Where is the US Headed?

To Disagree Silently is to Agree

(Sign seen at Boston Protest March, 3/21/03)

A set of resources and commentaries on the direction of our nation,
aimed at furthering peace, economic and social justice, and human rights through enhanced understanding of, and resistance to, the directions our country is headed.

Compiled by Stephen Soldz
for Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice

For detailed information on current events in Iraq, including the historical background, critical analysis of war news, the conditions under occupation, and the budding war against the American occupation, see my Iraq Antiwar Resources site.

Overall Trends

Thomas Frank, in his new book, What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, discusses why poor farmers and the working class have become conservative, Republican, supporters. Here is a discussion by him of the failure of liberalism: Red-State America Against Itself. See also an interview with Frank by Bill Moyers: Thomas Frank on NOW with Bill Moyers.

Susan Sontag recently won the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade). Her acceptance speech, Susan Sontag on the great Atlantic divide eloquently discusses the origins of the current tension between Europe and America.

It is the genius of the United States, a profoundly conservative country in ways that Europeans find difficult to fathom, to have devised a form of conservative thinking that celebrates the new rather than the old. But this is also to say, that in the very ways in which the United States seems extremely conservative - for example, the extraordinary power of the consensus and the passivity and conformism of public opinion (as Tocqueville remarked in 1831) and the media – it is also radical, even revolutionary, in ways that Europeans find equally difficult to fathom....
The United States is a generically religious society. That is, in the United States it's not important which religion you adhere to, as long as you have one.... Whatever historic faiths the different American religious entities purport to represent, they all preach something similar: reform of personal behavior, the value of success, community cooperativeness, tolerance of other's choices. (All virtues that further and smooth the functioning of consumer capitalism.) The very fact of being religious ensures respectability, promotes order, and gives the guarantee of virtuous intentions to the mission of the United States to lead the world.
"Old" and "new" are the perennial poles of all feeling and sense of orientation in the world.... The inner life tends to mistrust the new. A strongly developed inner life will be particularly resistant to the new. We are told we must choose --- the old or the new. In fact, we must choose both. What is a life if not a series of negotiations between the old and the new? It seems to me that one should always be seeking to talk oneself out of these stark oppositions.

The Guardian (UK) US correspondent, Ed Vulliamy, wrote this eloquent good bye essay: Farewell America: After six years, The Observer's award-winning US correspondent Ed Vulliamy takes his leave from a wounded and belligerent nation with which, reluctantly, he has now fallen out of love

Sheldon S. Wolin, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton University, echoes others in drawing similarities between the US today and fascism: A Kind of Fascism Is Replacing Our Democracy

Paul Krugman argues that the US is well on its way to becoming a one-party state: Toward One-Party Rule

"If you want to play in our revolution," Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, once declared, "you have to live by our rules."... like Mr. DeLay, Republican leaders often talk of "revolution," and we should take them at their word.

Noam Chomsky has been one of the foremost critics of US foreign (and domestic) policy for decades. Here is one of many interviews Chomsky has given in recent months outlining his analysis of the current direction of the country: What's Happening? Atilio A.Boron Interviews Noam Chomsky

Here is a very clear summary of The New Right Wing Agenda by Steven E. Miller, formerly Board Chair of Grassroots International

Eliot Weinberger, writing originally in the German Vorwarts, produces one of best short descriptions of what is happening in Bush's America: What Is Happening in America?

It is very difficult to speak of what is happening in America without resorting to the hyperbolic cliches of anti-Americanism that have lost their meaning after so many decades, but that have now finally come true.... This is, quite simply, the most frightening American administration in modern times, one that is appalling both to the left and to traditional conservatives. This junta is unabashed in its imperialist ambitions; it is enacting an Orwellian state of Perpetual War; it is dismantling, or attempting to dismantle, some of the most fundamental tenets of American democracy; it is acting without opposition within the government, and is operating so quickly on so many fronts that it has overwhelmed and exhausted any popular opposition. Perhaps it cannot be stopped, but the first step toward slowing it down is the recognition that this is an American government unlike any other in this country's history, and one for whom democracy is an obstacle

Social Inequality

United for a Fair Economy has many resources " to address the widening income and asset gap in our country."


