Festivus for the Liberals in US

In my previous post, I talked about being proud of our country, and got an argument. On Seinfeld, George Catanza’s father made up a holiday called “Festivus,” featuring an airing of grievances, where each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him/her over the past year. This is a perfect liberal holiday. I perceive that liberals need a place to list their grievances. Since I am a nice guy, I am giving it to them. List away!

My liberal friends can feel free to air their grievances about the United States. Like liberals, George Castanza feels perpetually aggrieved and also like most liberals, he does pretty well for himself despite all the complaining.

Anyway, I my previous post, I made a list of ten things I was proud of in the America of recent decades. I gave myself two minutes and was done in 1:30 (not counting fixing typos etc). I am sure my liberal friends can come up with a counter list just as fast. Just in case anybody wants to praise the U.S., I will be happy to see that too.

My list BTW

- Restructuring of U.S. economy in face of oil shocks and foreign competition (1980s)
- Welfare reform
- Openness of U.S.
- Generosity (during tsunamis & earthquakes)
- Entrepreneurial spirit (Internet, alternative fuels)
- Resilience after 9/11
- Millennium challenge & PEPFAR
- Opportunity for all (Obama is good example)
- Stable political system
- Ronald Reagan

Posted by Jack at February 22, 2008 12:30 AM
Comment #246062

Jack, you didn’t get an argument about having pride in our country, but about your interpretation of Mrs. Obama’s statement.

Posted by: Jane Doe at February 22, 2008 12:42 AM
Comment #246064


Okay - you can be the first to list the ten things you are proud of in the last 30 years. You don’t have to just list problems.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2008 12:48 AM
Comment #246067

The 10 things about the people of America that I appreciate the best are:
1: Our sense of charity to people overseas suffering the sunami.
2. Our form of government, long may it live
3. Our diferences and our ability to survive these differences.
4. George Bush and the 109th as they hopefully proved the saying “out of bad will come good” to be correct. He has united us as Reagan could only wish for(of course its against what he stands for but he did wake us up)
5. Jimmy Carter,Habitat for Humanity and all his efforts towards a more peaceful world.
6. Freedom of and from religion
7. The 4th of July and all it implies
8. The greatest generation & FDR for surviving the depression and winning WWII and the prosperity that followed.
9.The greatest generation & FDR for surviving the depression and winning WWII and the prosperity that followed. You were truely what made America great.
10. The original GI bill for educating a lot of us and creating the largest middle class in this country.
OK Jack its longer than 30 years, but the past thirty have had the deck stacked against the middle class what with Reagan and such. BTW 8 and 9 are not a typo they just deserve more than 1 mention.

11. The job our armed forces have done in the middle east despite such uninspired leadership and no clear goals and the American peoples support of the troops in spite of the leadership that got us there.

The 10 items I am least proud of
1. Allowing political bribery to become free speech
2. The corporatization of American politics and policy, fascism by any other name …
3. I still cant believe we were foolish enough to elect GWB twice. First time shame on them, second time shame on us.
4. Our inability to get a single payer health care system into operation
5.As Jack says “Restructuring of U.S. economy in face of oil shocks and foreign competition (1980s)” Trickle on economics is still voodoo.
6. Allowing congress to give up trade agreement approval responsibilities.
7. Lack of congressional oversight.
8. “War on drugs” and the march towards fascism
9. “War on terror” and the continuation of the march towards fascism
10. The north american union

Posted by: j2t2 at February 22, 2008 2:52 AM
Comment #246069

Here goes.
Things I am proud of because I’m an American:

1. Our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the enlightened, liberal wisdom of the people who crafted them.

2. The men and women in our Armed Services and National Guard.

3. The hard and often thankless work that is done by the ACLU.

4. The work of former president Jimmy Carter and former first lady Roslyn Carter: their dedication to foreign diplomacy and peace negotiations, global health and human rights issues, the monitoring of international elections, and their active involvement with Habitat for Humanity.

5. The work of the Peace Corps, The Rainbow Coalition and many, many other American organizations dedicated to better communication between people, promoting peace, civil rights and social justice.

6. The Green Movement, environmental activism, and organic farmers and gardeners all across the US.

7. Al Gore.

8. The way that Americans from every walk of life always rush forward to help each other whenever we’re suffering a crisis — even when our government looks the other way, does nothing, and calls it “a heckva job.”

9. All the Americans who join and support Labor Unions.

10. Our Religious/Secular Freedom.

Ten doesn’t quite cut it, so I think I’ll keep going…

11. The work of all our everyday heroes: Teachers, Doctors, Firefighters, Police, EMT’s, 911 operators, etc.

12. The enormous creative power of American culture: art, music, literature, poetry, theater, dance, film making, etc. The our cultural riches are without a doubt one of our greatest diplomatic opportunities - yet the majority of our citizens seem to dismiss or ignore this fact.

13. Our immigrant origins, our regional differences, and the endlessly fascinating and interesting mix of character, culture and cuisine they have produced.

14. Our humor and the ability of American people to smile and laugh easily.

15. The Fourth of July.

16. The Smithsonian and the National Gallery.

17. Our National Parks and Nature Preserves. And our City Parks. Especially Central Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, (and anything else that Frederick Law Olmstead ever designed) and Golden Gate Park.

18. Social Security and Medicare.

19. Our development of The Internet.

20. The message of hope and unity that Barack Obama has brought to this election.

PS. to j2t2, As you said earlier: great minds think alike! I see that we share several.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 22, 2008 3:59 AM
Comment #246071

You are beating a dead horse, Jack. If you guys are going to beat Obama you should come up with a better scandal.

Posted by: Woody Mena at February 22, 2008 8:32 AM
Comment #246072

Top Ten Reason why I don’t buy the argument that liberals are somehow aggrieved, but the Republicans are not(in no particular order):

10) The current McCain flap. The Pundits neatly turned from beating the crap out of McCain to beating the crap out of the Old Grey Lady. That’s how reflexive the hatred of the New York Times is for consersatives of all types.

9) The whole Liberal Media thing. It never fails. If a Republican screws up and the media reports it, the Republicans accuse the media of attacking them out of ulterior, biased motives.

8) The way every bit of opposition by liberals incurs the Threat of the End of Western Civilization. Bush holds up approval of a law he says is essential, just because people won’t give his buddies in the telecom industry a free pass for breaking the law on his behalf.

7) The Obstructive Senate minority. I mean, if, in the face of an election where your majority gets kicked out in both houses, your strategy is to get in the way of majority supported legislation at the drop of a hat on every possible occasion, to the point where your minority is literally the most obstructive in US History? You have to have some major issues to do that.

6) Speaking of which, wasn’t this formerly the majority that threatened the nuclear option against the Democrats if they didn’t give way on a few filibusters? The Republicans certainly didn’t take opposition of any kind kindly. They now do shamelessly the things they used to jump on Democrats for even thinking of doing.

5) The Culture of Republican Victimhood. I mean, say it with me: tax relief; reverse discrimination; political correctness; liberal bias; activist judges legislating from the bench; big government The War on Christmas… the list goes on. The language of the Republicans is filled with grievance, not to mention the avenging of such grievances.

4) The Michelle Obama flap. Nothing says aggrieved victimhood like beating up a woman for implying that her “pride in country” dial hasn’t been set to 11 throughout her adult life. Misinterpreting Democrat’s statements to provide grounds for high dudgeon offense is a cottage industry for Republicans.

3) The Whitewater Investigation/Clinton Impeachment. The lengths the Republicans went to in order to to unseat Clinton shows how bitterly they resented the man. The money they spent, the organization they put into the effort, the final grounds on which they tried to impeach him, though he remained popular throughout. They resented his very election, his break in the Bush/Reagan Dynasty.

2) Dick Cheney. The Unitary Executive theory isn’t merely Cheney’s Right-Wing policy, it’s his revenge against the policies that the culture of Openness, government accountability, and reduction in executive power for the three decades following Watergate.

