Debate: American Exceptionalism


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Khornet
December 25, 2005, 09:10 AM
Resolved: this is the greatest country in the world.

That belief is referred to as American Exceptionalism.

I agree with it.

Any takers?

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KriegHund
December 25, 2005, 09:14 AM
Our economy and military is greater...in the sense of strength, yes.

If, in this case, 'greater' is 'better' than no, i dont think we as a people are greater.

Technosavant
December 25, 2005, 09:27 AM
I think it would also need to be defined in terms of system. Ours was the first nation developed as a nation of laws, not of men. The United States of American began with an idea, not a people, and in that way is markedly different from every nation out there. Other nations have followed our lead, but the USA was the first to ask that people be of a belief in freedom and of a commitment to law, not to be of a particular people group.

I think this is why we Americans don't usually understand things such as the former Yugoslavia/Iraqi desires for separate nations for each group. That is how the rest of the world has historically done it.

Janitor
December 25, 2005, 10:22 AM
Resolved: this is the greatest country in the world.
Maybe so, maybe so.

When you use the word 'exceptionalism', are you applying it to America as a society, or towards the legal structure of our country? Is your belief that America is the greatest country your only view of how we're different than other countries?

Technosavant has covered the largest difference that I would have wanted to- we are a country of ideals where others aren't. Not much I could add to that really.
-

Chris Rhines
December 25, 2005, 10:26 AM
Meaningless BS, and therefore not possible to debate.

Merry Christmas, by the way! :D

- Chris

Lone_Gunman
December 25, 2005, 10:30 AM
America at it worst is better than the rest of the world at its best.

America is the only reason freedom still exists anywhere on the globe.

Herself
December 25, 2005, 10:41 AM
The States were a country of ideals. Not so much these days -- when did anyone outside of .mil folks ever hear the U.S. referred to as "the Homeland" prior to the Recent Unpleasentness? Americans were, once upon a time, taken aback by people who referred to their country as "the Fatherland" or "the Motherland;" we knew our country was an artifact, a thing we had helped build and preseve, not some surrogate parent!

Popular culture in the U. S. has bought very heavily into the notion of Folk and of bloodline, from the Left's obsession with sorting everyone out by "ethnic group"* to the Right's hangup about borders and "swarthy hordes" creeping in. It's a very bad sign.

Used to be, you were an American if you could talk your way in and find work enough to keep yourself alive once you got in.

For a lot of reasons, it isn't that way any more. Call it "exceptionalism," call it "jingoism," call it rampant do-gooding or short-sighted dog-in-the-manger pigheadedeness or perhaps all the above, but what it means is, for generations we and our fellow-citizens have allowed and enabled our government to twist and distort the United States away from what they had set out to be -- and we must deal with the consequences.

As for "exceptionalism," the real question is, "exceptional for who?" I think tea-smoked duck is an exceptional dinner -- but the duck wouldn't agree.

--Herself

(Yes, yes, flame away. I'm a loathsome ingrate and far from properly respectful. Very comfy with that).
______________________
* My ancestry is Scots, Cherokee, German and African -- and doesn't that confuse 'em! Every once in awhile, I get the urge to picket myself.

GoRon
December 25, 2005, 10:43 AM
The United States is still the worlds "shining city upon a hill".

Byron Quick
December 25, 2005, 10:52 AM
Our nation has had many advantages. Geography, ideology, immigration, etc.

Khornet
December 25, 2005, 10:59 AM
American Exceptionalism refers to the view that this nation is unique in its founding ideals, political philosophy, love of freedom, rule of law, and generous spirit. I do buy that.

There are those of us who look at America and can only see her many faults.
There are those who see only her virtues, and are blind to her faults.

Then there are those who see and regret her faults, but love her still because they see that her virtues remain, and far outweigh her faults.

I place myself in that last category. It's hard to see how anyone can claim to love America when his instant response to my proposition is to recite everything shameful in our history.

ReadyontheRight
December 25, 2005, 11:48 AM
American Exceptionalism -- I agree.

-Geography has given us a defensible position and great resources
-The right to keep and bear arms has given us true independence
-The Founding Fathers created a system that fosters and protects the person over the state
-The melting pot has given us the best and brightest talents, ideas and products from every country in the world - and I would argue that the USA is the most accepting and tolerant nation today.
-"The Rich" is not just a class in America. It's a destination anyone can achieve.

Outside the U.S., there is no reason every country should not be just as exceptional. The government just has to get out of the way.

Lone_Gunman
December 25, 2005, 12:00 PM
Outside the U.S., there is no reason every country should not be just as exceptional. The government just has to get out of the way.


I believe there is more to it than that.

I do agree the government needs to get out of the way, but it is the philosophy of the American people, their attitudes toward self-reliance, freedom, and individualism that made this a great nation.

Our forefathers came here with a desire to create a new free country. Freedom was not forced upon them by an invading army. It was not handed to them on a silver platter by liberators. It was forged from nothing but their own free will, perseverance, and the grace of our creator.

It takes more than government, or the lack thereof, to make a great nation.

Werewolf
December 25, 2005, 12:21 PM
Having lived almost a third of my 53 years outside the US in it's service and having lived In or visited all the nations of western europe, 2 in eastern europe, the old Soviet Union, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, most of north and west africa and all the nations of south america except those on the north east coast and the land locked ones I can categorically and with exceptional credibility say that:

YES! The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is the best.

We're the most moral, the best fed, have the strongest economy, the most freedom, and the strongest military. Ain't no other country on the planet that more people are trying to get into and that means a hell of a lot of folks don't think their current country is the best.

How many Americans emmigrate every year - DAMN FEW! That's how many!

WE AREN'T PERFECT BUT WE'RE STILL THE BEST!

Don't think we're the cat's meow - then name one country that's better?

Graystar
December 25, 2005, 12:40 PM
I agree that we're the best, not only because we're good (need some improvement, but still good) but also because the rest of the world is so bad.

Those liberal democrats cracked me up on the last election. Bush won, so they’re ready to leave this country for…CANADA!

(not to mention disclosing their belief of democracy for all as long as you vote our way :rolleyes: )

Atticus
December 25, 2005, 12:51 PM
All I can say, is that it is the best for me. I would not care to live elsewhere.
I'm sure that folks from different countries hold the same opinion about their country. I do think we are more adaptive and resilient than most. If you don't like the status quo, there is hope for change at least twice a decade.

cz75bdneos22
December 25, 2005, 12:52 PM
I love the U.S.A.
It is my home...
I choose to make it so...
I will die in defense of the country anytime, anywhere anyhow...
However, I could live the rest of my life in plenty of other countries
as a matter of fact when i turn 65...i'm going to Utilla in Hondura's eastern coast to retire amongst Friends...YMMV

longeyes
December 25, 2005, 03:04 PM
Throughout history there have been "exceptional" societies that advanced the light of civilization. We are in that direct line and are the latest and the greatest.

Cosmoline
December 25, 2005, 03:38 PM
Honestly, there are many states and cities in this country I no longer regard as part of the same nation I live in. I have as little in common with the people in NYC or Southern California as I do with the people in Paris or Hong Kong. Some of them are real nice, but we don't see the world in the same way. We are not the same people, and I doubt we ever will be. The notion of a unifying federal identity is actually repugnant to me. The union has some advantages, but these advantages come with an increasingly high pricetag. I think Alaska is the best place on the planet. I'm not sure I could say the same thing about the U.S.--unless you let me cut out a few sections. :D

longeyes
December 25, 2005, 04:12 PM
Oh, come on, Cosmo, you'll always have a place here in SoCal.:D

Alaska is more like California than it is like Paris or Hong Kong. Hey, we used to have a lot of grizzlies down here about 150 years ago, so they tell me.

Camp David
December 25, 2005, 04:20 PM
I agree with the idea that America is the greatest nation but I disagree with calling it "American Exceptionalism"; such a name is not appropriate.

We measure how well a nation is doing by its immigration; those migrating to a nation. By that measure the USA is the #1 destination!

We need to keep folks out!

rick_reno
December 25, 2005, 04:33 PM
No doubt about this - I've lived off-shore in two "good" countries (New Zealand and Switzerland) for extended periods of time as a civilian and neither would even begin to compare with what we take for granted here.

Air,Land&Sea
December 25, 2005, 04:38 PM
People are the same everywhere. That's why oppressive nations generate next to nothing in the way of innovation, but the same people often become our best scientists and doctors once they flee to the United States.

Khornet
December 25, 2005, 04:55 PM
Camp David,

I mean by that term that there has never been a country like this in history. I think that is true.

Don't know who said it, but whoever it was said that for one to love his country, his country should be lovely.

There are plenty of blemishes on the face of America, though I suspect that there would be strong disagreement here about which of them are blemishes and which are actually beauty marks. I find her lovely, and the longer I live I find her more so.

Let it be noted, please, that even if you think America stinks, even if you are ashamed of her, in this country you can stand up in public and say so without going to jail or worse. In fact, you can be elected to office. Never has there been a nation like this. It's not her strength, not her influence, not her wealth. None of that. It is the core principles which, though often violated these days, make it possible for anyone of any race, color, background, or faith to fully enjoy what she has to offer.

AND I think we can all agree here, that it is the right of the citizen to be armed against the power of the state which makes us a free nation. Thank God for that. Merry Christmas to all my fellow THR members!

Standing Wolf
December 25, 2005, 06:18 PM
Well, far be it from me to brag and boast, but when was the last time you heard of millions upon millions of people sneaking into France or Mexico or Iran or Zimbabwe?

HankB
December 25, 2005, 07:10 PM
The premise "America is the Best" is put to a vote every day.

People vote with their feet.

Name one country - not just some stinking pestilential turd world dungheap, but ANY country - where there are more people leaving the USA to go there than there are people leaving there to come here.

Until you can show me such a country, the topic doesn't merit serious debate.

Monkeyleg
December 25, 2005, 07:39 PM
America is physically spectacular, from the Everglade swamps to the Rocky Mountains to the Sonora desert to the teeming cities like NY, and everything in between. I don't know of another country with such diverse landscape.

Our government, even at its worst moments and with its worst actors (Kennedy, Schumer, et al) still stands head and shoulders above others, including Western industrialized nations such as France.

Our economic system, despite the ocassional hiccup, offers opportunity that almost no other country does. In how many countries can a family from, say, Pakistan open a small convenience store, and in five years own multiple stores? I've seen firsthand many rags-to-riches stories.

While we project our military might, we do so sparingly and with what we believe are the best intentions. We don't seek to occupy or colonize. (Given the situation in Iraq, I expect many will disagree).

We enjoy more freedoms than any other nation, including the right to be armed. Yes, we have to fight to keep those freedoms, but fighting to be free is part of the human saga.

Never having set foot outside North America, I admittedly make these comments based only upon what I have read. But I do believe that, while the USA is not perfect, it's as close as they come.

Wllm. Legrand
December 25, 2005, 07:51 PM
American Exceptionalism is part and parcel to a bevy of other "American Myths" to which the people seem to believe.

Current economic conditions and Fed and FedGod monetary practices (continuous ridiculous expansion of the money supply, extreme long-term debt and off-budget debt, etc., etc.) seem to indicate that the FedGod takes such "American Exceptionalism" to near religeous fervor.

Alexander Tyler, a 18th century historian said it well when he wrote:
"The average age of th world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith...
From spritual faith to great courage...
From courage to liberty...
From liberty to abundance...
From abundance to complacency...
From complacency to apathy...
From apathy to dependence...
And from dependence back again into bondage...

I would have added in present-day Amerika's case, perhaps from apathy into decadence....

This ONCE WAS the greatest country in the world, as perhaps was probably the most free, but no longer (from economic and other utilitarian perspectives).

This is due in no small part to the inability of the population to understand their history, their place in history and WHY the country was great, and how and why they country got off track. And when I use the word "country" I should avoid the error that most commit by conflating the terms "country" and "nation" with "The Government", or as I like to call it, FedGod. I call it such because the population has become accustomed to percieiving the present status quo in regards to the relationship of the government to the people as something sacred. Again the loss of perspective to times when the government was nothing as it is today in the lives of the populace is something the current population cannot even concieve....

But that's just my opinion.....though there is plenty of evidence to support it...

America the best? What do you mean by the terms you employ? America the Nation (the collection of historic beliefs, culture, and practices that create a unique people): American GOVERNMENT (FedGod, often used when people use the royal "we" to speak of the actions of the Government); the geographical expanse; or the people?

The first step to understanding is to have some kind of commonality in the use of the terms you use, don't you think?

Far, far, too many people think of "America" (especially military or ex-military, government employees, or LEOs) think of the GOVERMENT (FedGod) as America...that's the START of major brainwashing....

Moondoggie
December 25, 2005, 08:12 PM
"When in the course of human events" is a continum, not an end unto itself. Despite the human failings of the folks in positions of responsibility, none of our elections have been decided with tanks and troops.

Your attention is invited to the fact that despite the promises of Barbara Strisand, Alec Baldwin and others of the Michael Moore segment of the left to move elsewhere..... THEY'RE STILL HERE.

These folks would still be living the lifestyle of the rich and famous regardless of what spot on the map they picked...BUT THEY'RE STILL HERE!

I think that about covers it.

ka50
December 25, 2005, 08:22 PM
My take on this:

Lots of people got fed up with the royalty and moved to create a nation of laws

Thus it made it a nation of laws that does not uphold roles of humans in system of traditional hierarchy.

The drawback is lack of culture.

Wllm. Legrand
December 25, 2005, 08:34 PM
Our government, even at its worst moments and with its worst actors (Kennedy, Schumer, et al) still stands head and shoulders above others, including Western industrialized nations such as France.

Our government, even at its worst moments and with its worst actors (Kennedy, Schumer, et al) still stands head and shoulders above others, including Western industrialized nations such as France.

Our economic system, despite the ocassional hiccup, offers opportunity that almost no other country does. In how many countries can a family from, say, Pakistan open a small convenience store, and in five years own multiple stores? I've seen firsthand many rags-to-riches stories.

While we project our military might, we do so sparingly and with what we believe are the best intentions. We don't seek to occupy or colonize. (Given the situation in Iraq, I expect many will disagree).

We enjoy more freedoms than any other nation, including the right to be armed. Yes, we have to fight to keep those freedoms, but fighting to be free is part of the human saga.

Never having set foot outside North America, I admittedly make these comments based only upon what I have read. But I do believe that, while the USA is not perfect, it's as close as they come.

Describing the current government as the best in the world is akin to saying that the patient is in the best health of all in the cancer ward. As the entire world seems to slip into some dystopian nightmare, and the government expands beyond any concept the Founders could concieve, as an incredible number of new laws take effect to which you are subject every day, I guess, "yeah...I could be worse off..", as if that is the quesiton. Some could even say that the Civil War was "worth it" for the American South to endure a level of devastation equivalent to what Soviet Russia suffered at the hands of the Nazis...but is this the America most of us (over 45) grew up into?

As to the economic system, to state that the present state of the U.S. economy is on anything approaching a sound foundation is lunacy. Sound? By what criteria? Use of resources? Soundness of the currency? Central bank monetary policy? REAL state of employment? Realistic growth of GOOD jobs (not menail service jobs) long term? Manufacturing capacity and self-sufficiency?

I think not....To think that the economic condition is sound at best reflects an absence of insight and understanding of readily available statistical information...not the pap served up by Government statistics...

Insofar as projecting military might, how might that jive with traditional (read pre-WWI) American valus and virtues? Kind of what Hume said about what COULD BE, SHOULD BE...though the U.S. FedGod spends probably 4 times more than the next smaller nations combined on military power and its projection, is this necessarily a GOOD thing? Why? To say that the U.S. government does not mean to occupy (read: CONTROL) is flat wrong on the face of it...that's what the U.S. military's job has BEEN since the fall of the Soviet Union and Communist Bloc. Remember the Peace Dividend? That's about as extinct as the Contract with America...


As for the "right" to be armed, current laws present that "right" to be more of a privilege, if strictly defined...But yes, we do have freedoms..."we" can shop in any mall we want.....
Sorry...many misconceptions apparent in posts here....

tube_ee
December 25, 2005, 08:41 PM
Is America a great nation? Of course she is, else I would not have given 6 years of my life to her defense.

Is she the best nation she can be? No, of course not, and it is in no way disloyal to say so. We fall short of our ideals in many, many ways. Rags to riches stories aside, the class in which you were born is still the class in which you will likely die. Wealth still confers too many advantages beyond "I can have more stuff." We seem to have taken our turn at trying to rule the world, something that history says every sufficiently powerful nation tries.. and fails to do. We seem to be quite willing to surrender liberty to fear. We are too quick to see our differences, and too slow to see the things which make us one.

All that said, this was the first place in which all of the ideals of the Enlightenment came together to form a government, and the principles we aspire to (even when we fall short) are still some of the purest ever put forth by man.

All in all, we've got much to be proud of, and some serious stuff to work on. Does that make us "special?" No, it makes us lucky, and obligated.

Our work goes on... that "more Perfect Union" is never done.

--Shannon

Khornet
December 25, 2005, 09:00 PM
disqualified from seriois debate, by virtue of the spelling of America with a 'k'. I no longer have to take your arguments seriously.

Iain
December 25, 2005, 09:35 PM
You are a great country, no question. Plenty to be proud of.

What grates a little with those of us Europeans, for whom the mere concept of America does not grate purely on principle, is the so-called patriotism that not only says that anything in America is superior to anything elsewhere because it is American, but that anything elsewhere must suck by virtue of the fact that it is not American.

Patriotism is great, but I like it as a positive concept, that my country is good, not that every other country is rubbish because it is not my country (although some countries are flat out useless)

There an awful lot of people that are proud to be British, or French or German. They often have good reasons.

Then there are those who see and regret her faults, but love her still because they see that her virtues remain, and far outweigh her faults.

I suspect a lot of them would say this about their own country. Myself included. I expect now that someone will list (the admittedly legion) problems that exist in my country and that's fine.

Wllm. Legrand
December 25, 2005, 10:15 PM
Khornet wrote:
"disqualified from seriois (sic) debate, by virtue of the spelling of America with a 'k'. I no longer have to take your arguments seriously."

My....aren't we touchy? That someone, anyone, "not take my arguments seriously.." on the basis of an intentional misspelling, fills me with (feigned) hurt and indignation. I'm sure the wound will heal.

The use of the "k" should be obvious. That you find it such an eggregious disqualifier indicates that you either 1) are hypersensitive to spelling and grammar in this "Age of the Common Man" , or 2) That the implication represents a perspective so foreign to your sensibilities that you wish to discard any line of reasoning subsequent, wholesale.

Suit yourself...:rolleyes:

Monkeyleg
December 26, 2005, 12:06 AM
Wllm. Legrand:

Welcome to THR. I don't think my statements said that anything about the US being perfect, but rather that what we have is far preferable to the alternatives the rest of the world provides.

I think you're going to find a home on many threads debating at length. If you enjoy that, then you're going to have a good time.

grampster
December 26, 2005, 12:40 AM
Speaking of Malls: Go to one on Christmas Eve and sit yourself down in the middle of it. Watch closely. Nowhere on earth in these days and times (or perhaps at any time) will you see such a polyglot of humanity striding purposefully and peacefully forth.

I leave it to you, after that exprience, to think what you will.

Cosmoline
December 26, 2005, 04:01 AM
I only go forth to the mall this time of year if I'm carrying an assault rifle! It's absolute madness out there. Complete and total INSANITY.

RealGun
December 26, 2005, 08:22 AM
The US has been exceptional ever since George Washington declined to be made King and served as President for only a limited time.

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 11:40 AM
The US has been exceptional ever since George Washington declined to be made King and served as President for only a limited time.

Indeed...that period of history produced the greatest experiment in the history of man. What is significant as well is to juxtopose the government that was produced THEN, with the government that has evolved SINCE.

The confusing of the first government with the present is one of the Great Amerikan Myths. The size, nature, influence, and power of the government in Washington's time is simply not the same animal as the beast of today. But we should not get into the habit (again) of confusing America with its government. That's what happens when people start using the "we", as in "We should just blow ____ to he11, after all they're 'our' enemies." That's an annoying practice that seems to lead to the habitual inability to make other necessary distinctions.

The Real Hawkeye
December 26, 2005, 11:51 AM
Resolved: this is the greatest country in the world.

That belief is referred to as American Exceptionalism.

I agree with it.

Any takers?Not only that, but we are unique, not just in degree, but in type. We were founded on the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence, which include that government is the primary threat to liberty, and that a people have the inborn right to alter or abolish it, and to replace it with one that recognizes the rights of the people, rights which precede government, and are not dependent on government for their existence or creation.

