29 April 2008

If it is context they want...

I have heard much about taking 'quotes' or 'sound bites' out of context with the Rev. Wright problem, and, really, with the man's full sermons becoming available from start to finish, it is time to actually take a look and see just what the full context of one of these things looks like.  Really, if out of context is bad (and it is something I decry and try to avoid at all costs, so that individuals can get a full expression of their ideas in context) then looking at the full, exacting context should clear it all up.  Right?

So with much thanks to Hugh Hewitt for getting a couple of these things transcribed, I will take up the daunting task of not being a biblical scholar, not being all that 'in touch' with the pulsings of the the Leftist Liberation Theology movement and, of course, not being black.  Bound to get things totally wrong, so lets begin the 'object oriented' and 'right brain' analysis going...

Starting with 13 APR 2004 sermon by Rev. Wright, and there will be lengthy excerpts:

And they could not see the thing that make for peace. We keep forgetting, we keep forgetting, and we need ot remember, Jerome Ross wrote about it, I keep reminding you of it, write it down so you don't forget, these people had, in Luke 19, an occupying army living in their country. Jesus, in Verse 43, calls them their enemies. Say enemies (crowd responds). Their enemies had all the political power.

This is, of course, talking about Jerusalem under the Roman Empire after the fall of the Egyptian Dynasty.  That affair started with Marc Antony and Cleopatra, went through Augustus' victory (d. 14 AD) and Tiberius (14 AD - 37 AD) started to solidify the nearby areas after that.  Jerusalem would become part of the Iudaea Province under Tiberius.  That Province would *not* include the Galilee, Philistia, Phoenicia, Decapolis, Perae or Nabatea areas, just Idumea, Judaea and Samaria.  Prior to that Rome had chosen, as it usually did with client states, a local ruler to administer the area, and that was Herod I (The Great) re-builder of the Temple.  His lineage, under Agrippa II, would continue to rule Judea until 96 AD, after the area came under full Roman rule in 6 AD.  To set the scene, in Luke 3:1 we get the sole reference (directly, although the 'tribute penny' also is an indicator in Matthew) to the ruler in question (Source: Univ. of Virginia Library etext):

1: Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
2: Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

This starts, then, in 29 AD, Tiberius as Emperor, Pontius Pilate as a military governor of Judaea (Iudaea Province) or the Prefect of Judaea, and Herod Antipas in charge of the Galilee Province.  So, the Romans have control, and put a military governor in charge of the Province, who had duties that were primarily military and tax collection, plus some other limited duties in the judicial realm.  Normal, civil, functions fell upon the local governors and, in Judaea, that included the High Priests.  As a military governor, however, he did not have control of any Legion based forces, which were stationed in Syria, and so used local forces either levies or mercenaries, or locally trained forces loyal to Rome, to keep things in order.

If Rev. Wright is trying to draw parallels to Iraq, which he is as seen later, then this is far closer to the 'Sons of Iraq' or 'Iraq Awakening' groups working with supervision from a US military commander to help keep order in places like Fallujah a couple of years after this sermon was given.  These local forces get trained to keep the peace, make sure their own actions don't get out of hand and, generally, makes sure that foreign forces are NOT needed to keep the order.  For Pilate he could request help from the Legate in Syria to come in with Legion based forces of Rome, but that is for only if things get way out of hand.  Such forces are not uncommon in history, with Germany during WWII, British Empire, French Empire, several Chinese Dynasties, Egyptian Empires under different Dynasties, Hittites, Persians, and, indeed, any state capturing far flung territory that is ethnically different and requires localized supervision seeing such forces arise.  Generally these are called 'Constabulary Forces', and the US much prefers to get a local government to handle those sorts of things until we can leave the folks to their own devices, like in the Philippines.  Of course during Roman times things were a bit more 'rough and ready' but they still had an orderly way of doing things in the military realm.

When Pilate did call in regular Legion forces, they brought their battle standards with them, according to the account by Josephus (not the most trustworthy of sources) and Pilate tried to keep friction to a minimum in their display which was considered idolatrous by the Jews.  That doesn't sound like an 'occupying army' but a foreign government installing local rulers with military oversight to keep the peace and ensure that there is no sedition or rebellion ready to flare up.

