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What does 4th July mean to average Palo Altan

Original post made by Non citizen on Jul 4, 2007

Eight of us had lunch today, seven were working. Not one was American born although several had taken out citizenship but retained their dual nationality. The conversation naturally turned to why celebrate 4th July as none of us had any traditions that made us do so. Some wanted to see fireworks. Some wanted a barbeque. Most enjoyed working today for various reasons, (ease of commute, long lunch hour, less interruptions from co-workers, taking a day of in lieu at a weekend, etc.)

In an area like Palo Alto where we have so many non American born, where the most celebratory thing to do is a chili cook off in Mitchell Park, what are we really celebrating? It seems odd to say the country's birth date, it also seems odd to say freedom from the British. So, in the 21st century, is it just a day off or is there more to celebrate?

Comments (32)

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Non citizen,

Excellent question!

Palo Alto, and the SF Bay area, in general, is anti-patriotic. It is rare, if not impossible, to see PA students giving the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools. There were very few American flags at the chili cookoff event today (in fact I don't remember seeing any). Plenty of beans and booze, though.

Just as a reminder, I offer the following:

Web Link

As a non-citizen, you might find the Declaration more inspring than do our current citizens. Give it a is a lot more than just the British/American conflict. It set off a revolution that is still at full throttle.

Posted by mary, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm

What you are seeing is 4th of July "Palo Alto style" Palo Alto is now - but didn't used to be one of the most liberal cities in California, right up there with Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. Is it the Stanford influence?

On the other side of the spectrum is Danville in the East Bay which puts on a fabulous 4th of July show. The City of Palo Alto usually doesn't even have American flags to put out on Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Veterans Day. I didn't drive down town today, but I would presume nothing has changed. (It's the 'budget') It is sad to see how few people even put out flags today. The city is changing, but there are still a lot of WWII, Korean, and Vietnam vets here who served their country and it is home to one of the best Veterans' Hospitals in the country. So, "non-citizen" - Palo Alto is NOT the norm.

The Midwest, the South, and the East are so different. There patriotism is big, and
the 4th of July is a big event. For Palo Altans who came from those places, it's 'homesick time'.

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2007 at 11:11 pm

We put out our flag, as did a lot of our neighbors. Last night, fireworks at Stanford. Our vantage point put the brightly lit, waving American flag right smack in the center of the show, the little group standing there all appreciated the symbolism.

At home, we talk about the history of July 4, the declaration of Independence, the war of Independence, the founding of our country and the Constitution. Helping dad with the barbecue today, our kindergartener gave his take on the symbolism, that it was "like cooking King George." (He also understands that King George is a historical figure and that we have long been friends with the British.)

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2007 at 10:30 am

Hi folks,

I have gone to almost every Palo Alto Chili Cook-off. Inevitably, I bump into someone I went to elementary, junior or high school with. I love the music and when I attend, I only see the good in all the folks. And maybe in my "advanced" age (51), I get a little sentimental at the event to be with all the folks who, basically, just want happiness in their lives. Also, there's a certain continuity being at the same park, next to my old junior high where in earlier times I had so much fun. So, to me, while I respect the symbolism and history of the 4th of July, it means going to Mitchell Park for the Annual Palo Alto Chili Cook-off.


Posted by Another Dual Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 1:10 pm


Being a citizen of both the US and France, I can relate with your observations and see where you are coming from. I have lived in California for a long time, but at first I was also struck by the lack of celebrations here on the National Holiday. Someone mentioned the fireworks at Stanford, but it seems to me that it is a private affair rather than a public celebration since there is a relatively high entrance fee (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Someone mentioned that it has to do with the local political flavor. Maybe. It still leaves me wondering.

In France, the National Holiday IS a big deal. All towns, small and large, are decked out in red, white and blue, and celebrate the National Holiday (Bastille Day on July 14) with a least fireworks and an outdoor party with music, dance, food and drinks. Large numbers, if not most, will also have parades. This happens regardless of the political leanings of the locale, from communist towns all the way to right-wing conservative towns.

