Tuesday, March 29, 2011

America: Land That I love

America: You Keep Using That Word…  continues to spread like bird flu across the web. 

It’s been ten days now since the post went up, and interest in the article shows no sign whatsoever of slacking off. The hit counts have nearly doubled each day and continue to rise.

Thanks for that.

Only a small percentage of the responses currently clogging the Stonekettle Station inbox like undigested jelly donuts in Rush Limbaugh’s large intestine are negative.  While some do border on outright psychosis, I still haven’t gotten any actual death threats – though a number of self-described Christians claim to be praying for my immediate immolation and condemnation to fiery torment for all eternity (which as I’m sure you know, is exactly what Jesus would do. Nobody could lay down the hate like Jesus. I apparently made some church’s email list. Again. Sigh).  I have been aggressively policing the comments under the post and I will continue to do so. And folks, really, read the commenting rules first, before you make a comment. I’m getting tired of having to delete personal attacks.  You are allowed to disagree with the post, you are allowed to hate it even, and you are allowed to say so.  Politely. However, if your rebuttal consists of a personal attack against me or other folks here, I will either sic the dogs on you or I will delete your comment.  Period.  I don’t care if you don’t like it – it’s my site, I pay the rent on it, and I damned well don’t have to put up with jerks.  Again, you can disagree, but you can do it without being a tool about it. 

The general response remains overwhelmingly positive – the story appears to have struck deeply at something bothering a lot of people. And I mean a lot.  And that, my friends, is something we should all think about, me included, because that chord, that one right there, is really the only thing truly wrong with the United States of America.

We’ll come back to that.

The previous post, America: Explained, is my rebuttal to criticism directed at the original piece.  You should take the time to read it, if you haven’t already, it covers most all of the general complaints. All but one.

I left something out.

I left out the biggest criticism, the one I’ve gotten most in many forms, to wit: Why do you hate America so much?

I get this a lot, and have even before I published America: You Keep Using That Word…

Why do I hate America?

That’s it, huh? That’s the best you can come up with? Why do I hate America?

Folks, I don’t hate America.  In point of fact, I spent almost all of my adult life in uniform defending it and why would I do that if I hated my country?  Really, please explain that to me. I salute the flag out of respect for all that it represents.  I stand at attention for the National Anthem and sing along as best I’m able – and, hell, like any good initiated Chief I even know all the verses. Do you? I’ve lived in and travelled this country from one end to the other, literally, from Florida to Maine to California, Hawaii, and Alaska, thousands of miles across the continent and over the seas through every single state in the Union and every one of her territories except Puerto Rico. Have you? I’ve hiked America’s national parks and stood awestruck before her monuments from the Washington Mall to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse all the way out to the American Japanese War Memorial on distant Attu Island. Have you? I’ve visited her museums and her festivals and strolled the streets of her cities. And I’ve stood upon her battlefields,  I’ve walked America’s military graveyards, at home and abroad, with my hand on those cold granite headstones and gave thanks to the men and women entombed there, for their sacrifice so that we may be free – and even now the mere thought of those places and their endless rows of stark white markers brings a lump to my throat. I know some of those men, I served with them, I was trained by them, and I led their sons and daughters into war. They were my brothers in arms and I miss them.

Does that make me a better American than you?

No, of course not.

So, tell me again, how I must hate America.

I love the United States and always have, but my love is not uncritical. 

Uncritical love is not love at all but rather infatuated obsession. That’s what blind patriotism is, infatuated obsessive self-love. Blind patriotism is masturbation, it isn’t about loving your country, it’s about loving yourself.  Blind patriotism does not make you a better American than your neighbors, it just makes you blind. Like true religious faith, true patriotism isn’t a competition, you don’t get a prize for being better at it, or louder, or more militant, than those around you.  That kind of patriotism is a lot like those parents who think their kid is the most beautiful, perfect, special, wonderful, smart, funny, charming, exceptional, and talented kid in the whole wide world and who can do no wrong – and the kid is really a spoiled rotten stupid jerk who will one day grow up into a spoiled rotten stupid jerk of an adult.

The original post, America, was inspired by a bumper sticker, here’s another one, one that sums up the blind patriot succinctly: America, Love It or Leave It

That’s it? Those are my only two choices? STFU or GTFO?


What if parenting was like that? If your child isn’t perfect, always, you bail?  Turn it around, what if a child’s love for a parent was like that? Unquestioning, uncritical at first, but as you grow and learn you realize that your parents aren’t perfect. So then what? Leave and never look back? Screw them, is that it?  That’s how you define love? You're only proud of them if they’re perfect and without flaw? What kind of pride is that?

Think about it. No really think about that for a minute.

Love it or leave it is a logical fallacy, one of false dichotomy, one that far too many Americans indulge themselves in these days.  Remember what I said, you’ll go blind. 

Love it or leave it are not the only two choices

If they were, the United States Constitution would be a far, far shorter and less ambiguous document.

Uncritical love, blind patriotism, and logical fallacies do neither your country nor your children any good whatsoever.

America: You Keep Using That Word… wasn’t about one flag or another. It wasn’t about a Dodge RAM or a Toyota Prius.  It wasn’t about black diesel smoke or white diesel smoke.  It wasn’t about some silly bumper stickers. It wasn’t about the North or the South.  It wasn’t about liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans. It was about Americans of any and all stripes who claim to love this country, but seem to hate everything about it.  I never described the driver at all, yet thousands saw themselves in the driver’s seat or saw someone they knew sitting there. All of us know the person inferred in America. America was about those people, those Americans who see only two stark choices, love it or leave it, us or them, freedom or tyranny. And for some, that was just a little too close for comfort.

In America, I asked two simple questions:


What, exactly, are you proud of?

What, exactly, do you love about America?


Immediately I began receiving letters, lists of things people love about America. 

A counterpoint to America is being passed around and posted here and there, mostly on conservative orientated forums. I’ve received a hundred or more copies. I find it odd that many folks love America so darned much, but can’t take time to articulate their own reasons why so instead they forward something they found on the internet penned by somebody else. Seems to me, if you love America that much, you ought to be able to say why in your own words.

Regardless, the very first thing listed in nearly every single one of those letters is military strength. 

I love America for her military might.  I’m proud that America can kick ass. I’m proud that we have the mightiest warships and the fastest fighter planes and the biggest tanks.  I’m proud that we’ve got all the nuclear bombs.  America, hell ya!

This puzzles me.  What happens if somebody else builds a bigger aircraft carrier? A faster fighter? A tank with a bigger gun? Will you be less proud of America then? 

I’ll tell you what I love about America’s military strength, I’ll tell you what makes me proud of my country. 