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 12:23 PM
Not only that, but we are unique, not just in degree, but in type. We were founded on the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence, which include that government is the primary threat to liberty, and that a people have the inborn right to alter or abolish it, and to replace it with one that recognizes the rights of the people, rights which precede government, and are not dependent on government for their existence or creation.

Absolutely correct your referencing the Declaration of Independence and those PRIMARY PRINCIPALS which the Founders created the first American Nation (Articles of Confederation vs. the second Constitution, a near revolution in substance).

Which begs the questions:

How could one today compare the declaration of grievances against the King with those under which the population of the nation now suffers? Read it. And compare.

"The People" have little ability to create substantive change in "their" government, much as a ship like the Titanic had little ability to change course effectively. There is too small a "rudder" available to create change in relation to the entrenched inertia of the One Big/Two Party system. I can only believe that very few people have read history. But the other explanation is that living in a system or society significantly reduces the individuals ability to see things as they might appear "outside". As the baby elephant tethered to the stake in the ground, soon the chain becomes unnecessary and the chain is reduced from iron to merely rope...populations, as elephants, become conditioned to their State, without the ability to conceive of things being any other way.

Or so it seems today.

GoRon
December 26, 2005, 12:31 PM
"The People" have little ability to create substantive change in "their" government, much as a ship like the Titanic had little ability to change course effectively. There is too small a "rudder" available to create change in relation to the entrenched inertia of the One Big/Two Party system.

The only hope we have is to privatize education and get rid of the government propaganda centers. Otherwise the government will continue raise up voters who vote the way the government wants them to.

In spite of our governments faults the nation itself is still the "Shining City" on the hill.

antarti
December 26, 2005, 12:44 PM
No doubt about this - I've lived off-shore in two "good" countries (New Zealand and Switzerland) for extended periods of time as a civilian and neither would even begin to compare with what we take for granted here.

I got a slap in the face by some harsh reality while overseas not too long ago.

Before that my life has been spent taking my country more or less for granted, and that was shameful on my part. I realized my "success" in life (such that it is) is maybe 1% due to my studies and work-ethic. It is 99% due to the sacrifice of those who went before to give me the opportunities I was able to take advantage of.

I'm not taking anything for granted anymore, especially not how "exceptional" we will always be "just because we're America, and things are different here, and xxxxxx could never happen here".

If we are "exceptional", it's not because the "we" of today made it that way. Whether we stay "exceptional" is another story entirely, and a responsibility to be hung at our doorsteps, not of the Founders.

The Real Hawkeye
December 26, 2005, 01:13 PM
Absolutely correct your referencing the Declaration of Independence and those PRIMARY PRINCIPALS which the Founders created the first American Nation (Articles of Confederation vs. the second Constitution, a near revolution in substance).

Which begs the questions:

How could one today compare the declaration of grievances against the King with those under which the population of the nation now suffers? Read it. And compare.

"The People" have little ability to create substantive change in "their" government, much as a ship like the Titanic had little ability to change course effectively. There is too small a "rudder" available to create change in relation to the entrenched inertia of the One Big/Two Party system. I can only believe that very few people have read history. But the other explanation is that living in a system or society significantly reduces the individuals ability to see things as they might appear "outside". As the baby elephant tethered to the stake in the ground, soon the chain becomes unnecessary and the chain is reduced from iron to merely rope...populations, as elephants, become conditioned to their State, without the ability to conceive of things being any other way.

Or so it seems today.You make some excellent points. I agree.

wingman
December 26, 2005, 01:14 PM
I'm not taking anything for granted anymore, especially not how "exceptional" we will always be "just because we're America, and things are different here, and xxxxxx could never happen here".



I believe the above quote is key in this debate, as a senior citizen I have witness too many changes that I believe that we should be very concerned about. In an ever growing population and in my opinion a very poor public school system we seem to be a nation of greed. If we continue on our present path we will lose the quality of life we have enjoyed, simply because we have it now does not mean it cannot be taken away.:(

longeyes
December 26, 2005, 02:45 PM
It's all precarious, always was, always will be. No guarantees.

There are still enough of us left who get it to preserve the America we love and honor--though it may not be the America that exists today. We need to get active and we need to sort out our friends.

Sam
December 26, 2005, 05:37 PM
Exceptionalism, don't know about that. Best game in town though, by a real long shot. Very far from perfect and as many have pointed out, probably backsliding. The difference is that we can recover the lost ground and advance beyond it.

Mr. Wllm.Legrand, other than opening the figurative pie hole, what are you doing to make it better? Many BM&G few do anything about it.

Sam

cz75bdneos22
December 26, 2005, 06:24 PM
Well, far be it from me to brag and boast, but when was the last time you heard of millions upon millions of people sneaking into France or Mexico or Iran or Zimbabwe?


logistics my friend...it's pretty hard to cross the atlantic by swimming...:neener:

HankB
December 26, 2005, 07:14 PM
This ONCE WAS the greatest country in the world, as perhaps was probably the most free, but no longer Please name the country (or countries) which you believe are greater - and why.

SamlautRanger
December 26, 2005, 07:22 PM
I personally believe America was the best, and currently is the best. But unfortunately is now on a downward spiral morally, economically, and internationally.

The Roman Empire was also at the time the greatest civilization the world had ever saw, and it too collapsed.

I predict that if things continue to go the way they are going, in 20 years China will be the worlds top leader and America will be reduced to a 2nd world nation.

GoRon
December 26, 2005, 07:56 PM
in 20 years China will be the worlds top leader and America will be reduced to a 2nd world nation.

Maybe 75yrs not 20.

It is a HUGE maybe. It aint over till it's over.

cz75bdneos22
December 26, 2005, 07:58 PM
i'm guessing 50 yrs....:scrutiny:

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 08:28 PM
Exceptionalism, don't know about that. Best game in town though, by a real long shot. Very far from perfect and as many have pointed out, probably backsliding. The difference is that we can recover the lost ground and advance beyond it.

Mr. Wllm.Legrand, other than opening the figurative pie hole, what are you doing to make it better? Many BM&G few do anything about it.

Sam

Pie hole? I thought this was "debate", not a work party under your supervision..

As for what I do to make it better, I have a small business and am a productive member of society, am a well-informed citizen and a member of the unorganized militia. I have some small knowledge of the law, history, and the human condition. I am the worst threat to government, as I mention above, as I am an informed citizen.

You, sir, seem to be the one with the "figurative" pie-hole....

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 08:38 PM
Please name the country (or countries) which you believe are greater - and why.

Depends upon what facet of "freedom" you speak of.

Economic freedom? Many. Heck, it's easier to open and operate a business in Hong Kong than here. Far less regulation.

Though I love firearms, shoot competitively, hunt, etc., many are hung up on the firearms thing. I will be the first to admit that the U.S.A. WAS the last, great, hope for mankind. No longer. Read my previous posts. I mentioned the analogy about the U.S. being the healthiest patient in the cancer ward. DID YOU READ IT? DID YOU GET IT? I think not.

The point of comparison seems to be geographic. How about a temporal comparision.

How would you compare you level of freedom NOW as opposed to say, thirty years ago? In the interest of precise use of language, I would ask the comparison to be made in economic, personal freedom, especially your right to property and the ability to OWN the fruits of your own labor, or do what you wish with your own property. We can also add the influence of government upon your children and the neccesity of compliance with regulations. (There are several kind of law. Statutory is only one of them. You must also understand, as you do, I'm sure, that there are executive "rulings", or decrees that have the force of law. IRS, BATF, fill in the flippin' blank. One needs to figure that into the mix to determine how "FREE" you are.)

Were you more free to travel unmolested 10 years ago?

Were you more free to own the fruits of your labor 30 years ago (marginal tax rates and definition of taxable income)?

Were you more free to own any firearm you wanted 75 years ago?

How about your other freedoms, such as the what to do on your own property? The right of your children to be free from Child Protective Services? Etc., etc., ad nauseum...

Total freedom (absence of control by central authority, provided you DID NOT HARM ANYONE ELSE)?

Fifty years ago?

How about one hundred and fifty years ago?

The ball is in your court.

Lone_Gunman
December 26, 2005, 08:54 PM
Economic freedom? Many. Heck, it's easier to open and operate a business in Hong Kong than here. Far less regulation.

Come on, just name a couple.

And give some examples of how they have more economic freedom, of course.

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 09:17 PM
Come on, just name a couple.

And give some examples of how they have more economic freedom, of course.

Off the top of my head, I mentioned Hong Kong. Also Singapore, New Zealand, and, of course, Switzerland.

Don't believe me. Do a search on "Index of Economic Freedom". The (ever so leftist) Cato Institute publishes that every year. There are other sources.
Try this for a different perspective, but still buttresses my view:
www.mises.org/story/1724

Of course, your question and post awkwardly sidesteps the questions I posed in my previous post, probably because to answer those questions leads to the conclusion that I offered before. No matter. None is as blind as those that refuse to see. That is an pretty good description of those that still believe the myths of an America past. The worst offenders are those that placed their faith in the political parties of the nation, as I once did (lifelong Republican, voted for Bush the first time, Republican no longer).

To be able to look at things the way they ARE, based upon current conditions, examine contradictions between what you BELIEVE and what you can see with your own two eyes and reason through with your own mind, is a difficult thing to do. Most people (past youth) cannot do it, unless there is some event that happens to them directly, or to their family, that causes them to question the beliefs they've held since childhood.

It's okay. I understand. I had great faith in the nations institutions (including its government) until a decade or so ago.

"When you encounter a contradiction, reexamine your premises."

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 09:25 PM
As an aside, Lone Gunman, I'm from Arizona. You use a famous Barry Goldwater quote in your sig line.

He was a true conservative (read: classical liberal, as opposed to the phony "conservatives" that litter the airwaves and Rome on the Potomac these days), as I try to be. He saw the handwriting on the wall decades ago. He would be what I would describe as a "fellow traveler" to my perspective..if you pardon the expression.

longeyes
December 26, 2005, 09:36 PM
Absolutely correct your referencing the Declaration of Independence and those PRIMARY PRINCIPALS which the Founders created the first American Nation (Articles of Confederation vs. the second Constitution, a near revolution in substance).

Your great wisdom doesn't extend to knowing the difference between principals and principles, apparently.

New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong as exemplars of greater freedom?

Hong Kong's part of the People's Republic of China. Switzerland exists by virtue of laundering money and letting other people fight their battles for them. Singapore is an authoritarian corporation-state that seems obsessed with corporal punishment. New Zealand has two industries, sheepherding and Peter Jackson, and, last time I checked, was quasi-socialistic.

