Category Archives: history - Page 2

The Snake Eaters Speak

The Special Forces are mostly talking pretty good sense here. Their letter is reprinted below, in accordance with their desire that it be widely disseminated.

Protecting the Second Amendment – Why all Americans Should Be Concerned

We are current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). We have all taken an oath to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.…” The Constitution of the United States is without a doubt the single greatest document in the history of mankind, codifying the fundamental principle of governmental power and authority being derived from and granted through the consent of the governed . . .

Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression. We have witnessed the insidious and iniquitous effects of tyranny and oppression on people all over the world. We and our forebears have embodied and personified our organizational motto, De Oppresso Liber [To Free the Oppressed], for more than a half century as we have fought, shed blood, and died in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed.

Like you, we are also loving and caring fathers and grandfathers. Like you, we have been stunned, horrified, and angered by the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook; and like you, we are searching for solutions to the problem of gun-related crimes in our society. Many of us are educators in our second careers and have a special interest to find a solution to this problem. However, unlike much of the current vox populi reactions to this tragedy, we offer a different perspective.

First, we need to set the record straight on a few things. The current debate is over so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”

The M4A1 carbine is a U.S. military service rifle – it is an assault rifle. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. The “AR” in its name does not stand for “Assault Rifle” – it is the designation from the first two letters of the manufacturer’s name – ArmaLite Corporation. The AR-15 is designed so that it cosmetically looks like the M4A1 carbine assault rifle, but it is impossible to configure the AR-15 to be a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a single shot semi-automatic rifle that can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. In 1986, the federal government banned the import or manufacture of new fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. Therefore, the sale of assault rifles are already banned or heavily restricted!

The second part of the current debate is over “high capacity magazines” capable of holding more than 10 rounds in the magazine. As experts in military weapons of all types, it is our considered opinion that reducing magazine capacity from 30 rounds to 10 rounds will only require an additional 6 -8 seconds to change two empty 10 round magazines with full magazines. Would an increase of 6 –8 seconds make any real difference to the outcome in a mass shooting incident? In our opinion it would not. Outlawing such “high capacity magazines” would, however, outlaw a class of firearms that are “in common use”. As such this would be in contravention to the opinion expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court recent decisions.

Moreover, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban became law in 1994, manufacturers began retooling to produce firearms and magazines that were compliant. One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines. In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995. Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre’s aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.

Now that we have those facts straight, in our opinion, it is too easy to conclude that the problem is guns and that the solution to the problem is more and stricter gun control laws. For politicians, it is politically expedient to take that position and pass more gun control laws and then claim to constituents that they have done the right thing in the interest of protecting our children. Who can argue with that? Of course we all want to find a solution. But, is the problem really guns? Would increasing gun regulation solve the problem? Did we outlaw cars to combat drunk driving?

What can we learn from experiences with this issue elsewhere? We cite the experience in Great Britain. Despite the absence of a “gun culture”, Great Britain, with one-fifth the population of the U.S., has experienced mass shootings that are eerily similar to those we have experienced in recent years. In 1987 a lone gunman killed 18 people in Hungerford. What followed was the Firearms Act of 1988 making registration mandatory and banning semi-automatic guns and pump-action shotguns. Despite this ban, on March 13, 1996 a disturbed 43-year old former scout leader, Thomas Hamilton, murdered 16 school children aged five and six and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland.

Within a year and a half the Firearms Act was amended to ban all private ownership of hand guns. After both shootings there were amnesty periods resulting in the surrender of thousands of firearms and ammunition. Despite having the toughest gun control laws in the world, gun related crimes increased in 2003 by 35% over the previous year with firearms used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the preceding 12 months. Gun related homicides were up 32% over the same period. Overall, gun related crime had increased 65% since the Dunblane massacre and implementation of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world. In contrast, in 2009 (5 years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired) total firearm related homicides in the U.S. declined by 9% from the 2005 high (Source: “FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Master File, Table 310, Murder Victims – Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death: 2000-2009”).

Are there unintended consequences to stricter gun control laws and the politically expedient path that we have started down?

In a recent op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brett Joshpe stated that “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.”We agree with Kevin D. Williamson (National Review Online, December 28, 2012): “The problem with this argument is that there is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment right that excludes military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear.”

“The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story”: ‘The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers.

It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.’

The Second Amendment has been ruled to specifically extend to firearms “in common use” by the military by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Miller (1939). In Printz v U.S. (1997) Justice Thomas wrote: “In Miller we determined that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a citizen’s right to possess a sawed-off shot gun because that weapon had not been shown to be “ordinary military equipment” that could “could contribute to the common defense”.

A citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense unconnected with service in a militia has been reaffirmed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia, et al. v Heller, 2008). The Court Justice Scalia wrote in the majority opinion: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.“. Justice Scalia went on to define a militia as “… comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense ….”