Ten years now we’ve been fighting two highly unpopular wars. Ten years. A decade now, and more. And today, as I write this, we’ve embarked on yet another one. This generation, these eighteen, nineteen, twenty year old kids, with their goofy haircuts and their tattoos with the rings through their eyebrows and studs through their tongues? Yes, that generation, the Me Generation, the one we call selfish and lazy and fat and self-involved and long, long removed from the Greatest Generation of all, yes that generation. Well, Sir, they come of their own free will to join the unpopular fight. There are few recruiting commercials on TV, no posters in the train stations, no draft – certainly nothing like in previous conflicts.  And still they come.  They’re hard and they’re smart and they are out there right now, in the dark and dangerous corners of the world fighting under the Stars and Stripes and some have gone back four and five times and more. And still they come, rallying to the banner of our nation and the trumpet call of duty.  Our forces are engaged across the globe, they are tired and sore used.  And still they come, these proud young people. We are stretched thin, bruised and bloodied. And still they come, every day there they are in the recruiting stations signing the instruments of enlistment.  We are hardfought and hardened and weary beyond belief.  And still they come, knowing that they may never return.  Their comrades in arms, their brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, their friends, have been killed, maimed, blinded, disfigured, and still they come, risking all to stand between hearth and that desolate shore.

I’m not proud of some airplane, some ship, some bit of technology, or some fucking war – I’m proud of them.

I’m proud of those kids, who of their own free will stand into harm’s way each every single goddamned day, again and again and again, and when they fall others take their place.  Not all of them are Americans, not yet, but they all serve America freely and of their own volition.  I’m proud of their shear raw courage, their guts and determination, their commitment, their belief, and the fact that America still produces men and women of such resolute character in boundless surplus.  I was proud and humbled to lead them, and I’m proud that they will lead the next generation. 

But you know what else I’m proud of?  I’m proud of the ones who didn’t go.  The ones that protested the wars. The ones who demanded peace and railed against the wasting of their countrymen.  The ones that stood firm in their conviction and gave voice to their dissent.  I’m proud of their passion and their willingness to stick up for their beliefs.  Their courage and determination and commitment are no less than that of their warrior brothers.

No nation made up purely of soldiers can survive, when there are no more enemies, it will turn upon itself like a crazed badger clawing out its own guts.

No nation of pacifists can long survive either.

America must have both the warriors and the peacemakers if she is to be truly great, and both are equally important.

One letter said, I love America because we won the Cold War. We won the Cold War? Won? We didn’t win, the Soviets forfeited.  Nobody won the Cold War, least of all the human race. Thousands died, and for what? We spent trillions, and for what? We laid waste to vast swathes of the Earth, and for what? We built weapons that could destroy the world a thousand times over and which we still live in fear of, and for that you’re proud?  We could have had colonies on the moon and Mars by now, we could have been halfway to the nearest star, pushing the boundaries of the human spirit and ensuring the survival of the entire race.  We could have fed the world forever, we could have ended hunger and poverty and disease and remade our planet into a paradise for all of mankind. These self-righteous sons of bitches who speak to me of my divine judgment – I wonder what their defense will be when asked why they could have changed the world, and didn’t.

No, I’m not proud that we “won” the Cold War.

But I’ll tell you what I am proud of, I’m proud that when the wall finally did come down, when the Soviet Union did finally crumble into dust, we extended the hand of friendship to our erstwhile enemies. Sixty years of hate and fear, of mistrust, of suspicion, won’t vanish overnight. But with every single day that passes we move further from the brink, and despite the hatemongers and the warhawks and the fearful pundits who would gleefully reignite the Cold War in all its mad insanity, one day friendship will be the only thing our children remember. I spent much of my life staring down the loaded gun barrels of Soviet battle cruisers, my son will fly free to the stars with Russian shipmates.

Universally, the letters spoke of American Exceptionalism. Well you got me there, I hate that word. Word, hell, exceptionalism isn’t even a word.  America isn’t exceptional. Oh save your fake outrage. Espousing Exceptionalism isn’t patriotism, it isn’t love of country, it’s arrogance.  It’s saying I’m better than you because I’m special and you’re not.  Exceptionalism is what that spoiled rotten stupid jerk of kid up above uses as an excuse to act like an ass.

No, I don’t love American exceptionalism.

I’ll tell you what I do love though, I love that there was a time when America was exceptional.  Back when America was founded it was a republic different from all that had gone before.  A beacon of light and liberty the likes of which the world had never seen.  That is no longer so. Not because we’ve lost something, but because other nations have become our equal – many through our help.  Democracy, freedom, liberty, equality, justice, these are not finite resources, they exist in unlimited supply forged in the fire of the human spirit. You don’t get less freedom if someone else gets more, no, in fact for every person on this planet who becomes free, that finds life, liberty, and justice, all of us gain just that much more.  I love that I live in a country that is one beacon among many. I love that I live in a nation that is no longer alone. To claim exceptionalism is to spit into the eye of all that we’ve accomplished.

There was more, people wrote to say they were proud of American’s mountains, its vast forests, its rivers and lakes and beaches. Why? They didn’t make those things. America isn’t a rock or a tree or a basin full of dirty water. A country isn’t land, a country is people.  America is made up of Americans, black and brown, yellow and red and white. Gay and Straight. Young and old. Truck drivers and Prius owners. Cowboys and tofu eaters. Conservatives and Liberals. Democrats, Republicans, and yes even TEA Partiers. All of us, each and every one, we are America.  There are those who deplore multiculturalism. Ha. Look around you. America is many cultures, many languages, many beliefs, many people. E Pluribus Enum, from many, one nation.

That’s America and I’m damned proud of her.

This generation, the one fighting for America right now, they understand that better than any other before them.

This generation of Americans, more than any other, is what I’m proud of.

They give me hope for our country and for the world, someday history will call them the Greatest Generation.


Now, tell me again why I hate America.


  1. I'd rather just say "thank you" and a very platonic but heartfelt "I love you." :)

    You're making me think. I adore that.

    Good job all around, Jim. You're handling this with a lot of class. Stay on the high road - except if you want to pass on some of the funnier "Tea Party Tourrette's" stuff, that is... ;)

  2. WOW, the "America: . . ." sensation drifted across my FB page and I found you ahhhhh so wonderful! Say it loud and say it proud, thank you so much :)

  3. I'm proud that America has leaders like you, Jim, to say what is on their heart and encourage others to really *think*.

    And, as always, I'm privileged to call you friend. You make me want to get off my butt and accomplish something worthwhile, that makes a difference - more of a difference than IT projects. ;)

  4. Keep writing Jim! Your voice is refreshing and honest. Every article I have read (crammed into my head) the past two days hits home and makes me want to stand up and yell "Yeah! What he said!". I know you want us to say things in our own words, but I like the way you say it.

  5. Dammit, Jim. You went and made my monitor all blurry again.

    Thank you.

    The Cold War bits brought back some great and terrible memories. The parts about today's soldier brought up thoughts about advice I've given to those I know and the friendships I've worked at over recent years. All of it reminds me to try and do more than I do now...

    My thanks.

    mattlych - the Scot's version of Matlock.

