In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Saturday, July 20, 2024

Where, and when, did we go wrong?

At what point did this country lose its way? America used to stand for law, freedom, decency and human rights. When, exactly, did we stop believing on those basic concepts? We used to be admired around the world. Now we are despised and feared in some quarters and considered a laughingstock in others. The Senate confirms, as Attorney General, a man who says he doesn't know if waterboarding is torture. Doesn't know? What alternative universe spawned this misguided sub-species?

At what point did this country lose its way? America used to stand for law, freedom, decency and human rights. When, exactly, did we stop believing on those basic concepts?

We used to be admired around the world. Now we are despised and feared in some quarters and considered a laughingstock in others.

The Senate confirms, as Attorney General, a man who says he doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture. Doesn’t know? What alternative universe spawned this misguided sub-species?

Consider the testimony before Congress Thursday of Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a counter terrorism expert who taught at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school. He went through the waterboarding procedure to evaluate for himself if it was torture.

In my case, the technique was so fast and professional that I didn’t know what was happening until the water entered my nose and throat, It then pushes down into the trachea and starts the process of respiratory degradation. It is an overwhelming experience that induces horror and triggers frantic survival instincts. As the event unfolded, I was fully conscious of what was happening: I was being tortured.

Yes, he was being tortured. No if ands or buts. Torture. What part of that procedure is so hard for new Attorney General Michael Mukasey to understand?

In previous wars, the United States condemned torture. Now we not only endorse it but export it, sending prisoners overseas so other countries can extract misinformation through pain and suffering.

And what does this get us? False information that is used to launch illegal wars against other nations. Recent reports confirm that an al-Qaida operative was tortured to the point where he told us what we wanted to hear about Iraq, not was actually true.

When torture doesn’t work, we simply allow ourselves to be conned. CBS recently outed “Curveball,” the so-called “top scientist” from Iraq who fed us false information about mobile chemical weapons labs in Iraq. Turns out he was a low-level worker with an active imagination.

America on the world stage is viewed as both a bully and a bumbling joke that can’t do anything right. We ignore the United Nations, violate international law and turn Iraq into the safe-haven for terrorism that we falsely claimed was there before we launched an illegal invasion.

Our President lies without a second thought and sends young men and women to their deaths without remorse. The so-called leader of the free world is a mentally-unbalanced despot with no conscience and no regard for the Constitution that once defined this nation.

In some parts of this country, children lie in a coma because this President, in a recess appointment, put a lobbyist for industry in charge of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Residents of New Orleans still live away from their homes because he appointed a flunky with a false resume from the International Arabian Horse Association to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

George W. Bush’s vision of America includes a government that routinely spies on its citizens, throws out due process when dealing with prisoners and twists the truth to fit political agendas.

But Bush did not start America’s descent; he merely exploited weaknesses in the system. He accelerated a decline that may now be irreversible unless Americans step up and take the decisive action to reclaim their nation from the thieves, con-artists and crooks that control our government.

The answer, if one can be found, does not lie in replacing one corrupt politician with another or one out-of-touch political party with another.

The system has failed. Replacement, not repair, may be the answer.

But replacement with what?

I don’t know.

I wish I had an answer.

I don’t.

Do you?

55 thoughts on “Where, and when, did we go wrong?”

  1. You have quoted, at length, some interesting ideas from “A Future of the Brave”. You have told us what needs to be done.

    So? How? Does the article, or book, or essay, or pamphlet, or novel, or whatever… tell us HOW?

    Write or telephone your representatives? Vote?

    Yeah. OK.

    — Kent Shaw

  2. “… But replacement with what?
    I don’t know.
    I wish I had an answer.
    I don’t.
    Do you?”

    Indeed I do. But most visionary solutions are deemed mad in their day, only to be lamented when their fortune has been long evident, and lost.

    Here’s a sneak peak at the end, you might want to read what leads up to it at

    A Grand Challenge

    My friends, the simple truth is that we are wasting our precious time, resources, intellect, and passion. As a species we are just as aimless today as when our primitive ancestors first ventured out upon this earth.

    Today I am proposing that for the first time in human history, we change that.


    More than any time in history, humanity needs a grand challenge. Not only to avert its extinction, but also to indelibly etch the common bond of mutual reliance and cooperation on current and future generations.

    Fortunately, all of the forces that now seem to conspire against us can quickly be turned to our advantage.

    For the first time in human history we actually possess technologies so advanced that any physical problem can potentially be solved.

    And yet, I wonder, do we possess the will and wisdom to utilize them for our salvation instead of our destruction?

    I propose that we find out.

    So today I offer you a radical and stark choice between two future realities.

    An aimless future of continued war and conflict, with all its accompanying suffering and death; or a limitless future dedicated to defeating suffering and death itself, with all its accompanying technological advancement and social evolution.

    Yes indeed, I have a new plan, for all of you. A plan of hope. A plan of adventure. A plan of such extraordinary magnitude as to take the breath, and challenge the senses, of all who would consider it. A plan to bind our common people in hope, and finally free our conscience for noble purpose.

    I propose that in the next three decades we at last end the scourge of human disease upon this earth, and begin the inevitable adventure of humanity’s migration beyond it.

    We shall at last unlock the fundamental secrets of our biology so we may conquer any illness or defect at will, and we shall free ourselves from the bonds of our native home so we may evade global calamities, and begin the expansion of our species beyond this world.

    No longer shall our survival be dependent upon the random and dispassionate forces of nature. No longer shall we quiver in anguish as we helplessly watch those we love suffer and die in agony from an endless list of human disease and dysfunction. No longer shall our globe be divided in constant turmoil and conflict while the hammer of fate hangs precariously balanced over all we know and love.

    We shall at last take control of our future, our fate, and ourselves.

    No other endeavor ever attempted by humankind will require more genius, dedication, compassion, and sacrifice.

    And no other endeavor ever attempted by humankind will be more vital to the continued existence of our species.

    I understand that for many this may initially seem like pure science fiction. This is to be expected since the scales of the threats we face reside within the scope of what we have always considered to be science fiction. However, in reality, all of these goals are well within our technological reach. They are the quickest, and I believe only, way for our species to battle both the physical and societal threats that will continue to confront us.

    Excerpt from a A Future of the Brave –

  3. Mirror

    My friends, sometimes the most difficult thing about fighting evil is realizing that it actually exists, and then unambiguously and forcefully calling it what it is.

    History shows time and time again that one of evils greatest strengths is its ability to disguise itself as good, or at least a temporary necessity, until that last fatal moment when its revelation becomes clear, indisputable, and inescapable.

    So today let us take a clear and unadulterated look into the mirror at ourselves.

    Just six years ago we were one of the most respected and admired defenders of democracy and human rights in history. Respected not only by our friends, but even begrudgingly by most of our enemies. In fact, even the fantastic power of our military paled in comparison to the overwhelming might of our moral authority.

    Today we are a nation that operates secret prisons occupied by anonymous inmates, illegally abducted and held indefinitely without charge or representation. We are guilty of torture. We are guilty of murder. We are guilty of preemptive war of conquest. We are guilty of the wholesale surveillance of our population, suppressing all hope of privacy and free dissent. And we are guilty of disgracing our nation through the abandonment of even our most basic precepts of morality.

    If this is not evil, then nothing we have ever fought against is evil, and nothing we have ever fought for is good.

    Excerpt from A Future of the Brave –

  4. Great read. I too agree that the system has failed and needs to be replaced. I think most people are hard pressed to come up with ‘how’ to change the system. First, they need to be awake enough to know that the system needs replacing. A system, run by psychopaths, is like an infection…..if unchecked it grows and grows. Right now, our country is in the throws of a full-blown infection.

    My only hope for all of us is that more and more individuals ‘see’ what is going on – awareness is the first step to change, imo. Check out the word ponerology. You might find some hope.

  5. Carl, I like your idea. But are the voters prepared to see the reason behind your plan? Most voters that I talk to are wanting Socialism in America and a guarantee of jobs, welfare and having a government they can depend on; not work for.

    Our voters are not educated to understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They want Orwell’s Big Daddy to take care of them. It could be another generation before our citizens will understand what they have lost.

