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 Who Defines Patriotism
"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one's country is to do it a service ... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism, I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation ... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power."
J. William Fulbright 

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." 

 Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech

Contemplating Resistance

I sit in the evening on the tailgate of my little Toyota
an hour after sunset
...  contemplating resistance
...  armed with my trusty air rifle
... pockets full of bb’s and bird shot
... and a hope that if I have to shoot someone
I’ll at least hit then in the eye.

Hell, I don't know.
Not who nor when, But damn!
Something's happening here.
Any attempt to usurp power
will lead to civil resistance
in one form or another.

Maybe government agents are coming
sent on errands about which
I have no comprehension.
maybe civil warriors
supporting a resistance
that takes no prisoners!

Folks like that know me
will come... one the run
and I, like Zhivago
will be drafted into
someone's rebel army
... joining not THE FIGHT

If you say no, some semi-armed
semi-intelligent mob
on your door step
with guns -  and says -
"Give us all your assets!
We claim them
in the name of the people!

Down with the government!
Impeach them all
- legally or otherwise!"
Maybe my bb-gun will stop them
… well, at least one or two of them,
whoever they are
or will be.

They Cheney-ites  building
new Guantanamoes
on the mainland.
Rumored concentration camps
the government builds
to protect me
from THEM.

THEM are the one's
who will follow us home if we leave.
Busheviks aren't really thinking about THEM.
They're thinking about me
and you
anybody willing to speak up or hunker down
who dares them to take us out.

I wonder ... martial law is still in
the legal maneuver stage
and resistance is still in
the talk-about-it stage.
An owl hoots;
somewhere off to the left
I can hear crickets.

Out on the highway lights trickle by
from both directions
... chasing their damn errands
contemplating nothing more than
the next curve and cruise control
and whatever is blaring
from the CD device of choice.

For all I know some Pentagon crack stealth team
or NSA crack eavesdropping machine
is out there
watching or listening
... in their best Homeland Security style.
Cause people like me who pop off
might be threats.
"Homeland?" …. Did they originally call it that
as a code word for all neo-nazified agitators
.. who hearken back
to the original Fuhrer
and his ranting
about things German
as things “homeland?”

Course then I'm just a conspiracy nut;
paranoid and headed for somebody's formal loony bin
cause I see enemies
where only well-meaning patriots
plot my well-being.
Cause I'm still a voter
who could vote for the other party.

Time was you could raise a reporter's eyebrows
with talk of plots and corruptions,
lies and liars,
fanatics and ideologues.
Not any more.
Only liars, fanatics and ideologues
approved by corporate HQ.

It’s damn amazing how a dollar has proven more powerful
than Machiavelli-modelled sneakiness
of some reputed political genius.
We’ve lost our publishing sentinels
not because the government
threatened them, but because
the dollar beckoned

The loss of being "on the inside" scared the hell out of them.
As if being on the inside with a mafia don
who could willingly snuff out your life
on a whim,
- "Nothing personal, just business." -
is safer than safeguarding folks who would
really fight for you.

Coping with news we can't trust,
we have polarized ourselves even more.
We’ve sat hypnotized,
and mindlessly entertained
by the most shallow broadcast quality
ever offered.

We worry about acid reflux,
hair restoration techniques,
pills that let us breathe hile we mow the lawn
... and hard-on pills
that promise and
dare us
to risk 36-hour boners.

How could we focus on more serious stuff?
Throw in the born-again foolishness
of the dumbed-down
religious blowhards.
It’s easy to realize just how long
we the people have been
ripe for the picking.

So many god damn problems
- probably too many to solve and
way too late to avoid disaster.
6 years of a fool for a president,
republican political sheep
too intimidated, too greedy
and too afraid to step out of line;

opposed by a pitiful party that has
even fewer elected members
with spines
made of something
other than tofu.
They dont have "the votes,"

Not all the resistance lights are green.only a few.
Some are still frightfully red. The ability to compromise
became an overrated and overstated virtue
following the last three elections.
Repuglicans knew it
... but Demo’s sure as hell
couldn’t see it.

Now there is no such thing as checks and balances,
no such thing as three
branches of government.
Just wait until some fool wants to pass
some kind of 
“In God We Trust” amendment.

There’ll be no such thing as separation
of church and state.
Theocracy is armed and ready.
The fools are going to engage us in an endless war
with every Middle Eastern Nation except Israel,
... who sits there

Because thats what our fools want
... not to protect us,
but because they want the chaos.
It serves their purposes.
Like the ignorant bully in the school yard,
the fools are engaged
in trying to intimidate
the rest of the playground

when all the other kids know the truth
and aren’t afraid. The Euro will triumph
aided and abetted by the Yuan
and will replace the dollar
as the global standard
and the fools can’t do anything about it
- or perhaps don't give a damn.

So what's coming down the pike?
I don't think very many are beyond
classic denial ... and won't understand
at the very moment
when suddenly the 1st Amendment
is no more. by mere pretext we will all be forced
to shut the fuck up.

The young, the restless; the pretend sophisticators
are in denial.
They believe few  of my old veteran worries.
These are the same folks who honestly plan
for a future that began to fade in November 2001
... when the fake conservatives osing as Republicans
got their wettest dream;

a built-in excuse to start l
bullying and scheming
to get their way ...
and their dollars.
take away our way of doing business
... the old fashioned way.

