Friday, November 19, 2010

Taking Exception

A remarkable thing has started to happen in the wake of the recent elections and rebuke of liberalism: people are beginning to talk about American Exceptionalism again. And unlike Barack Obama, they're doing it favorably.

The concept of American Exceptionalism is as broad as it is simple: the belief that when our national character is combined with our freedoms, values, and ability to innovate, wonderful things can happen in a way that they can't anywhere else on Earth.

Our history, albeit short on a global scale, gives ample evidence that this is true. Even though in other, more recent history, Barack Obama has traveled the world apologizing for the alleged damage done by the United States...and specifically degrading the notion of American Exceptionalism.

For this country to succeed and remain a dominant power for good in the world, we must first and foremost believe in ourselves. Not arrogantly...but confidently. And it isn't hard to look around and sense that it's starting to happen.

After two years of this president and his political party telling Americans that they're incapable of accomplishing great things, new voices are being raised to say the words Barack Obama least wants to hear: "Yes we can!"



drjim said...

Let us pray that there's a light at the end of this madness, and that we'll look back on this failed social 'experiment', and remind ourselves what a GREAT country this is.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

Stilton, thank you for validating what my great political teacher, Rush Limbaugh, has been saying for years; that American's aren't better people than inhabit the rest of the world, but our freedom allows us to do great and wonderful things that benefit the world while enriching ourselves. This is the essence of free-market capitalism - a rising tide lifting all boats, even the ones we don't know exist. It is freedom, not genetics, that makes us exceptional. The clay-encrusted cat turd in the Oval Office hates our exceptionalism and can only diminish it by diminishing our freedom. He's doing his level best to do just that. Like Rush says...I hope he fails.

Erik said...

Oh he believes in American exceptionalism: he believes in everyone except America.

John the Econ said...

Thus illustrates the oxymoron that is the progressive dream for America. They ironically believe that it's "American Exceptionalism" that will finally make socialism a success when it's failed every time everywhere else in the world. It is in fact the American ideal of freedom and individuality what makes America a success; concepts that are diametrically opposed in socialism.

vfs said...

Boll Whittle did a great job covering this issue back when Obummer made his original statement.

If you are a subscriber to PJTV he has a video he created based on that article.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Readers- Lots of good points made above. "American Exceptionalism" is purely the result of our freedoms...which is why people flock here from all over the world so that they, too, can innovate and succeed.

And as John the Econ so rightly points out, the progressives who are the most vocal opponents of capitalism and exceptionalism are counting on those systems to fund the massively-impractical subsidization of their socialist fantasies.

Anonymous said...

Gross. What is the matter with you people? Why are you so attached to the idea of your own superiority? Also, why is it that you need a president who constantly reminds you how awesome you are?

And, by the by, capitalism and exceptionalism have very little in common. If you make a good product, people by it because it's a good product, not because you need to choke them with rhetoric about why your product is so great.

Not to say that America isn't a great place, and that the freedoms we have aren't abundant. They are, and this country is a terrific place. It's a place to succeed and leave a legacy. Despite that, this is also a country where more states regard marriage between cousin's as legal then states that regard the right of two consenting adults of the same gender to enter into a legal contract dedicated to each other. That's definitely not something to be proud of.

Self-respect is one thing, but arrogance is another. I for one am proud of a president who doesn't feel the need to convince our allies that America is a cowboy who's going to stay on top through military force.

But hey, you're right Stil. Being looked at sideways for holding my boyfriend's hand in a movie theater is definitely better then getting stoned to death for it. It's too bad Mathew Shepherd can't say that.

TheOldMan said...

Even ABC News admits that MS was not killed because he was gay, he was killed for money that the killers wanted for drugs:

I don't need a president to tell my how wonderful I am. I want a president who understands the country of which he is president.

Anonymous said...


Shepherd wasn't killed for drugs. He was tied to a fence and beaten to death. Yes, his murderers planned on mugging him for meth money, but they still killed him because he was gay.

Suzy said...

Anon....the only superiority you think "we people" have is what the media tells you we have....

And by the way...freedom does not mean forcing everyone to agree with and like the minority groups. Freedom means you are allowed to be a minority group with no punishment from the government.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Suz, I always thought freedom flowed from the right to live, whether its the government trying to get you or the guy or goal with a screw loose down the street. You, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and all that. There's a reason that life comes first in that arrangement.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Anonymous- I'm sincerely glad to have you weigh in with your opinion, even if you seem to be misconstruing things a bit, and missing the point with others.