Economist, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman states the obvious: that the Bush tax cuts are a deliberate attempt to casuse a fiscal crisis so that social programs popular with the people -- Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security -- can be slashed. Stating the Obvious

The National Priorities Project has many resources to help understand the extent to which our country has become dedicated to war above everything. See their Interactive Tax Chart. enter the amount you paid in taxes and they'll show you where it goes.

Economic Policy

Robert Kuttner explains why official statistics paint a far rosier picture on the economy than people experience in their daily lives: Statistics lie on the true cost of living.

Wealth Americans' support for free trade is waning: Poll: Free trade loses backers.

The PIPA poll shows that among Americans making more than $100,000 a year, support for actively promoting more free trade collapsed from 57% to less than half that, 28%.

A very interesting piece by Immanuel Wallerstein, noted historian of the world economic system, arguing that the Bush Administration's foreign and domestic policies are bad even for US capitalists: Empire and the Capitalists And another by him, placing the current administration in the context of the reactionary response to democracy and popular sovereignty of the last 200 years: Lunacy, or Policy?

Foreign Policy

James Meek of the British newspaper the Guardian provides a chilling detailed account of life in America's concentration camp in Guantanamo: People the law forgot. It makes clear that this country has abandoned any pretense of justice. Read it and weep.

Guantanamo is a bleak, dull, repressive place for its inmates. Yet there is something about it which may not be immediately apparent to Europeans dismayed by the level of security, the chains and the punitive, degrading way the prisoners are caged: it is not dissimilar to facilities in the harsh US civilian prison system. By focusing on physical conditions, there is a risk of missing the unique aspect of Guantanamo - the arbitrary, unprecedented and unfair way in which President Bush and his administration have confined hundreds of people without either any idea how long they are to be locked up, or any way to plead their case

Robert Higgs discusses the new permanent state of war, declared by our leaders: All War All The Time: The Battle On Terrorism Is An Excuse To Make Fighting Permanent

The folks in Washington are taking World Domination quite literally. The US National Reconnaissance Office, the nation's largest (by budget) intelligence agency, is talking of "actively denying the use of space for intelligence purposes to any other nation at any time, not just adversaries, but even longtime allies.... Teets (NRO Director) told Congress that what's already in place allows U.S. military dominance in any possible battle scenario." U.S. 'negation' policy in space raises concerns abroad

On the home front, the Hartford Courant reports that U.S. Diplomats Decry `Military Coup'

Eric Hobsbawm, great British social historian, puts the current situation in an historical context of the consequences for us, and for the rest of the world, of the unilateralist drive to empire: AFTER THE WINNING OF THE WAR - United States: wider still and wider

There is a genuine case to be made that there are governments that are so bad that their disappearance will be a net gain for the world. But this can never justify the danger of creating a world power that is not interested in a world that it does not understand, but is capable of intervening decisively with armed force whenever anybody does anything that Washington does not like.


US Justice System Is 'Broken,' Lawyers Say: With soaring prison populations, especially of minorities, the U.S. must seek alternatives, bar association urges. Link to Reports of the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission.

This article by Tom Engelhart indicates that the Us runs an entire network of prisons around the world, devoted to torture. Of course, in some cases, its what Ira Chenus calls ""Torture Lite". They can't quite do this to Saddam, because it might come under scrutiny some day. The Pentagon manages some, the CIA others. This, of course, is the US of A. Justice goes offshore and is imprisoned. The piece is based partly on the New York Times article:z Hussein Enters Post-9/11 Web of U.S. Prisons. As Engelhart points out, son these techniques will be routine at home as well.

An important ignored story. FBI agents say that the White House manipulates the terror alerts for political impact: Terror alerts manufactured? FBI agents say White House scripting 'hysterics' for political effect.