  6. Carl,

    TO: Doug Thompson,

    You say, “you wish you had an answer” well, I believe there is one.
    I have been thinking about this solution for several days. Here is what I believe will work for all concerned.

    At this point in the presidential race there are two people that stand out that are like minded and have the vision to make the U.S. Constitution the focal point of their mandate for the office of President and Vice President of the United States. The small problem is that they each sit on separate sides of the house.

    I am speaking here of Ron Paul, who is running for the Republican ticket, and Dennis Kucinich, who is running on the Democrat ticket.

    It is obvious that the very life blood of this once great country is at stake in this next presidential race. It is also obvious to me, that the two people that fill the office of President and Vice President, must be the very best that this country has to offer. In that sense I do not see this as a partisan issue. Rather, it is a case for the very survival of this once great nation, that it find a way to return to the Constitution upon which it was founded and that the Rule of Law be reinstated as the means by which this shall be done.

    Therefore, because this is in truth a bi-partisan effort, I propose that a delegation of senior house member from both levels of goverment, and in equal number from both parties, will meet with Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, with the purpose of asking them to form a bipartisan union to run for the office of President and Vice President in the coming Presidential race.

    I fully realize that there is no precedent for such action as this. However, there is also no precedent for the dilemma that this country is in at this time of its history as a nation. Therefore, this is an act of survival for the United States and a means to save it from its own destruction. Yes, these are difficult times, and I do not believe that partisan politics is the answer. This great nation will only survive if it does this together and brings back the Rule of Law and the recognition that this country exists – of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that is not a partisan issue. It reminds us all of what this country really stands for.

    I ask that this proposal be given serious thought. In reality, it may be the only hope that there is

  7. Since DejaVuAllOver mentioned Native Americans, one of their traditions was that the chief was the last person to eat. He would not eat until his tribe had been fed. Seems like that makes a lot more sense than anything the white man has come up with.

  8. DejaVuAllOver, I have a vintage mini humbucker on the neck and a tele sounding twangbanger on the bridge. I’m not totally ignorant.

  9. Stratocaster,

    I couldn’t agree more. What we’re seeing here is that capitalism is every bit as corruptible as communism, or perhaps even more so. When we, as a society, make the pursuit of profit our fundamental goal, nothing else gets done. Healing the sick, educating the stupid or cleaning up the colossal messes we make, all take a back seat or no seat at all to profits for speculators, profiteers and racists with an agenda. (more wars for Israel, maybe?)

    When a communist country makes pursuit of “equality” a fundamental goal, every human virtue is suppressed. Humans are NOT created equal; some are a lot more intelligent and talented than others, at least in specific endeavors. We all need room to express our talents, and sometimes a little competition is just what we need to keep us motivated, and to keep our egos in check. And since I gather you’re a musician (with a moniker like Stratocaster) you must know a LOT about the human ego! (assuming you actually deal with other musicians….!) And when was the last time you were told how communist societies can last for tens of thousands of years? (ala American Natives) No, we’re programmed to believe any governing “philosophy” but our own is rotten…..

    Then, of course, there are the endless lies of our media; lies by bias, lies by agenda, lies by omission, and just regular-old bald-faced lies. I’ve had a career in the TV biz. There’s nothing more corrupt than the NY/LA TV empire. Not to mention racist, with an agenda that’s palpable to a six year old. (i.e. Israel great, Palestine scum, etc., etc., etc., etc… infinitum.)

    And lastly, but most importantly, there’s the education issue. We’re a bunch of fat, stupid, materialistic, trigger-happy and consumption-happy pigs, to put it politely. Our educational system is a disgrace to the “civilized” world, and everyone knows it, except us. Or rather, our lack of commitment to making intelligent endeavors more important than profitable and/or hedonistic ones. As a culture we’re deranged, in this regard.

    But on this cheery “note”, keep playing, Stratocaster. I’m more a Telecaster fan, but hey, you’re getting warm!!

  10. I shudder to read that anyone wants to ban any free speech which means using the authority of the government to do it. The government is our problem. Only freer speech can overcome this tyranny.

