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Obama Must Halt America’s Moral Decline

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Posted on Jan 22, 2009

By William Pfaff

Barack Obama’s decision to be sworn in twice as president (just to be sure!) confirmed the pragmatism and practical prose of his inaugural address. Noted for his oratorical ability and distinction, he seems to have decided that a restoration presidency should begin plainly, and earn its right during the coming years to the historical comparisons that have surrounded this man’s assumption of the American presidency—a man, as he noted in his address, whose father, only 60 years ago, might have been refused service at an American lunch counter.

I call his a restoration presidency because this black man was the only presidential candidate who succeeded in summoning up the better America that was abandoned or repudiated during the past eight years by his predecessor.

The Bush government, which he has replaced, seemed not merely indifferent to the ancient political and moral aspirations of the American nation, but hostile to them as obstacles to the national power and aggrandizement they unscrupulously pursued, at the cost of tens of thousands of American and foreign lives, and to the greed that motivated most of those who were the public face of the government and the economy of the United States during this period.

One cannot ignore the fact that we the people were their enablers during the last eight years. George W. Bush was not an unpopular president until it became apparent how badly he had failed the American nation. Even then, aggression and torture remained instruments of national policy, and were defended by professors, judges, editors and eminent commentators, and even provided a profitable theme in American popular entertainment: America on television was the land that tortures, and was proud of it.

It is inconceivable that this could have taken place during the time of the first Roosevelt, or under Lincoln, to take just two of the men of whom the Republican P arty has been the most proud. Can you imagine it under the commands of George C. Marshall or Robert E. Lee?

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It has been argued that moral authority has broken down in modern American society because of the events of the 1960s. Before, traditional hierarchies and a general moral consensus existed in American society, lending legitimacy to the institutions of society.

Authority must have a moral foundation, and has to be voluntarily accepted, being different from power or violence, which compel order in society (or are meant to do so).

Why the breakdown happened is a subject conservatives and liberals have furiously argued over during the four decades since it all happened. I suppose that a simple and reasonably nonpolemical way to describe what happened is to say that the Vietnam War, occurring in a general international climate of post-1945 anti-colonialism, inspired in much of U.S. civil society revulsion or resistance to its government’s policy in what was widely seen, in Western liberal societies, as an unjust war.

The conservative and governing forces of Western, and particularly American, society at the same time suffered a reciprocal loss of nerve. They too could no longer fully believe in the moral basis for that war, although there were a great many political and ideological reasons offered (mistakenly) for why it had to be “won” by the United States.

Much the same had occurred earlier in France, which suffered its own colonial war and crisis in Indochina, followed by an uprising in Algeria, and finally experienced mutiny in the French army itself, because Fourth Republic French governments were too weak to reach a conclusion as to what to do.

The Fourth Republic had lost authority. Only returning Gen. Charles de Gaulle to power in 1958 restored a French government capable of moral decision and action.

In the United States this did not happen. What followed the events of the 1960s was a continuation of the so-called culture wars, whose political extension into national affairs brought to Washington Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (when something of a truce in the culture war occurred because of the genial personality and sincerity of the president), George H.W. Bush (dominated by the radical Republicans), the disordered Clinton years, and finally the moral collapse in Washington that gave us the George W. Bush administration.

Bush II exercised violence—inspired by an infantile political Manichaeism concerning “Islamic terror”—and a lawless foreign policy that further divided the nation, bringing us to where we are today. The United States became an enduringly divided nation, which has lacked a legitimate, unifying and governing political and moral authority and order.

This, I would say, is what elected Barack Obama. He radiates seriousness, adulthood, confidence and mature values. He is a unifier, not a divider.

No one can say what will come of his presidency. Can he restore national union, a sense of national purpose, a public and governmental morality that the people will accept? Let us pray that the answer is yes.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services Inc.


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By octopus, January 26, 2009 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

As the worlds most highly evolved consumer culture, we have become morally corrupt both individually and collectively. We enable, through our silence, the lack of morality in our leadership. Therefore we must look within and accept that we are ultimately responsible for the change we desire. Problem is, most of us are unwilling to recognize this. It is always someone elses fault or responsibility.
  Take Global Climate Change for example. How many of us have recognized the unsustainability of our American Way of Life? The scientific consensus is that human activities have become a Force of Nature and that our lifestyles are threatening our very survival. No one seems to think that this requires individual sacrifice. This is a Moral issue of high magnitude. I can only speak for myself sothese are the changes I have made.
  Three years ago I sold my car. I have arranged my life so that everything I do can be done on a bicycle or through public transportation.If I need a car for a trip or some other special occasion, I rent one. As Americans we consume 10 percent of the global oil production just driving to work and back. This does not include the mindless cruising
And other ways we waste fuel. Yet as you can all see for yourselves most of the commuters in bumper to bumper traffic sit one person to a car. I found myself, armed with the knowledge of catastrophic climate change,feeling Humiliated sitting in traffic. 
  Humiliation is an emotional response to a moral outrage, yet very few of us are experiencing it. As Americans, we should be Humiliated every day. Moral relativism is our illness. We must change individually yet we do not. We must make individual sacrifices yet we do not. We expect our governent to solve these issues for us yet they cannot, unless we as individuals change first.

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By Anarcissie, January 26, 2009 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

M.B.S.S.:
’.... btw anarcissie, im pretty sure that joseph campbell is fully credentialed and competent to answer the questions you folks were referring to earlier.’

I heard a lot about Campbell for years and years, although it was all curiously content-free, and finally someone gave me a videotape and I watched it, and what I saw was a guy rehashing a lot of well-received mainstream opinions that any smart teenager could have gotten out of The Golden Bough and Jung and Eliade fifty years ago.  He had neither new information nor a new way of looking at the old information.  On this admittedly very light evidence I conclude that he could not have convincingly solved any arcane conundrums of Christian theology, although you are certainly welcome to point out my error by showing where he proves from Scripture or whatever that the sin against the Holy Ghost is this or that.

Folktruther—What truly is, is weird.  Dingbattiness is one way of handling the situation.  This is not to say one has to choose as difficult a path to dingbattiness as Karl Barth’s.  In fact I would definitely not recommended it to anyone not inured from an early age to the rigors of Christian theology.

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By M.B.S.S., January 26, 2009 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

and gramma and octopus’s dialogue was somewhat surreal as well.  kudos for keeping me entertained.  i cant seem to get to sleep tonight.

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By M.B.S.S., January 26, 2009 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

entertaining comments.  thank you christian for your zeal, and for you reliance on the good ol fiery flames of hell to get you out of a pinch.  works every time, i hear.

metaphors.  men have died for much less.  men have died over puns and mispronunciations.  it doesnt make it right or fair, but this is the case nonetheless.  its a somewhat troubling process disentangling men from their metaphors or metaphors from reality, whatever that is, or even religion from politics from all the other bits and pieces of this life.  and this is as it should be.  sometimes maybe the symbol itself lives even more than the man who represents it.  alive in the world of platos forms or as a composite of all mankinds notions of Justice or Pride, or whatever eternal compass we should refer to , moral or otherwise, to direct us evermore.

at a certain point in this discussion arent we going to eventually end at the cul-de-sac of “what is real,” or some concept of “absolute morality?”

how do we even gauge morality?  ultimately what is good or bad?  in baby bush’s own world did he not do what is “right,” or “good?”  did hitler do what he thought was “right?”

when cultural norms are so divergent from one era to another or from one area to another is it possible to reach beyond this mortal realm into the realm of the gods and retrieve an absolute playbook to guide us lost souls?  is the bible this book?  of course not, no dusty pages of any religious institution has ever been able to capture the spirit or intent of the living god, for those that would indulge belief, for those pages are dead.  those are other mens scales of right and wrong and surely inappropriate for the modern man.  this is because not only is there not an absolute right and wrong but even relative right and wrong is quite slippery as well.  fraught with so much grey area that it is somewhat impossible to find a piece of earth to stand on that is not moving.  much like how when a sub atomic physicist looks a little closer at so called solids he finds nothing but empty space and movement, we can find a parallel in man looking at events through a moral or ethical lens.

every man and woman has their own truth, and this helps define them in the world against the backdrop of every other persons truth.  i cant dispute the veracity of the other world view or vision of what is “Good.”  but i can hold my vision up to the world and let it define myself in contrast.

so it is very plain and real and right for me to say what israel is doing is wrong.  the shredding of our constitution is wrong.  looking out for all persons is right.  caring about the earth is right.

and i am right and i am true in the context of what i am in relation to the world.

btw anarcissie, im pretty sure that joseph campbell is fully credentialed and competent to answer the questions you folks were referring to earlier.

