Guide The Fall of an Empire: The Last Days of the American Dream (American Politics Book 5)

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Room on the streets and sidewalks, big lawns around the houses, trees to walk under, wildflowers at the edge of town—yes, despite the sprawl and overbuilding. A few days after moving from our apartment in Beijing, I awoke to find a mother deer and two fawns in the front yard of our house in Washington, barely three miles from the White House.

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I know that deer are a modern pest, but the contrast with blighted urban China, in which even pigeons are scarce, was difficult to ignore. And the people! The typical American I see in an office building or shopping mall, stout or slim, gives off countless unconscious signs—hair, skin, teeth, height—of having grown up in a society of taken-for-granted sanitation, vaccination, ample protein, and overall public health.

I have learned not to bore people with my expressions of amazement at the array of food in ordinary grocery stores, the size and newness of cars on the street, the splendor of the physical plant for universities, museums, sports stadiums. Video: James Fallows talks to Atlantic editor James Bennet about a uniquely American tradition—cycles of despair followed by triumphant rebirths.

Through the entirety of my conscious life, America has been on the brink of ruination, or so we have heard, from the launch of Sputnik through whatever is the latest indication of national falling apart or falling behind.

The Atlantic Crossword

Pick a year over the past half century, and I will supply an indicator of what at the time seemed a major turning point for the worse. The first oil shocks and gas-station lines in peacetime history; the first presidential resignation ever; assassinations and riots; failing schools; failing industries; polarized politics; vulgarized culture; polluted air and water; divisive and inconclusive wars.

It all seemed so terrible, during a period defined in retrospect as a time of unquestioned American strength. Through the final year I spent in China, in which the collapse of the U. Cell-phone coverage, for instance. There are reasons for the difference: China, in which I never lost a signal when on subways, in elevators, or even in a coal mine, has limited competition among phone companies that coordinate to blanket the country with transmitters.

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Still, this is one of several modern-tech areas in which the U. In each, the nurses entered my information at a computer, rather than having me fill out the paper forms, on a clipboard, on which I have entered the same redundant information a thousand times in American medical offices.

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A Chinese friend who flew for the first time from Beijing to New York phoned soon after landing to complain about the potholed, traffic-jammed taxi ride from JFK to Manhattan. House: Mr. So, the New York Times, for example, had an editorial condemning the court as what it called a hostel forum and therefore illegitimate. It was a hostile forum because it condemned the United States. Three years earlier, the New York Times had lauded the World Court as a marvelous forum because it supported the United States in a claim against Iran, but now it was a hostile forum and therefore illegitimate.

So, the U. In fact, the U. All of this with the support of liberal opinion across the board.

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Now at that time, the United States was not alone in defying the World Court. I think, Libya and Albania had also rejected World Court decisions, but they later accepted them. Bush, Dick Cheney, or other officials for the torture that they endured, or the kidnapping that they endured, the justice department intervened in those cases using something called the Westfall Act, which actually has to do with U. And therefore, they were removed as defendants in those cases and replaced by the U. He also was my professor when I was briefly an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin.

But, on torture, he pointed out that when the United States signed the international torture convention, I think it was or so, the Senate rewrote the convention to exclude the modes of torture that were carried out by the CIA, and that was then instituted into law under Clinton. So you could argue that much of the torture carried out under the Bush Administration was actually not in violation of U. Of course, you had Nicolas Maduro supposedly surviving a drone strike.

Also, these generals, mutinous generals it appears meeting with the Trump Administration to plot a coup, coordinate? After all, in the year , there was a military coup in Venezuela, which briefly overthrew the government eliminated Parliament, Supreme Court, it was reversed by a popular uprising. But during the time of the coup, the United States openly and quite publicly supported the military coup as did the liberal press. There was a time back in the s, s when the U. Now in the U. Is likely to continue with subversion and sabotage and support for the right-wing elements.

On the other hand, it should be pointed out that Venezuela is a major disaster at this point. Partly for external reasons, but considerably for internal reasons. NC: Well your words process, and disseminate and absorb are correct. But not produce. The source of information remains the major media, the correspondence on the ground — who often do excellent and courageous and very valuable work.

Facebook and the rest may filter information that they get from those sources and present it in ways which much of the public finds it is easier to digest. And that means essentially, dividing much of the population of much discussion of this into cocoons, into bubbles, into which they receive the information conducive to their own interests and commitments. If you read a major newspaper say the New York Times you get a certain range of opinion.

Google Facebook and the rest, those are commercial institutions. Their constituency is basically advertisers and they would like to establish the kinds of controls over their consumers that will be beneficial to their business model that enabled them to get advertising. That has very serious distorting effects. And we know that they provide massive information to the corporate system, which they use in their own efforts to try to shape and control behavior and opinion.

JS: In all of the decades of debating these issues, and campaigning for human rights, and against U. For young people that are listening. NC: I think if we look over the years, we can see that there have been considerable achievements in changing public attitudes with regard to aggression, human rights, civil rights, and so on.

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  • In the s the Kennedy escalated the war in and Air Force to begin directly bombing rural South Vietnam, authorized Napalm, chemical warfare to destroy crops and livestock, organized mass programs to drive much of the peasantry into what amounted to concentration camps, strategic hamlets, huge escalation. What was the public reaction? That was no protest. In fact, for years, it was difficult, or even impossible, to have public meetings. In Boston, which is a liberal city, public meetings were violently broken up with the support of the press, churches were attacked, and so on.

    Well, finally there was a public reaction. NC: In, , the Reagan Administration came in and attempted to duplicate what Kennedy had done in the early 60s. Almost step by step. They intended to essentially invade Central America, white paper, blaming the international communists, huge propaganda campaign, and so on. It was almost instantly aborted by popular opposition. There was such massive popular opposition from popular groups, from the churches, and others, that they had to back off. They had to turn to bringing in other states like Taiwan, Israel, the Argentine neo-Nazis to try to carry out the atrocities.

    The worst crime of this century. That restricted the kinds of military actions that the U. Again horrible enough, but nothing like Vietnam. Well, all of these are indications of — and there are many others — of shifts of popular attitudes towards aggression, intervention, human rights violations, and so on, which make a difference.

    What is historical fiction?

    JS: Well, Noam Chomsky. Thank you very much for being so generous with your time. We really appreciate you being with us on Intercepted. He is currently a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. JS: There is a fierce battle underway for a U. Ted Cruz: Now the officer, as I understand it, has contended that it was a tragic mistake.

    It was a case where she thought she was in her own apartment. She thought he was an intruder. Look we have a criminal justice system, a criminal justice system that will determine what happened that night. That a young man, African-American, in his own apartment, is shot and killed by a police officer? And when we all want justice, and the fact, and the information to make an informed decision — what is released to the public? That he had a small amount of marijuana in his kitchen. How can that be just in this country? How can we continue to lose the lives of unarmed black men in the United States of America at the hands of white police officers?