  6. This is not a post - this is a speech. A WONDERFUL speech! It brought tears to my eyes.

  7. You made my screen get a little blurry too, Jim. So glad I found you this morning. I've been shouting ALL your talking points for two years on FB, now I have someone in my corner to back me up!

  8. Tissue?

    (picture R. Lee Ermy throwing a box of Kleenex at your head)

    I've given a lot of speeches, I tend to write as if I still do.

  9. well thought out and well said, ty for speaking the unvoiced thoughts of thousands.

  10. What America's become is America, you can't hate one and love the other.

    The modern Republican is just too much for me. They whine about business not being able to create jobs, but then stand in the way of changing the most expensive health care system in the World. Is paying those exorbinant costs not a drag on American business?

    If you really loved America would you be defunding ACORN? A group that provided housing and work assistance to poor people.

    I don't equate America love with turning out the lights on Sesame Street. Is the free market really itching to teach kids to read and count? McLearnalds?

    If you love democracy why are you trying to keep people from voting? and workers from organizing? United States. Love. United Workers. Satan.

    I came for that viral post, but I'll stay if you'll have me. You've got a fresh and sharp point of view and I appreciate it.

  11. Fair winds and following seas, Chief. It's good to see the internet actually spreading around something worth reading.

  12. Like a lot of other folks, I got here via the That Word post, and, like a lot of other folks, I've found reasons to stick around.

    In some respects, your writing reminds me of Heinlein's, especially on the blind vs informed patriotism.

    Many of the current and former military folks in my circle of friends find the current conservative line more to their taste, and I want to thank you for some elegantly-written rebuttal starting points.

  13. I hope this new post clarifies a few things for some people. I'm sure it won't. My other post compares you to another author and man of reason Joe Bagneat. I'm sorry to say this morning that he has died, of cancer, he was only 64. His new book just being released this week. While the loss will be felt by those of us who were fortunate to hear his unique voice it is comfort to know that he was not the only one. Please keep writing with same intensity, humor and conviction that inspires us all.

  14. Jim, you are showing that your last name is a verb, too.

    Carry on, shipmate.

  15. Thank you Jim.

    There is much to love about the United States.

    I love that it allowed my great-grand parents to come here and restart their lives.

    I love that we believe in educating all children, male and female, rich and poor.

    I love our national parks and our open space.

    And I love that it calls us to be better than we have been, moving always forward and up. Even when we screw up, we hold the believe that we can be--that we are--better than our mistakes.

  16. Edward Flagg is right, your surname is indeed a verb. A Word-Wright, that's what you are. Applause and plaudits from this corner!

  17. Thanks for the fine series of blog posts. I'm an immigrant myself and a professional writer -- though I tend to write more corporate copy than for my own fulfillment. I'm at that interesting point in my life when I've spent half my life in India (where I was born and raised) and in the U.S. I finally got off my butt and did the needful so that my naturalization papers are wending their way through the immigration bureaucracy. I moved to Chicago in 1996 and now I feel like I have a home town I can call my own in my country. That is something I'm proud of.

    Finally, and I've been making this point as I've been posting your posts on my Facebook page. I have long maintained that it doesn't take a J-school degree or training to write the way you do: you either got it, or you don't!


    -- Terkelguy

  18. Thanks for these posts on America. It is far to rare to find such intelegence in what I would call a patreotic post. I love how you explain how you think and feel to the point there is no question of where you stand, and even if I don't agree with it (though most of the time I do) I still respect it.

    You sir, are a tresure in this internet wasteland.

    I may even be inspired to reopen my blog.

  19. Thank you!
    Thank you for you time and thoughts!
    Thank you for your honesty & passion!
    Thank you for serving this country!
    Damn you are good!!!

  20. Bravo! Sir..Thank you for this great speech...Peace, Blessings & Joy to you..

  21. Absolutely wonderful Chief! Thanks again for your eloquence and courage. You're expressing what I've tried for many years now to say.


  22. "You know what makes me sad? YOU DO!" (LOL! I love that commercial, Jim.) :) (BTW, that wasn't a comment on his article; read the comments above)

    I've had, after reading your original post in this series, a blog post of my own patrolling the recesses of my brain. But, I've been waiting to see if you were going to say it here; you all-but have.

    The motto of these people, the ones you pointed out in 'America' should actually be, "America: Hate it or Leave it." Our political discourse, journalism (most of which has devolved into editorialism masquerading as journalism), political campaigning, have all become an all-consuming effort to explain why the other side is out to destroy this country & every thing that's good about it.

    If you don't hate the gays, or hate Wall Street capitalists, or hate wind turbines, or hate oil, or hate military intervention, or hate extremism, get out. Just. Get. Out. We hate the very word 'jihad' but we're by golly willing to haul off & engage in one. Somewhere in the midst of all this vitriol are honest-to-gosh solutions to our problems, but we're a little busy right now, can't you see? We'll get around to occupying the driver's seat of this bus-that's-drifting-into-a-quagmire once we've managed to win this jihad; just don't call it a jihad 'cause we hate that too.

    I frequently want to look at people like Beck & Rush & Palin & point out that this country never has been, nor will it ever be a utopia just for them; they're always going to have to live next door to something they hate. Get over yourselves. If you hate that, then get out; go find an island somewhere & build your own personal utopia; I only hope you can find two neighbors to live on either side of you who find nothing to hate about it, or you're right back where you started. As for us? We're a little busy here. We have a country to take care of for the next generation; we don't have time to listen to all the stuff you hate.

    I'd love to take this latest blog post from you & use it as a starting point from which to re-build our political dialog, in this country.

  23. Wow. Really. After reading all three America posts, I got teary at reading how you're proud of my generation. That's not something I get to hear very often. I've disagreed with the wars since the beginning, but I'm fiercely proud of my friends who signed up and risked their lives for me and for people they had never met, both American and Iraqi and Afgan. I love that though we disagree on politics we're still friends and that we all have the right to disagree, to speak out and be heard without fear. I love my soldiers, and greatly respect their bravery and conviction.

    Thank you for articulating what has always been a rather nebulous feeling. You've been far more eloquent than I.

  24. Jim,
    Thank you. I have just found your blog. I really like what I read, you say it better then I ever could.
    You have one more fan.
    Thank you for being a voice for so many of us.

  25. Thanks Jim. You have a gift. I also like your wood art. You can see a piece of wood, turn it into a piece of beauty for all to see it's beauty within. Just like humans...if we turn them around, smooth out the hateful edges, they can be seen for their inner beauty. Like a beautiful, hand carved chess set, you took different colors, sizes, shapes and turned them into an eye appealing object...like the military makes a man out of a boy. As you know, all that report for duty, don't make it to the top, but fill in the ranks to make the prize bowl look better. Some kinds of wood just end up in the kindling pile. Same composition, but just can't be bent, turned or molded into a finished product. Yet it has a purpose to warm those around them and be worth their original form.
    Yes, I like your bowls and your gift for words. Thanks.