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By John R Bloxson Jr, January 26, 2009 at 3:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To the Athiest aren’t you infact judging Christians if you quote the Bible there must be something to it even if you believe its just Myth.  Do you know there is more proof of the Bibles accuracy by far than Homers Iliad, or Ceasers Galic Wars.  On a scale of historical accuracy the Bible is proven truthfull at every turn it said the walls of Jericho fell outward and provided ramps into the City we gues what they did and the graineries were untouched and full so no siege.  For a long time there was no proof of King David but gues what we found the marker showing the furtherest reach of his kingdom with his name inscribed, we find that there was an inn at Bethleham in fact there was but they were more commonly called Carivanssaries where a Carivan could camp with in a walled enclosure and they generally had a Tavern, and hired mercenaries as Guards.  To say the Bible is unproven is to cast doubt on all writings of antiquity yet the scholars today swaer by the copies of the Iliad which dates to 900 A.D. though the original was writen around 1000 B.C.almost two thousand years distance. We now have the Isaiah Scroll that dates to 150-180 B.C. and have compared it with the next earliest copy which date to 900 A.D. the copy from the dead Sea caves is the same in every way but two. First the Leningradenska has the added notes of the scribes and messoretes, and second there are .01% differant spelling of a few names we have more proof of the accuracy of the Bible than any other writing of Antiquity period so you can question it you can dismiss it but you can never destroy its timeless truths no matter how hard you try for the last 3400 years man has tried unsuccessfully.  Its Pridictions have been on the money time and agian prophesy history known in advance nearly 1/3rd. of it is Prophesy ans nearly 1/3 rd of that has been fulfilled 125 spacific prophecies fulfilled by one man Jesus the Christ the odds of evan 25 of these Prophesies being fulfilled by one man is astronomical with so many zeros it would be hard to count them.  There is more proof of Jesus The Christ life than of Ceaser’s.  26,000 manuscript give or take a couple hundred No You can dismiss it for your self but you can not prove it is false no matter how hard you try.
        Trithoverlies/Truthoverlies.
          John R. Bloxson Jr.

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By Folktruther, January 26, 2009 at 3:21 am Link to this comment

Nah, Anarcissie, Cyrena—we are not poorly informed, on the contary.  We believe so many strange things because we are Educated and informed to believe things that aren’t true.  But in order to cultivate a salutary ignorence, to de-inform and de-educate ourselves, we must develop a conceptual language that conveys the simple holistic truth about politial and social reality, indeed all reality.  I’m working on it.

Barth may not have been a hermenneutic slouch but he was an authentic dingbat. Indeed, the latter is implied by the former.

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By John R Bloxson Jr, January 26, 2009 at 2:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear G.B.
  What is the Problem it traces back to one issue which has changed the thinking of wetern culture.  Evolutions aftermath, if there is no God than we do not have to follow any moral code only what we control ourselves.  What is right for you may not be right for me.  Get to the top any way you can and then stay there by any means possible. Have we so soon forgotten Enron, the Tech bubble during the Clenton Adm.  Have we forgotten the Iran Contra Affair, or the Wire tapping and burglary at the Watergate. We have echanged the worship of God for the worship of self. What can God do for me instead of what I can do to honor God.  The Bible pridicted this nearly two thousand years ago Paul said in 2nd. Thess.2:3 “Let no one decieve you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first.” and in 2nd. Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the Last Days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobediant to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, dispisers of good, traitors, headstronghaughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of Godliness but denying its power,”  this describes where we are today. Yes much wrong was committed over the last eight years on both sides of the aisle so stop blamming one man for the sins of the many.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ but I will tell you I am just a baby in my walk with Christ sure I stumble and I fall but I get up and ask for His forgiveness and confess my sinfulness we are not perfect Jesus said “you will know the tree by the fruit it bares.” Western civalization has forgotten those teachings and other religions have risen without the moral teachings.  We have a form of Godliness but deny the power of true Godliness.  The latest PEW reseach shows American Christianity is 10 miles wide 3000 miles long and an inch deep.  I can not be an Athiest it takes more faith to believe that something came from nothing to make something that than developed over billions of years into two amino acids that in a vacum some how came to gether to form a single celled life form. Than over another billion years created that missing link which has been elussive for the last 150 yrs. An we keep finding wholes in the theory it’s to hard to hold to the gospel of Evolution and Scientific naturalism.  The Ten Commandments were given to show we need a LORD and SAVIOR. A lot of people want to be saved; but not meny want to have the LORD reign in their lives.  Yes we are in moral decay it is speeding up faster than we can keep up with I remember when most Amricans thought life was sacred now we’ve Aborted over 57,000,000 babies since 1973 How many Nobel lauriats never got the chance to change the world for the better, How many Scientist with the cures for verious illness’s never got the chance to find those cures and what about the Peace prize how many world class diplomats never got the chance to attempt to bring about world peace?  We will never know the answers to these . So pointing the finger at Bush leaves three fingers pointing back at you.  We will not stop this deadly slide into the cess pool like Europe until we get on our knees and confess our sins and ask for forgivness, if that does not happen we will sink into that cess pool that Europe Has become and lose our way in this world. I do believe that every individual is made in the Image of God; but our sin nature has alienated us from God and we have a currupted mind set. It is time to stop pointing finger and realize the only way this world can change for the better is if we begin to accept the blame for ourselves repent.                   
              Trithoverlies/truthoverlies.
                  John R. Bloxson Jr.

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By Outraged, January 26, 2009 at 12:39 am Link to this comment

Re: christian96

Arguing from YOUR “supposed” Christian perspective:

You ARE attempting to judge others, by claiming, “<i>You atheists, infidels, and other antichristians can GO TO HELL!  Oh, excuse me, you ARE going to hell.  Have a nice trip.  You better enjoy what little time you have left.  Of course, you could REPENT which means you change your attitudes and behaviors to those taught by Jesus.

How fastidiously you IGNORE Jesus’ words:

Matthew 7:  1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

If you are truly “Christian” then Jesus’ words should be paramount to you.  It is obvious that you lend them no creedence at all.

Arguing from MY(atheist) perspective:

First you would have to QUALIFY the bible as “inspired by GOD”.  While this is the assertion… there is NO PROOF.  Additionally, it is taught in every Christian religion that the bible was written by men.  I can buy that.  Where is the PROOF of the bible’s supposed divine inspiration and what measures have you taken to qualify this assertion?

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By cyrena, January 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie writes:

“..But as to why we believe so many strange things, that’s easy: we’re poorly informed, and have to make up stories to fill in the gaps.  Where did the universe come from?  What’s it doing, if anything?  Is there a God?  Is anyone in charge?  Where are we going?  These are important questions to which we don’t have an answer.  In fact, for the most part we don’t have a clue.  The truly delusional people are those who are sure they know what’s really going on…”

~~~

Thanks yet another time Anarcissie. This hits it on the head. We’re uninformed and generally trying to figure out stuff (important questions as you say) for which there are no answers. And for the most part, we don’t have a clue.

The last line is the best…KNOWING that we pretty much don’t have a clue makes us marginally more informed than those who are sure they know it all. wink

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By GB, January 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The moral fibre in our country’s federal government started spiralling down fast when George W. Bush said he didn’t want to investigate the attack on 9/11/2001 in New York, probably the worst crime in our history.
From that date on he and Cheney unleashed the most corrupt standard of business at the highest levels of our society and now Obama has to fight the neocon left overs who still use their same old terror prapaganda to keep sanity at bay. When will we start to expose the real truth?

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By GrammaConcept, January 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

To:...Dear Octopus, January 25 at 8:27 pm…Oh for goodness sake…

Not…
(unique image, though)

What you see really is exactly what you get..’-)...
a tired gramma…night, night..

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By GrammaConcept, January 25, 2009 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

Without philosophical speculation, and internal resolution, on the profound issues of life, and of death, and of everything relating to those two, little decisive or effective action can be taken toward civility, or, ultimately, peace…
...THE place for politics, et al…


It seems to me that any who are willing, and able, must seek as constantly as possible to earn our PhDs in human relations, else how will we be able to
think clearly in adversity, or distinguish the correct path to take under whatever conditions that may come toward us….
Make hay while the Sun shines, I always say..
This road is longer than this lifetime;
moral dilemmas are Meant to be solved, and lovingly, carefully, so..

Kindness, for example, is an asset
no matter who you are;
kindness leaves an impression;
a cut will leave a scar..
(wrote that for my children…’-)

Well, back to work..we do strive on…
whoever,whatever,wherever, we are.
Best Wishes.

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

Hi Granma,
I just realized, that you could be, In a Postmodern sense, a handle bar mustache wearing Cowboy Poet who secretly wears womens undergarments?

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

Christian 96,
What the Hell?..stop flogging yourself man….

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By Anarcissie, January 25, 2009 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Metaphors kill men for sport, but the men die in earnest.

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By christian96, January 25, 2009 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther——You admit to being a sinner.  So am
I and everyone residing on planet earth. “For ALL
have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:23)

Whyzowl1——You hit the nail on the head when you
said, “Man knows little of the world and himself.”
Hosea 4:6 reads, “My people are destroyed for lack
of knowledge.”  It may sound irrational but I believe
worldly problems are related to a war between evil
and holy angels traveling in UFO’s.  Read the 1st
chapter of Ezekiel and see if you don’t think it
describes a UFO.

Gramma Concept—-Your premise that spirituality is
from the inside out was taught by Jesus in Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

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By GrammaConcept, January 25, 2009 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

To…octopus, January 25 at 6:05 pm:

Well maybe, my dear Octopus; change does, indeed,
appear
to be the only constant..
I have found, however, that is to say, it seems, that one must first define Reality…

My biscuits are light, flaky and, made from whole wheat pastry flower…
the secret (shhh) is in having ice-cold ingredients and implements throughout…
Every trickster, after all, has her tricks so really, dear Octopus,
as we think so we become..

See you at the quilting bee..

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Hi Gramma,
I really love light, flaky biscuits.
Maybe Reality is THE metaphor….
For everyting?

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By GrammaConcept, January 25, 2009 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment

To: whyzowl1,  January 24 at 4:08 pm:

Thank you for taking the time to post that whole picture..
Artfully and effectively done..
You have the gift.


Religion is from the top down.
Spirituality is from the inside out.

And we do, indeed, strive on.

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By GrammaConcept, January 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

RE:  whyzowl1, January 25 at 3:23 pm…

Re: Goethe: Until now…..until now..

Re: Your whole wonderful rant :
Gramma says:

Everything is a metaphor for Reality…...

Please, pass it on….’-)

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By whyzowl1, January 25, 2009 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

To describe the Bible in terms of poetry and metaphor is not to trivialize it in any way, for men are living and dying for metaphors all over the place—and they always have. As Kyong Liong Kim observed, “The reason metaphors are of ultimate importance for humans is that they are building blocks of political, economic, cultural and religious realities that are not only the foundation of human life, but also the object of it.”

The sin is if you get stuck to your metaphor and forget its reference. That’s the opening for men to murder each other en masse simply because they use different metaphors to describe the same realities!

You’re right about man, of course. Goethe said it well, “Man… knows only when he is satisfied and when he suffers, and only his sufferings and his satisfactions instruct him concerning himself, teach him what to seek and what to avoid. For the rest, man is a confused creature; he knows not whence he comes or whither he goes, he knows little of the world, and above all, he knows little of himself.”

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By Inherit The Wind, January 25, 2009 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

Just a minor point, Mr. Pfaff.  America was no different under Lincoln than under Bush. Abraham Lincoln went to bed the night of the election in November of 1864 believing when he woke that Gen. McClellan would the the President-Elect.  Had McCLellan succeeded, our nation would be split and states of the CSA would probably STILL have slaves.
My point is that just like in 2000 and 2004, many Americans were total fools and voted for a guy that all you can do is scratch your head, wrinkle your brow and say “HUH?????”  I have NO idea how any American could have voted for McClellan and a broken nation.  But, even though Lincoln won, the vote was very close.

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By realitycheck, January 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Christian96…........in particular.. January 25 at 9:08 am….
(oh baby, grow up, Please)

and for anyone else interested, my personal favorite on the topic of Bible study:

“This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.”
-John 15:12

We can all guess who said that….

Our collective work is what it is…
so….back to politics..
standing in the Light of The Golden Rule really is a good place to start…

....toward the RELIEF of suffering..

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By Anarcissie, January 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

whyzowl1:
’... To interpret a Biblical metaphor—the end of the world—as literal fact, is to interpret it in terms of prose rather than of poetry. It is, as Joseph Campbell observed, an essential misreading of the metaphor. It’s strictly a literary problem. In mythological terms, it is The Sin Against the Holy Ghost. ...’

Karl Barth, who was certainly not a televangelist or dummy, would disagree with you strongly on that point.  He thought that, at least for believers, the Scriptures were to be taken very seriously on the literal level.  Once you say it’s all poetry and metaphors it can mean anything, which doesn’t give you a lot to struggle with or any clear directions about how to live your life.  Barth, of course, was no hermeneutic slouch; he managed to turn the abject authoritarianism of Romans 13 into an injunction to practice socialism.  He could not do this by reading it for its poetry, but on the other hand, it is quite a leap from the plain, layman’s meaning of the text.

The meaning of “sin against the Holy Ghost” has been an object of theological dispute for a couple of thousand years, and I don’t know if I think Joseph Campbell had the knowledge or the authority to resolve it conclusively.

But as to why we believe so many strange things, that’s easy: we’re poorly informed, and have to make up stories to fill in the gaps.  Where did the universe come from?  What’s it doing, if anything?  Is there a God?  Is anyone in charge?  Where are we going?  These are important questions to which we don’t have an answer.  In fact, for the most part we don’t have a clue.  The truly delusional people are those who are sure they know what’s really going on.

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By Folktruther, January 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

I’m strongly in favor of more spiritual discourse when discussiog religious affairs. The religious, political and scientific traditions, which have historically been separated in the Western tradition, are now merging as Western power decays.

The only way to generalize the morality among individuals to a morality among groupings of people, to place moral restrictions on power, is to inculcate a new spiriutal ideololgy of some kind, which inevitably must be based on the old.

Since I happen to be a confirmed sinner, consigned to the excruiating tortures of the Fiery Pit for all Eternity by a Benign and Loving God, the only way that this spiritality will emerge is by the less incoherant truths of the religious dingbats.

What is valid and desirable for the people of the earth must be separated from the dingbatty and placed in a rational spiritual ideology of some kind. I don’t see any other way of doing this except by sloshing through the worthless swill the encomasses 99% of it.

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By christian96, January 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

To Whyzowl1—-I am not judging.  Words written in
the Bible are judging.  For example, “IN THE LAST
DAYS shall come scoffers walking after their own
lusts….The Heavens and earth are seserved unto
fire against the DAY OF JUDGMENT AND SINS OF
UNGODLY PEOPLE.”(2nd Peter 3:3,7) Romans 1:24-32
discusses some of the things that bring on the