“The Anti-Federalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.” he explained.

On September 13, 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. A Washington Post editorial published two days later was candid about the ban’s real purpose:“[N]o one should have any illusions about what was accomplished [by the ban]. Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.”

In a challenge to the authority of the Federal government to require State and Local Law Enforcement to enforce Federal Law (Printz v United States) the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1997. For the majority opinion Justice Scalia wrote: “…. this Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations When we were at last confronted squarely with a federal statute that unambiguously required the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program, our decision should have come as no surprise….. It is an essential attribute of the States’ retained sovereignty that they remain independent and autonomous within their proper sphere of authority.”

So why should non-gun owners, a majority of Americans, care about maintaining the 2nd Amendment right for citizens to bear arms of any kind?

The answer is “The Battle of Athens, TN”. The Cantrell family had controlled the economy and politics of McMinn County, Tennessee since the 1930s. Paul Cantrell had been Sheriff from 1936 -1940 and in 1942 was elected to the State Senate. His chief deputy, Paul Mansfield, was subsequently elected to two terms as Sheriff. In 1946 returning WWII veterans put up a popular candidate for Sheriff. On August 1 Sheriff Mansfield and 200 “deputies” stormed the post office polling place to take control of the ballot boxes wounding an objecting observer in the process.

The veterans bearing military style weapons, laid siege to the Sheriff’s office demanding return of the ballot boxes for public counting of the votes as prescribed in Tennessee law. After exchange of gun fire and blowing open the locked doors, the veterans secured the ballot boxes thereby protecting the integrity of the election. And this is precisely why all Americans should be concerned about protecting all of our right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment!

Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes. At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the 2nd Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.

If there is a staggering legal precedent to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and if stricter gun control laws are not likely to reduce gun related crime, why are we having this debate? Other than making us and our elected representatives feel better because we think that we are doing something to protect our children, these actions will have no effect and will only provide us with a false sense of security.

So, what do we believe will be effective? First, it is important that we recognize that this is not a gun control problem; it is a complex sociological problem. No single course of action will solve the problem. Therefore, it is our recommendation that a series of diverse steps be undertaken, the implementation of which will require patience and diligence to realize an effect. These are as follows:

1. First and foremost we support our Second Amendment right in that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

2. We support State and Local School Boards in their efforts to establish security protocols in whatever manner and form that they deem necessary and adequate. One of the great strengths of our Republic is that State and Local governments can be creative in solving problems. Things that work can be shared. Our point is that no one knows what will work and there is no one single solution, so let’s allow the State and Local governments with the input of the citizens to make the decisions. Most recently the Cleburne Independent School District will become the first district in North Texas to consider allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. We do not opine as to the appropriateness of this decision, but
we do support their right to make this decision for themselves.

3. We recommend that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws be passed in every State. AOT is formerly known as Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) and allows the courts to order certain individuals with mental disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community. In each of the mass shooting incidents the perpetrator was mentally unstable. We also believe that people who have been adjudicated as incompetent should be simultaneously examined to determine whether they should be allowed the right to retain/purchase firearms.

4. We support the return of firearm safety programs to schools along the lines of the successful “Eddie the Eagle” program, which can be taught in schools by Peace Officers or other trained professionals.

5. Recent social psychology research clearly indicates that there is a direct relationship between gratuitously violent movies/video games and desensitization to real violence and increased aggressive behavior particularly in children and young adults (See Nicholas L. Carnagey, et al. 2007. “The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence” and the references therein. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43:489-496). Therefore, we strongly recommend that gratuitous violence in movies and video games be discouraged. War and war-like behavior should not be glorified. Hollywood and video game producers are exploiting something they know nothing about. General Sherman famously said “War is Hell!” Leave war to the Professionals. War is not a game and should not be “sold” as entertainment to our children.

6. We support repeal of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it obviously isn’t working. It is our opinion that “Gun-Free Zones” anywhere are too tempting of an environment for the mentally disturbed individual to inflict their brand of horror with little fear of interference. While governmental and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals should be free to implement a Gun-Free Zone if they so choose, they should also assume Tort liability for that decision.

7. We believe that border states should take responsibility for implementation of border control laws to prevent illegal shipments of firearms and drugs. Drugs have been illegal in this country for a long, long time yet the Federal Government manages to seize only an estimated 10% of this contraband at our borders. Given this dismal performance record that is misguided and inept (“Fast and Furious”), we believe that border States will be far more competent at this mission.

8. This is our country, these are our rights. We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set.

The undersigned Quiet Professionals hereby humbly stand ever present, ever ready, and ever vigilant.

1100 Green Berets Signed this Letter
We have a list of all their names and unlike any MSM outlets we can confirm that over 1100 Green Berets did sign. The list includes Special Forces Major Generals & Special Forces Command Sergeants Major down to the lowest ranking “Green Beret”.