  26. I'm proud of a my country because we are allowed to have this conversation. Thanks again for being a thought provoking class act.
    One thought on Confederate flags. It seems to be used lately as a sort of gang tag. If you hate people that don't resemble me
    (toothless and rockin' a mullet) c'mon in and have a brew.
    Carry on Chief.

  27. Can I just tell you again I love you? Love you. I mean, you, you, you? Love, love. Some day I might be able to get to something rational to say but at the moment I'm so in awe that's all I'm able to get out. I love you. I just love you. I lurf you. I llooovvv you. What's next after "love?"

  28. Hell, yes.

    And thank you for acknowledging the fortitude and courage of my son and his shipmates. Like you, I couldn't be more proud.

  29. I should say that I'm a Yankee that lives in a Yankee part of a southern state (in northern Virginia). That said, I am willing to concede that there may be narrow, nuanced, contextualized places for (public) display of the Confederate flag, despite my own personal objections to it, for historic reasons and the like. There may even be places that people could, say, disagree about what those are. I'm of a mind that out-of-context display on the back of one's pick-up is not one of the those places (but of course I'd do nothing to stop anyone from such nonsense), it being well in the realm of the ahistorical.

  30. I'm proud of my country because although I most definitely agree with your perspectives on this issue, the person who's truck inspired the "America" post initially has as much right to his/her opinion as I do.

    As a country, we do tend towards arrogance and elitism. We do take pride in things that perhaps we shouldn't. We do it in the name of loving our country, but in many cases, it's more of an issue of bragging rights than anything else.

    As a countrly, we are divided on many issues, foreign and domestic. We have dramatic differences of opinion on politics, the role of government, economics, environmental issues, interpretation of history, religion, immigration, education, and many many other issues. So, to generalize about Americans is to describe an immensely varied group of individuals and perspectives. But, the fact that we CAN have so many opinions, we CAN disagree so vehemently, we CAN step in and try to help other countries (even if maybe we shouldn't), we CAN agree or disagree with our government's decisions- those are the reasons that I love America. Even if I do occasionally want to thump good sense into some of the folks I vigorously disagree with...

  31. JMocha, that's not surprising. Heinlein was a navy man before he was a writer. He was a liberal before he was a conservative before he was a progressive. And he was a fierce American.

    He also had great influence on my view of the world. I've read everything he ever wrote. He was no saint, but he sure made you think.

  32. I think I'm most annoyed these days with people who LOVE democracy...except when they don't like the way a vote went.

    And God Forbid, some Furin Nashion gits themselves some-o-that-there Democracy and we don't like what they do with it.

    Just a bit more of that difficulty with understanding certain concepts.

    BTW Jim...reading one of the comments upthread, I was momentarily gobsmacked over someone complimenting your "bowels". Stupid reading comprehension! (Although, I'm sure they're perfectly lovely bowels.)

  33. @Nathan, you bastard, I snorted Air Force coffee through my nose. How is it that you always make me laugh?

    For the rest of you, go read Nathan's blog. He's one interesting fellow. Seriously (well, not seriously actually as he is even more irreverent than I). In fact, please, go read the blogs listed in the Blogroll on Stonekettle Station's main page. The UCFers are an amazing bunch of people.

  34. I appreciate you very much...and I love America too...

  35. I have been poking at your blog roll a little bit at a time, but mostly I'm in your older posts catching up. That's why I'm getting so little work done rewiring my house.

  36. i love that America has and continues to produce men and women like you. i love that America has given me and my child the opportunity to work and to learn. i love the people i have met along the way. people who have shared their wisdom and offered friendship or simply adopted me and my baby so we now have an extended family that ranges far beyond the borders of the United States. i love.

  37. AHA! That's what I think a lot of us are feeling after reading you - that AHA! moment.

    We see bits and pieces of your truck driver in people we know and see but you put him (yah, my driver is a him) all together in one place and we got to see the whole picture - not pretty, but it sure is accurate.

    You named it and defined it and now maybe we can get a handle on it. You deserve a pulitzer.

    But you're not done yet because, like other commenters here, I think we need to understand how we got here and where we go next. And I think you are a guy who can help us understand that too.

    Are you game?

  38. A good writer always uses his heart and mind when conveying a thought. It's so obvious here you are that writer.

    Can't say I'm proud of my government and how it's supported dictators. Can't say I love the people who want to destroy the American dream for everyone who isn't an elitist.

    I am proud of people like Pat Tillman, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders etc. People who don't just talk the talk but get in the trenches. They earn our trust not demand it.

    I love the America that stood up to the English in the Revolution.
    I love when we're unified against a common threat. But haven't seen it in a long time. Watching the Katrina aftermath broke my heart.

    We can't seem to be consistent as the ongoing threat to overthrow this great experiment is always with us.

    We were at our best when we supported our people by doing our own manufacturing and building a real economy. That's gone. It's not coming back. Cheaper to export those jobs and exploit others.

    Journalism is no longer responsible
    gatekeepers. You have to look for Amy Goodman and Thom Hartmann for that.

    It took a war to stop these people the last time they tried to break this country apart but then the representative government wasn't a part it. This time I'm not so sure.

    I can say emphatically I love the Declaration of Independence.
    That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

  39. Nick from the O.C.March 29, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Nicely done, Jim

  40. Jim, it's obvious you hate America because you included tofu eaters in your blog. I mean, c'mon! How unAmerican is that?

    Oh, wait. I'm a tofu eater. As a matter of fact, I'm eating tofu RIGHT NOW!

    Good stuff, Jim. As usual.

  41. “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
    Samuel Johnson

    I agree with you 110% sir.
    Keep up the the good fight!

  42. Great posts.

    I love the First Amendment...without it, all we have achieved could not happen. We are the country that made that a major component of our identity and that was and always will be revolutionary.

    Thanks for your words...a friend forwarded these posts to me and now I am sharing them.

  43. You, sir, are a fine wordsmith. You've put everything I've been saying for years in one place. And said it better than I ever could. Thank you.

  44. Awesome. I actually like this one the best of just about everything you've written.

  45. Great job Jim

    As a retired Army Officer, father of a soldier, grandfather of a sailor and cousin of a sailor who went down on the Indianapolis all I can really say is AMEN. As a former resident of Wasilla who drove the road to Anchorage for many years and now living in the deep south those kind of sights are very common.

  46. Wow....like many others, I was first brought here by your original America post. You have got to be one of the best writers I have seen in a long time. Your words are so powerful. Thank you, Sir, for being out there.

  47. I've just read and posted three of your pieces and they all kick an unusual amount of ass. They put things in a perspective I rarely see expressed so coherently. Thanks for giving a clear voice to the fight.

  48. I've stood a peace vigil with others most Saturdays for the last six years or so. A peace vigil that has been ongoing for over forty years.

    Never once have we had a man in uniform say an unkind word to us. That's the United States of America that I can believe in. A nation of civil discourse and disagreement.

    It's rare, but it can be found.

  49. It's so refreshing to see someone recognize the potential of my generation. I get so damn angry at everyone who calls us lazy, good for nothing, moral-less freaks with no ambition and no drive. So annoying. I have a lot of high school classmates serving in the military and I'm very proud of them. I'm excited for our chance to command things.

    And the Greatest Generation. Teehee. Made me blush.

  50. I just wanted to add that I'm proud of Americans like you.

  51. I salute you even though you're a squid. Great writing and I've bookmarked you for frequent visits.

  52. I am new to your blog, and clearly fascinated. not only by your writing, but as for your comment rules and "Troll" activity.... A man after my own heart!! I too am ex-law enforcement and love your cut throat humorous approach to life.
    ( as well as the wood turning...Beautiful BTW, my father was a wood turner, and passed away 3 yrs ago. His name was Jim too.)

    Keep up the good word. Your writing brings a smile to my face daily....and helps put things into perspective, as much as my much loved cup of Beloved Coffee!

  53. I love that America invented the idea of national parks.

    ps - Thank you for the eloquence and for elevating the dialog above the polarization.

  54. Very well said I couldn't have said it better myself

  55. Jim, your posts are enlightening, too bad some of the trolls don't really read them. They're probably told to go there by some Teapartier just to comment against you. But you know what I hate? The results of polls are always published, and they never contact me. Has anybody ever been involved in a poll? Just asking. Keep up the great work.

  56. What a find! Thanks Jim!

  57. As you cogently surmise:

    "All of us, each and every one, we are America. There are those who deplore multiculturalism. Ha. Look around you. America is many cultures, many languages, many beliefs, many people. E Pluribus Enum, from many, one nation.

    That’s America and I’m damned proud of her."


    Thank you and I'm so grateful to the commenter at 'The Only Adult in the Room' who enabled me to find you.


  58. First, you can quit worrying about whether you can write. You can.

    Second, thank you for writing the post I was going to write when you challenged the world to say why they love America. After reading this, I can't think of a single other thing to say. And I'm crying.

  59. Keep it up Chief, they just keep getting better.
    Look forward to more.

    Now that's two Navy guys I like...gawd, I hope it's not a trend *grin*

  60. it takes a good brave to make a good chief...Thanks Chief!

  61. Jim-you have captured something so vital here - and expressing an internal conflict I have felt for so long without realizing it - that it is possible to love America, be proud of being American, and still question things that America and Americans do. You are a voice of passion and reason - thank you for all of these writings!

  62. America tends to be the home of the brave and the land of the arrogant.

    One should never be proud of being something one has no control over, like being a particular race or gender, citizen of a country, etc.

    One can be glad of being Armenian, or Dutch or American, but one has no right to be proud of it, since one had nothing to do with it.

  63. Wow. America has been coming off pretty poor here in Canada (mostly via my interpretation of your own media...) but your 3 posts have just reminded me why we should be proud to be allies, neighbours, and friends.

    -jay in Ottawa

    P.S. was though Alaska last year and it was awesome.

  64. Great and balanced post, as usual.

    I'm not as proud of my own generation as I once was. Our children are entering adult life with fewer economic opportunities, much higher personal debt, less opportunity for college, dramatically more bureaucracy, no privacy, severe punishments for youthful indiscretions, huge national debt, and a savage capitalism that allows predatory industries. They are growing up in a culture that does not like them, especially males, as evidenced by how quick we are to incarcerate them and how few funds we allot to programs for children over the age of 12. Then they are dumped on by pithy pundits and people who’ve not raised children to adulthood.

    I'm proud of the young people on our military bases. They are bright, respectful, and accomplished at much earlier ages than most of their civilian counterparts. I am proud our military provides mentoring, which our civilian population has abandoned to the detriment of our youth. I respect the military for being more forgiving of youthful mistakes than are our civilian authorities, understanding that youths will make mistakes is part of mentoring.

    Still, I am sad that a number of young people I know entered the military only because we've screwed up the economy and/or our public school system so much they felt they had no other choice. None were old enough to truly understand what they were in for. Even the most devoted and valued by his commanders said he was misled by recruiters.

    I am sad that not one, not even the most successful, have come home with a good attitude about the government they serve or the value of their missions. I am especially sad that some of them have come home messed up emotionally/psychologically. I helped raise those boys and love their parents, so it is personal.

    Still, all did their duty with honor regardless of how they personally felt about it. I am proud of them for that, but I would have been just as proud of them if they'd refused. Refusal is usually harder because we all want to belong to our peer group, wherever we are.

    I taught my children to be proud of the usual but to be critical thinkers, to hold our government accountable because it belongs to us; what it does, it does in our names. About 10 years ago, my teenage son told me I was living in the past when I talked about what was great about our country. I argued the point.

    My attitude changed during the little Bush years, as we watched the huge transfer of wealth to the one to two percent, two elections stolen through a variety of means, more Americans imprisoned than any other country imprisoning their citizens, the public airwaves freely turned into propaganda tools, the Patriot Act continued, and on and on…

    I realized my son had been right. Like most Americans, I was thinking as though our country's past glories were our own, and that we still had the same civil rights we'd gained first through our constitution and then the following reforms, especially of the late-60s and early-70s. I didn't see that the toilet flushing started under Reagan had merely continued more quietly under the Clinton administration so that pretty much nothing stood in the way for the cynically blatant Bush administration.

    Numerous countries are now more free than the United States. All countries have beautiful landscapes. Jim's right, it is the people that make a country.

    Many countries protect and take better care of their people, their own, than do we. It isn’t the people’s government anymore. Benjamin Franklin’s skepticism concerning its long-term success is being proved right, by us!

    Now I feel grief.

    I am proud of the Declaration of Independence. I just wish we'd do something admirable, like living up to it.

  65. As a generation, our children are more accepting and tolerant of differences than any previous generation. There is an attitude of entitled equality between our sons and daughters in their personal relationships. Babyboomers can be proud of that.

    On a personal note, it is almost always young men in their 20s who step up and help me when I am struggling with something too big for me in public, almost never a baby-boomer man (that’s been especially true in Alaska). When I returned to college at the age of 40, late-teens and early 20s males were not defensive like men my age were, and they were easier and more fun to work with because they had less need to control group dynamics. (Sorry to report, it could go either way for some females!) I like the way young women feel unquestioningly entitled to what their grandmothers and mothers struggled for. Sometimes boomer women resent young women for it, feeling unappreciated, but that is what the point of the struggle was for, our daughters to expect an equal shot as their entitlement.

    It was a step forward when I felt compelled to sit my daughter down at the age of 13 and explain to her that sexual harassment went both ways, so she and her little friends needed to zip their lips and keep their hands to themselves. If they had a point to make in their own defense, them make it, but then drop it and recognize a line they could not cross. That was not a conversation any mother had with any female I knew at the age of 13, or 20, or beyond, when I was growing up! So, some things, I think we got right.