1) The Vietnam Syndrome (otherwise known as “those backstabbing liberal SOBs lost us the war”). The Republicans have never stopped pushing the frame that if Americans just hadn’t turned against the war, we would have won it. They turned the late sixties reaction against the war into a cause not the result of problems that long preceded the turning of public sentiment against the matter. The supposed superiority of the Republicans on matters military and defense-oriented rested on their being stalwart defenders of the realm. Then the new war comes along and they play on all the old fears and resentments, even employing a smear campaign of epic proportion to shoot down a Democratic candidate who had both serious military and serious anti-war credibility.

That’s just a sampling folks. On nearly every front, Republicans have been about little else than their grievances. Whether it’s resenting a society that’s turned more secular, that’s embraced Social Security and Medicare; that wants the government to intercede on behalf of the environment, investors, consumers, it’s become standard operating procedure for the GOP to find something to hate about American society, or the way others have run their country.

If you look at the current Republican party, you see a coalition of people with grievances against the Democrats. Whether it’s old guard conservatives who don’t like big government, Neocons who resented the more diplomatic relations with the Soviets, the Theocons who resent the secularization of government and society, and the Wall Street Republicans who resent anything being taken out of their bottom lines, the party was built on such grievances. It was also brought down by them, as the Different factions turned their attentions and their resentments on each other.

There are things we Democrats resent, but our grievances aren’t the meat and potatoes of what supports our political movement. Essentially we believe that government can help to make American lives better, within certain limits. Hatred of Conservatives is not what binds us together, the way hatred of liberals binds the Republicans together.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 22, 2008 8:44 AM
Comment #246073

On number 10, let me clarify that the hatred is from conservatives, for the New York Times, not the other way around! ;-)

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 22, 2008 8:45 AM
Comment #246075

>Restructuring of U.S. economy in face of oil shocks and foreign competition (1980s)
>Welfare reform
>Openness of U.S.
>Generosity (during tsunamis an earthquakes)
>Entrepreneurial spirit (Internet, alternative fuels)
>Resilience after 9/11
>Millennium challenge & PEPFAR
>Opportunity for all (Obama is good example)
>Stable political system
>Ronald Reagan

Why would you be proud of any of these things? Let’s go through the list:

1. Did you personally have anything to do with this? If so what part and how did you have anything to do with it? It seems pretty ridiculous to be proud of this when in fact very little has changed in our use of oil, except we are more dependent and less secure today than we were 20 to 30 years ago. We’re forced to position troops and fight wars to protect petroleum assets because we are so addicted to oil. As for foreign competition, they’re eating our lunch year after year. The only thing halfway keeping our head above water on this point is China and Japan buying our bonds.

2. Again, what did you personally have to do with welfare reform for which you personally can be proud? Shouldn’t the people who did the reform be the ones to be proud and to be proud of, rather than the entire country? This is one of many ideological things you’re proud of and I’m not going to argue the politics other than to disagree with you on this being something to be proud of. I agree welfare reform was needed but the way it has handled is nothing to be proud of.

3. Openness? How do you mean open? The porous borders? The US is a highly class-segregated society and there is very little openness. Or are you talking about the openness of the government, something which was never something to brag about but has become orders of magnitude worse since Cheney arrived…

4. While it is true that some Americans are very generous for some causes, I wouldn’t rate this as something to be proud of. ISTR reading something about Americans being 10th or lower in generosity as a measured by percentage of per-capita income. Sure we give a lot, but we have a lot.

5. I’ll give you this one.

6. You stole this one from Michelle Malkin, word for word. And I say the citizens of the communities directly impacted by the events 9/11 are people to be proud of but this is not something to be proud about our nation as a whole.

7. I’ll call you on this one. You have no reason to feel proud of this country about this item. Yes, 10s of thousands of IT geeks such as myself and my peers labored long and hard to ensure that when 2000 arrived, things would continue to work smoothly. What was our reward? The outsourcing of 100s of thousands of IT jobs to foreign countries in the interest of saving money. Again, those of us who were actually involved in it deserve to be proud of how little impact Y2K had, nbut you have no right to feel proud of the US about it.

8. Obama would be a good example except he has led a relatively privileged existence. I might almost have agreed with you on this but for the income gap which separates those who do have “opportunity for all” and the very poor who have virtually no opportunity. Again, nothing to be proud of. On the other hand if every person who wanted to attend a 4-year college and had the knowledge to do so, could do so, I would agree this is something to be proud of.

9. This is an example of what I would call a good thing which is really nothing for the US to be proud of. The Greeks justifiably are and should be proud of the political system they invented and we have put to good use.

10. Give me a break. What did you have to do with anything Ronald Reagan did in his lifetime? If nothing, other than maybe voting for the twit, what does this nation have to be proud of this guy. I know, I know, you’re going to say he single-handedly brought down communism in Europe. Nice try. A lot of people, myself included, consider this guy to be highly overrated and certainly not something about this nation to be proud of.

Here’s the list I thought you might come up with:

1. The paradise on earth our nation created in Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost of only trillions of taxpayer dollars and deficits
2. Rush Limbaugh
3. Tom Delay
4. The impeachment of the Slickster
5. The national debt
6. The solution to the social security crisis discovered, designed and implemented by the Bush administration
7. The rapid, professional, compassionate conservative response to hurricane Katrina
8. The massive stratification of US society according to wealth
9. The rapid, professional job of tightening the nation’s borders in response to elevated terror threat
10. The bridge to nowhere in Alaska

Seems like I was pretty close to what you came up with.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 8:56 AM
Comment #246076


You are not getting into the Festivus spirit. I didn’t even mention Obama in this posting. You can learn from Stephen (see below).

BTW - I heard on the news today that Mrs. Obama has issued an appology. I didn’t catch the details, but if this is correct, we need speak of this no more (except to complain it took two days).


Bravo. You got it. A good list of Grievances disguised as non-grievances and/or failings of your political opponents. You get extra points.


I would agree with everything on your lists (although some less prominently) except the ACLU, which believe was once a great organization but now has fallen.

I am (as an American) proud of Al Gore. Although I think he is extreme, he is doing what he thinks is right and he has called world attention to the problem. AND he supports the carbon tax.

Me and Al – Habibi.


Actually I was talking about restructuring in a more management sense. During the 1980s we comprehensively changed our management structures, flattening hierarchies and making firms much more nimble. It was a truly revolutionary change and it might have taken a REAL revolution in many other countries. In America we just figured it out and turned the world’s largest economy.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2008 9:06 AM
Comment #246077

>Restructuring of U.S. economy in face of oil shocks and foreign competition (1980s)
>Welfare reform
>Openness of U.S.
>Generosity (during tsunamis an earthquakes)
>Entrepreneurial spirit (Internet, alternative fuels)
>Resilience after 9/11
>Millennium challenge & PEPFAR
>Opportunity for all (Obama is good example)
>Stable political system
>Ronald Reagan

>I gave myself two minutes and was done in 1:30

I’d say that the quality of your list reflects the time and care put into making it. So, the point you’ve proved here is that making off-the-cuff lists of things as (persumably) serious as this is not a smart thing to do.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 9:08 AM
Comment #246078

Let’s face it people - this concept of being “proud of our country” is nothing but Rep/con code for patriotism. As usual, everytime anyone, especially someone other than a Rep/con, so much as suggests that not everything is perfect in this country and in the policies and customs of this country, the Rep/con response is to attack them for not being patriotic. This is really what the whole furor is about.

I guess now that she has apologized, the Reps/cons can go back to believing this country would be perfect were it not for all the unpatriotic liberals (code for non-Rep/cons) we have here.


Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 9:19 AM
Comment #246080

Well I will take the bait. I guess I am a liberal as I have never voted for a Republican, though I am not registered as a Democrat either. But I consider myself to be more of a Progressive, and alittle bit of a populist (I loved reading Molly Ivins, god bless). But in general I have few grievances with my country. I do however have much grievance with the current administration, and many of the current policies and actions of our country. I also believe that conservatives would have made the same statement during the 1990s, so I don’t see where that makes us any different in regard to how we view our country.