judment mentioned in verse 32 “Who knowing the
JUDGMENT OF GOD, that they which committ such things
are worthy of death, not only do them, but have
pleasure in them that do them.”

To Cyrena—-You rightly say “this is a site for
political news” but this article deals with DECLINING
MORAL VALUES.  The Bible describes the moral values
that are declining and is thus relevant to this
article.  I can’t recall who called my comments
“hate” but they are wrong.  I don’t hate anyone.
I love all people even the ignorant politicians and
business people who got us into this mess.  I love
them but I hate their behavior.  Like a parent who
loves their children but hates their behavior.

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By dihey, January 25, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena
Thanks for your comment.
I have acquired and studied quite a number of works on the Dead Sea scrolls but I would never cite them on this site.
Of course christian96 has every right to say what he/she wants to say on this site, including telling me that I will eventually die and may then face unpleasant consequences.
Of course I am free to ignore his nonsensical writing. Everyone else ought to do the same. An answer is exactly what he/she craves to spout additional baloney.

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By whyzowl1, January 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena,

You’re not one of those people who can’t take a joke, are you?

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By whyzowl1, January 25, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Thank you, christian96, that’s my personal favorite gospel story. Yes, be slow to judge and quick to forgive—that’s the highest spiritual truth I know: to forgive others, and by so doing, to forgive oneself.

But I think you’d have to admit that many Christian fundamentalists prefer the primitive, harsh, judgmental, punishing god of thunder and war of the Old Testament, Yahweh, to the compassionate, merciful man-god Jesus of the New, whom Nietsche once rather scornfully referred to as “the pale Galilean.” The Bible offers a rich smorgasbord of advice and proscriptions, some good, some bad, and what one selects from the table will ultimately be a measure of one’s own level of spiritual attainment—or lack of same.

Octopus, I’m not sure you got Christopher Lasch’s point. Though is might surprise you, what he has to say about religion is precisely to the point of wise William Pfaff’s essay, because to conflate moral behavior with the state is in essence an act of idolatry, it’s making an idol of the state, and isn’t that really what all the evil committed in the name of “patriotism” is all about?

Folktruther and Anarcisse:
To interpret a Biblical metaphor—the end of the world—as literal fact, is to interpret it in terms of prose rather than of poetry. It is, as Joseph Campbell observed, an essential misreading of the metaphor. It’s strictly a literary problem. In mythological terms, it is The Sin Against the Holy Ghost.

Christianity has displayed a hearty dark side through the ages thanks largely to this erroneous Biblical literalism, but is it any less a sin to make an idol of the state, and assign to it human qualities a monents clarity would reveal it cannot possibly possess?

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

Christian96
Your Fear/Anger has no power here….
The sign at the edge of town reads:
Welcome to Heaven
Population: 0

Now back to intelligent discourse, not cut and paste
soul saving.

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By cyrena, January 25, 2009 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

By whyzowl1, January 24 at 4:08 pm #
“I could go on and on but most people on this site don’t want to hear about Christianity.”
~*~
“You’re almost certainly right, christian96. And I must say, I hear less than one percent of preachers remind us that adulturers are to be stoned to death. I’m sure that would thin their ranks appreciably.
~*~
Most people on this site don’t want to hear about Christianity because 1) WE ALREADY KNOW. (same books are available in most languages, and we’ve read them.) 2) This is a site for POLITICAL news and discussion, published and edited here in the US, presumably a place with a secular set-up.
That’s probably why whyzowl1 hears ‘less than 1% of preachers, (I guess he’s listened to them all) remind us that adulterers are supposed to be STONED TO DEATH.

How amazing is that? whyzowl1 sounds like an Islamic Fundamentalist (Wahabbist) if you ask me. Maybe you all would be more comfortable with the Government in Saudi Arabia?

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By christian96, January 25, 2009 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

You atheists, infidels, and other antichristians
can GO TO HELL!  Oh, excuse me, you ARE going to
hell.  Have a nice trip.  You better enjoy what
little time you have left.  Of course, you could
REPENT which means you change your attitudes and
behaviors to those taught by Jesus.

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By Folktruther, January 25, 2009 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

I an reading a book now, off and on, about prophetic Cristianity called HAVE A NICE DOOMSDAY by a Britishr Nicholas Guyatt.  It’s absluetely incredible what tens of millions of Americans believe, and strive for in American foreign and domenstic policy.

It is easy to understand that the preachers like Hagee or Farnswell or the others are funded by the rich, and in the last few decades Zionists, but the question is, why do tens of millions of people beleive this stuff?  Many of them are not stupid or cynical (although of course many are.)

As Anarcissie says, no one forces people to watch TV.  It’s a kind of addiction, as Al Gore argued in THE ASSAULT ON REASON, but can addiction force one to accept this type of gibberish?  Is it possible to be addicted to drivel?  Conceivably this is the most useful way to look at it. it is necessary to break people’s addiction to irrationality.

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By Anarcissie, January 25, 2009 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

Christian66—isn’t it a bit facile to blame television hucksters for everything?  No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head, forcing them to watch this stuff. 

Jesus confronted the Roman Empire with a completely different set of values than those it was based on, and he laid out a program for realizing those values—not about what day the Sabbath should be celebrated on, but what people were going to do on the other six days as well.  That program included a rejection of war and other forms of violence.  When Christians approach me to tell me what I ought to think and do, I want to know why they themselves are not following the teachings of the founder of the religion they’re promoting.  And if they are doing this, then I think it would be reasonable for them to first get after their numerous coreligionists who are not, instead of heretics, infidels and pagans like myself.

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

That subject being Individual Morality, the opposite of religous belief, which puts responsibility in the hands of larger forces beyond the individuals control.

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By octopus, January 25, 2009 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Christianity, and other Structures for the insecure and fearful, have little to do with one another.
Can we get back on subject please….

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By cynicaldoubter, January 25, 2009 at 5:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The decline in American moral values has nothing to do with the Vietnam War, and everything to do with feminism and undermining the traditional American family. The African-American family in particular was utterly destroyed by liberal policies that encouraged single motherhood. We now face an epidemic of false rape accusations and other female criminal behaviors, which juries often refuse to punish.

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By christian96, January 25, 2009 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

Whyzowl1——In reference to your comment about
adultery, I’ll let the Bible do the talking:
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a
woman(wonder why they didn’t bring the man?)taken
in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
They said unto Jesus, Master, this woman was taken
in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses in the law
commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what
sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they
might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down,
and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though
he heard them not.  So when they continued asking
him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, “He
that is without sin among you, let him first cast a
stone at her.”  Again he stooped down, and wrote on
the ground.  And they which heard it,being convicted
by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and
Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the
midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw
none but the woman, he said unto her, “Woman, where
are those thine accusers?  Hath no man condemned thee?”  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto
her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11)

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By John R Bloxson Jr, January 24, 2009 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Anarcissie,
I am reminded that many do not know context are maybe you do you just don’t like the facts. The Commandment you are quoting for one thing was set in a differant time and the People destroyed had for a thousand years practices Child sacrifice, children were sold into sexual slavery the people were so morally debased they would not repent of their terrible deeds so a time of Judgment warned about by prophets finally came home to roust the people followed after the ways of Sodom, and Gomorrrah.
