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American Exceptionalism

Justin Webb | 11:46 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009

One of the talking points on the bus as we arrived in Ankara was the Decline of America (there were other talking points as well, but I won't bore you with them) with the Brits, including me and Tom Baldwin, the mild-mannered but influential London Times correspondent, asked to give an assessment of how we see the post-Obama US.

Our replies I won't trouble you with, but the discussion was prompted in part by one of Obama's most interesting replies at a news conference - in Strasbourg half way through the trip - to a question asked by Mr Luce of the FT only moments after that vomiting incident but looking remarkably perky.

Does the president believe in American Exceptionalism, he asked.

The answer - yes, but in the same way as other nationalities (he mentioned Greece and Britain) believe in themselves - raised the spectre of Greek Exceptionalism but was nonetheless praised by some egghead journos as being rather wonderful.

Wrong I think. Greece is a country, America is an idea. True, there is Greek influence in the America idea but to compare patriotism with exceptionalism is to miss the point.

It was a great answer in that it was thoughtful and generous and patriotic all in one; but it was the wrong answer. American Exceptionalism stems not from love of country but from the universality of the values of the country.

Comments

  • 1. At 12:18pm on 06 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    This is, clearly, one of the most provocative topics Justin has raised. Obviously, we are a country and a nation, but regardless of how offensive some of my fellow Americans may find his conclusions I do share the essence of his opinion inasmuch as we, as a society, are a confluence of cultures pursuing ideals representative of our diversity as opposed to the values and aspirations of people living in their ancestral homelands and thus sharing a common ethnicity, culture, history, and traditions.

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  • 2. At 12:29pm on 06 Apr 2009, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    If the values are universal, how is America exceptional?

    At least Obama claimed the constitution is 'objectively exceptional' (from the Fallows link) - still wrong, but at least it is a claim to being exceptional.

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  • 3. At 12:41pm on 06 Apr 2009, Longmemoryman wrote:

    The cornerstone of American political culture is individual responsibility--the belief that anything is possible for anyone. That's in theory the basis of so called 'exceptionalism'. Unfortunately this can only work in a country with almost limitless resourses and a huge amount of space. Even then, it's only really evident when times are good. The 1930's depression proved to be a disaster, and today people flounder without the basic safety nets that other democaracies have long since conceded-the woeful US 'medicare' system provides a prime example of this. Also, it's only recently that racial equality has began to be realized in practise as well as by statute-even allowing for the remarkable rise of Barack Obama. American 'exceptionalism' may work in America some of the time, but in most other countries it's a non-starter. Limited resources confronted by unlimited demand overwhelms it.

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  • 4. At 12:48pm on 06 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Justin:
    Yes, exactly so.

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  • 5. At 12:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, Jpp799 wrote:

    I like the way Justin puts it: 'America is an idea'. This is true, but in a horrible way. This 'idea' is used as a propoganda tool and the end result is virtual brainwashing.

    Look at it this way: Anyone can define the 'American ideal' as they like. The right can use it to justify their ideas, and the left for theirs. The fundamentalist Christians can invoke the American ideal as can the homosexual community. There is no concrete defination and so this makes the whole American ideal infallible (as it can be defined by anyone as they like to justify anything) and is just a form of extreme nationalism.

    Justin writes: 'American Exceptionalism stems not from love of country but from the universality of the values of the country'.

    But which values? The values of genocide which destroyed the Native American population? The value of war which has put more than 300 US military bases abroad and has waged aggressive invasions and bombings on countless countries in the last 150 years? The values of racism which still persists in the US? The values of inequality in which the US has a higher income disparity than India or Russia?

    These are 'bad values' which people never invoke as part of the American ideal. But these ideas are just as much a part of American life as the ideals which everyone loves to quote (freedom of speech, religious tolerance, democracy, diversity, the American dream, etc.). However everone looks at the good things as an inseperable part of the American ideal and the bad things are there because of a few bad apples or because of the current or previous government.

    The whole idea of American Exceptionalism is nothing more than an ideal propoganda tool.

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  • 6. At 12:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, ann arbor wrote:

    If Obama feels the Constitution is "objectively exceptional", why does he bypass it? (distribution of funds without Congressional approval, capping income, surgical/punitive taxation, dismissing leaders from the private sector

    Until recently, the optimism of America was exceptional. Whereas we could once "pull ourselves up by the bootstraps", now, our bootstraps are "made in China".

    America is no longer exceptional.

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  • 7. At 12:54pm on 06 Apr 2009, Don MacKeen wrote:

    I'm American and I think the notion of American "exceptionalism" is inane. What is it exactly? The USA is a country, and is definitely not an "idea", although there are many ideas, indeed many intellectual traditions which are important in the USA - as in other countries. Does Justin Webb refer here to the "ideas" of slave-owners like Jefferson, or the anarchism of the IWW? Both represent different traditions in the USA.

    I fear that Webb believes that American "exceptionalism" justifies the USA's history of invasions, coups, proxy wars, etc. All in the name of "freedom", "democracy", etc - but as the historial record shows (especially when looking at declassified information), all carried out in order to steal resources. That's it. There is no grand romantic story with American hegemony, any more than with the British Empire, or any earlier versions of theft by elites.

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  • 8. At 1:08pm on 06 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    5, 6, 7
    No, you've missed the point entirely. Step back a bit, lift up your eyes and take a wider, longer view.

    Unlike the great majority of countries on earth, America is not based on race, it is not based on ethnicity, it is not based on religion.

    The idea of America to which Justin referes is based on the political philosophy of a few dozen eighteenth century intellectuals - and, strangely enough, that has been a surprisingly flexible and durable foundation.

    And it may yet see America through her present troubles, and to a brighter day beyond.

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  • 9. At 1:19pm on 06 Apr 2009, SaintOne wrote:

    #8 InterestedForeigner

    "Unlike the great majority of countries on earth, America is not based on race, it is not based on ethnicity, it is not based on religion."

    Don't tell the fundamentalists that last bit, you might get yourself in trouble.

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  • 10. At 1:32pm on 06 Apr 2009, british-ish wrote:

    I'd like to see the whole answer; I think Obama was right about the American Constitution being "objectively exceptional" in that it embodies aspirations and ideals other countries have to go back to philosophies to find their justifications and development. I can see why he (presumably subconsciously) came up with the Greeks and the Brits in the same sentence. I don't think he was thinking merely of simple patriotism -- or jingoism -- at all.

    But I agree with Jpp and lazenbee, in that "American exceptionalism" as a concept does seem to have been presented in a doctrinaire way that has been used to support all kinds of (often very short-term political, even jingo-istic) aims and goals. As indeed happened in the nineteenth century with Imperial Britain before anyone has a go at me about that.

    This is going to be fun, I can see.

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  • 11. At 1:42pm on 06 Apr 2009, tempcr wrote:

    I do wish somebody would tell President Obama to refer to me as a Briton, and not as a Brit. There is a fine line between folksy and dismissive and this is the wrong side of it. I would never think of referring to him or his ilk as a Yank however he should choose to describe himself.

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  • 12. At 1:52pm on 06 Apr 2009, ericlazer wrote:

    Greece is an idea, and a very much more important one, in theory and in practice, than the American idea. America, and not just America but the whole of the Western world, would not exist without Greek ideas, and if we really want to understand ourselves, as Westerners and as human beings, than it is to the Greeks and not to the Americans that we must look. Who is the American Plato? Who is the American Thucydides? Who is the American Sophocles? And so on and so on. America spouts freedom and democracy, but if you really want to know what these concepts mean than you have to look at Greece, where they were conceived, and not to America, where democracy is hugely restricted. America is not a democracy the Greeks would have understood. America is run by an economic and political oligarchy. Liberal oligarchy best describes America, and the West in general, not democracy. Also, democracy is not about procedures and institutions; it's about a culture of endless criticism and interrogation. Is this really true of America? Are Americans really capable of staring their society in the face and criticising it from top to bottom? I don't think they are. The vast, vast majority of Americans unthinkingly accept the strictures and institutions of their society.

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  • 13. At 2:04pm on 06 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Our exceptionalism, and our strengths and weaknesses, come from our diversity; and our values and actions are a reflection of that diversity. As a society our beliefs are forged on the tenets of our Constitution, our history, and the burden of our actions.

    Yes, we have made a lot of mistakes, but they are no worse than those made by the UK, France, Spain. Egypt, Persia and so many other countries since the beginning of history. What we do have that so many other nations do not is a society that includes almost every ethnic group on earth working towards a common goal, a society that - at least until recently - has welcomed immigrants from every corner of the planet and has embraced their traditions, work ethics, and beliefs and, in so doing, we have all contributed in our own small ways to what our country represents. Those that denigrate America for the way we treated native Americans, slaves, our wars and cultural intolerance may want to study their own history before expressing their criticisms. In many ways, we are a reflection of those immigrants that came from the countries that don't misss an opportunity to point out our weaknesses while ignoring the strengths and opportunities that our country has offered to so many people during the past five centuries.

    President Obama would have been more accurate establishing a parallel between the USA and Canada, Australia and even Brazil and Argentina, rather than Greece and the UK, but what did you expect from a man that pushes his agendae with a smile on his face, a carrot in his hand, and a nice word for everyone?

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  • 14. At 2:22pm on 06 Apr 2009, arclightt wrote:

    All: There's multiple ways of looking at this.

    Americans are humans, and as such have all the flaws of mankind (and they are many). Those flaws set an upper limit on what Americans, or any group of people, will achieve.

    That being said, however, our Constitution structures our government to take advantage of the flawed nature of its citizens to prevent any branch of government (to the extent possible) from becoming too powerful. It also attempts to leave individuals alone to the greatest extent possible to pursue their version of happiness. It does neither of these tasks perfectly, but well enough for the most part.

    America's government requires of its citizens some significant costs. The most significant of these is that the citizens to the greatest extent possible govern themselves to preserve the freedoms of those around them. That's a cost that many Americans to this day don't understand that they have to pay. The second is that the citizens participate in an informed way in the affairs of their government. Many of our citizens don't get that one, either. The success of America depends in large part on how well the citizens carry out their responsibilities.

    Ultimately, America is a unique experiment to determine whether free people can and will govern themselves for the long haul to preserve each other's freedom. The outcome of the experiment will be known only if it fails.

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  • 15. At 2:24pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    (5) Jpp799,

    I like the way Justin puts it: 'America is an idea'. This is true, but in a horrible way. This 'idea' is used as a propoganda tool and the end result is virtual brainwashing.


    Aye. but

    8.Interestedforeigner

    5, 6, 7
    No, you've missed the point entirely. Step back a bit, lift up your eyes and take a wider, longer view.

    The idea of America to which Justin referes is based on the political philosophy of a few dozen eighteenth century intellectuals - and, strangely enough, that has been a surprisingly flexible and durable foundation.

    And it may yet see America through her present troubles, and to a brighter day beyond.


    12. ericlazer

    Who is the American Plato? Who is the American Thucydides? Who is the American Sophocles?


    And the American Hesiodos?

    ;-)

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  • 16. At 3:05pm on 06 Apr 2009, lochraven wrote:

    America is a nation of extremes; we have awed and shocked, and have shown our very best side and our worst. We are generous to a fault for our friends, and tight fisted to our enemies. We want to be liked and will go out of our way to earn your friendship, but Ingratitude is what we don't take lightly. We don't expect people to fawn over us, but don't stab us in the back either. We are a country that is still growing and still pushing the envelope to see how far we can go, and always looking to see what's around the corner. Maybe this is because we know that we're not perfect. As with other nations at their zenith, we have contributed much to the betterment of the world, but some will say otherwise -we're still learning.
    Much, if not all, can be said of other countries too. The difference is that we do everything in a big way. We show off our achievements and our dirty laundry all in the same day. If we don't fess up to our mistakes, you can be sure that someone in this world will point them out for us.
    I am an American.

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  • 17. At 3:05pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    What a pile of crud.

    Who said Inane . you were right.
    this except me alism that is america is the biggerst world problem. look at their contribution to the world.

    The whole hearted screw the rest were OK.

    . Pathetic jingoism.

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  • 18. At 3:06pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    we're

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  • 19. At 3:07pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Like they kicked yeaterday. America has spent years claiming itself to be THE capatalist.
    "we own it" style talk on capitalism. the rest are commies.
    then when capitalism goes much wrong. Oh it 's not us.
    OWN IT
    CLEAN IT UP

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  • 20. At 3:13pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Haven't we been thought his cruddy "America is just so peachy" crud before.


    Yea because they are soOOO exceptional they are one of the only first world nation with no healthcare and one of a very small number of first worlders with the death penalty.

    They lock more of their exceptional people up.
    The only thing the USA is even remotely good at is propaganda. and trashing things.

    So many just love to see the dream but forget that their prozac is way more delusional than the stuff I take.

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  • 21. At 3:24pm on 06 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #8. InterestedForeigner: "Unlike the great majority of countries on earth, America is not based on race, it is not based on ethnicity, it is not based on religion."

    Wrong on both counts (race and ethnicity having the same meaning) - the Pilgrim Fathers, essentially the founders of America, if not the United States, were religiously motivated and based their new life and country upon it. Excluding its indigenous peoples, the new country was all white and, as slavery took hold, whites were regarded as superior. It is only less than fifty years that segregation has been officially outlawed. Half-a-century cannot wipe out the history of the previous four. America - and indeed, the United States - was founded upon both race and religion. To deny this is to deny history.

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  • 22. At 3:25pm on 06 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "Those that denigrate America for the way we treated native Americans, slaves, our wars and cultural intolerance may want to study their own history before expressing their criticisms." - saintDominick

    What makes you think they have not done so? Why should I not criticse the USA as I criticise my own country and others - is it sacred? Much "denigration" of the US for the faults mentioned is in response to the kind of American nationalist arrogance (by no means shared by all Americans) that underlies claims of "exceptionalism". To say the USA is an "idea" is just silly - it's a political formation, a state; and has behaved much like most states, and in its external relations, much like most great powers - neither markedly better nor markedly worse than others. As for Justin Webb - he's a remarkably clear case of what Orwell called "transferred nationalism", but this phenomenon, with the USA as the object of worship, is not unusual among right-wing Brits.

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  • 23. At 3:25pm on 06 Apr 2009, SaintOne wrote:

    #17-19 Happylaze,

    Calm down please! Sure America has made mistakes but name me one country that hasn't done something stupid. It's just magnified with America because of the size and power it wields. It does no good to blame them for every problem in the world, because whether you'd care to accept it or not, they didn't cause everything bad in this world. Human nature will always be our downfall, not a single country.

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  • 24. At 3:46pm on 06 Apr 2009, smileytm303 wrote:

    Very good point, Justin Webb. "Exceptionalism" is not about being excellent ("exceptional" in that sense), but about being unique.

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  • 25. At 3:47pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Nick (22),

    As for Justin Webb - he's a remarkably clear case of what Orwell called "transferred nationalism", but this phenomenon, with the USA as the object of worship, is not unusual among right-wing Brits.



    Nor is the reverse uncommon.

    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Peace

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  • 26. At 4:03pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 27. At 4:03pm on 06 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    Hesiodos (25)
    The reverse? You mean right-wing Americans worshipping the UK? Right-wing Americans hating the UK? Left-wing Brits hating the US? Left-wing Americans worshipping the UK? Left-wing Americans hating the UK?

    "There abideth these three: faith, hope and clarity. But the greatest of these is clarity."

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  • 28. At 4:06pm on 06 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    I think Obama's answer, as reported here, sounds evasive, as if either he doesn't understand the term (not likely), or doesn't embrace the idea but is reluctant to reject the term.

    Essential reading on this topic is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew Bacevich, who gets to the heart of the meaning of the term.

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  • 29. At 4:12pm on 06 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:

    0. At 11:46am on 06 Apr 2009, Justin Webb wrote:
    "American Exceptionalism stems not from love of country but from the universality of the values of the country."
    Can I read that as "perceived universality"? I assume that's the meaning as the piece concerns perception.

    1. At 12:18pm on 06 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:
    "... regardless of how offensive some of my fellow Americans may find his conclusions..."
    I'm genuinely puzzled that any should find them offensive. Surely representing an idea (however contested its applicability) is now worse than merely being a country. Europe's had lots of those. They're a pain, believe me.

    3. At 12:41pm on 06 Apr 2009, Longmemoryman wrote:
    "'exceptionalism' may work in America some of the time, but in most other countries it's a non-starter. Limited resources confronted by unlimited demand overwhelms it."
    Very nicely put. America's challenge is that it's starting to face the same constraint. Your comments offer a good insight into why this may be a bit traumatic.

    5. At 12:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, Jpp799 wrote:
    "But which values?"
    Absolutely. And the same goes for other countries (like us) who dream of following the "national values" path.

    8. At 1:08pm on 06 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:
    "Unlike the great majority of countries on earth, America is not based on race, it is not based on ethnicity, it is not based on religion."
    I agree so far as America goes, but I think that's equally true of other nations. We're all complex formations riddled with diversity: that's why we have "nation" as opposed to "race" etc. America's immigrant influx just made it a more obvious example. Nations are ideas, just non-universal ones.

    We're all exceptional. The challenge is to accept that, to put it to good use and to recognise and accept it in others. The last is the real challenge for an America that will never again dominate the world as it once did.

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  • 30. At 4:21pm on 06 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 22, Nick

    "I not criticse the USA as I criticise my own country and others - is it sacred?"

    No Nick, our country is not sacred and you are well within your rights to voice criticism and counter arguments; but it would be nice if those that do also admitted their own mistakes and shortcomings.

    As for our adventurism, you are preaching to the choir, I am a pacifist, and I only support military solutions in cases of self-defense and when there is absolutely no other option. I deplore our involvement in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq and everywhere else, including our unconditional support to Israel. I am, however, very proud of our ideals, our Constitution, the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy, and the generosity of our people, which is often at odds with what our government does.

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  • 31. At 4:26pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    see even non swearing criticism is not allowed by the mods.


    Nick has it right.

    There is nothing exceptional about the US .except their waste and many are trying to catch up there .

    25 there are rumours of Americans in the UK who like it there.
    but is that just because they like having the longer holidays and health care even when not working.

    I would understand that.
    and say if the exceptionally slow witted nation that thought healthcare was just fine (until they lost their jobs) had jumped on board earlier than maybe that would not have driven this economy into the hole. (which it did.)HEALTH CARE COST were an issue before any of this other crud hit the fan.

    And they were ignored.

    Before home got defaulted there was a debt.
    and that debt in the OK economy was the healthcare.
    But then that sand is mighty cooling eh?

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  • 32. At 4:32pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Nick (27),

    "There abideth these three: faith, hope and clarity. But the greatest of these is clarity."


    While not wishing to endorse the habit of one-dimensional political "spectra", I was referring to the 'opposite' tendency of more "left wing" folk to engage in anti-Americanism....

    Clear as mud
    ;-)

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  • 33. At 4:33pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    We're all exceptional.

    Nice sentiment . but I think we are all as bad as each other would almost be right but then there is numerical evidence that in THIS day and age, america is pretty responsible.
    They could change real quick.
    Listen to Ed (lament;) and the Berry .
    But they will still be americans until there is no more nylon to make their flags out of.

    Exceptional at burying their own heads.

    This Idea thing. a nation as an Idea.
    phiddle sticks.

    "America? Yea we don't mind the Idea, but the reality, we can do without."


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  • 34. At 4:40pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    St Dom,

    I deplore our involvement in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq and everywhere else, including our unconditional support to Israel. I am, however, very proud of our ideals, our Constitution, the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy, and the generosity of our people, which is often at odds with what our government does.



    Seconded! And worth repeating.

    Salaam, etc.
    Hesiodos

    Use Tao to help rule people.
    This world has no need for weapons,
    Which soon turn on themselves.
    Where armies camp, nettles grow;
    After each war, years of famine.

    The most fruitful outcome
    Does not depend on force,
    But succeeds without arrogance
    Without hostility
    Without pride
    Without resistance
    Without violence.

    If these things prosper and grow old,
    This is called not-Tao.
    Not-Tao soon ends.
    Lao Tzu


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  • 35. At 4:40pm on 06 Apr 2009, newsjock wrote:

    I assume, Justin, that "exceptional-ism" in the US context, means that Americans regard their values and lifestyle as peculiar, particular and precious to their nation and, as such, should be defended.

    Wind the clock back 50 years and that's how Britain and Britons looked at themselves.

    The UK still had a "separateness" and uniqueness arising from our island status, and the hangovers of Empire and Commonwealth. Britain was still "Great", there was a pride in the nation, and we regarded ourselves, rightly of wrongly, as a cut above other countries and nationalities. Our ways were worth preserving.

    The US is still at that stage of thinking, principally because they remain geographically separate from the other major national powers.

    They enjoy their isolation and pride themselves on the lack of influence international pressures have on their lifestyle.

    How will THEY feel and think in another 50 years ?

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  • 36. At 4:42pm on 06 Apr 2009, Parrisia wrote:

    Charming and thoughtful as he may be, O is a typical American predisent i.e. not very cosmopolitan. While it is OK to imitate W on things like not knowing that Austrians speak German, it is nevertheless very disappointing to hear him wanting to go ahead with useless and very costly programs like the missile defence shield especially during dire times such as those the US and the world economy are currently into. It sadly seems that O can not escape the tight embrace of the military-industrial complex...

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  • 37. At 4:44pm on 06 Apr 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    I am an American, though not always proud. Some may say that is not patriotic, but i say blind patriotism is dangerous and marrow minded.
    Exeptionalism seems to be an elitist word that can only invoke anger and separation. If i must make the argument, i feel many Americans are raised with the idea that the DREAM is an entitlement, and are not raised with the old work ethic of our grandparents, and great-granparents.It is the new immigrants that have the stenghth to endure the greuling base work and predjudices, much like our own long ago kin.

    We are not the greatest county, only one of many on this planet. America is only working at half speed, but could function better with a few major repairs, and that will take much humbling on everybodys part.

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  • 38. At 4:48pm on 06 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "No Nick, our country is not sacred and you are well within your rights to voice criticism and counter arguments; but it would be nice if those that do also admitted their own mistakes and shortcomings." - saintDominick

    By "their own", I guess you mean "their countries'" - just in case not, let me admit my laziness, irritability, and tendency to nitpick!
    With regard to countries, it seems to me fairly inane to be either proud or ashamed of what your country is or has done, other than your own part in it, but yes, the UK in particular has a badly flawed democratic system and a long history of imperialism, nationalist arrogance, involvement in the slave trade, racism, etc., along with some more positive features. You would, however, find a strong positive correlation between those Brits willing to admit this, and to feel responsibility for attempting to redress some of the continuing inequities resulting from it, and those who most strongly criticise the USA - and in particular its foreign policy, and the exceptionalism Justin Webb accepts so uncritically. Nationalistic Brits also tend (although not without exception) to be pro-American.

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  • 39. At 4:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:

    29. At 4:12pm on 06 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:
    "Surely representing an idea (however contested its applicability) is now worse than merely being a country."

    I meant of course "is no worse". Apologies.

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  • 40. At 4:55pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    St the blog is on the USA and it's Exceptionalism. not how crap the UK is, which it is, as well.

    With no exceptional behaviour other than the total disregard for the life on this planet (witness the Kyoto agreement and lack of public reaction to this in the USA(yes I know crazy lefties demo'd) , which still has undisclosed chemicals in food products,mmmm).

    I pointed this out for a reason. It is a sham that america was successful in the cold war (they left bombs scattering the globe).

    They have few rights other than t he right to say "help I'm dying"

    Free speech US style.

    This post contains no evidence that America has done anything out of the ORDINARY. Nothing.
    Just the same everyone else does, have a war start businesses up the rest.

    Except where it comes to using resources up. They are pretty exceptional there.

    They export their waste, get things made elsewhere, let them suck pollution.

    The frogs are dying, and the bees are dying and the USA still wants to resist change, away from pesticide and fertiliser filled rivers.

    Life is getting sterile and there is huge species loss.

    And america has resisted all attempts till now to do anything.

    And it still will.

    Why doesn't Justin and the BBC look at the farm bill that Aquarizonagal mentioned. the monsado bill.


    There isn't anything exceptional .. Oh yes there is I forgot the exceptionally high levels of genetically modified crops. there's a good one for all.
    the Irradiated food that no one knows because they don't label it.
    like they don't label GM that's exceptional.
    the exceptional levels of chemicals allowed in food containers . chemicals even banned in China . that's exceptional.

    If people want too talk about it then do but show some evidence that there is anything good about it's exceptionalism or call t what it is.

    looks like it has lipstick on it.

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  • 41. At 5:14pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    There are really two forms of exceptionalism to be discussed.

    There is the US's superpower status which is now ending. We're entering
    a multi-polar world, of which the US will undoubtedly be one of the
    bigger players, but no more than that.

    We tried the "American Empire" thing, but it just didn't click.
    Yes, we could have had an empire based on financial services and
    military power, as the Brits had in the 19th century, but it just
    didn't click. The reason is cultural. If one asks a young American
    child what he wants to be when he grows up, he or she will likely
    respond that he wants to be a spaceman or a race car driver, not
    a derivatives trader on wall street.

    Fundamentally, Americans are too goal-oriented to buy into a pure
    service economy. We like to build things. That's why the middle
    class couldn't latch on to this idea that all of our manufacturing,
    research, and engineering jobs should be outsourced to another continent.

    Now, about the cultural exceptionalism, perhaps Justin has a point.
    Nobody goes to China or India to become Chinese or Indian. It's impossible
    to fit in. So, as long as America remains a melting pot, it will
    be exceptional in that sense, and that gives us a measure of adaptability
    that other cultures lack.

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  • 42. At 5:23pm on 06 Apr 2009, chronophobe wrote:

    re: 28 Gary Hill,

    Thanks for the reference to Bacevich and The Limits of Power.

    A link to a good interview of Bacevich here.

    A thoughtful guy, and well worth a look, I think.

    Yours,
    Canadian Pinko

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  • 43. At 5:25pm on 06 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    newsjock (#35) "I assume, Justin, that "exceptional-ism" in the US context, means that Americans regard their values and lifestyle as peculiar, particular and precious to their nation and, as such, should be defended."

    That isn't the meaning of the term. American Exceptionalism is more akin to what was once called Manifest Destiny, applied on a world-wide scale.

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  • 44. At 5:43pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    happylaze, we took you in, right? We must be exceptional.

    As far as the environmental thing goes, I had a talk with
    the Old Man upstairs just the other day about this very topic.

    He's going to give us yanks a new job - saving the planet.
    This time it won't involve aircraft carriers or armored divisions,
    but instead windmills, biofuels, and solar energy. Just think,
    once we get rid of this false messiah and start to balance
    the budget, we'll be set.

    And, it makes sense. In order to make this work economically,
    a country needs three things: means, motive, and opportunity.
    The Russians and the Canadians don't have the motive. They're
    actually looking forward to kicking out the polar bears and
    putting out a few beach chairs on their Arctic shores. I can see
    the hot dog stands now. And, both countries have huge supplies
    of fossil fuels to help warm things up and get wealthy in the
    process.

    The Europeans don't have the geography. The Indians and the Chinese
    are too poor to even consider the idea. The Brazilians are
    too busy doing the Samba and falling in love. And, the Australians
    are all here.

    So, there you have it. We're in for a few rough years, perhaps an
    entire decade. But, after we try every possible wrong way of doing
    things, we figure out a good path. If the average politician actually
    had a IQ of 100 or above, then that would accelerate things. But,
    we'll get there.

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  • 45. At 5:44pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    people come to america for an easy life . not to become american. that bit is forced on them.

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  • 46. At 5:45pm on 06 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 40

    "With no exceptional behaviour other than the total disregard for the life on this planet..."

    How do you reconcile this view with the $18.8 billion Global AIDS Initiative which has saved anywhere from 10 - 15 million lives?

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  • 47. At 6:00pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    38, Nick-Gotts: "You would, however, find a strong positive correlation between those Brits willing to admit this, and to feel responsibility for attempting to redress some of the continuing inequities resulting from it, and those who most strongly criticise the USA - and in particular its foreign policy, and the exceptionalism Justin Webb accepts so uncritically. Nationalistic Brits also tend (although not without exception) to be pro-American."

    This is a very interesting observation. It tends to be the opposite here in the U.S., i.e., that those who are the most nationalistic tend to be the ones who are most critical and/or afraid of other countries or cultures. And I assume that is what you were saying between the lines.

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  • 48. At 6:06pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    44 GnR lol but no I have lived in 6 countries.(counting the UK as unified still) and been allowed in to a few more than that.



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  • 49. At 6:08pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    43, Gary -

    I think if you ask the "average" American what American Exceptionalism means, the answer you would get most often would be "we are more special than everyone else in the world," more akin to what newsjock said. Not that I'm disagreeing with you. But if so many people misunderstand a term, it becomes what they do understand it to be. I wonder if Obama would have denied the "exceptionalism" if it weren't for the probable fact that telling Americans they are no longer (if ever) special would cause national outrage.

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  • 50. At 6:11pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    46

    Maybe if all them condom banning US missionaries hadn't been out there saying Don't use them there would be less aids.
    (though the catholics in general were pretty big into this form of Ignorance as well)

    Meanwhile do nothing about the raising sea levels that will make AIDS look like small spuds.

    Tell the millions washed out of a lively hood. a house flooded because Global warming was a problem for other countries.
    Hell half of america will suffer at their own hands.

    Own that Capitalism


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  • 51. At 6:13pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    48, happy, but how many have KGB?

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  • 52. At 6:16pm on 06 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    All,

    I know I am going to get flamed for this, but here goes.

    You are all wrong. Except Justin, though I don't know if he knows why he is right.

    American Exceptionalism arises from 3 simple words:

    'We the People'

    Those three words begin the constitution and are a statement unlike any other in history. They state that everyone here has rights, and that those rights are granted by the population and not by anyone else. Sure we are now going to go into a long discussion of Magna Carta and the Oxford Articles, and sure the constitution borrows much from those documents.

    But the fundamental difference is that in this great Nation power derives from the people, not an elite who are held in check by some elected body or other. And it has beenthat way from the start.

    That is why America is exceptional. It has nothing to do with guns, religion, economics or armies. Nothing to do with our welfare systems or government being efficient.

    'We the People . . .'.

    Next time you are in Philadelphia visit the Constitution center. It does a neat job of explaining why this is so important.

    Patriot Sam

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  • 53. At 6:20pm on 06 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #49

    I think if you asked the average American they would say that overall the goverment and society is better than and an example to most places in the world.

    That may be egotistical but if you compare it to the intolerance in much of Asia and Africa, the autocracies in Russia and China, the dictatorship in Latin american (Venezuela, Cuba Nicuragua and Boliva) it its an hard issue to argue

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  • 54. At 6:20pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Andy (46),

    How do you reconcile this view with the $18.8 billion Global AIDS Initiative which has saved anywhere from 10 - 15 million lives?


    To add to the same number of folk added to our straining Earth
    every couple of months...

    Hmmmmm


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  • 55. At 6:23pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    52, Sam, I'll hoist a Sam Adams in your honor this evening.

    I would hoist a pint of bitters, but I can't get any. And, you
    know what those hotheads in Boston did with the tea.

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  • 56. At 6:23pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    bere well said about the problem with telling america the truth.
    that is why unfortunately Obama included his snipe at europe.

    A sad snipe at that.

    Europe still has the right to be outraged at the states for not even trying.

    They did against the will of the USA. they tried to start the changes and banned the GM food.
    Against American wishes. Now they are all going to" have to" use bioengineered seeds to "save the world again"

    So Monsanto now write their own legislation.


    47 Bere The right wing proamericans in the UK tend to be against all other nations.
    we had an example recently on the blog.

    loved americans wanted them to have free entry, but not anyone else.

    Nick makes a very good point.
    That is why I don't think much of the "you just hate the USA,jack "Argument.


    I have no respect for america ,as it is.

    And little for the UK, though they at least tried a little too start down the path of sustainability. They are still anti GM (genetically modified), and anti GM (gas munchers).

    There is a strong organic movement all over the country and it's courts don't murder with the excuse of " we tried them first"



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  • 57. At 6:28pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Sam,

    Those three words begin the constitution and are a statement unlike any other in history.


    Not so!

    Though I admit that Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Adams, & colleagues did an excellent job of carrying the ball forward.

    Patriot Ed

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  • 58. At 6:31pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    GnR.

    the KGB. two ,though not strictly speaking KGB . more of "Boris".
    Bulgaria- fine , and Romania- under the tyrant I suspect the KGB was preferred.


    KGB never stopped me. US bent cop after a little tax money did.

    Netherlands was way more free in every way than the states no contest. pot or not.

    Exceptional state they have.

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  • 59. At 6:36pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    happylaze, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing.

    If you don't know what California KGB is, then ask someone under 25.

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  • 60. At 6:37pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    That may be egotistical but if you compare it to the intolerance in much of Asia and Africa, the autocracies in Russia and China, the dictatorship in Latin american (Venezuela, Cuba Nicuragua and Boliva) it its an hard issue to argue.
    ------------------------------------


    Wow again when you compare it to the states with the fewest freedoms it is exceptional.

    Admittedly some of the Natives did have exceptional societies. Some some were just like what replaced them.

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  • 61. At 6:38pm on 06 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "This is a very interesting observation. It tends to be the opposite here in the U.S., i.e., that those who are the most nationalistic tend to be the ones who are most critical and/or afraid of other countries or cultures. And I assume that is what you were saying between the lines." - bere54

    No, that wasn't quite it. Nationalistic Brits are extremely anti-EU, and often racist, but many see the USA's imperial power as a kind of extension of that which the UK used to have - after all, Americans speak English - of a kind ;-), have a common-law judicial system, a primarily Protestant religious background, and many other cultural features in common with Britain - so nationalistic Brits often feel a kind of vicarious national pride in the achievements of the USA, regarding the differences as relatively unimportant, and the American Revolution as an unfortunate misunderstanding. By contrast, nationalistic Americans emphasise the differences, and the extent of the historical break represented by the Revolution.

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  • 62. At 6:42pm on 06 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #57

    Hi Ed,

    I beg to differ. while those statements are an expression of the rights of man (or woman), they are fundamentally only push back against a ruling elite. The words hold no power.

    The constitution is the first statement in history in which the rights of the common man (or woman) are expressed as deriving from the common man (or woman). As such they are unique, and remain so (with the possible exception of the Communist manifesto. Which turned out to be lies).

    Patriot Sam

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  • 63. At 6:57pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    62, Sam:

    "in which the rights of the common man (or woman) are expressed as deriving from the common man (or woman)"

    But now we're all told that these rights are derived from some god. You mean this is not true? Our politicians have been lying to us? Huh.

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  • 64. At 6:59pm on 06 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "the dictatorship in Latin american (Venezuela, Cuba Nicuragua and Boliva)" - MagicKirin

    Of these four (assuming you mean Nicaragua and Bolivia), only Cuba is a dictatorship. The other three have all had recent multi-party elections judged free and fair by impartial observers, have active opposition parties and press, and AFAIK, no political prisoners.

    Just because you don't like a government, that does not make it a dictatorship.

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  • 65. At 7:03pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Sam
    "The constitution is the first statement in history in which the rights of the common man (or woman) are expressed as deriving from the common man (or woman). As such they are unique, and remain so (with the possible exception of the Communist manifesto. Which turned out to be lies)."

    One, NO mention of women until some amendment right?

    two, your assumption about being first, disregards many cultures and tribes around the world going back way before America was dreamed of by europeans.

    three.Communist manifesto did supposedly give more rights to all and included women.

    four american wealth for all and equality is still a dream and a pack of lies.

    just ask those laid off because the bankers have to be saved.





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  • 66. At 7:21pm on 06 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #63

    Bere,

    Technically, since they are us I think we have been lying to ourselves.

    #65

    Jack,

    I knew I'd get flamed. The 'or woman' thing has to do with the PFJ and Stan's right to be called Loretta. Not in the constitution per se, but related.

    Sam

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  • 67. At 7:33pm on 06 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 50

    You said "total" disregard for the life on this planet. Perhaps you want to back away from that statement.

    BTW, while we bare a disproportionate part of the blame for global climate change, we don't by any means bare all of it, and we're certainly the world's best hope for reversing it.

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  • 68. At 7:36pm on 06 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 61

    "...see the USA's imperial power..."

    We do not, have never, and will never have an empire. Our constitution doesn't allow for it (Puerto Rico is the exception that proves the rule).

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  • 69. At 7:41pm on 06 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 63

    "But now we're all told that these rights are derived from some god. You mean this is not true? Our politicians have been lying to us? Huh."

    We always have been told that:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

    I think it safe to equate "Creator" with God.


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  • 70. At 7:46pm on 06 Apr 2009, Bryn-UK wrote:

    Sam #52: I think I'm right in saying US states bring prosecutions against people by announcing 'the people (of wherever) vs. John Smith'. Just like we in the UK say 'the Queen (or Regina) vs. John Smith'. Of course, it's not actually the Queen herself bringing the prosecution - it's the criminal justice system of the state, working under the name that supposedly confers legitimacy upon it. Is there really anything different going on when Americans talk of 'the people'?

    In this great Nation power derives from the people, not an elite who are held in check by some elected body or other.