    If our children can clean up our mess, then we’d damn well better thank them when they do. We are really going to need them in the next couple of decades.

    Finally, I am saddened and angered by the sense of betrayal I feel toward Americans waving their flags, usually clutching their bibles at the same time, calling for my ruination or supporting policies that will infringe on my rights and freedoms, not to mention they are also the ones that usually end up cheating me in business.

    I do not cheat people. I do not support public policies that will infringe on the rights and freedoms of other Americans, even those I do not agree with. I will stand up for the rights of those who choose to live differently from me because it is my responsibility as an American to do so, yet they will not do the same for me. Not only will they not defend my right to be different from them, but most will actively support removing my freedoms, and they do so callously, with no regard to what that does to my family and loved ones. They do so to all Americans they deem unworthy. I view that as unAmerican, unpatriotic, and a betrayal of their citizen brethren.

  66. When I see or hear America, Love it or Leave It, I think of the following, which I heard often, from my father, as a child:
    Originally said by Stephen Decatur, in an after-dinner toast of 1816–1820:
    “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”
    Later stated by, and often attributed to, Carl Schurz, 1872.
    “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

    THAT is the motto that should be on bumperstickers, license plates, and protest signs.

    I am an AirForce brat, born near Tokyo during the Korean Police Action. Three of my four grandparents were immigrants. I'm Heinz 57: English, German, French Canadian, and Lebanese (possibly with a little Basque thrown in).

    I love America because of that freedom of speech, especially of political speech, the under-attack freedom of religion (I'm Wiccan--and the RR fundamentalists want to see us as blasphemers, satanists (sorry, not Christian, so not my "god"), and damned, if not more. Tough, we're here and we've every right they do), the freedom (and the right, privilege, and duty) to vote and to interact with our elected representatives (I write an awful lot of letters to mine), and as one person already said, our National Parks. Boycotts, marches, protests, civil disobedience--those are instruments of our freedom of speech to correct perceived wrongs. I loathe the F. Phelps clan more than I do moving house, and I am happy more and more of his "venues" meet him with Angels, or with counter-demonstrations using humor and kindness to counter their hate.

    I think I have only missed one special election since I was able to vote. My "foremothers" were reviled, taunted, and arrested (and some tortured, and force-fed if on a hunger strike) for that right, and I honor their work by wearing suffragette colors of green, purple, and white each election day while I'm voting. Before he was in school, and sometimes after school let out, I took my son with me when I voted, the way my mother did, to demonstrate that this is what adults do.

    I happen to love the diversity of people I meet here. I love accents of all kinds, regional or international, as they flavor speech.

    I agree with what you said about needing the balance between warriors and peacekeepers--the same goes for radicals and assimilationists where social justice and progress is concerned.

    I remember a Star Trek:TNG episode where soldiers on a particular planet had been enhanced to be better warriors. When the war they were fighting was over, there was no way to assimilate them into the general population, no way to beat swords into plowshares. I hope we are doing better than that society for our returning soldiers, even though I fear we are not.

    Thank YOU for your service to this country.

  67. I like A. Marina Fournier's bumper sticker suggestion. I wish I had neighbors like her.

  68. Well, another great piece. I am sorry for all the hate mail, but so many people never want to open their minds. They live by a creed that is more about hate than love.

    Jim, It is amazing the growth of your site. I will have to mention this piece at The Obama Diary. Everyone will love it. Best to you. dr

  69. You actually gave me chills reading this -- thank you.

  70. Jim is definitely opinionated, and, as he already stated, wordy. Those are qualities I have always liked about him. I remember being trained by him in my first "C" school, Outboard, back in, oh, 1990 or so. He was opinionated and wordy. I remember training with him in 1992-3 in Owl. Again, wordy and opinionated. I remember being stationed with him in Alaska. Yep, opinionated and wordy.

    So was I.

    What do I love about America? I love that Jim could reference "The Princess Bride" and make me spew coffee before even reading the first few lines.

    I love that I could visit D.C. (very first time for me, even with a good deal of time in the Navy) with my son, recently, and could show him the original Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. I got to walk through Arlington National Cemetery with him and explain to him what it meant to me.

    I love the Rights we have, granted by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, even though they sometimes make life harder for me. Odd? Perhaps. I may hate that someone will desecrate the flag, spit on it, throw it to the ground, etc... But, I defended that right for 7 years, 3 months and 10 days (yep, I counted). As a peace officer, I still defend that right. As an American citizen, I still defend that right.

    I also defend my own right to tell the person who spit on it that they can kiss my ass.

    Living in the south, I see the Confederate flag flown a lot, displayed on bumper stickers, etched permanently into skin. Some are proud because they believe in the devisiveness it represents, or the hate it is associated with. I agree, Jim, it is a contradiction.

    I am a person who believes in smaller government. I believe the government should collect taxes, albeit only what is needed to provide basic services. I believe govt. should field, train and properly equip our military. I believe govt. should not be invasive into our lives. I believe it is not the place of the govt. to take care of me, but to give me the opportunity to succeed or fail based on my own ability and effort.

    Republican, Democrat, Republocrat, is there a difference? The parties exist to serve the parties.

    I vote my conscience. I encourage you to arm yourselves with knowledge and vote yours. I do realize we may be on opposite sides of that vote, but at least we will be informed.

    We will still have to deal with asshats and trolls, but at least, as we do so, we will be equipped to fend them off rather then being sucked into their world.

  71. I came across your blog on my FB. Thanks for what you've written. This is terrific stuff, and you're definitely on my shortlist of blogs I will be reading in the future.

    I love that there was a time when America was exceptional. Back when America was founded it was a republic different from all that had gone before. A beacon of light and liberty the likes of which the world had never seen. That is no longer so. Not because we’ve lost something, but because other nations have become our equal – many through our help. Democracy, freedom, liberty, equality, justice, these are not finite resources, they exist in unlimited supply forged in the fire of the human spirit. You don’t get less freedom if someone else gets more, no, in fact for every person on this planet who becomes free, that finds life, liberty, and justice, all of us gain just that much more.

    I love this part the most.

  72. Jim,

    My first read of your work. Wow. I am rarely left that speechless.

    Thank you for serving us. Then, and now. I feel you speak wisdom, tolerance, understanding.

    I feel fortunate to have lived in our wonderful country. I received an excellent education, and have worked with people from many cultures and backgrounds. This has taught me that one of our biggest strengths is not to hate each other for our differences, but celebrate our diversity - for different thoughts and ideas is what enables us to grow, and improve.

    I could go on...

    What saddens me is there does not (yet) seem to be enough of us to take back what we have allowed to be taken from us. The daily onslaught of propaganda that divides us, encourages hatred and intolerance. Do not misunderstand, those who disseminate such vitrol have the right to do so in a free country. It is up to us to be that critical thinker, separate the truth from the B.S.

    I salute you, sir. I can only hope more of us will open our eyes and act before it is too late.