You suggest that it's "gross" that people are "attached to the idea of (their) own superiority," but that's not what American Exceptionalism argues. It doesn't say that "Americans are exceptional" by dint of their DNA, it says that Americans (even recently arrived ones) have the unlimited potential to be exceptional because of our systems and freedoms.

You say "self-respect is one thing, but arrogance is another." What I said was that we should believe in ourselves "not arrogantly...but confidently." So I think we're all in the same place regarding arrogance being bad, right?

You say that capitalism and exceptionalism aren't the same thing, and that's true - but you shouldn't throw stones at them for holding hands and having a meaningful relationship. When you assert that people will buy a product if it's good enough, you're embracing capitalism and the free marketplace. And that's what makes "exceptionalism" work - not some meaningless program of self-congratulation and esteem building (which, by the way, is the great gift of liberals to our nation's schools and workforce).

Additionally, Obamacare is the biggest example of the government forcing people to buy a product that is not the best, either in services or values. That subverts the system you claim to espouse.

Regarding marriage between cousins, or sidelong glances at gay couples (and yes, some of my best friends really are gay and have longterm relationships that I fully respect), I'm in complete agreement with you: this is not a perfect country, there is much that still needs to be improved, and neither of these factors means that American Exceptionalism shouldn't be valued - especially by the president.

Anonymous said...

If someone is murdered, what difference does it make "why" he/she was killed? How does motive change murder? You will note that prosecutors have never needed to prove motive in a murder case. You're pushing irrelevant distractions when you try to claim one murder is worse than another.


pryorguy said...

By and large, the election of Obama can not be laid at the doorstep of the mature age voters, generally the younger, unschooled in history were a large voting block of his. Socialism did not work, will not work, anywhere, anytime, but sadly history does repeat itself (if allowed to) because people dont remember. But I am betting Obama does not pursue a socialist agenda out of ignorance of it!

Anonymous said...


Intention is one of the only thing that matters in a murder case! Why do you think unintentional murder is called manslaughter? Why do you think a murder occurring from someone defending themselves is different then a murder occurring from cold-blooded planning?


If that's your idea of American excpetionalism, then I'm with you. What about North American exceptionalism, then? I mean, we're all on the same continent, and people having been trying to come here for centuries.

Nationalistic pride is something that I personally find distasteful and ethnocentric. It's funny that one of the first things you mention in regards to this a caveat about AE not "being about DNA", because I never brought that up. AE is about an ethnocentric viewpoint shared by a large number of American's in diverse situations, from rural Kansans to urban Washingtonians, from poor Chicagoans to wealthy Idahoans, that refuses to recognize the disparities wrought in our country by backwards social policy that ignores, and even attempts to rationalize, fiscal disparity. It is a viewpoint that refuses to recognize the fact that maybe the sorry state of America's economy has more to do with people refusing to get up off their ass and learn a viable career which might have an impact on their larger community, but would instead care to sit around and bitch, and *ahem* draw "satirical" comics, about the current ruling parties in their communities, state, and national government.

Put your money where your mouth is Stil, what exactly are you doing in your community to genuinely better your own welfare, as any good libertarian or whatever-tarian you want to call yourself, in a way that serves your republic and maintains its freedom?

Seeya tomorrow.

*Stomps off grumbling*

Anonymous said...

Anonymous. You need to relax with a nice hot cup of tea.


Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Anonymous (two above)- Wow, someone is a little touchy today! You concede that you and I are in agreement about American exceptionalism, then you whip up your own semantic definition of something else entirely and attack me all over again.

And then, without knowing a single thing about who I am, and what I do for my community, you attack me as someone who refuses to "get up off their ass" instead of "sit around and bitch, and *ahem* draw satirical comics."

For a guy who's got a chip on his shoulder about getting "sideways glances" when holding hands with your significant other, you're awfully quick to stereotype and criticize someone you don't know.

I don't owe you any explanations (and unless you're a hypocrite, you do owe me an apology), but even you have to realize that I'm donating a considerable amount of time and effort in trying to engage people in politically meaningful discourse, point them to substantive news stories, and encourage political involvement at a time when it's critical.

Apart from that, I may be doing a lot of things to help my community...and it's not particularly your business. If, however, you'd like to give examples of what you're doing to make this a better world (besides bravely and anonymously bitching at cartoonists), please feel free to enlighten us.

Maybe we can follow your brave and selfless lead.

pryorguy said...

This is gettng hard to follow...why dont you Anonymouses number yourselves? ha! Good discourse tho, enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Pryorguy. I'll try to figure out how to do it. It will be "mouse" related. A tribute to YOU!

