice and greed evaporates, Mr. Martin, it is fascinating to watch these characters play their lines. It appears they are wrestling some personal agony, slowly refining their parsements, coming to conclusions. Can it be the air is so crystalline up there? Or are they fighting doubts on our behalf?

    Our patrimony, granted by conservatives and liberals, is tragedy and all above share some grief in this. Fein is sharp, clear, and still avoiding the inevitable. As noted by my fellow commenters, these crises are hardly due to the "psychology" of empire. They are due to the mechanisms of empire.

    If the "psychology" lifted tomorrow, would your USA brand evaporate, Mr. Martin? No. We'll all be remembering these brutalities, like all veterans, till the end. That's understood and the tempest continued.

    Danner's not so good at this game, pouring on the Barnum. He's got no style though. Conman with compassion's a delicate recipe.

    There's an elephant in the room but, what with all the torturing barbarism, he's been LEFT out.


    “THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE , AND PETITION THE
    GOVERNMENT FOR REDRESS GOVERN OF GRIEVANCES”-”THE WILL of
    THE PEOPLE” DENIED!

    “The eight activists demanded that single payer - everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital - be put on the table.
    And as a result they were arrested.
    And charged with a so-called "disruption of Congress."

    When I heard about this corporate line-up last week, I called the office of Senator Baucus.
    And politely asked that, as a matter of fairness, a single payer doctor be allowed to testify.
    I was told - no way, Ralph.
    The deal is done.

    And again asked that a group of doctors who were in the room to support Medicare for all be allowed to testify.
    The answer again - no, no, and no.
    Remember what Senator Richard Durbin said last week?
    Durbin said that the banks "own" the Congress.
    To which we might add - the health insurance industry and the drug industry own the Senate.”

    I really like the post by Johnny Rocket - well said!

    The "spreading of democracy" is just a cover for corporate pillage. Just look at Iraq and the rewards reaped by companies like Halliburton with no-bid contracts. America has been doing this sort of thing for quite some time. Check out "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins.

    I agree with Bruce Fein that we need to be an example of democracy for others to emulate.

    Any intervention should be to supply humanitarian aid. If there is a situation where further action is indicated, it should be carried out on a multi-national level, like the U.N.

    Mr Moyers, I hope on your next show you remind America that the Obama administation is currently in the process of deporting an accused German prison camp guard for what? Following orders from a government that in a time of war said it was legal for him to do what he did. I'm glad President Obama doesn't want to look back. I wonder if Dick Cheney thinks it is okay for Iran and North Korea to torture the American women they are currently detaining as spies.

    One small aside caught my attention, it was when Mr. Danner was speaking about the "American Imagination." Mr. Danner gave several examples such as movies like Dirty Harry to illustrate how this "American Imagination" was fascinated with the figure of a hero who would do anything, take any measure including murder, torture whatever, to defend the innocent from evil. Mr. Danner, correctly I believe, asserts that this has everything to do with why all of this torture and fun unconstitutional stuff has gone over so easily with major sectors of the US populace.

    The thing that struck me was that these certainly ARE factors in the FORMATION of the "American Imagination," but I think there is a certain dishonesty in omitting the obvious: movies, and all propaganda of the mass media, do NOT spring made of whole cloth from the ether. They are products of wealthy interests who are the gatekeepers of the images which are allowed to infuse the public space.

    I remember a movie from the 50's called "Salt of the Earth," which documented a copper miners strike among mostly Latino workers in I think New Mexico... the film was "blacklisted" and never seen by the mass of "American" movie-going audiences because the owners of the distribution chains that own movie houses were the same Country Club Members who own the rest of the country, not incidentally I suppose the copper mines... and they didn't like the idea that the "American Imagination" might get infected with images of simple workers and communist labor organizers as heroes...

    I agree with Mr. Danner's point that the formation of political reality has a lot to do with the images and stories that we see and hear. I only wish that it would be made clear that responsibility for the formation of the images we are subjected to in mass media really does lie with specific and identifiable persons and interests. It is not as they would have us believe the other way around, that people demand Dirty Harry and then they give us Dirty Harry. In fact, Dirty Harry is given an uneven break, a head start, Dirty Harry is MADE into the desired object and representative of our desires and sold to us. ON PURPOSE. Other competing ideas and images are suppressed and silenced in the wholly un-democratic and totally insulated backrooms and golf courses where the movie producers and TV show executives make the choices about what the "American Imagination" is to be fed in abundance this season.

