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Friday, March 04, 2011

American Dream: How could something so good, go bad, so fast?

Say what you will about Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young's 1988 album American Dream, but it did contain some quite lacerating and scathing commentary on the state of the American Dream.

The video is clearly an indictment of the rampant corruption of the U.S. President Ronald Reagan's administration and the Iran-Contra coverup scandal where high ranking government officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which had been specifically prohibited by Congress (The Boland Amendment).

And here we are 23 years later. My how things have changed for that American Dream...

I used to see you on every T.V.
Your smiling face looked back at me.
I used to see you on every T.V.
Your smiling face looked back at me.
Then they caught you with the girl next door,
People's money piled on the floor,
Accusations that you try to deny,
Revelations and rumors begin to fly.

Now you think about reaching out
Maybe get some help from above.
Now you think about reaching out
Maybe get some help from above.
Reporters crowd around your house.
Going through your garbage like a pack of hounds,
Speculating what they may find out,
It don't matter now, you're all washed up.

You wake up in the middle of the night.
Your sheets are wet and your face is white,
You tried to make a good thing last,
How could something so good, go bad, so fast?

American dream, American dream
American dream, American dream.

Don't know when things went wrong,
Might have been when you were young and strong.
Don't know when things went wrong,
Might have been when you were young and strong.
Reporters crowd around your house.
Going through your garbage like a pack of hounds,
Speculating what they may find out,
It don't matter now, you're all washed up.

Don't know when things went wrong,
Might have been when you were young and strong.
American dream, American dream.
Don't know when things went wrong,
Might have been when you were young and strong.
American dream, American dream.

U.S. Marine Corps officer Oliver North testifying before Congress on shredding of official "secret" documents by his secretary, Fawn Hall

Fawn Hall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
File:Oliver North mug shot.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bradley Manning could face death: For what? - WikiLeaks -

So how exactly could something so good, go so bad, so fast?

We are still living with war, shock and awe, "Mission Accomplished", torture, and collateral murder in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iran and on & on & on ...

More on that American Dream. Or -- as the Beatles would say: "Do You Want to Know a Secret?"

President Obama's promise to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center: Broken


Hate Comes to Orange County, CA

Is this video a reflection of what the world sees as the end of the American Dream?


UPDATE: 5/15/11
The quaint and obsolete Nuremberg principles - Osama Bin Laden - by GLENN GREENWALD:
George Bush's invasion of Iraq caused the deaths of at least 100,000 (and almost certainly more) innocent Iraqis: vastly more than Osama bin Laden could have dreamed of causing. It left millions of people internally and externally displaced for years.  It destroyed a nation of 26 million people.  It was without question an illegal war of aggression: what the lead prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials called the "the central crime in this pattern of crimes, the kingpin which holds them all together."  And that's to say nothing of the worldwide regime of torture, disappearances, and black sites created by the U.S during the Bush years.

Yet the very same country -- and often the very same people -- collectively insisting upon the imperative of punishing civilian deaths (in the bin Laden case) has banded together to shield George Bush from any accountability of any kind.  Both political parties -- and the current President -- have invented entirely new Orwellian slogans of pure lawlessness to justify this protection (Look Forward, Not Backward):  one that selectively operates to protect only high-level U.S. war criminals but not those who expose their crimes.  Worse, many of Bush's most egregious crimes -- including the false pretenses that led to this unfathomably lethal aggressive war and the widespread abuse of prisoners that accompanied it -- were well known to the country when it re-elected him in 2004. 

Those who advocated for those massive crimes -- and even those who are directly responsible for them -- continue to enjoy perfectly good standing in mainstream American political circles.  The aptly named "Shock and Awe" was designed to terrify an entire civilian population into submission through the use of massive and indiscriminate displays of air bombings.  John Podhoretz criticized the brutal assault on Fallujah for failing to exterminate all "Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35."  The country's still-most celebrated "foreign affairs expert" at The New York Times justified that attack based on the psycopathic desire to make Iraqis "Suck. On. This."  The Washington Post hires overt torture advocates as Op-Ed writers and regularly features Op-Ed contributions from the architects of the Iraq crime, as they did just today (Donald Rumsfeld claiming "vindication").   And, of course, we continue to produce widespread civilian deaths in multiple countries around the world with virtually no domestic objection.