I do miss the celebratory fervor that I knew back home. It was a very special day indeed. But, sadly, I have gotten used to this state of affair here over the years and now I just take it as a day to stay home and relax.

I will add that the same is true of all other holidays in the US to some extent. I have never found the same fervor at celebrating holidays publicly here as I knew in my birth country.

Posted by Another Dual Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Ooops, I should have addressed this to Non Citizen, rather than to Andy.

Posted by Gina, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Interesting conversation, having more to do, I suspect, with cultural differences in how we value the art of the celebration. The dual citizen from France says we Americans seem to under-celebrate all of our holidays. Perhaps it's our puritanical roots, or our lack of a sense of true community, but our festive gatherings do seem to lack a healthy level of joie de vivre.

More importantly, however, I can't let stand the comments by at least two posters about patriotism. If you measure a person's patriotism by his/her willingness to fly a flag, then your understanding of patriotism is truly impoverished.

The Bay Area is generally unpatriotic? Perhaps you're forgetting the hundreds of thousands of residents who marched in the streets against this ugly, futile and arrogant war against Iraq -- both before and after we invaded. These were people giving up their off-work time to exercise their rights, their duty, as American citizens. The examples of people in the Bay Area getting off their fat couches and away from their TVs in order to participate in civic matters are endless. You just have to open your eyes.

How you choose to demonstrate your patriotism is your business. I don't fly a flag, I don't go to fireworks shows. I do, however, spend hours of my time every day informing myself of what's going on in the world and of what my government is doing; I vote, basing my votes on serious analysis of the information I've gathered; I participate in local activist efforts; and, I raise my voice in protest when I think my government is on the wrong track, which it clearly is now. You can drape yourself in a flag till that flag's stars and stripes fade, and still not be a true patriot if you're all flag and no action.

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 3:16 pm


The German Bunds in this country were very active prior to (and during) WWII. They opposed the war against fascism (Hitler). They liked him. They got up off their couches and did their best to oppose FDR. I don't call that patriotic, but you do, apparently. Just change the names, and you are looking at yourself in a mirror.

Posted by Gina, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Rod, Do you base your characterization of me on (1) the fact that I don't fly a flag; (2) my opposition to the Iraq war; (3) my belief in civic involvement and voting; (4) and/or ... what? Please be specific.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2007 at 3:37 pm

I parked in Costco yesterday evening to walk to the fireworks at Shoreline. I was amazed at the numbers of families tailgating and letting off illegal fireworks. They usually had small children running around and from what I could see, few safety measures, eg water. They were letting off in the path of other cars looking for parking spots.

I was amazed at the dangers and didn't see one police car. They were probably all over at Shoreline doing traffic control.

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Having served as a Marine during the end of the Nixon administration, I recall that there was a drop in the level of celebratory patriotism.

As mentioned in my earlier post here, I celebrate the Forth of July by going to the Annual Palo Alto Chili Cook-off.

Watching the History Channels programming on the events that led up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence gave me new insight about what the Forth of July is commemorating.

And I can certainly understand one wanting to draw a distinction between that great event with that of the current administration.


Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm


FDR lied to the American people when he said that he would not get us into a war. He did his utmost to do just that. He succeeded. He wanted to fight fascism. The U.S. German Bunds cried out loud about the lies of FDR. I support FDR, now, as my parents did then. I think it is unpatriotirc to openly oppose the Commander in Chief, beyond water's edge, when he/(she?) is leading us in a battle against fascism or communism (and other 'isms' that threaten this country). Even the Republicans, in WWII, who hated FDR, left it at the water's edge - and kept their mouths shut about FDR, because he was the Commander in Chief (and for that reason only).

Civic involement is good, Gina, until we are at war, and you want to take it beyond our watre's edge. JMO.

Bush, as far as I can tell, did not lie. Neither did Blair. He got the WMD thing wrong, apparently, but there were many other reasons to throw out Saddam, a real fascist. If Hillary Clinton is elected president, she will, basically, follow Bush's policies, because she is realistic, and understands the stakes.

I didn't support Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia. But I kept my thoughts to myself, and still flew the flag on July 4.

Gina, why do you oppose flying the flag? Are you making some kind of statement?

It is a celebration of this country's fight for independence (on July 4). Have you bothered to read (or watch) anything about that first civil war? Incredible stuff. Give it a serious look, then get back to me.

Posted by Gina, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 5:12 pm


You make a number of assumptions about me. I really don't have to wait to get back to you because I have often, hungrily, "bothered to read" about the fight for independence -- about American and world history in general, in fact. You seem to assume ignorance in people who don't agree with you. Assumptions are a barrier to understanding and open-mindedness.

You assume that I "oppose flying the flag." That's a specious conclusion. If I choose not to plant tomatoes in my garden, does that mean I oppose planting tomatoes?

We disagree -- fundamentally and probably irreconcilably -- about the propriety of protesting a war in progress. I consider protesting an illegal and immoral war my duty as a citizen of a democracy. I believe your judgment on the matter represents a very dangerous attitude, one that can lead to the undermining of our democracy and complacency in the face of lawlessness in the executive office. We disagree profoundly. So be it.

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2007 at 5:25 pm

"I consider protesting an illegal and immoral war my duty as a citizen of a democracy."

Well, Gina, that's what the Bunds thought, too. I am perplexed: What illegal and immoral war?

Now to the American Revolution. Gina, let me ask you an essential question, since you are a student of this earth-shaking event:

What was the essential role of Nathanael Greene? If you cannot answer it quickly, Gina, you are NOT a student of the AR.

Flying the flag and growing tomatoes are fundamentally different things. If you cannot understand the diffeence, you are over the edge. I think apples are different than oranges...and I still fly the flag.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2007 at 5:58 pm


I'm sure Gina means the war in Iraq. You may think the war is justified on grounds besides WMD, but that was not the causus belli given--WMD was. And it's also clear from Woodward's book that the administration chose to ignore all the intelligence that indicated there were no such weapons in Iraq. When does willed ignorance become a lie? Immoral? That's a personal judgment call--it is a war in which the United States were the aggressors--many people consider that immoral without extenuating circumstances. Many people consider those circumstances insufficient to justify this particular war. You disagree with it, but I don't think the situation is so clearcut that there cannot be honest disagreement.

I had to look up Nathanael Greene--having done so, I don't see why knowing Greene's job defines whether one knows much about the War of Indpendence. I read John Adams' Novanglus writings and several other contemporary political writings by Paine, Jefferon, Hamilton and Franklin. I think, frankly, the political debates are more relevant today than the military strategy (though it's interesting). The War has several aspects to it--and different aspects appeal to different people. My main interest is how it evolved in the contect of the European Enlightenment.

Or let me throw it back to you. Why do you think it was a revolution?

Re: the 4th. We had a BBQ and walked out to see fireworks. My family's been doing this for generations--though sometimes just a picnic. Are we unpatriotic because we don't Martha Stewartize the house with red, white and blue? Well, given that we date back to before the Revolution and the men in my family tree have been fighting in American wars then and ever since, I don't buy this current quasi-monarchial view of patriotism or the presidency. As far as I'm concerned, the pres. works for me and his job performance can start improving any time.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 5, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Thanks for the comments. It is good that Palo Alto and bay area folks have not been duped by flag fetishism, and that it is rare for students to robotically chant the Pledge in government schools. July 4th is about declaring one's independence from big government, not worship of it.

Pledge of Allegiance pictures Web Link and Swastikas pictures Web Link expose shocking secrets about American history.

