A long time ago in a country that seems far, far away, I was raised to believe this nation was special and rose above the class distinction, deceit, political megalomania and human depravity that pockmarked the rest of the globe.

America was a symbol of fair play, justice and righteousness. We wore the white hats. We didn't start conflicts. We finished them. We minded our own business and mined the bounties with which the continent had been blessed. We were, as was no one else, a free people. Our word was our bond. John Wayne was the symbol of what it meant to be a man.

I was too young to realize then that the victors write history.

Still, it was a myth that was generally bought into and accepted by most Americans. It set societal norms.

Those days are gone now.

Can any adult over 50 today imagine the President of the United States sanctioning torture of prisoners to obtain information? That's what the Japs or Nazis or North Koreans or Viet Cong did. Not us. Right?

Well, not completely right. There was the My Lai massacre and some other atrocities, but even in those cases brought to light there was some disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators.

Now, the Attorney General of the United States, the nation's top law enforcement official, has said he can't say whether "water boarding," a repeated near-death experience, is torture or not. He did say that if it were used on him, he would consider it torture. H-m-m-m. Is that intellectual dishonesty? I suppose it is fortunate he was not asked his opinion on sleep deprivation, genital shocking or fingernail ripping. That's what those heartless Viet Cong did to our boys.

But, enough of this "goody-too-shoes" attitude. The Duke is dead and the world has changed.

We are fighting for not only our own survival, but to free all the oppressed people of the world. The American Empire must continue to expand for the good of those ignorant peasants around the world who don't know how bad they have it. It is not for the burgeoning American military-industrial complex we have more than 900 bases around the globe ready to deliver "shock and awe" at a moment's notice, it is for the enslaved we must free. It is not for corporate America we stand on guard, but to assure Third World nations can buy refrigerators and television sets allowing them to be saturated by our American culture.

Of course there might be "collateral damage," but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

As each day passes, our government at all levels becomes increasingly secretive. For our own collective good, of course.

While I once thought the struggle in Pennsylvania over having government records open to the people who pay the bills was unique, I was surprised to find the same struggle is going on in the state of Florida. And, Lord knows, where else in this new nation our leaders have built for us.

Space prohibits going into the clandestine activities taking place in and around Sodom on the Potomac, but it is not only the Central Intelligence Agency keeping people in the dark. The Constitution has become a historic relic and is turning out to be, as its critics have noted, a "political document." Hurry to the National Archives to see it, while it is still on display.

Congress has relinquished its duties to the Imperial Presidency and the last thing between the people and totalitarian government is the court system. Who appoints the judges? Congress and the President, of course.

Ever get the feeling there are not 52 cards in this deck or, at least, more than four aces?

Meanwhile, Americans are forced to play the hand they are dealt.

Those in power should pray the United States is never vanquished in a war, because the War Crimes Trials headed by someone other than Anglos might put them in a difficult position.

However, as long as we are the lone Super Power, that is unlikely.

In the interim, one is reminded on the action hero-philosopher king of the 1970s, Billy Jack, who said, "When policemen break the law, there is no law. Just a fight for survival."

February 11, 2008