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As Long as We Remember...

May 8, 2012

A Response to “Unexceptionalism”

Steven R. Berryman

[The following column was modified from a letter Mr. Berryman sent to his family regarding an opinion article by E. L. Doctorow, “UNEXCEPTIONALISM: A PRIMER,” New York Times, April 28, 2012] [ {Please view this first.}


I got through “Unexceptionalism: a Primer” (barely) and was tempted to footnote most of it, as the author was obviously not edited for content to any degree. " “Not fleshed out” would be a massive understatement!


Doctorow’s line items (or bullet points/talking points) did flow somewhat, but that was about the only redeeming value to me as I don’t buy this brand of dogma.


Start with the title. It was wordplay that does not even relate with its opposite, American Exceptionalism, a term coined by the American Socialist Party about 70 years ago. I've written on this.


[See: originally printed in The Frederick News-Post, June 3, 2011]


What we have encapsulated in “Unexceptionalism” is what may be considered third party propaganda, a term proposed and coined by the president’s key advisor Cass Sunstein, and/or one of the White House think tanks. [The big news of the week is that this influential Obama advisor was caught saying that it was okay for a government to pay third party sources to write on their behalf without attribution and plant it in the news, which is why I despise news services (AP, etc.), as they are regularly sold to us with blind attribution.]


The bulk of the content in “Unexceptionalism,” other than blaming activist courts – which are assigned per the rule of law – is simply a line-item of (George W.) Bush-bashing, much of which I do agree with on a piecemeal basis: The Patriot act as viewed by ACLU, invasion of Iraq, Industrial-Corporate complex, Corruption, Corporations as humans, etc.


We are way beyond Bush-bashing as we come to the end of a failed first term that was marked by losing the entire first year in office, not focusing on any meaningful fixing of economy, and instead pushing social-agenda, aka Obamacare, energy, etc., which were sold with coercion of the Congress, and incorrect economic facts. This administration could have saved the construction industry (my job) and much more, for instance, if the president had worked on (what he called “Job One” a year later) fixing the economy [stupid.]!


And the overarching principle that Doctorow dances around in “Unexceptionalism” is whether one follows the U. S. Constitution, or not. This opinion article chooses positions both for and against its current principles. It still gets back to "living vs. static" interpretations thereof.


I say that a well-articulated and described principle is enduring, regardless of whether plastic is invented and used ILO metal in manufacturing. A principle is enduring, regardless of whether you read your Washington Post on bleached parchment or a computer screen. A principle is an enduring one regardless of how quickly you get your news, and how many read it. A principle is a principle, whether you drive a horse at 18 MPH or a jet at 478 MPH.


Truly we have not over-civilized ourselves out of The Constitution as a result of our great leaps forward!


Progressivism began leaching off burdens imposed by the Constitution with the excuse of elasticity, and lost the gist of American Exceptionalism, that we were born of principles, not the principle of ever-changing principles.


Let us not boast of our progress when we have a medical system that has evolved to spend double the cash of other nations that outperform us with less. We lack access to our own medical system due to pricing. Or we have allowed hospitals and colleges to become business and factories, as opposed to holding to higher standards.


Our educational system serves up year 13 through 16 with absolute mediocrity (year one and two are used to fix lapses in public high school systems) in America, compared to our peers, and at greater expense-versus-return than ever before, while bankrupting the children, many of whom will get useless B.A. degrees who are not finding jobs at all now. My stock guys all have four year degrees!


The willful self-destruction of our nation is rudely attributed to Republicans only by Mr. Doctorow; but the true answer is fully bipartisan in cause, and transcends Mr. Doctorow's above referenced primer.


The reason our government is investing heavily in anti-riot and citizen-surveillance technology is that they fully anticipate an ultimate overthrow of whatever we have devolved into a dysfunctional nation by the people. (Note that provisions of the Patriot Act were accepted by both sides of the aisle)


The peoples inevitable “taking it back” cannot be stopped.


Clearly, "saving us from terrorism,” promoted by government facilitated fear mongering has cost us our national soul, and the cost was not worth it. I fear for our future, as many have given up pushing back against tyranny simply to stay afloat economically. But, wasn't that the plan?



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