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 10:04 PM
Your great wisdom doesn't extend to knowing the difference between principals and principles, apparently.

A spelling Nazi, eh? I'll have to pay closer attention to the posts of the board grammarian for errors if he's to be so unforgiving. Is looking for such errors easier than addressing the substance of the message? ;)

And I guess you didn't read the link that addresses the very points you raised, did you? Figures. :rolleyes:

Khornet
December 26, 2005, 10:22 PM
Your beloved Hong Kong exists at the pleasure of the People's Republic of China, does it not? It's a bird in a cage, nothing more.

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 10:25 PM
New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong as exemplars of greater freedom?

Hong Kong's part of the People's Republic of China. Switzerland exists by virtue of laundering money and letting other people fight their battles for them. Singapore is an authoritarian corporation-state that seems obsessed with corporal punishment. New Zealand has two industries, sheepherding and Peter Jackson, and, last time I checked, was quasi-socialistic.

I raise the point (SPECIFICALLY) of economic freedom. That was the point. I think you look more for arguments in other areas than those I raise.

This is getting WAY off topic. The point of American exceptionalism (or not, and why) has been answered. The point on economic freedom has been answered.

Answer instead the questions I raised regarding the state of freedom in present-day Amerika vs. America of the past.

The question of who, when, or how a nation is free, and by what standard is a good one. The start of any debate should be the defining of terms. I define freedom as the ability to OWN YOURSELF and the fruits of your labor. Within this definition is subsumed the idea of doing what you want, when you want, as long as it does not interfere with the same right of everyone else to do as they please. Right, any freedom, including freedom of speech, requires that a society tolerate the actions of others it does not approve, subject to the main limitation above (interference with the affairs or freedoms of others). It should be apparent that the main source of the abridgement of freedom is from government, not other people. If it comes from other people it is from the use of the STATE and STATE POWER to do so. America was ONCE a great nation that had a government that respected ideals, such as those within the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It NO LONGER is such a nation.

THAT is the point. The objections raised over this assertion have been pretty much answered in other posts above.

Get over it. When I see that I no longer have first-claim on the fruits of my labor (an important concept), then I do not own myself. This is a crucial distinction and change from what WAS to WHAT IS.

This "debate" is more like beating a dead horse. Or, as Dorothy Parker put it, "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.".

Wllm. Legrand
December 26, 2005, 10:39 PM
Your beloved Hong Kong exists at the pleasure of the People's Republic of China, does it not? It's a bird in a cage, nothing more.

Why don't you elaborate on where you see the state of freedom going in this country in the next 15 years, based upon the evidence of recent history? How much of your income to you expect to keep when debt service on on-budget and OFF BUDGET federal expenses come due?

What will be the state of freedom for your children, economically? How do you define freedom? Is the discussion a simple academic one, based upon "how free is the U.S. citizenry compared to other nations, NOW?" or are there other aspects to the question that demonstrate a tightening stricture on freedoms in almost every aspect of our lives? How many laws should people be subject if they are indeed free? Is there any such thing as "too much government interference" in one's life? If so, how would YOU define it? And speaking of self-ownership, tell me what is a "reasonable" level of taxation? Why? At what point do you say NO to government claims upon you, your life, the fruits of your labor, and the future of your children?

The posts of some here make me very curious as to exactly HOW they come to their opinions. First hand, by thinking them through, or second or third hand, as a result of what they have been told or taught? Thinking these kinds of things through is exactly what the government does its best to prevent you from doing, by dumbing people down in government schools and pandering to the lowest common denominator in discussion of public policy.

longeyes
December 26, 2005, 11:21 PM
I think just about everyone who posts on the THR board recognizes that America of 2005 is not the America of 1885 or 1955. We know that our freedoms have been steadily encroached upon. We know that our futures are being mortgaged away. The question is, as someone else once asked: What is to be done?

RealGun
December 27, 2005, 10:04 AM
I think just about everyone who posts on the THR board recognizes that America of 2005 is not the America of 1885 or 1955. We know that our freedoms have been steadily encroached upon. We know that our futures are being mortgaged away. The question is, as someone else once asked: What is to be done?

We lose freedoms as we react to crime, constrained by morality, reverse discrimination, and ethics in how effective our reaction might be. We throw money at a problem or pretend that some law will be effective, perhaps both. Our version of free range children is dropping them off at school or at the mall. They aren't very safe anywhere else, and we can't shoot or hang the cretins that make this necessary. We don't even hold them in prison, known to be a threat. Our way of life is a suicide pact, because we don't have any way to purge the gene pool, and we are unwilling to mandate birth control or sterility among those who are easily enough identified as the source of the problems. We aren't losing freedoms as much as we are using "freedom" against our best interests. There are all sorts of philosophical and practical problems here, but something isn't working.

All of this is why I support capital punishment (timely), euthanasia, assisted suicide, and mandatory sterilization. I do not support genocide but think some people need killin'. Those who insist upon injecting religion, perhaps ethics, into these questions don't seem to have a practical alternative. Their intervention causes further loss of freedoms.

HankB
December 27, 2005, 10:16 AM
Let's see, we have a post which included the phrase: This ONCE WAS the greatest country in the world, as perhaps was probably the most free, but no longer If we're "no longer" the greatest country in the world, clearly the writer believes he knows of OTHER countries which are greater.

Curious about which these might be, I asked: Please name the country (or countries) which you believe are greater - and why. Which drew the response in this thread's Post #54, in which Wllm. Legrand asked I mentioned the analogy about the U.S. being the healthiest patient in the cancer ward. DID YOU READ IT? DID YOU GET IT? I think not. OK, getting past the implied insult, note that I didn't ask about where we were headed or if we were better off "x" years ago or if I thought everything was just peachy today, I wanted to know which countries Wllm. Legrand believed were greater than the USA.

Today. As HE stated in his post when he said we were no longer the greatest in the world.

Mr. Legrand, you used a lot of words, but I notice you avoided providing a direct answer to my question, posed your own instead, and went on to compare the USA today with the USA of yesteryear.

I also notice when others challenged your assertions about Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., you never defended your original mentions of them, but again went off on your own into a "USA-now vs. USA-then" direction.

You never answered my question, so I'll rephrase it slightly and ask again: If the USA - today - is no longer the greatest country in the world, please tell us which country - today! - is, and why.

The Real Hawkeye
December 27, 2005, 10:39 AM
We aren't losing freedoms as much as we are using "freedom" against our best interests.We are in fact losing liberty, i.e., the legal authorization to act in accordance with our rights, but, as RealGun implied, we have a lot more freedom, i.e., the ability to do and be what we would like, including in the realm of immorality, without risk of punishment or even public scorn, than ever before in American history, and we are, as RealGun implied, using those freedoms to the destruction of liberty.

The difference between liberty and just plain freedom is that liberty implies the rule of law, which is a restraint on government, while freedom (i.e., the absence of restraint regarding our individual actions) does not. The founders wished to establish liberty on these shores, as distinct from plain old freedom.

Today, we are free to do all kinds of things we weren't free to do in, say, the 1950s, but at the same time our liberties have been steadily and dramatically contracting, and this tendency shows no signs of slowing down. To the contrary, it is accelerating.

RealGun
December 27, 2005, 12:32 PM
We are in fact losing liberty, i.e., the legal authorization to act in accordance with our rights, but, as RealGun implied, we have a lot more freedom, i.e., the ability to do and be what we would like, including in the realm of immorality, without risk of punishment or even public scorn, than ever before in American history, and we are, as RealGun implied, using those freedoms to the destruction of liberty.

Mandating a standard of morality is not liberty by anyone's definition. It isn't easy to make a clear distinction between liberty and freedom or find an exact difference in connotation. I prefer thinking of freedom as independence and thinking of liberty as lack of restraint, especially despotic. You could reverse these definitions and not be off the mark.

longeyes
December 27, 2005, 01:06 PM
We have allowed ourselves to be incrementally enslaved by encroaching government and then by escapist consumerism. America was always about self-reliance, control of one's own destiny, and the ability to say NO. That's been lost as too many Americans just say yes, yes, and yes, and exchange America's precious heritage of liberty for a materialistic toyland. You can't divorce economics from morality, try as we might.

Khornet
December 27, 2005, 02:25 PM
will always be under pressure, gaining here and retreating there. Nothing about that invalidates the Founders' ideas, and it does not change the fact that the ideas on which America was founded are supreme in the world.

M. Legrand, with respect to where freedom is going in America these days, I might point out that we are recovering from a long period of ascendancy of socialist thinking. School choice, tax reform, the fading of trade unionism, the return of America's willingness to make war for freedom, the revisiting of the matter of Affirmative action, the emergence of more numerous and more eloquent advocates of conservative ideals...all tell me that freedom is on the march.

RE: Switzerland. Admittedly a very free country. But much of her liberty and prosperity has depended historically on a fundamentally immoral foreign policy. I admire her policy of armed neutrality in the sense that we all should be armed but peaceful, but Switzerland has consistently stood aside and let others fight for freedom.

A little advice regarding the close of your last post: temper-tantrums don't win arguments. And making insulting assumptions about how your opponents come to their position is a sure way to make them ignore your ideas.

An amusing anecdote, though, about the Swiss. An old postcard fron before the 1914 war showed the Kaiser towering over a little Swiss infantryman. The Kaiser asks, "What will you 250,000 Swiss do when half a million Germans attack?"

"Shoot twice and go home," said the Swiss.

You might enjoy 'La Place De La Concorde Suisse" by John McPhee... a wonderful study of the Swiss military system.

BigG
December 27, 2005, 02:41 PM
Khornet asked the question and HankB covered the territory nicely. :)

All you naysayers. I haven't heard about any of you leaving. If this place is so bad, why not? :uhoh: :evil:

Wllm. Legrand
December 27, 2005, 10:23 PM
Khornet asked the question and HankB covered the territory nicely. :)

All you naysayers. I haven't heard about any of you leaving. If this place is so bad, why not? :uhoh: :evil:

Without a doubt, that kind of reply is probably the most childish kind of pap anyone can hear from a supposed adult. What's especially bad is that the person who spouts that kind of knee-jerk, unthinking, mental-shortcut kind of blurb actually THINKS it makes sense. Well, there is no special test for posting ont he internet.

Because it's home. Even despite the fact that it's flawed. I don't leave even with fools and poltroons in it, just the same as I still do my job despite it's many aspects that I find displeasing. Even despite the fact that average American couldn't factor a quadratic equation or read a world map, or even tell you two of the rights articulated in the First Amendment. Even then, it's still home.