The letter stands for itself.
Read it and send it everywhere.

Team Sergeant

It Could Never Happen Here

German gun control laws in the pre-WWII period respected the rights of sportsmen and hunters, but took strong action to control and confiscate any weapons that might have a military use. Special permits and authorization were required to buy and firearms and ammunition, and only those with a ‘legitimate sporting purpose’ were allowed. Police, and members of the government, of course, were exempted.

The purpose and goal of the law at hand are to get firearms that have done so much damage from the hands of unauthorized persons and to do away with the instability and ambiguity of the law that previously existed in this area. The difficult task was to find the appropriate limits between this necessity of the state on the one hand and the important interests of the weapons industry that was employing a large number of workers and had been heavily damaged through the peace treaty, the interests of the legal sporting industry, and the personal freedom of the individual.

We all know how that ended up. It’s a good thing nothing like that could ever happen here.

What Goes Up….

James Shelley talks about Ibn Khaldun and history.

For Khaldun, the symptom of society’s decline is people’s incapacity to act for themselves. When people (presumably distracted by luxury to the point of complete apathy) fail to take concern for the affairs of their tribe (or city, state, or civilization), it is only a matter of time before the very civilization that fostered their luxurious prosperity implodes on itself.

Our civilization is not eternal. Nothing is.

Welcome To Reality, America

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing, we’re hearing the usual refrain, about how unimaginable it is that someone would do something like this. How could someone possibly murder innocents? Nothing like that has ever happened before! It’s completely outside of all human experience!

The Onion even ran a little supposedly satirical piece about This what world like now

Saying that being completely shocked by an urban bombing is now a thing of the past, officials confirmed that it’s no longer outside the realm of possibility for a mother, son, daughter, or husband to leave home in the morning and not return at night.

The problem with their attempt at humor, and all the shock and surprise at this most recent outrage, is that this isn’t how the world is now. It is how the world has always been. We’ve always lived in a world where sudden death could strike at any time, from accident, natural disaster, or deliberate violence. Just ask the dinosaurs, or the people of Pompeii, or the woman who had her young child ripped from her arms by a tornado, or any of the people in any of the countries around the world who have lived with the threat of violence for years or generations. On the same day as the Boston bombing 25 people were killed by a bomb in a cafe in Baghdad. Americans have been insulated from this fact of reality, because we’ve been fortunate over the last century in natural disasters, and we simply don’t care how many people get blown up in far-away countries, but reality it is.

Our splendid isolation is cracking, though. The modern, global, economy is so interconnected, and our own society so polarized and fragmented, that we are no longer out of violence’s reach. Much like the Romans as their empire declined and the legions could no longer entirely keep the barbarians out, forcing them to build walls around cities that hadn’t been threatened in two centuries, we need to realize that we live in the same world as everyone else, and are subject to the same threats. We aren’t that special.

We can no longer tell ourselves that something is ‘unthinkable’ when it has happened several times before. That is no longer innocence; it is delusional.

Not only is this delusion embarrassing, but it also costs lives. It makes us a softer, easier target. Look at the Boston bombing. The bombers left stuffed-full backpacks in the middle of a crowd and walked away. Try that in some city in, say, Israel and you won’t make it five steps away before being tackled or shot. (That’s part of why terrorists started using suicide bombers.) But in the United States, most people are completely unaware that there is any possibility of bad people wanting to hurt them. This disbelief makes the terrorist’s job ludicrously easy.

Here’s a tip: If you are at a major public event and someone walks up next to you, sets a backpack or suitcase down on the ground, and walks away, that bag is not filled with cupcakes and rainbows. Get out of there and alert the authorities immediately, in that order.

I’m not encouraging paranoia, or living in fear. Quite the opposite; I’ve often said that the best way to fight terror is to simply not be terrorized. In order to not be terrorized, though, you must be mentally and emotionally prepared.

The world is as it has always been, and people are pretty much as they have always been. Neither is likely to change in the near future, so it is up to us to learn how to live in the world we have. That doesn’t mean being fatalistic or accepting of random violence–we can and should do our best to prevent such acts, and a tragedy is still a tragedy–but it is time to stop denying that such things can happen. Preventing, surviving, and living with the aftermath of such events requires it.

Many years ago, Col. Cooper invented the Cooper Color Code, to define a person’s state of mental preparedness to react to violence. (In his system, he’s talking about reacting with violence, but for our purpose that doesn’t have to be the case. Fleeing the scene can be a perfectly valid response.) The four stages range from completely unprepared to ‘lethal mode.’ Most Americans are in Condition White most of, if not all of, the time.

White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”

How often have we heard some survivor of a violent event say that their first thought was, “This can’t be happening!” That state of denial is the very definition of Condition White. It is what leaves people in a state of shock when they are forced into Condition Red: Violent things are happening.

