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05 December 2010

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John Minnerath

What a way to ruin a guys day Pat!
Our Freedom of Speech is being quashed from all directions, yet people like members of the WBC continue on their sorry way and things like the Stolen Valor Act are declared unconstitutional.
It's enough to make someone like me who grew up believing duty and service to ones community and country was an obligation pretty sick.

b

I agree with your post Pat.

But how am I to reconcile that with what you wrote a few days ago?

Assange? The USG should seek to extradite him and his associates for trial on some other serious crime. This should be done to ensure that people who think that their conscience or desire for notoriety outweigh their fear of prison have something to think about.
Assange is the head of a media organization that publishes stuff that a lot of people in governments seem not to like. He is exercising his, and the world's common peoples, freedom of speech.

Is this a right that is only available for a few? Who? Only available for people in the U.S.? Only for the U.S. media? Why?

mac

The US is not in the same position as it was in 1945 or even 1991, but in 'decline' is not the word I think best describes ourselves today.

To be sure, the emergence of China, the re-organization of the former USSR, the EU project all mark departures from the international systems of 1945, 1991. That said, it is not yet clear what the long term affects of these developments are on US primacy. If it turns out that we are in genuine strategic decline, the cause(s) will be homegrown, as you note, but we are not there now.

At least that is my opinion today, but maybe as a foreign born US citizen, I am just an optimist about what the late Arthur Schlesinger described as the 'American creed.'

seydlitz89

Col. Lang-

I'm a regular reader of your blog and greatly value your insights and comments. The reference to 1071 is very interesting, since was not the main reason for Romanus IV's defeat at Manzikert treason? Or is the reference more to fighting a war/battle which was unnecessary for the survival of the Byzantine State, but if lost could lead to disaster?

Patrick Lang

seydlitz89

I had in mind the degeneration in Byzantine society that had taken place since the death of Basil II. In that time the Armenian marcher "barons" had been steadily marginalized and bled of resources while society focused itself on court politics, theology and art. pl

Patrick Lang

mac

Since you are an immigration lawyer you might find it interesting that I learned recently that I am descended from a signer of the Mayflower Compact. pl

Patrick Lang

b

A hard question. I am a servant of the Republic. This country is already too large for freedom to be easy or perhaps possible in the long run. To do what you want would require the authority of an ecumenical empire. pl

euclidcreek

I used to blame the dumbing down of America on contemporary education, but... my grandfather never finished elementary school, and he knew who his friends and enemies were, something many Americans today could not articulate beyond the nighty presentation of comic book Arabs, white supremacists, black thugs murderous Mexicans and other villains of the hour; I think there is something else at work: the elimination or denial of knowledge from the senses the head and the heart.

Matthew

Col: Freedom is exhausting. Shopping is easy.

Objective sign of decline: We are raising the retirement age to 69...in 2075.

And that is considered a tough choice in these difficult economic times.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

Well Pat,

You are not the only one who wonders about this these days. You might have heard of these kids from your home territory. They capture the angst pretty well I think:

I used to write,
I used to write letters,
I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain

But by the time we met
By the time we met the times had already changed

So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

Now our lives are changing fast
Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last
Hope that something pure can last

It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what’s stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive

We used to wait
We used to waste hours just walking around
We used to wait
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown

Our lives are indeed changing fast. Sadly, the emerging new normal is not what I hoped it would be - or what it should be given our national ideals. I suppose this is what happens when there's no longer shared understanding of those ideals, when there's no maturity or respect for it, and when the citizen's involvement in their own fate is neither demanded nor welcomed.

Hopefully, the new normal will not snuff those few remaining pockets of shared knowledge and discussion such as this committee of correspondence. The current application of pure, demagogic power by some in efforts to stifle and channelize information bodes ill for the future.

RP

Bobo

"There are a growing number of people in the country who are willing to express disdain, scorn and dismissiveness toward the views of others solely because they do not agree with them."

Your right! Who could disagree with the statement "Get out of Palestine" but those who are there or their paid minions.

Long live Helen Thomas and Pat Lang.

Adam L Silverman

Sir,

And for more from the 2010 Annals of Intolerance:
http://www.texasobserver.org/hotonthetrail/srec-member-i-got-inth

All of it makes one want to scream some times...

mac

That is very interesting, and a considerable honor. If that were me, I would wear it as the badge of honor it must be. No wonder for your demonstrated love of country.

Being a new American, this country's incredible history and creed inspires a 'love' for me too. What can I say.

But I share your concern regarding the clear and seemingly continual violations of US political sovereignty, that at some point, acting contrary to our own self interest is gonna reach a tipping point. I hope I never see the day.

Cal

The Col. is 100% correct.

We no longer have any actual 'free press' or real 'news' media, we have bleached blonde liberal arts graduates who pose as foreign policy experts and multi million dollar a year red and blue political gossip pundits. No one will say none of the emperors have any clothes.

We have a congress run as a international and special interest shopping bazzare. And taxpayer provided superman capes for our Munchausen by proxy policitians to fly around saving the universe so they can applaud themselves.

