Category Archives: American Exceptionalism

What’s Become of the American Dream?

American Dream

Peggy Noonan writes a wonderful piece in the Wall Street Journal. Click  “What’s Become of the American Dream?” to read the article.

Much in Noonan’s piece brought me back to the memoirs of Sam Jankovich which I have just finished editing and publishing.

A couple of excerpts from Noonan …

“ … The American dream is the belief, held by generation after generation since our beginning and reanimated over the decades by waves of immigrants, that here you can start from anywhere and become anything. In America you can rise to the heights no matter where and in what circumstances you began. You can go from the bottom to the top.  … “

The picture at the top is the last page of the memoir, and shows one such person who has gone “from the bottom to the top” in the literal sense of from a mile deep mine shaft to presenting a national championship game ball to the President of the United States.

Noonan further writes:

“ … The American dream was about aspiration and the possibility that, with dedication and focus, it could be fulfilled. But the American dream was not about material things—houses, cars, a guarantee of future increase. That’s the construction we put on it now. It’s wrong. A big house could be the product of the dream, if that’s what you wanted, but the house itself was not the dream. You could, acting on your vision of the dream, read, learn, hold a modest job and rent a home, but at town council meetings you could stand, lead with wisdom and knowledge, and become a figure of local respect. Maybe the respect was your dream.  … “

Click on the book cover below and take a look at Sam’s story.

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          (Click on the cover above)

As Noonan further writes:

“ … You can give a dozen examples, and perhaps you are one, of Americans who turned a brilliant system into a lived-out triumph. … “

And I do know of a number other examples.

 

Don Johnson – April 2017

Sam Jankovich: The Story of a Sports Legend

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Sam's life 007

“ … I worked in the Leonard mine which was the turning point of my life. I was put in a tunnel and was scared to death. I thought for certain I would not get out alive. I came home and told Patty that if I had to work in the mine we were going to starve. … “

How did this young man, a hard rock miner from Butte Montana, rise from the depths of a mine tunnel to one day stand beside two Presidents and among two National Championship college football teams? From a dirty and dangerous mine to stand beside Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testeverde and coaches of the caliber of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson? How did this young man rise from that dark, cold mine shaft to become Chief executive Officer of the New England patriots? How did this man expand a football stadium in Pullman Washington from 24,000 to 39,000 seats – with no cost to the tax payer?

Sam Jankovich came to the surface of the Leonard mine and rose to the top of his chosen profession of athletics. From state championship teams in Butte — to assistant coaching at universities in Montana and Washington — to Athletic Director at Washington State and the University of Miami – to CEO of the Patriots. All along the way earning induction into the Halls of Fame of these institutions.

As the editor of Sam’s memoirs I learned the answers to these questions. Sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph – page by page – place to place. I found the answers in words like ‘character’, ‘loyalty’, ‘quality’ and ‘consistency’ bubbling up from the pages. I began to see the character of the man as golden threads woven through the fabric of his life and career. Part of the fabric and yet distinctly visible.

The story of Sam Jankovich is in these pages, but it is not a story of “I”. Rather, it seems subsumed and surrounded by the many stories of the “others” of Sam’s life. You will run across constantly recurring phrases as “… a wonderful man” “ … a wonderful person” “… a dear friend”, “a wonderful woman”

Sam Jankovich is one of the “old timers” I’ve become acquainted or reacquainted with in recent years. Others, along with their stories, have come to me from my Navy past — some from that “Greatest Generation” of World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam. One of my Navy shipmates, and a friend, is a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and a three tour Navy Vietnam veteran. Another is a Navy veteran of those many World War II sea-battles in the South Pacific — followed by infantry combat in that very brutal Korean War – followed by a long career as a Christian pastor .

These folks who have lived such consequential lives, and have left behind recollections of their lives, deserve to be remembered. That is why I have become passionate in doing what I can to further those remembrances.

I hope you enjoy the story of one such consequential life – the life of Sam Jankovich.

Click on the image below to take a look at this remarkable man.

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Don Johnson – typoist and editor of Sam Jankovich

#RESIST

(Note: matt in a comment, and in a not so subtle way, reminded me that it’s not just the military #resisters who have accomplished great things in the life of American liberty. I have added some examples below: abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, right to life and the labor movement. Perhaps I’ve left out a few.  Is the  ‘pussy hat’  movement on a par in advancing liberty in America? You decide.)

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Perhaps the oldest and most effective #RESIST movement in world history is the Christian movement. I speak particularly of the Christian Missionary movement.  Dating back to the Apostles like Paul, #RESISTing not with violence, marches and the sort, but with presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a way out of the slavery sin, and ultimately in centuries to come, the abolition of real physical slavery in many parts of the world.

