Another decline and fall of the American empire piece -- better than most:

The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence.

Empires decline for many different reasons but certain factors recur. There is an initial reluctance to admit that there is much to fret about, and there is the arrival of a challenger (or several challengers) to the settled international order. In Spain's case, the rival was Britain. In Britain's case, it was America. In America's case, the threat comes from China.

Discuss.

I'm working a short week this week and taking care of business (whatever that means) while I'm here, so unfortunately blog posting will be light. I'm depending on you to keep the conversation going -- talk about the decline and fall of Anthony's Weiner if you must.

UPDATE:  Because the post said (correctly, as Anthony Weiner proved yet again) that Americans are "addicted to porn," the software kindly blocked each and every one of your comments. I've liberated them but unfortunately it will do the same for any new ones (although I can unblock them again in the morning). Sorry about that. Things will be better when we outsource our comment moderation to Bangalore.