423 Comments
Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

To all the people talking down the current administration's accomplishments, while presenting as your rebuttal nothing but a series of false choices, I have but one question:

Why don't you believe in America?

I believe in America. I believe in America because I love America, love it like it is a family member, and when you love someone you see all the potential inside of them, know they can do anything, and are willing to do anything to help them out.

I believe we can keep social programs solvent AND pay down our debt. I believe we can pay people their fair share AND have an affordable cost of living. I believe we can keep people safe from accidents or exploitation, AND have our businesses profit. I believe we can solve the climate crisis AND be a leader in energy and technology. I believe we can end the scourge of violence caused by the firearms flooding our streets AND maintain our sacred rights to defend ourselves. I believe we can keep innocent people out of prison AND keep crime down. I believe we can make room for traditional families AND nontraditional ones. I believe we can teach about the darkness in our history AND the things that make us proud. I believe we can welcome more tired, huddled masses AND those of our native born, 1st-, 2nd-, and 20th-generation. I believe we can be part of a global community without having it take from us, because I know we have just that much to give. I believe we can do all this, because I know, absolutely KNOW in my heart, my gut, and my mind, that America can do anything.

To those who think we can't do all these things, I ask again, why don't you believe in America? You seem to think we cannot solve our problems as well as other places. You seem to think we don't have it in us. Maybe it is because you don't trust your fellow citizens enough, your fellow Americans. Why don't you? Is it because they don't look like you, sound like you, or act like you? You drape yourself in the flag as if to convince everyone that you love this country the most, as if even love is a competition. As if to insinuate that you and the country are one and the same, as if to insinuate that failure to agree with you is failure to love the country.

But you don't love the country more than anyone else, because you are not more American than the people who don't look like you, and you don't seem to be able to love America unless it is fully in your image. What you love is yourself.

I believe in America. I love America. All of it, even the parts that do not love me, at least not yet. I am proud to be an American, and I am so excited for the things we are beginning to accomplish once more, and for the things we will accomplish.

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The detractors claim to love America. Tfg and his red hat make me heave. He loves nothing more than himself, yet people I have known to be intelligent and caring have sold their soul to this charlatan. And if not him, even worse. Our American self-image has been hijacked by the traitors, goons, and haters of anything “Dem.” MSM needs to get on the side of America’s future as a beacon of promise, and not give lip service to the egos of evil. Truth doesn’t have two sides, no matter how loud they are, how clever the lies are, or how much money they have to “whitewash” their divisive intentions. Go Joe, a man whose ego is subsumed by his love of country.

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This is something that has long fried me. No one who is a patriot supports death star and excuses the Jan 6th insurrection. No one who is really Christian supports all the regressive hatred. No one is who is decent behaves to others like these people do, always in one way or another in other people's faces.

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Yes Jeri, this a country of great potential. We need to recognize our mistakes, we need to make our way forward. Our students need to know our true history and also our slow progress.

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You need to write your own substack, Will! You write beautifully and meaningfully.

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Exactly what I suggested to Will about a week ago!

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Will,

I make it a point not to "believe" in anything at all.

I would rather evaluate reality and make choices based on facts. This is more work than finding a slogan or a word or a person or a deity to "believe in", but, it results in a more fact based life journey.

Note, I was not always averse to belief. But, as part of my education I had the good fortune to be be near large libraries and also people who challenged my own belief thinking at the time. Plus, I met so many people from all over the world. Over time I evolved to never accepting something without data to back it up. Or proof.

That said, regarding "believing" in America:

a) Read the 1619 Book Project carefully.

b) Read the story of Angola Plantation in Louisiana and how that Plantation morphed into a prison after the Civil War when it remained legal for convicts to be slaves in the USA.

c) Read about the death rate of British and American owned slave ships coming here from Africa.

d) Read Malcolm X autobiography.

e) Read "To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party" and Andrew Johnson's outsized impact on the post Civil War era.

f) Drive to the black section of any of the many segregated cities in the United States (today). Look around.

I do not believe in America.

Rather, I observe that America is one of many countries. I was randomly born here like many, BUT, I was not brought here on a slave ship nor were my forefathers. My father was an immigrant, my mother a white woman of Irish/British/Welsh descent. Her father was a drunk and an abuser.

Currently, America has some of the poorest people on earth living in cities and rural areas in spite of people routinely writing this phrase: "America is the richest country on earth".

Lastly, America has used its army more since WW II, than any other country on earth, to occupy, destroy, kill, maim, torture and generally create mayhem among non white populations.

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Mike, I agree with you 100%. I have always been taken back by the idolized version of what people think this Country is.

America the beautiful. Far from it.

I was born during the Eisenhower Administration and have seen plenty. I don't fight for America. I do fight everyday for the people. I fight for the families that don't have food to put on their table. I fight for the elders who no longer can fight for themselves. I fight for women who are treated with disregard. I fight for Education. The list is long.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

I fight for public libraries. :-)

Public Libraries, way out in the sticks of East Texas, gave birth to my presence on this board.

Well, maybe they are bad? :-)

Who knows.

But, I work to fund, support, build public libraries. And get people to go there.

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The public library here in Salem has righted itself somewhat after having a head librarian who believed that the measure of a book is its popularity and how many times it is checked out. So she got rid of many books she should have kept and at bargain prices. I was a school librarian and my successor didn't know a damn thing about books and the place of the library, but he knew something about computers and wanted out of the classroom. The person who runs it now is not certified and is conservative, so I do wonder what happened to some of the books I included. Computers are part of our frail infrastructure, but the books will still be there, barring fire and natural disasters.

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Libraries are indeed the last bastions of free thought and free access. Without public libraries, we may truly be lost. I cannot think of anything better fir you to spend your time on, Mike.

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Never too long for a warrior who fights for what is right.

Love you, my friend.

🗽

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Back at you Christine ! 💞

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Yes, people who want to build an America based on the ideals of Will from Cal (and probably most LafA readers) must plan for vicious opposition from the 74 million voters who will challenge in court, at the polls, in popular media, and on the streets all the new laws and programs we manage to put in place. The 74 million do not share our values. They oppose them. Their ideal America is Mississipi in 1860.

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Rex Page, you are right. But that doesn’t mean we should quit. We must build on the good we have. Was it Admiral Farragut who said “Full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes”? Or we can do it in honor of those who have died to keep democracy alive.

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That’s right. We absolutely must not quit. If we did, the bad guys would win for sure, but we have to recognize the viciousness of our opponents and their skills, capacities, and systemic advantages. I’ve been fighting these people since 1965. We can never let up. It’s a constant battle on multiple levels and multiple fronts.

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I also fight as best I can for these things and I vote.

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Thank you Michele !

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At my age I am afraid I am fairly limited, but there are things all of us can do. We donate to causes that hopefully help with achieving ideals too and i realize that not everyone can do that either.

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We can only do what we can and that is more than enough.

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Unless your age is very, very young, you almost certainly have a history that's worth passing on, maybe by telling stories in your family and neighborhood, maybe by writing letters or op-eds for the local paper (if you're lucky enough to have one), maybe by getting together with others to do a program at a local school or library. So much history has been kept alive by those of us who lived it!

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Mike You, of course, are entitled to your beliefs. You list a number of dreadful situations that are part of a complex America.

I am aware of these incidents and much more in the evolution of my country,. Jon Meacham has expressed this well in THE SOUL OF AMERICA. We have experienced downs and ups, with an historical record of more ups.

We have encountered some downs in the Trump era. But with typical American resiliency, we have rebounded with the Biden administration and, despite the political naysayers, there was no RED TIDE in the 2022 elections.

There is a rocky road ahead for America and virtually every other country on earth.

On balance, I have more faith than confidence that America will continue its upward trend.

I BELIEVE IN AMERICA.

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I believe in America, the good, bad & ugly. Living in a red state makes it very difficult to think that we have rebounded. What is happening in this red state will not "rebound" for generations but will continue to fester. We have our only Democratic Congressional person running in 2024 with the rabid CNP determined to vote him out. In the body of the DNC, will they help fund him or shift support to states where they know or have a better chance of winning similar to what happened in the last election.

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I too live in a red state. They are more interested in control of "Trans children" currently now that they have put women in their place! I am thinking don't they have more important things that need done in Indiana! I think they cherry pick for the media attention.

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My condolences. I grew up in Elkhart. Indiana is really become part of the festering regression and probably always was.

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It makes me want to leave for a blue state....but I am much to old to make the move!

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I believe in the potential and promise of the US.

So easy to forget it’s a very young country

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Yes. I remember very well a conversation we had with our guide while in Egypt while sitting in a tomb. He put things in perspective for us.

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We all require a North Star to guide us through the rational and emotive choices our journey takes us on. Will, I surmise, makes clear that the options and choices are not binary or equivalent. My Star, my belief in American potential, affords me a filter for adding facts and concepts and forming present truths subject to Mike's rational pursuit of facts that refine or redirect what I though true at a time past or may bring me back to a lesson leaned and forgotten.

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Keith,

The good thing about America is our Constitution supports you in whatever you want to believe.

As do I.

:-)

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Mike I taught the Constitution for over 20 years and did not find your referenced sections that would be clearly supported by our current Supreme Court.

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I am a few years behind you, Keith, and don't have nearly your experience and learning, but I believe in the ideals. How I feel about this in any moment depends off how cynical I am feeling. I refuse to give in.

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Michele Churchill is an inspiration for me. What could have been worse than Dunkirk, Hitler’s occupation of Europe, the prospect of an invasion, and a sympathetic FDR faced with an isolationist America?

Also, a year ago today Putin invaded Ukraine. All the pundits predicted that Kyiv would be occupied in days, and Ukraine would be crushed. A former comedian named Zelensky spoke about Ukrainian resistance and the fact that he expected to be captured or killed within few days. Purportedly, when the US offered to transport him out of Ukraine for a government in exile, he replied: “Send me ammunition, not transportation.”

From dark days Churchill was an inspiration that paved the way to D Day and VE Day. A year later, Zelensky remains an inspiration to his brave citizens and to many others.

At times I think of President Biden as the person who stands firm to support what is best for the American people and, globally, what is best for the world.

PERSONALLY, I THINK THAT THIS IS PRETTY DAMNED GOOD and tomorrow is another day.

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Nice comparison, Keith. I have mixed feelings about Churchill, but he was certainly the right man in the right place during WWII. But then, my fav is Elizabeth I, certainly no saint. I admire both Zelensky and the Ukrainians. I have come to appreciate Biden a lot and get very tired with some here in Salem diss him, and I don't mean the party of death, but those who tout themselves as progressive. I just hope the party of death does not undermine our help to Ukraine. i saw this am a post on a next-door thread that complained about that.

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Michelle When Churchill was good he was extraordinary and when he was bad he was terrible. His ego was unrivaled and his Nobel winning history of WW II should have been titled ‘How I won WW II.’ Still, he saved Great Britain, which is a remarkable personal accomplishment.

Elizabeth I is also one of my favorites, though Mary Queen of Scots would disagree.

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I have a friend from eastern Poland who is visiting her friends in the Chicago area where she lived for about 30 years. Her enthusiasm for Zelenskyy was a pleasure to hear. Still recommending “Servant of the People” (with subtitles), which he wrote. Will add to it the reports and interviews with Ukrainians on MSNBC.)

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So well said!

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Sharon Historians rated Truman and Ike as mediocre presidents early on. Now, in retrospect, they are rated as ‘near great’ or better.

They now rate Trump as our worst president. I surmise that this will not change a generation hence.

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With you all the way Keith

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Me too!! I love the positive reinforcement today's posts are demonstrating. Thanks, Yall!

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Thank you, Keith! Hugs!

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I'm with you Keith.

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All true; but rational government by representative only works in the realm of highly-educated, rational decision makers/voters...and we’ve failed miserably at equal public education. In order to capture votes, our politicians need to propose a dream (or threaten with a nightmare). The ability to articulate aspirational thinking about what this shambling Frankencountry could be (despite the many egregious examples of our history) is, I believe, the way to engage more citizens. Look at our appalling turnouts for elections.

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Well said.

But, "aspirational thinking" is not the same as "believing in" America. It is postulating a better future for a America.

That? Postulating a specific plan for a better future? I fully support.

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This seems like semantics to me, honestly. "Believing in" does not inherently equate to *blindly* believing, at least not to my mind. To my mind, aspirational postulation of specifics is impossible without fulfilling the prerequisite of basic belief in the thing you are aiming to improve. How on Earth could you improve something you don't believe contains the capacity for improvement? How could you ever crate a specific plan for anything, if you do not first agree on the generalized parameters?

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Well said Will. I am enjoying your posts here today and every day.

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Just believe in Love, Mike. That is what we are and hardened when creating an opposite image.

Salud, friend.

🗽

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Mike, I too have read what you have read and I too am aware of the many historical horrors and current ills you enumerate. I do not believe in America as inherently superior to any other country, nor do I cling to the remnants of manifest destiny or any other regurgitated mythos. I do not see anything in my response to today's Letter, nor any previous responses of mine, to indicate that I believe in anything but the opposite.

What I do believe in is the potential of the country to solve these ills, and the will and ability present in enough of the citizenry to accomplish such. I too, "evaluate reality and make choices based on facts," frankly to a degree that makes the more pure optimists in my own life uncomfortable. My therapist has labeled me a "radical pragmatist," and I take it as a badge of pride. Evaluating based on facts is essential to get a grip on the realities of the present, but it does absolutely nothing to point you toward a future, the facts and reality of which cannot be known. I see plentiful evidence we have what it takes to get to the future I desire, and both the contents of today's letter as well as the character of the commentariat to me serves as reaffirmation.

My comment today related to those people in our country who refuse to stare the ills in the eye - indeed seem to work overtime to deny them - and yet STILL seem to see no course of action available to us to avoid unacceptable tradeoffs in our economic and cultural spheres. I am rejecting those choices as false given my evaluation of the resources available to us, and marveling at how anyone could consider themselves the true patriots when their views by definition are ones framing our country as having such limitations on our abilities.

I hope that makes sense. I did not want to shut down the fascinating push and pull in the responses my comment seems to have triggered, or appear defensive in any way, so I decided to wait to further explicate the intent behind what I wrote. But just for the record....

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Very well stated, Will. I agree with you, and see promise that we managed to elect a geriatric, but seasoned, experienced man to lead us, simply hoping for the best. At least that's what I was thinking when I voted for Biden. I have been immensely impressed with his knowledge, temperament, and canny skill, and I'm rather surprised with the results. Maybe there's hope for the country, warts and all. For all of the bashing from the right wing, Biden has been able to not only right the ship but steer it out of the mire caused by the last six years, in spite of the terrible current political climate.

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Mike you’ve accurately noted some dark chapters in our history. Like every country, business, and organization on earth, we are comprised of flawed people who make mistakes. Big, big mistakes. To go one step further though in the US we also have the opportunity to correct those mistakes. In my lifetime (post war baby boomer) I experienced and benefited from many positive changes. In one day, Tfg’s election in 2016 shifted my paradigm by clearly exposing how much more we have to do. And we can do it if we work hard. We have the opportunity and need the resolve to make the United States better. I believe we can and hope we will.