I never thought I'd list a speech by Al Gore, but his Nov. 9 speech on Freedom and Security was excellent Watch it or Read it.

A British view of the precipitous decline of freedom in the US, as Big Brother watches all: Exposé of creeping Orwellianism in the US: Who the hell are you? -- Fly to America and your most intimate details will be filed and passed to the intelligence services. And the US plans even more alarming threats to liberty.

Now ordinary people fall under suspicion for ordinary behaviour. In San Francisco, a retired phone company worker got into a fierce discussion at his gym about the failings of President Bush and the war on Iraq. He was woken several days later by federal agents calling at his apartment to interrogate him about his politics. Last February, a middle-aged defence lawyer in New Mexico was in an internet chatroom when he apparently suggested that "Bush is out of control". Within hours, he was surrounded by police, then handcuffed by Secret Service agents and questioned about whether he was a threat to the president. In North Carolina, a 19-year-old was visited by FBI agents who had been told she had "un-American material" in her apartment. It consisted of a poster opposing Bush's use of the death penalty. She was asked what she knew about the Taliban and questioned for 40 minutes. Her details have been placed on file....
In the case of a non-citizen, a letter to the local newspaper criticising America's foreign policy is now enough to trigger an investigation....
But the administration isn't reining back; far from it.... Fearful of rejection if he puts forward a single bill - Patriot II - the measures are likely to be attached piecemeal to other bills, in the hope they will pass on the back of less contentious legislation.
In this electronic era, the intrusive power that can be wielded by governments is so great that one cannot be confident that it will disappear.

Here Jacob G. Hornberger has one of the best descriptions I have seen of how much traditional American (and Anglo-Saxon) freedoms are endangered by Bush administration actions: Crossing the Rubicon

The Independent (UK) has a harrowing account of the victims of the "war on terrorism", the thousands denied basic human rights and often subjected to torture light: The invisible

The human cost of the 21st century's first war is already enormous. In addition to those who have died, staggering numbers have been detained around the world in violation of their human rights and international law. Paul Vallely investigates their fate, and asks whether this suspension of due process in the name of defending democracy can ever be justified.

Margaret Atwood's comments on her reading of George Orwell provide a framework for understanding what is happening to our country, and world: Orwell and me

How far will the US go in flouting all norms of civilized behavior? US plans death camp " THE US has floated plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber."

A poll of chief security officers (CSOs) finds that 31% "say that the US is in jeopardy of becoming a police state Chief Security Officers reveal Concerns About US Government Security Measures

Jonathan Turley in the Los Angeles Times Appetite for Authoritarianism Spawns an American Gulag

Environmental Destruction & Scientific Distortion

The Three-part New Yorker series by Elizabeth Kohlbert: The Climate of Man: Part I; Part II; and Part III. <

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: For the Sake of Our Children

This administration has taken the conserve out of conservatism. They claim to like the free market, but what they are really embracing is corporate welfare capitalism, socialism for the rich. They claim to love property rights, but only when it's the right of a polluter to use his property to destroy his neighbor's property or to destroy the public property. They claim to like law and order, but they are the first ones to let the large corporations and their corporate contributors violate the law at public expense. They claim to love local control and states' rights, but it's only in those instances when they're taking down the barriers to large corporations.

Republicans instructed to deflect environmental concerns by repetitive lying: Bush Attacks Environment 'Scare Stories': Secret email gives advice on denying climate change.

CO2 Hits Record Levels, Researchers Find.