Socialists in the USA originated the Nazi salute, robotic group-chanting to flags, Nazism, flag fetishism, and the modern swastika as "S" symbolism for "Socialism." Web Link

Much of that history is the history of the Pledge Of Allegiance.

Those historical facts explain the enormous size and scope of government today, and the USA's growing police state. They are reasons for massive reductions in government, taxation, spending and socialism.

The "Nazi salute" is more accurately called the "American salute" as it was created and popularized by national socialists in the USA. It was the early salute of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge was written by Francis Bellamy. Francis Bellamy was cousin and cohort of Edward Bellamy. Edward Bellamy and Francis Bellamy were self-proclaimed socialists in the Nationalism movement and they promoted military socialism.

They wanted the government to take over education and use it to spread their worship of government. When the government granted their wish, the government's schools imposed segregation by law and taught racism as official policy. The official racism and segregation was a bad example three decades before the National Socialist German Workers Party, and decades afterward.

The Pledge was mandated by law in government schools for three decades before, and through, the creation of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

Many people do not know that the term "Nazi" means "National Socialist German Workers' Party." Members of the horrid group did not call themselves Nazis. In that sense, there was no Nazi Party. They also did not call themselves Fascists. They called themselves socialists, just as their name indicates.

The historian Dr. Rex Curry showed that the early Pledge Of Allegiance did not use an ancient Roman salute, and that the 'ancient Roman salute' myth came from the Pledge Of Allegiance. The discoveries have been reviewed and verified on wikipedia

The original pledge was anti libertarian and began with a military salute that then stretched out toward the flag. In actual use, the second part of the gesture was performed with a straight arm and palm down by children casually performing the forced ritual chanting. Due to the way that both gestures were used sequentially in the pledge, the military salute led to the Nazi salute. The Nazi salute is an extended military salute via the USA's Pledge Of Allegiance.

The Pledge's early salute caused quite a Fuhrer/furor. The dogma behind the Pledge was the same dogma that led to the socialist Wholecost (of which the Holocaust was a part): 62 million slaughtered under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; 49 million under the Peoples' Republic of China; 21 million under the National Socialist German Workers' Party. It was the worst slaughter of humanity ever.

People were persecuted (beatings, lynchings, etc) for refusing to perform robotic chanting to the national flag at the same time in government schools in the USA and Germany (to the American flag, and to the German swastika flag).

American socialists (e.g. Edward Bellamy and Francis Bellamy teamed with the Theosophical Society and Freemasons) bear some blame for altering the notorious symbol used as overlapping S-letters for "socialism" under the National Socialist German Workers Party.

The same symbol was used by the Theosophical Society during the time when the Bellamys, Freemasons and the Theosophical Society worked together to promote socialism.

They also originated and helped to spread the stiff arm salute via the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings.

As German socialism's notorious flag symbol, the swastika was deliberately turned 45 degrees to the horizontal and always oriented in the S-direction. Similar alphabetic symbolism is still visible as Volkswagen logos.

The bizarre acts in the USA began as early as 1875 and continued through the creation of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (German Nazis or NSGWP). American soldiers used the swastika symbol in WWI (against Germany) and the symbol was used by the American military during WWII.

The NSGWP had clear roots in National Socialism promoted by socialists in the USA.

The USA is still the worst example in the world of bizarre laws that require robotic chanting to a national flag in government schools (socialist schools) every day for 12 years. It has changed generations of Americans from libertarians to authoritarians. The government bamboozled individuals into believing that collective robotic chanting in government schools daily is a beautiful expression of freedom.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2007 at 6:53 pm

GWII complied with the law in every respect, including international approval. To call it an illegal war is fatuous unless your definition of illegal is just anything you don't like. If you do not agree with the administration interpretation of the available intelligence, that is your right. To rationalize calling the administration liars you need to show that there were no sighs supporting the administration and that there were clear unambiguous indications the administration take was wrong. So far, no cigar. And they did try, every day, to kill our pilots. My understanding does not run to forgiveness for that.