Where wickedness was celibrated and Bad was good and good was bad.  God commanded the inhabitants be killed because of their extreme wickedness, pedophilia was the rule rather than the exception, where murder was practiced with inpunity, where everything wicked was celibrated while everything good was destroyed so you see the people brought judgment down on themselves. I am not saying by your or my standards it was right or wrong but I look at society today and see much the same attitude that was exhibited by the people of Jericho (only Rahab and her family were spared because they recognized God as God and repented of their sins). as of the end of 2007 we in this nation have sacrificed on the alter of sexual imorality, and Inconvienance 57,431,500 Babies we have killed our future presidents, writers, Doctors, Emt’s, Fireman Police officers, maybe even the one that would have found the cure for Breast Cancer, or other sickness’s so we are sliding down a slippery slope into a culture of death where life is cheap.  No this didn’t start 20 or 30 years ago but way back when first man rebeled and bit into the fruit of the tree of the knowlege of good and evil and our minds were warped The Law codes in place before were even much harsher on the code breakers one such law was that the adulterer’s were to be sown in wet animal skins and and staked in the sun while the skin dried it slowely crused the two adulterer’s, our a thief would lose his hand, and if caught a second time he would lose the other hand and be branded and a thrid time was the charm three strikes your out Death by beheading. Adultery was not a victimless sin the spouse or spouse’s were mentally harmed the childern were mentally harmed. It was like in the west when a horse thief was caught alot of times he was hung why because he was in the wrong, no because the horse ment the difference between life and death on the frontier.  God should never be mocked because what Jericho and other Caaninite cities did when it came to their immoralities.  We in Amerca can be glad that do to positavistic Law we are not given what we deserve which is death for all of us have missed the mark or fallen short and the wages of sin is Death but it is wonderful that through Jesus Christ we can avoid that end in every other releligion it what we do to please god, but with Christianity it is what God did to get to us.  Man is judgmental that includes you and every other person on this planet me included My sin is not as bad as my neighbors well I hate to break it down for you but the wages of sin is death thats any sin the white lie I told two weeks ago Death, the thought of Adultery or any other sexual sin Death the murder in the heart death, the framing of others the covetess look all death.  So you see we are all condemned by our actions but we have a God who will forgive us in Jesus Christ.
            Trithoverlies/Truthoverlies,
                John R. bloxson Jr.

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By whyzowl1, January 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

“I could go on and on but most people on this site don’t want to hear about Christianity.”

You’re almost certainly right, christian96. And I must say, I hear less than one percent of preachers remind us that adulturers are to be stoned to death. I’m sure that would thin their ranks appreciably.

Let me add these thoughts of Christopher Lasch—gawd rest his soul—which are well worth considering.

“Our society labors in the grip of two great, paralyzing fears: fanaticism and racial warfare. Having belatedly discovered the contingency of all belief systems and ideologies, we are obsessed with the terrors that arise when partial truths are taken as universal. In a century dominated by fascism and communism, this fear is understandable, but by this time it is surely possible to argue, without being accused of complacency, that the totalitarian menace is receding. Nor is Islamic fundamentalism an equivalent danger, as we are so often told. Those who worry overmuch about ideological fanaticism often fall into a complacency of their own, which we see especially in liberal intellectuals. It is as if they alone understood the danger of displaced universality, the relativity of truth, the need for suspended judgement. They see themselves, these devoutly open-minded intellectuals, as a civilized minority in a sea of fanaticism. Priding themselves on their emancipation from religion, they misunderstand religion as a set of definitive, absolute dogmas resistent to any kind of intelligent appraisal. They miss the discipline against fanaticism in religion itself. The ‘quest for certainty,’ as Dewey called it, is nowhere condemned with such relentless passion as in the prophetic tradition common to Judaism and Christianity, which warns again and again against idolatry, the idolatry of the church included. Many intellectuals assume that religion satisfies the need for moral and emotional security——a notion that even a passing knowledge of religion would dispel. There are limits, it seems, even to the openness of the open mind, limits quickly revealed when the conversation turns to religion.”—Christopher Lasch (from: The Revolt of the Elites and The Betrayal of Democracy)

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By whyzowl1, January 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Please, put these two truths together…and see. Let the scales finally fall from your eyes—if you can muster the necessary honesty, and bear the pain.

“National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right.”
                Arthur Schopenhauer

“Where there is politics or economics, there is no morality.”
                Friedrich Von Schlegel

It’s arguable that the United States has, over the course of its short history, been blessed on occasion with leaders who on occasion did act in a more moral manner than the rest of a rather dismal lot. But it is also true, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, that the moral level of world leadership hasn’t really advanced since the days of Genghis Khan.

The idea that Americans are a moral people—even a uniquely moral people—whose nation upholds certain universal moral values, is nothing but an empty conceit, a public relations gloss that attempts to mask the vile depredations of a ruthless empire on the make. Worse, it is a pernicious, dangerous conceit, part of the “soul sickness” that makes the US of A, still, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as Martin Luther King observed before an “affinity group” of America’s leadership cabal had him assassinated for riling up the peons.

Yes, the Bush regime did drag America’s reputation through the mud. We should leave it there, where it belongs.

For more on America’s soul sickness:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/01-4
Part Two:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/08-9

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By christian96, January 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie——-In 2004, Christians were manipulated
to vote by television preachers claiming to be
Christian who deceived the masses.  My question for
television preachers is why aren’t they leading the
flock by telling the truths in the Bible?  For
example:  (1) I hear less than one percent of the
preachers informing the flock about the dietary laws,
(2) I hear less than one percent of tv preachers
informing the flock that Saturday is the Sabbath
not Sunday, (3) TV preachers neglect to tell their
flocks that Easter is only mentioned once in the
Bible and it was mistranslated.  It should read
“Passover,” and (4) there is nothing in the Bible
that relates that Jesus was born on the 25th of
December let alone to celebrate his birthday.  The
only place I can find someone celebrating a birthday
was Herod and John The Baptist was beheaded during
that birthday celebration.  I could go on and on but
most people on this site don’t want to hear about
Christianity.

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By christian96, January 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Octopus—-I agree one approach would be to divest
from corporations who profit from war but how can the masses in America divest when most are not familiar with those corporations?  They aren’t going
to learn from cable television who divert the masses
with sports, movies, and television shows to play
to their lusts?  In Ohio, I have DISH network where
I can watch programs like Free Speech Channel and
Link TV.  Here in Florida, my only asscess is through
web sites like this one.  However, I am concerned
about national and international events.  What do you
do with the majority of apathetic people?  I would
like to see the masses boycott cereal corporations
until they take the sugar out of their products which
destroys the health of our children but IT’S NOT
GOING TO HAPPEN.  I do commend your efforts.  At least you are doing something.

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By octopus, January 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

Oh, I have a neighbor, a crustacean I like to torment.
I call it Milton Friedman….

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By troublesum, January 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

Yes indeed, I remember those years when the US held the moral high ground from which Vietnamese children were sprayed with napalm.  Can Obama take us back?

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By octopus, January 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

The Decline began when neoliberal economists became Big Business, who then took over the Government, who then employed the CIA and our Military to advance an agenda of Greed. Even I, a simple cephalopod, can see that morality(and utilitarian constructs such as freedom and democracy), for the powerful, is a smoke screen for more sinister motivations.
  Change will only come from the bottom up, por exemplo, I chose to divest myself of all investments that profit from war(which I am very opposed to, recognizing that there is nosuch thing as honor or glory in the killing of others to advance a Corporate agenda) or that invest in those Corporations that flood into other countries to Privatize Resources and State owned assets in the wake of political crisis usually instigated by the CIA, IMF, Worldbank, or the WTO. This to me is a moral act I can be responsible for and Choosing to not profit is something they cannot prevent me from doing at an individual level.
  I, a simple cephalopod, have also lost a taste for Globalization. That highly regarded concept whereby the benefits of progress are promised to trickle down to all(A MORAL DECEPTION), but which usually leads to mass layoffs, lowering of wages, increases in poverty and unemployment, and a massive theft of labor value and local resources, the moral corporate entities always expatriating the profits back home.
  I also have decided to live a simple life. I only need one garden under the sea and it is one i can afford. I do not need 3 or 4 of them which I rent out to others. I like to eat lobster and crab that are local, prefering not to get the cheaper imported ones from the aforementioned, globalized areas.
  One cephalopod at a time will lead to systemic change. Join me and take resposibility for the change fore it will not come from the top.

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By Anarcissie, January 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

christian66—I was just answering your question from the text.  I know there are lots of rationalizations and counter-rationalizations, yet I think the book speaks for itself, and pretty plainly, too.  But—it was a long time ago, and the blood of the children of Jericho has long since dried and blown away in the wind.

If I were disparaging Christianity in general, I would ask why 70% of Evangelicals found it necessary to vote for an openly thieving, lying, murdering war criminal in the U.S. Presidential elections of 2004.  This seems to belie their professed beliefs, unless they’re signing on to the Jericho business after all.

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By christian96, January 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie——I have read Joshua 6:21 and have
struggled with this verse along with others for years.  After I read your comment, I just completed
reading Joshua 6:21 again.  The only reasonable
answer I can come up with is that God did not want
the Hebrews to learn the ways of the people living
in Jericho as reported in Joshua 6:18, “And you,
in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing,
lest you make yourselves accursed, when you take of
the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a
curse, and trouble it.”

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By christian96, January 24, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Dihey—-Do you think today’s “moral knights” sicken