    But this is no different from any other democracy, and in the UK dates back to the revolutionary period in the 17th century. Also, why do you imagine the people and the elite to be opposing, separate entities? In the US and the UK, and probably any other democracy, the people wield their power through representation by a political elite (who, especially in the US, tend to be rich men). Further, a country ruled by an 'elite' and only regulated by popular representatives is not a democracy. It is something else. Your description might fit the half-democratic, half-theocratic Iran - but then do you really need to compare American democracy to Iran to flatter it?

    And, wait a second - didn't US democracy start, like British democracy before it, by deriving power from property, not people? Neither Lord North nor George Washington were elected by universal suffrage, I think I'm right in saying.

    More generally, I think JW has started us off us on the wrong tack: exceptionalism is the wrong word, because it denotes something intrinsically bad: a sense of one's own difference that is inevitably self-justifying and that entails a notion of entitlement to operate by one's own criteria of good and bad, right and wrong, etc.

    This does describe accurately some of the worst qualities of the previous administration, but doesn't necessarily go any further (though I'm sure a sophist could argue that it does go to the heart of America's puritan origins).

    I suppose really what we want to know is: is there something unique about America's history and character that make it more capable of achievement than other countries? I'd say there is.

    We, yank and non-yank, should concentrate more on America's abilities than its spurious entitlements.

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  • 71. At 7:47pm on 06 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    63, bere, our pols are confused.

    The voice of the people is the voice of God.
    This concept sure beats the Divine Right of Kings.

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  • 72. At 7:49pm on 06 Apr 2009, kotakinabalu wrote:

    America represents 'universality of values'. As no doubt expressed in the attack on Iraq, supply of arms to Israel, support for Israel, capital punishment, absence of healthcare for a large proportion of its citizens, free run of arms - as supplied to Mexican gangsters, fundamentalist religious mania.... how much more do you want?

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  • 73. At 7:54pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    69, AndyPost -

    The "Creator" isn't named. I always assumed it was an Alien Race. Despite the "unalienable" bit.

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  • 74. At 8:22pm on 06 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Bryn-UK (#70), I agree with your main point, which seems to be that there is no important difference in modern practice between "the people" in the US and "the sovereign" in the UK as representing the state.

    I disagree, however, with your remark: "a country ruled by an 'elite' and only regulated by popular representatives is not a democracy."

    A lot of posters here say something like that from time to time, but it's not accurate. Here's a definition from my dictionary of choice:

    http://www.bartleby.com/61/34/D0123400.html

    The so-called "western democracies" are in fact democracies, whether they are constitutional monarchies or republics. They are not pure democracies or direct democracies, but is any country, anywhere? Perhaps a small, self-sufficient, island nation could function as a direct democracy, but no large modern state could. If you would say that representative democracy is not democracy at all, then the term has no practical application.

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  • 75. At 8:23pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    GnR
    "The voice of the people is the voice of God."



    So americans are GODS?

    do you wonder why others would think americans elitist


    Andy post
    "BTW, while we bare a disproportionate part of the blame for global climate change, we don't by any means bare all of it, and we're certainly the world's best hope for reversing it."

    because the world can't change you . yea I'd agree . america is the best hope for reversal. That is why everyone else has been trying to get you slow coaches on board. You have to change. if the whole world went green and america did not we would all be screwed.


    America is one of the biggest users of crud in the world.
    even half of china's pollution comes from providing Us with goods.


    That is like freddy west claiming that if he gets into stopping people getting killed, he would have the best results of anyone in terms of saving lives.






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  • 76. At 8:25pm on 06 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    I wonder if Justin Webb doesn't have a more accurate view of American exceptionalism because he is from the outside looking in. It is something I don't see myself, which may be because I am part and parcel of it.

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  • 77. At 8:27pm on 06 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Bryn-UK (#70) "exceptionalism is the wrong word"

    No, it isn't, because the term American Exceptionalism is well-established, has a particular meaning, and it is that usage which the reporter intended and which Mr. Webb recognized by his use of capitalization.

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  • 78. At 8:28pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    I think it safe to equate "Creator" with God.

    NO ! MOTHER and FATHER.

    Where does god come into it.

    I was created by my parents. well at least scientifically speaking that is all we can be sure of (and yes I am).

    If not and if it was God they talked about hen it seems they couldn't keep their facts straight right from the start which goes to show they were not as bright as you'll like to give them credit for.
    Or they were fibbing.

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  • 79. At 8:33pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "But the fundamental difference is that in this great Nation power derives from the people, not an elite who are held in check by some elected body or other. And it has beenthat way from the start"


    Come off it Sam. this is a joke.It has never been that way from the start.

    Just ask those slaves.

    It has never achieved that state where the people make up the rules. the rich make up the rules and America has always been that way.

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  • 80. At 8:37pm on 06 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 49

    'I think if you ask the "average" American what American Exceptionalism means, the answer you would get most often would be "we are more special than everyone else in the world."'

    I hadn't come across the term before having read it on this blog. I doesn't resonate with me.

    Americans tend to think of the rest of the world as a good place to be from. Other than that, I really don't think my countrymen give the rest of the world much thought at all.

    Koppel got it right the other night on BBC News America. When Matt Frei asked what Americans wanted from the G20 meeting, Koppel said that he thought most Americans weren't paying attention and moreover a lot of them weren't even aware it was going on. I think this lack of interest is mistaken for exceptionalism or arrogance when it's really just an expression of our fundamental isolationism.

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  • 81. At 8:41pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Guns (71),

    Thanks for that!

    Paine is pretty devastating on Kings:

    "But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked; and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."
    and
    "To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion."
    Common Sense


    ;-)

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  • 82. At 8:43pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    76 Marbles Personally I think you show less of the jingoism that JW does. I suspect you are more detached than him about it.
    You seem to be.

    Editor of the BBC in america. married (i think) to an ameican, with american kids.

    hardly detached.

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  • 83. At 8:57pm on 06 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    This is interesting. The term American Exceptionalism seems to have been coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America.

    http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/american-exceptionalism.htm

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  • 84. At 9:03pm on 06 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    So Tom Paine's liable to sue the BBC for copyright violation?

    "To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion. "
    Common Sense 1776


    Really, Mods!
    ;-)

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  • 85. At 9:16pm on 06 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #64

    I think if you talked to the Mayor in Venezuela who was arrested on trumpted up charge or the Bolivian opposition whose house were destroyed by Morales Dignity squads they would not call them free democracies.

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  • 86. At 9:22pm on 06 Apr 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Does the president believe in American Exceptionalism?.
    Dictionary.com always helps us 'forinners" to decipher big words
    "Except"
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to exclude; leave out:
    –verb (used without object)
    2. to object (usually fol. by to or against):.
    Geneva convention? Kyoto? The norms of combat [depleted uranium]? Waterboarding? International Justice? Yes that's America :- Everybody together in agreement except the US.
    "Exceptional"
    –adjective
    1. forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary:
    2. Education. (of a child)
    a. being intellectually gifted.
    b. being physically or esp. mentally handicapped to an extent that special schooling is required.
    Must agree that 1 and 2b seem perfect for the "American child" of yesterday.
    "Exceptionalism"
    –noun
    1. the condition of being exceptional; uniqueness.
    2. the study of the unique and exceptional.
    3. a theory that a nation, region, or political system is exceptional and does not conform to the norm.
    Yes. 1 and 2 could be the man himself and his individual mindset, but re 3, moving from hypothesis to being concrete fact takes more than a few well spoken words supported by journalists.
    Try opening the windows on the bus Justin. You appear to be suffering from "bubble wrap".

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  • 87. At 9:26pm on 06 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 64 Nick-Gotts wrote: [to MagicKirin]

    "Of these four (assuming you mean Nicaragua and Bolivia), only Cuba is a dictatorship. The other three have all had recent multi-party elections judged free and fair by impartial observers, have active opposition parties and press, and AFAIK, no political prisoners./Just because you don't like a government, that does not make it a dictatorship."

    Dear oh dear Nick. Haven't you learned the rules of MagicWorld yet?

    It's v similar to Alice's Wonderland. Ie 'Words mean what I want them to mean, no more, no less'.

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  • 88. At 9:48pm on 06 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    82, happy Jack.

    I wonder if people don't make up words tht then take on a life of their own. Is exceptionalism an example of this? And what about Justin Webb's unfortunate contribution, "strategician"?

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  • 89. At 10:01pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    86
    Waterman. so good to see you back.Problem with bubble wrap is it is not very good at allowing air to pass through it. all those busy bees use up the air very quickly.


    88 Marbles. yes
    JW "strategician " is one I found novel

    American Exceptialism seems to be as you describe, except it is not that the word gets life from the utterance but an illusion of what it is does.

    "anti semitism is one we already discussed at length" just as another example,not into debating it.

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  • 90. At 10:09pm on 06 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #70, 74

    Bryn, you are simply wrong.

    Parliament comprises the peoples representatives and while it operates as an executive it is held in check by the Lords (until recently appointed by the Sovereign, the PM or Hereditary) and the Queen. It is not the sovereign power and was not even under Cromwell, an unelected 'Lord Protector'.

    The head of state is not elected in the UK. Arguably the French are a little more advanced. And the Germans. But even their system of government was not founded on the principle of government by and for the poeple enshrined in a written set of rights and laws.

    You can argue votes were originally limited by wealth (same as everywhere else, especially the UK). You can argue you got to the same place, eventually. But you would be wrong.

    But all that means is you don't get it. Which is fundamentally why a lot of folks don't understand the USA or Americans. Europeans often think we are the same. We are similar in many ways, but we are not the same.

    And it all comes form those 3 simple words.

    'We the people . . .'

    The rest is irrelevant to what America is. It is rather commentary on how we do things and the mechanisms rather than the essence of the nation.

    You can rail against America and the American dream being dead, deeply ironic since we have a self made man as Head of State right now. But even BHO is a symbol in many ways. America is exceptional because of how our Nation was constructed. It makes us capable of great good, and great mistakes. It makes us willing to try, able to reinvent ourselves as individuals as well as a society. It makes us tolerant of individuals, no matter how crazy or stupid what they say is. And it does make us highly entrepreneurial. Tolerant of religion, or lack thereof. Sure we fight with ourselves. But that is our right.

    Because it starts with 3 words.

    We the People.

    Citizen Sam

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  • 91. At 11:12pm on 06 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Sam you are losing it if you believe your own story here.

    WE the people did not include women , black people , what about indentured servants?
    there was nothing behind it other than "the king isn't taking our concerns into account so stuff him"

    "We the people "indeed
    " we the wealthy land owners" more like it.
    Yes JUST THE SAME AS THE REST.

    Nothing exceptional.

    Sad man get out on the streets and out of the Ivory halls of that institute you're at.

    We the people is a myth.

    "we the industrial military complex"
    fair nuff
    " we the lobbyists with the most money"

    "We the agri business "

    "we the rich entitled"

    "we them that make the rules for YOU"

    Not "we the people".

    Are you living in a permanent July the 4th celebration.

    You say they don't get it.
    No. You don't

    You don't get that revolutions happened and the country kept the same name.FRANCE. Not a lot like the Luis kingdom now is it.
    Not as much as the US is.

    France . Remember. MA hates it. little country below the UK next to Spain. The one with the Eiffel tower. the one that gave america the statue of liberty.
    That France was set up with the EXPRESS desire of saying good buy to monarchy and with more freedom than the USA.
    they still retain the right to not have to bow to the cops when told to or be shot "for evading"


    You can try and frame it better by saying
    "america is the only nation that is america and so it is exceptional" if you like , but that is about it.

    They are FRENCH FRIES not freedom fries.

    See problem is as an american you CANNOT see it.

    No matter if you studied in the UK for years.
    you are not a dual national.just sound like it .
    At heart you like I said about Obama ,are american. That I am sure is no insult to you. but I am both. and have been brought up both from DAY ONE.

    In the UK the people behave more free.

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  • 92. At 11:32pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    90, Sam -

    You make it all sound so good. But most of the People would not even recognize the document you speak of, beyond those three words. Ignorance abounds in this country, sadly.

    A life spent here not as one of the mainstream majority has perhaps given me a completely different perspective on "You the People." "You" because I've lived in places where I felt very unwelcome, at different times for different reasons. It has to do with a lack of that tolerance that you think makes this country exceptional. The intolerance may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but it's rampant among the People. And what is a country if not its people?

    I don't claim it's any better elsewhere; I just haven't seen anything that makes this country so special.

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  • 93. At 11:43pm on 06 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    I'd have to agree with most of what happylaze says at 91.

    Also, there's not a whole lot of freedom in a country where a person can be arrested at any time for absolutely no reason, and if the person wishes to know why they're being arrested, they're charged with resisting arrest.

    You also wonder about that freedom when an 18-year-old girl is arrested, handcuffed, and chained to a wall in the jail for the "crime" of drinking one beer.

    Is the way "We the People" have decided it should be?

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  • 94. At 11:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    74

    You are correct that pure democracies in the ancient Greek sense could never exist today, except on a small island because most of the ancient Greek Democracies were city states, not nations in even the modern sense of a state. When these states became too big they almost without exception disintegrated or became autocracies and monarchies.
    The Romans were really the first to figure out how democracies could exist over vast areas when they created the Republic. So it would be more accurate to say that modern democracies, even parliamentary democracies, all stem from the Roman Empire-thought writers and politicos of the Enlightenment began the Democratic revolutions of the 1700s.

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  • 95. At 11:53pm on 06 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    Main Topic:
    The point of American Exceptionalism is to foster Nationalism and prevent state secession in a very heterogeneous and Federalist nation, to make people believe in the goodness of the Republican form of government and the Constitution, and to express that America is where you want to go and to be from because through hard work anyone can do well, even in tough times. You see, America has always clung to ideals and beliefs because it is what holds us together as a nation, without which we would be just a collection of independent states; it is about progress, manifest destiny, that more perfect union, and the shining city on a hill. It has never been about today, but about the future, that today was better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better still; that was the power behind Pres. Barack Obamas Hope campaign. And yes, any political group can latch on to this idea for their own agenda, but that is exactly the point and why it and the Republic have endured as long as they have.

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  • 96. At 00:04am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #91

    Jack,

    You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this. America is exceptional because we derive our powers and rights from the people and we were not only the first to do this but we have an ongoing experiemnt in how to do it. We keep evolving and refining.

    We can talk about the outcomes and how desirable or undsirable they are, and will agree on much. But fundamentally what makes America exceptional is the way the country was founded. On those 3 words.

    France is a good example of how others have tried and failed. The revolution adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was adopted in 1789, after the Constitution was ratified and came into effect.

    Then they decided to be an Empire. With an Emperor, effectively a military dictatorship. Short guy, bad tempered, made his relatives kings all round Europe.

    Then back to a Monarchy.

    Then that Emperor dude again.

    Back to the Monarchy.

    Then a second Republic, but they really struggled with the whole people thing, so:

    Another Emperor, nephew of the short guy.

    Finally a Republic imposed by the military in 1871.

    Some nastiness with the Vichy thing.

    Fourth Republic, only lasted 11 years and finally, in 1948 - the Fifth republic. Finally a modern democracy.

    I'm not a dual citizen. I'm a fat middle aged bald guy from PA. I don't really like the French, mostly because I am convinced MAII is French.

    Besides, they are chips, and the Belgians invented them.

    Pax

    Patriot Sam

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  • 97. At 00:10am on 07 Apr 2009, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Ref 90 SamTyler1969

    We the People...

    Another thing often over-looked is that prior to the adoption of those words ten, independent States and three Commonwealths worked in relative unison for a common goal under the loose confederation of the Continental Congress. Autonomous governments that had to give up some amount of autonomy in order to unite under a single, federal government. A second, bloodless, revolution took place when a diverse group of brilliant people recognized the strength of unity and adopted The United States Constitution.

    Few European kingdoms and governments expected these United States of America to last.

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  • 98. At 00:11am on 07 Apr 2009, Bryn-UK wrote:

    Hi Gary (# 74 & 77),

    Thanks for the replies. A fair point on the usage of American Exceptionalism. I reckon you’re right, and that Justin’s capitalization was pointing to some sort of codified notion of what the term means: problem is, I think there might now be quibbles as to what this ‘American Exceptionalism’ entails or what is codified by it – in a way that you don’t get with, say, the ‘American Dream’. I’d suggest that one reason for that is, mainly because of a recent eight-year period, there is ambivalence as to whether this exceptionalism means ‘justified awareness of own pre-eminence; exemption from systemic faults of other nations’ or ‘plain old truculence’.

    Interestingly enough, as everyone is throwing around definitions, the Oxford English Dictionary reckons that the principle (and original) meaning of the word ‘exceptionalism’ on its own relates to the American flavour. This rather backs up your point and defeats mine (rather awkward, as they happen to be my employers):

    The theory that the peaceful capitalism of the United States constitutes an exception to the general economic laws governing national historical development, and esp. to the Marxist law of the inevitability of violent class warfare; more generally, the belief that something is exceptional in relation to others of the same kind; loosely, exceptional quality or character.

    Mind you, that’s a definition written in 1993. For me, for what it’s worth, the term ‘American exceptionalism’ has taken on decidedly negative connotations (exception from rule of law, from the consensus against wars of aggression, from the abomination that is torture, etc.).

    I agree with your first point, and originally planned to include something to the same effect. Agreed that Athens was something like a direct democracy, and no modern one is – and that this doesn’t diminish our democracy. My argument was against Sam’s – in any democracy worth the name the elite and the elected body are the same thing, and to a certain extent the elite and the people are the same thing (in that ‘the people’ can join the elite). Sam seemed to be attacking a straw-man figure representing non-US democracies: in the US the people rule, he said, whereas in lesser democracies an elite rules and the politicians elected by the people (no more than a regulatory watchdog) nip at their heels. But this is nonsense.

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  • 99. At 00:17am on 07 Apr 2009, Bryn-UK wrote:

    Hi Sam (#90),

    The power of the Lord is severely restricted and has been since 1909 (or so): it can only reject Commons legislation three times. This is because of the supremacy of the House of Commons. The House of Commons is supreme because it has a democratic mandate and the Lords doesn’t. This is why Prime Ministers no longer lead the govt. from the Lords (which previously they did). In theory, they actually could if they wanted, as there is no rule either way.

    But then since when did we need a rule-book telling us how to run our country? We've been doing it for long enough.

    Either way, the House of Lords can revise legislation, and it is indeed known as the 'upper house'. But it does not hold the executive in check - that is what the Commons does.

    The Queen is a figurehead. Her power is, in a sense, figurative, in that it is not in any way literal or real. Believing, on the other hand, that the words ‘we the people’ enshrine and protect all of America’s democratic practices is literalism. Fundamentalism, even.

    Frankly, I don’t care too much about what is said on paper. I care more about how we do things. Rights are, in a sense, also pieces of paper, and so they are important. But mighty principles written in fine language mean nothing unless there is a culture that remembers, values, and uses them.