Grow up.

longeyes
December 27, 2005, 10:33 PM
Grow up.

Okay. How about a War of Expulsion to throw out all the dead-beats? You up for that?

Or maybe you have a better plan for stopping the insanity?

Herself
December 27, 2005, 11:17 PM
Okay. How about a War of Expulsion to throw out all the dead-beats? You up for that?

Or maybe you have a better plan for stopping the insanity?
So, tell us, Longeyes, did you vote for the President and Congressbeings who ushered in the single largest increase in Federal welfare-type largess in living memory, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit?

How many "deadbeats" do you suppose the U. S. would be receiving if there were no such giveaways?

As for your private "war of expulsion," how do you propose to identify "deadbeats? By skin color, perhaps? By accent? By your own opinion? How will you be sure -- and what will you say to the survivors after you make an error?

Do you remember what happened in the last country to "declare war on parasites?" Or in the one before that?

Illegals will sink or swim in the dominant culture, just as all immigrants have before them. Used to be, it was The Yellow Peril; now it's brown. It's still not a real peril.

--Herself

longeyes
December 27, 2005, 11:50 PM
As for your private "war of expulsion," how do you propose to identify "deadbeats? By skin color, perhaps? By accent? By your own opinion? How will you be sure -- and what will you say to the survivors after you make an error?


Well, Herself, you know, I figured I'd begin with anyone who talks about himself/herself in the third person, then move on to the vainglorious, and finally to the merely foolish.

If you want to play Emma Lazarus and embrace the wretched with both arms, feel free, I won't stop you--assuming you keep them all at your place, out of my sight, and on your tab. I'm sure you have plenty of room and plenty of provender at the Herself Mansion on the Hill.

What makes you think, Herself, that I identify the deadbeats by skin color or accent? It's a very cheap shot to accuse anyone you disagree with of racism, though no doubt that swells your breast with feelings of enormous generosity (alas, at the expense of others). My concern is the law and the right of American citizens not to have their wealth expropriated to satisfy the vanity and greed of the pro-illegal alien lobby.

cz75bdneos22
December 27, 2005, 11:59 PM
We have allowed ourselves to be incrementally enslaved by encroaching government and then by escapist consumerism. America was always about self-reliance, control of one's own destiny, and the ability to say NO. That's been lost as too many Americans just say yes, yes, and yes, and exchange America's precious heritage of liberty for a materialistic toyland. You can't divorce economics from morality, try as we might.


you hit the nail on the head, weak moral/ethical policies and the inconsistencies contained thereof in what U.S. leaders have said vs. done...that's why "they" hate us...because it's in this unrelenting pursuit of greed, power and mindles consumption that America's International interventionist foreign policies have caused irreversible, almost impossibly solvable international disdain and hatred towards Americans...just look at the failed attempts to establish "stable" democracies..Somalia, Lebanon, Haiti, Afganistan, Nicaragua, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm..etc, etc..we have caused more damage to "them/our image than we have solved problems that are too complex to dismiss with simple ideological rhetoric..Stop the nonsense! bring back our brothers,daughters, fathers, mothers, friends and neighbors...it's not worth the pain! it's not worth the loss of innocent young lives! This is not going to go away because GWB says," the mission is accomplished" we must seek to disdain/reproach both indifference and ignorance towards the plight of other's...we don't have the market cornered on the moral high ground. we are nationalistic and patriotic, you bet. we are different, yes...socially, economically and morally, but that is us, not them...it's their choice. punish those that deserve it (terrorists), i have no sympathy for them..no doubt...but come on, folks!..yes, we do have certain obligations to deal with "those" responsible for terrorism..moreso, we as Americans need to understand what our obligations are to our fellow mankind...nothing is simple. we have not dealt/ or seem willing to deal overseas with our obligations to other countries in a social, contextual, relational and more importantly, historical sense...i liken our current foreign policies to an abusive parent. He/She abuses the/a child physically and psychologically, but does so under the "but i only do this because i love you" rationalization SMACK! WHAM! SMACK! didn't someone say," those that do not remember history are bound to repeat it"?....alas, worse is He that don't want to see. So much for the high road...YMMV.

Herself
December 28, 2005, 12:14 AM
Well, Herself, you know, I figured I'd begin with anyone who talks about himself/herself in the third person, then move on to the vainglorious, and finally to the merely foolish.
Do please try to remember that I shoot back. And that girlfolk are sneaky. Oh, and that online 'nyms are not the same as referring to one's self in the third person. Mine's actually a kind of Ayn Rand joke.

If you want to play Emma Lazarus and embrace the wretched with both arms, feel free, I won't stop you--assuming you keep them all at your place, out of my sight, and on your tab. I'm sure you have plenty of room and plenty of provender at the Herself Mansion on the Hill.
Nope, LE. I want 'em to work or starve, as they choose. Just like everybody else should. Clearly, you have confused me with someone who cares deeeeply about the sufferin' of the indolent.

What makes you think, Herself, that I identify the deadbeats by skin color or accent?
Gee, I dunno -- perhaps because you are a lot more concerned about Mexican than Canadian illegals? But I was, as a point of fact, asking how, and offering up some of the more common criteria I have observed others to suggest. I did not write that I thought those were necessarily the indicators you used. Perhaps you'll use pure whim, then? Do tell! It's a very cheap shot to accuse anyone you disagree with of racism,Even the racists? though no doubt that swells your breast with feelings of enormous generosity (alas, at the expense of others). And you extract that intelligence from my spirited opposition to all forms of Welfare how, exactly? My concern is the law and the right of American citizens not to have their wealth expropriated to satisfy the vanity and greed of the pro-illegal alien lobby.That is something you should take up with Congress and the Executive branch; you might want to look at the the present administration has proposed in the way of "amnesty" for illegals before you assume they are on your side. Or mine.

If you've so much respect for the law, why do you not respect the Constitution's promise of citizenship to anyone who manages to be born in the U. S.?

You worry too much. This is the U.S., not France.

--Herself

longeyes
December 28, 2005, 12:47 AM
That is something you should take up with Congress and the Executive branch; you might want to look at the the present administration has proposed in the way of "amnesty" for illegals before you assume they are on your side. Or mine.

I do not assume the present Administration or the majority of Congress is in sync with me on the issue of illegal immigration. Hardly. If you'd read many of my previous posts on this topic you'd know that. Bush is AWOL on this issue, as is most of Congress.

My belief is that the 14th Amendment, for reasons I've cited on this forum, was never intended to extend citizenship to children of illegal aliens. If the Courts believe otherwise, I guess we'll have to do some Amending.

And who says I am only concerned about Mexican illegals? Wrong. It's just that, well, I see so many of them compared with the other aspirants.

Shoot back at will. And be as sneaky as you like. That's what this Forum is for.

I like Ayn Rand, but Rand and joke in the same sentence qualify as an oxymoron, no?

RealGun
December 28, 2005, 09:13 AM
Stop the nonsense! bring back our brothers,daughters, fathers, mothers, friends and neighbors...it's not worth the pain! it's not worth the loss of innocent young lives!

Overwhelming shock and awe and impressive, yea-team reports on CNN don't provide any solutions unless we are willing to put troops on the ground in the aftermath. Yet minimizing casualties is a high priority. Our foreign policy will likely change, if Americans don't have the guts or the attention span to support what needs to be done. The British aren't any better. We'll have to fight our enemies here amidst a collapsed global economy. In the meantime, China, Germany, and France can fight for their own oil supply, and they can figure out how to contain nuclear powers governed by nut job dictators and radical political parties.

longeyes
December 28, 2005, 01:16 PM
We have a country that is too busy with escapism to bother with such troublesome annoyances as war. And why should they when they have other people willing to fight for them? When they have a President who talks tough but won't mobilize the nation and who encourages Americans to shop till they drop?

I keep wondering when our military will ask whether the people at home are really worth fighting for. I've heard more than once that our soldiers think we're "soft" on the home front. No wonder.

BigG
December 28, 2005, 01:26 PM
Without a doubt, that kind of reply is probably the most childish kind of pap anyone can hear from a supposed adult. What's especially bad is that the person who spouts that kind of knee-jerk, unthinking, mental-shortcut kind of blurb actually THINKS it makes sense. Well, there is no special test for posting ont he internet.

Because it's home. Even despite the fact that it's flawed. I don't leave even with fools and poltroons in it, just the same as I still do my job despite it's many aspects that I find displeasing. Even despite the fact that average American couldn't factor a quadratic equation or read a world map, or even tell you two of the rights articulated in the First Amendment. Even then, it's still home.

Grow up.

Thanks for your input. Have a nice day! :)

cz75bdneos22
December 31, 2005, 01:22 AM
regretably, a member of our community (San Benito, Texas) came home from Iraq this past weekend..He was proud to be a member of the most awesome fighting force in the world, The United States Marine Corps, 2nd Division, Expeditionary Force. He died on December 18 at the hands of the Iraqi Insurgency during combat operations fighting in action like a true Marine in Ramadi, Iraq. He was only 20 years old and an outstanding citizen, student( San Benito High School) and church member ( St. Theresa Catholic Church) a great choir voice. He fulfilled his nation's and a personal call to duty. He passed away in battle, honoring His family name and our American ideals. Upon his return, He was escorted by seven of his peers (Honor Guard) as He was unloaded from the military aircraft at Mcallen, Texas airport. His parents couldn't be prouder of their son. He paid the ultimate prize and for that We will forever be in debt to him and His Familia. He will be missed by us all, may you rest in peace brother...your family is in good hands. A final salute to Lance Corporal Samuel Tapia, at ease soldier... for all eternity. Godspeed.

El Rancherito.

Samuel i wanted to share with you..

I carry a cross in my pocket
A simple reminder to me
Of the fact that I am a Christian
No matter where I may be

This little cross is not magic
Nor is it a good luck charm
It isn't meant to protect me
From every physical harm

It's not for identification
For all the world to see
It's simply an understanding
betwen my Savior and me

When I put my hand in my pocket
To bring out a coin or key
The Cross is there to remind me
of the price He paid for me

It reminds me too, to be thankful
for my blessings day to day
And to strive to serve Him better
In all that I do and say

It's also a daily reminder
Of the peace and comfort I share
With all who know my Master
And give themselves to His care

So, I carry a cross in my pocket
Reminding no one but me
That Jesus Christ is Lord of my life
If only I'll let Him be

-Verna Thomas-

You, Samuel, carried yours and that brings me peace. Adios mi amigo...

to Lance Cpls. Jesse Lopez and Miguel Salinas, may you come back to us unharmed brothers...