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 10:06 am


Greene took over a small and demoralized army in the south. He was a former Quaker pacifist, who broke with that pacifism and became a self-taught military strategist. Apparently he studied well, because he developed a brilliant strategy to defeat Cornwallis. Greene split his forces and Cornwallis was forced to split his (much larger) force. Greene then led a strategic and tactical retreat that sucked Cornwallis in against the sea. Greene's moves are still studied at the various war colleges around the world.

Without Greene, the American cause is in doubt. Cornwallis had had his way, prior to Greene. Clinton held New York. The British supply ships were in order. Clinton was forced to reinforce, as was Washington. It all came to a head at Yorktown. The French, seeing Cornwallis against the sea, decided to blockage from the sea. Greene caused Yorktown. Without him, the war goes on and on, with no clear outcome. And perhaps no political writings that would be remembered.

It is a revolution, OhlonePar, because it allowed men like Greene to emerge and succeed, something almost unheard of in Europe at the time. Von Steuben wrote to one of his European friends words to the effect that ' tell your men to do and they do; I must explain, they must agree first, then they do'.

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2007 at 10:20 am

In answer to your question, Fourth of July is a time in our family to take some time off, relax, barbecue, and chat about the values our founding fathers tried to protect in issuing the Declaration of Independence. It is beautifully and eloquently and decisively written. Everyone remembers the parts about "When in the course of human events" and "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" but it is much more, and I don't remember ever learning that in school.

I paraphrased it for my elementary-school aged children as follows, and talked to them about what the Founding Fathers were up against and how desperate they must have been to get to the point where this was necessary. I explained that some of the people who were doing well and whom the King liked were against the separation from England because they had it good and didn't care if most people had it bad. people who had it bad were afraid things would get worse if they separated. Many wanted to have a chance to enjoy the fruits of their own labors. And some who had it good (many if not most of the Founding Fathers) thought it wasn't fair that they had it good and most other people did not, so they risked everything to protect the rights of the majority people.

Here goes:

1. Governments are supposed to protect your ability to live safely and freely and to have a chance to work toward being happy. Sometimes they don't do their job, and when that happens you have to get rid of the government and start over with a new one.

2. If you do find yourself getting rid of the old government, common decency says you should say why.

3. Most people would rather live with a system that is not great than to try a new way they don't know. But if they are being mistreated so badly that they can't take it any more, they have a duty and a right to act to improve things.

4. This is what's been going on here in the Colonies. The King of England has been a bad tyrant who has made life unbearable for us here. But don't take our word for it, look at the facts: he has not allowed anyone but him to make laws that would help colonists, and then when he gets the law his officials havemade, he never gets around to approving it. He makes a bunch of little picky laws that make life harder and are pretty much pointless. He makes our elected representatives travel a long way to meet just to make things as inconvenient as possilbe. He keeps trying to take away our right to a voice through elected officials, and instead puts in his own people who have to do whatever he says and always agree with him -- meanwhile, we are in danger of chaos at home and invasion from outside countries. He has his army watching over us all the time and they have the complete say about the way things will be over here, and when they commit crimes, he protects them by deciding on his own what their punisment will be and then not punishing them -- and meanwhile, he makes us travel overseas to be tried for anything we are accused of, and we don't even get a trial by jury even then. He won't let us trade with anyone but him. Not only does he tell us wearen't entitled to his protection, but he brings in foreign armies to put us down when we complain, and he sends his armies to burn our towns and destroy ou lives. He kidnaps people on the seas and makes then act against us under pain of death. He tried to get the Indians to invade and hurt us.

5. Every time one of thesethings happens, we write to him explaining how we ended up over here in the first place, telling him we want to work with him, asked them to do what they know in their hearts is fair, and all he does is come back with new ways to hurt us. This is just wrong.

6. So now we have to make our own way, and would like to be separatae but stay on friendly terms. But even if we can't do it in a friendly way, we are still separating ourselves from you and declaring ourselves a fre and separate country. And we will be acting like one from now on.