    America has the greatest freedom of speech laws in the world, and the greatest respect of any country for the principle of freedom speech. Until very recently the UK had no such law. And yet the US media couldn’t fight its way out a wet paper bag, whereas the UK media is, at heart, savage.

    You can carve the words out of stone or, as you do, make them mantra. But that won’t make them come true.

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  • 100. At 00:19am on 07 Apr 2009, mary gravitt wrote:

    I think you should read Andrew J. Bacevich's The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. He lost a son in Iraq and served honorably in the US military. He tells a lot about the exceptionalism of war and power. American Exceptionalism has caused more problems for the world as the combination of power hungry presidents and the CIA under them have caused death and famine througout the world.

    Obama is right though when he says, We are all exceptional; thereby all human. To error is human to forgive is devine.

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  • 101. At 00:24am on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    52, 62, 90. Sam: The trifecta.
    Very fine posts.
    "We the people", then "the rights of man", and then, inevitably, de Tocqueville comes up at 83. Gary.

    49. Bere - That's the shame of it. Many Americans (and, to be fair, non-Americans) wouldn't recognize the term, far less come close to defining it correctly. Hardly one in a hundred (a thousand?) could have matched what Sam has written.

    9. St.1 - Funny.
    13. St. D - Quite so.
    15. The American Hesiodos ? I have been trying to come up with that ever since you explained who Hesiodos was. Arlo Guthrie? Garcia?

    21. DC - I'd like to come back to this one, see below.

    27. Nick "Faith, Hope and Clarity". Laughed and laughed.

    33 and 79. Happy "America? Yea we don't mind the Idea, but the reality we can do without."
    A lot of truth in that, but that's really the point, isn't it?
    It's the journey that counts. Of course the Union isn't perfect, its unfinished. It will always be unfinished. That's the whole idea of seeking a more perfect Union.

    It's easy to be pessimistic, but that's the other point, implicit in Guns' cleverly written, and very funny comment at 44. Give us a while, we may do a bunch of stupid things along the way, but eventually we'll get there. Yes. That's what the founders believed. They were rationalists. America has the ability to adapt, to re-invent itself, to benefit from the collective, unfettered creativity of its people.

    43. Gary - American Exceptionalism is not the same as Manifest Destiny, at least not as far as I am aware. Could be wrong, though. AE is what Sam is talking about, a political philosophy that grew out of the enlightment. Manifest Destiny is an altogether more jingoistic concept that scares the willies out of America's neighbours.

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  • 102. At 00:27am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this"

    Lol Sam I 'm sure we already have.
    many times.

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  • 103. At 00:31am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #98,98

    Bryn,

    You miss the point. Power was(is) not derived from the people in other democracies. It is derived from the state, currently or historically.

    It's a whole different mindset. One you can only get if you have it. One that is exceptional.

    Constitutional Sam

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  • 104. At 00:36am on 07 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    The Obama apology tour continues.

    The people Obama should be apologizing to are the previous administration. For denoncing their work in protecting the world for terrorism.

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  • 105. At 00:46am on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    21 DC, referring to my comment at 8 wrote:

    "Wrong on both counts (race and ethnicity having the same meaning) - the Pilgrim Fathers, essentially the founders of America, if not the United States, were religiously motivated and based their new life and country upon it. Excluding its indigenous peoples, the new country was all white and, as slavery took hold, whites were regarded as superior. It is only less than fifty years that segregation has been officially outlawed. Half-a-century cannot wipe out the history of the previous four. America - and indeed, the United States - was founded upon both race and religion. To deny this is to deny history.

    I don't disagree with this so much, but you are not writing about the same thing I was writing about.

    First, I don't think race and ethnicity are quite the same thing. The Germans, French, Dutch, English, Spanish, Italians and Swiss are racially indistinguishable, but are clearly not of the same ethnicity. Croats and Serbs are in essence racially identical, but ethnically the same? Not in their eyes.

    Second, yes, several of the thirteen colonies were founded by dissentient religious sects. Absolutely true. But the pilgrims were not "the founders" in this context. The "founders" in the context of American Exceptionalism were the men of the enlightenment who founded a republic a century and a half later. One of the essential compromises made at the founding of the Republic was to guarantee constitutional protection for freedom of conscience - the right to worship, or not, as one pleases. Think of the founding fathers who signed the declaration of Independence. How many of them were religiously intolerant, or held fundamentalist religious beliefs? Pretty close to zero?

    Third, the ideals of the age of reason were, manifestly, not based on racism. But, sort of like Happy's comment at 33, that does not mean that racism was not a fact of life at independence, or an enduring issue in American culture. Not at all.

    Founded upon race and religion ? I don't disagree with your point, but you are addressing a different issue, or different issues.

    And that brings me to the last point.

    President Obama seems often to seek to put his feet in Lincoln's footsteps. But if ever there was a Jeffersonian to occupy the White House, this man is the one. The whole town hall thing, the "no drama Obama" thing, are attempts to demonstrate that by reasonable discussion and explanation, rational policy can emerge - and can be defended when questioned by the common man. That is the man's underlying belief, his central faith. A Jeffersonian if there ever was one.

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  • 106. At 00:57am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Sam but not to let you off the hook.Good on you for believing . you believe in God as well. fair enough but this is the problem.
    There is no proof of either, just a belief.

    America was not founded on three words. those words came about as a result of as E.. Hesiodos showed some pamphlet that was there before the revolution got underway.


    "America is exceptional because we derive our powers and rights from the people and we were not only the first to do this but we have an ongoing experiemnt in how to do it. We keep evolving and refining."

    Britain doesn't even behead anyone these days. things change everywhere.
    Britain has evolved as well.and it is on going. No exceptionalism.

    OHH I take it back. again. The Americans did have some real foundations in democratic thinking. But you Europeans killed them all off.

    Then Claimed to be Americans.


    " Then they decided to be an Empire. With an Emperor, effectively a military dictatorship. Short guy, bad tempered, made his relatives kings all round Europe.

    Then back to a Monarchy."


    UMM well not back to monarchy . YET.
    but I see an empire and a short twit in the recent past and frankly I think to say that the bad old ways of america are beaten and that the O revolution is over, compete, is a little premature.Bit like standing on a boat with some planes and saying "mission accomplished". So far he has won an election and maybe will win the next.But America has Nothing in it's history to say it cannot go as bad as the rest all have .

    Now I wish Obama all the luck in the world and voted for him because he is a good start. but after him when the baying wolves of republicanism come out of the wood work and a little Bush is pronounced Queen things may look different.
    The future hasn't happened and I will not just assume that things are going to go well.
    because it is convenient to do so.

    as to France I think them a good people, except when they force feed their geese and burn ships in trucks (though live shipment is pretty cruel in the first place).

    Is Paris skate city on a sunday still?


    As to chips being invented by the Belgians . That I doubt. they were not the big trading country that came back with the spud(though I doubt Raleigh was either). but I am sure it did not take travelling to Belgium for someone to fry some.

    just saying nationalism is normally full of ......

    America has just got into some deep muck.

    why do they keep acting as if history is over.
    Bry. (a brit I assume) says yea I suppose according to the dictionary there has yet to be class war.

    YET.

    Does anyone understand what that word means.

    it can happen.

    And so far america has done little to indicate it will not end up like all the other examples.

    And I think it will. when the waters rise the houses are lost the crops fail and we are all going "damn it the hippies had it right again as we sit in out fiats on the last remaining hill side.
    YET

    Just saying


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  • 107. At 01:01am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    101 interested. I am sure it is possible to get there. but not the way america is heading and not if they cannot recognise the problem.
    FIRST STEP
    recognise there is a problem.

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  • 108. At 01:05am on 07 Apr 2009, Bryn-UK wrote:

    Sam #103.

    No, I don't get it. I fail utterly to see how the United States is the only democracy to 'derive' power from the people, when that is the basis of all democracies. Indeed, when that very notion 'derives' from a common historical development initiated and shared by (among others) America, France, the UK, and Holland.

    It is one thing to say that America is the least statist of the democratic nations. It is sloppy thinking to say that, therefore, America has rule by the people and other democracies have rule by the state.

    Who, exactly, do you think make up the 'state' in (to limit the argument) European democracies, other than politicians elected by the people? Their power derives from their being elected by the people. You can say that Europeans identify more with the role of the state, and that they accord more legitimacy to the state than most Americans do. But in all of these countries the power to control the state derives from and is conditional upon the will of the people.

    I guess you could also say that Americans are more likely to talk and think of themselves as governed by the people, and that it plays a bigger part in the rhetoric they use identify themselves as American. But that depends on whether you believe in rhetoric or reality.

    To be honest, I think that America is more directly democratic than the UK - you guys vote on more matters than we do (the caucus system is fantastic, for example), though I don't always prefer that way of doing things (esp. politicization of judges, prosecutors, lawmen etc.). On the other hand I think the American political elite is much more plutocratic and distanced from the people than here, and that US politicians enjoy much more deference.

    That Bush had to pretend to be a Texan good ol' boy when he was a privileged Yankee with a rich daddy tells you something about the rhetoric and reality of 'rule by the people'.

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  • 109. At 01:12am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    99 bryn UK well said.

    Sam the Mindset thing is a load of tosh and not peter who made some sense. Sorry but the mindset in the USA is not about freedom or rebellion it is about "Go team" as you exhibit so well.
    It is not about the other teams. Not about the miners who still die in mines because the corporate wants to have another manicure.


    "I don't trust them" americans say. then they do.They trust them on WMD. they Trust them on pesticides not being labelled, food not being labelled, "GM "(both) is good for you. "We believe"

    "I trust them , but am gong to keep a bloody good eye on them "is the way the Brits work.

    Americans believe their country will do good by them, until they call upon it to do so.

    We'll see if Obama gets that. ( I think He will) but I'm not sure America will.

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  • 110. At 01:26am on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    "Rule by the people" leaves a lot to be desired when the majority of the people would rather watch "reality" TV than read a book or a newspaper.

    Some study showed that less than 50% of Americans read even one book last year. These people should rule anybody? It's not all that uncommon to hear people say, "Oh, I haven't read a book since I had to in college [or high school]."

    Would anyone want to place a bet on whether that less-than-50% are the very same people who voted for that Wasilla woman? And the majority of the ones who voted twice for Bush?

    Rule by this kind of people is supposed to be a good thing? Pardon my skepticism.

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  • 111. At 01:36am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    110 scary as hell
    agreed

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  • 112. At 01:37am on 07 Apr 2009, canadianaccountant wrote:

    America is exceptionally big in population. After that their history is that of freebooters following their nose. Very human; not at all exceptional. Their society was founded by English squires who committed treason for the purposes of acquiring to themselves the power to take all the land and control they could get. American's of principal at that time came to Canada and founded a loyal society that, IMHO is as exceptional as the USA in every conceivable way, (multi-cultural, robust, technically advanced, free, what?), save the fact that it isn't as big.

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  • 113. At 01:40am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "America can be a nice place"

    That I can agree with.

    I just love the ambiguity in can. like ripping a label off

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  • 114. At 01:42am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    112 GO CANADA!!!

    But their population is not that big considering the space.

    well thats from a british point of view.
    maybe canada with the same space and so many less.mmm got me thinking again.

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  • 115. At 01:50am on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Exceptional? We the people? Who?

    ;-)

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  • 116. At 01:56am on 07 Apr 2009, junkmonkey wrote:

    America is what it is.

    As an American, my opinion matters in the sense that when combined with the opinions of other Americans, it serves,only somewhat, to give direction to the country.

    But I'm not sure that Americans have absolute control over that. The concepts embedded in the soul of the nation are bigger than its inhabitants. That's why the world gets so angry when we stumble and act like big, condescending jerks, when we do well.

    But the global consensus doesn't really affect Americas direction all that much.

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  • 117. At 02:03am on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Foreigner (105),

    "But if ever there was a Jeffersonian to occupy the White House, this man is the one."


    But Jefferson is reputed to have had a rather squeaky voice and wass far better on paper than on his feet (except probably in intimate company)

    Jefferson and Lincoln combined?
    Hope so.
    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Peace

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  • 118. At 02:15am on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Bryn (108),

    "I guess you could also say that Americans are more likely to talk and think of themselves as governed by the people, and that it plays a bigger part in the rhetoric they use identify themselves as American."


    And that is as close to a definition of "exceptionalism" as we're likely to get - The perception that America is exceptional

    Case closed

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  • 119. At 02:19am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    110, bere.

    Are you suggesting that only the educated are intelligent? That they are the only ones whose beliefs have merit? You seem to disdain those who have not had your advantages and imply that they are an inferior people. Like everyone else they work, pay taxes, have families - and vote. I don't think you can blame them for Bush and, as for the "Wasilla woman," if you remember correctly, she was not elected. It would seem that a good percentage of those unread 50 per cent voted for Obama.

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  • 120. At 02:30am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    117, Hesiodos.
    "But Jefferson is reputed to have had a rather squeaky voice and wass far better on paper than on his feet (except probably in intimate company)"

    I should think InterestedForeigner was thinking of the quality of Obama's mind.

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  • 121. At 02:36am on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Ms Marbles (120),

    Indeed, as I said, Jefferson+. Not only a quality mind, but I hope also a quality soul.

    Peace

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  • 122. At 02:37am on 07 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Justin,

    Very noble and kind words indeed, and sentaments of which I agree with in so far as America is "exceptional" in the way in which it was founded and the principles and values that it was founded apon. However, as others on here have wisely pointed out, our founding fathers were certainly by no means the first people to express a desire for the people of a nation to aultomately govern themselves. Such desires were expressed, and implemented in documents such as the Magna Carta, and by phelossiphers such as Thomas Hobbs and John Loke, who, curiously enough, were huge sourses of inspiration to Thomas Jefferson, John Attoms, Benjamen Franklin and Thomas Pane. In fact, one of the most noble, ahead of its time, and enduring phrses of the constitution, '"That among these are life, liberty, and the pursute of happyness," John Loke had previous to those words being penned, written on how he believed that all men should be granted the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursute of property." but Jefferson felt that "property" was too misfitting, so he changed his version to "happyness," and voi la! There we have one of the most recogniseable and enduring declarations ever written in the English language.


    Now regarding Obama's answer. Have you considered that perhaps Obama didn't want to risk angering his French hosts and the millions of other foreigners who were watching from around the world, with a statement such as '"America is an idea?" Consider the circumstances and surroundings Justin. Obama was in Europe, and more specificly France, to patch up ties that had been badly streigned under Bush, not break them. If he had said that he believed in American exceptionalism because '"America is an idea," in France of all places, can you imagine the potencial ire he could've drawn? Which is why I think he did a good, smart thing by safely answering the question to please everyone and offend noone. Best not anger the nation who has pretty much hated us since our founding anyway...again.

    Obama has throughout his campaign and young, presidency always refered to America as "a beacon of hope," "the world's last best hope," and "a place where anything is possible." So I'm pretty sure he agreees wholeheartedly with your sentaments, he just probably didn't want to admit so on foreign soil.

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  • 123. At 02:39am on 07 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #52. SamTyler1969: "You are all wrong."

    My, my! Not an opinion, but a statement of 'fact'. Although the Constitution of the United States starts with the words "We the People . . .", the people did not in fact draw it up, but rather their representatives, an elite group. The grand opening phrase is not truly indicative of what happened, since there were only fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention, hardly "the people". Politicians then and now were (and are) adept at rolling out fine sounding words on behalf of others, but to imply that in 1787 their constituents, The People, were consulted is nonsense.

    #53. MagicKirin: "I think if you asked the average American they would say that overall the goverment and society is better than and an example to most places in the world."

    There is no doubt that you are correct, but only because "the average American" has never experienced life elsewhere. There is an implicit and deep-rooted belief that America is the wealthiest, strongest and best place to live, ignoring the National Debt, the lack of health care and the obvious disparity between the wealthy and the poor. "Best" does not exist - nations are "different", not always better than another.

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  • 124. At 02:40am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    112, Canadian.

    What does IMHO mean?

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  • 125. At 02:43am on 07 Apr 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    We got it all - ignorance, dirt, art, culture, guns, corruption, idealism, open-mindedness, narrow-mindedness, greed, generosity, ocean, desert, jungle, mountain - we've got German ubermen, Aisan nihilists, Greek democracy, British colonialism, Bible Belt creationists, Sophisticated European atheists, Moslem purists - compromise, racism, communism, capitalism, rich, poor, smart, stupid.

    And somewhere deep down each American knows at the basic level excrement from all of the above still stinks (some have to be reminded)- that is our exceptionalism.

    Every time I travel, then return and open a pastry shrink-wrapped in plastic, I am still glad to be back - I breathe free here and I can get anything I really need (including a job or a gun) at Walmart.

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  • 126. At 02:47am on 07 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    SamTyler1969 #52 and #90: Hear hear!!! Could not have said it better myself!!

    PS Justin, I would very much like to know of your discussions on America's decline and the post-Obama America. I would not find them "troublesome" in the slightest.

    Thank you.

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  • 127. At 02:53am on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    No Rash,

    "Best not anger the nation who has pretty much hated us since our founding anyway...again."

    The French were our first and best allies! Without them, we'd still be British.

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  • 128. At 03:06am on 07 Apr 2009, british-ish wrote:

    122. At 02:37am on 07 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    " Best not anger the nation [France] who has pretty much hated us since our founding anyway...again."

    Actually, bringing the Brits into it is what might have made the French wince a bit.

    Something very peculiar is going on. History has, seemingly, been entirely rewritten by Donald Rumsfeld and his ilk. Apparently.

    May I remind you that it was the French who supported the American rebels against the British in the War of Independence? And later, if it comes to that. They sent you a statue of a woman with a torch, not a Trojan Horse.

    (At least that's what I learnt in American History at school. In England. And I passed the exam.)



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  • 129. At 03:24am on 07 Apr 2009, jaamkie wrote:

    As a born-and-educated Virginian ("educated"=overdose of Virginia history at the expense of learning anything beyond America and our European ancestry), two things about Jefferson, one of our "Founding Fathers"... (and putting aside the real history of the phrase "American Exceptionalism")

    At the time of the revolution, Jefferson saw Americans as younger brothers to the French intellectuals of the Enlightenment, as looking back to the Greeks for inspiration while adapting the ideals to a much larger population- certainly not unique in the desire for rule "by the people for the people". The "uniqueness" was just an exceptional opportunity at the time of the revolution- an opportunity to put widely-held Enlightenment philosophy into practice in forming a new government. Americans are excessively proud of our Constitution, created in that fortuitous moment; and I feel we've been resting on our laurels and propaganda for quite too long now, happy to point out oppression in other societies while unwilling to admit or struggle against our own imperfections (watch how quickly ethics reform is forgotten- again; how much of our taxes continue to fund special interests instead of competently serving the public; how even Libertarians focus on procedural liberty rather than expanding the real choices available to citizens, sigh...)