As of Dec 31, 2,177 soldiers killed, 16,155 injured after 1,017 days in Iraq..

Our community's fallen heroes:

Sgt. Eduardo Anguiano Army, Nasiriya, Iraq
Sgt. Juan Calderon Jr. Marines, Al Anbar Province, Iraq
Lance Cpl. Julio Cisneros Marines, Al Anbar province, Iraq
Spc. Tomas Garces, Army, South Baghdad
Sgt. Javier Marin, Army, Mohammed Sacran, Iraq
Sgt. Cristobal Ramirez, Army, Fallujah, Iraq
Spc. Marco Antonio Zapata, Army, Najaf, Iraq
Spc. Jesse Kessinger, Army, Taji, Iraq
Jose Rodriguez, Army 1st Calvary, 8th engineer Battalion, South Baghdad

Rest In Peace....

cz75bdneos22
December 31, 2005, 01:31 AM
Having lived almost a third of my 53 years outside the US in it's service and having lived In or visited all the nations of western europe, 2 in eastern europe, the old Soviet Union, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, most of north and west africa and all the nations of south america except those on the north east coast and the land locked ones I can categorically and with exceptional credibility say that:

YES! The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is the best.

We're the most moral, the best fed, have the strongest economy, the most freedom, and the strongest military. Ain't no other country on the planet that more people are trying to get into and that means a hell of a lot of folks don't think their current country is the best.

How many Americans emmigrate every year - DAMN FEW! That's how many!

WE AREN'T PERFECT BUT WE'RE STILL THE BEST!

Don't think we're the cat's meow - then name one country that's better?


o.k. let's exercise a bit...I'm a little out of shape lately...too much eating(holydays)...anyways,
you give me a person, place or thing that makes America the "Best" and with my limited experience...i'll try to counter with a person, place or thing that equals your "Best" or in my opinion bests your "Best"...any other players feel free to contribute your "Bests" or counter "Bests"...YMMV:D

fallingblock
December 31, 2005, 02:44 AM
The Revolution and the subsequent establishment of a government responsive to its citizens and whose control resides in the hands its people remain the salient definitive achievments of the U.S.

Comparing the relative freedom/liberty of 50/100/200 years ago to the present does not, I think, address the fundamental question posed at the beginning of the thread.

I am a U.S. citizen by birth and spent my first 40 years living in the U.S.A.

I also hold New Zealand and Australian citizenship - currently residing in the latter but formerly resident in and now frequently spending time in the former.

From my experiences travelling - and meeting folks from all over the planet - I would offer the opinion that - judging by voluntary immigration as well as an intended destination of refugees- the U.S. remains the most desireable nation from the standpoint of true personal freedom.
Of course said freedoms are sadly eroded and continuing to diminish. In many (most) nations of the world, these freedoms were never present, and in all the nations to which I have travelled, liberty /freedom is diminishing at a pace equal to if not exceeding the U.S.:(

It is not difficult to find fault with any nation, but in my experience there are few nations that have approached the United States in offering personal freedom/liberty to the 'common' man, and none that have surpassed it.

Should China indeed become the "most powerful" nation in the next half-century or so, you can be assured that her citizens will never have the level of freedom/opportunity which ALL Americans enjoy today.

HankB
December 31, 2005, 07:34 PM
. . . you give me a person, place or thing that makes America the "Best" and with my limited experience...i'll try to counter with a person, place or thing that equals your "Best" or in my opinion bests your "Best"...OK, I'll take the bait . . . category is 20th century exploration. Neil Armstrong was the 1st man to set foot on the Moon. The only close contender I can think of is Yuri Gagarin being the 1st man in orbit. Orbits are common, but the only folks to walk the Moon have been those America sent there.

How about attracting scientists? Many scientists, born abroad, emigrated to America, including luminaries such as Fermi, Szillard, and Einstein. Name a country that has attracted more - or more eminent - scientists during the 20th century.

longeyes
December 31, 2005, 07:40 PM
So much of what we call "the modern world," be it in science, technology, the arts, culture generally, is flavored American. Certainly it is beyond debate that we are the most influential society. Are we the freest? I think we are in most ways--which is the easiest country to start a business in, to become successful in?--though we all know that we are losing, incrementally, some of our basic liberties. There are other countries with better safety nets, there are none with as many opportunities or as many options for the enterprising.

Werewolf
December 31, 2005, 08:48 PM
you give me a person, place or thing that makes America the "Best" and with my limited experience...i'll try to counter with a person, place or thing that equals your "Best" or in my opinion bests your "Best"No matter what anyone mentions there's probably at least one country in the world that can match or better it.

But if one lists 100 things the US will always be up there in the top 5 or so. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That's why the US is the best.

It's kinda like winning the NASCAR championship without ever having come in first in a race.

But I will provide one example of where the US is the best...

To the best of my knowledge there is no nation on earth that doesn't reserve to itself the right to close down or control the media. Most don't but they could if they wanted to. Even in the so called free nations of western Europe freedom of the press exists only at the sufferance of the government. Only in the US does the media have free reign and is safe from government control.

Herself
December 31, 2005, 08:50 PM
Ask Howard Stern about that, Werewolf.

longeyes
December 31, 2005, 09:04 PM
Stern got a $500 million contract. That's oppression?

GoRon
December 31, 2005, 09:05 PM
Ask Howard Stern about that, Werewolf.

No one is or has stopped Howard from saying whatever he wants.

What is regulated is that which is considered "public" ie. the regulated air waves.

He is free to publish, go on the air in the private sphere and say whatever he likes.

If you stood up on a street corner with a bull horn and started describing anal sex in detail guys with guns would eventually come and take you away. All that Howard got was a slap on the wrist, a fine and was told to tone it down on public airwaves.

In spite :rolleyes: of Howard not being on free radio we are still the shining city on the hill.

Herself
December 31, 2005, 09:21 PM
So it is okay for the government (as opposed to, say, morket forces) to regulate some aspects of all media, and all aspects of some media, just as long not all apects of all media are controlled?

That's not "freedom," uness you mean the freedom of chained animal to roam within the limits defined by its chain.

Don't get me wrong -- I think Howard's radio show is nasty garbage, have not heard much of it and do not plan to seek it out. That's how I control him. There's an off switch! You do not have to buy "Icky Sex Quarterly" or "Guns & Ammo" or "Leftwing Tripe in Cartoons" just because it is on the newstand; and if you do not like seeing it on the newstand, talk to the chap who owns the stand instead of working to impose government censorship!

...When it comes to media -- "freedom of the press" -- the States fall short of the aspiration of the First Amendment.

Or do you think that quaint old language only refers to the freedom to read the output of, own and use manual presses with hand-set type? (Might Ginsberg have avoided obscenity prosecution had his publisher refrained from the use of linotype?)

--Herself

GoRon
December 31, 2005, 09:36 PM
So it is okay for the government (as opposed to, say, morket forces) to regulate some aspects of all media, and all aspects of some media, just as long not all apects of all media are controlled?

That's not "freedom," uness you mean the freedom of chained animal to roam within the limits defined by its chain.

We have never lived in an age of perfect liberty and freedom.

There have always been compromises and the line between acceptable public behavior and obscene(regulated) has moved from time to time.

What is never acceptable is restrictions on any discourse regarding politics.

dustind
December 31, 2005, 11:51 PM
What is never acceptable is restrictions on any discourse regarding politics. Except for things like the war on drugs. Commercials opposing it are banned.

Political speech around election times are also heavily regulated or banned.

Then you have "free speech zone." Which of course means no free speech outside of the zone.

Sam
January 1, 2006, 12:36 AM
As for what I do to make it better, I have a small business and am a productive member of society, am a well-informed citizen and a member of the unorganized militia. I have some small knowledge of the law, history, and the human condition. I am the worst threat to government, as I mention above, as I am an informed citizen.

Well Mr. Legrand you eat and sleep here and you are a citizen, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE IT BETTER?

You complain about it's deficiencies but.............


Sam

Wllm. Legrand
January 1, 2006, 01:06 AM
.

Well Mr. Legrand you eat and sleep here and you are a citizen, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE IT BETTER?

You complain about it's deficiencies but.............


Sam

Geez...as if that's not enough. I wasn't aware that THAT was the question posed. Nor is there any reason to believe YOU should be the one asking it..

For the record, I do my best to have the government and busybodies leave me the hell alone and in return I do not interfere with the affairs of others.

I figure that's a good start.

Maybe you can start doing the same and keep us posted on how you do that, too...

Old Dog
January 1, 2006, 01:24 AM
So basically ... you're a well-informed citizen ... but you are not actively working to change things for the better?

No, "not interfering with the affairs of others" is no way to lobby for productive change, nor does it give one the right to complain about the current state of affairs.

Wllm. Legrand
January 1, 2006, 01:39 AM
So basically ... you're a well-informed citizen ... but you are not actively working to change things for the better?

No, "not interfering with the affairs of others" is no way to lobby for productive change, nor does it give one the right to complain about the current state of affairs.

I'm sorry, really, but this kind of post is so silly.

"..nor does it give one the right to complain about the current state of affairs"
Absolutely ridiculous on the face of it. Since when does one have to "earn" the right to comment on public policy or the government to whom one is subject to (subject to describes the current state of affairs in this country)? And not interfering in the affairs of others is an example more people in this country would do well to emulate, as most government and policy makers dabble in things that ARE NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!

Influencing family, friends, customers, acquaintances, clients., etc. by proffering a better-informed, more rounded, and erudite explanation is not working to change things for the better? Frankly, sir, the parliment of whores that inhabit the govenrment offices, whom I've dealt with on several issues on a state-wide basis, are persons of little character for whom I have no use, as I have no use for the present political system. Burn it down and start over again, for it's cut from the same cloth as the government school system..hopeless. Change in this culture will only come when a significant portion of the citizenry rise to near open revolt to demand change. This will probably not happen, as the majority are content with their lot..or they will be until massive financial and economic disaster comes..and that's comin' down the pike soon.

When I was involved with the Republican Party and ghost-wrote articles and letters for the local NRA chapter on local affairs I learned what pap the process has devolved to in this society.

Save your critiques and vapid statements for those who do no know any better..I've been there and done that....I've EARNED my cynicism.