7. We believe God will protect us because this is the right thing to do, so we are going to stick together in this decision.

When I simplified it to this, it becamse so much easier to impart (and feel, myself) the strength of the Colonists' desperation - they were not able to live under the conditions imposed on them, and were basically being plundered for goods and resources without being considered as human beings). This being the 4th of July time of year, I thought it was a great thing to spend time on. I could make ocmments on parallels with current and past administrations of the 20th and 21st century, but I will save that for discussions in my own households.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2007 at 3:48 pm


You're not paying attention. I looked Greene up--and noted that he was relevant in terms of military strategy, but that for me, the political history of the war is of greater interest than the military.
And I think it's more relevant--technology makes much of the earlier military strategy moot except in a fairly general way--the arguments about government power go on and on. I find it ironic that the politically conservative in this country are always laying claim to the greater patriotism, given just how damn radical and rebellious many of our hallowed Founding Fathers were. We shunt aside in our discussions the slavery problem and the fact that each state removed what little woman's suffrage there was.

And you hedged on why the revolution was a revolution. There's nothing about Greene's background that would have kept from succeeding in the colonies prior to the war.

And, of course, without the politics, there would have been no war--or support for it. In this case, it's clear which came first and, frankly, matters more. I mean the wonderfully insane and brilliant notion that you could basically invent a nation and invent a people. And some of them would be self-governing. The hubris and idealism of it.

I appreciate it and admire it, but I've never seen what it has to do with how I spend my 4th. Or that I'm obligated to support every war the U.S. gets into.

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 4:14 pm

"And you hedged on why the revolution was a revolution. There's nothing about Greene's background that would have kept from succeeding in the colonies prior to the war"


No, you don't seem to get it. Greene gave up his pacifism, BECAUSE he could not make it in the colonial period, with his dignity left intact. He knew that war was the answer. He was a reluctant warrior, but he was a great general when he needed to be.

The politics came out of the experience. Yes, there were some (e.g. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etc.) that put it out there, but it was the Daniel Morgans and Nathaneal Greenes that had at least as deep of understanding, and made it happen in a particularly independent way. The poor swamp rats and farmers had even more to do with it - and they understood it. The American way. Emulated by many. It WAS a revolution, OhlonePar. Too bad you don't seem to get it.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 8, 2007 at 5:13 pm

From an editorial written by Theodore Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star May 7, 1918:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 6:05 pm

"Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else"

Peter, your point is...?

"He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct"

In terms of good and bad conduct, within this country, he might have been referrin to a future Bill Clinton (Juanita Broderick, Monica, etc.). Otherwise, I fail to see your point. Did TR criticize Wilson for going to war? Did TR criticize Wilson's conduct of the Great War (in which TR lost a son), while our boys were overseas? TR was a patriot, and proud of it. He was ashamed of his own father's buyout in the Civil War - thus he charged up Kettle Hill to recapture his family's honor (and eventually received the Medal of Honor). Imagine that: Medal of Honor and Nobel Peace Prize. Speak softly, but carry a big stick. Good advice from TR.

I think TR was talking about domestic politics, not Commander in Chief (beyond the water's edge) issues. Correct me if I am wrong.

TR was a big flag waiver, and proud of it. Very bully....

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Rod, maybe one point of Roosevelt's words is that they are completely contrary to the campaign of "with me or traitor" when the war started and the whole notion that criticism of that effort made an ordinary citizen unpatriotic. Whatever you may think of Clinton etc., he did not get his bully cabal to spread the word that criticising him or his acts was tantamount to treason. So what you are saying, that his opinion applies only when we don't like domestic policy? So what? Does that meqan no one else can have an opinion and criticize the leadership's decisions? Well, isn't that Nixonian of you.

I spent this week talking to my kids about how brave the original colonists were to stand up for what they believed in and how those who signed the Declaration of Independence put their lives and affluent comfort on the line for the greater good, in their brilliantly optimistic plan to invent a new nation.