    Secondly, despite what religous nuts will claim, at least one of our "Founding Fathers" explicitly denied that America was meant to be a Christian nation- in a letter about his Virginia Religious Freedom Act (the direct precursor to the 1st amendment), Jefferson writes:

    "a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination."


    anyway, I'm not proud to be an American when that means to value the well-being of fellow citizens over that of non-citizens, but I am proud of any distant association with Virginia's religious freedom:

    "truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate"

    "it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order"

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  • 130. At 03:25am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #123

    David,

    Posts 1-51 are wrong.

    The point is not that the people participated in the drafting of the document. The very idea of thousands of people working one document in the days before 'track changes', or even in the days of 'track changes' is ridiculous.

    The point is that for the first time this was a nation formed with the idea that power belonged to and was derived from the people. Not, like those other documents Ed and others pointed out, an intellectual liberal saying what the people should have.

    It is an important difference.

    I knew I would be flamed, but I stand by my original statement.

    We are a diverse nation, a conflicted nation, sometimes a troubled nation. But we are still exceptional, and American exceptionalism stems from 3 words. Simple. Elegant. Timeless. Powerful. Stirring. A statement made for the first time. A cry in the wilderness. A simple statement we can all stand behind:

    We the People

    Patriot Sam

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  • 131. At 03:43am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #110, 93

    Bere,

    To be honest I don't think rule by the people is a good idea. We tried being ruled by a guy of average intelligence for the last 8 years, it didn't turn out well. The same logic says Sarah Palin would be a good President, after all how hard could it be?

    I am not arguing that a plebiscite is wise or necessary. I simply observe that America is unique in believing that our power is derived from the people as a whole and that as such those folks have inalienable rights. If our system works it will put the brightest, best and most passionate in a position of power, rather than those born to it, annointed by God or who steal it.

    We are not perfect. We are not where we need to be. But our way of life is underpinned by a set of principles that say what we can do, rather than what we are told we cannot.

    I apologise if I am passionate on this subject, it is one of a few that I truly believe in. Having travelled widely and lived in several countries I do believe it makes us exceptional.

    That is not to say other countries are not. Germans make good stuff (just look at the Sham-Wow!). India is incredibly seductive and complex. Britain is stoic and has the greatest sense of humor in the world. And America is founded on a set of principles that can inspire and uplift.

    Because we are the people.

    Patriot Sam

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  • 132. At 03:44am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #128

    Ish,

    So our Mom and Dad hate each other?

    How depressing. Sadly unexceptional.

    Sad Sam

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  • 133. At 03:55am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    123 well said DC go for it. I'll stay on the bashing side for a bit longer but well said.

    No rash apart from the french hate america thing (which I think is more the other way around) (probably because americans could not live with being helped because they are such a bootstrap nation;)I agree with that post.
    as to post Obama.
    we'll be driving fiats.

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  • 134. At 03:57am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    jaamki good luck. sincerely.

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  • 135. At 04:02am on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    131 and so does france. Just cause we don't like it(or them) doesn't mean it is not more for the people than the states. they even made health care for the people.

    Sam it must be the american in me that is so determined.

    "The point is that for the first time this was a nation formed with the idea that power belonged to and was derived from the people. "

    Strange when a few rich people get around and discuss how they "the people" are there for "the people" it sounds like the Queen saying "WE"

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  • 136. At 04:03am on 07 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #130. SamTyler1969: "The point is not that the people participated in the drafting of the document. The very idea of thousands of people working one document in the days before 'track changes', or even in the days of 'track changes' is ridiculous."

    If a document reads "we the people" then it must have been created by "the people", not fifty-five of them! In this case it is you who are wrong. Consultation does not mean that that thousands of people actually worked on the document (which I did not suggest) but at least their opinions could have been solicited. I doubt very much that they were. The phrase is memorable, but it is only so much window dressing.

    And BTW, I wouldn't brag about being a fat, bald, middle aged guy - it doesn't fill me confidence with regard to your lifestyle - perhaps you can't help age or the loss of hair, but there is no need to be fat - gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Not to mention potentially life-threatening.

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  • 137. At 04:08am on 07 Apr 2009, canadianaccountant wrote:

    124

    IMHO

    In My Humble Opinion

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  • 138. At 04:25am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    128, ish-ish.

    I don't think the French much like anybody except themselves. It must be galling to have English as the lingua franca.

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  • 139. At 04:32am on 07 Apr 2009, chronophobe wrote:

    American Exceptionalism, eh?

    I dunno, I always get stuck somewhere between the promise (expressed beautifully by Whitman: Each of us inevitable; Each of us limitless - each of us with his or her right upon the earth; Each of us allowed the eternal purports of the earth; Each of us here as divinely as any is here), and the ugly failure to live up to the promise (expressed here by William S. Burroughs).

    Yours,
    Canadian Pinko


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  • 140. At 04:43am on 07 Apr 2009, british-ish wrote:

    138. At 04:25am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:
    128, ish-ish.

    I don't think the French much like anybody except themselves. It must be galling to have English as the lingua franca.

    We rub along. (Actually, a lot of Brits live and work in France, and where I live in London I hear a lot of French, in fact, these days. Mostly young people.)

    It's the Parisians who don't like anybody except themselves. Including anybody from anywhere else in France. It's reciprocated. And when you bear in mind the political elite is mostly educated in Paris, and live there, that explains a lot.

    Anyway, they all understand English if you SHOUT ;-)

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  • 141. At 04:44am on 07 Apr 2009, chronophobe wrote:

    My American correspondents,

    Where does this anti-French thing come from? Some cultural inferiority complex, or the like? Bad experience with some fonctionnaire on a trip to France (don't feel bad, everybody hates French civil servants!)

    Just curious.

    Pinko

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  • 142. At 04:48am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #136

    David,

    The document need not be created by the parties involved. Much as a contract is drafted by lawyers but signed by the interested parties, the Constitution was drafted but then ratified by the States.

    The view that 55 fat white guys voted in Liberty Hall and it governed a nation for 200 years is as misguided as thinking Rush Limbaugh speaks for every American Citizen.

    It was debated clause by clause in each state. Each State's elected officials had to answer to their constituents in true Town hall 'we know where you live' style. Ratification required every representative to state their views and be judged, re-elected or rejected.

    Pamphlets and papers were published, the most well known being the pro Constitution 'Federalist Papers' published by my dear friend who now lives in Detroit (and must be at the NCAA finals right now). Campaigns were organized using grass roots advocates across state lines.

    This was not a document drafted by 55 white guys in Philadelphia and inflicted on the population.

    It was a document that was argued in every State and township, ratified by every one of the 13 colonies. Despite the fact that the document required only 9 to ratify. The votes in 9 states were overwhelming, in the other 4 they were close but in modern terms would be called a landslide. Unanimous. An unrepeated vote in our history. We agreed on how and when we would agree, and when we would not need to. We gave certain obligations to our Federal government, and retained the rest for our states.

    This document was reviewed, read, debated, questioned and ultimately endorsed by the people. In every city, town and township in our 13 founding states.

    The people took it very seriously. As we still do and is enshrined in the Primary process. Because it was a document that spoke for us, and still does.

    We can change it with great effort. Our highest court can interpret it. Our friends and enemies can be confused by it. It has endured and been amended over the last 200 years. Amended but not replaced.

    But those who want to carry the flame still believe that it is those first three words that enshrine everything that is American.

    We the People . . .

    Sam

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  • 143. At 04:57am on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #136

    David,

    Forgot the lifestyle issue.

    Don't worry. My Doctors give me a few years yet. At 5'11 and 202lbs they tell me I am technically obese. I eat out 6 days a week so not too surprising.

    Ironically, if I get to 70, my chances of living past 80 are greatly enhanced.

    But I still run a few miles every day and my cholesterol is good. Who knows what will take each of us to our maker? When our time comes . . .

    Content Sam

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  • 144. At 05:15am on 07 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    british-ish, Ms. Marbles, my experience with the French (and I actually
    have had some dealings with them) is that they actually despise the
    British for some inexplicable reason.

    We just appeared on the scene, and sound enough like the Brits to
    warrant their scorn. But, they really warm up to you if you make
    an effort to learn their language and culture, no matter how poor
    your attempt turns out.

    I asked one of them if they despised the Germans. She replied,
    "Oh, no, that was just for a short time. It's not like it was
    with the English." Is this any way to treat people who played
    a major role in liberating their country from the Nazis?

    And, they have a disdain for British food. Even I admit I can't
    understand British food, but that's different than being repulsed
    by it. Of course, if I understood what it was, I probably would
    be repulsed, but at least the Brits don't torture geese or something
    like that. At least, I don't think that they do.



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  • 145. At 05:47am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    144, guns.
    "british-ish, Ms. Marbles, my experience with the French (and I actually have had some dealings with them) is that they actually despise the British for some inexplicable reason....I asked one of them if they despised the Germans. She replied, "Oh, no, that was just for a short time."

    In recent history this would make sense. The French collapsed (along with their egos) under the German onslaught while England fought on. Then the allies together saved them. It's the old business of biting the hand that feeds you. As for not hating the Germans, maybe it is a matter of "my enemy's enemy is my friend." Talking about long-term European hates, the Italians hate the Germans, always have, and probably always will.

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  • 146. At 05:56am on 07 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    144, about the Italian-German thing, I haven't run into that yet.
    I did meet some Northern Italian business people, and they seemed
    pretty Germanic to me.

    The Europeans are so complicated as a bunch that it is difficult to
    figure exactly what is going on. We're very simple and straightforward
    by comparison - feed us steak and potatoes, and we're happy.

    When I traveled to Europe in the 70s, I noticed that the Germans
    tended to keep to themselves, but that's probably not true now.
    I doubt that the younger generation in Europe dwells on WWII.

    But, the Swiss, without a doubt, are some of the weirdest people that I've met.
    They seem to be the least adaptable to change. Very peculiar.

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  • 147. At 05:59am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    141, chronophobe.

    I have not had bad experiences with the French, with the exception of the pieds noirs. They are the nastiest bunch characters I have ever run across. And rude? Beyond what anyone could ever imagine.

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  • 148. At 06:17am on 07 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    147, Ms. Marbles, the Pieds Noirs are an example of a displaced people
    in Europe who contribute to the inscrutability of the place. Unlike our
    social fabric, which is based on assimilation, Europe seems to be a place
    where somebody has to be thrown overboard, or booked into a third class
    accommodation if more passengers are to be taken on board.

    There is very much the perception of a "fixed size pie" in Europe, that
    only so much can be accomplished, whereas that is not the case here
    inbetween recessions. We don't really believe that there are limits
    to what we can accomplish, but of course, our political class are
    generally dumber than dinosaurs, so the limitation resides there.



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  • 149. At 06:30am on 07 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    I have just learned that Turkish authorities foiled a Syrian mans plot to assassinate President Obama! The suspect was carrying Al-Jazeera TV press credentials and confessed to authorities after his arrest that he and three alleged accomplices plotted to stab Pres. Obama during the Alliance of Civilizations Summit in Istanbul on Monday. While I doubt this plot was ever going to work, it is still outrageous. I would like to thank Turkish authorities for their professionalism in protecting my Pres. from this vile man and his ilk.

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  • 150. At 06:32am on 07 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    148, guns.

    No, guns, you cannot excuse the behavior of the pieds noir by saying they are displaced persons. We have all known displaced persons - Palestinians in Lebanon, Iraqi Jews in Iran, and all kinds of refugees in our own country. None of them are anything like the pieds noirs. I would sooner spend time with street thugs because their manners would be better.

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  • 151. At 07:52am on 07 Apr 2009, amercan wrote:

    Sam Tyler 1969.Could not agree more reguarding the U.S.constitution;perhaps one day we will get back to following it without exception!"Power to the people,right on".1969.....

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  • 152. At 08:23am on 07 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #142. SamTyler1969: "David - The document need not be created by the parties involved. Much as a contract is drafted by lawyers but signed by the interested parties, the Constitution was drafted but then ratified by the States."

    If an attorney was drafting a contract for me, I'd like to have a direct say in what it covered. "The people" were not consulted directly, but through their representatives. Any way you slice it, "We the People" was a wonderful phrase authored by a politician of the day. You'll not persuade me otherwise.

    #143: Eating out six days a week is no reason to be obese - a little self-control at the table would be a consideration; apparently your running does not remove the calories consumed. Red meat is just as likely to result in cancer and which might not be discovered until too late - there's more to longevity than concerns about cholesterol: prostate problems, late onset diabetes, dementia. About the latter, consider the fate of Ronald Reagan, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher. None obese, but their golden years were (and are) somewhat tarnished.

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  • 153. At 09:51am on 07 Apr 2009, cping500 wrote:

    The problem is not America's 'exceptionalism'. After all it's so called Bill of Rights is in large part plagiarised from the English equivalent. (note: not the British). The real issue is America's continued belief in its Manifest Destiny, articulated in the former Administration in Neo Conservatism and embodied 'literally' in the current President.
    America has the military power to attempt try to realise its destiny. In the last sixty years it has mostly failed to do this militarily.
    Mr Obama hasn't completely given this up, but now is deploying across the globe the rhetoric of fashionable 'soft power'

    America's philosopher is Charles Sanders Peirce, prophet of pragmatism, its playwright is Arthur Miller, and it's historian is Allan Nevins.

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  • 154. At 10:17am on 07 Apr 2009, british-ish wrote:

    149. At 06:30am on 07 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    I have just learned that Turkish authorities foiled a Syrian mans plot to assassinate President Obama!

    There is only one source for these 'details', and it looks rather suspect to me. Even so, the man arrested is described not as "Syrian", but "Turkish of Syrian descent", which is rather different; and claiming any media organisation would use a 'press pass' with "the initials M G" on it, or that anything like that would get you anywhere is fatuous. If you look at Mark Mardell's blog about "the L" you will find out what a 'press pass' related to any head of state's visit-- or international conference -- is.

    Don't you think one report from a Saudi paper (albeit now repeated around the American media and the internet several times) which happens to combine 'Syria', 'assassination plot' and 'al-Jazeera' is, well, convenient? The Saudis like al-Jazeera even less than Dubbyah did.

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  • 155. At 10:27am on 07 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #87

    Yes John: Magic World

    That politically incorrect place where there can be a right and wrong side.

    Where a terrorist is called a terrorist, where a politician can be criticized on either side of the political spectrum. Where a dictators like Chavez or Fidel is called one.

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  • 156. At 12:26pm on 07 Apr 2009, Jim213 wrote:

    Everyone needs to watch this discussion ! http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html It will make your blood boil !

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  • 157. At 12:27pm on 07 Apr 2009, sean33z wrote:

    A society in decline refuses to use capitol punishment. They offer clemency to heinous Felons. Ed Rendell saved several desperate serial killers from death row in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Richard Poplawski is a new prisoner seeking Rendell's protection. Murderers held by the State believe they are special or exceptional. Their delusions show mistakes made by an indulgent nation catering to every whim.

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  • 158. At 12:46pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    129 - jaamkie,

    "As a born-and-educated Virginian..."


    As a Marylander, but born of cascading generations of Virginians, I salute you and your comments!

    Great Uncle George is mistakenly styled the Father of his Country", since he left no offspring (to speak of), but Thomas Jefferson was truly the Midwife for the birth of the first national embodiment of the Enlightenment.

    The Virginia Declaration of Rights (a model for the Bill of Rights) was authored by my ancestor George Mason, who did breed. ;-)

    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Peace
    Hesiodos

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  • 159. At 12:57pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Guns (146),

    "But, the Swiss, without a doubt, are some of the weirdest people that I've met.
    They seem to be the least adaptable to change. Very peculiar."


    And probably the most truly democratic of all....
    ;-)

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  • 160. At 12:59pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "I think if you talked to the Mayor in Venezuela who was arrested on trumpted up charge or the Bolivian opposition whose house were destroyed by Morales Dignity squads they would not call them free democracies." - MagicKirin

    Of course even if your allegations here are correct, they would tend to indicate that neither Venezuela nor Bolivia is a dictatorship, as you falsely claimed, because they show that there is active, openly-organised political opposition in both countries. In Venezuela the opposition recently won a number of provincial elections (including Caracas); and in Bolivia they control a number of states.

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  • 161. At 1:09pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "We [the USA] do not, have never, and will never have an empire." - AndyPost

    Just because the US has, outside North America, generally preferred to rule through compliant locals rather than directly, does not mean it has not had an empire. In any case, for direct rule I suggest you take a look at the history of Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Micronesia, American Samoa and other Pacific territories. (Yes, I know the "Federated States of Micronesia" is officially independent. Pull the other one, it's got bells on.) You might also reflect on the fact that practically the entire territory of the USA was acquired by force or fraud.

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  • 162. At 1:19pm on 07 Apr 2009, themaras wrote:

    "American Exceptionalism stems not from love of country but from the universality of the values of the country."

    But Washington does not apply that universality. It bombs civilians in Pakistan/Afghanistan ostensibly to fight criminals but it does not bomb Washington DC neighbourhoods. If it treated everyone as if they were American citizens with all their rights, then it could claim to be an "idea". For now, and the foreseeable future, it's just another empire.


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  • 163. At 1:20pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    Interestedforeigner@121,

    I have to admit "Faith, hope and clarity" is not original to me. It was the caption to a cartoon in Private Eye (British satirical magazine) after the Archbishop of Canterbury made a complete idiot of himself by a muddled statement on shariah law.

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  • 164. At 1:22pm on 07 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 155 MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #87

    "Yes John: Magic World/That politically incorrect place where there can be a right and wrong side."

    Translated into English - 'the place where everything done by the State of Israel is right, and anyone who dares question any policy or practice of Israel in any way, or who indeed is anywhere to the right of Magic in any way [ie most people] is an appeaser, a phoney, an anti-semite, a terrorist, a dictator, etc etc ad nauseam'


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  • 165. At 1:23pm on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #152

    David,

    The people had their say in the ratification process.

    As for Ronnie et al, they were a lot fatter than I am.

    I don't eat red meat unless I shoot it.

    Of course everyone else on this blog has a low BMI, is incredibly good looking, has a body to die for and are fitness models on the weekend. I prefer to be honest.

    Fat Sam

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  • 166. At 1:27pm on 07 Apr 2009, Andrew Prescott wrote:

    One again Justin you look at America though the rose tinted glasses. Exceptionalism has two meanings. One is the idea that America is exceptional the other is that this gives America the special right to act in the world in an exceptional way.

    There is not denying the exceptional nature of America, but it is a complex and conflicted exceptionalism. America may have individual rights enshrined in an exceptional document, but for parts of the US population this is of academic interest given their circusances. America may be the richest country in the world, But parts of the US population are among the undeveloped world in their quality of life. America may have the best health care system in the world for part of its population, but another part is among the third world. And out of all the developed world America advocates a right to life and puts people to death and a greater percentage of these belong to one particular race.