The folks shown below are pushing back and #RESISTing much oppression in the world – the oppression of hunger, disease, slavery and poverty.  And, they are doing this on a long term daily basis.

As Paul said “ There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That is to say all are equal in God’s eyes. Slavery as an accepted cultural and governmental policy has been eliminated throughout much of the world thanks to the efforts of such Christians as William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament in the 18th century,  and the Abolitionist #RESISTers in the United States during the 19th century. However, slavery is still prevalent in much of the world with an estimated 45,000,000 slaves  throughout the world today.

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So I repeat here what I say at the end of this piece – a bit of advice. Aim your protests in words and ways that stand shoulder to shoulder beside our founding fathers who gave us the privilege of being among that 4-5% living in freedom.  

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”   Ronald Reagan

Be among those who keep us from falling into that 95-96% that President Reagan warned about.

Match up what the Apostle Paul said “ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  with what our American founders said “We the People … “

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Now I continue with my original post:

To all you brave ‘pussy hat’ wearing patriots, let me show you a few patriots who joined a resistance movement against real enemy threats when it really counted.

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And there are other n0n-military #resisters from the past addressing  consequential American policies and laws that were contrary to “ … all men are created equal …”  Thanks to these #resisters, those policies and laws have been corrected in law and in the Constitution, although not necessarily in the hearts and minds of everyone.

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And then there is the labor movement.

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A reminder, or maybe a news flash to some, about those #Resisters you see above …

These folks #resisted true tyrants, true fascists, true Communists   during that terrible time we look back on as the 20th century. Those Communists some of you seem to pine and long over … they killed something on the order of 100 million people, most of them their own fellow citizens.

The descendants of those folks you see above,  … our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters … our friends — stepping up in their own #Resist movement represent something on the order of 1 or 2 percent of our population. Their purpose in #Resisting? To protect you and me in todays still dangerous world.

You may not realize or appreciate, but of the 100 to 110 billion people that have ever lived on this earth, anywhere and at any time, only a small sliver of perhaps some 4 to 5% have ever lived in what we today enjoy as a free society.  Further, most of those 4-5%  have lived in this United States of America, or those nations who have modeled their national political life after the American model of “We the People …

I for one am immensely grateful for those in our past and to those now serving in our military … the #Resistance. As a US Navy slogan puts it … “A Global Force For Good”

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Women's_March_on_Washington_(32593123745)10 Actions _ 100 Days - Action 5_ Reflect & Resist

I said it as a young 20 year old sailor in 1964, and I’ll say it again now.

“I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

And I don’t agree with much of what is said in the “resisting” rhetoric on display, and certainly not in the many extra/anti-Constitutional methods employed, but I do support your Constitutional right to say your piece and assemble and petition our government.  

A final bit of advice. Aim your protests in words and ways that stand shoulder to shoulder beside our founding fathers who gave us the privilege of being among that 4-5% living in freedom.  

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”   Ronald Reagan

Be among those who keep us from falling into that 95-96% that President Reagan warned about.

 

Don Johnson  — March 2017

Going Back to First Principles

“A first principle is a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. In mathematics, first principles are referred to as axioms or postulates.”

The first principle I am talking about is  what has, over these past 210+ years, demonstrated that the United States of America is “exceptional.” That first principle is the United States Constitution, along with it’s birth certificate the Declaration of Independence.

And what is that “demonstration?”

Of the estimated  100 to 110 billion people who have lived at any time, and anywhere around the globe, an estimate of something less than 5% have ever live in a free society that we in American have come to take much for granted.  And further, of those 5%  (probably even much less), most live or have lived in the United States of America since 1789 and those nations that have come to adopt the American Constitutional Republic for of government.  (ref: 1)

That’s a pretty good track record for the American way. On the other hand, for  the remaining 95%, we have a bleak record of war, slavery, misery and early death. Yea I know, we still have those things in our modern world, but were I a betting man I would choose the American way – the “exceptional” way.

So it’s this —  the 3%, 4% or 5% of those blessed with living in a free society — that make America an exceptional nation. It’s called liberty and opportunity, and it’s the first principal of this nation we call the United States of America. 

I am continually drawn back to this first principle. It is what I more and more look to in judging and selecting our political leaders, and how I will judge them as they lead. On the other side of that same coin, the disregard of this first principle is more and more what I will use to criticize and reject candidates and leaders and their policies.

The alternative is to flirt with a return to that dark word of the 95%.

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In a near future article I will take a look at what a British news service (BBC) has to say about American Exceptionalism. Read it at — Donald Trump and the end of American exceptionalism?

Ref: 1: https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/the-miracle-of-freedom-the-american-baseline/  (With embedded references)

Don Johnson – March 2017

How Do You Judge America

I invite you watch this video by Dennis Prager. 

Have you seen such arguments before? If not, what is your reaction to this analysis by Prager?