Here is a summary of the rest of Cooper’s color codes:

Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that “today could be the day I may have to defend myself”. You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert.
Red: Condition Red is fight.

I think that we would be much safer, and healthier, if more Americans spent more time in Condition Yellow instead of White. Not paranoid, not constantly on edge, but simply aware that something bad might someday happen, and that they may be called on to act.

This is really not that much of a mental leap. Most adult Americans spend a good part of their day in Condition Yellow already, in a different context; when driving. Consider:

When you are driving, if you are at all good at it (and we have too many people who aren’t, but that’s another topic), you spend your time behind the wheel in Condition Yellow. Relaxed, but observant, aware of your own vehicle, road conditions, and the cars around you. When another car drifts too close, you notice and escalate to Condition Orange. A possible danger has caught your attention and you respond, probably by slowing down or changing lanes, but at least watching that car more closely. When the car lurches into your lane, you’re ready, in Condition Red now, taking emergency action. You brake or swerve out of the way.

Compare that to someone driving in Condition White, oblivious to the cars around them. They become aware of the threat only when the other car enters their lane, and by then it is probably too late for them to take evasive action. Crash.

On the road of life, we are a nation of bad drivers, constantly surprised and traumatized by completely predictable events. It’s time to grow up and pay attention to the world around us.

Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Democracy Overrated?

Interesting article on the BBC about the necessity of democracy.

I, for the most part, agree; democracy can be useful, but it is not necessary for freedom or civil liberties. What if, for example, in a democracy the majority of the voters support ‘ethnic cleansing’ of a minority? What if the major political parties agree on how they’re going to screw-over the populace and only confine their ‘opposition’ to areas that don’t really matter? What if a ‘democratic’ government decides to keep secret from the people what it’s doing in their name? How much good is your democracy then?

Good government is more important than the particular form of that government.

Down Syria Way

A good overview of what’s about to happen in Syria.

I’m really not sure what our leaders hope to gain from a war there. There aren’t any resources to speak of in Syria itself, so the only logical reason would be to break up one of the regional powers. But politics isn’t always logical.

Know When To Fold ‘Em

The people whining about Obama using diplomacy instead of military force to face down Russia over the Ukraine don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. From Truman on down no US President has dared take on Russia directly. The US only threatens smaller countries, that can’t really hurt us. It’s only practical. When North Korea invaded South Korea 1950, we were all over that. The same in Vietnam, 15 years later. When Russia invaded Czechoslovakia in 1948 and Hungary in 1956 and Afghanistan in 1978, we didn’t do shit.

Russia can fight back, on approximately equal terms. We aren’t going to do squat about anything they decide to do along their own borders, no matter who’s president.

Divide et Impera

The way we’ve cut the lines of communication gives me more concern than anything else about the future of this country. It used to be that if you disagreed with someone’s politics you could still be friends with them. The things we had in common were greater than the things that pulled us apart. Not anymore.

Now we have to watch what we say, because we might make someone mad, lose a friend or a family member, even a spouse, or a job. Dropping a friendship because of disagreement over political candidates is considered such a no-brainer that it’s now considered weird if you stay friends with someone who holds different political views. This only widens the gulf between us. Since few people anymore even know anyone on the other side of politics we become less human to each other, and someone who isn’t fully human is more easily disagreed with…or disposed of. I am already seeing calls for simply killing people of different political views, often as a first resort.

That rarely ends well.

A Bad Moon Rising

Democracy is in crisis, all around the world.

I remember the morning of 9/11/2001, talking to a friend on the phone while watching the World Trade Center crash over and over again into a cloud of dust and rubble. I said to my friend, “Well that’s the end of the Republic.”

Fifteen years later, I see no reason to retract that statement. The United States is in the last stages of the democratic republic we’ve had for more than 200 years. The institutions still exist in name, but the function has largely changed. We’re at that awkward stage where one form government has passed, but the new one hasn’t settled in yet. We’re still working out what kind of country we’re going to be next.

This shouldn’t shock anyone. In the ten thousand or so years that we’ve had governments there hasn’t been one yet that lasted forever without changing. The US has already changed governmental structure once.

The most interesting thing about that particular study to me is the bit about how about 1 in 6 Americans are now okay with the Army running the country. Only 19% of millennials think it would be illegitimate if the Army were to take over from a dysfunctional civilian government.

This, I suppose, is supposed to shock us, but to me it’s about the most blindingly obvious political development in ages. We’ve spend decades telling everyone that every soldier is a hero, that soldiers are good, virtuous, and capable, and at the same time telling everyone that politicians are evil, corrupt, and incompetent. Of course a lot of people are okay with the Army kicking out the politicians and taking over.

People in Egypt a few years ago thought the same thing. It did not, unfortunately, work out as they’d hoped.