Going from there we get to an interesting passage from Luke 19, and while the immediate sentence referenced by Rev. Wright appears to indicate the Roman Empire, it is not the only mention of 'enemies' in Luke 19, where Jesus teaches Zacchaeus via parable:

9: And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
10: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
11: And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12: He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13: And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14: But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15: And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16: Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17: And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18: And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19: And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20: And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22: And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
24: And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25: (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26: For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
27: But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
28: And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.

Not the sweetest of all parables, it is true, and puts a rather nasty cast on those having gained by not doing anything.  Also called 'usury'.  The parable shows how those that expect usury will take it even if not given, and declare those that will not let this reign over them to be 'enemies'.  So the first 'enemies' mentioned are: those collecting usury that are in power.

Now, a bit further on we get to see where Jesus ends up once he gets in Jerusalem:

37: And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38: Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39: And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40: And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
41: And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42: Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43: For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44: And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
45: And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;
46: Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
47: And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
48: And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

In weeping for Jerusalem upon sight and saying that 'thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee' and then going to the Temple where usury is practiced, the direct correlation is: that those not acceding to the usury of the Temple Priests shall be considered its enemies.  It is pretty striking to me, at least, that the preceding parable is a foreshadowing by Jesus of what he is about to do, which is decry the money-lenders in the Temple.  If Jerusalem's people find the good grace not to use the money lenders in the Temple, then the Priests will find them as enemies.  It would be fun to misread that as the Romans coming to do things, I suppose, but notice that they are not mentioned in Luke 19?

Now one could misconstrue that the High Priests had all the political power, but Rev. Wright is implying an occupying force and Rome, while Jesus looks to be talking about the bad end that will come with usury in the Temple via the Priests.

Of course I'm just reading it straight up, no interpretations, no scholarship, no fancy anything between me and the scripture.

Just like Martin Luther wanted!  And in English, too!

Finally, not knowing the good Rev. Wright's normal references, it seems likely that it is Jerome Ross of Virginia Union University that he is referencing.  He does have some interesting works on his page:

________, “The Cultural Affinity between the Ancient Yahwists and the African Americans: A Hermeneutic for Homiletics.” In Born to Preach, ed. Samuel K. Roberts. 22-39. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2000.
________, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah: A Compilation (Unpublished, 2000); At press (Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing Co.).
________, A History of Ancient Israel: A Compilation (1999).

________. “Jubilee in Lev. 17-26.” In the Holy Bible: The African American Jubilee Edition (1999).
James H. Harris, Jerome C. Ross, & Miles Jerome Jones, Proclamation 6 | Series B: Lent. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.
Book Review of Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation, ed. Cain Hope Felder in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology (Apr 1993): 200-201.

A Hermeneutic for Homiletics?

Ok, from the ever somewhat reliable Wikipedia, we can get this lovely idea of 'Hermeneutics':

Hermeneutics may be described as the development and study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts. In contemporary usage in religious studies, hermeneutics refers to the study of the interpretation of religious texts.

It is more broadly used in contemporary philosophy to denote the study of theories and methods of the interpretation of all texts and systems of meaning. The concept of "text" is here extended beyond written documents to any number of objects subject to interpretation, such as experiences. A hermeneutic is also defined as a specific system or method for interpretation, or a specific theory of interpretation. However, the contemporary philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer has said that hermeneutics is an approach rather than a method and, further, that the Hermeneutic circle is the central problem of interpretation.

Essentially, hermeneutics involves cultivating the ability to understand things from somebody else's point of view, and to appreciate the cultural and social forces that may have influenced their outlook. Hermeneutics is the process of applying this understanding to interpreting the meaning of written texts and symbolic artifacts (such as art or sculpture or architecture), which may be either historic or contemporary.

The meaning of hermeneutics and its range, depend strongly on the precision of definitions of such terms as: interpretation, understanding, point of view, and the choice of its domain of interest/(domain of intervention). On the other hand, as in the case of other abstract terms, definitions depend on the consensus of their users, and can evolve with time.