So I will list 10 things I am proud of about America - the Greatest Country in history I might add. :)

1) Our generosity in the face of adversity. It is truly amazing how much money people will give in times of trouble for others.
2) Our form of government. You might not always agree with the people running it, it does give us a voice and a means of accountability if we choose to exercise it.
3) Our freedoms. It is hard to imagine a freer place on Earth than the US. I have not been there if there is one. Here we are free to live where we want, work where we want, worship where we want, and in general do what we want. What else would you want? :)
4) Our resiliency. When things get the worst in America, we tend to bring out the best in us. Sure, there are some who overreact, but on the whole we respond very well. Examples: WW2, 9/11, Great Depression.
5) Bluegrass music. Seriously, this is great stuff. Listen to it and you will see the genesis of Rock and Roll.
6) Our humor. The best comedians are here. You rock Steven Wright and Frank Caliendo!
7) Our diversity. Yep, Diversity, that 4 letter word to conservatives according to Talk Radio. It’s our diversity that has made us great, IMHO.
8) Our military. Yep, its the greatest and most dominant in the history of the world, and yet we NEVER use it to dominate others, or take over other countries. We could rule the world if we chose.
9) Tiger Woods. Only in America could Tiger truly be Tiger.
10) Scarlett Johanson. ‘Nuff Said. :)

As to what NOT to be proud of…well there are plenty, but my progressive and liberal philosophy doesn’t let me linger on those, so I won’t list them. My vote will speak to that in November.

Posted by: Steve K at February 22, 2008 9:39 AM
Comment #246082

Steve K >6) Our humor. The best comedians are here. You rock Steven Wright and Frank Caliendo!

I agree we a have a lot of great humorists, especially Steven Wright. Not really a great source of national pride necessarily. Canada and Great Britain probably actually have more excellent humor per capita.

Steve K>8) Our military. Yep, its the greatest and most dominant in the history of the world, and yet
Steve K>we NEVER use it to dominate others, or take over other countries.

Must be some of that celebrated humor there. Steve K, think hard about this… NEVER means NEVER, right? Ever heard of a couple of places named Iraq and Afghanistan? Uh, doesn’t that kind of blow the NEVER adverb away? I’m just asking. Panama? Phillipines? American Samoa? Puerto Rico? Nicaragua? NEVER? Are you sure about that?

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 9:47 AM
Comment #246083


I was talking about things I am proud of as an American, not the things I personally have done. My common American list is longer than my personal one. Do you have a longer list of personal accomplishment as opposed to those of Americans? I am generally proud personally that I do what I think is right and act in accordance with my values. The rest is commentary and would make a boring list.

Your comment about #1 is factually wrong. Please see what I wrote above to j2t2. It takes considerable study to understand the restructuring that took place in the 1980s, so I suggest you start reading the business literature. Start with some of those classic Peter Drucker books and ask yourself what has changed. I got my MBA in the middle of the 1980s. While (as you point out) I cannot take personal credit for the change, I did study it extensively and it was remarkable.) Re oil dependence, we have significantly diversified our energy sources. That is why the run up in oil prices doesn’t hurt as much today as it did in 1979. I still think we need that carbon tax, but the resilience of the U.S. economy has been surprising.

Re openness – all I know is the ordinary working class people like the Obamas & me can grow up to be educated and successful. It seemed like a fairly open system to me and I had no special connections. It seems open now to my kids. Maybe you have a harder time and a different experience.

Re generosity – Americans are at the top in total generosity and near the top on, according to OECD estimates http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/52/9/1893143.xls.

We give 56% of ALL the world food aid. And all this doesn’t count private donations, which are by far the greatest.

You might try looking at the Index of Global Philanthropy

Re resilience after 9/11 – I was unaware that Michelle Malkin used those exact three words. Please, I am not Barack Obama. I do not just Xerox. I just came thought the words “resilience” and “after” were fairly common.

I think you are missing the point, however. 9/11 was a major blow to the U.S. economy, sense of security and society in general. The fact that we could recover so quickly from such a blow is something to be proud of.

Re the Greeks – once again it would take a lot of study to make this point clear. Suggest you start with Thucydides and take a look at Kagan’s history of the Peloponnesian War. Then read Aristotle’s Politics. He has a section in there about Athenian democracy. After you get a better idea of what democracy meant in the ancient world, read about our own Constitutional process. There are a couple of excellent books, such as “Novus Ordo Seclorum” & “Miracle in Philadelphia”. For a nice fast read try “Founding Brothers.” You will probably need to trace down some of the references, you know, get familiar with Locke & Montesquieu (not Greeks or ancient, BTW) If you still think that the Greeks invented democracy and we just put it to good use, we can talk next year.

Please do not ever underestimate the genius and cost that went into creating our wonderful political system. I think that many contemporary people do that because they just do not know the background and have come to think of it as given.

Congratulations on the Festivus listing however. I think you are best so far.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2008 9:51 AM
Comment #246084

veritas>15. The Fourth of July.

You’re proud of a day of the year? OK. I’m done here.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 9:53 AM
Comment #246086

Sponge, last time I check NONE of the places you listed are now American states or occupied territories. When we use our military we do not use to take over a place in the desire to expand our borders or territory. I did not mean to imply we never use our military in what turns out to be the wrong way. Sometimes we do, and sometimes the results are fairly disastrous. But we are not imperialistic, IMHO. I mean, who would WANT Afghanistan? lol

Posted by: Steve K at February 22, 2008 10:09 AM
Comment #246090

Jack, I hit your link labeled “Index of Global Philanthropy”.

I really have to thank you for this because if you go to PDF page 13 (or document page 12), you will see a bar graph which shows philanthropic giving by country AS A PERCENTAGE of GNI (Gross National Income). Go look at that….

What that shows is that Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, France, United Kingdom, Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Spain and New Zealand all give MORE as a percentage of gross national income than the United States. So we rank 19th in generosity internationally.

Kind of hard to be proud of that.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 10:55 AM
Comment #246092

Steve K >last time I check NONE of the places you listed are now American states or occupied territories.

I never said they were, although Puerto Rico and American Samoa are most certainly US territories.

But here’s what you originally said:

Steve K>and yet we NEVER use it to dominate others, or take over other countries.

We most certainly took over and are currently (as much as we can manage) dominating Iraq. We owned Panama for 100 years. We owned the Phillipines for 100 years. We certainly invaded and might have taken over and dominated Afghanistan except we were able to pawn that off on NATO (of which we are part) as it became obvious it was a lose-lose situation.

Puerto Rico and American Samoa were taken over in war and have been dominated for decades.

When Reagan was in power especially but for decades before that we meddled in Nicaragua, propping up dictator after dictator with or without military force.

So you were way off-base when you said

Steve K>and yet we NEVER use it to dominate others, or take over other countries.

I take it you’re still standing by your ridiculous use of the word NEVER. Seems like it should instead be FAIRLY OFTEN.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 11:05 AM
Comment #246094


I’ll skip Festivus, and watch you guys observe Hypocrifest. It’s an irregular Republican holiday that you guys observe whenever a Republican politician is accused of violating the elevated moral standards of the GOP. Involves a lot of sophistry and messenger-shooting. Should be fun.

Posted by: Woody Mena at February 22, 2008 11:20 AM
Comment #246097

Jack >The fact that we could recover so quickly from such a blow is something to be proud of.

No, the fact that we recovered from such a blow so quickly is proof that it was not a major blow. Sensational, yes. Paradigm-shifting, yes. A major blow to the US economy? No way. I assure you that a major blow to the economy would have forced Bush to give harsher advice than ‘Go about your lives normally. Let’s all go shopping!!!’

Jack >Please, I am not Barack Obama.

I’ve noticed when you start to get on the short end of the stick on this board you start taking cheap shots. Nice cheap shot.

Jack >Your comment about #1 is factually wrong.

OK, here’s part of what I said about #1:

Me >It seems pretty ridiculous to be proud of this when in fact very little has changed in our use of
Me >oil, except we are more dependent and less secure today than we were 20 to 30 years ago.

Are you trying to tell me we are less dependent on oil now than 20 to 30 years ago? YOU are wrong about that. Maybe on a percentage basis we use less oil but on a straight energy unit basis, we use a lot more energy in general than we did, so even the smaller percentage is a larger number of energy units (i.e. barrels of oil or whatever).