There's no question that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack committed grave crimes and deserved punishment.  But the same is true for the perpetrators of other grave crimes that result in massive civilian death, including when those perpetrators are American political officials.  As Ferencz put it when describing one of the core lessons of Nuremberg:  "every leader who is responsible for planning and perpetrating that crime should be held to account in a court of law, and the law applies equally to everyone."  More than anything, that precept -- the universality of these punishments -- was the central lesson of Nuremberg, as Jackson explained in his Opening Statement:

What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. . . . . And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.

But as Ferencz put it:  "Nuremberg? That was then, this is now."  Or, to put it another way, Nuremberg is so pre-9/11 (and even before 9/11, we often violated Jackson's insistence that those principles must apply to ourselves as much as they did to Nazi war criminals).  

There is, of course, a difference between deliberately targeting civilians and recklessly causing their deaths.  But, as American law recognizes in multiple contexts, acts that are undertaken recklessly -- without regard to the harm they cause -- are deemed intentional.  And when it comes to an aggressive and illegal war that counts the deaths of extinguished civilian lives in the hundreds of thousands -- such as the destruction of Iraq -- those distinctions fade into insignificance. 

The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks deserve to be held accountable for those crimes.  But it's been a bit difficult listening to a country that continuously commits its own egregious crimes -- ones that constantly cause civilian deaths -- righteously celebrating the bin Laden killing as though it is applying universal principles of justice grounded in unmitigated contempt for lawless aggression.  It's hard to avoid the conclusion that what has provoked such rage at bin Laden as a supreme criminal isn't the unlawful killing of civilians, but rather the killing of Americans on U.S. soil.  The way we treat our own war criminals and policies of mass civilian death from around the world -- and the way we so brazenly repudiate and even scorn the Nuremberg Principles we said we were establishing for the world -- leave little doubt about that.

How can a country which has so passively accepted the complete immunity for George Bush, Dick Cheney and others -- and which long tolerated if not actively supported their murderous policies -- convincingly pose as stalwart opponents of lawlessly caused civilian deaths?  Does anyone doubt the widespread American fury that would have resulted if Iraqis had come to the U.S. and killed Bush or other U.S. political leaders during that war?  Recall the intense condemnation of an Iraqi citizen who did not shoot Bush in the head and dump his corpse into the ocean, but rather simply threw a shoe at him to protest the extraordinary amounts of Iraqi blood he has on his hands.  Any efforts to harm an American political leader for the civilian deaths they cause would be decried by American consensus as "Terrorism" or worse (and that would be the case despite the fact that we not only tried to kill Saddam but are now quite clearly attempting to kill Gadaffi).  "American exceptionalism" in its most odious expression means that we have the right to do things that nobody else in the world has the right to do, and that, as much as anything, is what is driving the reaction here.

It's always easier -- and more satisfying -- to condemn the crimes of others rather than one's own.  There's always a temptation to find excuses, mitigations and even justifications for one's own crimes while insisting that the acts of others -- especially one's enemies -- are expressions of pure evil.  But a country that regrets the Iraq War only because it was not prosecuted as competently as it should have been -- and which as elite consensus scorns as radical and irresponsible the notion of accountability for its own war criminals -- is hardly in a position to persuasively posture as righteous avengers of civilian deaths.  The claims being made about why the killing of bin Laden is grounded in such noble principles would be much more compelling if those same principles were applied to ourselves as well as our enemies.  And the imperative to do so, more than anything, was the prime mandate of Nuremberg.

JFK speaking shortly before he was assassinated.


At 3/04/2011 07:05:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Thrasher, maybe this is old news to you, but you should really have a look at the Zeitgeist movement, the three films they produced (Zeitgeist, Zeitgeist: Addendum and Zeitgeist: Moving Forward).

It shows you how corrupt the system really is en how it could be improved.

Also have a look at The Venus Project:

It shows you how we could work together in developing truly sustainable technology that would abolish the need for fossil fuels and even money, by replacing our current monetary system by a resource based one.

At 3/04/2011 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Harm, my friend,

Please be careful of Zeitgeist. While it senses many of the corruption and incestuous problems of the business and governmental culture, there is a LOT of unsupported conspiracy theory in there, and conspiracy theory is bad news for your brain.

Jared Loughner was a big Zeitgeist fan. Just sayin...