you?  Wait until The Great White Throne judgment
in Rev. 20:11-15, “And I saw a great white throne….
and the dead were JUDGED according to their works…
and whosoever was not found written in the “Book of
Life” was cast into the LAKE OF FIRE.”  Now, that
will sicken you.  Someday, just like the rest of us,
you will die!

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By dihey, January 24, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Retraction!

I forgot that the revolt of the 60’s is directly “responsible” for the growing acceptance today of gays and lesbians as full-fledged US citizens who have the right to serve openly in our armed forces and a right to obtain a legal marriage license.

Come to think of it. We are morally much better off today than we were in the 50’s.

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By dihey, January 24, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

In his work on the History of Britain Winston Churchill described the reaction of the English people to the death of Oliver Cromwell as a relief that they no longer had to stand atop a moral pedestal.

It is in this context that I think that Mr. Pfaff’s analysis is all wrong. Firstly, it is impossible to prove “moral decline or incline” and secondly, there probably never was a significant moral decline or incline in the history of the United States after slavery had ended. It remained pretty level all the time with a few insignificant upticks and downticks.

What happened in the 60’s was a huge revolt against centuries of inane moral suppression and thought control of the younger generations by older generations. At the time I already belonged to the older generation but I experienced most of what happened as a liberation. Many youngsters saw right through the faked “moral fortitude” of their parents who did nothing about our murderous killing in Vietnam. If anything the 60’s were perhaps a “Moral Renaissance”. Unfortunately it has not endured.  Please all of you “moral knights” out there spare me your cheap sermonizing because it sickens me.

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By Shift, January 24, 2009 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Cruxpuppy: ” The real question is, when the malaise we are experiencing becomes acute and the expectations of disaster become crisis, will he be able to rise above the limitations he now demonstrates? That is when we will know whether we have finally got greatness in the White House.”

Good credible point Crux.  Crisis will enable Obama to choose wisely but will he?

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By Anarcissie, January 24, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

christian96:
‘Speaking of “moral decline” I wonder what the world,
especially America,, would be like if people had
followed the Ten Commandments? ...’

Here are some commandment followers at work: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”  [Joshua 6:21]

Sounds pretty familiar, actually, except the technology of destruction has advanced somewhat.

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By christian96, January 24, 2009 at 2:06 am Link to this comment

Speaking of “moral decline” I wonder what the world,
especially America,, would be like if people had
followed the Ten Commandments?  Jesus summed up the
ten commandments into two in Matthew 22:37-40:
“You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart,
soul, and mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  The second is like unto it, YOU SHALL
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.”  Neighbor didn’t mean only the person living next to
you, it meant all the people living in your community, state, nation, and world.  If people
loved their neighbor they wouldn’t be lusting after
their wife, husband, goods, etc.  If business
corporations loved people, they wouldn’t be using
lying deception to lust after money.  If politicans
loved people, they would be serving all people and
not a few elite.  What would our world be like if
people thought of others rather than themselves?
Like Albert Einstein said in a book “Ideas and Opinions” if people would follow the teachings of
Jesus we would lay a foundation for world peace.

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By John R Bloxson Jr, January 24, 2009 at 12:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We as a nation have been in a moral decline for most of the last three Centuries so please stop blamming it on one President.
Bill Clinton the Luwenski scandal.
Reagan Iran Contra.
Jimmy Carter’s weak backbone.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon.
Nixon Water Gate.
Kennedy and Mistress’s.
Eisenhower and the Cumunist witch hunt.
F.D.R. and Mistress’s.
excetra…
It is no wonder we find ourselves here in a time of moral apostasy on all side in both parties.
Tax Fruad oh excuse me mistakes, sleeping with the head of Franie Mea, while a member of the House Banking Regulatory Commission.  Obscene Emails from a Representative to a young male page, A Senator sociliting in a Public bathroom, Governor’s having affairs with the opisite or same sex partners selling Senate seats to the highest bider, while yet others buy their seat in the senate and we wonder what the problem is it is low alley cat morals taurght in our intitutions of Higher learning, and even in our Junior Highs and High Schools where the students are taught that we are nothing more than animal so why restrain ourselves In sex education across this land students are being encouraged to experitment with their sexuality it is not just in Fort Collins Colorado, But San Francisco California, Omaha Nebraska, Chicago Ill. New Yor City excetra… We have sold our very souls to the king of this world and thumb our noses at the one True and Living God.  So to all of you out there we are falling short of the mark every day and still we want call on thonly one who can help use straighten out our warped mind set. And please note I did not point out one Political Party both are just as guilty of major moral lasp’s
              Trithoverlies/Truthoverlies.
                  John R. Bloxson Jr.

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By Collielady, January 23, 2009 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The idea that we, the American People, were Bush Administration enablers, as stated in the above piece, is something I often hear and always find troubling.

I’d like to know, just how we were suppposed to curtail our run-away government?  We wrote the letters, sent the emails, and made the phone calls.  We donated money and we voted in the midterms.  Many protested and got arrested and ended up on lists.

So, I wish the people who write these sentiments that label us as enablers would explain just what they think we could have done differently.  I’d surely like to know the answer to that.

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By cruxpuppy, January 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment

Obama is trying. FOIA reform. Check. Stop the revolving door. Check. Close Gitmo, repudiate torture. Check. He’s doing fine until he gets to Palestine & Israel.

There, he fails completely and embraces the pernicious lies and calculated evasions of Israeli propaganda, sacrificing his moral authority in the name of Israeli (say “US proxy”) hegemony in the ME. No one in the region will salute his moral authority or recognize any substantive change in US policy.

So far, he is failing also to demonstrate any moral leadership as he confronts the financial crisis. This is essentially a moral issue in which the public interest is sacrificed in the name of the private interest. He supports the bail out of malefactors in the name of rescuing the “capital markets”.

“Can he restore national union, a sense of national purpose, a public and governmental morality that the people will accept?”

No, he cannot. He’s just a man, gifted to be sure, but only a human creature, not a messiah. He is a conduit for the popular will. If there is no manifest popular will, no uprising among the people agitating for the public interest, Obama will fail.

I have mentioned two failures. There will be more. The real question is, when the malaise we are experiencing becomes acute and the expectations of disaster become crisis, will he be able to rise above the limitations he now demonstrates? That is when we will know whether we have finally got greatness in the White House.

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By Crimes of the State Blog, January 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

There will be no “halt” if Bush regime treasons and war crimes are not punished.  All will resume exactly as before the next time a Rethug demagogue gets in office. 

Demand Obama Prosecute Bush for Treason on 9/11/01

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By Mike3, January 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is it true that every country gets the leader it deserves? If that is true America has broken that rule because it should have got McCain. I’m glad of course that Obama came along, but the sheep don’t really deserve him. Everyone suddenly never voted for Bush. And every empire gets emperors. That is why there has been a steady line of morons in the Whitehouse. I wish Obama well, and I wish the American people well, I don’t live there. I, and many of my friends in Europe, would feel a lot better if Noam Chomsky was standard reading in every school in America – well, those schools that could handle him. But I must admit: I like the way this guy has started. This time Americans are in agreement with Europeans. Halleluiah. But you got lucky.

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By Anarcissie, January 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

michael roloff:
‘Why not simply say that the U.S. has been since the days of Eisenhower [the overthrow of the Guatemalan and Iranian governments] the successor imperialist of the West?’

Well, for one thing, many people believe that imperialism is a good thing, or a necessary thing.  This was in fact the assumption of Truman, Marshall, Acheson, and others in the early 1940s when they constructed the system, ideologies and policies that would guide the United States to world domination.  It is not enough to cry “Imperialist, imperialist”, you have to have some critique of imperialism, which tells you why it is neither good nor necessary.

American imperialism goes back far before that period, but from about President Monroe’s time (he of the Monroe Doctrine, 1823) until World War 2 the U.S. acted as a loose satellite or ally of the British Empire.  Keeping Europe, Asia and Africa in order was the job of the British, and Latin America of the United States.  The British Empire was already failing before World War 2, and the war pretty much finished it off, requiring the U.S. to step into its shoes—or rather, its jackboots.

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By cyrena, January 23, 2009 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie

“The line of thought you’re questioning will become clearer if you understand that moral authority is the opposite of morality.

Morality concerns how we treat others, and one assumes it arises from one’s personal conscience or the traditions one was offered and accepted as a child.  Authority is one person relieving another of power, choice and responsibility.  Thus, authority negates morality.”

~~

THANKS Anarcissie,