Hermeneutics interest includes also recognition and explanation of parables, metaphors and insinuations.

Yes, instead of just reading what is written you try to figure out, or GUESS, what the motivations are for the person to have written them!  Or, if you want the perfect example, trying to figure out what the meaning of the word *is* is.

And Homelitics:

Homiletics (Gr. homiletikos, from homilos, to assemble together), in theology the application of the general principles of rhetoric to the specific department of public preaching. The one who practices or studies homiletics is called a homilist.

Maybe its not this Jerome Ross that Rev. Wright is referencing, but it has that 'ball park' feeling to it and the man is teaching biblical scholarship from an African-American perspective and syllabus.  What you get from 'Hermeneutic for Homiletics' is teaching about the bible based on what you *think* the writers of it were intending by going beyond the written text and *guessing* how their cultural milieu influenced their writings. 

Instead of just reading what they wrote and correlating it to what was going on.

Got the 'context' of how this all starts out?

Rev. Wright starts out with a reference to a man who uses 'guess work' to figure out how other people think to get their perspective, and then puts forward that Jesus was talking about the Romans as the enemies of the people of Jerusalem while, just from the plain old reading of the text where a parable is put close to what Jesus did so that we can draw the lesson from it, that Jesus is making the Priests out to be the long-term enemies of the people if the folks get religion and stop using the money lenders.

I could be wrong!

Still, its amazing how such high scholarly folks couldn't do a little bit of military research to find out just what sort of forces a Prefect gets to work with and that they are not, normally, the regular Legion.  The Legion would get called in to put down a later revolt... ruin brought by folks not liking money-lending and the Priests not liking it, perhaps?

See what you have to do to get 'context' in three measly sentences, and only two if you get rid of the shout-out sentence?

Next up from Rev. Wright:

Remember, they had to send Jesus to a court presided over by the enemy, a provisional governor appointed by their enemies, ran the civic and the political affairs of their capitol. He had him backing him up an occupying army with superior soldiers.

Actually, the Roman Prefect ran the military side of the house and left it up to the local government and Priests to keep things in order on the civil side.  The Priests, however, dithered and wanted nothing to do with figuring out Jesus as they were in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' sort of deal.  But if Jesus takes on the mantle of 'King of the Jews' in defiance of Roman Law and order, the becomes a *military* problem... which Pilate would have much preferred the local government handled as a civil affair as Jesus had no real army behind him.  On that civil side was the current descendant of Herod along with the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas.  Thus you have a breakdown of the Priestly law and civil law, with none of the locals wanting to handle the case because, no matter what they did, there was a good chance of sparking off a rebellion OR the loss of power for the existing civil/priestly order.

In case folks forgot, Judaea was not the most stable of places once Egypt was defeated, and there were more prophets and messiah claimants running around than anyone could easily keep track of, which is part of the reason that a military Prefect was put in, between the local civil government and the main Roman government in Syria: to keep things under wraps.  I looked at how the major uprising in 66 AD was viewed at the time previously as part of a longer article on Private War, Piracy and terrorism:

Before heading into the international aspects of this and yet more civil law, it is time to backtrack to earlier days of warfare and forces on land that operated in ways like this. One can start with the bandit army raised by Josephus against Rome in 66-73 AD and identify it as such and the Roman attitude towards such a thing. Mind you Josephus *did* switch sides, so the history may be a bit shaky, but the concept was quite clear: bringing down an army that was fanatically inspired by their religion. Still called a 'bandit army' however.

That is why a 'King of the Jews' could get hauled in front of a military Prefect for final say on things: the last thing Rome wanted was a major uprising from an upstart religious leader going on.  Pontius Pilate knew he was walking on eggshells when things like this landed in his lap.  Look at the result of this one: we now have Christianity as a major religion that grew up out of his decision 1900 and some odd years afterwards.