    We probably cannot convince anyone to vote when they feel it a fraud but why not get our children/grandchildren interested in the laws of the Constitution and show them the only freedom can be found in free elections. I am a firm believer in evolution and we are responsible for the intelligence of the next generation. Why not start with saving American freedoms?

  11. I wonder what role cynicism plays in the terribly low voter turnout. I have a good friend who is a very professional and attentive teacher in the Special Educ field. For over 20 years she has refused to go to the polls because she is convinced it is all a big fraud, that the outcomes are all pre-arranged. This time the Repub’s get in, next it’s the Dem’s, etc. Indeed I am tempted to share her view when I see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi taking impeachment off the table. Or is it that there is so much s–t going on in government that blackmail is rampant? In either case, I can see where folks don’t want to be played the fool by a government that has provided plenty of cause for this level of distrust. Then again, isn’t it the goal of the fat cats in government and their wealthy cronies to have a 20% turn out?

    the Nite-Watchman

  12. Do I know what to replace our present government with? Yes, I do. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a corporate oligarchy. It needs to be destroyed and replaced with a democracy. A government of the people, by the people, for the people.

  13. Doug, you do know what is wrong with the political system and what should be done to fix it. I think we all do.

    Open up the field to all “qualified” candidates by arming each with equal resources and exposure access via the media. That eliminates “the one with the most money wins” condition and, also, the need for any “party affiliation.”

    Outlaw all monetary donations. All elections and qualified candidates are public funded. That eliminates lobbists buying candidates. Winners would be obligated only to those who voted for them. The public funds would be for staff and travel expense. A system would have to be developed to qualify candidates to reduce the field to something that makes sense.

    Each candidate is provided an equal number of TV, newspaper, and magazine adds at no charge. No other of these adds would be allowed by any individual, organization, company, or industry. Equal time debates would be aired without regard to party. Perhaps these should happen on PBS or some government channel?

    Require the winner to capture more than 50% of the eleigible voters of their districts. That means people MUST vote in sufficient numbers to make that happen, otherwise their district would have no representation in government. If you don’t vote you don’t deserve any. I would support madatory voting. It works in Australia. They found that, being forced to vote, forced them to find out who and what they would have to vote about.

    Set reasonable and effective term limits for all government officials. Enough time should be given to allow completion of programs but no more “lifers.” Hold elections every 4 years for all offices. Perhaps a 2 term limit? Eliminate the “pension for life” all house and senate members now enjoy.

    I’m sure there are a few other goddies that need to be added but that is the basics of what has been discussed at CHB ever sense I can remember. We all know what is needed. The problem is that these changes can occur only by congress enacting the legislation for them. So, the real question is: how to get any United States Congress to do that?

  14. Trusting government.

    That’s where “we” went wrong. Instead of watching our government and being proactive, several generations of America decided that their own comfort was paramount, screw the other guy. This tradition continues to this day when perhaps 2% of eligible voters bother to turn out to polls or cast a critical eye of government actions.

    In this day, all of us share responsibility to restore our Constitutional Republic. This is done by standing up to tyranny, by getting involved, by accepting personal responsibility.

    This is a patriotic struggle which has every chance of costing us what the Founding Fathers pledged: their lives, liberty and property. And unless you are willing to take this pledge, you are simply part of the problem.

    As the growing police state looms above us, as peaceful activists find themselves on no-fly lists, as every article in our Bill Of Rights is being dismantled by runaway jurists and the executive branch it becomes the inescapable choice of every American: will I submit or resist.

    Will you resist? Or will you consign future generations to servitude? If you resist, you are in the best company of generations of patriots. If not,

    “let history forget that ye were ever our countrymen”.


  15. The merger of corporation and state is fascism.
    Mussolini basically said as much. Just google “mussolini fascisim definition”.

    — Kent Shaw

  16. An idea whose time might have come would be to pass a law totalling forbidding the use of television to broadcast paid political advertisements of any kind for any group. This would be in the same way they elimininated these same television stations from airing advertisements promoting the use of cigarettes and hard liquor. I understand there has been a proposal over the years to provide equal time to candidates by television stations but this proposal is highly unrealistic and therefore unusable.