This absolutely DOES clarify it for me. Sure you aren’t a teacher? No matter…you taught me something. This is very helpful…(for me at least)

Thanks again.

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By Folktruther, January 23, 2009 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Perhaps, Anarcissie, the distinction can be made clearer by the oppossition of people morality vs power morality.  All power structures indoctrinate the populations they rule to identify with oppressive power and the values that suppport it.  Religious, political and scientific ideology has been coopted by power structures to induce people to identify with their own oppression and the oppression of other people.

Both power values and people values have moral authority, since they govern actions.  In the Korean war, for example, the agents of US power were horrified to discover that many Americans wouldn’t shoot at the Enemy because they didn’t want to kill anyone.  The miliary conducted a system of indoctrinations that cured the problem, the misapplication of people values to power problems.

What progressives or leftists are faced with now is to restore the distrust of the American people in their religious, political, military and intellectual leaders, like Obama.  The American people do not realize, and do not want to realize, how massively we have been deceived by American power over historial time.  Obama is the latest public relations con to get people to support power values and the policies that flow from them.

The simple truth of the matter is that the American power system is oppressive, courrpt and obsolete.  It is the enemy of the American people.  And the values that Obama has been put into office to instill is intended to shore up its oppression, corruption and irrationality. 

We have to develop people values that DESTROYS its moral authority, which justifies violence, exploitation, class inequuality and coercion.  This is happening historically in any event, as Pfaff well knows, but cannot be mentioned in mainstreamspeak.

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By michael roloff, January 23, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why not simply say that the U.S. has been since the days of Eisenhower [the overthrow of the Guatemalan and Iranian governments] the successor imperialist of the West? With that it went against history and missed a world historical opportunity to befriend the post-colonial world. Greed, lack of confidence in real Democracy,  U.S. business interest, hysteria about communism all played a major role in this. Will Obama cut back on 750 US imperialist bases around the world?

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By photoshock, January 23, 2009 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Formerly nrobi, we are now faced with not only a “moral” decline, but also a decline in the standing of America in the eyes of the world. And one has to wonder
why this is?
We need only look as far as the “Oval Office,” and Blair House for the reason behind this free-fall of values and declining standing in the world of the US.
The shrub and his fellow neo-conservative shit-heads, brought this country to the brink of social and economic disaster and furthermore brought disrepute upon the nation as a whole by refusing to follow the rule of law in the 8 years he was “the decider.” 
*****************************************************
Now as far as Mr. Pfaff’s column, President Obama, cannot by himself do the work of millions of people.
We are now faced with the worst economic disaster in the history of the US, declining moral and social values, the raping and pillaging of the middle class by the uber-wealthy for their pleasure and our pain.
President Obama, can only point the people in the direction of greater values, better understanding between the countries of the world and more and better social values for all Americans.  Would that President Obama, could wave a “magic wand,” and make the coming hard times disappear, but as we all know, the neo-cons, did their best to rob from the poor and middle class and give to the wealthy and well-heeled the lion’s share of the tax breaks and general welfare.
We the people, must take back the reins of power from the power-hungry, money-grubbing thieves that have ruined our economy, and put them in the place where they belong, not in prison, for they would only
go to a federal country club. What I propose for these money-grubbing thieves is this, put them in the
slums they created and give them $674.00 to live on each month, cut their health benefits to almost nothing, give them only $120.00 in food stamps per month and then charge them 0 of their income for rent, utilities and other necessities.
Do this for 2 years and then lets see how they treat the poor and middle classes of this country.
It is my opinion that this would not be punishment but a test of their resolve, to see if they could live like us common people do.
This would be their just desserts, no frills, no extras, not even transportation costs, but the basic necessities of life. And I would not begrudge them food bank food, help when they need it and a loving and caring shoulder to cry on, and an ever-present ear that would listen to their tales of woe.
For we cannot be what they are, we cannot do to them what they have done to us, we are better then the lot
of them.
We need to get away from the monetary system of living and return to a system whereby we all give of our talents and each would receive what they not only
need but what they want, without regard to ability to
pay.
In short, a new system of living must become a reality, we are swamped and bogged down in the mire of monetary living, let us the people, run the show and we will change the world for the better.

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By christian96, January 23, 2009 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

You can add Psychiatry and Psychology to the list
of professionals who supported agression and torture.
I recently watched a DVD titled “Think Psychiatry
Has Nothing To Do With You?  Thank Again!”  For
someone interested in this DVD you can go to
http://www.cchr.org/documentary.  I remember reading an
enlighening book in graduate school by Thomas Schazz
titled, “The Myth of Mental Illness.”  One comment
from the book has stuck out in my mind over the years.  Dr. Schazz ask the question, “Have you ever
met someone who went to a Psychiatrist and was diagnosed as “normal?”

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By Anarcissie, January 23, 2009 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

cyrena:
’.... Still, this is a bit of a narrow look at history if we’re claiming a breakdown of moral authority at such an incredibly important time in our history, which FINALLY brought us some Civil Rights legislation. The Civil Rights Movement, though admittedly not won easily,  produced landmark legislation in the form of our Civil Rights Amendments that can ONLY be viewed as a major UPSWING in the overall ‘collective’ moral authority.
All of that had it’s peak in the 60’s….’

The line of thought you’re questioning will become clearer if you understand that moral authority is the opposite of morality.

Morality concerns how we treat others, and one assumes it arises from one’s personal conscience or the traditions one was offered and accepted as a child.  Authority is one person relieving another of power, choice and responsibility.  Thus, authority negates morality.

And indeed, that is what we saw in the 1950s and for generations preceding, and what was finally challenged in the 1960s.  And indeed, the point men and women of that challenge were the people of the Civil Rights movement.

Naturally, the American ruling class, like all ruling classes, would like to have moral authority.  It is one more form of power, and it will be sought with a variety of shams and shows.  The only reasonable concern of those who do not adhere to the ruling class should be to exert their personal morality and expose the con.

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By Allan Gurfinkle, January 23, 2009 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By prole, January 23 at 12:14 am #

..... great write up .... Khe Sanh indeed.

If Obama wants to restore the moral authority of the US he will pull all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan starting now.  He’ll slash the military budget.  He’ll close the foreign bases.  No chance of that.  The rest is jive.

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By prosefights, January 23, 2009 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

Let’s hope the Obama administration can peacefully settle Iran-related matters QUICKLY.

I’ve been threatened with prison by New Mexico chief federal judge Martha Vazquez.

http://www.prosefights.org/nmlegal/vazquez/vazquez#strange266

Vazquez refuses to properly process valid court-filed criminal complaint affidavit naming Zbigniew Brzezinski for inciting Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1980.

“Nojeh Coup

In July 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski of the United States met Jordan’s King Hussein in Amman to discuss detailed plans for Saddam Hussein to sponsor a coup in Iran against Khomeini. King Hussein was Saddam’s closest confidant in the Arab world, and served as an intermediary during the planning. The Iraqi invasion of Iran would be launched under the pretext of a call for aid from Iranian loyalist officers plotting their own uprising on July 9, 1980 (codenamed Nojeh, after Shahrokhi/Nojeh air base in Hamedan). The Iranian officers were organized by Shapour Bakhtiar, who had fled to France when Khomeini seized power, but was operating from Baghdad and Sulimaniyah at the time of Brzezinski’s meeting with Hussein. However, Khomeini learned of the Nojeh Coup plan from Soviet agents in France and Latin America. Shortly after Brzezinski’s meeting with Hussein, the President of Iran, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr quietly rounded up 600 of the loyalist plotters within Iran, putting an effective end to the Nojeh Coup.[5] Saddam decided to invade without the Iranian officers’ assistance, beginning the Iran-Iraq war on 22 September 1980.”

http://www.prosefights.org/nmlegal/shorthistory/shorthistory.htm#shorthistory

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By Big B, January 23, 2009 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

Our polititians and business and religeous leaders do not determine the course of America’s morality. They reflect the morality and intellect of the public that put them in power. We liberals all like to sit here on our high horses and demonize W, but how far out of the mainstream were his views? A number of fairly reputable polling companies found that during the W adm a majority of americans were all for torturing terror suspects, and limiting personal freedoms in the name of security. Most americans also believe that a supernatural supreme being created the earth, and that there are angels watching over us. We americans still think we are the shining beacon to the world, that we do no wrong.

So again, how far out whack were W’s views when compared to the american electorate?

In a democracy or republic, the people get the government they deserve.

We should aim higher.

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By Verne Arnold, January 23, 2009 at 3:07 am Link to this comment

If it is incumbent on Pres. Obama to halt America’s moral decline; then what does that say about Americans? “Physician; heal thyself”.