The current economic softness by and large is directly tied to high oil prices. The only reason we didn’t feel economic systemic shocks this time is a) the market for petroleum has matured and now is a widely traded commodity market with futures and the like and b) we saved the Saudis’ butts in 1990 and now they owe us. They didn’t really owe us anything back in the ’70s.

As for the business re-structuring in the ’80s you may have studied it but I lived it 40+ hours a week 48+ weeks a year. Nothing remarkable about it. But the proof is in the pudding. Look at the auto industry, the steel industry, the electronics industry, just about any industry you can name except maybe the cappuccino industry or the reality TV show industry and you’ll see that foreign competition is eating our lunch day after day, week after week, year after year. Question: what automaker almost fell out of second place in units made for the first time in recorded history and in which nation is the 3rd place automaker located?

Jack >Please do not ever underestimate the genius and cost that went into creating our wonderful
Jack >political system. I think that many contemporary people do that because they just do
Jack >not know the background and have come to think of it as given.

Even if it were true that our form of government was drastically different, say as in the difference between representative democracy and monarchy, the fact of the matter is that it was there when you and I came along. Sure, we’ve added bells and whistles to what the Greeks had. In most cases the bells and whistles enable and empower the wealthy and strong to lord it over the poor and weak, but when you get right down to it it’s the same thing.

To be proud of something you had no control over or provided no effort into making makes as little sense as being proud of the Grand Canyon or the Bible or Stonehenge. Don’t get me wrong - I think we do have the best form of government, however it came it be. I still fail to see how pride enters into the relationship.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 11:46 AM
Comment #246100


I understand that you are not fond of the U.S. But you see that we are by far the biggest in terms of real money. Our system is not as governmentally based as others. If you count in private and public giving we are well above the developed country average. We are number 7 out of 22. I suppose you are not proud of anything unless we can be #1, but I am easier to please. All the countries ahead of us combined, BTW, do not have a third of our population and much less % of our GDP. It is easy for Luxembourg to be generous. It is about the size of New York City and doesn’t have any real countryside of its own. Any aid it gives will almost by definition to foreign.

There also is the question of capacity. If you work hard and earn a lot of money and I am less enthusiastic about work and have less, then we both give 5% of our income, who has given more?

Re oil – the % counts. Didn’t you just say that above. The U.S. is by far the largest donor, but as a % of GDP we are only #7. Our economy is less dependent on oil than it was in 1979. Still TOO much, that is why I like the carbon tax.

Re restructuring - I am sorry you were not in a position to see the restructuring of our economy or understand why the U.S. economy remains one of the most competitive on earth. BTW – how did you manage to work only 40-48 hours? We now have a more global economy. I own stock in Toyota, for example, as do many Americans. Many Toyotas are made in the U.S. by American labor and very competitively. If the profits and wages go to Americans and the cars are made in America and generally sold to Americans, what does that mean for us? Mercantilism is gone.

Re democracy – As I said, we really cannot talk about it at this time. It takes a little more background re the origins and development of democracy. Do take a look at some of those sources, however.

Suffice it to say that if you can explain why “democracy” went out of favor for around 2000 years after the end of the Athenian Empire and why it was limited to small areas of city-states until our own country and why in 1787 it was almost universally accepted that Republics were small scale and/or ephemeral, why our founding fathers carefully balanced the various aspects of the “will of the people”, and how they balanced the traditions of common law with the needs of a big and (they hoped) growing republic, you will begin to understand the special character of the experiment that became your country. You may even start to feel a little proud to be part of that enterprise, even if most of us are more consumers than creators of freedom.

Re being proud – so you think that I should not be proud about anything I have not actually done myself, so I should not be proud of my country. Fair enough. But that also means I should not feel guilty or bad about anything I have not done myself, so WE should not feel bad about things done wrong in America. If you feel this way about things, I wonder why you bother writing since unless we are all talking about our own very small area of effective action, it really makes no difference. I happen to believe that I can take pride in my country and I can also try to improve it at the same time. I guess we disagree.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2008 12:43 PM
Comment #246101

Jack >I understand that you are not fond of the U.S.

Jack, Jack, Jack… You’re putting words in my mouth, pal. Please don’t do that. Do I do that to you?

I love the US. I just think your list of things you are proud of is a crock.

Jack >I am sorry you were not in a position to see the restructuring of our economy or understand why
Jack >the U.S. economy remains one of the most competitive on earth.

Key part of that phrase is “one of the most competitive”. We used to be THE most competitive but not any more. And we’re heading in the wrong direction. Are you proud of that?

I think I was a better position to see the restructuring than you. You were in the ivory tower of academia while I was in the trenches. Again you put words in my mouth. Please stop doing that.

Jack >what does that mean for us?

The point is we are talking about competition, not where the money goes. If you want to change the subject, that’s fine but on the subject of competition, we are neither the most competitive nor, based on current trends in education, are we gaining ground as far as becoming more competitive. How can you be proud of that?

Jack >But that also means I should not feel guilty or bad about anything I have not done myself, so
Jack >WE should not feel bad about things done wrong in America.

I don’t understand what you mean I guess.

If our country does wrong things, like invading Iraq for example, we should try to stop it from happening or, yes, we are complicit and should feel bad. We certainly have no reason to feel proud about the wrong things our country does.

Now Reps/cons would call that unpatriotic because I’m not basically saying “My country, right or wrong”. I’m not “in love” with this country though I do love it. But Reps/cons call me unpatriotic because I’m willing to admit this country’s faults and try to do something about it.
The whole discussion is really about patriotism, which is what Reps/cons mean when they use the code words “proud of this country”. It’s completely irrational if you think about it.

On the other hand, though we can take pride in good things our country does that we support, if it was already a done deal when we came along what possible reason can there be to feel pride about that, a la Grand Canyon, Bible or Stonehenge? Sure, it’s good but it was already there.

So I have no problem with taking pride in the good things our country has done in the time I’ve been around to influence it. My point is that your entire list of things except number 5, I think were all either done deals you had no control over or were not good things at all or at best nothing to be proud of.

That’s why I say your list is a crock. And that’s why I say you’re a partisan smear artist for attacking Michelle Obama for being honest about what you are not.

I guess we do disagree. I doubt we will ever agree based on past history.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 1:12 PM
Comment #246102

I hope you don’t think those are my greivances. I’m talking about those of your party. I find it silly that you imply that we’re obsessive about our grievances when your party has based it’s politics for so long on a coalition centered on resentment and fear of Democratic Party policies.

One set of people resents the Democratic Party’s emphasis on international law, rather than expediency in relationships and action. They hyped the threat of the Soviets, and they hyped the threat of rogue dictators, portraying the Democrats who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid as weak on defense.

One set of people resents the relaxation of morals and the secularization of government and society. They keep on doing their best to force things back on both, legislating and regulating their religion, and even seeking to change the constitution to further enforce their will to this end.

One set of people resents government intrusion and taxation. They believe that the government took an unconstitutional detour after the early 20th century, and would starkly reduce it’s size and influence.

Yet another set of people believe primarily in the free market, and resent the regulations that keep businesses from making money how they want when they want. At the same time, many of these same people see no problem in government helping and taking the side of this same government.

It’s not that the Democrats are necessarily bereft of these kinds of factions, but the Republicans pushed relentlessly to heighten the rhetoric and the zeal of the party in this regard.

The results were political dominance, with a price. The price was that with each faction, the definition of conservatism became distinct, and in some cases mutually exclusive. Many Republicans could care less what people did in their bedrooms, or whether women got abortions. Many Republicans that did care about those things, the morals and religion conservatives didn’t care so much for strict fiscal discipline or limitations of government.

To become most strongly distinct from their rivals, the Republicans became ever more strident in their greivances, purging their ranks of moderates, their platforms of moderate policy-making. In the end, the emphasis on creating the strongest reaction against the liberals on all fronts left the Republican party inflexible, unable to properly deal with stresses within and without. Critical thresholds were reached on both fronts, causing the independents to desert the party, and the balance of power to shift back to the liberals and the left.

The Republican party, to survive, must become something else than just the opposite of the Democrats. Time has resolved many of the conflicts that once divided the Democrats, and they’ve got a consistent philosophy, plus the flexibility and public backing to pull it off.

Now you can sit around here trying to convince people what fools the Democrats are, but who’s doing better at the moment? Who’s got the motivated party, with enough moderates to keep the politics from becoming fundamentally divisive?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 22, 2008 1:21 PM
Comment #246104


“8. “War on drugs” and the march towards fascism”

i definitly agree with you on this one. a huge waste of money, and resources.

Posted by: dbs at February 22, 2008 2:08 PM
Comment #246105

I saw the 4th of July comment from VV and thought that was kinda nice. Then a few comments down see that some on the left can’t even feel pride on Independence day. Wow, thanks Jack I needed these last couple posts to kick me in the behind about McCain. Although I’m scared about where he could take the rep. party, I can’t take part in just giving the WH to the dems.

Sponge- I think Jack is saying since he isn’t allowed to feel pride in accomplishments he didn’t take part in, why do you feel such rage about things you took no part in.

gotta get back to work sorry no list, but I feel like the luckiest sob everyday. Put it this way, I’m not sure where I’d be if born in another country but I do know this knucklehead has it pretty good all things considered. I’m aware of the fact it’s because this country gives many opportunities, and rewards perseverance and a little work ethic.

Posted by: andy at February 22, 2008 2:28 PM
Comment #246106


veritas>15. The Fourth of July.

You’re proud of a day of the year?

Hell yeah. It’s our national celebration. Family and friends, little kids and everybody’s dogs running around, frisbee, beer, BBQ, potato salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, watermelon, ice cream and strawberry shortcake, and then, as evening descends you all go together, and everybody in town converges… and there in the dark we sit and watch the Fireworks together.
What’s not to love? :^)

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 22, 2008 2:37 PM
Comment #246109

Now I will say this: Some have said something like I’m proud of this country because of its constitution. If you want to feel proud about the fact that over 200 years ago a few smart men put this thing together and it works pretty well, I guess I can’t stop you. I wasn’t around then and it was in force when I was born, so it’s not a lot different from the Bible as far as I’m concerned.

What I can feel proud about is that at least during my adult life for the most part this country has adhered to the Constitution, with the exception of certain notable lapses with respect such areas as right to bear arms, separation of church and state, separation of powers, habeas corpus, right to privacy and search and seizure.

And when these Constitutional tenets have been violated, especially by those who consider it “just a piece of paper”, I can be proud that I and others like me have spoken out in defense.

Posted by: spopngeworthy at February 22, 2008 2:45 PM
Comment #246110

veritas >What’s not to love?

There’s nothing not to love about the fourth of July, but also nothing to be proud of. I just don’t know how you can be proud of an arbitrary period of time.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 2:48 PM
Comment #246111

andy >I think Jack is saying since he isn’t allowed to feel pride in accomplishments he didn’t take part
andy >in, why do you feel such rage about things you took no part in.

What rage are you talking about? You’re getting Jack’s disease, putting words in my mouth.

I didn’t say he wasn’t ALLOWED to feel pride in accomplishments he didn’t take part in, just that it’s illogical and irrational to do so.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 2:51 PM
Comment #246112

10 things to be proud about, in no particular order:
1. Firefighters, policemen, and teachers
2. The environmental movement
3. The role of protest in ending the Vietnam War
4. The role of the press in the resignation of Richard Nixon, and voter rejection of his hand selected successor, Ford
5. Daniel Ellsberg, for publishing “The Pentagon Papers.”
6. The nuclear freeze movement
7. The Church Committee, for revealing to the public the inconsistency of secret actions by agencies with a Democracy/Republic. The Iran/Contra investigations attempted the same.
8. The continuity of policy of multiple administrations in defeating authoritarian communism.
9. Human Rights, as championed by Jimmy Carter
10. Al Gore, for bringing the issue of Global Warming to public awareness.

Steve K,
The US has intervened in other countries somewhere between 180 and 240 times during the history of our country. We most certainly do intervene and dominate on a consistent and continuous basis. It’s a matter of record.

Posted by: phx8 at February 22, 2008 2:59 PM
Comment #246114


There’s nothing not to love about the fourth of July, but also nothing to be proud of. I just don’t know how you can be proud of an arbitrary period of time.

Arbitrary? Nothing arbitrary about it. It commemorates the Declaration of Independence that we declared on July 4, 1776. I’m proud of the fact that we refused to be ruled by Great Britain, and extremely proud that our nation chose elected leadership over the rule of a King.

phx8, good list.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 22, 2008 3:11 PM
Comment #246115

phx8 >Arbitrary?

Yes, arbitrary. July 4 of any year but 1776 is an arbitrary period of time. You yourself just said

phx8 >I’m proud of the fact that we

We? Were you alive then?

phx8 >refused to be ruled by Great Britain, and extremely proud that our nation chose elected
phx8 >leadership over the rule of a King.

OK, but you had nothing to do with that, right?

And, it’s not so much that you are proud OF the fourth of July (as the original poster said), but rather (as you yourself said) that you are proud that some people you don’t know and never met took certain actions that turned out to be beneficial to the country, right?

I’m definitely thankful they did what they did but I’m still puzzled as to why I should be proud.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 3:21 PM
Comment #246116

Whoops, the previous attributions in post #246115 to phx8 should have been to veritas vincit. Sorry.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 3:22 PM
Comment #246117

In other words, veritas vincit, it’s not the day of the year July 4 you’re proud of, it’s what happened on that day in 1776 that you’re proud of.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 3:27 PM
Comment #246122
I’m still puzzled as to why I should be proud.

I guess I haven’t done a very good job of explaining this. But I’ll try once more.

I can’t think of anything we can’t be proud of about the 4th of July. Proud of our historic beginnings, proud of those who fought for our independence, proud of the brilliant minds of the people who shaped our government, proud of our yearly acknowledgment and celebration of that history, that fight for freedom, and our form of government. Proud our good fortune to enjoy what we have here in America as a result. Proud that we are aware of our place on the continuum of American history, and of how that history and our freedom shapes both our characters and this nations future. And proud that we teach our kids about all of the above - so that they can take pride in being an American, too.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 22, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #246124

VV >I can’t think of anything we can’t be proud of about the 4th of July.

Waterboarding? Abu Ghraib? Extraordinary rendition?

I would replace “proud of” with “thankful for” in each of the things you listed. I’m only proud of things I do or things done by others who I helped, facilitated or enabled to do those things. I’m not proud of any period of time.

I am proud AT some periods of time, but I’m not proud OF any periods of time, July 4 or otherwise.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 4:12 PM
Comment #246125


It took me one calendar year to get my MBA. Indeed I studied the restructuring, but for most of the 1980s I was working much like you, only generally more than 40 hours a week. I wasn’t looking for part-time work and in those days I was a little obsessive.

I would say, from experience, that sometimes the view from the trenches is not very good. You get a better view from the higher ground.

Re competitive – actually we generally are the MOST competitive. Sometime small countries have an edge. I don’t feel very bad if Finland or Singapore of Hong Kong sometimes come out on top. We have fifty states like those places, some more competitive than others. We are generally more competitive than we were in the 1979. That is what I meant re restructuring of the 1980s.

Re feeling guilty or proud – you told me that I should not be proud of things (like welfare reform etc) where I had no significant personal role. It follows that I should not feel guilty for things where I also have no significant role. I don’t hold to this formulation, but you made it, not me. Either we can feel both pride for our nations achievements (beyond our personal role) and be troubled by its flaws, or not. We have to pick up both ends of the stick.

Re rage – perhaps others see in your writing what you do not see. I suspect you have staked out the untenable position that we cannot be proud of the things about our country that we did not personally do. You should probably just let that one go.


“I hope you don’t think those are my grievances. I’m talking about those of your party.” Repeat that a couple of times and you will see what I am talking about. It is easy to confess the sins of others (or what you perceive those of others to be).

Intentional or not, you are playing Festivus very well, although I think Spong has the edge for now.


# 8. The continuity of policy of multiple administrations in defeating authoritarian communism is very good.

I think it is too easy to see the world through our partisan goggles. There is significant continuity in American policies and programs. When you graph long term economic trends, it is impossible to discern the effects of who is in the White House. Even the Reagan revolution built on the deregulation begun by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (with NAFTA & welfare reform) helped cement the gains. Defeat of communism was a generational achievement. I am proud of the Democrats who pushed it along (I positively admire Truman) as well as the Republican.

I am not saying that politics doesn’t matter, but a thing I am very proud of in America is the robustness and stability of our political system. We have managed to have fairly regular revolutionary change in our society w/o having to go through the pain, bloodshed & sorrow of a real revolution.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2008 4:13 PM
Comment #246126

Okay spongeworthy, I give up trying to explain this to you. Still, I’m not giving up my pride in the meaning and traditions of our Independence Day.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 22, 2008 4:21 PM
Comment #246130

Jack >Either we can feel both pride for our nations achievements (beyond our personal role) and be
Jack >troubled by its flaws, or not.
Jack >We have to pick up both ends of the stick.

Who says? You? I didn’t realize you made the rules for living. It seems to me that I (or anyone else) can just as well and as easily decline to feel pride for those things with which I have nothing to do and at the same time be troubled by and (more importantly) take action to correct its flaws. Your position doesn’t even make sense.

Jack >sometimes the view from the trenches is not very good

Operative word - sometimes. Also, having an MBA is impressive but by no means makes you an authority.

Jack >Re competitive – actually we generally are the MOST competitive.

Story changed from:

Jack >the U.S. economy remains one of the most competitive on earth.

In either case, the business news says you’re wrong about being more competitive, especially with respect to the Asian economies.

Jack >Re feeling guilty or proud

I’m not sure how you came up with this dichotomy - personally, I never typed the word guilty. I may have copied the word citing you, but that’s your word, not mine.

Jack >It follows that I should not feel guilty for things where I also have no significant role.

I never said you should. If I did, cite it. Example: some people think we did something terrible dropping the bomb on Japan to end WWII. I don’t, but even if I did I wouldn’t feel guilty about it because I wasn’t even born then. In any case, this too is something for which I am not proud.

On the other hand, had I not made every effort I could, including contacting my Senators and Representatives, and the White House, and letting everyone I knew who cared to talk about it that I thought the WMD evidence was bogus and finally protesting before and during the Iraq war, I should have felt bad. But since I did do all those things, I don’t feel guilty about the mess we’ve created there. I still feel bad about it, thinking I might have done a little more that might have made a difference.

Jack >rage – perhaps others see in your writing what you do not see.

Again, cite it if it’s there. I’ll agree I can be abrupt in my writing style but there’s no rage there.

Jack >Intentional or not, you are playing Festivus very well, although I think Spong has the edge for now.

You didn’t really pay a lot of attention to that Seinfeld episode, did you?

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 22, 2008 4:53 PM
Comment #246132

OK jack, I’ll try,

I am proud of this country for inventing a free internet, so I can tell that your argument that is full of s***!!!

Oops, my mistake the damn French were invloved in this at CERN, as well as Canada. Oh well, at least Americans were involved.

I didn’t have anything to do with it, I was born here, completely involuntarily….. but…YAHOO!!! I’m so damn proud.

What was it you did to halp create a better America, Jack? I’m having a little trouble with taking pride in something you didn’t create or substantially contribute to.

RAH! RAH! SIS BOOM BAH! Go…Team. I understand many drunks take pride in football and soccer teams they make absolutely no contribution towards, but I always thought you were at least semi sober.

“Pstriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel*— Sam Johnson circa 1775

False Patriotism isn’t patriotism.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 22, 2008 5:11 PM
Comment #246133

Obviously the Con holiday of Divisivus is in full swing!

Posted by: JayJay Snow at February 22, 2008 5:17 PM
Comment #246136


I have seen the festivus show many times. It always elicits a few laughs. But I am curious why you automatically associate Castanza as being liberal. I can not recall any episodes in which any of the characters claimed political ideology. I would think that George being as cheap, fearful, anal and self serving as he is would be more inclined to be conservative.

I will not give a list to be chastized. I feel lucky to be an American and am often proud of our actions when responding to the needs of others in distress. However I feel no particular pride of late towards our government as an operating entity. There simply has been too much scandal, revelations of corruption and a feeling of being used by legislators and the executive for their personal gain. There is much to be fixed in order that our government might once again become a respectable entity. I might add that I do not consider our afflictions to be inclusive to any one party. Our legislators by and large have lost the respect of the American people and that of much of the world. I think one needs to ask why. And even more importantly why is no one in government taking a serious approach to ethics reform. When we can remove the greed induced corruption and put the personal gains of our legislators behind the needs of this country I will once again be able to say I am proud of my government.

Posted by: RickIL at February 22, 2008 5:43 PM
Comment #246139

Extremely enciteful. Though typing up a top 10 list is rather redundant for me, as this list is currently changing like the “local on the eight’s” weather channels updates. But have yet to see the vocal support for Obama translated to strong voting record. As one blogger put it:

“vocal coinage should never be constituted as change.”

But I do enjoy reading on what affects the minds of those dealing with their top tens now. Good stuff.

Posted by: dobropet at February 22, 2008 6:03 PM
Comment #246142

Obama’s no lightweight in the legislature. He’s put forward hundreds of pieces of legislation. I don’t think, given the current slate of victories he’s managed to get, that he’s going to be all talk on the Change issue either.

Did I say anything untrue? Why is it that every time a soldier speaks ill of the war, a hundred Right-Wing pundits are ready to pounce, to utterly discredit him? Why weren’t the Republicans content to let Graeme Frost slip back into anonymity, instead choosing to trash the reputations of a twelve-year old accident victim?!?!

Y’all are showing all the charm that’s earned your party it’s place in the minority. Yes, Liberals have grievances against the Republicans. Duh. You, though, proclaim this to be some sort of defining characteristic. Consider my list of your party’s oft-displayed grievances a bucket of cold water thrown on that particular assumption of superiority.

The real problem is that Republicans have no truly integrated vision of America that the rest of the country can share. In the process of progressively purifying themselves of moderates, they’ve made the party a self-contained, fragmented party, with views even many Republicans can no longer support.

The time has come to drop the pieces of what’s become of your party, to start anew.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 22, 2008 7:21 PM
Comment #246162


Logic. It doesn’t always provide all the answers but it can be used to eliminate the wrong ones. If you assume you have no significant part of something and you refuse to accept that you can take pride in that. It follows that you cannot be guilty in a similar situation going the other direction.

Let me explain something to you about the world. In the last 30 years, the world has become a lot richer. Communism collapsed in E. Europe and many of those places that used to be benighted backwaters are now growing and thriving. Places like Ireland or New Zealand, which used to be crippled by old fashioned regulations have changed. A generation ago, the U.S. had one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the world. Today we have one of the highest. Our rate did not go up. Others just improved.

The U.S. has improved and grown a lot in the last 30 years, but we were already well developed. It is like an athlete surrounded by lots of average guys and weaklings. If they all start doing good exercise and living healthy lives, the athlete will improve his performance, but the others were improve more relative to the leader.

Re MBA – I have an MBA and I have worked in responsible positions for the last 25 years, living and working in countries on three continents as well as the U.S. I have owned businesses and made successful investments. This is real world experience and the education to understand it. It doesn’t make me an authority, but it has given me experience most people do not have.

If you were “in the trenches” for 20 years, perhaps you really didn’t have 20 years experience, but one year of experience twenty times.


My comment re internet is part of our entrepreneurial spirit. If you cannot feel pride, I cannot explain it to you. This is probably one of the differences between me and guys like you and sponge.


Funny. I always assumed all the characters on Seinfeld were liberal, although I cannot say that I gave it much thought in general. You never hear them speak about faith or patriotism in any positive way. They don’t believe in marriage or raising families. I am pretty sure they would be pro-choice on the abortion issue. I didn’t think being cheap, anal and self serving are particularly liberal traits, but the profile fits a liberal better than a conservative. Beyond that, the demographic profile of the people in the series is more likely to be liberal. Of course, all the characters are fictional, but the people who wrote the scripts and play the roles are predominantly liberal.