At 3/04/2011 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Dave, I am wary of the conspiracy theories in that film, although some things do smell fishy. The thing is that all the current failure mechanisms in our economy were purposely built in. That is not the most interesting thing about the Zeitgeist thing though, to me Zeitgeist means that we should no longer put up with the stuff out government is stuffing down our throat, through the media, or otherwise. The internet is the most important medium for that, as Zeitgeist already pointed out. By the way, with all due respect, but blaming Zeitgeist for what happened in Tuscon is like saying Catcher in the Rye is the cause for the murder on John Lennon.

At 3/04/2011 12:03:00 PM, Blogger mark said...

....... i love Thrasher's Wheat. I stop here right after hitting the 'Rolling Stone' site, or whenever I'm needing an update on anything Shakey.
.... but lately i've been skipping over more posts than usual due to their overt political bent.
....... Thanks so much for doing what'cha do, Thrasher, i hope ya don't mind if I only stop by for the music.


At 3/04/2011 12:52:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Mark - Thank you for the compliment. It's appreciated.

So. How exactly is a post on CSNY's song AD, the lyrics and their context not about the music?

Is it not true that AD itself has an "overt political bent"?

music, my friend, doesn't get written in a political vacuum last we checked.


At 3/04/2011 05:27:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

Neil and the other three guys have been topical for a LONG time...but if I want to "watch" people arguing politics, I'll stick with Friendburst...Thraher's right, but so is Mark...

At 3/04/2011 07:11:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

regarding the second video

hate is everything you think it is

At 3/04/2011 07:22:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

couldn't finish the 2nd video...very VERY sad...*I* was taught that America was founded on (among other things)religious freedom...I wonder what kids are being taught THESE days--"religious freedom" IF you're a Christian ? PATHETIC...

At 3/05/2011 12:29:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

That's pretty shallow to say, "I'm only here for the music" because a so much of Neil's music erupts from a gauntlet of human emotions -- some of which are a noxious combination human injustices and political evils.

It's like saying "I'm only here for the art" when walking through a retrospective of Mark Rothko's paints and not feel this gravitational pull of inhumanity.

Everything in life is political. The relationship between a flower and bumble bee is political.

If Neil's stuff doesn't chew you up, it will swallow you whole.

At 3/06/2011 03:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speakin' Out--

Well to quote the great survivor Croz, I "Almost Cut My Hair"...

As far as "conspiracy theories"? They are certainly open for debate, but I myself make it a point to NEVER discount one, no matter however out-landish, until one is proven otherwise.

Because REALLY-- We just DO NOT KNOW.

And as far as john Lennon, he was NOT murdered by the mythical "lone gun-man"-- That PEACE-loving man was ASSASSINATED.

Talkin' 'bout CONSPIRACIES-- That's the worst one since MLK, RFK & JFK... Not even to mention Malcolm and Huey & etc.

Pigs do not like it when TRUTH SPEAKS TO POWER. It makes me wonder how Uncle Neil is even still alive... Maybe he got a pardon because he sang "Even Richard Nixon has got SOUL" and faked at being a reagan-lover for a little while...

At 3/06/2011 04:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing--

All of the corporate Republi-pigs who only like NY or CSN for "the music" and somehow (?) ideologically divorce it from the clearly (i.e. "Love And War") political nature which is naturally and necessarily involved are all living in an un-"American Dream"...

Think about it real hard, you elitist richies.

At 3/06/2011 07:14:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

take yer meds Don, I took mine...EVERY Musician should express their FEELINGS...but don't chastise me just because I 1) don't agree or 2)ain't in the mood to hear 'em

At 3/08/2011 04:55:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

don Rico, man, I haven't heard "down with the Pigs" in a long time. (Sorta turning me on in a mother naturely way...)

Neil survived because of his dear wife & family. They kept their priorities straight and never sold out to the monkey suits.

At 8/05/2011 11:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw two great concerts this year, one was Paul Simon, in Minneapolis, the day after the news of Osama's death was revealed. His comment, "Its about time" was applauded with a standing ovation. The other was Buffalo Springfield in Oakland, back in June. After reading this blog I am reminded of one of Paul's songs from the EARLY 70's, "An American Tune". Check out these lyrics:


Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
For lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.

Nuf said! I think these guys are on the same wavelength. Paul said it so well, 38 years ago. These lyrics hit the mark in 2011!



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