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Yes, death star has certainly been a step back and brought into full light the festering underbody of this country. I am pretty cynical about humankind, but this was a new low.

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GMB,

It is true that America was lucky enough to have John Adams, who, in his early walk through life read widely and understood all past failed governments.

And, as a consequence, he provided us the template for representative government in the form of the MA constitution in 1780.

But for that one man, John Adams, who knows where we would be today?

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I agree with this Mike, but I also agree with Will, that we can do all the things he says, if we only start working on the ideals of the country. I am would add Indigenous Continent to the list of books as I am now to the time of Sioux/Lakota prominence. In a nasty thread I had with a person who says people should not say Sioux, but Lakota, I try to be as accurate as possible. The book uses both, but of course, the author is a Finn who is a don at Oxford, so he has no right to write this history. In the thread this person who had about as English/ScotsIrish name as there is, told me I would be beaten and killed if I ever showed up on the Rez. The person whose page it was, blocked this individual and defended me. She is one of my husband's relatives through his Lakota ancestry. I understand the anger, but this was beyond the pale.

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Michele,

Recognizing the reality of our past in an accurate way only makes America stronger.

It, in now way, weakens.

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Agreed. I see nothing wrong with knowing our past, no matter who the author is, as long as that author is accurate and has done thorough and excellent research. The Finn has been criticized in some quarters because he is not Lakota; he is not Native American. The person I was referencing above wants all land returned. Isn't going to happen, so I celebrate the projects that have returned land and cooperative efforts between Native Americans and say, the Forest Service, in managing areas.

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I'm currently reading "How the Word Is Passed," by Atlantic magazine writer Clint Smith. Angola Prison is one of the chapters, along with Monticello and several others. Highly recommend.

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Mike S -- Three cheers for your first sentence! That nickel dropped for me about 55 years ago when I was studying the works of Carl Jung in NYC. I have long forgotten the exact reference, but his answer to someone who asked him if he "believed" some particular thing were something like, "It's not a matter of belief. It's a matter of knowing."

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Judith,

Well, it is hard to really "know" something too. Even after much research on a single topic there may remain only a hypothesis about the situation.

But, for sure, deciding to "believe in" some simple concept in a non-critical way is just flat dangerous.

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No need to diminish Will’s genuine intent. We can BOTH believe in America and know/read the stories of its reality, both past and present.

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Exactly. Even without rose-colored glasses, we know that we can do better.

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Mike, I recall my mother saying in the '50's "I'll never say 'my country, right or wrong,' because we do many things wrong. We've meddled in neighboring countries' government for our own benefit, treated the poor badly, and bowed to the powerful, who aim to do nothing for anyone of lesser position." I agree with all of that, and it was valuable for me to hear those words. I was able to question our motivation in many things that our government supported, but I also see promise that at least some of our leaders are getting it right and we'll become a "more perfect union." The years beginning with Reagan have often been very difficult, and with Trump's permission, violence and lies have become commonplace, but I still have hope for better days to come. Like my mother, though, I will never say "my country, right or wrong." Our biggest challenge right now is to prevent this country, which has much potential for good, from going over a cliff because of autocracy. We've already seen the "wrong."

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"Like my mother, though, I will never say "my country, right or wrong."

Nancy, you were, indeed, quite fortunate to have such a thoughtful Mom.

Yes.

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Yes, I was. She pointed to many political situations that would never have shown up in newspapers. I recall that she said that Adlai Stevenson would never be elected president, since he had been divorced. In reading about him when I reached adulthood, I'm inclined to think that his acting as a character witness for Alger Hiss, who later was found to be a Communist, all during the communism hysteria of the McCarthy era; his eloquent but intellectual demeanor that turned off average voters; and the animosity that developed with Bobby and Jack Kennedy had a lot more influence in his defeats. Still, Mama might have had a point.

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I agree with your realism, Mike. And yes we must acknowledge the mistakes we made and continue to make, but that does not preclude us from believing we will do better in the future. Nor does it mean we can't learn from past, present and future mistakes. Much as I wish for it, we will never be free of greed, but we can learn to control it, and therefor have a better world.

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Fay,

"but that does not preclude us from believing we will do better in the future. Nor does it mean we can't learn from past, present and future mistakes."

completely agree!

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Yes, Mike there are many of us who have practiced the "It's a Half of a glass" until the objective, verifiable evidence is provided by proper investigative procedure.

IN failure analysis we begin without bias or agenda. Data first! What happened, when did it, happen how did it happen and most importantly, WHY did it happen. Only then is the true root cause revealed and preventive actions can be developed without the bias of first seeking "someone" to blame thereby creating Bias and Agendas. All is revealed when. evidence is truth and is followed "religiously", in the vernacular sense.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Rebekha,

I forgot to say that on Friday evenings, with a bit of wine, I do dabble in belief here and there!!

:-)

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We can let mistakes and stupidity define America, but we also have the choice to look at the good the country has managed and try to realize the dream of our forefathers. In my lifetime the UN was born here, the Marshall Plan realized, and some art and science (think Salk vaccine for polio, think artists who escaped Hitler’s Europe, and general charity that our wealth has allowed for) created. I would add the last line of one of my favorite movies: “Nobody’s perfect.” (Joe E Brown to Tony Curtis, with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot.”)

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Thank you, Virginia. As a young child, we had families in our neighborhood who came here, fleeing the holocaust, having lost many relatives. I am friendly with people who came here from Lithuania after the Soviet Union collapsed and left them with no viable economy, but they have prospered here, as have large numbers of Vietnamese. We can focus on slavery, and the subsequent marginalization of Black people, the fact that boatloads of Jews were sent back to Europe and certain death rather than offering them refuge, our adding to the dark history of Vietnam, and many other examples of wrongs committed here, but there are citizens and politicians who are pledging to do better, and I still believe it is possible.

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Virginia,

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of John Adams and his MA Constitution and the tremendous amount of research he did to write that as the template for our US Constitution.

America is truly made better due to John Adams presence here.

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I can understand why you feel as you do.

Having lived in Europe and the Middle East makes it clear there is nothing “exceptional” about the US. But the US story of conquest, enslavement, and war—man’s inhumanity to man—is not unique.

The difference is the US has not encountered a devastating war on its soil, so “going to war” and bombing others is quickly ordered.

And the US almost always makes money on wars and war machines. Capitalism. Why Eisenhower warned against “the military industrial complex” —warring elsewhere would become too profitable not to engage in.

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Great post.

Thank you.

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ahhh...the Civil War....

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New York was not invaded or bombed. Nor California.

Look at London after the blitz, Berlin after WWIIx Atlanta after the Union Army shelled it, and Ukraine today. The US has a whole hasn’t experienced a 20th-21st Centuries War

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Another great side of the coin! Thank you!

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OK, I have an idea. Let's nominate Will, from Cal for President. And ask that Mike S, be his chief of staff. Will can lead with inspired speeches that ask us to find and develop the best of ourselves. And Mike could keep it all real.

Or...how about Will to run communications for the WH. And Mike for Attorney General. We would be aspirational. And we would definitely lock up a bunch of bad guys.

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And I will be in the Cabinet as the Secretary of Love. Which sets up all the departments of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

No talk, all action.

Salud, Bill.

🗽

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Wonderful!

AND let us refrain from that primitive „lock them up“ instinct which destroys civilization, democracy and rule of law and leads to the next 1/6.

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Bill,

I am very complimented by your perception that I might be of use at a high level.