  73. The entire series of America blogs were a comfort to me. So many of us feel the same as your very well written articles. This one;however, made me a bit misty eyed. Thank you. I love so much about my country. I am so very worried that my grandchildren will face a very different America than the home of their grandma, and that America will be led by those with an agenda of hate. You give me hope that we can find common ground and that as our young people come of age the leaders of this generation will be far more noble than we. Really cool posts. I will be reading.

  74. Excellent.

    Thanks for pointing out that the spirit of America lives on, fiercely, in the current generation. Needed to be said,

    Keep talking. You have a lot to say, and a fantastically satisfying way of saying it. Never shut up. Never, never, never.

  75. "[I]mplied," not "inferred." The post "America" implied a person, we-all inferred what you meant.

    Love the blog. Carry on.

  76. You wrote from my heart!
    Thank you, Jim.

  77. I love the fact that my children are also American citizens, regardless of where they were born, just because I'm their mother.

    I love the fact that I don't have to pass some sort of test to prove I'm worthy enough to be an American citizen.

    I love the fact that my non-citizen husband can live here with the same rights as I enjoy.

    I love our expectation of a single, just legal system for everyone. Regardless of reality, we all think that's The Way It Ought To Be.

    I love our ability to be generous as a People, giving support to people in other nations. Both our government doing it as a matter of foreign policy as well as We The People doing it en mass on our initiative.

    I love the Department of Health & Human Service's work on so many levels. That we believe everyone deserves to be healthy and are willing to pay for the research and assistance to achieve this goal.

    I love the fact that we allow unions to operate for the benefit of workers. That we have a minimum wage. That we have government regulations demanding workers be safe and healthy.

    I love the fact that I can openly worship my god. I love the fact that I don't have to worship anybody's god. I love the fact that there is no legally recognized state religion, the absence of which is enshrined in our Constitution.

    I love the fact that the syphilitic weasels who hate the things about America that I love can be publicly ridiculed and held to scorn. Even if you think I'm one of them.

    I love the rights granted unto me by Bill of Rights. That these rights are so fundamental as to be required to understand the meaning of the Constitution as a whole, and that our entire legal system is restricted by them.

    I'm not sold on representative democracy being the best form of government possible - but I do love the fact that our government is both described clearly in the Constitution (and that we have a written one), as well as the fact that we have a 3-part system of checks and balances. And that if I did figure out a better way to govern, I could publicly advocate for a change in our system. Don't hold your breath.

    I love the fact that, if I chose, I could run for any public office in the land.

    I love the fact that I stopped, contemplated this, and actually came up with a list that was more than 3 points.

    I just discovered your blog & plan to keep reading it. I must tell my friend who recommended it that I enjoyed your writing.

  78. I just finished reading all three and love it. Thank you for saying what I feel and couldn't express nearly as well. My great great grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, George Walton. I never thought much about it before, but in these trying times it matters to me, my children and grandchildren. You made my day.

  79. Sir, you just blow me away. Sometimes I feel like you are reading my mind and posting my thoughts, which I would never be capable of doing anywhere close to your talent. My daughter is the writer in this family, but strictly fantacy, wherein I am a realist, like you. And like you, I chose to make my home in Alaska, where I lived for 45 years.Then I got too damn old (82 and holding) but I still love all my independent thinking - and living - Alaska friends, and even thought you don't know me, I have added you to my list of very special Alaskans. Keep up your very talented and excellent writing.

  80. I am a now retired Navy Comm (for communications) O who really appreciates what you have to say, Chief Warrant, and especially how well you write (Word Wright is indeed a great description for you!). I am delighted to have found your site and the America series. It is lovely to smile over shared tastes like The Princess Bride, Star Trek, Fred Reed, and of course a quintessential influence on many of our generation who ended up serving in uniform, Robert Heinlein.

    As for this particular series, I concur wholeheartedly with your conclusions, especially as eloquently as you have laid them out. As some others have said, you do say it so well, Jim, it makes it difficult to feel that there is anything to add. But I will add to you thoughts that I also love America because of the welcome it has provided to so many, including some recent grandparents of mine, and how immigrants from anywhere can become Americans.

    Thanks for a wonderful read. And please keep on writing!

  81. I posted this in another forum, and I think I said it fairly well the first time.

    "To define myself, I am personally against abortion, but have long ago come to the conclusion that I can't control any woman (including my wife), and have no right to dictate to her concerning possible children. I happen to believe that abortion is the woman's choice and will agree to it in the case of rape and incest. I also understand the limitations of women living in poverty lacking another choice, if they already feel that they cannot support another child. Doesn't mean I like it. It is a hard choice, no matter what. I know women who would welcome another child, but they aren't carrying it to term and facing possible health issues.

    I could give a damn about same-sex marriages. I don't know many gay people, only one, who is a good friend of my youngest. He's welcome in my house. I could care less about his choices. He's a nice kid, just a little different. Whether or not 2 guys or gals decide to share their lives together is none of my business. I don't happen to agree with their choice, but it's none of my business.

    I think we should limit spending and start taxing ourselves and the rich to pay down the deficit. JMO. I believe that the Bill of Rights is inviolable. I believe in gun ownership, I believe in a strong military, I believe that God doesn't give a hoot whether I call him God, Jehovah, Yahveh, Allah or Ghu, just as long as He and I have a heart to heart when we talk in person. I believe my neighbors have a right to their privacy and opinions, as long as they don't interfere in mine. I believe that as long as what I do does not hurt anyone else, it is no one else's business. But I also believe in a hand up to the less fortunate, a hand out to friendship and the back of my hand to anyone who harms the helpless. All the rest is dross to be tossed away. I am hardly in charge of my life. I chose the life I would have when I was 20... it wasn't this one. And I still wouldn't change a thing.

    When I refer to the religious right, I refer to those who's version of the Constitution limits us to Christianity. I refer to those who still refer to the Catholic church as a cult (and still unsaved, my goodness -that's a quote from one who asked if I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior). Let them expound all they like, it is still bigotry. I could turn around, as a Catholic, and refer to them as runaway heretics, but I don't. I could give a damn."

  82. I have two sons who will be going off to basic in April (one to be a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Unit; one as a Special Forces hopeful with the Army). I'm both heartbroken and proud. You gave me great comfort when you shared with us that you are proud of them, and that you are even proud of me and my pacifist tendencies!

    Shine on, Jim.

  83. What I love about America is that we have so many different cultures. I love the circumstances wherein those differing cultures can come together and celebrate one another in happy chaos. I love Queens, NY, with its noise and color and smell; I love the food there and the people who make and serve it. I love that Jackson Heights has shops where I could buy clothing from a whole other culture. I love going to college and seeing all the different kinds of young people there; each one has a different perspective on the world. They come together in my history and social sciences classes and they share their opinions with each other and with me. I love those kids, and I love the professors and the educational institutions and secular culture that makes that discussion possible.