Click on the image below to watch.

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Don Johnson – March 2017

The Miracle of Freedom– The American Baseline

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(Click on the image above to see the book)

An excerpt:
“ … A deeper look at the human record reveals a series of critical events, obvious forks in the road leading to very different outcomes, that resulted in this extraordinary period in which we live. These tipping points-foundational events that allowed for the marriage of Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian theology-laid the bedrock for democracy and freedom in our modern age.

Seven of the most important of these historical tipping points would be:

1. The defeat of the Assyrians in their quest to destroy the kingdom of Judah
2. The victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis
3. Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
5. The failure of the Mongols in their effort to conquer Europe in AD 1241
6. The discovery of the New World
7. The Battle of Britain in World War II

It is important to understand that, in and of themselves, none of these events created the gift of freedom that we enjoy today. However, each of them proved to be a critical tipping point in which the future of the world was altered, creating the cradle in which the gift of democracy could be born and flourish in our day. (And yes, there are many other events that would make this story more complete, but time and space must limit our effort to just these seven.) … “

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I’ve just finished my second reading of this book (above) and have started a third reading  — it’s that important.

The authors highlight the astonishing fact that freedom as we know it here in America and much of the West, has been virtually non-existent for the 100 to 110 billion people who have lived anywhere and at any time on this earth – probably something less than 4%. And of those 4%, most have lived in the United States and those nations influenced by our free society in the very short 200+ lifespan of this nation — since the ratification of our constitution.  A Constitution and nation of “We the People …”    This Constitution, along with a Free Market Capitalist economic system has brought more liberty, opportunity and prosperity for more people than any other system ever tried in the history of the world and among those 110 billion people – an Exceptional Nation. 

Sorry Bernie Sanders, but many others have added adjective phrases in front of the word Socialism, and now you with Democratic Socialism. All those preceding your new brand of socialism have failed – often catastrophically.  Try looking at modern day Venezuela.

In January 2017, 2017 we witnessed the 56th consecutive peaceful transition of power in the United States from one political party to another. No revolution, no coup d’état, no violent take over by assassination. Contentious yes, but ultimately peaceful with the incoming and outgoing Presidents standing together during the transition.

The George W. Bush Al Gore election was very close, and was hotly contested by the Gore camp, including a significant delay of the Gore concession which greatly reduced the time available to Bush to assemble his incoming team. Ultimately the Supreme Court pronounced for Bush and the Gore camp backed off  and a peaceful transition once more took place.

The John F. Kennedy – Richard Nixon election of 1960 likewise was extremely close.  Richard Nixon, citing “for the good of the nation” did the honorable thing and conceded the election to Kennedy rather than pushing for a recount or court action. 

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But this election cycle feels very different to me. Different and sinister.

Since the election of November 2017 we have seen an extraordinary number of tactics aimed at undermining the Presidency of Donald Trump.  I’ve written about this recently at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/is-what-were-witnessing-in-the-us-a-slow-motion-downhill-slide-into-a-coup/ 
Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?

Here is an excerpt from that article:

“This question posed at the link above (from Australia) is aimed at President Donald Trump. But from what I’ve seen since the election, and especially noticeable since the inauguration, if anything, would point that question directly back to the progressive left.

The failed electoral recount effort – the denouncement of the Constitutional Electoral College voting method – riots in the streets of Washington on inauguration day – demonstrations around the country – Congressional (Democrat) boycott of the inauguration – immediate congressional (Democrat) announcement of total resistance to Trump in the Congress – Soros funded(?) spontaneous demonstrations at airports –Soros manipulation(?) of some 56 abortion advocacy groups promoting the Women’s March – riots and shutdown of free speech at UC Berkley – the immediate calls for impeachment – assertions that the new President is mentally ill – accusations and insinuations that Trump is planning a coup – visual insinuation of assassination as on the cover of a recent Irish magazine … and more it seems daily.  .. “

What I see in all this is a Saul Alinsky style of demonization of the President of the United States. This demonization is all the more potent with the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and the very blog I am writing on now.

A recent example of this social media demonization is the exploitation of an incident reported by an Australian author — 
Australian children’s author Mem Fox detained by US border control: ‘I sobbed like a baby’ . Did this happen as she reported it? Probably, and if so it is indeed deplorable on the part of those responsible. It seems to me more of an example of a bad incident being promoted with the agenda of demonization. She herself cites this incident in contrast with 116 previous visits to the US without incident.

I’ve lived through the 60s and remember the chaos then. I remember the hatred hurled against Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon (especially) and then Ronald Reagan. I remember the hatred hurled against George W. Bush. Today’s chaos has the feeling of being much more sinister, filled and fueled with much hatred, and potentially more dangerous than those in the past, and gets me to the quote from John Adams, our second president.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other … “ John Adams.