At the moment, I am buried in my local library and two local towns. Just trying to slog the local reality. I cannot say I think I am very good at it.

Mike

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Bill Intriguing idea, but where is the diversity? Gender (including trans), color, and religion? Notice that I don’t include competence among my qualifications. That’s such antiquated requirement—-just look at the loudest Republican mouths.

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Excellent!!

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Preaching to the choir here, dear Will. This group of conversationalists isn't arguing that people in the US are not capable of doing great things--forward-looking, progressive, positive things that would benefit all, not just some. But there are those of us who also recognize that this is a constant battle with the forces of repression, bigotry, and misogyny that are also part of the US citizenry--and have always been here.

I'm an historian (medieval British and European) and I have a very long view of the ways in which western society has vacillated between the forces engaged in a more equitable and progressive vision of the future and those that are determined to present the future as a zero-sum game. It has been ever thus. And because progressive change requires thought, mindfulness, self-awareness, and generosity of spirit--all of which you have in abundance, Will--it is a hard slog for a lot of people who would rather not do any of that. Because it can be exhausting and it requires checking inward to see if one is (gasp!) wrong about "stuff." The history of the West has been a history of institutions determined to convey the message "Believe, don't think" at all costs pitted against individuals and small groups who say, "I'd rather come to my own conclusions, thanks." Institutions are powerful entities with resources that can seem overwhelming to those who are fighting against them. The process of change is not a single linear movement. It is a Sisyphean effort with progress being followed by backlash. The hope is that the damn boulder rolls only partway back down the hill each time--and that we all don't get flattened in the process.

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Will, I’m teaching a class on the theme of “The American Dream” in 20th/21st century dramatic literature. Would you allow me to quote from this comments to my students? It’s a very nice articulation of an increasingly rare optimism.

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Laura, I read ALL the valuable comments, the digital democracy wall, above your name twice from the start of the 17th Century through Angola Plantaion to the present via HCR after just reading a scotusblog summary about a state court ruling that permits a person to be executed by a 8-4 non-unamous jury vote allowed by statute in Florida. Live or die by a majority vote? There was NO published comment from any Justice a silent docket but, not here Thank you all.

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Laura, Mike is correct. I write here under the assumption that I am all right with anything being copied freely, given the public and informal nature of the forum. Please quote away if you read anything you deem worthy. Cheers!

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Laura,

Will's comments are public and not copyrighted.

You can use them.

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Yes, we live in a "both/and" world, rather than an "either/or" one. This has always been the case. Left or right, we are both animated by love and fear. The balance is up to us. These posts of ours are often filled with fear, Faux News is little more than a fear driven angst-fest. When we forget we are also animated by love, we hurt ourselves and others. Thanks for so eloquently reminding us that we are also loving, generative beings (ALL of us), who really only can control one thing - our own attitudes. Thanks, also, for sharing your attitude of clear-eyed love with us. Salud.

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Steve, I think you are right on target as you neatly summarize the pairing of the visions and hopes of Will, From Cal and the caveats and sober reminders of Mike S as the 2 sides of a "Both/And" world. Humans are complex and ambiguous creatures and countries are made up and led by these infinitely complex, ambiguous creatures. I think we do our best when we can accept and build on both parts of that pairing. Our Constitution resulted from some very well-informed people putting together a government with information from the best sources available to them which took into account both the aspirations with which Will is enamored as well as the defects of which Mike S reminds us with its "checks and balances" of the 3 branches. As has been frequently observed, it is not a perfect organization of government, just the best one available so far.

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Re „well informed“: I have read somewhere that Jefferson and Adams, when they drafted the constitution, used a Quran (which Jefferson had in his library) to check if the stipulations regarding free practice of religion, separated from the state, would also work with Islam. That is enlightened statesmanship!

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There's been a lot of real historical research on this very matter and Jefferson's insistence on "religious tolerance" in the new nation.

James H. Hutson , chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, and author of many books, including "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" published in 1988, documented this in his article, "The Founding Fathers and Islam: Library Papers Show Early Tolerance for Muslim Faith," available on the Library of Congress website. It's a fascinating look at Jefferson's efforts to have the nation be inclusive, rather than exclusive. Hutson wrote, "The Founders of this nation explicitly included Islam in their vision of the future of the republic. Freedom of religion, as they conceived it, encompassed it. Adherents of the faith were, with some exceptions, regarded as men and women who would make law-abiding, productive citizens. Far from fearing Islam, the Founders would have incorporated it into the fabric of American life."

To see more, go to: https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0205/tolerance.html

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Thank you, mlbrowne!! Very important to know and absorb this.

"Let Jews, Mehometans and Christians of every denomination enjoy religious liberty…thrust them not out now by establishing the Christian religion lest thereby we become our own enemys and weaken this infant state. It is mens labour in our Manufactories, their services by sea and land that aggrandize our Country and not their creeds. Chain your citizens to the state by their Interest. Let Jews, Mehometans, and Christians of every denomination find their advantage in living under your laws."

We might even include the Buddhist (Zen, Tibetan, Chinese, etcetera) and Hindu populations that have grown hugely in the past 200 years.

Most importantly, let us NOT forget the indigenous peoples who inhabited the country, and for that matter the entire N.A. continent, before white Europeans arrived. (I am not a scholar, only an observer of the Tibetan Buddhist persuasion.)

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Thank you very much, mlbrowne, for this precise and excellent reference!

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Indeed so! I am also aware that Adams' wife Abigail had significant impact on his thinking through their copious letters back and forth as he spent SO MUCH time away from home (outside Boston?) at wherever the early efforts at congress were meeting (Philadelphia, New York) or later overseas as an ambassador for America.

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Peter,

You must read John Adams "A Defense of the Constitution of the United States" to truly see how exhaustive he was in researching how a government should be.

an amazing feat of reading and study.

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Can I use this information re Jefferson 's use of a Quran to counter the CNP in my state?

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Carole, please see the link I've posted below to the Library of Congress. It will help you in your arguments.

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Carole, mlbrowne's contribution is excellent, but you are welcome to use mine, too.

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Jefferson was a complicated man, so many good things and so many things, not so good. He doesn't get good press in Indigenous Continent.

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Michele, Jefferson would be an example of a human with flaws and contradictions, "complexity and ambiguity." John Adams recognized this in asking him to write the Declaration of Independence and the first drafts of the constitution. Adams recognized his own contentiousness in working with groups of people less informed than himself and his vulnerability in having legally defended the British soldiers at trial after the "Boston Massacre." In a different dimension of measurement of "good" and "bad," one could argue that Jefferson remained true to his wife's dying request that he never remarry, likely at significant cost to his slave at the time, Sally Hemmings. So many significant decisions have clear benefits accompanied by clear costs; our assessments of historical figures become subject to our values changing over time. Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day would be another example of this phenomenon.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

I agree. I tend to short and sweet sentences. I don't know as much about Adams, so thanks for informing me about him. I have always noted with Sally Hemmings, that she was his wife's half sister and maybe that was part of the attraction. In the book I am now reading, Indigenous Continent, the author describes Jefferson as a polymath. I did not know much about Jefferson's attitudes toward Native Americans. Of course he brought about the Louisiana Purchase which included vast amounts of land under the control of the Indigenous. Lewis and Clark were lucky that they got past the Lakota early in their expedition. I don't want to imply either that they were somehow sly in this either. The Lakota allowed them to pass up the Missouri. I understand that our assessments change over time and part of that bothers me. I think we should, as far as possible assess historical figures and recognize both their flaws and their good points. However, I do not think we can always get into the minds of people of the day. I like beautiful English cathedrals and often post pictures of them, partly to get away from politics. My neighbor commented that they were a terrible burden on society and I had to disagree. I would not try to assess the medieval mind from my perspective and I argued that they were a boon in many ways to communities, sometimes for generations, as they often took a long time to build. Shortly after that I saw a post about the pay for one cathedral....which included both skilled and unskilled labor. Then people often came on pilgrimages, a further boon to towns. I also recently finished a book of writings for Sumerian gods written by a high priestess. I learned a lot about Sumer while reading it and I would not try to apply modern views to that situation, particularly not as those who feel the need to paint everyone who is religious or spiritual with the same brush.

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Amazing love letter Will!

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Great conversation on this post! Many of my favorite commenters have weighed in, both in agreement and in contradiction with Will's original post. As usual, I find myself kind of in the middle with respect to where I fall on the continuum. In an unusual place, I find myself without much to say other than y'all are making me think. This is causing me to have to go get another cup of starter fluid (that is to say coffee) to see if the words will come.

Thank you all.

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I love you, Ally. You are such a thinker.

Cheers to happy hour today.

🗽💜

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Oh, I've got rum punch on the brain for tonight!

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I made delicious chocolate martinis for my crowd. Yum.

🗽

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Rum punch and gin and tonics were served tonight!

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I love this about all of us on LFAA! I have learned so much from the comments...and they do make us think. Hugs coming your way Ally House (Oregon) from good old Indiana! My dream is to make it "blue"!

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Lol-starter fluid. Good for you! I call it “life juice” and wish to have it injected into my veins some mornings! ☕️

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Since I often grab a cup on the way to rehearsal, I call it "tuba player starter fluid". One of my band buddies calls the La Croix fizzy water he has at rehearsals "bass 'bone hydration system".

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Ally,

the smart lane is always the center lane.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Barnburners. Both your comment and Professor Richardson’s ending to the Letter today.

Stated is the fundamental conflict, Will, as you frame it.

“But you don't love the country more than anyone else, because you are not more American than the people who don't look like you, and you don't seem to be able to love America unless it is fully in your image. What you love is yourself.”

….unless it is fully in their image. Conditional love. That is what has the conflict so confounded. Love has no opposite. So to profess to love only if it excludes any difference is not love at all.

My love of country and fellow man center on my pillar that comes from the introduction in “A Course in Miracles”.

“1. This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.

2. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

I have compassion for the people that are blockheads because of the blocks they throw in the path of Love, our natural inheritance. Literally stacks of hate blocks of late. Those blocks are darkness in their hearts and spirit. And they will not prevail. Sometimes to their own demise. Such a waste.

Scary times. Just do not be afraid, warriors of Love. Remember. There is no opposite to what is all-encompassing.

Salud, friends.

🗽💜

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Will, from Cal--what you are describing is a both/and vision for America. This vision of America is one where everyone, all of us this time, has opportunities to move forward to a productive life. I like that vision. Let's put an end to the morbidly rich stealing the opportunities of a majority of the people in this country.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Dear Will - from California, all right! -,

your contribution warms my heart. Yes, I also have a lot of feelings about the United States of America (there are many other nations in America, so we should call it by its sovereign nation name), the USA.

But an nation, or any kind of res publica, should and must work without "belief" and "love". The laws, the regulations have to make life safe, healthy and fair (the "level playing field") for all people inhabiting a given territory.

Also I would like to introduce the term "engagement" here. Engagement can be nurtured by reason - a citizen is doing something because they recognize its value for the common good, and thus the citizen themselves -, or by sympathy, or even love (we Europeans are a little bit more sparing with the word "love" than US-Americans are [which I like about them!]).

A sympathetic thought for you and your admirable traits.

Peter

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Will, I have tears in my eyes from your beautiful words. I love America, too. If and when you run for office as a public servant (and I KNOW you understand that term better than many who serve in Congress), you have got my vote! People who serve in elected office should love America, too, seeing all of its golden, joyous potential.

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I personally would reframe this to “I believe in the PROMISE of America.” That promise is directly linked to the notion of welcoming all peoples into our fold, attempting to build a dynamic and just society by harnessing the talents and muscle and aspirations of all her citizens.

The whole “breakthrough” idea of this country is that it’s possible to get past our all too human tribal instincts (whether cultural or religious) for the benefit of all. We ain’t there yet to be sure, but inch by inch, I’d argue we’re moving forward.

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"I believe in America. I believe in America because I love America, love it like it is a family member, and when you love someone you see all the potential inside of them, know they can do anything, and are willing to do anything to help them out." I wish more people felt like you do Will. It's so hard when negativity is constantly being shoved down our throats... But Not Impossible.

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Jeanne,

Understanding the accurate history of our American past is beautiful.

Not negative at all.

In the beauty of reality, past and present, we can make our best choices going forward.

Without clear understanding, we may make horrible mistakes again.

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Indeed. The content of the knowledge may be ugly, but the virtue of accumulating knowledge is in and of itself anything but.

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In The Atlantic there is a discussion of MTG suggesting that the Red and Blue states separate into different countries because they are have grown so fundamentally different in thinking. And, instead of focusing on whether or not this is a violation of the Constitution they discuss that it has constantly been a battle to keep us unified, because there have been so many times in history where there are glaring differences in ideology among groups. I assume some of this has to do with the size of our country, and the fact that we are not an autocracy. It also has to do with our legacy of being a White Supremacist nation and not everyone agreeing with the injustice this has led to. We were founded on racist ideas and it seems to be hard for many to let go of this thinking just as sexist ideas are rampant are anti LGBTQ+ are as well. We are also not the religiously tolerant nation we are supposed to be. I read in the paper yesterday that police are urging Jewish and other religious groups to be vigilant this weekend because a neoNazi group is planning a Day of Hate!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/2/22/23611081/chicago-police-jewish-communities-vigilant-when-neo-nazi-group-has-declared-national-day-of-hate

Staying together is a struggle, but in each state we have people who represent various of the ideals of our country. In many states, voting is very suppressed, and it seems that would be something to work on, to get better representation of the people. Currently we are moving in the opposite direction and the Supreme Court seems likely to uphold this. There are things to work on to make us work better as a country. That is what I believe in, but I do not believe in all of my fellow Americans. I believe in the majority of Americans, which is why we have stayed together and made it work. To make it work there does have to be enough common ground. Those who do not support the constitution have the option to go elsewhere.

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Linda Weide, thank you! You remind me of my fundamental question these days:

Where does the hubris come from that makes some very vocal folks proclaim the U.S. to be a White Supremacist nation?

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Judith,

Thank you for your honest post and for sharing your question.

I have lived at the fault line between white and brown my whole life. My father was from Mexico, my mother was white of British/Irish descent. I have a recognizable minority last name.

I can assure you, having traversed the American public education system, rural and city living (south and north), three big corporations, that all entities that wield power in the US are run by white men.

This is not a perception, this is a fact.

And? It has been like that since the inception of our Federal Government.

So, the above fact (white men in charge of everything) may NOT mean this is a white supremacist society. Nope.

BUT, white supremacy as a philosophy DOES explain the data completely in this case.

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I get this from several sources. What does it mean to be White Supremacist. It means that our society is set up to advantage "whiteness." Specifically, white maleness. Unfortunately this does not seem to change. This was pretty much built into the design of our country early on. So, in the history of the United States we have a set up where people who were not perceived as White could not gain citizenship, could not own property and people who were owned as property. Here are some links which discuss the evolution of the concepts of Black and White. This link below talks about the invention of Black and White as concepts about people. Below that is are links to 3 videos from a Series called Race: The Power of an Illusion which discusses the concept of Race in this Country. In the second video is where they discuss how the concept of being Black and White being races andand the idea of being White as being a superior race, and the idea of Blackness and Slavery as perpetually belonging together.

https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/inventing-black-white

https://capture.udel.edu/media/RaceA+The+Power+of+an+Illusion%2C+Ep.+1A+The+Difference+Between+us/1_de7u5ihx/180544301

The discussion of the United States as a White Supremacist Society comes up in this Episode of the Series.

https://capture.udel.edu/media/Clip+of+RaceA+The+Power+of+an+Illusion%2C+Ep+2A+The+Story+We+Tell+%28v3%29/1_wau20tds

In this episode they discuss the effects of systemic racism.

https://vimeo.com/601481660

This would be the kind of discussion that is now illegal to talk about in Florida and some other states. I did not really think of the USA in this way until I read Professor Kathleen Belew's book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. I highly recommend that you read it in order to better understand the idea that if we privilege being "White" we are white supremacist. She is discusses how White militia members have gotten away in the courts with violent murders because the society is so set up to be pro White people so that they are allowed to do things that we would not allow others to do because it is accepted that this is their right and privilege. Also, we learn in many books that who is considered White changes over time. Change comes from being aware. Can we say that China is a Chinese supremacist society? Probably! In Europe I think we see that countries are also White Supremacist and are having to make the same efforts we are to be more inclusive due to a lot of recent immigrants from other parts of the world, parts that they exploited to make their money just as we did too.

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Linda,

Excellent and respectful and useful reply.

Best post of the day award. Informative. Polite. Professional. Well written.

Bravo!

Mike

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One of the things I really love about Heather's readers is their willingness to provide good sourcing for the things they bring to the LFAA community. Respect for the research done by others who trod the paths we're on right now is what we need, if we're going to advance. Linda's comment is a great example of a thoughtful, well-considered approach to information and discourse.

I'm grateful for this forum.

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Thank you, Linda!

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Desantis’ failures in Florida need to be screamed from every MSM outlet. Numbers don’t lie. He does. Someone here recently referred to Florida as the Fourth Reich. He wasn’t wrong.

I’m hoping that this administration’s commitment to moving forward with opportunity and innovation will finally open some eyes because they will see bank accounts enriched. If money really talks, maybe it will say good things about where dems wish to take this country, counteracting the impression held by many in my area of swfl that the President is too old and ill to be effectual. Glad to see approval ratings rising-maybe the messaging is finally being heard.

Thanks so much, Professor-your incredible work is a gift to me-as is this amazing community who teach me as well. I’m grateful for each and all of you.

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I agree with you. An ”ill” man could not have made that incredible journey to Kyiv a few days ago and met with Zelinsky and have spoken with such hope and resolve. I have said it before that our mainstream media do a lot of disservice to what they are telling the people. They were a big reason we got tfg (which I use as "the f*cking grifter") and it was mainly for ratings. I like also that Heather has pointed out the glass half full vision for this country that Biden and the Democrats are working for as opposed to the dour, negative and repressive/regressive glass half empty one that Republicans whine and spew about daily. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious. Thanks once again ,Heather, for your wonderful words to start off my day.

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Not just to Kyiv! First a rousing speech in Poland, then BY TRAIN to Ukraine.

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OK, I can now use "tfg" in utter confidence that I both meet community standards (the former guy) and indulge my somewhat less adult and more profane nature (the f***ing grifter) all at once!!!

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perfecto!

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Jen,

There is, indeed, some good news on the media front. Today's NY Times has an article by long time Republican lap dog David Brooks that is moderately critical of DeSantis and his recent Fox News interview. So, even David Brooks, one of the staunchest Republicans who has invested his adult lifetime in supporting Republican lies, is now offering criticism of a prominent Republican.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/23/opinion/desantis-ukraine-shimmy.html

However, I wrote this response:

"He (DeSantis) said the war wouldn’t have happened if Joe Biden weren’t so weak.” (On a Fox News interview).

Well, at least he (DeSantis) is aligned with Fox News and Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the real leaders of the Republican Party.

When DeSantis begins to say that the East Palestine train derailment is Pete Buttigieg's fault then he becomes a DeSantis visionary leader.

However, the real problem in America is not a fake like DeSantis. The Republicans have put up fakes since Ronald Reagan.

The real problem is people who BELIEVE the Republican fakes that tell lies all day every day. (Like David Brooks did believe for most of his career).

Like Reagan's early 1980's lie about the welfare queen in Chicago with 15 addresses collecting 15 welfare checks. This was a complete lie.

BUT? Americans believed that lie.

The above Reagan born approach, tell a big lie and help other people swallow it, has been used by all subsequent Republican Presidents.

Remember "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that were never found AND that everyone knew would never be found?

The real surprise is that David Brooks, one of the most prominent supporters of Republican lies going back to Reagan, is NOW offering something other than lapdog love for those who are following the Reagan playbook of lies. "

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Mike, thanks for this and thanks for that link. Where I live in swfl, it’s “Hail, Desantis” always and in all ways. It’s good to know that some, even lapdogs as you call them, are questioning things. The snow birds and full-time residents who come here from the midwest-I think they just drive I-75 south until they tucker out-are simply Fox addicted Desantis disciples. I’m an anomaly, I guess, coming from the Philly area. I just don’t see things as they do. This community is a life raft to which I gratefully cling. Really, thank you!!!

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I agree, Jen. I unfortunately live in SWFL as well and often feel like an alien trying to find my way on a very bizarre planet! I also feel like an anomaly among the "Fox-addicted" and am very grateful for this online community. It keeps me sane!

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Hugging you!

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Thanks, Jen. Hugging you back!

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Right there with you Jen!

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Hail DeSantis?

Dang. Sounds like he is our soon to be king!

I wish all the best for you thinkers down in Florida!

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That’s a shi**y comment Mike. I’m disappointed.

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Everyone should "tucker out" and do so to all those other Fox News phonies.

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I think the “Fakes” have been so lucrative for MSM, it’s a hard ask for them to expose and shut them down. WE have to change our idea of what the MSM is and the belief that it “Owes” us truth. That’s like believing in Santa Claus. This is where education comes in: it takes an educated mind to adeptly question the framing and the narrative out in the story-space. Dumb-down the minds, or de-status intelligence, and you get ripe minds to control.

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MLGRMI,

I hate to admit that I do not know what the acronym MSM means?

My apology.

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My understanding is it means “Mainstream Media”. It was a derogatory term to refer to the traditional broadcast networks and big city traditional newspapers, that were accused of “leaning left”. Which now seem to go out of their way to lean right.

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I believe he means mainstream media.

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DeSantis has a ‘fatal flaw’ in his endeavor to rewrite history. At Yale he was a basic history major—this was a non-rigorous way to obtain a history BA—-no thesis, no access to rigorous seminars. Called a ‘gut’ way to graduate.

By contrast I was an ‘intensive history major’ as Y’55. 37 of 250 history majors were admitted into the intensive program. We had seminars in which four 40-page essays were required. We had a thesis. Only 9 of the 37 original intensive history majors completed the program. I learned more in the senior seminar with Yale’s top historians than I ever learned in a lecture course.

Alas, DeSantis took the gut history major at Yale which shows today with his pseudo history.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Keith,

Color me SHOCKED, I mean SHOCKED that Yale has special academic tracks for dumb white males.

Who knew?

I mean, with Geniuses like George W Bush and Trump emitting from Ivy, who would suspect a special needs track at Ivy?

:-)

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Mike When I was at Yale I was aware of two 'special academic tracks'--one was for jocks and the other for 'frat boys.' And a third for me and the rest of the riff raff.

When I later went to MIT, there was no 'special academic track,' though a strong preference for nerds.

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Nothing says "we need to move beyond affirmative action" like the continued prevalence of "special academic tracks," amirite?

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Those WMDs! It was very clumsy in French - "armes de destruction massive", so they quickly gave up and just referred to them as WMDs. Everyone knew it was a lie, anyway.

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As long as the media gives equal weight to lies and the truth, we will have this problem. I've seen no evidence they will stop doing it.

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Mike S -- Parenthetically, I'm guessing you don't watch PBS news on Fridays? David Brooks long ago dropped his 100% Republican lap dog status. Quite surprising, actually. He could be ramping up again, but I haven't really noticed. And since the GOP is now divided into two divisions, distinctions are becoming harder and harder to delineate.

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Judith,

Perhaps I am remembering the David Brooks that wrote for the NY Times from the 1980's through the mid 2000's when he spent as much time as possible on his knees for the far right.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Judith David Brooks has seemed ‘unsettled’ with his past views over the past several years. Now I would say that he is a ‘conservative’ looking for moderate, common sense views.

This makes him less doctrinaire and, increasingly, supportive of Bidenesque views and opposed to much of Trumplican ridiculousness.

His latest book suggests that he may be going through ‘late age’ crisis. Or, perhaps, he is finding that his previous mindset is not longer appropriate today.

Personally I find myself agreeing with more of his NYT columns. Whether that indicates that he has ‘improved’ or I have ‘deprived’ I leave to others to judge.

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Keith, well expressed! But don't know what "laste age' crisis means?

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Judith Perhaps 'laste age' was a Freudian slip concerning 'late age' or 'last age,' as you prefer. Depends on how Jung you are.

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Ha Ha! I'll accept "late age," since I can relate to that!

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Let’s hope the favorable polling for Biden and the four elections add up to voters embracing building a better, more competitive nation for the future rather than the GOP alternative. That alternative, of course, is destroy and divide rather than govern to “claw back back a mythological past.”

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Claw back to feudalism. The plutocrats aim is to own everything and rent it to us.

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If only the MSM were on our side…. Pathetic that less than half the country prefers to unite and move forward. Dividing and destroying has every disaffected moron rooting for chaos.

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As always: Follow the Money.

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Jeri Chilcutt, it depends on which MSM you’re looking at. There are sites that do much better reporting than others.

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Actually taking initiatives to build a country, support its people and behaving like statesmen rather than entertainers accounts for the popularity. People are more than willing to work together for this. Most are hungry for it. The contrast between posturing and governing is refreshing. It's important to not allow lobbyists' dollars to subvert the latter.

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I don't know why lobbyists' dollars are not considered de facto corruption.

Philo T Farnsworth who invented the first practical television system thought he had "created a monster" and would not allow TV to be part of his kids "intellectual diet". I think we are too accustomed to conflating critical statecraft with a sport competition. We have been granted the tools with which to plan, so far as anyone can plan, our own society's fate, and are too busy watching or playing a game to make wise use of them.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

"too accustomed to conflating critical statecraft with a sport competition." So very much yes. I wish the media would find some other metaphor for elections & so on. This winner-takes-all mindset seems a bit ill-fitting for a democracy.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

Not ill-fitting, catastrophic

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The ironic part is that televised sport, certainly the Olympics is supposed to be run pretty cleanly. Cheating is strongly frowned upon. That's the biggest difference.

Televised TV debates remind me of game shows, lacking only a scoreboard for landed one line zingers. Not much resemblance to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and yet the intricacies of the issues we now face, while involving some ancient themes are growing in novelty, intricacy, and scope.

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Yes! "Race". "Run".

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In America, it is called “lobbying.” In the rest of the world it is called graft, bribery and corruption.

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"Lobbying" includes what WE do everytime we call a legislator or send $25 to support a campaign. It is how our leaders know what we need. The problem is the graft, bribery and corruption allowed under Citizens United, and ignored by citizens who know better.

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YAAAS, MaryPat, preach! The money is going to be swimming around for a while yet, I am afraid to say. Better that the bigwigs are bought by us. I don't have many expendable funds at all, but I still gave my $5 donations judiciously last year, and I felt good every time.

I frequently get thanked by the staff after calling my Rep, too, and not just in a perfunctory way. They tell me that knowing what the voters think truly makes their lives easier, and so few people actually call that they need to operate under the assumption that for every opinion expressed there are a hundred other people who think the same. And this is a safe D district I'm in, too. (My guy is Eric Swalwell. No, he can't smile properly. Yes, he is golden otherwise.)

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"But the main culprit, the cancer on the body politic, is money: Money, money, money. When I ran 6 years ago, in 1998, I raised $8.5 million. That $8.5 million is $30,000 a week, every week, for 6 years. If you miss Christmas week, you miss New Years week, you are $100,000 in the hole and don't you think we don't know it and we start to work harder at raising money.

As a result, the Senate doesn't work on Mondays and Fridays. We have longer holidays. The policy committee is adjourned and we go over to the campaign building because you can't call for money in the office. So we go over to the building and call for money and obviously we only can give attention to that. We don't have time for each other. We don't have time for constituents, except for the givers. Somebody ought to tell the truth about that." Sen Fritz Hollings, 11/16/2004

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Largely because the SCOTUS legalized bribery of parties and politicians through its Citizens United decision. Allowing monopilization of the media provided a way to conceal much of the corruption from the public as it was occurring.

No one I knew of was aware of the lobbying done by the railroad industry that allowed it to stave off needed regulation for safety in 2015 that set the stage for about a thousand derailments a year and the Palestine Ohio disaster. We learn about that corruption in 2023, from an independent newspaper outside the controlling grasp of the six families that control the monopoly on news in the USA and the two cartel parties. https://theintercept.com/2023/02/21/east-palestine-rail-safety-congress/

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Agreed, JL. Governance is not sport, it is, as you say, statecraft. The analogy is very apt; the difference between "working together" and "owning the opposition" reflects that.

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Controversy is part and parcel to liberty, but underlying aim is a society that, as best we can make it, works for everybody. Civil wars are by definition a nation falling apart.

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Always good to hear from you JL. You get to your point quickly and a minimum of Emotional adjectives and adverbs. Thanks for your participation this morning.

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Back in the 1980's I was privileged to be a supervisor in the research area of AT&T Bell Labs which was at the time, along with IBM's Watson Labs, the foremost industrial research laboratories in the world, with more Nobel Prize winners on staff and more patents per day than anywhere else. AT&T was broken up as a monopoly and only the name remains. IBM is a shell of its former self. Chip manufacturing moved offshore.

Scientists there were funded to explore black holes, the nature of liquids, the atom by atom growth of new materials. The pace of innovation and the intellectual environment was unique and unparalleled. There were plenty of whiffs too--high temperature superconductors and cold fusion, to name two. But supporting research was a part of doing business rather than paying for stock buybacks and obscene executive pay.

Current major tech is going through an upheaval where long held "leadership" products like iphones and Microsoft office and windows and laptops and are old news and taken for granted.

The new focus is going to be on batteries and alternate energy and genomics and AI and virtual reality, current needs for the technological future.

My point in telling this story is that the CHIPS act is necessary for national security but it is NOT ADDRESSING the need for supporting speculative research for the long term which is where true leadership will lie. Yes there will be lots of whiffs but that is the nature of research.

The underlying issue is the pervasive anti-science stance in much of the country, yet one more aspect of the Republican culture wars.

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Georgia,

As you know, the loss of Bell Labs to Capitalism is one of the most dire results of the Reagan 1980's.

I remember when the layoffs started at that place and wondering what on earth we were doing pushing those smart folk out into the street?

So much stuff invented there including the modern chip.

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Won a high school science fair trip to Bell Labs in '64. Amazing place: lasers were the new thing. And semiconductors. And touch tone phones. Huge rooms populated with people working on all kinds of projects. I wanted to work there after college; the requirement of getting a PhD in five years to become a success there was daunting. Ended up at IBM, but not Watson, though I did get to work on a couple of good projects in software over my 'career'.

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Lets hope smart young ppl in research will explore and invent. Executive pay is bizarre and the focus on quarterly performance does not help.

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Excellent comment, thank you, Bell Labs and Georgia!

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Thank you , Georgia, for addressing this distinction that was missing in Dr. Richardson's letter this morning.

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Thanks for this perspective, Georgia. I live relatively near the Lawrence Livermore Labs and once got to go on a trip to get a bit of a peek inside. The astonishing things these people are doing on a daily basis defies the comprehension of most of us. If we are serious about a strong future for our society, the best thing we can do is give our best and brightest the resources they need and then just get out of the way.

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Georgia:

What happened in 2008 with manufacturing?

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"In a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) echoed Trump’s “American Carnage” inaugural address with his description of today’s America as one full of misery and hopelessness. Florida governor Ron DeSantis traveled this week to New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago to insist those Democratic-led cities were crime-ridden, although as human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid pointed out, Florida has a 19% higher rape rate, 66% higher murder rate, and 280% higher burglary rate than New York.

Another study released yesterday by the Anti-Defamation League, which specializes in civil rights law, noted that domestic extremist mass killings have increased “greatly” in the past 12 years. But while murders by Islamic extremists, for example, have been falling, all the extremist killings in 2022 were committed by right-wing adherents, with 21 of 25 murders linked to white supremacists."

Why are these facts not appearing as leads in the news? Even in the Times when they were talking about Biden they had to snark that he tripped on the steps going up into his plane and had to catch himself.

Why is there room for feeding into the "Biden's old and feeble" rhetoric and NOT room for Florida having massively worse crime than NY? For white supremacists being the leading perpetrators of domestic terrorism?

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Georgia, when the GOP hijacked the MSM, they practiced on the sensationalism of Trumps every move. Playing golf, going to dinners, nonsense press conferences +++. Now that Biden is in their crosshair, they don't have footage of him playing golf everyday, so they go with "old and feeble" and bury any stories of success he has. Biden doing well for this Country will never play into their narrative.

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They focus on what is important to the owners. The three largest stockholders are Vanguard Group, ValueAct Capital Management LP, and Blackrock Fund. It would be interesting to ask the CEOs of these companies why they think of the NYT coverage of Biden and his accomplishments.

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You bring up an interesting point. May be we should each buy a share and become activist shareholders in the media companies and the companies that own significant holdings in the media companies and start protesting at shareholder meetings.

I doubt that protesting to my new Republican Congressman will do any good--he is glued to McCarthy in Congress and is only showing up in district to visit small businesses--and not say anything. When he was in the state legislature he never had an open meeting with constituents. That should be news somewhere too...But local news is now being dominated by internet sources like the Patch which just tend to reprint Republican press releases.

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Great idea, Georgia! Please let me know if I can join you in this new organization to become activist shareholders in the Big News conglomerates.

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More productive and effective to ignore MSM and embrace independent media. It's really growing and flourishing and bringing the stories we actually need. And... the younger generations... are NOT reading, listening or watching MSM. Promise that this is where the action is now. And they won't cater to our preferences or soothe our egos by telling us what we wanna hear. Substack is part of it.

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They love to report any negative on Dems, ANYTHING that can subtract from his accomplishments. Why is that? They still think like David Pecker….

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Maybe because all are owned and run by businessmen who are beholding to share owners before viewers. It’s math. WE think they owe us something. THEY know they don’t.

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"Later, Raimondo told David Ignatius of the Washington Post: “This is more than just an investment to subsidize a few new chip factories…. We need to unite America around a common goal of enhancing America’s global competitiveness and leading in this incredibly crucial technology.… Money isn’t enough. We all need to get in the same boat as a nation.”

If these words don't get the adrenaline pumping, nothing will! I'd like to see all that Tweeted in big letters (except that I don't do Twitter - but I'd know about it if it happened!) THIS is the star-spangled banner.

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One of my first jobs after high school in 1972 was at Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto. I had no idea of the implications of the integrated circuits I was testing on these silicon wafers, and where this was taking technology. That said, it was a great job with fair wages for someone without college or a trade skill. I think it is great that President Biden is bringing this industry back to the US. A friend recently told me that the Fairchild Semiconductor plant in Palo Alto, CA where I worked is now a Historical Landmark. It was the first site that commercially produced a complete integrated circuit in a small silicon chip . I think that is pretty cool, but boy do I feel old.

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Karen RN -- I felt old and nostalgic at the same time when I read "Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto." Big days then!

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Yes they were Judith!

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“it’s the countries who invest in research, innovation, and their workforces that will lead in the 21st century,” she said.

That seems obvious. Why would they not?

Not that the plutocrats give a damn beyond their personal fortunes.

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Countries with functioning governments invest in research and education and promote innovation. Corporations invest in themselves,I.e., the growing fortunes of their shareholders. Like self-centered adolescents, corporations need limits and consequences - regulations. As long as they keep plowing money back into their own profits, they can afford to pay lobbyists to oppose regulations and lobbyists can make large donations to the campaigns of politicians who are then obliged to oppose regulations. Do I have that right? It’s a closed system. We need more regulation of corporations and limits on campaign contributions. Oh wait - Citizens United. It’s hard to find the openings in this closed system, but try we must.

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*** BIG STANDING OVATION, Maureen!!! ***

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J.L.

The U.S. did and does invest heavily in Research and Innovation sans Manufacturing and Labor. The plan was always to do the first two and take the last two overseas. Why?

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Oh look, I have the three dots again and can edit my mistakes!

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weird how they come and go, right?

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Thank you Professor for leading with CHIPS and the possibilities of adding to our economy and security with domestic jobs, reestablishing “made in America” through research and manufacturing. The scientists who develop great technical advances, need to work with social scientists and educators to go the next step. We have serious concerns about internet and global and peaceful uses of technology. We must add to those improvements with job security, training, family leave, child care, universal medical care and women’s health Rights and Choice and leave, meaningful improvements in education in every state. For every child. One way to make our country more secure is to continue to invest in people as the Biden administration has tried to do. In order to realize a secure future we need national policies and legislation. And a safe future with sane gun laws. That means our representatives, all parties, must work together. That’s as important and challenging as creating a CHIP. So far the repubs have spent their time blocking and distracting. Banning Abortion, books and CRT and gun laws. We must go to the next step so we have a Democracy that works for everyone. Multitask. Let’s Brainstorm those solutions! Beyond Chips.

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Repubs have set sail for stormy waters and seem intent on a shipwreck. Don’t count on much help from the cult. May their numbers peel away as their vision is clear. Come on MSM, call them out on their lies. The blather from chump in Ohio, blaming Dems for what he did, should have been headline news. How much more “Dorian Gray” can he get…

May Dems be the lighthouse in the harbor

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Yes, MSM, needs to be louder. On YouTube it’s easier to find MSM news. I pay $145 monthly for Comcast internet. That’s the cheap TV option. Hardly any channels except PBS and locals. No weather or CNN or MSNBC. Oh, yes, the government channel C-Span and FOX. Isn’t FOX smart? Give it away to get more. The Magic Penny.

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