Old Dog
January 1, 2006, 01:55 AM
Ah, so what you're saying ... boils down to ... your feeling that, because you have no use for the present system, and you feel that it does not work ... you are above it ... yet you maintain you still own the right to publicly complain about how ineffective the system is?

the parliment of whores that inhabit the govenrment offices, whom I've dealt with on several issues on a state-wide basis, are persons of little character for whom I have no use, as I have no use for the present political system. Catchy phrase. By the way, it's "parliament." So you'd have us believe that there are not persons of honor and integrity inhabiting any public office these days?

Save your critiques and vapid statements for those who do no know any better..I've been there and done that....I've EARNED my cynicism.Sure you have. But a good thing for the rest of us that some of us actually know better, and understand that the only way to work for productive change is to actually do so ... work for change ... rather than give up, rise above it all, make pithy statements to friends and on internet forums ...

Change in this culture will only come when a significant portion of the citizenry rise to near open revolt to demand change.Guessing you're not a member of the significant portion, eh?

ReadyontheRight
January 1, 2006, 04:21 AM
Without a doubt, that kind of reply is probably the most childish kind of pap anyone can hear from a supposed adult. What's especially bad is that the person who spouts that kind of knee-jerk, unthinking, mental-shortcut kind of blurb actually THINKS it makes sense. Well, there is no special test for posting ont he internet.

Because it's home. Even despite the fact that it's flawed. I don't leave even with fools and poltroons in it, just the same as I still do my job despite it's many aspects that I find displeasing. Even despite the fact that average American couldn't factor a quadratic equation or read a world map, or even tell you two of the rights articulated in the First Amendment. Even then, it's still home.

Grow up.


[Edited from non-THR wording to say] This is just plain old TOO MUCH. PLEASE ... get over yourself and keep your childish comments to the argument, not the person.

"Childish Pap" tends to get on oneself and stink.

And BigG's post was NOT "childish", "unthinking" or a "mental-shortcut" at all. He was AGREEING with a fellow human being. Maybe you just haven't experienced that phenomenon yet.

Projection. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection)

ReadyontheRight
January 1, 2006, 04:50 AM
Because it's home. Even despite the fact that it's flawed. I don't leave even with fools and poltroons in it, just the same as I still do my job despite it's many aspects that I find displeasing. Even despite the fact that average American couldn't factor a quadratic equation or read a world map, or even tell you two of the rights articulated in the First Amendment. Even then, it's still home.


The question still remains .. Where or when is "better"? The USA 40+ years ago had:

-The military Draft
-Poor people who were THIN! Because they were HUNGRY!
-3 TV Channels and Life Magazine telling us what they considered to be News
-Apartheid
-Intolerance toward gays, sex before marriage, single mothers, divorce, wearing your hair and clothes as you like, questioning the government, etc., etc....

Nematocyst
January 1, 2006, 06:08 AM
It is an honor to post #100 (my 900th) in one of the most interesting L&P threads I've ever read on THR.
(Of course, I find most L&P threads to be utter sleepers, worthy of salting my popcorn if little else. (Ho hum.)

Fairly interesting, folks.

Reading Legrand, LE, Herself, Cosmo, TheRealHawkeye et al with much interest.

Too busy with a construction project (upon which my entrepreneurial existence in the US of A exists)
to jump in too deeply at the moment, but suffice to say...

... jolly good thread.

Please continue. I'll be reading along, trying to root out logical and grammatical errors.
_______

Just to establish a bit of new argument territory early on, I'll add this:

The concept of United States of America has only been in existence for ~ 235 years.

The concept of nation-state has only existed for about 1000 years.

The concept of continent, otoh, has been around for hundreds of millions of years, and planetary physiology for billions.

E.g., the state in which I live - OR - has only existed for 100 million years. It is the only one of the lower 48 that was NOT part of the NA continent 100 million years ago (according to currently accepted geologic models based in good science).

So, here's my point: on the time scale of an evolutionary biologist, such as myself, this is an intellectually interesting exercise, but totally irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.

Still, I'm reading.

Carry on.

Nem

Herself
January 1, 2006, 12:55 PM
So, here's my point: on the time scale of an evolutionary biologist, such as myself, this is an intellectually interesting exercise, but totally irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.

Still, I'm reading.

With all due respect, Nem, are you expecting to be following any evolutionary proceses in their entirely within your lifetime?

The catch to a powerful, centralized government is that it can accomplish things of serious personal impact on a timescale incredibly fast by any standard. And there is no way to avoid having to interact with it.

If the process moved at the same pace as organisms gettin' situated in their environment*, or at the normal rate-of-change for social institutions in the absence of severe external stressors, that would be one thing. But it doesn't; government moves with the speed of a computerized asset seizure and the precision of a no-knock drug raid on the wrong address, and quite often with an objective far less clear than in those small-scale examples.

And that's what sets me off. Any barrier placed in the path of any action by any government has a far greater chance of being a good thing than a bad one.

A government powerful enough to give you anything you want is also powerful enough to take everything away from you. I don't believe any government -- any involuntary association -- should ever have that much power. I don't care how noble or well-intentioned those comprising it happen to be at present, or how devoted they are to proving Lord Acton wrong about power: sooner or later, they'll be stompin' grandmothers or destroying villages in order to save 'em.

And The United States are no exception to that principle. No nation is or can ever be.

--Herself
_____________________________
* I have used the folksier term deliberately, as organisms don't merely adapt to their environment, but in many instances, adapt their enviroment to themselves. And as you know but others may not, Nature rewards survival not only to the fittest but to any that are fit. Just barely good enough to get by is good enough. This simple point is often overlooked when we set out to "uplift" our neighbors without their consent....

Herself
January 1, 2006, 01:20 PM
The question still remains .. Where or when is "better"? The USA 40+ years ago had:
[...]
-Poor people who were THIN! Because they were HUNGRY!
You write that like it is a bad thing. Look, to be poor is to be hungry. I know. I've been poor. If you're not missing meals, you're not poor; and if you're getting by well enough to be eating so often that you are not skinny, what incentive is there to do better?

C'mon. This is how critters are wired up! Humans aren't especially different. "Root, hog, or die."

-3 TV Channels and Life Magazine telling us what they considered to be News
Plus Time, Newsweek, U. S. News and World Report, about three times as many newspapers as there are in the States today, and many more. There were more -- and more varied -- magazines on newstands in the 1930s through 60s than there are now.

Also your "3 TV channels" is in error; American broadcasting is (still, though less so than 40 years ago) not a top-down system; most stations are owned by small companies who produce some content, usually including local and regional news, and which affiliate with a national content provider, a network, for some set period of time. It's got a lot of room for diversisty, and had more 40 years ago than it does today, as station ownership and even programming operations are incereasingly concetrated in a few hands in a few locations.

-Apartheid
Not in all places, and even then, a thing Americans were becoming ashamed of. Interestingly, much of it can be traced to the policies of the Administration of Woodrow Wilson, who segregated the Federal government; prior to then, since the end of the War Between The States the Feds had been a levelling influence by serving as an example: Federal employment and advancement did not recognize race as a factor.

-Intolerance toward gays, sex before marriage, single mothers, divorce, wearing your hair and clothes as you like, questioning the government, etc., etc....
To the extent that such attitudes are institutionalized and made a part of law, they're a problem; to the extent that they are, in fact, simply the beliefs held by individuals and which influence their patterns of association but do not result in the initiation of force against others, they are quite normal. A culture needs a center; changes in core values cannot be forced and are best allowed to take their own time.

Was the past a halcyon tme of great wonderfulness? Hardly! And for me, had I been born even a decade earlier, I would not have lived to adulthood.

But to assume "progress" moves in only one direction, that things are better every day in every way than they were the day before, is to fall into the trap of "histrical inevitablilty" left by Marxists. They were wrong, and so are we if we fall for it.

--Herself

Old Dog
January 1, 2006, 01:20 PM
With all due respect, Herself, I think you're missing something. Technology is rendering government, if not obsolete, irrelevant. Advances in medicine, science and techology -- which directly correspond to substantial increase in benefits to citizens and improvements in everyone's quality of life -- are occurring not because of government, but in spite of government. Sure, government uses the technology -- witness the NSA and its nefarious electronic surveillance. By the same token, much of this same technology brings Americans the news that this has happened, allows Americans to debate whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing, and will inevitably lead the grass-roots efforts to persuade our Congress (one way or another) to stop the abrogation of our civil liberties. The rapid technological advancements and their benefits though, once brought to Americans, will become aspects of our lives that we will not willingly give up to our government.

The internet may be the greatest vehicle ever for bringing Americans together for a purpose; certainly, given the distrust most show the mainstream media, an incredible amount of political lobbying and political activism has not only gained a wellspring of support, the movement may soon by insurmountable.

But it doesn't; government moves with the speed of a computerized asset seizure and the precision of a no-knock drug raid on the wrong address, and quite often with an objective far less clear than in those small-scale examples.I would submit that the review process we are entitled to is working; already, on a state level, and in many lower courts, these issues are being challenged at the fundamental level.

Now, you say Any barrier placed in the path of any action by [/i]any[/i] government has a far greater chance of being a good thing than a bad one.and most of us would agree. I would say that there is growing consciousness of this on the part of a growing group of citizens ...

The Real Hawkeye
January 1, 2006, 01:21 PM
With all due respect, Nem, are you expecting to be following any evolutionary proceses in their entirely within your lifetime?

The catch to a powerful, centralized government is that it can accomplish things of serious personal impact on a timescale incredibly fast by any standard. And there is no way to avoid having to interact with it.

If the process moved at the same pace as organisms gettin' situated in their environment*, or at the normal rate-of-change for social institutions in the absence of severe extrnal stressors, that would be one thing. But it doesn't; government moves with the speed of a computerized asset seizure and the precision of a no-knock drug raid on the wrong address, and quite often with an objective far less clear than in those small-scale examples.

And that's what sets me off. Any barrier placed in the path of any action by [/i]any[/i] government has a far greater chance of being a good thing than a bad one.

A government powerful enough to give you anything you want is also powerful enough to take everything away from you. I don't believe any government -- any involuntary association -- should ever have that much power. I don't care how noble or well-intentioned those comprising it happen to be at present, or how devoted they are to proving Lord Acton wrong about power: sooner or later, they'll be stompin' grandmothers or destroying villages in order to save 'em.

And The United States are no exception to that principle. No nation is or can ever be.

--Herself+1

Nematocyst
January 1, 2006, 06:28 PM
With all due respect, Nem, are you expecting to be following any evolutionary proceses in their entirely within your lifetime?

The catch to a powerful, centralized government is that it can accomplish things of serious personal impact on a timescale incredibly fast by any standard. And there is no way to avoid having to interact with it.