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  • 167. At 1:35pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    On Jefferson:

    121. Hesiodos : "Not only a quality mind, but I hope also a quality soul."
    Indeed so.
    Sometimes the two go together.
    And yes, Ms. Marbles, I was.

    To have someone who actually shares the beliefs of the founders, who believes in rationalism, what a relief from the last eight years. It's like that old song:

    "What a difference a brain makes..."

    129. Jaamkie: Thank you for that informative post.


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  • 168. At 1:42pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    135. Happy. Well, some of the leaders of the rebellion were rich planters, and while I agree wholeheartedly with Sam about the importance of "We the people", I thought that
    (1) most of the colonists were against the revolution (scarce polling data?);
    (2) the rich were the ones most strongly against it; and
    (3) they locked the doors of Liberty Hall so that the hoi polloi couldn't get in, find out what they were doing, and wreck the whole business.

    Sam? Do you know anything about this?

    140. British-ish: "They all understand English if you SHOUT". LOL. Another Basil Fawlty moment.

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  • 169. At 1:43pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Dublin John, (164),
    "Right"?

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  • 170. At 2:12pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    146. Guns, 159. Hesiodos.
    Wierd Swiss, eh?
    Most democratic of all?

    On the basis of experience with the Swiss, yes, they have a fundamental belief in democracy at least as strong as you find in "Amerika", probably stronger, but different. American democracy is chaotic - America's versatility and fluidity comes from this creative chaos. Swiss democracy is not chaotic. On the contrary, Swiss democracy is relentlessly orderly.

    In a way that would not be so easily understood, or accepted, in America, for a Swiss it is somehow unpatriotic to break the law, just as it is unpatriotic to litter. Why would anyone who cares about the country break the law or litter? Not logical. Very un-Swiss.

    The Swiss also accept, as a matter of course (because they voted for them), restrictions on liberty that Americans would not - you are registered in your commune in your canton, and they know who is employed and unemployed and who lives where. There are reasons why Schweiz has so little crime and such low unemployment, low taxes, little corruption, and remarkably high quality, efficient public services. There is no standing army, but everyone has to do their National Service from age 18 to age 43. You have to keep your rifle at home, and practice your marksmanship every year. Swiss voters get to vote on the performance of schoolteachers, for example. How would the teachers' unions in the US like that? Schweiz has a very high quality public school system. Perhaps high quality schooling, and direct accountability to parents through the ballot box may have something to do with each other.

    The point is that while American democracy is based on the work of eighteen century political philosophers, Swiss democracy isn't based on abstract philosophy at all, but rather on typically Swiss hard-headed military practicality, more along the lines of "if we do not hang together, we shall surely hang alone".

    Swiss democracy is based on the ancient (1291) common commitment at Rutli meadow to risk life and limb to throw off the Austrian overlords. It is direct democracy, and it works very well. However, until Napoleon it was not particularly democratic. Strong cantons, like Berne, held sway over weaker vassal cantons. The modern form of Swiss democracy came into being following the brief civil war (1848 - 1849), combining direct democracy with a first-past-the-post parliament. In 1919 Schweiz adopted proportional representation. It is a rather conservative form of democracy, too: although women had the vote much earlier in most of the rich and cosmopolitan cantons, they did not get the vote nationally until 1971.

    Other groups had or aspired to relatively democratic or egalitarian forms of government rather earlier, too. Consider the Hussite rebellion in what is now the Czech republic, or the Icelandic Parliament.

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  • 171. At 2:22pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    144. Guns, and several comments by Marbles
    "They actually despise the British for some inexplicable reason", and they have a"disdain for British Food".

    First comment:

    Some years ago the Economist ran a book review (I have forgotten the title of the book). The review went something like:

    "English cooking is terrible.
    English men are all cuckolds.
    English men who are not cuckolds are gay.
    English women all want to have a foreign lover.

    This book is selling well in France."

    Second comment: "Pieds noirs"
    It is my understanding that the term "Pieds noirs" is now considered an unacceptable racial epithet in France.

    Third comment: France as a difficult ally:
    Hard to figure really. But they (used to) like Jerry Lewis.

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  • 172. At 2:31pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    Those Americans claiming precedence for the US constitution might like to look at the Corsican constitution of 1755. There's a rather ropy English translation of the original Italian at http://www.pasqualepaoli.com/english/constite.htm. It mandates universal suffrage for all men over 25, and it is claimed by some that women voted in national elections as well (they had traditionally voted for local officials). Admittedly, however, it doesn't begin "We the people", so according to Sam Tyler, it can't really have meant anything.

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  • 173. At 2:32pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    147 what have you got against " Black foots". I thought they were a native tribe in the States.

    One of the original democracies and one of the exceptional aspects of the states.

    the only continent without Iron.

    ;)

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  • 174. At 2:42pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    144. Guns and earlier post by Marbles, on the French and "Some inexplicable reason".

    At the risk of opening a Pandora's box, would it be inexplicable for the Irish to bear the English ill? No less so the French.

    England and France have had a very long, violent, and adversarial relationship. Remember Harold and William the er, um, illegitimate (you never know what the moderators will find objectionable)? In France the term "guerre a l'anglaise" used to be synonymous with what we would now call ethnic cleansing. It dates from the Hundred Years War, when the English, under the Black Prince, tried to destroy the economic underpinnings of the French nobility by systematically exterminating their peasants. It was the English who slaughtered the French nobility at Agincourt. Sluys. Poiters. Crecy.

    Keep in mind that it was the English who burnt the witch of Orleans to death.

    It was the English who developed a strategy of containment, paying countless European states to take up arms against the French. It was the English who put paid to French ambition to dominate Europe at Ramillies, Malplaquet, and Blenheim.

    It was the English who, fifty years later, did down the French again, not only on the continent, but in India and in North America (or, again, paid for the European opposition to the French).

    It was the English (oh, alright, and Russians, too) who, fifty years later still, brought French ambition to another low pass in the Peninsula, at Copenhagen, at the Nile, at Trafalgar. At Waterloo.

    It was the English who caused the emperor to die, in exile, of lead poisoning.

    Yes. The English. The perfidious English. Over the last 800 years the English have almost always been the ones standing in the way or working behind the scenes to thwart French plans of greatness. If it were not for the English, the French would have ruled the world.

    Ah, les Anglais. On les aura demain!

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  • 175. At 2:47pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    It was debated clause by clause in each state. Each State's elected officials had to answer to their constituents in true Town hall 'we know where you live' style. Ratification required every representative to state their views and be judged, re-elected or rejected.
    ---------------------------

    Pocket constituencies. same as the UK
    Not exceptional.
    taking the "we know where you live" is Exactly why the Brits do end up better off than americans when it comes to rights beyond speech. the right to not be killed because the local cop is a screw up . lets say.
    the right to go see a Doc after your employer has almost killed you ( no one even go near mentioning OSHA. They are ineffectual at BEST)


    The feudal system had that in spades. They lived in the old fashion equivalent of a gated community--- A castle, A walled Town. with a castle in the middle. All sorts. Prime real estate. Rarely Flood. ( unless built by modern thinkers).

    Sam I like your dream and will try to dream the same dream. but the reality is of more general concern.

    In THIS democracy you are allowed a job. I am not.
    I cannot pass a pee test . You don't have to take one.
    Why, because you will earn more money than me.
    Nothing else no other reason.

    There ain't No WE until all are WE. We of those days, how many were excluded. How many were threatened. How many lost jobs when they said no to Mr Buttermeup.

    POCKET CONSTITUENCIES.

    I suspect Not one of the Slaves was given a vote on any measure.

    I like your dream Sam, luckily for me I know it is a dream.

    We will have to agree not to.

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  • 176. At 2:53pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    157. At 12:27pm on 07 Apr 2009, sean33z wrote:
    A society in decline refuses to use capitol punishment. They offer clemency to heinous Felons. .
    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Actually most of the time they come up with barbaric sports and competitions and kill each other off. they duel till they die they execute all in the way.

    And they call for more and more people to be executed to "appease the god" "to rid us of this scourge""to show them a lesson"

    They come up with wars that don't need to be fought. the try to convince their populous that the Other people are going to be a problem, in the future.

    I suspect the only history books you have read ended with the words "The End"

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  • 177. At 2:54pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    119 -

    The word "educated" appeared nowhere in my comment. Another misunderstanding on your part. You make odd assumptions, including the one about my "advantages."

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  • 178. At 3:00pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    We can change it with great effort. Our highest court can interpret it. Our friends and enemies can be confused by it. It has endured and been amended over the last 200 years. Amended but not replaced.

    But those who want to carry the flame still believe that it is those first three words that enshrine everything that is American.

    We the People . . .

    Sam
    ----------------------------------
    Oh man almost choked on this one

    Rules change in the UK with great effort.
    It took a hell of a lot of angry letters about cheesyquavers to get quaving banned in the outdoors.(and opps the right to protest on private land (oh which you do not have anyway in the states))
    The Lord thought it ridiculous and populist. AND IT WAS.

    But the Populous won, and they lost a little more freedom.
    Not only your friends and enemies are confused by it. you guys sure are(and your gays more so). that is why a FEW SELECTED LORDS decide. Your Superprime Courts.

    Not the People.

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  • 179. At 3:03pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    141. On the US anti-French thing.

    Well, yes, the French were at Yorktown, and, more importantly, the French Fleet was in force at the mouth of the Chesapeake. But were the French (then a brutal autocratic regime) there to aid in the establish American democracy, or to give their ancient (see above) English adversaries one in the eye?

    The French have been a difficult ally for America, ever since "Lafayette we are here", and Wilson went to Versailles. Clemenceau thought he was a jerk (perhaps rightly so). In WWII, the liberated French, armed by the Americans, kept taking territory not allocated to them. Finally Eisenhower had to send a surprisingly gentle and diplomatic letter suggesting that if French troops were not inclined to stick to the program, America did not really see much point in arming any more of them.

    In the cold war, France had to have its own policy, often at odds with America. In 1966 De Gaule took France out of NATO. In the 1980's there was the squabble about who would command NATO operations in the Mediterranean.

    After Suez there were many occasions when it seemed as if tripping up American policy, just for the sake of being awkward, was a sport of pleasure at the Quai D'Orsay and at the Matignon.

    In Africa the Americans put pressure on both the British and the French to give up their colonies. The British did. The French did, but in name only. They continued to control the financial policy, and much else, in their former colonies, and continued to maintain military garrisons. The French (with American collusion, be it said) maintained a stable of ugly characters in power. When the Americans wanted to get rid of them (under Bush Sr. and Clinton) as no longer required, the French were of a different view. For a certain period of time, the obstacles to American policy in Africa were often French.

    At another time, the Americans were so unsure of the French that it was, famously, Margaret Thatcher's assurance that when the ship sailed the French would be aboard, that carried the day.

    Yes, from the American viewpoint, France has sometimes been a difficult ally.

    And then there was that memorable line in "The West Wing" about telling those "ponsy French hairdressers" where they can shove their baguettes...

    No, nothing like a good and trustworthy ally.

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  • 180. At 3:05pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    140 British-ish

    IT DOESN'T WORK I HAVE BEEN TRYING IT WITH THE AMERICANS FOR AGES NOW BUT THEY DO NOT SEEM TO GET IT.AND THEY SPEAK A SIMILAR LANGUAGE.
    BUT NOT AS SIMILAR AS ONE WOULD THINK.
    THEY SEEM TO HAVE STRANGE MEANINGS OF WORDS.
    LIKE CHINESE WHISPERS.

    NEVER TRIED IT ON THE FRENCH. MOST SEEMED REAL NICE TO ME AND SPOKE WAY MORE ENGLISH THAN I SPOKE FRENCH.

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  • 181. At 3:06pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    131, Sam -

    Thank you for your very thoughtful response to my #110. It gives me something to mull over. I do understand your passion on the subject, and agree with much of what you say.

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  • 182. At 3:08pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Finally, Sam.

    It is rare for you to make long postings, and I do not recall ever having seen you make so many on one string.

    I have suspected for some time that you have legal training, and it is clear you care about history in general, and this topic in particular. I have appreciated your posts in this string. There are others who seem to have as well. Thanks.

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  • 183. At 3:10pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    146 GnR
    your post here points out why I think it is funny when people compare the US to europe.
    I try not to but occasionally do.
    Americans seem to forget that half the reason so many of them are in the states is because europe spent so much time fighting each other.

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  • 184. At 3:17pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    152, David -

    I think it is sweet of you to counsel Sam on his dietary issues. I hope he follows your advice.

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  • 185. At 3:19pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Ah, the moderators.
    At 174 the posting was a synopsis of 800 years of Anglo-French rivalry, a listing of reasons why the French would consider the English to be their ancient, unrelenting enemies.

    I had thought it uncontentious. (A litany of glorious English victories. Would have thought the Beeb would have loved that. Maybe there is a closet Frenchman in charge now at the Beeb?)

    You just never know.

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  • 186. At 3:22pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Foreigner (168),

    "1) most of the colonists were against the revolution..."


    Ironically including a great number of the Scots who had only recently been "cleared" from their cottages by "British" nobles. They fought on the "loyalist"side, and left for Canada following the success of the rebellion.

    (Ref: A Dance Called America by James Hunter)

    ;-)

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  • 187. At 3:31pm on 07 Apr 2009, maxbrewster wrote:

    Justin: You've been completely brainwashed by American feelings that they've created some sort of utopia. It's a superiority complex fueled by their feelings of inferiority.

    Read Jpp799's comment above. I agree.

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  • 188. At 3:32pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Foreigner (141),

    "They continued to control the financial policy, and much else, in their former colonies, and continued to maintain military garrisons. The French (with American collusion, be it said) maintained a stable of ugly characters in power."


    Now, of what contemporary situation doess that remind me?

    ;-(

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  • 189. At 3:37pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    161 well said on the campanology.

    164 yes that great and fair nation that rips peoples houses down because their old man ,who is dead committed a crime. Then shoots people who are pissed at collective punishment.

    Time for the cops in the USA to start ripping up Mc coke filled mansions.

    And lol for pointing out the gherkin comment

    "right and wrong" they are not two diffent things they are the same.

    those words belong together. happily married in a union .




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  • 190. At 3:44pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    165, Sam:

    "Of course everyone else on this blog has a low BMI, is incredibly good looking, has a body to die for and are fitness models on the weekend."

    How did you guess?

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  • 191. At 3:45pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    174 thanks Interested they put it up in the end.
    I had to laugh at this

    "At the risk of opening a Pandora's box, would it be inexplicable for the Irish to bear the English ill? No less so the French."

    seeing as some would say the french trying to help stir up manure and helping that ejected King(who was not popular with the people(little bit of early "we know where you live" in action)) that catholic king representing Rome's will, who pretty much started the conflict. They certainly goaded all and financed the catholics against the stalwart Protestant people defending Londonderry

    Some forget it was a bit of a civil war. with the French involved.

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  • 192. At 3:58pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    BMI is easy to keep down. don't eat so much.
    or move around.


    188 yes that does seem similar.
    good example.

    (sorry I keep wanting to write "halitosis" ) I can't help it.

    aaaaarrgggg
    ;)

    yes

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  • 193. At 4:05pm on 07 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    Nick-Gotts wrote:
    "I think if you talked to the Mayor in Venezuela who was arrested on trumpted up charge or the Bolivian opposition whose house were destroyed by Morales Dignity squads they would not call them free democracies." - MagicKirin

    Of course even if your allegations here are correct, they would tend to indicate that neither Venezuela nor Bolivia is a dictatorship, as you falsely claimed, because they show that there is active, openly-organised political opposition in both countries. In Venezuela the opposition recently won a number of provincial elections (including Caracas); and in Bolivia they control a number of states.

    I suggest you go to Rueters where Chavez and his cronies are arresting all opposition leaders on trumpted up charges. Where is Amnesty International or European protesters.

    For all of you insist that Israel give up land to people who never owned it. Why don't you support the 40% who don't want to support Morales redistribution of walth suceed from his totalitarian rule.

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  • 194. At 4:33pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "I suggest you go to Rueters where Chavez and his cronies are arresting all opposition leaders on trumpted up charges." - MagicKirin

    It's "trumped up". The Reuters (I assume you meant Reuters) site points to reports that one opposition figure, Raúl Baduel (a former friend of Chavez) has been arrested on corruption charges and an arrest warrant has been sought for another, Manuel Rosales (he is today reported to have fled to Colombia). I can't find any others. It remains to be seen whether the charges are trumped up or not. I'm not denying Chavez has worrying authoritarian tendencies, but it is simply false to call him a dictator unless and until he actually establishes a dictatorship. Nor have you provided any evidence whatsoever that Nicaragua and Bolivia are dictatorships.

    "For all of you insist that Israel give up land to people who never owned it. Why don't you support the 40% who don't want to support Morales redistribution of walth suceed from his totalitarian rule."

    The first sentence of this is of course utter garbage. As for the second sentence - Morales is a democratically elected leader, there is an active opposition, and by your own figures a majority supports the redistribution of wealth - sorry, walth - he is undertaking.

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  • 195. At 4:33pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    193

    I don't think the Israelis "owned" this house but it seems they behave as if they do.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7987317.stm

    Most of the Israeli's came from europe and russia. I very much doubt they owned the land.
    legally speaking. and the Israeli courts agree with me not you.

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  • 196. At 4:40pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    http://www.walthboats.com/


    Wow Nick-gotts.
    I went and checked out the Walth I was missing and look. Pretty nice stuff ..if your into boats with engines that is.

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  • 197. At 4:41pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    AH there is the Exceptionalism in america.

    Exceptionally blind to crimes (UN) of Israel.

    So Justin WAS right.

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  • 198. At 4:43pm on 07 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#101) "Gary - American Exceptionalism is not the same as Manifest Destiny, at least not as far as I am aware."

    I did not say it was "the same," I said it was "akin to."

    Manifest Destiny was the idea that we (the US) were destined to dominate North America, and extend our dominion west to the Pacific, incorporating lands once part of Mexico. We wanted the northern part of the Oregon territory, too (54-40 or fight!), but that didn't work out.

    American Exceptionalism today is the idea that it is our destiny to promote democracy around the world, backed up by our military power.

    The foundation of thinking behind these is the same: We are justified in projecting power across the continent and around the world because we are the good guys, bringing freedom and civilization to the world.

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  • 199. At 4:47pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Happy,

    • "Most of the Israeli's came from europe and russia."

    Sadly, no longer true. The Majority of Israelis are now Sephardi, a genetic sub-group with a much lower average IQ than the Ashkenazis who form the bulk of European Jews.

    ;-(
    Halitosis

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  • 200. At 4:47pm on 07 Apr 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    happylaze@196
    Hey, what's really surprising is that a poor, landlocked country such as Bolivia has enough Walth boats to be worth redistributing!