Anonymous said...

Not only that, Anon., but prosecutors need only prove INTENT, not MOTIVE for conviction. Shepard's murderers INTENDED to murder him, no matter their motive. In case you haven't grasped it, there is a difference between the two.


Anonymous said...

I apologize to one and all for the unnecessarily snarky "In case you haven't grasped it" part of my previous post.


Anonymous said...


Nice dodge. I'll share about myself if you share about yourself. Also, playing around with photoshop and pandering to a socially backward viewpoint isn't exactly what I would call "contributing to political discourse".


I know these are from websites on the internet, and we all know that the internet is notoriously liberal, I mean, Al Gore built it, but here are some definitions from

Intent: Law. The state of a person's mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.

Motive: the goal or object of a person's actions: Her motive was revenge.

Looks like two peas in the same pod to me. Intent is the mindset, while motive is just the objective.

I don't know what we're even arguing about here. A political killing is different then a killing which grows out of bigotry, which is completely different the hit and run manslaughter. Duh.


You're right it is the politically unschooled who elected Obama into office. Frankly, we were just tired of you guys screwing it up. It's not like we voted in the guy who invaded a foreign country in search of WMD's that the military never found and were agree were never there or presided over the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor that could have been avoided. let's not even talk about Katrina, the invasive and freedom-killing Patriot Act, or the current sorry state of the American economy due to complete political mismanagement.

Buzz Bannister said...

Anon, it's all about you...alllllll about you.
Talk about drama--everybody has hurtles in life to overcome EVERYBODY. We are all special to Our God, Our Friends and Our Family but after that we are a face in the crowd. If you want to continue bellowing and belly aching that because of this person or a situation that America is bad or you are down trodden you'll only be making life harder for yourself. Your posts are simply five minutes I'll never get back so get a grip and deal with it--that is what everybody does.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Buzz!

I completely agree with you! Thanks for making that point so concisely! I am just a face in the crowd and I don't need a president, whether it's a Clinton, Bush, Reagan, or Obama, telling me that I'm exceptional like some other people. Which is obvious, since they didn't think I was so exceptional that I could anyone I loved even if they were a man. (Though it's ok for me to die in their wars, as long as I keep quiet about what goes on in my bedroom)

If anyone does think I'm exceptional, I don't want it to be because of some BS ethnocentric Americans-Are-The-Best-Just-Because, I want it to be because of my own actions and achievements.

Just to be clear, I'm not downtrodden, at least I don't feel that way. I just have to deal with reactionary moral conservatives that are terrified of social progress denying me the opportunity to enter into a life-long legal relationship with the person I love. Believe me when I say, I take that on the chin and come back swinging. I am very active with my local political community and do hope to someday overturn that law at least in Florida.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Anonymous (directly above)- Glad to see that you're calming down, and that you and Buzz have found common ground.

And in fact, that's the same common ground I was trying to stake out earlier. It would be total BS to say "Americans Are The Best Just Because" - but it's also BS for a president to say Americans should not be allowed to pursue the actions and achievements which can make them exceptional.

And try not to lump everyone into the "reactionary moral conservative" category so quickly, or you'll find you're alienating possible allies.

Contrasting and even opposing viewpoints are welcome here, but hopefully with mutual respect and honest dialogue from all sides.

That being the case, we do need to correct you on a few assertions you made in a previous post:

• "Everyone" does not agree that Saddam Hussein "never had" WMD, because he previously used WMD to kill thousands of people.

• Yes, the 9/11 attacks could possibly have been avoided...if Bill Clinton hadn't taken intelligence agents off their investigation of Al Qaeda and reassign them to looking for white racists burning black churches (who, unlike those WMDs, turned out to have never existed).

• Yes, let's NOT talk about Katrina. It was a hurricane, many of which have occurred before and after President Bush. Mistakes were made, but the biggest reason that the President couldn't send immediate help to the disaster area because the Democratic governor of the state forbade it.

• The "freedom killing Patriot Act?" Which freedoms did we lose exactly? And why did Barack Obama not only renew the Patriot Act but extend its reach to become far more invasive and pervasive than Bush dreamed of?

Pete(Detroit) said...

Also, as far as WMDs go, any one else remember Greenpeace pitching a fit because the air-force flew a cargo of 'semi-enriched' Uranium out of Iraq? Something about 'unreasonable risk in the event of a crash'... Thinking Feb '04 ish... can't find any referents, any more..

Anonymous said...

I'm still not 100% convinced that WMD's weren't smuggled out of Iraq into Syria or elsewhere.