    I also agree with Mr. Danner's point about the utmost necessity to make as public a hearing as possible of the fundamental issues that trouble the United States' self-image as a bastion of "liberty and justice" such as the torture and illegal spying and such. It is a start at beginning to take responsibility for what our collective imagination is made of, and take that power away from self-interested liars and imperialists like those who have so thoroughly corrupted the political and moral culture of the USA.

    Our Great Purpose is to create billionaires, and give them as much freedom and as little accountability as possible.

    I myself am committed to this greater national purpose, and do my part.

    I embrace my role as one of the impoverished masses, because I know that the vast fortunes of a few are possible only if others are willing to live in poverty.

    I am proud to be unemployed, because I know that low wages can only be maintained if workers are desperate for jobs.

    I nobly partake of meals that consist of cheap, non-nutritious or harmful ingredients because I know that with each swallow of aspartame, each mouthful of fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, I am helping our country's Corporations. My sacrifice allows them to absorb wealth while my body absorbs unhealthful foodstuffs.

    I relish the opportunity to inhale and drink toxic industrial waste products that have infiltrated the air and drinking water, because I understand that my own life is of no importance when compared with the chance to concentrate greater wealth into fewer hands.

    I happily go without the medical care I need, to help the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the medical industry to create the billionaires that are so vital to the realization of our Great Purpose.

    I am learning to like the new American wilderness of flat, barren land where forested mountains once were. I know that mountain-top removal mining is efficient, and that mountains are unnecessary. The fewer there are, the more of America I can see with an unobstructed view. And as everyone knows, the only value of timber is in its harvesting. In what other country are people sufficiently patriotic to sacrifice more than 500 mountains for the Greater Good?

    I humbly wallow in ignorance, because I understand that if educated, I might be subjected to dangerous ideas. I might be corrupted by unnatural desires for a home, respect, dental work, a little time to relax, and similar extraneous desires that might distract us from the accomplishment of our Goal.

    Unlike the fools in every other industrialized country, I recognize that I do not deserve a job, decent pay, proper nutrition, a heated home, an education, clean drinking water, respect, or any such absurdities.

    I, like millions of others, am a proud American, willing to subjugate my own welfare to the Laudable Endeavor to create a tiny parasitic class of billionaires who can have whatever they want, and do whatever they like, without regard for anything or anyone.

    How glorious it is to contribute to this Land of Opportunity! A land in which a billionaire can find enough write-offs to pay absolutely nothing in taxes, while every homeless veteran who gathers enough coins to purchase a cup of coffee pays tax on it.

    Ah, to be American!

    (Appropriately enough, Capcha says: "Privilege dough")

    We lost our democracy once we allowed our CIA to perform covert aggressive operations instead of information collection only AND once we started waging wars without proper Congressional approval. Without proper transparency, oversight, and accountability democracy is dead. I say democracy is dead, in the case of covert operations and wars, because the public can not make judgments when their eyes have been blindfolded and brains have been washed.

    Dear Mr. Moyers:
    This was an excellent program -- one of your best ever, and I hope you bring back Mr. Danner and Mr. Fein.
    Do the torture and "enhanced interrogation" apologists ever stop to consider that we, the United States, will have little credibility to speak out against our enemies who, God forbid, could capture and torture one of our brave U.S. servicemen and women?

    Does this not trouble the torture apologists?

    MARK DANNER, you can tell your fox news viewers; PBS and NBC viewers know Torture does not divide this country as you say, nor does President Obama’s Black skin… or as fox news viewers say “black ass” and that’s putting it mildly, boy!

    PBS and NBC viewers will tell you the words g. w. bush broadcasted around the world Tuesday, November 6, 2001 for fox news viewer to repeat and to use to challenge the patriotism of loyal Americans is what divided this country.

    MARK DANNER I say to you and your fox news viewers, "either you're with us or you're against us”.

    Respect the office of President Obama, which he holds, and support the policies of his administration or get out of my country.

    republicans are always using the expression the glass is half full on me to somehow reinforce their optimism, yet they're always saying, “there will be another attack”. Why is that?

    Regards
    gwbushisonepos

    Under the present circumstances we are not a Democracy; we are an Oligarchy. The only way we can return to a Representative Democracy is to have representatives that are responsive to "We the people not "Them the bribeists". As long as there are corporation lobbyists with vested interests buying favors through contributions, we are a defacto Oligarchy no matter what we want to call ourselves.
    We are not Democrats or Republicans.
    The Republicans need to read Plato's Republic if they want to regain their relevance.

    "The true lover of knowledge naturally strives for truth, and is not content with common opinion, but soars with undimmed and unwearied passion till he grasps the essential nature of things."
    Plato

    I believe I'd be getting at the crux of a sorry misconception if I stated that Bruce Fein's premise of a "(paranoid) psychology of empire" is way off track from reality. (Mark Danner's positing of a "split personality" between democracy at home and humanitarian intervention abroad is even farther from historical truth.) The same "rubicon" has repeatedly been crossed without accountability throughout US history. Some look back to posit a conquering racism of "us and them" where destiny became manifest, but such genocidal results became more and more symptomatic of an oligarchical intent over time. (Let's not discuss here the "good war" in Europe where our financial elite created Hitler in the same way they later made Marcos, Somoza, the Shah and Saddam Hussein and the ever popular Osama bin Laden, and in which many key corporations profited on both sides of the front lines.)Let's do talk about Vietnam and Iraq where the public was bullied and deceived in order for the oligarchy to profit. Let's discuss how right now they can't afford for Al Quieda or the Taliban to go away for fear the liquidity in arms and drug dealing will seize up like the credit sectors. (How the very terrorists we fear may be manufactured and supported through our intelligence agencies.) Let's talk about extraordinary rendition, and how innocents were raped with electric prods in Egypt at elite US bidding. Let's talk about how the DEA and our military dance daily with the disembowelling and hide frying cartel and police thugs to keep our second biggest industry (after arms dealing) profitable in Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan. (Let's recall the sick smirk on George Bush's face as he described (the profitability of) "human trafficking" before the UN, as he fantasized about the poor (delicious suffering of the women and children.)

    Read the work of an honest man (Charles Bowden in this month's Harper's)about how "the spice must flow" (Dune) for this empire to remain viable. If this society exhibits any psychological disorder it is sociopathic sadism in the service of the top 10% (in wealth and income). We have to lay this disorder bare before we can cure it.

    Dr. Paul Farmer (Partners In Health)was once upbraided by an auditor for spending $20,000 to bring a sick Haitian child on medivac to be treated in Boston. "Think what you could have done for the others with twenty thousand dollars!" he screamed at the saintly physician. "And think what I could have done with the $300,000 you make in a year," replied Pel Farmer.
    I (Jack Martin)exist in a school of thought where one person's life is as important as any other, and where no one in an organization is above performing the lowliest necessary task if it is at hand. I am constantly at odds with this oligarchic nightmare of classism that not only produces widely distributed suffering, and poorly distributed opportunity, but makes our very sanity scarcer and scarcer each day as if someone stands poised to profit from craziness and generalized bedlam. And that is why apologists for the obvious malfeasance of our empire (like Danner and Fein) serve no good cause with their juxpositioning of hollow words that amount to excuses for their masters.

    Captcha: Robert dialled

    Physical coercion is not a reliable method of obtaining intelligence. In November 2006, General Patrick Finnegan, the Dean of of the United States Military Academy at West Point, accompanied by three of the top F.B.I. and military interogators in the U.S.--no peaceniks be they--tried to persuade the producers of "24" of this reality and to stop glamorizing the practice in the TV series. (Jane Mayer, "Whatever it Takes," The New Yorker, February 19, 2007.).

    It's disapointing that President Obama failed to note torture's inefficacy, even as he denounced its use, during Wednesday night's press conference. In doing so he weakened his own position in the debate with neoconservatives by implicitly legitmating Mr. Cheney's specious premise that such abuse is useful in preventing terrorist attacks.

    The public is not always provided the information it needs in order to pass judgment on interventions. The press is not skeptical enough about the government's line. We get in trouble when the stated reasons for intervention are exaggerations, as was the case in Iraq.

    Not every intervention is of equal merit. Our misadventure in Viet Nam cannot be compared to our fighting in WW II.

    I would reverse the original blog statement. It seems that failures of democracy at home, particularly failures of transparency and the press, have led to interventions that do not benefit the country as a whole.

    Despite all the lawyer talk, our signature on an international treaty renouncing torture makes it the law in this country. Yesterday a judge in Spain essentially said to Obama, either take decisive action against the people in your country who authorized torture or I will press the issue through the international court. We are a nation of laws and it's a sad day when the world has to hold a gun to our head to make us obey the law. It's especially disturbing when you consider that our president is a law professor !

    This is all BS and tip of a very ugly iceberg. Wake up! Based on observable forensic evidence WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7 where systematically destroyed by exotic chemical exposive demolition charges and OBL had nothing to do with it (check out FBI.gov, he isn't wanted for any 9/11 crimes). The perpetrators are the very people who authorized the torture... A criminal cabal that deserves nothing less than the hangman's noose.

    Lest you forget :

    WMD
    Yeller cake
    1,000,000 dead in Iraq
    300,000 displaced
    A destroyed Iraqi society
    du everywhere

    America's economy ruined for Amerika's bloody predatory empire... so a few monsters could get richer than they already were.

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