If the process moved at the same pace as organisms gettin' situated in their environment*, or at the normal rate-of-change for social institutions in the absence of severe extrnal stressors, that would be one thing. But it doesn't; government moves with the speed of a computerized asset seizure and the precision of a no-knock drug raid on the wrong address, and quite often with an objective far less clear than in those small-scale examples.
_____________________________
* I have used the folksier term deliberately, as organisms don't merely adapt to their environment, but in many instances, adapt their enviroment to themselves. And as you know but others may not, Nature rewards survival not only to the fittest but to any that are fit. Just barely good enough to get by is good enough. This simple point is often overlooked when we set out to "uplift" our neighbors without their consent.... Herself, your question in the first paragraph quoted above is a reasonable one. Let me see if I can offer a reasonable answer without turning this thread into a biology lesson or a debate about climate change. My intent here is to add another dimension to the thread, to provide some additional context for the discussion, not to hijack it.

First, I totally agree with your assertions about the rapidity of political change in your paragraphs, including your footnote about adaptation. No arguments there at all. That assertion alone makes this thread worthwhile.

But to answer your question - "are you expecting to be following any evolutionary proceses in their entirely [entirity?] within your lifetime?", my answer is yes, it is possible. I'm hedging with the word "possible" only because no one can predict the future (I don't believe in prophets & soothsayers who can make specific predictions), but such a rapid change is now understood by many scientists to be the norm rather than the exception.

What most lay people (with respect to evolution) don't realize yet is that evolutionary biology is undergoing a substantial evolution itself, almost as large as the revolution that Darwin started. Even though the view that I'm going to state here is still controversial, and would take many, many posts to fully explain (obviously THR is not the place for that), and this view will draw fire from many if not most 'old school' evolutionary biologists (belonging to the neo-Darwinist school of thought that reigned from the 1930's through almost now), the evidence for it - both in terms of theory & paleontology - is substantial and compelling.

We're beginning to understand that evolutionary changes occur rapidly, NOT gradually over many, many generations as the neo-Darwinians argued for almost a century.

Paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould & Niles Eldridge put this idea forward first in the early 1970's. They noted from long study of the fossil record that - unlike the view held up as dogma by contemporary evolution - evolutionary changes happen very fast. And not in just a few cases or a few places, but ubiquitously. Species remained largely unchanged for extremely long periods, then WHAM! - rapid change. There was no sense arguing with the fossil record, they said.

They called their theory "punctuated equilbrium". Long periods of no change (equilibrium) followed by rapid change (the punctuation).

The theory was controversial into the '90's. While I was still in grad school working on my doctorate in evolution (~1990), I heard Eldridge speak in front of 100 biologists. Most grilled him mercilessly, refusing to buy his idea. It simply did not fit their accepted dogma.

Now, with some major changes in science at the hands of 'systems theory' and a related branch of mathematics (nonlinear dynamics, AKA chaos theory), and some new ideas called symbiogenesis put forth by microbiologist Lynn Margulis (U Mass), that gradualist dogma is beginning to crumble substantially.

The emerging new view is that nearly all substantial evolutionary changes occur via punctuated evolution. It's turning out that evolution in nature is more like evolution in politics and economics than previously thought: changes are often not slow and gradual, but rapid and brutish. Coup detat & black market Mondays are as common in nature as in politics & economics.

The same is true with climate changes. As little as thirty years ago, the accepted (read dogma) view of climatologists was that climate always changed slowly. For example, it was believed that ice ages come and go over thousands if not tens of thousands of years.

In the 1990's, as a result of new work involving chemical analysis of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica (several hundred thousand years of ice containing 'fossilized air' trapped in the tiny bubbles), that view changed radically. That data shows unequivocally that rapid, HUGE climate changes - read from ice age conditions to temperate and balmy - can and do regularly occur in a decade or two or even less. See this page for more on that topic. (http://www.aip.org/history/climate/rapid.htm)

All of this - rapid changes in evolution & in climate - were unsupported by more linear models that dominated science until the 1970's & 80's, when computers made working with nonlinear systems more tenable. Now we realize that natural systems, like human ones (political, economic, etc) are not linear, but nonlinear, and thus do not change gradually but rapidly at those nonlinear breaking points or critical thresholds called phase transitions.

Which relates to my point somewhat flippantly offered last night. Whereas this thread IS interesting, and in current conditions it IS important - I do NOT argue otherwise - in the face of a major global climate shift like we appear to be entering now (asserts the teacher of a college-level climate change class, recognizing the provocative nature of his statement and braces for flames from skeptics), all bets are off as to which is more important: a debate about politics or dealing with (AKA surviving) the climate change.

(Parenthetically: climatologists have now determined that 2005 was globally the hottest year since record keeping began, surpassing 1998 for that title. Add to that the fact that greenhouse gases are statistically AND substantially higher now at any time in the last 430,000 years, and the recognition that atmospheric systems don't change gradually, but catestrophically in events called phase transtions, and you've got the makings for a disaster.)

My sense is, a major climate shift could easily level the playing field in terms of agricultural disruptions, for example, and America could quickly lose its status as 'exceptional'.

Layer on a helping of crisis resulting from peak oil (http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/index.html) (another thread entirely; i'm still skeptical but studying it), and things could get very interesting. :uhoh:

Just food for thought. Only time will tell.

Happy new year, everyone. Let's hope that politics and 9 mm v .45 debates are the least pleasant issues we will have to face this year. ;)

Nem

RealGun
January 1, 2006, 07:33 PM
We're beginning to understand that evolutionary changes occur rapidly, NOT gradually over many, many generations as the neo-Darwinians argued for almost a century.

"Rapidly", "gradually", and "many" are all relative terms, perhaps 100s of years or more in terms of a significant number of generations in a confined genetic population. One contemporary example that comes to mind is cross breeding of slaves and slave owners in the US and Carribean. Eurasians in Vietnam would be another one.

I was just wondering how your statements reconcile with genetics and the likelihood that certain dominant traits would become pervasive in a relatively short period of time.

I would be a lot more concerned about cultural traits, for example the expectation that "the man" would take care of me, or that "working" the system was the way to get by, or that crime was an accepted way to make money, something to which to aspire.

Old Dog
January 1, 2006, 08:26 PM
Wow, there went this thread ... from American exceptionalism to Darwin, evolution, genetics and global warming. Time for those of us whose last science class was eleventh grade biology to bow out of this one ...

Nematocyst
January 1, 2006, 08:47 PM
Wow, there went this thread ... from American exceptionalism to Darwin, evolution, genetics and global warming. Time for those of us whose last science class was eleventh grade biology to bow out of this one ... Oh, now, OD, me thinks you doth protest too much.

This thread has been all over the map about this topic of "American Exceptionalism". Indeed, you addressed the relevance of technology and the internet above, and the relevance of science was brought up a couple of times already on page 4. All I did was add another twist to that.

If we're going to talk about exceptional accomplishments, then I think the exceptional advances in our understanding of nature - including evolution, genetics & climate - deserve to be part of the discussion. After all, a lot of the work being done in those areas is being done by Americans.

So just because a biologist (who NEVER had a political science class, 11th grade or not) adds some spice to the pot, don't be running off crying foul.

Besides, if there's one major principle we're learning from systems theory, it's this: all systems (= collections of interacting parts that demonstrate the phenomenon of feedback, where actions of one part feed back into the actions of others) operate according to the same principles, the same kinds of rules, modeled by the same kinds of models.

The parts may be different, but the dynamics are explained by the same kinds of models.

Translation: it doesn't matter whether we're talking about sociopolitical systems, brains, ecosystems, genetic systems or the internet. If we take a systems view, they all work the same way in terms of broad principles of dynamics.

So don't be running off. You've got too many good things to add.

Nem

Old Dog
January 1, 2006, 08:50 PM
Hey, Nem ... I was being facetious ... it's actually enjoyable having a intelligent thread with the kitchen sink thrown in!

Nematocyst
January 1, 2006, 08:54 PM
... it's actually enjoyable having a intelligent thread with the kitchen sink thrown in! Hey, I got one of them, too. Newly installed in my new studio. ;)

That's one of the things I love about THR: the intelligence & intellectual diversity in here is astounding.

We may sometimes fight like cats, but I can't think of another group of people I'd rather hang out with.

Herself
January 1, 2006, 09:22 PM
Nem, I've probably been reading too much Micheal Flynn, especially his farther-out notions about historical analysis and prediction ("cliology," named after the Muse of history), but you have responded in greater detail and clarity than I could have hoped!

As for climate change, while there will be considerable difference of opinion among the knowledgable and the uninformed alike, most of us can likely agree that the system has several points of relatively weak stability and has in the past moved rapidly from one to another due to triggering events of which we have, at this time, poor knowledge. (And I suspect human inputs to the system aren't statistically significant compared to massive contributors like sea spray and solar output; but most of what I know, I read in the Sunday supplement).

Peak oil is likewise contentious -- among other things, our solar system appears to be fairly well-stocked with complex hydrocarbons closely akin to crude oil (kerogens), making a biological origin for the stuff less likely than was once believed. There are also alternative sources of just-as-good, like molecular decomposition, that differ from drilling and pumping merely in price. So in my opinion the abrupt end and bloody wars envisioned by the wilder-eyed prophets of peak oil is increasingly unlikely. Time will tell.

But! As you are saying, these and other examples point to a pattern of rapid changes between points of stability, of "steamboats" popping up all over when is "steamboat time."

This a surely as true for human sociopolitical systems as it is for other large, chaotic systems; and it implies that at critical moments, as change strikes, concerted action by a determined few might affect the nature of the new point of stability.

In other words, there really are Men Who Change The World, and not simply the blind forces of Change and Chance forcing us relentlessly into the future.

Now that's "exceptional," no matter how one cares to slice it.

--Herself

cz75bdneos22
January 3, 2006, 12:23 AM
No matter what anyone mentions there's probably at least one country in the world that can match or better it.

But if one lists 100 things the US will always be up there in the top 5 or so. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That's why the US is the best.

It's kinda like winning the NASCAR championship without ever having come in first in a race.

But I will provide one example of where the US is the best...

To the best of my knowledge there is no nation on earth that doesn't reserve to itself the right to close down or control the media. Most don't but they could if they wanted to. Even in the so called free nations of western Europe freedom of the press exists only at the sufferance of the government. Only in the US does the media have free reign and is safe from government control.


you gotta be kidding..."free" media...boy, i wish you could see other countries newscasts...there is no comparison with the U.S. even by our "liberal" standards..YMMV

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