http://www.iauthorbooks.com

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By prole, January 23, 2009 at 1:14 am Link to this comment

“Barack Obama’s decision to be sworn in twice as president (just to be sure!) confirmed the” pomposity and puffery “of his inaugural address”. “Noted for his” oratorical oiliness and duplicity, “he seems to have decided that a restoration presidency should begin” pretentiously,  and then to try and cash in “during the coming years” on the media hype “that have surrounded this man’s assumption of the American presidency”. “I call his a restoration presidency because this black man was the only presidential candidate who succeeded in summoning up” most of the same imperial policy aims of “the past eight years by his predecessor” - while still posing as a champion of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and progressivism. Unlike true progressive candidates such as Nader, McKinney, Kucinich and Gravel who represented “the better America that” never was but might have been. “The Bush government, which he has replaced, seemed not merely indifferent to the ancient political and moral aspirations” myths “of the American nation but hostile” to everyone in their path. St. Barack has sought to restore the myth-making while continuing “the national power and aggrandizement they unscrupulously pursued,” by congenial cunning. And “the greed that motivated most of those who were the public face of the government and the economy of the United States during this period” is restored in the persons of Summers and Emanuel and Rubin and friends. “It is” perfectly conceivable “that this could have taken place during the time of the first Roosevelt” who charged up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War in a ballyhooed display of swashbuckling imperial aggression. “It has been argued that moral authority has broken down in modern American society because of the events of the 1960s” during the Democratic Admin.‘s of Kennedy/Johnson. “The Vietnam War, occurring in a general international climate of post-1945 anti-colonialism, inspired in much of U.S. civil society” widespread public support and jingoism; until the elites finally turned against it in later years as ‘unwinnable’. Even today there is revisionist denial that America was defeated. Sunshine patriot Obama in his inaugural bombast cried, “For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.”  Khe Sanh!  No “revulsion or resistance to [our] government’s policy in what was widely seen, in Western liberal societies, as an unjust war” from the new “restoration” prez. “The conservative and governing forces of Western, and particularly American, society at the same time suffered a reciprocal loss of nerve. They too could no longer fully believe in the moral basis for that war” - maybe because there never was any moral basis for that criminal invasion of Nam in the first place. Only moral scum like Obama could believe there was. “Much the same had occurred earlier in France, which suffered its own colonial war and crisis in Indochina”, ending at Dien Bien Phu. Khe Sanh was the start of America’s own drawn-out Dien Bien Phu. “What followed the events of the 1960s was a continuation of the” Cold War, and imperial brush wars in Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and MiddleEast, “whose political extension into national affairs brought to Washington” Carter, Ray-gun, George-the-father, Clinton, George-the-son, and now Obama Copacabana - all equally comitted to the ends of American empre, albeit by various means. “What elected Barack Obama” was about a billion bucks and a well- oiled political machine. “He radiates” schmooze, Spiderman comic books, confidence-games, and money values. “Can he restore national union, a sense of national purpose” in the pursuit of a corporate agenda and American empire? “Let us pray that the answer is” no - but pray to whom?

 


 


.

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By John R Bloxson Jr, January 23, 2009 at 1:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Pfaff,
Americas Moral decline sarted much earlier than 2001 it started the day the Constitution was ratified or evan before when the first Natives crossed the land bridge. Needless to say the scandals in the Clinton Adminastration did not help nor the affairs in the Oval office commited by F.D.R. and Kennedy did not help teach moral values. The Teaching the Theory of Evolution as fact also did not inhance or morality so you see to throw all the blame on one President is assinine and petty. We all have contributed to the moral decline that includes Nixon’s Watergate,and Reagan’s Iran/Contras scandals so stop trying to point the finger at others just as Adam did in the Garden when He said to God the Woman You gave me gave it to me and I ate.  You Want morals back in this country you must first clean your own house and that really means it all starts with the Individual. You teach a child to hate he or she will grow up to be a hater.  Look when anyone points a finger at someone else he has three pointing right back at him.  Look I am no less nor no more guilty becausae all have sinned all have fallen short of the mark (moral standards) Me included so I must take care to clean my life up just as every other person alive today must do the same if you realy want morality get down on your knees just as I am doing and ask a Holy God to send His Holy Spirit to revive us.
              Trithoverlies/Truthoverlies
                  John R. Bloxson Jr.

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By G.Anderson, January 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment

I am already sick of hearing people place so much responsibility for everything on President Obama’s shoulders. He is only one man and is not responsible for America becoming a moral country again. Many on the left seem to think that it’s his responsibility to do things which are best left up to the people.

Whether or not America is or has ever been a moral country, remains open to debate.  Certainly many of us are trying, many millions were not taken in by Mr. Bush’s phony down home persona and flag waving.

Whether or not America can be a moral country is up to each and every one of us in our dealings with each other.

Was anyone listening when President Obama, asked for our help, and said something to the effect that together we will change this country, if we use the energy and power of our desire for change. This is after all what got him elected. Together not just him.

America under Mr. Bush was just a nats eyebrow away from becoming a dictatorship, and if he hadn’t blown it so badly we would be sweating bullets under McCain right now.

Bush’s cratering of America’s economy may not be fixable by President Obama no matter what he does. If that’s the case we are likely to hear a steady stream of Vitriol by the right. In 4 years they will try and come back with their plan, to cut taxes, allow the free market to rule once again, and attempt a reframe of the Bush years, as not a failure of conservatism, since Bush was never really a conservative.

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By Joe, January 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve seen what the “Moral Leadership” of this country has done for the last 50 years.

“Moral Leadership” belongs in a church, on a Sunday, and away from the real world.

Want to live a religious life, move to Iran or Utah.

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By mcthorogood, January 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Bill Moyers recently interviewed LTC (ret) Andrew Bacevich who teaches foreign relations at Boston University. Professor Bacevich says that our biggest problems are within, not external ones. Our foreign policy is determined by consumerist attitudes.  We refuse to balance our books, instead we rely on projecting military power abroad to satisfy our needs. The dedication to his book “The Limits of Power” reads “Set thine house in order.”

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/08152008/watch.html

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By cyrena, January 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

Another great piece from Pfaff, who usually comes though.

I would only quibble with this, though Pfaff doesn’t claim it to be his own argument..

•  “It has been argued that moral authority has broken down in modern American society because of the events of the 1960s. Before, traditional hierarchies and a general moral consensus existed in American society, lending legitimacy to the institutions of society.”

Still, this is a bit of a narrow look at history if we’re claiming a breakdown of moral authority at such an incredibly important time in our history, which FINALLY brought us some Civil Rights legislation. The Civil Rights Movement, though admittedly not won easily,  produced landmark legislation in the form of our Civil Rights Amendments that can ONLY be viewed as a major UPSWING in the overall ‘collective’ moral authority.
All of that had it’s peak in the 60’s, and cannot be overlooked if we’re using an argument that incorporates that history. PRIOR to that, these same traditional hierarchies and the general moral consensus that existed at the time, lended this ‘legitimacy’ to” institutions of society” such as RACISM!! There is a huge contradiction there, because traditional hierarchies and a general ‘moral’ consensus that SUPPORTS slavery, racism, and discrimination could hardly be said to lend a moral legitimacy to anything. And, that’s the way it was, in all of those 200 years preceding that series of landmark changes in at least the written record of our social conscience.

That said, I DO understand, as we read further along, that the more troubling breakdown of moral authority of the times was the Vietnam War, and of course it absolutely DID represent a breakdown in moral authority in the international theater, and spilled over right here at home in a backlash way. So my concern with the argument that “events of the 1960’s” are the result of a breakdown in moral authority ever since, is that not ALL of the events of the 1960’s can be viewed as such, and the gains in Civil Rights, which HAVE in fact continued to improve since…if not fast enough, represented the antithesis of a breakdown in moral authority.

Musing beyond a little bit, I wonder if that’s what made Lyndon Johnson the enigma that he was? On the one hand he was the dreaded Imperialist, and immoral to boot, for lying us into Vietnam, and pushing the worst of US Aggressive Imperialism. At the same time, he was the president MOST responsible for getting the bulk of the CR Legislation passed in what was a ‘true’ conservative (as opposed to RADICAL ) Supreme Court.

Anyway, our moral authority wasn’t so completely broken down that we didn’t recognize it when it was brought to our attention by the likes of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He brought much moral authority to us during those days, and it meant undermining (or trying to at least) those very same traditional hierarchies that are mentioned here as being the source of sustained moral consensus. Quite a paradox. But then, we’re ‘special’ here in America. wink

Seriously..we ARE. It’s quite a thing we’ve just pulled off. We’re in the process now of finally saving ourselves from a free fall disaster. It’s rescue and recovery time.


Again. Great piece.

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