Average readings at the 11,141-foot Mauna Loa Observatory, where carbon dioxide density peaks each northern winter, hovered around 379 parts per million on Friday, compared with about 376 a year ago. That year-to-year increase of about 3 parts per million is considerably higher than the average annual increase of 1.8 parts per million over the past decade, and markedly more accelerated than the 1-part-per-million annual increase recorded a half-century ago, when observations were first made here.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a statement Restoring Scientific Integrity condemning the Bush Administration's radical distortions of scientific knowledge in support of its corporate agenda. The Statement is signed by signed by 19 National Medal of Science signatories and 20 Nobel Laureates, among many others. It is backed up by a report: Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science. [See also the commentary by Mike Morford Mother Nature, The Hate Crime: More than 60 world-class scientists agree: BushCo just really, really loathes this planet and the article on scientific distortion by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The Junk Science of George W. Bush.]

Severe climate change affecting much of humanity may be upon us. Wouldn't it be wise to do something about it? Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us and another account: Secretive Pentagon Forecasts Climate Wars. The first account appears to have been published in Fortune: The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare: The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues. The actual report, which clearly is a worst-case scenario rather than a prediction as some article suggest, is now available at: An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security. Also see the Knight-Ridder article,posted on Common Dreams with references to other reports at the end: Dramatic Climate Change Could Become Global Security Nightmare [Or go to the Cited Reports below:]. Cited Reports:
For the study "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," go to the following Web site: http://www.ems.org/climate/pentagon_climate_change.pdf For information on the mechanics of abrupt climate change, go to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Web site at: http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics/ct_abruptclimate.htm For the National Academies of Sciences' 2002 study Abrupt Climate Changes: Inevitable Surprises, go to: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309074347/html/ For Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall at Global Business Networks, go to the GBN Web site at: http://www.gbn.com/. See also the excellent commentary by Tom Engelhardt: And now for something really dangerous.

[Now the Pentagon:] A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.


Twice as much money, worse outcomes: In health, Canada tops U.S.: Our neighbors to the north live longer and pay less for care. The reasons why are being debated, but some cite the gap between rich and poor in the U.S..

National Character

James Carroll, writing in the Boston Globe, writes of how ridiculous it is to talk of spreading "American values": American 'values' cast a global shadow.

In America there can be no question of an outright acceptance of torture, and US sponsorship of democracy abroad insists on that (or did before the war on terrorism). Yet the US prison system, with many abusive guards and unchecked sadist-inmates, effectively assumes torture as part of punishment.
But the year just ending marked other milestones toward a reckoning with the real meaning of American democracy.... The American prison population recently went over 2 million for the first time, putting the United States ahead of Russia as the world capital of incarceration. Add to that number those on parole or probation and the total under "correctional" control grows to 7 million. Thirty years ago, one in 1,000 Americans was locked up; today, almost five are.... In the United States, according to Judge Mulligan, one in three African-American males between the ages of 20 and 30 is "under correctional control."
2003. The death penalty set loose. Prison populations setting records. Effective torture as part of punishment. A system of racial injustice that rivals slavery. American values across the world. Please.

Conservatives are in an uproar about a research paper just published in the Psychological Bulletin entitled Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition by John T. Jost, Jack Glaser, Arie W. Kruglanski, & Frank J. Sulloway (See also a Critique by Jeff Greenberg & Eva Jonas and a Response by the authors). For the controversy, see the article Conservative psychosis by George Will and an article on the controversy by Julian Borger in the Guardian (UK) Study of Bush's Psyche Touches a Nerve.

[From the original paper:] The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

George Monbiot, columnist for the Guardian, dissects the warrior America, and its blindness to reality America is a religion: US leaders now see themselves as priests of a divine mission to rid the world of its demons

Sidney Hall, Jr. a poet and publisher who lives in New Hampshire, and the owner of Hobblebush Books describes the nation we have become: A Nation of Cowards


Despite all our spending on medical care, the US has the worst health of any developed, and many underdeveloped, country, as ER Doc Stephen Bezruchka discusses in this lecture: Health and Poverty in the US. See also the article about Health Deteriorates in the Two-class Society.