And I thought my Dad was apathetic
while I was serving during the Viet Nam era.
Nowadays one of my axes to grind is national apathy toward the invasion and occupation of Iraq and lack of empathy for families with skin in the game.
In the 60's and 70's when I served - and that was 6 years active duty USAF and 2 years Army Reserve - I did not have much occasion or need to shush my family/extended family since none of them were speaking out. And an active duty son of an veteran of WWII knew better than to speak up when at home on leave.
I came out of a conservative-patriotic republican state and culture (SE Corner of Idaho: 40 miles from Utah and 40 miles from Wyoming. Idaho, Utah and Wyoming,  the 3 remaining states with the most Bush supporters.)
Solidarity in worrying for the well-being of the rest of the guys in my unit seemed to be the highest concern rather than whether or not the war in Indo-China or the Cold War with Russia was legitimate.
But having said that, I also confess that in retrospect, my outrage against Jane Fonda had little or nothing to do with reading or thinking about what she was saying. It had everything to do with the publicity around her, those inflammatory pictures and the urban legends created back then that have followed her all her life.
I remember coming home after discharge in the mid-70’s to straighten out all my family’s apathy about our government in the early 1970's because by then, like my WW II father, I'd been there now, and done that
... well to the degree that flyboys can be there and do that.
So I could tell my father that Viet Nam was nothing like WW II or even Korea and  disregard the fact that he was drafted and faced a much greater risk to himself in WW II than I did flying at 35,000 feet doing radio intercept in a recon aircraft.
His stories were of course about places like Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Bulge and even Dunkirk even though he spent the war on Adak in the Aleutians as a radio relay operator.
However, the personal perspective he revealed in the early 1980's when he was nearer my age now just blew me away.
I had grown up listening to him talk about WW II and watching the 1940's and 50's John Wayne and Audie Murphy movies with him.
I assumed he was a Republican voter because my mother usually voted for Democrats and Dad always complained about her negating his own vote. 
I was gone well before I could have heard him talk about the Republican presidents who succeeded Johnson. But I remember that Dad had liked Ike.
My Dad was a farm implement salesman who was also a musician, playing a sax and singing for his 3-piece combo in local night clubs. He was not a shy person.
But in all those years following his WW II service other than occasional swipes at all politicians, we were all left guessing as to what he really thought. Well, except for the night he brought Frank Church home for supper in the 1950’s when Church was running for U.S. Senator. He liked Frank Church.
He rarely read and only kept one book, a huge memorial history of WW II that now sits in my bookcase.
In the mid 1980's Dad came to live with me for a while in Vancouver, WA. The movie Red Dawn had just come out and we watched it. After words he said in his quiet voice that no longer sang in night clubs,
"Gives you something to think about."
and then this observation that astounded me.
"That sonofabitch Nixon, killed more of our boys than needed to die."
He absolutely despised Nixon for how the 1968 campaign promises about Viet Nam were ignored, repudiated and obscured while the Republican commander-in-chief and his ass-Kissinger only made things worse, not better.

I’ve read how the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbids denigrating the Commander-in-Chief. But I'm of course post-UCMJ and no longer subject to its jurisdiction so I can tell you ...
I also hate comparisons to Nazis and was not even thinking about that when I wrote this diary. However ... that sonofabitch Bush lied to me and to all of us. He lied to get us to invade Iraq and make of this country an aggressor nation. He lied to get our soldiers to shoot to kill when it never had to be that way with Iraq.
If Nuremberg hurts your feelings, then let's shift it to The Hague. Either way, that sonofabitch deserves The Hague and our country deserves better than the taint he's given us, Nazi or otherwise.


Patriotism Archives

On Patriotism 10/18/07

Contemplating Resistance (07/23/07)

No worries, people? (07/22/07)

Weekend at Pullman: Progressives gathering in the Red Zone (04/24/2007)

Troops don't join up to keep a political party in power (02/25/07)

Today's & Yesterday's Activists 2006/2007

It wasn't Camp Casey and Maria Cantwell is not George Bush (05/07/2006)

I knew about the sit-in too and I supported and encouraged it (04-26-06)

Reluctance to Speak Out (03/31/06)

"I couldn't care less": overpass bannering, ownership and America's Restaurant (02/12/06)

Whose Side is the DLC On? (10/02/05)

Arthur, answer me this: why is the American gov't insisting that it's job is to spread democracy (07/15/05)

Michael Moore & Constantin Costa-Gavras (08/2004)

This Veteran's View of Mr. Kerry (07/07/04)

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

: Theodore Roosevelt. "Citizenship in a Republic," Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

A question in the The American Empire Project asks: "Should US citizens be held responsible for their governments actions?"

Could not the case be made from a global standpoint that the unspoken but assumed relationship between citizens of those governments based on citizen choice by vote is that "we'll take care of things here and you take care of things there."

In this context the government of some other nation could not hold U.S. citizens responsible for American actions but owes its own citizens the more legitimate act of holding the U.S. government responsible.

If being held responsible implies accountability meriting praise or punitive action, a foreign government cannot take punitive action against U.S. citizens and bypass the American government except as an act of terror.

The theory (currently in a state of doubt) is that U.S. elections are open and therefore publicized. What we have in fact is global publicity of not only our elections, but our long history of rhetoric around how open, honest and clean our elections are supposed to be.

That rhetoric comes home to roost when there is the appearance that the electorate made a more conscious choice this year as opposed to 2000 with its clouds of shock and awe in the U.S. population at the astonishing idea that Florida was a fixed election which led to subsequent unveiling of American Imperialism.

I agree with those who say that those who voted for Bush ought to be more accountable for that vote and the "ought to" extends from those voters to those liars and manipulators who hijacked their Christianity with narrow and limited moral values and distracted others from Fear Factor, Survivor,Nascar, The World Series and NFL long enough to vote as they were told.

Arthur & Lietta Ruger 2002-2008. The American Choice is a  political internet journal based in Bay Center, Washington. The views expressed not authored by Arthur or Lietta Ruger are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of The American Choice or SwanDeer Productions. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered.