The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

A few days ago my friend and fellow blogger Martin C. Fredricks IV, wrote a piece titled Declaring “Loss of Independence Day,” (click the link), in which he explains why he won’t be flying the American flag this July 4th – Independence Day.

Martin writes, “We can no longer, honestly or in good conscience, celebrate an “Independence Day” when all meaning of those words has been stripped from the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. It’s false. Empty. A sham. A lie that must taste like oil-soaked dirt in the mouths of women.”

I’ve been having the same internal argument with myself. Do I put out the flag on the Fourth?

Recent events, including outrageous decisions coming down from The Supreme Court, stunning revelations from the January 6th Committee hearings, a general nod and wink to white supremacists, and new laws in various states that come straight from an authoritarian playbook, are evidence of a democracy adrift and heading dangerously close to autocratic shoals.

I’ve had to ask myself, what exactly are we celebrating this year? What have we had to celebrate during the past five Independence Days? Abrogating rights? Perverting democracy? General baseness? Is this what we fly the flag to commemorate on Independence Day?

What should we be commemorating?

Maybe we should start from the beginning of the story. Not the actual beginning. The late 18th century will do – 1776 to be exact.

This whole July 4th thing?

It wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. They made that decision on July 2nd. It wasn’t the day when the first shots of the American Revolution were fired (April 1775). July 4th wasn’t the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed (August 2nd), even though the heading reads In CONGRESS, July 4,1776. Seems like it was back dated. Maybe some of the founders were slick accountants.

July 4th was the day that the Continental Congress approved the final draft. I’ll lay odds that most Americans don’t know any of that.

Over the years, and thanks to the dubious miracle of social media, I’ve learned that many, if not most Americans don’t know the difference between The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, often incorrectly placing The Declaration’s clause about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” somewhere in their own mind’s version of The Constitution. It wouldn’t stun me to know that there are some of my fellow citizens who think that The Federalist Papers are a brand of rolling papers put out by Zig-Zag. None of this is a good thing.

That so many Americans are ignorant of our national documents and rely on TV talking heads or internet hacks for their often fractured understanding of civics is one of the reasons that we find our democracy on life support.

Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s damned dangerous.

Maybe a part of every Fourth of July celebration should include readings of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. Yeah, I know it sounds like a drag but it seems to me that the current divisiveness, the shouting and the unraveling of our democracy is a helluva a lot more of a drag.

If Americans had a better understanding of our written national treasures, they’d be calling bullshit on Tucker Carlson and the other TV and internet wind bags and those bitches would be digging ditches. Isn’t that reward enough for investing a half hour of one’s day off to take a dive into those documents?

Screw the hotdog eating contest, pick up a copy of The Declaration of Independence instead. And read it!

For Martin, it was a difficult decision to keep his flag in storage this Independence Day, 2022, “After going back and forth for a couple of days, and with input from my family, I decided to not display a USA flag at all rather than flying it upside down, even though that would have been completely justified.”

I’m with him on it being a painful decision. Hell, the angst is enough to make me, on this 4th, uncork a fifth – of Maker’s Mark.

Sifting through the events of the past five years I have to wonder whether the flag still symbolizes the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or if it now represents the sins and ignominies of the gang of knaves, cowards, liars and small minded people who’ve seemingly made it their mission to rot the fruits of the ideals that were seedlings in 1776.

And for what?

The answer to that is so plain that I’ll leave the reader to figure it out, and dammit, where did I put that bottle of whiskey?

You might be asking Martin and I, “So what’s the big deal? Either put out the flag or don’t.”

It’s just not that simple. Not for me. Not for Martin.

Independence Day has, for me, always been the most important of the national holidays. It’s the one that commemorates the event that jump-started the American ideal; the notion, as Reagan put it, of the shining city, the land of opportunity, the place that welcomes the tired, and the poor, and the huddled masses.

Independence Day commemorates that seminal event when the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” were ratified by the Second Continental Congress and became deed.

When, back in 1776, The Declaration of Independence went from drafted words to deeds it was an Earth shattering event. It was the beginning of what’s been called, The Great Experiment. It was a brand new undertaking and the world looked on in amusement, certain that the experiment would fail.

I’m damned sentimental about that shit and while the founders were far from perfect they had a glimmering of a good idea.

Two hundred and forty-six years later I find myself wondering if those words, unalienable Rights, and, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, have been relegated back to being just words.

And what makes it all the more galling are the names of the people putting the jackhammer to our national foundation; Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Mark Meadows, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and, of course, Donald Trump. Names that will always carry a stigma, the stench of villainy. Small people really, tearing down something great.

Today, the world’s people must be wondering if The Great Experiment is heading towards failure, particularly as they’ve witnessed the events of the last five years, beginning when a self serving grifter announced his candidacy for president in a speech that was the absolute antithesis of the words and ideals found in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The New Colossus, that poem inscribed on The Statue of Liberty.

Instead of the inspiring words of Emma Lazarus, inviting to America, the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” “The wretched refuse,” and “the, homeless, tempest tossed,” the con man accused a neighboring country of sending our nation its “rapists,” drug dealers and criminals. “Not the right people,” he called them.

It was an oft repeated theme, such as the time, just a year into his presidency, when he decried immigration from what he termed “shithole countries,” referring to Haiti, El Salvador and various African nations. But it’s not as if he was disinviting everyone, because with his next breath, he expressed his wish to welcome his own version of “the right people,” immigrants from Norway. So much for those “huddled masses,” especially if they have dark complexions.

Flying the flag this year is a tough call because we’ve been living in stark contradiction to the events of July 4th,1776.

In The Declaration of Independence, the founders wrote, “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…”

Those words heralded THE oft repeated cornerstone of an American ideal that in plain terms means, “Yeah, we’re not down with kings here in America.”

The founders would’ve been thunderstruck if they could have foreseen the Trump who would be king, garnering the idolatry of a major political party. Indeed at a Conservative Political Action Conference a golden statue of Trump was put on display for members of the party to touch, fawn over and take selfies with. It was a spit in the eye of George Washington who had the humility and good sense to begin the tradition of peaceful transition. .

Over the course of five years, we’ve borne witness to a series of brazen events that have represented a shameless renunciation of the principles of 1776.

We’ve been witness to an attempted coup. We’ve witnessed our elections, the engine that drives our democracy, thrown into doubt by a pathetic, corrupt little man who, before a single vote had been cast, deemed the elections to be rigged. And the result? A wave of laws passed by the loser’s party that seek to suppress the vote.

We’ve seen the infamous double dealing by Mitch McConnell, that included the hijacking of two Supreme Court seats for the purpose of creating his own personal, ideological vision of a court that is less supreme and certainly more extreme.

It’s a court, completely gone off the rails, a court that in the space of less than a month, further blurred the line between church and state, and yanked the teeth of the Environmental Protection Agency in a decision that could affect other regulatory agencies. The conservative justices reversed Roe v. Wade, and, during a time when gun violence has become one of America’s greatest concerns, overturned a century old law in New York that required individuals to provide a plausible reason for wanting to carry a concealed weapon in public.

Five years ago, with the emergence of Trump as candidate, America began riding a xenophobic curve that’s in recent times become a hard right.

Schools in conservative red states are banning books and teaching bastardized versions of history that promote Christianity. No, not religion – only Christianity.

Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists Jews, agnostics and atheists need not apply, thank you.

I’m all for teaching religion as it relates to lessons about societies and cultures but if you want to pray and proselytize there should be a religious school in a neighborhood near you.

The new history paints a nationalistic, white, patriarchal picture of America. A painting that is, in the end, a twisted abstract.

Proponents of these curricula like to call it “Patriotic Education.” Red state schools are moving towards telling stories rather than teaching history. Stories that downplay slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, the gains of the civil rights movement and the contributions of immigrants and people of color.

In a move to sanitize the stain of slavery, many states have banned The 1619 Project taking their cue from the disgraced former president who called the book, “toxic propaganda, ideological poison, that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country.” As if that man were ever a serious student of history.

T. Jameson Brewer, an educator and assistant professor at the University of North Georgia posed the questions, “Do we want historical facts and details that are researched and published by experts taught? Or do we want nationalism taught?”

Well if you ask that question of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, her answer would be found in her call for a curriculum that teaches students “why the U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world.”

To an extent there’s nothing wrong with that, but clearly Noem is looking for history rooted in yarns, fabrication and yes, absolutely, nationalism.

Back to the stories of George Washington confessing to his old man about chopping down a cherry tree, and the bunk that’s popular in the southern states, that secession and the Civil War were all about something other than slavery.

At times America has indeed been the most special, but at this time, that just ain’t the case. Not when a section of the Texas Republican Party platform reads, “Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin, and we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

I asked my wife the rhetorical question, “Why in the hell would anyone want to do something like that?” I answered my own question. “Just out of damned shithouse meanness, that’s why.”

It ain’t the case when we’ve seen a congressional committee lay out the shocking details of a coup attempt and a president who threw a tantrum when he wasn’t allowed to go to the capitol to lead that coup.

We are not now the most special nation when we learn that associates of the former president have engaged in witness tampering by sending veiled threats to prospective witnesses at the January 6th hearings. That’s Michael Corleone stuff.

None of this means that America can’t get back on the road towards being “the most special nation.”

To be clear, nowhere in The Constitution will you find the words, “most special nation in the history of the world.”

That’s because the founders were much deeper thinkers than Kristi Noem could ever hope to be. It’s also because the founders realized that the nation they were creating was at the time, and always would be, a work in progress.

Martin and I will likely be taken to task for taking America to task. We’ll be raked over the Fourth of July barbeque coals for expressing our opinions that America is, at this moment in time, far from perfect.

We’ll be berated by people who believe that America is and always has been perfect.

Real patriots don’t believe that.

Not even the founders believed that.

The Preamble to The Constitution reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“A more perfect Union.” Not, THE perfect Union, or the impeccable Union, or the foolproof Union, or the absolutely flawless and without blemish or reproach Union.

The founders made it clear that their more perfect Union would at times require some fine tuning, adjustments to make it a little more perfect. Because they knew that things change over time, they made allowances for The Constitution to change with the times. And so, they included Article V.

Article V might be the most honest section of The Constitution. It allows for the reality that there would be some fuckups along the way that would have to be unfucked and Article V lays out the plan for the unfucking through the use of amendments.

I completely understand Martin’s decision but you know what? I do need to fly that flag.

Fly the flag in honor of the good people, and in honor of the ideals. Fly it as a statement that those of us who believe in equal justice should never stop fighting like hell. Fly the flag for people like Cassidy Hutchinson who, at all of 26 years old is standing up for what’s right, for Liz Cheney who, despite my disagreements with her on various matters, is essentially burning her political career to try and save our democracy. Fly it for poll workers and election officials who’ve been living in the hell unleashed by the former president and his sycophants. Fly it for the Capitol Police who held off an insurrectionist mob. Fly it for the people who are daily being marginalized by those driven by power, greed, selfishness and just downright meanness.

Maybe I should fly the flag in defiance. Fly it in defiance of the traitors like Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and Jeffrey Clark; the cowards like Mark Meadows and Kevin McCarthy; the enablers and the craven like the members of Congress who residing in the inferno of Trump world, pushed the big lie and then said, ‘Oops, my bad, can I have a pardon, please?’

Maybe I’ll fly it in contempt of an extreme court.

Oh hell yes I’m going to fly it. I’m going to fly it because I refuse to give it over to Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, the mean spirited, the xenophobes, the Trumpers, the greedy and the power hungry and all of those who would pervert the ideals that my country was founded on.

I’m putting that flag out because the reprobates, the poltroons, and the frauds hold no claim to it. They don’t get to debase it

I’m going to fly it because you know what?

It’s my damn flag.

35 thoughts on “Independence Day 2022: It’s My Damn Flag

  1. Lots to contemplate here from your Northern neighbour who unfortunately seems to be slipping into some of your less desirable ways. The only thing I take exception to is your lack of acknowledgement of the fact the whole land base of the US was stolen from the people already living there, much the way Russia is attempting to steal another country today. I am not being moralistic about this as we did the exact same here in Canada, we came, we conquered, we signed treaties and then simply ignored them. And I don’t envy the people who want to make this right because it is a problem way beyond my scope of thinking but we do need to address the facts both there and here– we fought and killed the people of these countries and then used slaves to help build it and make us rich countries!

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Wayne,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting.

      Your point is well taken. There are a lot of sins that I left out that need to be addressed and I believe quite frankly that some of them will be left hanging, especially as regards the Native Americans. Hell, we’re still screwing them over.

      I also gave a lot of credit to the founders without calling out the many who were slavers.

      The sins began with the first European landings, continued and still continue. Broken treaties, Japanese internment, the Chinese exclusion and all the way up through Charlottesville and to the present day.

      In some ways maybe I was taking on my own version of a nationalist tone.

      You wrote, ” I don’t envy the people who want to make this right because it is a problem way beyond my scope of thinking but we do need to address the facts both there and here,”

      It’s certainly beyond my scope and as I hinted above, beyond any apparent desire to rectify the wrongs.

      Will we find the people who are courageous and selfless enough to tackle the issues? And, most importantly, will they be powerful enough?

      Thank you so much for your candor.

      Best,
      Paul

  2. Just another quick thought— have you ever asked an American Native what they think of the flag and “Independence Day”?

    1. Paul says:

      No sir, I have not, and that’s largely for lack of not coming into knowing contact with a Native American. That said, I should honestly ask myself if I have the guts to open that conversation.
      I do live a few minute’s drive from Berkeley, California where the subject of Thanksgiving Day has been viewed in, what is an understatement, a non-traditional way. The city has deemed Thanksgiving to be Indigenous People’s Day and I can’t say that I disagree.
      Paul

  3. Jane Fritz says:

    Paul, you articulate America’s self-inflicted wounds to its aspirations and its soul with passion and eloquence. The shift from ideals grounded in compassion and human rights to goals that are exclusionary and mean-spirited goes against everything that gave the U.S. its “moral authority” on the world stage. At this point in time the overriding values seem to be grounded in money and hate. It’s heartbreaking. I was very glad that you gave a shout-out to Liz Cheney, who is showing more courage and commitment to American ideals than most other political leaders. Let’s hope with all our might that there is way to right this ship. America needs it, and the world needs a healthy America.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Jane,
      The passion came easily enough. The eloquence I leave to the reader.
      Clearly I left out the foibles of the founders and they were aplenty.

      I left out the sins over the centuries and those were many.

      Still, if you overlook the blemishes there is a lot of good to be found in the basic intentions, no matter the flaws and inconsistencies.

      It’s up to each generation to improve upon the basic intention, hence that MORE perfect Union thing. Every generation has to correct the flaws and inconsistencies. The current iteration of America is failing in that regard.

      We must do better.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jane.

      Paul

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        I’m with you!

  4. mistermuse says:

    Tried to “like” this multiple times, but it won’t take, Sorry,

    1. Paul says:

      No worries. Have a Happy Independence Day.

  5. You make very good points in this post. I must say, though, the proposition that a large portion of the American people have never truly given a hoot about fundamental and universal principles like equality, justice and the right to vote is no revelation to many in America. Even as a child, the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance (with liberty and justice for all) always stuck in my throat. It sounds great, but its not what I saw and experienced. I wonder how many actually believed that ah propaganda in spite of reality? That’s a serious question. The ability to deny reality in favor of deluding ourselves about the state of the nation or just not caring about living up to our founding ideals has been part of America since its founding. It is like a psychosis.

    1. Paul says:

      I can’t remember the last time I recited the Pledge of Allegiance. In grade school it was just a bunch of words, meaningless. They might just as well have had us reciting Poe’s The Raven. As I got older and understood what it was all about, it was still meaningless.
      When I was in my forties I remember getting into a shouting match with a coworker when I told him that the Pledge is nothing more than a loyalty oath and that loyalty oaths are never a good thing. He was furious. Called me Castro, Lenin, Stalin and Marx all rolled into one.

      “The ability to deny reality in favor of deluding ourselves about the state of the nation or just not caring about living up to our founding ideals has been part of America since its founding.”
      Hence, “patriotic education,” and Kristi Noem wanting schools to teach that America “is the most special nation in the history of the world.”
      Another commenter made the point that this was the sort of thing that she saw taught when she traveled to North Korea.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  6. Well said, Paul. We have our work cut out for us. I don’t know what exactly we’re going to do, but we can’t give up.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Marie. I agree, we can’t give up. Sometimes it just all seems so overwhelming though.

  7. Scott Blake says:

    July 4 was also the day that the Declaration went to the printer. Nice reference to the Federalist Papers and Zig-Zag. There were probably some who did burn the writings of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. I’m guessing they didn’t roll them up first.

    You wrote “Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s damned dangerous”. Agreed and it is one of the negatives about being a public librarian, having contact with people who are so ignorant they probably can’t figure out if Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated or died on the Lusitania. Not all of them or even most of them, just enough on a daily basis to be disturbing, especially when they often seem to be the ones hell bent on doubling the world population by themselves.

    Agreed about the reading of the Declaration and the Constitution on July 4th. Senator John F. Kennedy read it on a NY radio station in the late 50s. That reading is still talked about these days and can be easily found on the Web. The only reason it could be a drag for people to read it now is that too many of them find anything other than Facebook, Twitter, et al. to be boring.

    Your comment about uncorking a fifth (itself having become an outdated term) reminds me fondly of one of my favorite single-panel comics, The Lockhorns. The one I recalled from your comment showed Leroy Lockhorn sitting in a chair with a bottle, glass, and raging heat-on. His wife Loretta comes into the room with a friend and says to the friend “Leroy always celebrates the fourth with a fifth”.

    Trump, his gang of thugs, the increasingly politicized Supreme Court, and the general deterioration of American society threaten to render the Declaration’s preamble meaningless. I won’t repeat the words to the preamble because you did so and wrote about the earth-shaking event that the Declaration became. Several countries thought so highly of it that they used it in writing for their own citizens.

    Two of the most recent Supreme Court justices, Kavanaugh and Barrett, flat out lied during their confirmation hearings at least once. When asked how they would vote regarding Roe v. Wade, they said that they considered it to be judicial precedent. As you know, both voted against Roe in the recent decision.

    Book banning and teaching religion in public schools, neither are good for our flailing republic. Zealots often cry out for the need to have prayer in public schools. Prayer has always existed in schools but not in an open display. I’m not just talking about kids who prayed not to get called on in class when they didn’t do the homework. Prayer is and should be a private thing, not a smug display for school administrators to show their supposed righteousness.

    You wrote about the Texas Republican Party platform addressing homosexuality as an abomination. I think those Texans are the abomination. When gay marriage was pushed for some years ago, a joke went around that gays should have the right to be unhappily married just like everyone else. Take unhappily out of that sentence and you have the rational thought which flaming conservatives (lower case intentional) typically don’t have in their thought processes. As you wrote, it is just plain meanness. I would add that it is combined with misplaced sense of righteousness.

    Nicely done, your final paragraphs explaining why you will fly the flag. Maybe you’ll hum a few bars of the Dead’s “U.S. Blues” while you’re putting the flag out. I don’t think our republic is doomed to break up in our lifetimes. Beyond that, I agree with Joseph Ellis and other scholars who believe that it is in dire trouble. It can be saved. It won’t be saved if it keeps going to hell in a bucket as has been done in recent years.

    Good choice of the 4th as your favorite holiday. It is arguably the one with the most meaning. Enjoy the time with your family, say hi to them for me, and continue to reflect on what it means. Kerry Kennedy has said that her father, Robert Kennedy, would go around the dinner table asking each of his kids to tell them the most important thing they learned about current events that day, either in school or from the newspapers. He had many kids and it probably took a while. Our republic may survive but it will take a lot more thought and action to make it better than we’ve seen in recent years.

    1. Paul says:

      Scott,
      Thank you for reading and commenting (there’s a lot here!).

      On ignorance. One afternoon I decided to choose five things that are the biggest clear and present dangers to America. No, Trump was not there, nor were any other individuals. People are essentially ephemeral. On the top of the list was ignorance. I’m reminded of the two waifs under the robe of Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present; one is ignorance, the other want. The ghost proclaims that the more dangerous of the two is ignorance.

      “Trump, his gang of thugs, the increasingly politicized Supreme Court, and the general deterioration of American society threaten to render the Declaration’s preamble meaningless.”
      True enough but again it all goes back to ignorance. At the level of the basic citizen, Independence Day has long been meaningless. I dare say that more people are familiar with Joey Chestnut than they are Benjamin Rush or John Adams. They know Sam Adams though. Unfortunately (or not) it’s the beer.

      “Kavanaugh and Barrett, flat out lied during their confirmation hearings at least once.”
      I don’t think that anyone expected Barrett would ever vote against overturning Roe. She’s a religious zealot. Gorsuch was the other who perjured himself. It is he and Kavanaugh who suckered Susan Collins. She’s now on the “hamana hamana” tour of Maine.

      “Leroy always celebrates the fourth with a fifth”.
      I’m guessing that Leroy was less a Maker’s guy and more a Ten High guy.

      Thank you for commenting.
      “Keep in touch hack”

      1. Scott Blake says:

        Agreed about ignorance being the top danger to our country. So much bad can happen when ignorance is allowed to flourish. As has been said: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

        What are the other four on your list of clear and present dangers?

        1. Paul says:

          What are the other four on your list of clear and present dangers?

          You’ll have to stay tuned.

  8. Toonsarah says:

    Watching from across the Atlantic, in my own far from perfect country currently being run by a government of shady principle headed up by a proven liar, I can only sympathise. I love a lot about the US and have even once celebrated Independence Day with some of you (much to their amusement!) I have only a very basic understanding of that period in your history and the details of the Declaration (which I have read) and Constitution (which I haven’t) but even on that basis I can see with horror how much of what they stand for is being undermined and devalued by current events. The election of Trump marked a downward turning point the effects of which are only now really becoming apparent. What surprises me, from outside, is how much he and what he stands for continue to influence events, policy etc long after he was defeated in the more recent election.

    One other thing leapt out at me from your post, where you talk about the teaching that ‘the U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world’. I have (as you may know) visited North Korea and that is almost word for word what they are all taught about their country. I think the world would be a much better place if none of us believed that we were living in ‘the most special nation in the history of the world’. Which is not to say I don’t respect and admire patriotism, but you can love your country without being blinded to its faults – you appear to me to be an excellent illustration of that fact. No country is perfect, no country should claim to be the most perfect.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Sarah,
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      “The election of Trump marked a downward turning point the effects of which are only now really becoming apparent.”
      Unless something is done about our “extreme” court the effects are going to last decades. The Democrats could attempt to increase the number of justices to provide some balance but our Democratic Party doesn’t really have the stomach for anything controversial.

      “What surprises me, from outside, is how much he and what he stands for continue to influence events, policy etc long after he was defeated in the more recent election.”
      This is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There have been presidents, like Obama, who people will say they miss, but typically a president’s influence fades shortly after the new president takes office.
      Trump’s continued influence is likely a by-product of his election fraud claims. There are people who still believe he’s the legitimate president. There are other people, like my cousin in Wyoming, who think that Trump is the only person, out of a nation of 300 million, who can solve our national problems.

      “…you can love your country without being blinded to its faults.”
      American exceptionalism is the term. What parent thinks his or her child is perfect and not recognize that child’s faults, mistakes or misbehavior? Not many. People don’t become good citizens without their shortcomings being corrected and yet we have a large swath of our
      country who believe that there are no wrongs to be righted in a nation of imperfect people.

      North Korea.
      As a side note I have to admire you for traveling to North Korea. I would be very afraid of getting arrested on some trumped up charge and spending half my life in their stony lonesome.

      1. Toonsarah says:

        On North Korea, travel there is completely safe as long as you follow their relatively simple and mostly reasonable rules. You are with guides the whole time who will steer you as to what is acceptable and correct you politely if you do something that isn’t permitted, e.g. take a photo of something on the banned list (the military, obvious signs of poverty, disrespectful shots of the leaders). If you accept their guidance you can’t really go wrong, and they will ensure you are treated like a very welcome guest. Wandering around on your own isn’t permitted of course, and those who have run foul of the authorities, most famously Otto Warmbier, have done so because they flouted that rule and others. I’m not trying to justify how he was subsequently treated, but if he had followed the rules he would have been safe. As I said in an earlier post about travel there (https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/why-go-to-north-korea/):
        ‘Think of it like visiting a place of worship for a religion you don’t follow or believe in; while you are in that building you will behave appropriately, I am sure. You will remove your shoes if requested, cover your head and/or shoulders, keep your voice low and only take photos if permitted. Think of a trip to North Korea as an extended visit to such a building and you won’t go far wrong!’

        1. Paul says:

          Hello Sarah,
          “Think of it like visiting a place of worship for a religion you don’t follow or believe in; while you are in that building you will behave appropriately..” Well put. That said, I think I’d still demure. There are a few countries which are on that list; Russia, Venezuela, and El Salvador to name a few. There are enough places that I haven’t visited to keep me busy.
          Paul

  9. stacey says:

    Wonderful address of such a complex issue. It IS your flag. It IS our flag. Putting it up in defiance, in hope, is just as good a reason as any. A woman in the complex where I live puts a little sign on her door every 4th of July: “Land of the free because of the brave.” I’ve often wanted to walk up to her and say, “The ‘brave’ were only acting on behalf of some people, not all, and the freedom is definitely not enjoyed by all.” But what would be my aim? To express my point of view? To try to change hers? Why? Maybe I’m annoyed by her sign, but I’m sure she doesn’t mean it that way. She’s proud of the country in her own way. That’s fine. And I definitely do NOT want to contribute in any way, shape, or form to ‘cancel culture.” I’ve seen enough of that for one lifetime.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Stacey.
      “Land of the free because of the brave.” That saying annoys me. I applaud our military and those who chose to sacrifice. To me the slogan most certainly smacks of militarism and when I see that slogan it occurs to me that the person displaying it probably leans more nationalistic than I’m comfortable with. I’ll take the fall for being judgmental. On the other hand for all I know the person might be a military mom or dad. As the saying goes, it’s not the hill that I choose to die on.

      I agree with you on two points. “…the freedom is definitely not enjoyed by all,” and in the end talking to the person about it would be pointless and counterproductive.

      I often see bumper stickers that make my blood boil, usually having something to do with taking cold dead hands from guns.

      Thank you again for visiting.
      Paul

  10. M.B. Henry says:

    I flew mine. And I still do every day. To me – it represents what we can be instead of what is. That’s worth flying. <3

    1. Scott Blake says:

      “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” ~ George Bernard Shaw. We can do better as a nation, but will we?

      1. M.B. Henry says:

        I certainly hope so <3 And hanging on to that hope like hell.

    2. Paul says:

      Hello M.B.
      I think that “what we can be,” was what the founders had in mind at the start.

      ” I still do every day.” One thing that I noticed when I drove through the Midwest was that the flag is always on display on many, if not the majority, of houses. That’s unlike the Bay Area where you usually see the flag only during holidays. I wonder if that was your experience when you live in SoCal.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Paul

      1. M.B. Henry says:

        It kind of depended in SoCal. Some flew it every day, others only on holidays, others not at all.

  11. Hettie D. says:

    Very well said!!!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Hettie.

  12. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    Can I be later to commenting? Don’t answer that. Great post and comments.

    I’ve never been a flag person, and many Canadians were not until we had a recent incident with nationalist Canadians (aka convoy truckers) who hijacked the flag as a symbol of their own kind of patriotism.

    It left a bad taste for me. Now when I see the flag draped over a truck, I think differently about who’s behind the wheel.

    A flag is supposed to identify a country with respect to its place in the world. It can also represent the characteristics of a nation and a country’s historical foundation. It can also mark one’s pride in living in that country.

    You and Martin can agree politically, but your choices to fly the flag still differ. For all the reasons you’ve cited to fly it , and for all the reasons Martin’s chosen not to fly it, it comes down to personal choice and interpretation.

    And of course, this can change from one year to the next.

    I know your political leanings, so flying a flag is but a tiny commentary on who you are. I understand why you flew it. I would’ve understood if you chose not to as well.

    eden

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hey, what has changed? Why can’t I ‘like’ your post anymore?

  14. Why can’t I ‘like’ your post? What has changed? Muriel

    1. Paul says:

      You’re the second person who’s said that. I’ll get with WP and see what’s up

    2. Paul says:

      Muriel, I checked on this problem with WordPress and the explanation is that you have to be logged into WP on the device that you are trying to “like” from. Both of your comments on this post show a URL other than your Word Press URL. If you would like more detail please go to my contact page and message me directly. Hope this helps.
      Paul

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