I think some of the sentiments on this particular blog show why I (and conservatives) sometimes get upset about liberals. First of all, you mention lots of stereotypes about conservatives. They are from the liberal perspective. I do the same re liberals, so I suppose it is fair.

What I don’t like is the emphasis on the negative. It is not that what liberals say is always untrue or even untrue most of the time, but it is a matter of emphasis. If I ave a bad thing happen 1% of the time, I still want to address it, but I don’t want to imply that it is common to the rest. IMO liberals do that too often.

Let me give a concrete example. As you know, I have been in Iraq for the last five months with the Marines. In that time I have seen lots of heroic acts and met lots of people working hard to do the right thing. In the thousands of acts of heroism and kindness I have personally observed, I have seen nothing significantly bad in the behavior of my colleagues. I am sure some of it exists, however. Hardly anybody is reporting on any of the good things people are doing every day. If somebody makes a serious mistake or does something bad, it will be all over the news. My argument is NOT that we should ignore that, but rather that we need to understand the context.

In most of my posts, I am trying to provide context. The liberal response is to demand perfection, zero mistakes. I offer comparison and experience. The liberal response is that no comparison is valid. America should be better than that. My experience is that people who demand perfection generally are very poor managers and accomplish little. Demanding perfection is a way they avoid doing anything in the real world. It is very easy for the non-participants to second-guess and find fault with those who have done something.

My “grievance” with Dems is that they have set up impossible standards. They did not live up to these standards when they were in power in the White House and they are not living up to them now that they control both the Senate & House. But they reject any implication that this is a valid comparison and still blame Republicans.

One of the most effective forms of invalid argument is to compare the ideal of one thing to the practical reality of another. It is always possible to imagine something better than you can practically achieve.

When Dems won in 2006, I took some backhanded pleasure knowing that they would now be in power and have to deliver AND I was sure they would not be able to live up to expectation. I was right about the latter. They have not done well. BUT Dems have not taken the lesson. They manage still to blame Republicans. This kind of lack of self awareness is dangerous in individuals and even more so in a ruling party.

If Dems win the Whitehouse, they will not be able to make any major changes, since the U.S. society and economy is much bigger than politicians power. Even in the best case scenario, the unemployment rate will not be much lower (because it cannot get much lower than it has been since 2004), the economy will not grow much faster (because it grew robustly as possible 2003-6), CO2 levels will not change (in 2006 CO2 emission dropped for the first time ever during a time of rapid economic growth). The Dems will not be able to make big changes because things are not as bad as they have been saying. Improvements cannot be significant. Take the unemployment rate. It has generally been less than 5%. It cannot get much better than that. It cannot go to zero and probably cannot go much below 5% for any amount of time. So what can the Dems deliver? More blame.

Posted by: Jack at February 23, 2008 12:59 AM
Comment #246169

Jack >Logic.

Your statement has nothing to do with logic, because you are misusing the definition of “proud of” confusing it with “thankful”, “grateful” or :appreciative” of. I am grateful for or appreciative of all the things you claim to be proud of. To continue to insist one is proud of things one had no hand in bringing about is neurotic.

Jack >Let me explain something to you about the world.

I don’t need to have you explain anything to me sir, because everything you say is filtered through your highly partisan eyes and spun through your pompous, patronizing Rep/con-speak. I am fully capable of analyzing the situation and have done so. The fact is the US is NOT more competitive than most of the world any more and we are NOT getting more competitive. That was the discussion point and it appears you are FINALLY conceding that I am right in your contorted sports analogy. Thank you for finally admitting you were wrong about this.

Jack >If you were “in the trenches” for 20 years, perhaps you really didn’t have 20 years
Jack >experience, but one year of experience twenty times.

Again with the cheap shots? As I said earlier, I’ve noticed that when you’re going down in flames you start with the cheap shots. Nice cheap shot.

Net-net you managed to name one legitimate reason you are proud of this country in over 2 days, which is about the same as Michelle Obama was able to achieve. Good job. Maybe you should apologize like she has. I won’t hold my breath, though.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 23, 2008 8:17 AM
Comment #246170


Every year various business and economic organizations do indexes of things like competitiveness, well being etc. The U.S. consistently ranks at or near the top. Once we were second behind Finland. Last year we were #1 again. I tend to notice these things and even write about them. Some examples as easy as one, two

If you stick your head out of the trench, perhaps you can see the heavens. It is a good thing if other countries get their acts together and do better. As a believer in free markets and freedom in general, it makes me happy when other people start to better themselves and I don’t feel threatened by their success. That sort of thinking I leave to liberals.

Re in the trenches, I do not see that as a cheap shot but rather a description of reality. Evidently we both worked through most of the 1980s. You were the one that used the phrase in the trenches and than assumed because I used one of the years of the 1980s to get an MBA, I was looking at the world from an ivory tower. I have worked a great variety of jobs, enough to understand that when you are in the trenches for a long time, you are not really getting much additional experience. If you hold the same job for a long time you cease to get much meaningful experience that is applicable outside that narrow job.

In college I worked loading cement bags. I was there 12 hours a day during four summers. I spent many thousands of hours at that job but I learned almost everything I ever learned from that place during the first week. After that it was just the same thing over and over. Working in the trenches is often like that.

Re feeling proud – okay in your opinion Americans have little to feel proud about or at least the things on my list should not be a source of pride. That is where we differ. I feel proud of those things; you don’t. That probably says more about the two of us than about our country. As Emerson said, “People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”

Posted by: Jack at February 23, 2008 8:43 AM
Comment #246175

I feel pride in my persinal efforts. I do not go about “feeling” pride for effect. Sam Johnson wrote a pamphlet about it.

I’m sorry you can’t discern the difference.

Remember the old saw ” Pride comes before a fall.” It isn’t talking about the genuine article.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 23, 2008 9:10 AM
Comment #246200


There are many good things about the U.S. (in spite of some that constantly try to chip away at it).

And many good things have happened in the last 230+ years:

  • (01) The U.S. Constitution

  • (02) Slavery was finally abolished (though it came much later than it should have).

  • (03) Progress to reduce discrimination based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, etc.

  • (04) Entrepreneurial spirit, despite the severely bloated government, incessant bureaucratic nonsense, and corruption.

  • (05) Productivity, ingenuity, and diversity.

  • (06) Internet (didn’t Al Gore invent that? Not just the MSM that constantly leaves out the facts, spins the facts, or out right lies)

  • (07) Technology, and the has U.S. lead in many ways.

  • (08) Generosity of Americans.

  • (09) The U.S. is still one of the top 26 (of 195 nations world-wide) countries to live-in (though it has been slipping lower).

  • (10) Freedom of speech, and most Americans that are not afraid to speak up about valid issues, and propose solutions, despite some people (bullies) that try to unfairly label them as traitors, America haters, and America trashers.
Despite all that, there is no reason to not work to make things better, identify problems, root causes, and also propose solutions.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 23, 2008 2:17 PM
Comment #246261

The concern about democracy with the framers of our constitution was its history of the majority oppressing the minority. The minority in their mindset was business men.
All ideals have things they are for and against. What they are proud of and what they are ashamed of.
I think what you are describing in this column is a basic philosophy. It is what Covey calls win- win people vs. win-lose.
As businesses grow so does the economy and jobs become available, diligent workers have more opportunity. By using foreign workforces we increase their wealth and ours. The more capital left in the economy and out of government hands, the more opportunity. Rid the world of Jehadists and everyone benefits. I can go on with the conservative side of these things. This is win-win. Create a good environment and people will step up and make their own successes.
Liberals believe that one person’s success is causing someone else to fail. Every foreign job is a loss to America. Corporate profit is stealing from the poor. War against terrorists takes money from the hungry. Everything is static to them and each time we use a piece of the economy another suffers. This is win-lose. The only way to fix things is to penalize another. Success to them is taking away from one to give to another. They alway seem to be complaining because of this aspect.
Conservatives believe in sowing seeds and liberals believe in hoarding and rationing them.