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  • 201. At 4:51pm on 07 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Bryn-UK (#98) "Sam seemed to be attacking a straw-man figure representing non-US democracies: in the US the people rule, he said, whereas in lesser democracies an elite rules and the politicians elected by the people (no more than a regulatory watchdog) nip at their heels. But this is nonsense."

    I agree that your straw man is nonsense, but leave it to Sam to say whether that is what he meant.

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  • 202. At 5:25pm on 07 Apr 2009, 1stGenAmerican wrote:

    "happy"laze

    It would seem the others here are aware of your background, so please forgive my curiosity, as I am relatively new to this forum.

    Having read all of today's posts, I have so far have gathered the understanding that you:

    1) currently live in the United States
    2) have lived in at least 6 other countries
    3) do not like the United States as a country and are extremely disdainful of its citizens and political system
    and
    4) however malcontent, are not illiterate.

    I have learned a lot about what you think and feel, but what do you DO about correcting your perceived wrongs?

    If this country is so noxious to you, why do you stay? Surely one of the other countries you have lived in was more to your liking? If not one of those, there are at least 160 other countries to chose from.

    I don't understand how someone can put so much thought and energy into denigrating a topic/people/country usw, without trying to change the problem or changing one's relationship to the problem.

    Can you explain your point? (again, I apologize if you have done this on many occasions already)

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  • 203. At 5:27pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    200 Nick They are for smuggling things across lake Titicaca. IN STYLE.

    199 Halitosis , for you have angered me here. I have heard so many conflicting views on what group is who, but it seems that most of the LOCALS that were there before Israel (see people there is a before ) were not from Russia or Europe and are greatly outnumbered by immigrants now.And they seem to have had better relations with the other tribes in the Area than Israel does now.


    there are no genetic sub groups with lower IQ.'s.Or if there are it has nothing to do with Israel and the jews there.

    Not even americans.

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  • 204. At 5:43pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    190. Bere
    (sorry to butt in): Perhaps, as they say, we all have the youthful good looks that are just perfect for radio.

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  • 205. At 5:48pm on 07 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Happy,

    • "there are no genetic sub groups with lower IQ.'s.Or if there are it has nothing to do with Israel and the jews there."
    Simply not true. The Ashkenazi are among the cleverest groups, but certain south Asian groups also excel. It may have its origin (in the Ashkenazi case) with the fact that, for centuries, Rabbis were encouraged to have large families, and "workers" weren't - a form of eugenics....Nature and nurture.

    Peace - seriously

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  • 206. At 5:52pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    198. Gary.
    Ah, quite so.

    It's that "54-40 or bust" aspect of it that puts the wind up.

    I notice that we haven't had much luck getting back the land lying North of the Columbia and South of the 49 deg N. Lat.

    Or the northern part of Maine.

    Or the upper lakes. (Hard luck on poor old Tecumseh, there)

    Or the Ohio valley.

    I wonder how Mexicans are getting along with retrieving Texas and California...

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  • 207. At 6:03pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    202 gladly.
    See I am also american. and what do I do about it.
    I participate on discussion and vote.

    "Changing ones relationship to the problem"

    what exactly is that.
    saying yes to state sponsored murder?
    I won't.

    Agreeing that no healthcare is needed so as to save some breath?
    I won't.

    Because we do and we can.

    I have been brought up living all over the place. And see no exceptionalism in the USA.
    Just people like everywhere.

    As a state . the USA sucks, seriously. it sucks.

    What do you do?

    Run because you don't like it.

    This is my country as much as your. and if you disagree with that you agree with all else I have said.

    "like it or leave"? america loves that line.

    screw them.(and maybe you).

    America still messes with so many others lives that it is hard to get away from it by running.
    Just try going to the previously hospitable Swat valley. Cheers America.

    Stop screwing up the world And I'll stop screwing with you all.

    I personally find it hard to understand how a country that has been led to economic, environmental and frankly waiting on social collapse, but it seems in there, by it's own damn greed and you want to tell me that I'm going on about it.
    That is why america changes. Because others come here and tell you sorry patriots that things are rotten in Rome.


    I voted for Obama. and america is driving him into the same problems, won't even give him a chance.So he has to please you patriots by saying "not that we deserve ALL the crud"

    Good on him, that's why I voted for him.
    I'm not president and I don't have to stretch the truth to please you or anyone else

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  • 208. At 6:04pm on 07 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#206) "I wonder how Mexicans are getting along with retrieving Texas and California."

    Rather well, de facto, if not de jure.

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  • 209. At 6:07pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    205 sure Peace.

    I'm a great believer in the nurture and the local toxins being responsible for most so called genetic inferiority.

    Come to Springfield and see.;)

    The Springfield not that fake in Illinois.
    or the other ones.;)

    It's the bombs that do it.

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  • 210. At 6:07pm on 07 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    206 Interestedforeigner

    I mentioned northern Maine in a previous post. Would it not be so much easier for you and me to drive to Halifax (should we ever have the desire) if Canada had retained it? This "up and around" business adds hours to the drive!! And who wants to bother with US customs?

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  • 211. At 6:12pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    202 Just to further put you in my mind

    "3) do not like the United States as a country and are extremely disdainful of its citizens and political system"

    I would re phrase that as.

    "I love the United States as a country(well the bits that get rain cause I ain't no lizard) and am extremely disdainful of its citizens and political system."

    Even then I would say that as with every country there are many individuals that make it tolerable.

    There is also the question of SBBL. when it comes to getting out.


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  • 212. At 6:12pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Sorry to clarify SBBL " Skip bob bin laden"

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  • 213. At 6:13pm on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #152, 184, 190, 192


    Bere,

    Do you have pictures?

    Boys,

    As a wise man once sang:

    I can't help about the shape I'm in
    I can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin
    But don't ask me what I think of you
    I might not give the answer that you want me to

    Besides which, studies have shown that fat people are happier. And better in bed. And kinkier.

    So I've heard . . . .

    Deviant Sam

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  • 214. At 6:14pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Got to go smack some metal now . been fun.

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  • 215. At 6:38pm on 07 Apr 2009, 1stGenAmerican wrote:

    happy,

    I am afraid you have made many assumptions about me.

    Reading your posts (I did go back and read them again) I found you had nothing positive to say about this country, which thanks to the 1st Amendment, you are completely welcome to do.

    I am glad you participate and vote, that is key. Too many vote, but do not participate or think about what they are voting for.

    "State sponsored murder" you mean the death penalty? If so, yes, I favor it, but I also believe in freedom of choice. It is hypocritical to believe in one and not the other.

    Believing the US as a "state" sucks...well you have your reasons to feel so. I have not lived everywhere, but I have lived in enough places to determine the US "sucks" the least.

    "This is my country as much as your. and if you disagree with that you agree with all else I have said." --Huh?

    "Because others come here and tell you sorry patriots that things are rotten in Rome." Yes, I am here because, I feel, things are worse in Rome. :-)

    Ah well, I thank you for your reply and will adjust accordingly.

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  • 216. At 6:45pm on 07 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    210. Timewaits
    I don't know. The road through Skowhegan isn't that great, either. It's too far south, and its a lousy, turny, twisty, dangerous road.

    The problem is that the part of Maine we lost, the "Aroostook", doesn't go far enough south. It wouldn't have made any difference. It's all mountains where you would want a road, e.g., between St. Georges-de-Beauce and Houlton, or Megantic and almost anywhere you would want to go.

    Anyhow, it wouldn't be all that much shorter to Moncton (the hub of yer Maritimes), and if you take the Renous (another dangerous road) and don't get stuck behind anything, the run from Montreal to North Sydney is about 14 hours. If only they would finish the 4-lane from Riviere du Loup to the NB border, it would be a lot better.

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  • 217. At 7:17pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    213, Sam -

    Sorry, no pictures. You'll just have to take my word for it. And use that delightfully kinky imagination

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  • 218. At 7:24pm on 07 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 169 Hesiodos wrote:

    "Dublin John, (164),
    "Right"?"

    Er, yes. Of course, I meant 'right' as in 'left'

    Right?

    ;-)

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  • 219. At 10:55pm on 07 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Hesiodos #127 and British-ish #128. . .

    Dear God I've created a monster!

    Look. First, while yes, the French were our first ally (I hesitate to call them our "best" ally,) it is widely thought among historians that they aided in, and were the deciding factor in our independence struggle solly as a means of hurting the British as they tended to sease the opertunity to try to do so where ever one arrose (such was the nature of the Anglo-Franco's long, violent, and adversarial relationship,) and not to help out a friend (America) in need. I strongly urge you to please carefully note the first paragraph of 'Interestedforeigner's wonderfully done sannopsus of US-French relations in post #179.

    Now. Am I saying that not one French king/president has been the slightest bit kind to us? Of course not!!! Am I saying that the French people are nothing but volgar, repulsive, arrogant people who's thoughts and opinions don't marrit the slightest bit of creedence and ponderance? Hell no!!! I know there have been moments of kind, jenuinly generous exchanges between the US and France in our history (as evidenced, rightly, in 'British-ish's citing of the gift of one of our nation's most recognisable international icons, the statue of liberty.)

    I was merely pointing out that for every Frenchman or accademic, intelectual, or leader who jenuinly thought well of America or saw good in it despite its flaws, there is (and I don't think I am being churlish when saying this,) probably two who see only the US government's liabilities and never its assets, and the country itself as inhabbiting some of the worst kinds of people that humanity can generate. Some of the most promanent and revered 18th and 19th centuries's French phelossiphers wrote and spoke of America as a gastly, volgar place, with an inferior culture and inferior people, many of whom, curiously enough, never even visited the place to prove these assertions. Ironicly, it was Allexis De Tokville, perhaps France's most celebrated and revered phelossipher of all, who took the time to travel around the country, concluding in his best-selling book "Democracy in America" some factual good, and loathesome things about the nation.



    So given these unhappy facts, and given that most French presidents are at the very least suspicious of the US, I stand by my original assertion that Obama was right not to express how he truely felt about America in France.

    My apologies to those I've offended.

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  • 220. At 11:14pm on 07 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #217

    Oh yeah. Now we're talking.

    Kinky Sam

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  • 221. At 11:15pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    1st gen sorry then.must have been miscomunicating

    I do find freedom of choice and the death penalty a bit contradictory.

    we have to draw the line somewhere. Vengeance, well some can get pretty vengeful for small reasons.

    it could be said to be contradictory to say people have free choice.
    but you are not allowed to ruthlessly gun down your enemies.
    Hardly "freechoice" to deny the murderers their chance for what they might think of as a bit of fun.(sick yes!)
    We already say with freedom come laws. how is that. and when the death penalty everyone says,"but we are free"

    Drive at 120 miles an hour down the high street in town.

    Then shoot people because you can't tell the difference between GTA and real life.

    Then say " hey it's a free country!"

    I have no sympathy for arguments that include free and death.

    But thanks for being nice about things.

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  • 222. At 11:17pm on 07 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    219, NoRashDecisions -

    Thank you for helping me to throw off a silly prejudice of mine: that those who cannot spell cannot be articulate (in writing). You write well and think clearly, and I get a kick out of your creative spelling!

    Hope you don't mind my saying so.

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  • 223. At 11:23pm on 07 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    As to who sucks the least.
    it doesn't work that way. pretty much everywhere has some sucky.

    Those can be recognised by comparing not dismissing.

    I'm trying america. for what it's worth they get a few things right but so much wrong all things considered.
    the ones like it's a huge place. so get friendly. less divisive.

    I'm not then best example but to get there there have to be changes and we don't have to all go reinvent the wheel.

    Compare population and politics, I would not be surprised to see low population = right voting.

    This right . the one saying "We can sink this ship"

    Scuttlebugs .

    (Strange Nobel Floridian comes to mind)

    I'm giving America a go, but not because it is exceptional. I've made plenty of stupid decisions before and I'm pretty sure this is one. But that is the way of the monkey.

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  • 224. At 2:14pm on 08 Apr 2009, VinaTamara wrote:

    Talking about American Exceptionalism is a touchy and controversial subject for 2 main reasons:

    1.Personal feelings and griviances cloud the full understanding of what it is and what it means in a kind of “focus on the branches while missing the forest” situation… and
    2.Because specially from non-Americans it is seem as just another american gloating exercise that therefore incites resentment which then turns to focusing on branches to make (or dismiss) the point (see point one).

    Exeptionalism refers more to uniqueness of the American history, its foundation and the promotion of its ideals (individual liberties), which while are not exceptional per se (because technically every human deep inside aspire to that even when living in oppression), the implemention of those ideals when compared to the rest of the world and world history were indeed ‘exceptions’ to the rules. That doesn’t mean that they were 100% error/mistakes free implemented – but explicitly stated in the Constitution.

    So even when we could talk forever about it and bring countless examples, I think the religion one is a good one. Someone here said that US wasn’t founded on Religion, Ethnicity, etc. Someone else immediately refuted it by stating that the Pilgrims were very religious. Indeed they were; however, they were escaping religious persecussion and therefore wanting to live free from that instead of in somekind of religious indoctrination conquests (which was the case of the Spaniards in what is today Latin America). So they founded a society NOT BASED or guided by an specific religion or religious dogma but based on freedom FROM religion impositions. That is the reason why there isnt an “Official’ Religion in the US, and that what means “Separation of Chruch and State”. Not to be confused with religious based principles or cultural values based on the most prevalent religion (Christianity in our case).

    Another example is Promotion of Democratic Values and the support of the ideas that people can govern themselves (and don’t even bother with the US supported dictators argument or that is friend with monarchs etc) is another exception that brakes from all the standards of the past. Only the US have been called the ‘Anti-Empire Empire’.

    Most recent examples of America’s Exceptionalism are the universalization of the Internet as a democratic tool and the election of Barack Obama braking all the ‘rules and standards expected’ from a nation that is 75% White Anglosaxon or White general, and which would after 9/11 have reservations of anyone with a Hussein name and muslim past. Yet, it all happened in a blink of an eye (in history terms that is, or 10 months of campaign), not a bullet shot, not a revolt on the streets, not a coup… Imaging a similar situation in a country like China or Sweden…

    It is America’s ability to change the rules of the game, to risk and question itself every day, to change paradigms in such short periods of times, in such fast and effective manner, to do it unapologetically, to fall and start all over, to reinvent itself all the time, and without any qualms to tell all its gossips to the world, what makes and confirms its uniqueness. Its exceptionalism.

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  • 225. At 2:53pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    224 "yea everyone is exceptional."

    "We are all winners"

    "no one loses"

    Too many self help books

    wow THAT is american.

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  • 226. At 2:56pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Wow this post show that many americans of otherwise fairly normal thinking are totally conned by the hype and propaganda of the USA.

    Promotion of "democratic values" MY America.

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  • 227. At 3:03pm on 08 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Vina (224),

    • "It is America?s ability to change the rules of the game,"
    And to move the goalposts?

    It's our ball!

    ;-)
    P.S. If you want to get rid of the question marks, get rid of windoze wurd or change the options to ascii.

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  • 228. At 4:01pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:


    "It is America?s ability to change the rules of the game, to risk and question itself every day, to change paradigms in such short periods of times, in such fast and effective manner, to do it unapologetically, to fall and start all over, to reinvent itself all the time, and without any qualms to tell all its gossips to the world, what makes and confirms its uniqueness. Its exceptionalism. "


    Kinda proves my point that america is one big LIE

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  • 229. At 4:12pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "(and don?t even bother with the US supported dictators argument or that is friend with monarchs etc) "



    Oh so sorry what topics are we allowed to use in your rule changing america.

    Try to prove your point without saying "and don't say" perfectly relevant points.

    America was all in to prevent the Iranian democracy flourishing.

    Hence the Shah (oh but we are not meant to mention that) or Saudi, or Pinochet.


    YOU do not make the rules, despite what the brainwashing american propaganda .



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  • 230. At 4:23pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    222 bere. re speling

    I am realy bad at it and you seem to have taken me seriously and never suggested I was fik.

    I under the blogger formally known as Jacksforge was notorious for bad spelling. And really don't care.
    This is an international forum and when it comes down to it spelling is just a form of expression.

    Now I have a shpeel checker some say comments like 'Litterate"

    My cat is (well one of them the other can't use it anyway) litterate.

    I'm smelling it right now.eww.

    But really I was derided for being FIK because of spelling. when many others were just using the checker.

    No rash has been chased off before by some continually mentioning Gramer problems.

    I like No rash and am so glad to see No rash back.
    (love you sweety) .


    I had to make the point before that spelling doesn't = thought.

    Comprehension seems to be the forgotten part.

    From what I have seen in the USA I would suggest less spelling bees and more comprehension lessons.

    not just the "my interpretation" version either.

    all those failings lead to the like of TT who never understands anything though sometimes makes up convenient versions all by himself.

    Just to reasure you it is a silly prejudice.



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  • 231. At 4:43pm on 08 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    230, happylaze -

    Sorry but your misspelling simply doesn't compare with NoRash's. His is truly the most creative I've ever seen. Yours is just normal, and I don't really notice it! I certainly wouldn't want to chase him away; I actually enjoy his "differentness" so that was all I was trying to say.

    Nobody (except an idiot) would think you're "fik." You're one of the wittiest ones on here, make me laugh out loud.

    Speaking of which, my cat is also litterate, and the only place where there's room for his facility is in my kitchen. Hidden behind a small bookcase but can't hide the smell -- expensive litter helps.

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  • 232. At 4:52pm on 08 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    230 happylaze

    As you know I take you seriously but the problem with incorrect spelling, poor grammar, etc. is that often comprehension is lost. Such as FIK:
    Flying Insect Killer
    Fault Isolation Kit
    Flange Insulation Kit or...
    Federazione Italiana Karting
    not sure which or how it fits in. I have mentioned this to you before, not because I am a grammar troll but instead a comprehension seeker.

    What I find fascinating about No Rash's spelling is that even though it is atrocious, it is often phonetically spelt and therefore understandable.

    The two of you have cured me of any prejudice I might have had regarding spelling. I prefer to look at your spelling mistakes as "typos."

    Also, I believe you type quickly, but the reader must go over your posts very, very slowly to understand your point. Some, perhaps the ones that should take the time, do not. Just for your info.

    Kind regards, etc. etc.....


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  • 233. At 4:53pm on 08 Apr 2009, VinaTamara wrote:

    LOL! I knew my 'exceptional' comments were going to cause a stir...hey! that is what Americans do best...

    Anyway, thanks for comments and special thanks for the technical tip on the question marks...

    Goto now. Chiao!

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  • 234. At 5:08pm on 08 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    232, timewaits -

    I took "fik" to be Cockney dialect for "thick." Maybe I'm wrong. It could be an acronym for any one of those interesting things, or countless others that no one is familiar with. Happylaze, I'm sure, will elucidate.