[I]n comparison with other countries, health in the United States has deteriorated over the years. Using life expectancy as a measure, Bezruchka said, "55 years ago, we were one of the healthiest countries in the world .... Today, there are some 25 countries that are healthier than we are."
"For example [among developed nations], we have the highest infant-mortality rate, the highest child-poverty rate, the highest teen-pregnancy rate, the highest child-abuse death rate and so on. There are no indicators in which we excel, except in spending money on health care, for we spend half of the world's health-care bill."
What has caused the change? "Fifty years ago," Bezruchka said, "it was the poorest families that saw the biggest gains in income. Now, as you all know, it is only the rich and super rich that are seeing gains in income...."
"An African-American male in Harlem lives less long than a man in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries,"


I don't know what to make of this, but its an account of a terrifying: a world-wide secret Christian/political group, called the Family, with many congressman, among others, as members. Jesus Plus Nothing: Undercover Among America's Secret Theocrats from Harpers. "Yes," Doug said. "Yes, Hitler made a covenant. The Mafia makes a covenant. It is such a very powerful thing. Two, or three, agree." See also an interview with the aiuthor Jeffrey Sharlet: Meet 'The Family'

In April, the AP broke the story that six U.S. congressmen were paying the bargain rate of $600 a month each to live together in a swanky DC townhouse owned by a secretive fundamentalist Christian group known as the Fellowship or the Foundation. Many, understandably, were curious. Who is this organization, and what is its agenda?
The Fellowship is one of the most secretive, and most powerful, religious organizations in the country. Its connections reach to the highest levels of the U.S. government and include ties to the CIA and numerous current and past dictators around the world.

Role of the Media

"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle..." -- Thomas Jefferson

Danny Schecter the news dissector has an excellent source on media censhorship and critique: mediachannel.org And another good source for media criticism is: tvnewslies.org .

FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, is an excellent source of analysis of media coverage.

Rigging Elections

Serious concerns are being raised regarding the switch to voting machines. Many people believe the winner is decided before the voting. Curiously, most of the companies making these machines have strong Republican ties. Here is one example: Offshore Company Captures Online Military Vote


[More coming soon.]


James Carroll, Boston Globe columnist, addresses the seriousness of the times as he argues, in this impassioned piece, that citizen resistance to the current situation in our country is a necessity, as it was in Nazi Germany: Saying 'No!' To The War In Iraq. A must read!

Hence resistance. Public life in America must take its energy now from the word "No!" .... [A] life lived in resistance remains a human life. In a time of rampant public immorality, it is the only way to live humanly.

Resistance Resources

You can send messages, on any issue, to ALL your elected officials in Washington with one click. Use it now! Use it often! Voice4Change.org Legislative Action Center

MoveOn.org is a liberal group formed to oppose Clinton’s impeachment. They have sponsored antiwar ads on t.v. and in local newspapers and have effectively used the World Wide Web to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people on short notice on a variety of issues. Sign up for their regular alerts.

United for Peace and Justice is the antiwar coalition that organized US Feb. 15 rallies and is a coalition of many local and national groups concerned with resisting the drift of the country toward militarism, increased social inequality, and repression. Their web site has info on demonstrations, news, links to sites with downloadable posters, bumper stickers, etc.

Bushwhackers is a site dedicated to opposition research (with an often humorous twist) on GWB and gang:

The Organizer's Collaborative is "a nonprofit membership organization composed of activists and technically oriented people working to enhance grassroots organizing, research, and movement building by social change organizations." They have produced, and make available for free, Organizers Database! software for nonprofits. They also have extensive links for technology resources for nonprofits. Another free database for nonprofits is ebase® 2.0 — Community Relationship Management, which does, however, require Filemaker Pro to run. It seems to be oriented towards fund-raising.

For those in Boston, MA: How to Find out about Progressive Events in the Greater Boston Area. Boston Indymedia also maintains an excellent listing of Independent Radio in Boston (pdf).

United for Justice with Peace is a regional Boston-area coalition of peace and justice forces. their web site is the source for local peace activity information.

Compiled by Stephen Soldz
for Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice
(Opinions expressed are those of Stephen Soldz only)

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