What we have now, in addition to political chaos, is a frightening moral decline which I have witnessed over my lifetime. Prior to the 2016 election, and with both candidates, I felt we had indeed arrived at that time of which Adams (and others of his contemporaries) wrote – a time of an immoral and irreligious people. Are we as a people at such a place? I recently wrote of scraping the bottom of the barrel with both candidates and lamented the prospect of, for the first time in my electoral life, truly having to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I’m convinced had Hillary Clinton been elected, we would indeed have accelerated further down that path and the nation would suffer from her deep corruption. But Donald Trump is now President. Have we received a reprieve and course correction with his election? I hope so, and judging from the people he has surrounded himself with I have hope. But that hope is tempered, not only by the flaws of this man now our President, but perhaps more so by a nation and its people who, for example, have allowed our federal government to dictate and enforce a so called “gender fluidity” which obliterates known and obvious genetic, anatomical, biological, historical and cultural differences between boys and girls – men and women. This cannot end well with this and future generations. It is this sort of law making and regulation dictates that renders our Constitution “wholly inadequate.”

What I see in all this, is an attempted coup d’état from the left – an attempt to end the streak of peaceful transitions at 56.

And that gets me back to the book and it’s premise of American Exceptionalism.

If we see the toppling of the US government by these extra-constitutional means, what will we get in its place? Will it be a Barack Obama waiting and organizing in the wings ready to reclaim power? Will it be a Bernie Sanders wannabe introducing a real no-kidding socialistic state? Will it be a Donald Trump indeed claiming dictatorship over this nation as Caesar did  with Rome in crossing the Rubicon, as Trumps many enemies fear? Who is to say, but I for one am willing to let the Constitutional process play out and work for change through the Constitution and the electoral process (remember – it’s the Electoral College that counts.)

The stakes are extremely high, and have been so since the late 1700s. As Ronal Reagan has said:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

The results of a failure of our Constitutional Republic most likely would be a return to those very dark ages the authors talk about in their book. There are those waiting in the wings for a collapse of the American/Western civilization. They are not good people. They live in places like Tehran, Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, and even within the borders of the United States of America.

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As a final note. In reading the account of the Mongol Horde of Genghis Khan I am reminded of former Secretary of State John Kerry’s characterization of the American military  in Vietnam:

“ … They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. … “

And a few excerpts from the book regarding Genghis Kahn:

“ … Some of the refugees from previous engagements had made their way to the capital, telling of entire cities razed, thousands of beheaded bodies stacked outside the city walls, everything of value taken, including a frightening number of slaves. … “

“ … They were using children – Khwarizmi children taken from the outer province – herding them before their army to protect them from the arrow that would soon come raining down. … “ 

And yet John Kerry reached a level of power whereby he was able to engineer an “agreement”  with Islam which most likely will result in nuclear tipped missiles in flight to Israeli cities in yet another attempt to complete Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Watch this video to see a more truthful telling of the US Military in Vietnam —
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+lucky+few&view=detail&mid=35ECE68C0B870759E33735ECE68C0B870759E337&FORM=VIRE

 

Don Johnson – February 2017 

About the authors of the book:
Chris Stewart is a bestselling author who has published more than a dozen books. He is a world-record-setting Air Force pilot and president and CEO of The Shipley Group, a nationally recognized consulting and training company.

Ted Stewart was appointed as a United States District Court Judge in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to Governor Michael O. Leavitt and in various executive positions in government.

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A few further references …

Seven Days in February – by Victor Davis Hansen

Trumps’ critics, left and right, aim to bring about the cataclysm they predicted.
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(Click on the image above to read the article)

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald: What The ‘Deep State’ Is Doing To Trump Is ‘A Prescription For Destroying Democracy’

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(Click above for the article)

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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. “

Ronald Reagan
40th president of US (1911 – 2004)

"I may not agree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

image(Click above to read the article)

Riots like this take me back to my younger days. It was 1964 and I was a young 20 yr. old sailor attending a Navy school at Mare Island CA (not far from Berkley). A group of us young sailors were talking in the barracks one night. I don’t recall the topic, but I do remember saying “I may not agree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” As I recall, there was general agreement among us about that statement.

I don’t recall knowing of a far distant country named Vietnam, nor do I recall a war going on over there — I don’t think any of us did. But soon enough, most of us were assigned to destroyers and found our way over to that war where we were faced with possibly having to make good on that cocky statement made in the barracks that night. And 1964 was a scant few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, so our youthful boasting was not done in a safe and protected vacuum like that campus just down the road.

But you know what? I ‘m sure most us believed it then and believe it now and would do the same now if able.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/justinholcomb/2017/02/01/dems-gone-wild-violent-protests-burn-down-parts-of-uc-berkley-n2280111

Don Johnson – February 2017