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  • 235. At 5:18pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    lol ladies,

    I try. I used to be fenetic but the accent gets in the way.
    Suck as "Fik"

    Now I suppose it was the shouting of FIK that led to the confusion.

    233 lol ameiacans do not "cause a stir" . they screw things up for all yes.
    but a stir is like what the Brits do all the time.
    Russel Brant. Good example.

    Americans think they cause a stir, but that is it.

    Lol bere on the litter.

    I'm building up courage to empty it , but as you know that stirs things up.





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  • 236. At 5:20pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Fik is THICK

    Fink is Think
    '
    'kin 'ard is Expletive solid'

    woz is was

    No but yea but no but yea is Vicky pollard

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  • 237. At 5:24pm on 08 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    lol Time I take it all in jest from the like s of you. no offence taken. just be careful with others. they might.
    I revel in my failings others do not.

    luck for me that those who should take the time don't. but they often reply anyway.lol

    I was vert clear and spelt well to Truepo but he never hears.

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  • 238. At 5:28pm on 08 Apr 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Happy, at least you didn't proclaim "I'm a lady"!

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  • 239. At 5:48pm on 08 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    237 happylaze

    "be careful with others"

    Oh I know, but you will be there to defend me!!

    My guess was going to be Federazione Italiana Karting! What with your international background and all.

    bere54 - No Rash is a "she".

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  • 240. At 6:59pm on 08 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    239, timewaits -

    Oh, sorry. That was sexist of me, wasn't it?

    Sorry, No Rash.

    (Actually it was meant to be that unisex "he" -- you know, as in "mankind," Congressmen." Is that a good excuse?)

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  • 241. At 7:47pm on 08 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    bere54

    Someone, who shall remain nameless, kept referring to her in the masculine until No Rash came out with; oh by the way... I think we were all taken by surprise. So thought I would pass it along.

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  • 242. At 9:49pm on 08 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    seanspa #238: '"Happy, at least you didn't proclaim "I'm a lady"!"

    Silly me! I must have not learned of that unwritten prejudiced law that declares that women must be better spellers than their male counterparts! O well. I know now. Thanks for educating me.

    Bere54 and Timewaits. . .

    Glad to know I'm an added sours(c)e of entertainment for you, however, might I suggest, given that we're not being graded on these comments, that we all focus a little more on one another's messages, and a little less on one another's spelling of said messages? It would be greatly appreciated.

    And speacking of fascination, I myself am "fascinated" that 'Happy's spelling is sometimes so "atrocious," that I can't even make out what they are trying to say!! So for 'Bere to understand them perfectly, and me barely, is truely the "fascinating" bit in all this IMHO!!

    Thank you

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  • 243. At 10:37pm on 08 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    NoRashDecisions

    Really, that was not meant as a criticism. I was only pointing out that even though, and you have to admit, your spelling leaves a little to be desired, I understand what you are saying perfectly. I really enjoy your posts, you write with such passion. It is your message I focus on.

    To change the subject: I was wondering where you have been? I passed through Maryland recently and thought of you as we drove along the Balt Wash Pkwy. Is that correct? it was a few weeks ago. Thought, I must tell No Rash.

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  • 244. At 11:02pm on 08 Apr 2009, seanspa wrote:

    NoRash, my "lady" comment was not aimed at you (although I'm sure you are). It's connected to Happy's reference to Vicky Pollard. You need to watch little britain to understand. I wonder if happy is lou to his cat's andy.

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  • 245. At 11:07pm on 08 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    242, NoRashDecisions -

    Oh dear. That was "entertainment" and "enjoyment" in a good way. Wouldn't you rather your posts entertain readers as they are absorbing your thoughts rather than bore them?

    Actually, as I am sure timewaits has pointed out in her waiting comment, it is your comments that are understood perfectly and happy's that are a little difficult sometimes. And it was timewaits who made that point, not I. But I agree with her. I just said that his creativity in spelling is not equal to yours. I never have a problem with yours.

    So sorry to have started this! Please forgive me.

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  • 246. At 03:20am on 09 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #244

    Sean,

    You have now warped what was left of my tiny little mind.

    Thanks,

    Sick Sam

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  • 247. At 04:29am on 09 Apr 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Timewaits, seanspa, Bere. . .

    You're forgiven! Perhaps I jumped to conclusions. I apologise.

    Bere, to answer your question, personally, I would rather my posts be "entertaining" only if I intend for them to be funny, which most of the time I do not. I would much prefer my posts be thought provoking, to introduce a different way of looking at a particular topic, and who knows, to even perhaps help change someone's opinion on a particular issue. But if them being entertaining gets you all to at least read them, then I'll take it!!

    Timewaits, glad to know you like my posts - and the feeling is recipricated! If I were to guess at what highway you are refering to in Maryland, it would be the Baltimore-Annapolis highway; more commonly known as root 2. If I am wrong please let me know. But thanks for thinking and asking about me! I am busy so I haven't been able to post as offten. But just curious, what were you doing in Maryland? Were you there on vacation?

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  • 248. At 08:56am on 09 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    No Rash,

    My dear Auntie lived on Plum Creek (Gumbottom) in the Annapolis estuarial zone....a lovely maze of water and land.

    Fond memories

    Off to put up canvas for another woodland gathering


    Peace to all
    Ed who is not ed for a reason

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  • 249. At 12:38pm on 09 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Many people have written America off as a lost cause in the past when there was bad trouble. But John D. Rockerfeller said it best; "Anyone who bets against America will go broke." And he has been proven right time and again. America has survived far worse trouble than it sees now and it will survive these times and grow even stronger as a result just the way it always has. As I pointed out to you here many months ago, unlike other countries, the American nation is not defined by a shared history which led to its current culture. That makes it impossible for other countries to fully accept people who do not share that history. America is defined by a common set of shared values which stems from the greatest genius by a body of men who collectively created the defining documents which gave America its structure, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. Everything that happened in American history before those documents can be seen as having led up to them, everything since as the consequence of them. For this reason, people who come from all over the world who do not share that history but adopt those values become Americans in the truest sense of the word and add to its strength. That is why immigration is a critical part of America's perpetual process of self renewal and self re-invention. This is also why America should ignore the rest of the world, it has nothing of profound value to teach America. Quite the opposite but because of the disparity of the fundimental nature of other countries, what lies at the core of America is incompatible with their own cultures. Every time America tries to engage itself with the world, it gets into trouble. It has been engaged for nearly a century and this process has cost it dearly. This was done in part because of seeing the barbaric cruelty all over the world and the instinctive propensity of Americans to charity and to protect others too weak to protect themselves. But even the US does not have the wherewithall to protect the entire world and trying to sell or even impose its values on incompatible societies only meets with resentment, at least initially.

    America has survived worse than Obama, it will survive him too. He is a symptom of both the best and worst of America in these troubled times. If there is any good coming of this, it's that his election is a sign that America's long troubled history of racism, a legacy of slavery brought to America by European colonizers may be finally coming to an end. The same cannot be said for most other places where it is ignored and we pretend it doesn't exist. That a tyro, albeit a charismatic and intelligent one could be elected President shows that American tradition for practical common sense has for the moment escaped us. The adversity of its consequences should refocus us in years to come.

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  • 250. At 1:35pm on 09 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    247 NoRashDecisions

    "Perhaps I jumped to conclusions"

    That is your passion coming out. I think it is admirable how willing you are to jump into the fray, unafraid to defend yourself. Your posts are well worth reading.

    We drove south in March to escape the winter. Was necessary to drive as far as NC before finding green grass (no snow!), stopped in SC, so we were just driving through on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that took us to the
    tunnel. But I was in Maryland, be it ever so briefly and did think of you. If I'd known in advance could have arranged to meet you on "the corner"!

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  • 251. At 2:14pm on 09 Apr 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    249. At 12:38pm on 09 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    Many people have written America off as a lost cause in the past when there was bad trouble. But John D. Rockerfeller said it best; "Anyone who bets against America will go broke." And he has been proven right time and again. America has survived far worse trouble than it sees now and it will survive these times and grow even stronger as a result just the way it always has. As I pointed out to you here many months ago, unlike other countries, the American nation is not defined by a shared history which led to its current culture. That makes it impossible for other countries to fully accept people who do not share that history. America is defined by a common set of shared values which stems from the greatest genius by a body of men who collectively created the defining documents which gave America its structure, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. Everything that happened in American history before those documents can be seen as having led up to them, everything since as the consequence of them. For this reason, people who come from all over the world who do not share that history but adopt those values become Americans in the truest sense of the word and add to its strength. That is why immigration is a critical part of America's perpetual process of self renewal and self re-invention. This is also why America should ignore the rest of the world, it has nothing of profound value to teach America. Quite the opposite but because of the disparity of the fundimental nature of other countries, what lies at the core of America is incompatible with their own cultures. Every time America tries to engage itself with the world, it gets into trouble."




    Astonishing insight. Tell us marcus, those who have read the odd book on US history us when the US did not try to engage itself with the world?

    I mean do you think it dissapears at intervals? Moves to another planet?

    I think the Canadians Russians and Mexicans would have let us know if their neighbour suddenly vanished

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  • 252. At 2:28pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    242 No rash.
    Sean was referring to the show "little Britain" in which there is a character called ,, can't remember what "her " name is but she is certainlty a HE and keeps saying" I'm A Lady" in some strange hope that people will believe the "truth"
    Now my browswer isn't handling U tube very well so I will totally excuse that skit and have a laugh witht this one.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcVZg2tVswk

    The lady at the front is typical of those "self help" group thinggies from the USA.
    Along with creationism.
    But with a nasty english bent to her.

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  • 253. At 2:35pm on 09 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    247, NoRash -

    I do find your posts thought provoking, and I know they're not meant to be funny, but just because something is serious doesn't mean one doesn't appreciate a reason to smile now and then. That's all I meant with my first post on the subject. When I come across a particularly interesting word, I often wonder "now why didn't they spell it like that in the first place?" That's the entertaining part.

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  • 254. At 2:39pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    LOL sean. I look out or go after SBBL and there he is digging a hole as cats do.
    To take a ,well you know.

    And I have gone out to check hoping he is taking the piss out of me.

    Unfortunately he is not or else when he does let it drop he has a nasty sense of humour.

    Others I would kindly ask you to all keep the Grammar trolling to somewhere else.
    As you can see it does upset people and has no relevance to the proceedings other than to cause one to read a bit more.

    But it can cause great Offence.
    did anyone think that maybe I might be dyslexic.

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  • 255. At 2:41pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Good old mostly erroneous

    ."America has survived far worse trouble than it sees now and it will survive these times and grow even stronger as a result just the way it always has. "

    It has only been around for two hundered years.

    try comparing that to the other places that have been through some bigger troubles and still are ther. growing (normally).

    Like most of the rest of the world.

    Glad to see your in the "land of illusion" still

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  • 256. At 2:44pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    242 No rash.
    Sean was referring to the show "little Britain" in which there is a character called ,, can't remember what "her " name is but she is certainlty a HE and keeps saying" I'm A Lady" in some strange hope that people will believe the "truth"
    Now my browswer isn't handling U tube very well so I will totally excuse that skit and have a laugh witht this one.
    censored "vicky pollard in the pool"
    (apparently clips from the BBC own show little britain are off bounds by the MDS.


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  • 257. At 2:49pm on 09 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    254, happylaze -

    Are you dyslexic? Since sometimes your posts are much more cogent than at other times, I thought maybe it was due to an intermittent smoky haze. But I'm not complaining! I always find them interesting, I swear! Please don't call me a troll!

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  • 258. At 3:10pm on 09 Apr 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    251 Simon21

    "suddenly vanished"

    The world can count on us, we would let you know, especially if we fell into the empty space and our neighbours to the south suddenly all spoke Spanish and it was 30c in January, yes we would notice. It wouldn't take more than a minute for the Mexicans to realize their neighbour to the north had morphed into an ice-box!

    It is an interesting thought though...... Could it be arranged to happen during the winter months?

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  • 259. At 3:12pm on 09 Apr 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    255. At 2:41pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:
    Good old mostly erroneous

    ."America has survived far worse trouble than it sees now and it will survive these times and grow even stronger as a result just the way it always has. "

    It has only been around for two hundered years.

    try comparing that to the other places that have been through some bigger troubles and still are ther. growing (normally).

    Like most of the rest of the world.

    Glad to see your in the "land of illusion" still"



    Yes it is very reassuring to learn that the US populationis not about to commit mass suicide in a mutual fit of despair. Or that it will "survive" the crisis.



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  • 260. At 4:18pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    bere No, I'm not. well not proven at least.
    Like all ( I assume ) I do occasionally get the letters out right. but to be honest I have a sticky keyboard, no typing skills and I think faster than my fingers.

    So by the time the u has arrived there is already a t in but, .
    check the letters next to the odd ones and see if spaces are in thew rong place.

    If you want that is.

    My complaint with grammar trolling is this is an international site and a site of thoughts.
    and I do not wish thoughts to be thrown under the bus just because of spelling. I did have that experience at school(I had an american mum and english teachers, think abou tit)(opps see that was not rude just a mistake).
    "You thicko" that got in the high 80 in many exams.

    We have some like marcus ,who did take the I can spell so you are not worth listening to approach, and Truepo did similar. I just get more careless then to annoy.

    We have had a lot of well spelled crap on these blogs with content that is sometimes neigh on criminal.

    And the smoke has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it.
    really I would put it down to no heating in the litter room.

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  • 261. At 4:20pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Simon yes a strange and american fascination that they have survived more than others when they have not been around long enough to claim anything in relation to history.

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  • 262. At 5:02pm on 09 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #261

    Jack,

    It's not how long it is, it's what you do with it that counts.

    Observant Sam

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  • 263. At 5:03pm on 09 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    There is more to communicating effectively than good spelling: punctuation, syntax, vocabulary, and the ability to combine them all into an expression of a coherent thought. Then there's the quality of the thought itself, should it perchance manage to come through.

    Arrogant Gary

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  • 264. At 5:06pm on 09 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    260, happylaze - "really I would put it down to no heating in the litter room."

    Now that's interesting. Is your computer in with the cat's facilities? But somehow I'm picturing you dictating to a shivering cat who is typing with frozen paws. Can't you get him some gloves?

    I have a real problem when writing emails because I type faster than the email program can keep up with me. I'm often several words ahead of what's on the screen. Don't understand why it's so slow or if there's anything I can do about it. Since half the time I'm not seeing the words as I type, I have to go back and correct it all.

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  • 265. At 5:08pm on 09 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    262, Sam -

    I always thought it is width that matters, not length.

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  • 266. At 5:35pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    gloves ? I'll turn him into gloves. he doesn't even sit on my lap . no use what so ever that sbbl. Well he is cute and funny. but his typing is worse than mine.

    It's in the Garage. No car is though.

    Sam lol finbar.
    other than that what have they done with it.
    exterminated a continent .
    done a good job at destroying as much of the planet as they could (just look in your local wood store for some FSC wood , Not as common as in the UK stores )and can.



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  • 267. At 5:38pm on 09 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    263 yes

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  • 268. At 11:06pm on 09 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #265

    Bere,

    Having conducted a review of the relevant facts with qualified peers, I believe that we can elevate this to the status of a scientific theory. However I should state that they, after due deliberation, decided that 'girth' or 'circumference' (much mirth was had with that terminology) is the appropriate parameter to measure.

    Scientifically.

    Scientist Sam

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  • 269. At 11:20pm on 09 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #251

    Simon,

    I missed that long Marcus post, but you have to admit it was a classic one. A long fairly factual statement with a little bit of American bias, followed by tow complete non sequiturs. Something like:

    A clock face is divided into twelve equal intervals of 30 degrees each indicating one hour or five minutes. The motion of the long or fast hand indicates minutes through the passage through an arc of 6 degrees per minute, the short or slow hand the passage of the hours.

    So there you have it. Fish.

    I like Cheese.

    Sam Aurelius

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  • 270. At 11:27pm on 09 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    268, Sam -

    Oh yes, you're right. Sorry about that. Wasn't thinking properly or scientifically (must have had my mind on something other than terminology). And yes, the latter term is certainly worthy of mirth as well as being the more appropriate of the two.

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  • 271. At 6:15pm on 10 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    269 Exactly right.

    well said and funny as well .

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  • 272. At 06:16am on 14 Apr 2009, Bill_h_pike wrote:

    America is an exceptional land filled with exceptional people. It is the guiding torch for the freedom loving world. In a thousand years, I have no doubt historians will speak of America with the same reverence today reserved for Rome and Egypt. It is both America's right and duty to bring about a Pax Americana under its benevolent hegemony.

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  • 273. At 1:10pm on 14 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Interesting that you compare the USA with Rome and Egypt - both "big government", no human rights, slave-powered, theocratic (cult of Emperor or Pharaoh) military dictatorships.

    I don't believe there is "reverence" toward the history of either Rome or Egypt. Respect for the incredible organisational and architectural achievements, but reverence implies a desire to perhaps return to their way of running things. Not for me - I've read too much about it (unless of course I can get one of those red robes).

    I don't understand whether you are praising or criticising America with this comparison.

    Not to dispute the many exceptional things and people in the USA, but your Pax Americana sounds terrifying. Would you care to enlighten us on some of your policies to be imposed on the rest of the world....

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  • 274. At 7:11pm on 14 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #273

    Stu,

    The Romans did throw good parties.

    Then there's the aquaduct, sanitation, the roads, irrigation, the wine and public baths.

    Peace? Shut up!

    Sam Python

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  • 275. At 10:16am on 15 Apr 2009, british-ish wrote:

    274. At 7:11pm on 14 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:
    #273

    Stu,

    The Romans did throw good parties.

    Then there's the aquaduct, sanitation, the roads, irrigation, the wine and public baths.


    Perhaps that's what he meant by the "benevolent hegemony". You've got all those, haven't you? (Not sure about aqueducts.) Of course, we in Europe mislaid all those when the Romans retreated, and we've been waiting (like the Egyptians and the Arabs) for someone to show us how to do all that stuff for a long time.

    (I do tend to shiver when people start talking about a country's 'right and duty' to do things. Always ends in tears.)

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  • 276. At 3:04pm on 16 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Stu
    Have you read this

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_Me_Liberty

    Classic Pax america in it.

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  • 277. At 09:22am on 21 Apr 2009, U13912239 wrote:

    " America is an idea....

    It was a great answer in that it was thoughtful and generous and patriotic all in one; but it was the wrong answer. American Exceptionalism stems not from love of country but from the universality of the values of the country."

    Justin Webb attempts a reprise of the "City on the Hill" claim. These assertions are so shallow and wrong that it is obvious that he would not understand an academic response.

    Mr. Webb offers amusing takes as viewed by the "boys on the bus", but do we have anybody in the BBC intellectually capable of handling the American Exceptionalism question?


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