And under our new tyranny of minorities government
common sense and truth are verbotten speech. Don't dare talk about the fundmentals or the common good of government.

Every year congress reads Geo Washington's Farewell Address warnings out loud for the house and none of them get it.

Patrick Lang

Mac

And on the Canadian side my first ancestor up there arrived about the same time. pl

Cal

We were warned.

"All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld.
And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."

walrus

Col. Lang, I'm in furious agreement and I have been since 911, which was used by the oligarchs to start the Endlosung and the end of the great American experiment. America now has an aristocracy in all but name, and the current depression is going to deliberately rearrange the American population demographic including shrinking the middle class and creating virtual serfs most probably through debt slavery of one form or another.

I don't need to explain the factors that are moving America in this direction. They are well known and have been extensively documented. The driving force however needs to be acknowledged - Fear. The very rich and powerful are very fearful and always have been in America, as an Australian commentator once observed.

What has surprised even me is the speed with which restrictions on movement, freedom of speech and political activity are accelerating.

People are already on TSA and Homeland Security "watch lists" for the simple reason of criticising the TSA or sponsoring the showing of a film about legitimate environmental issues. A mother of Five is "visited" by the FBI after attending a political demonstration.

While this may seem trivial to some, but the planned extension of TSA surveillance to trains and buses, and the ready availability of car licence plate scanners, both mobile and fixed, provides the perfect infrastructure for continuous low level harassment of "Targets".

Now add the surveillance of all forms of electronic communication, including, as reported in the media last week, real time access to American credit card transactions. Blend this information together with local law enforcement data at so called "Fusion Centres" and we have an apparatus for suppression that Stalin and Hitler could only dream about.

I don't have to explain the mechanism of harassment, just ask any East German. Then of course if we wish to go beyond mere harassment, we have the Patriot act, the FBI and a politicised Justice Department for when we wish to take the gloves off. Watch what happens to that stupid Somali kid. He will be made an example of.

The German experience was that it only took the public harassment of perhaps One to Two percent of the population for the other 98% to fall into line. I don't expect Americans to be any different.

BillWade

On Assange:

“In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.”
Congressman Ron Paul

Assange is much smarter than a lot of people think. The wikileaks are now on over 200,000 computers and won't be going away, there's more to come as well.

Given that Helen Thomas is of Lebanese descent and therefore a "Semite", wouldn't that make Wayne State University "anti-semite"?

BillWade

Walrus, I've heard they have already tested a roadside security checkpoint on I20 with more to follow. They didn't catch anybody on the first go-around.

An awful lot of public money is being spent to catch nobody.

ISL

Dear Col: I wish I could disagree. The technology that allows your blog is an example of new hope; however, the Supreme's decision that corporations are people will (has?) crossed the rubicon. Money speaks! Once upon a time, one could argue what was good for the king was good for the country, now policies favorable to GM expand Chinese growth.

Sadly the talking head phenomena (I cant watch, I tend to read summaries) of caricatures repeating soundbites being presented as debate, has other causes, mirrored in congress. I can see these two compounding.

Re: Wikileaks, seems to me that if the basic rule of never putting in writing something that you dont want others to see (due to a hacker, or a court order, or a mistaken reply all) had been followed, there would be nothing to be embarrassed about. Basic professionalism 101. And as I understand it, the whole point of being a diplomat is to use words diplomatically. I may have had nasty names for my boss, but I was never stupid enough to put them in writing! Egads.

2nd Op

Walrus summrizes the current state of American civil society and as a student of history concludes that we are doomed. But I believe there will come a time when our citizens will have had enough and "refuse to take it anymore."
Tyrannies do not last forever. Others may know what our tipping point might be, how, when and where it will come about. I look forward to the comments of Walrus and other readers of this blog.

Fred

Adam,

There are fine Christians in Texas, until they find out you are not thier kind of Christian. They've (the 'Christians in the article) been purging the Republican Party of non-conformists through primaries for a long time. Too bad the other registered Repubicans couldn't be bothered to vote in a primary election.

Fred

SP,

What is truly sad is that Senator 'not tailgunner' Joe is not putting the same pressure on companies hosting 'pro-jihadi' websites. Apparently if you want to kill American's that's okay but it's not okay if you want American's to find out what the US Government is doing in thier name. BTW I agree with the Col's position on prosecuting the leakers of this information. Where was the press in digging this up in the first place? A good press corps could have gathered much of this information legally.

seydlitz89

Sir-

Agree with your comment, but this process of Byzantine socio-military degeneration pre-dates Basil II and had been a recurrent problem for even centuries before in the Empire. Is not the comparison more the whole complexus of serious and long-standing problems and the unique destructive quality of the potential result of this particular war/policy?

My question is simple, I suppose. Bringing up Manzikert after all is a pretty powerful historical example of one of the few "decisive" battles in history . . . Colonel, do you really think we are at such a point in time?

Patrick Lang

Seydlitz89

Agree on the long term Byzantine decline but there were periods of resurgence of which Basil's reign was one. after Manzikert there was no coming back. it is a question of direction rather than imminent arrival. pl

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