    And I love you, sir. I've been reading this blog for about a week now, looking here and there. So far, I've not seen one article that contained one word too many. You got a lot of words to spend - all good ones. Rant on.

  84. Was it long? Yeah. But I am glad I read EVERY single word of it. (all three parts) Outstanding! I agree with every bit. Your description of the young people fighting for our country has caused me to feel 'awe' for a group of people I probably took for granted a bit. (I think there was a tear.. don't tell anyone)

    Thank You for this post.

    Oh and if you really want a death threat I could probably come up with something but it's really not my style. ;-) (just kidding)

  85. You are my absolute hero Jim, and I really need to have all your posts put into book form so I can sit and enjoy a good read. (Yes, I'm an oldie who absolutely prefers a good book to sitting in front of any kind of screen, be it t.v. or computer!)
    Thank you so very much for being you!

  86. Thank you,
    I love this series of posts, but I especially love this most recent post. While reading, I felt goosebumps rise on my legs and arms. Frankly, only the best writers get that reaction from me. So once again, thank you for saying everything that I wish that I could say coherently.

  87. Thank you,
    I love this series on your blog, but this is my favorite post. This post made goosebumps rise on my arms and legs, which frankly, only the best material can make happen. Once again, thank you for saying coherently and eloquently, what I have always wanted to express.

  88. Thank you,
    I love this series of posts, but I especially love this most recent post. While reading, I felt goosebumps rise on my legs and arms. Frankly, only the best writers get that reaction from me. So once again, thank you for saying everything that I wish that I could say coherently.

  89. I have come to this from Facebook. I started to share it with My friends, but realized that I had come to it with an account that only has a couple of hundred friends on it most of whom are on my main account with over 1400 friends and that this deserves to be shared with the majority. It is 3:07 AM as I have finished reading all three parts of the America blog and every single comment you have allowed to stay posted. and the only comment I can think of that has not been shared before is that I love that we are now raising children that are being so intrinsically introduced into society, that within a few generations there should be no one left to hate. Not because we are all the same but because we better understand our differences and can be more tollerent of them. Thank you so much for this blog and I am going to bookmark it so I can return.

  90. outstanding series, Jim! :-D

  91. Jim, I have read all three articles and you have made me into a regular reader. On various fora I am on that are based in the USA, an outlook similar to yours is reviled and hated, and the few of us who share a similar world view battle against the hordes of the ignorant and hate filled. Tom Paine, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, John Muir and er....YOU. Keep it up.

  92. Great post and great blog, Jim. Every reader infers who the driver of the RAM is. Excellent. I love the America that took in my ancestors, some on the Mayflower, others on waves of immigration looking for better economic and social opportunities than available in Sweden or Prussia or France in the 1860s. I love that Olga Swenson could marry a granite born Yankee named Orwin and could raise children and inspire grandchildren. They had a daughter who was a WAVE code breaker and a son who was a Conscientious Objector and served in the Pacific Theater as a medical corpsman. I love that they respected hard work and education and service, and were honorable, humble people. They gave me a love of New England woods and lakes, of books and dogs. I love Gettysburg and Monticello and Mounts Vernon and Rushmore. I love the Badlands and the Tetons and the Green and White Mountains and the Connecticut River. I love that I get to live free. I love that smart people and dedicated people and funny people can talk and argue and disagree and try to make the world better, in ways big and small. I love the FDR Memorial and the Vietnam Wall- which always makes me cry, and the Lincoln Memorial. Thank you for reminding me.

  93. I can't express how happy reading this has made me. Wow, I'm not the only one that thinks/feels this way. The difference is you can voice it and I always sound like a bumbling idiot.
    Thank you.

  94. A freaking breath of fresh air. I needed that...thank you.

  95. I had not previously heard of your blog and must confess that I don't generally read any, mostly out of fear that I will run smack dab into the realms of Glen Beck and Breitbart. Having clicked on the link to the America post, I then read all three. Thank you. I have had versions of this conversation with many friends, some conservative and some liberal. Most find it easier to complain and criticize than to express what is right with the US. I spent 20 years in the Army and have a clear vision of what service in the military costs: I was a critical care nurse, who took care of sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and civilians (these guys were clearing a gun range and hit an unexploded grenade) who were injured in the course of duties associated with miliary activities. All of them represent what is right with our country. I point out to numerous folks that I swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution," not the Confederate Battle flag or the Bible. I point out that the 1st amendment includes the concept of protest and that rigid adherence to a pledge of allegiance or a song is antithetical to what America is about. You said it better. So, again, thank you.

  96. Thanks, Jim, for talking the time to say, far and wide, what a great many of us feel in our hearts, but have grown too tired to keep repeating to every idiot who spouts off before setting the spark advance on his/her neurons. I live in Indiana and, if you know anything about Hoosiers or Pence, you might understand that I've begun frequenting Stonekettle Station because I feel very alone where I am. I grew up as a kid out in the sticks of Mansfield Ohio, and I still can wrap my brain around the southern-fried redneck mentality where I live now. It seems like certain forms of hate are almost a part of the culture here, and several other places. So I come here. And I read a bit. And I learn that there are still reasonable people. So thanks for that, Jim.

  97. Thank you, thank you and again, thank you. I appreciate the honesty, the opinion and feel like I've discovered the land of sanity in this crazy, insane world where everything is an extreme and "go to hell" if you disagree. Please don't stop writing. It's my link to an unknown but sane American. PS - love your commenting rules. Awesome!

  98. Read it again, and will say again, damn Jim, you are such a Good writer!

    I love your readers' comments, and I especially love those who shared what they love.

  99. Laura Phillips DolliesSeptember 13, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    Just read the series and I thank you for it. I could list many things I love about America and I think, sometime soon in this crazy season, I will, for the hope and courage I need to survive it. I'm a flaming liberal who cried two days ago, as a conservative friend shared with me his box of momentos from the 20th century, reminding me why he treasured the memories and the times he associated with them, and I realized I don't really want to strangle them all. I want to hug them, make peace with them, work with them, put hating aside for awhile. Thanks for your blog and refusing to settle for simplistic pablum when our complex and beautiful nation requires so very much more from us.

  100. Thank you, Jim, for your amazing insights. I have been a writer for nearly 40 years, most of that time working for newspapers but other stuff as well. The way I always knew something was wonderful was if my reaction to reading it was, "Damn, I wish I had written that."

    Well, damn, I wish I had written that. I particularly like your thoughts on American exceptionalism. It's an issue I have been wrestling with, and when I read what you wrote, I thought hey, you got it right.

    I hope to be reading you for many years.

  101. I am glad you write and tell it like it is , not many will. Thank you for your service in military to this country and for your continued service to this country speaking up with bold truths. I read your articles when I need to know that not everyone lives in the alternate reality twilight zone that so many do in my very red rural area of Texas.

  102. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years, but this is the first time I've read this series on America. Very glad I couldn't get back to sleep this morning. This was well worth it. For the record, what I love most about America is the incredible variety and diversity in it's landscape.


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