It was cool to hear your Ted Teanek on this! I love our country so much! Like I love a family member! And family members fight all the time, but that never means they don't love each other!
Patriotism is only brought up in political arguments when the speaker can't win on merit. The same with that bullshit about "American Exceptionalism,' which basically means that because we're so freakin' exceptional, anything we do is by default, the right thing. Which of course is total horseshit. But it's a good way to shout down distension.
Ya, I can usually tell when talking to someone is going to be a chore. It's when they start talking about their patriotism. They never seem to realize that criticizing the government IS patriotic. The Founding Fathers encouraged it!