I do agree with Stephen though. Self reliance seems to be a minority view right now. People are predisposed to win-lose. Conservatives, instead of compromising, need to articulate and inspire. The beliefs of the majority are certainly not an indicator of right and wrong.

Posted by: Kruser at February 24, 2008 8:41 AM
Comment #246267

Liberals believe that one person’s success is causing someone else to fail. Every foreign job is a loss to America. Corporate profit is stealing from the poor. War against terrorists takes money from the hungry. Everything is static to them and each time we use a piece of the economy another suffers. This is win-lose. The only way to fix things is to penalize another. Success to them is taking away from one to give to another. They alway seem to be complaining because of this aspect.
Conservatives believe in sowing seeds and liberals believe in hoarding and rationing them.

Thanks for that rant, and now for something completely different……reality.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 24, 2008 10:03 AM
Comment #246327

I don’t demand perfection. I demand competence. If he had said, “we didn’t have enough soldier, we need to bring more in” It might have given the Liberals a little fodder for complaining about him, but he would have set in motion, while he still had many willing recruits, the necessary mechanisms to improve the situation while it was still relatively under control.

Instead, he made it his pattern to stubbornly insist on doing things his way, no matter how badly things were turning out.

I couldn’t stomach that, and using “supporting the soldiers” as a rationale for continuing that, and a means to discourage discussion of the various problems just seemed the height of hypocrisy. Progressively, he made the situation of those soldiers worse and worse.

Your five months, I would bet, would hardly prepare you for what the place was like before you got there. And if things go wrong, they’ll hardly prepare you for how bad a warzone can be.

This is not merely about blame, this is about policy, and how the reflexive approaches of the Republican party to their ideology, to the public, and to the media has gotten in the way of them being competent shapers of policy. Republicans have gotten to the point where they are telling the majority of Americans that they are full of it on what they expect. You can’t continue that indefinitely, telling the voters that they’re being too hard on you, and not have them get very angry.

Worse than that, many believe the Republicans are mostly to blame for things not moving through the legislature at proper pace. And they’re right. With a year to go, your minority in the senate has set the record for the most obstructive of all time.

All that will do, in the end, is convince the public even more so that the Republicans are just incompetents too jealously possessive of power to let it go. That can only benefit the Democrats.

As for the rest? Well, Democrats are more skeptical of their people, and much more willing to see them challenged. Within living memory, we’ve had our people betray our interests, and we aren’t much interested in having that happen again.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 24, 2008 6:05 PM
Comment #246380

Your absoloutely right Stephen D. He is no light weight on legislation. But his voting record sheds light on his ideas.

SB 230(1997) NO: To prohibit partial-birth abortion unless necessary to save the life of a mother and makes the procedure a Class 4 felony for the physician.
HB 709(2000) NO: To prohibit state funding of abortion and induced miscarriages except when necessary to save the life of the mother. Excludes premature births from funding except to produce a viable child when necessary to save the life of a mother. Would permit funding in cases of rape or incest when peyment is authorized under federal law.
SB 1661(2002) NO: A part of the Born Alive Infant Protection Package. Would create a cause of action if a child is born alive after an abortion and the child is then neglected through failure to provide medical care after birth.
SB 381(1997) NO: To require prisoners to pay court costs for frivolous lawsuits against the state.
SB 485(1999) NO: To give no offer of “good time” for sex offenders sentenced to the County Jail.*
*Obama was the only vote against this measure.
HB 3396(2003) YES: To make unionization easier by requiring a secret ballot to organize if 50% of the eligible workers publicly sign a card of support for unionization.
SB 230(2003) YES: Entitles a teacher who is elected as an officer of the state or national teacher’s union to be granted a leave of absence for up to six years, or the period of time the teacher is serving.
SB 1070(2003) YES: Allows college graduate assistants who teach college courses eligible to join a union.
SB 609(2001) PRESENT: To retrict the locations of buildings with “adult” uses(meaning pornographic video stores, strip clubs, etc.) within 1000 feet of any public or private elementary or secondary school, public park, place or worship, preschool, day-care facility, mobile park or residential area.
HB 1812(1999) NO: To require school boards to install software on public computers accessible to minors to block sexually explicit material.
SB 1075(1999) NO: To create an income tax credit for all full-time K-12 pupils in an amount equal to 25% of qualified education expenses up to a maximum of $500 per family.
SB 1075(2003) YES: To restore the Illinois Estate Tax.
SB 1733(2003) YES: To impose a Gas Use Tax on the purchase of natural gas from outside the state of Illinois for use or consumption in Illinois. Forces the delivering supplier to pay 2.4 cents per therm of gas, or the customer can elect to become a “self-assessing” purchaser and pay 5% of the purchase price or 2.4 cents per therm.
SB 1415(2003) YES: To create public funding for supreme court races.
HB 581(2003) NOT VOTING: Allows domestic partners to be allowed to assume the rights of a spouse or suvivor with regards to pension benefits under the Chicago Teacher’s pension system.
SB 228(1997) NO: Changes the “Illinois Equal Opportunity Act of 1997” to stipulate, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any unit of government or school district that gives benefits to same-sex couples under any criteria must give equal benefits to heterosexual couples.
SB 880(2003) YES: To allow the purchase of 10 hypodermic needles from a pharmacy without a prescription.
HB 4659(2000) PRESENT: To establish a zero-tolerance drug-testing policy for Department of Corrections Employees.
SB 777(1999) NO: To end the unemployment insurance fund building tax.
SB 879(1999) NO: To end the minimum contribution tax rate for the unemployment system.
SB 795(2001) NO: To reduce employers’ minimum contribution insurance rate.
SB 796(2003) YES: To increase the Illinois minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.50 per hour.

Obama’s voting record belies his moderate image.

Posted by: dobropet at February 25, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #246513

You put forward but a fraction of his output. Which part? Well, it seems you define moderation in terms of rather rightwing positions.

Additionally, I’m always cautious about these kinds of votes, because sometimes people vote against laws whose intended content is agreeable, but whose language is problematic or counterproductive. Deriving candidates positions from just yes or no votes is tricky, unless your candidate cares only about the appearances of votes, in which case they’ll vote for some idiotic measures in the name of pleasing the set of votes who just care about having their buttons pushed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 26, 2008 10:36 PM
Comment #246528

The Day of “Festivus,” sounds suspiciously like the “Day of Atonement” in the Jewish faith. A faith that finds it’s roots long before Liberalism was ever thought of.

Heaven knows I would be the last one to say that is liberal idea.

The fact that all THREE of these blogs, and many more like them exist. That we can each speak and write what we believe, and not be arrested. many times we have called each other a Traitor, but fortunately the label is untrue and everyone reading the label knows so.

I am proud to be an American because we can and do read (Freedom of the press)about the scandals (flaws, if you will) of our leaders, and can hopefully learn what we can and will tolerate.

I am proud of the legal system we have in place - yes I know it needs work, but everything does.

I am proud of the men and women who have and continue to fight for the right for me to have these freedoms.

i am proud that when anyone needs help, we are the first to come forward with aid.

I am proud that as a nation we can honorably and decently work with those whom we disagree,(look at Thailand’s governing body)and that we all accept the change of government gracefully and work and
support without the fear of retribution. (see Pakistan)

These are just some of the many reasons I am proud to be American.

Posted by: Linda H. at February 27, 2008 12:20 AM
Comment #246622

What I love about this country is that it recognizes that money rules.

Even though the papers are full of bad stories about pedopilia, I reularly buy sex from teens on the street. Yummy!!!

I frequently make trips to central america, Mexico and Thailand to buy young girls. I love it!! Money buys anyting!! The foreigners are happy to see my passport and greenbacks.

I love Americans and their twisted values and doublespeak. I have a friend that went to Iraq and raped and killed young girls, while getting PAID!!!

Only in America!!

Posted by: coolguy at February 28, 2008 9:35 AM
Comment #248156

/sarcasm on
Hey, I got mine and I don’t really care about brown people.
/sarcasm off

Posted by: Mental Wimp at March 16, 2008 3:59 PM
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