And finally, what is your point about Roosevelt anyway? That we shouldn't buy our way out of the war? hm. Well, some of our very own -- starting at the top -- did exactly that. But I guess we shouldn't mention that because it has to do with a war abroad and not foreign policy?

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 8:04 pm


I'm not sure I follow your reasoning.

TR was a patriot, and, as far as I know, did not criticize the Commander in Chief during war, about the war (publicly). He was quite capable of criticizing almost everything else. He was known for that.

He WAS ashamed of his own father for not fighting in the Civil War. Read any good biography about TR, and it will say exactly this.

TR would probably have stangled Clinton's neck with his own hands, about Monica, etc., but he would not have criticized him when he went to war in Yugoslavia. TR knew about the water's edge.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 8, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Rod, the point was contained in this snippet: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." He says it unequivocally, making no distinction between domestic and foreign affairs.

Here are some other people's take on the subject:
"Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors." - Lewis H. Lapham, editor (1935- )

"Just as war is freedom's cost, disagreement is freedom's privilege." - Bill Clinton, former president of the U.S

One of the reasons I, and many others disagree with your stance is contained in this quote: "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." -James Madison, fourth US president (1751-1836)

This president and his cohorts are conducting themselves as if this country were operating under the same rules as the hereditary monarchs, who believed in the divine right of kings, and owed nothing to the governed. Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, et al, ignore the fact that they govern only with the consent of the soverign electorate. And they scare me, rightfully. As the thought horrified George Washington, who rejected the monarchical form of government many would have thrust on him.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Dissent, sure, but waving the enemy flag and advocating the enemy's victory strains the definition of dissent. It sure strains my tolerance.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 8, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Who's waving the enemy flag and advocating the enemy's victory?

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2007 at 9:24 pm

I usually don't venture beyond local politics, but I do think that criticizing the war, both its conduct and its purpose, is fair game. I tend to agree that "illegal and immoral" probably are stretch here - but ill-advised and poorly executed seem apt to me. In the long run, it may be judged a great mistake.

I do belief in giving deference to the chief exec (as well as many others in authority), since by his or her election they have been given the trust of the people. But that deference is not a blank check, even with regard to war. Dissent on issues of great importance need not be disrespectful or unpatriotic. Unquestioning support, on the other hand, may be the sign of a fool, not a patriot.


Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2007 at 10:34 pm


Please explain where TR's quotation was about Wilsons's conduct of the war, while we were at war. I read it as 'I think Wilson is a fool, in general, because...well... he is a fool. He simply lacks the native ability to understand reality, like I do. Same for Taft, that fat old fool'. Very TR.

Perhaps you know of some specific criticism of WWI, during WWI, that TR made in public, Peter, but I am not aware of any. From what I have read, TR was very bully on defeating the Huns.

"This president and his cohorts are conducting themselves as if this country were operating under the same rules as the hereditary monarchs, who believed in the divine right of kings..."

Peter, isn't that over the top? I don't see any essential difference, in terms of Presidential power, between Bush and Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy would probably send down his own brother to dust off Congress, if they got too frisky. Truly, Peter, what are you talking about?

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 9, 2007 at 9:46 am


In order to find out what I'm talking about, read the words I wrote and stop being obdurate.

No, I don't think my statement is over the top. Read the news, read the analyses, take off the blinders.

Posted by Rod, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2007 at 12:41 pm


Pulling up quotations, without context, is not very persuasive. It works for you, apparently, but not for me.

You accused Bush of acting like a monarch, then you said:

"No, I don't think my statement is over the top. Read the news, read the analyses, take off the blinders."

I can assure that I read the news, Peter. Yet, I fail to understand your charge. Bush believes in a strong Executive Branch, as did Reagan and Nixon and Truman and FDR...and TR...and Lincoln.

Who has the blinders on, Peter?

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