    I know there will be those who will say it is an impedement to “Freedom of Speech” but I beg to disagree. Candidates would not be forbidden to speak out on News, Debates, television appearances. They could buy advertising on the Internet, radio, etc. We would not be keeping anyone from having the ability to speak out. We would be keeping our televison air waves from being used by the highest bidder and the deepest pocketbooks to spin lies and propaganda.

    If we eliminate paid political televised advertising from the air waves, this would also eliminate the need for BIG MONEY INTERESTS and thier deep pockets.

    Think about it. In the months to come, we will have to listen to some of the filest intrusions into our daily lives simply to promote someone else’s agenda. If we sincerely want to make a substative change in the political arena, eliminating paid political advertising on television will certainly accomplish this. Although you will never find a television pundit to promote this idea…at least not if they value their job security.

  17. While there are provisions for the seperation of church and state, there are no provisions for the seperation of corporation and state. Whatever those provisions may be, we desperately need them.

  18. “a mentally-unbalanced despot with no conscience and no regard for the Constitution that once defined this nation.”

    Follow the link to the story that has become viral on “the internets” (gw shrub).


    — Kent Shaw

  19. I totally empathize with you because in Texas I have no representation and haven’t had any in 20 years despite the fact I vote.

    And I have found that letters and emails do have an effect. Money also has an effect. Look at how money effects Ron Paul’s position in this coming election. Now many consider Ron Paul as not having a snowball’s chance in H of winning the GOP nomination. But when he raises $4 Million dollars in one day, then all of a sudden people sit up and take notice. There is a current campaign underway to repeat this next Monday when we celebrate veteran’s day. Imagine the effect it will have if he equals or surpasses it?

    The notion that our actions have no consequences when it comes to politics is perhaps the problem with the growing apathy. So let’s just have an experiment and see once and for all. Send $5 to Ron Paul’s campaign on Monday. I am not a follower or organizer for Paul. I do admire him since he is the only Republican candidate willing to support withdrawal from Iraq. Then watch what happens in the news and the debates when Paul has the largest single day money raised total surpassing even Hillary. It would be worth the $5 contribution to watch the Main Stream Media Show.

    It’s a snowball folks. We just have to get it rolling downhill.

  20. Voting is required, yes. But after the newly elected takes office, or retains office, the voters must constantly communicate their demands to the candidate they helped elect. Its not a once and done deal. I voted, now I can go back to sleep. No. Pay attention and call and write constantly to your representatives. That is one of the duties of a citizen in a democratic republic.

    Although I do not agree with him politically most of the time, and he knows it, I have found that my U.S. Rep., 19th, PA, Todd Platts (R), actually does listen to telephone messages and respond personally by letter, on topic and not just a form letter. I’m going to assume he would do so with written correspondence. Large volumes of mail and/or phone calls might actually have an effect. (affect? effect? I never could keep those two straight.)

    — Kent Shaw

  21. Pollwatcher is right that the main problem is apathy and I don’t see how that is going to change if left to their own devices. I realize that this is an odoriferous solution but WTH. Make voting mandatory. Yeah, I know, paying taxes are mandatory and people still refuse to pay. There are going to be those everywhere for every occasion. But if voting is made mandatory the number of voters would be guaranteed to skew the numbers and mostly invalidate the control mechanisms those that “control” the elections (corporations and elitists) have played on us for these many years. It goes in the face of “freedom” but what do we have left of our freedoms when we allow the epitome of our demographic system to be manipulated but those with ulterior motives. Make it mandatory – and then after a couple of decades, after we’ve indoctrinated a new generation to vote we can drop the mandatory requirement. But then FWIW, that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion. Have a nice day!!

  22. Good question Doug and I think someone we all know warned us of our impending demise over 140 years ago…
    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
    Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865

    Carl Nemo **==

  23. “He accelerated a decline that may now be irreversible unless Americans step up and take the decisive action to reclaim their nation from the thieves, con-artists and crooks that control our government.”

    con-artists and crooks — fact, and nothing more or less.

    Many despots do come to, for them, a sad end. It could happen here. Its a ray of hope.

    — Kent Shaw

  24. Sandy — I think you read that wrong. I have reread everything and don’t see anywhere where anyone has advocated the abolishment of Free Speech. Please reread. Thanks.

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