As for the 'occupying army': at worse you have Pontius' household troops being regular Legion.  The rest would be local auxiliaries or levies, plus mercenaries (Assyrians were popular in that era if memory serves).  So some foreigners, some locals and under foreign command... while local police forces would be purely local.  That is something that Rev. Wright glosses over: the local government having police forces for civil work.  At best guess Pilate had about 3,000 troops to cover all of the province, and there was more than just Jerusalem to consider as sea ports were a vital link to be guarded as were major trade routes going through the province north-south and east-west.  He could and *did* get assistance when needed from the Romans based in Syria, but that was on an 'as-needed' basis, not permanent garrison.

Back to Rev. Wright:

They were commandos trained in urban combat, and trained to kill on command. Remember, it was soldiers of the 3rd Marine Regiment of Rome who had fun with Jesus, who was mistreated as a prisoner of war, an enemy of the occupying army stationed in Jerusalem, to ensure the mopping up action of Operation Israeli Freedom.

Legio III Cyrenaica were trained to fight, it is true, but as for 'urban combat': the Legion preferred to avoid that as their tactics required open fields for shifting formations.  What you did have were somewhat lesser armed auxiliaries in the form of the Menapian Celts and Nabataean archers.  The former were probably more on the lines of irregulars or skirmishers (light infantry), utilizing spears, while the archers are, perhaps, not the best sort of troops to have in city fighting if they are not backed by regular infantry.  Legio III also had Egypt to look after, so its forces spread between Syria and Egypt would be pretty thin if every Prefect needed immediate backing by the Legion.  Although there was no set size for a given legion, as they were flexible based on need, the typical core legion (no auxiliaries) went on the order of 4,200 to 5,200 troops.  Auxiliary troops cannot be considered as anywhere equivalent to the Legionnaires, and might be considered on a 2:1 or 3:1 effectiveness basis in combat (3 aux. : 1 regular).  Outside of personal or household troops, then, Pilate's 3,000 might be about 150-200 Legion and 2,800 aux. troops.

Now for those who are wondering, I do believe there were actual Roman Marines!  These were specially trained soldiers... for boarding vessels and repelling boarding parties from other ships.  Yes, in using hyperbole, Rev. Wright wishes to impugn the honor of the US Marine Corps: the very same USMC THAT HE HAD SERVED IN.

So much for honoring the Corps.

As for 'Operation Israeli Freedom' perhaps Rev. Wright forgets that the era of the Roman Empire was one of *empires* that would have control of multiple provinces and that if another governing power didn't step in to help things out, which Rome had been doing for some time in the area so as to get a decent sea port going and influence things locally, that the resultant chaos and disorder would end up with everyone suffering to no good end at all?  Of *course* that is raw, power politics as that was the era for that sort of thing.  The US has this strange idea that we should teach folks how to govern themselves, get things in order and then hand it all over to them... like we did in the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea... but that would be drawing upon history to show how enlightened nations view warfare.  Can't have that.

Lets see, we now have mis-statements and recasting of what Jesus has said, ahistorical views of the actual conditions in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, and impugning the honor and integrity of the US Marine Corps by likening them to Roman Auxiliary troops... and I am not even past 6 sentences into the sermon!

Somehow I don't think that either Rev. Wright or Sen. Obama want folks to take things in context: they look much, much, much worse close up and that isn't even getting to the juicy and truly incendiary parts.

But then I'm not much of a biblical scholar... and only have a passing interest in military history that is a bit more than skin deep.

I don't need multiple degrees to tell me when something stinks, however, when the lies and deceit pile up like this.

28 April 2008

Yet more of the decline of America and all things good

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

- President Andrew Jackson's Bank Veto Message, 10 JUL 1832 (Source: The Avalon Project)

Michael Hirsch's latest article at Newsweek on How the South Won (This) Civil War, 25 APR 2008, brings to mind the outlook and views of President Jackson and Jacksonians as he cites them as being a part of America that is doing things that he just doesn't like. Apparently he, like Bill O'Reilly, is bemoaning the slow decline of American culture and cites the Scots-Irish in the South as the source of it, and I will take the liberty of extensively quoting his article so as to examine just what it *is* that he is going after:

In part this is a triumph of demographics. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge observed in their 2004 book, "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America," the nation's population center has been "moving south and west at a rate of three feet an hour, five miles a year." Another author, Anatol Lieven, in his 2005 book "America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism," describes how the "radical nationalism" that has so dominated the nation's discourse since 9/11 traces its origins to the demographic makeup and mores of the South and much of the West and Southern Midwest--in other words, what we know today as Red State America. This region was heavily settled by Scots-Irish immigrants--the same ethnic mix King James I sent to Northern Ireland to clear out the native Celtic Catholics. After succeeding at that, they then settled the American Frontier, suffering Indian raids and fighting for their lives every step of the way. And the Southern frontiersmen never got over their hatred of the East Coast elites and a belief in the morality and nobility of defying them. Their champion was the Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson. The outcome was that a substantial portion of the new nation developed, over many generations, a rather savage, unsophisticated set of mores. Traditionally, it has been balanced by a more diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility from the Northeast and upper Midwest. But that latter sensibility has been losing ground in population numbers--and cultural weight.

This is, as they say in refined circles, garbage. The lineage of both the Scots-Irish and the Protestant English, Dutch and Germanic peoples that came to the Northeast and Upper Midwest had very similar lines of society to those of the Scots-Irish, although with a more taciturn view of things than the more rambunctious cousins to the South. The differences between rural life in the Deep South and Northeast was that of basic religious outlook between the deep Protestants in the North East and the more Catholic lines in the South, but both led to similar problems for poor, rural communities in both regions. The Yankee tinkerer is no different in outlook than the Southern Frontiersman, save that one had to fight climate and government to keep kith and kin alive while the other had to fight hostile natives, government, and brew up whisky while keeping kith and kin alive. In fact, as Rev. A. L. Perry would write about in 1890, the Scots-Irish were very much IN New England (Source: Library Ireland):

The Scotch-Irish did not enter New England unheralded. Early in the spring of 1718 Rev. Mr. Boyd was dispatched from Ulster to Boston as an agent of some hundreds of those people who expressed a strong desire to remove to New England, should suitable encouragement be afforded them. His mission was to Governor Shute, of Massachusetts, then in the third year of his administration of that colony, an old soldier of King William, a Lieutenant-Colonel under Marlborough in the wars of Queen Anne, and wounded in one of the great battles in Flanders. Mr. Boyd was empowered to make all necessary arrangements with the civil authorities for the reception of those whom he represented, in case his report of the state of things here should prove to be favorable.


I have lately scrutinized with critical care this ancient parchment stamped by the hands of our ancestors, now in the custody of the Historical Society of New Hampshire, and was led into a line of reflections which I will not now repeat, as to its own vicissitudes in the seven quarter-centurys of its existence, and as to the personal vicissitudes and motives, and heart-swellings and hazards, and cold and hunger and nakedness, as well as the hard-earned success and the sense of triumph, and the immortal vestigia of the men who lovingly rolled and unrolled this costly parchment on the banks of the Foyle and the Bann Water! Tattered are its edges now, shrunken by time and exposure its original dimensions, illegible already some of the names even under the fortifying power of modern lenses, but precious in the eyes of New England, nay precious in the eyes of Scotch-Irishmen every-where, is this venerable muniment of intelligence and of courageous purpose looking down upon us from the time of the first English George.

The direct addressing of issues via community based democratic means in towns in the North East and upper Mid West have mirrors in the social and societal organizations that may have taken a slower pace in the South, but still assured that families and clans were all brought up to date on issues of the day. The more taciturn and somewhat puritanical North Eastern Yankees did have different societal customs across the North East and Mid West, ranging from that small town view of democracy in Vermont and New Hampshire to the more blue-blooded cosmopolitan forms in the big cities (Boston, New York, Philadelphia) to the backwoods Dutch who had settled across Western NY to Ohio and Indiana, centered in Pennsylvania Dutch territory. From there the Appalachian family and clan views of the Scots-Irish intermingle and shift down through the Virginias and Carolinas to Georgia, forming the lovely Multi-Culti, wide spectrum of religious and social outlooks that gave birth to this Nation. Those differences in culture showed up in language, so you can chart out the Mason/Dixon line by the bucket/pail line, and numerous other words used to refer to items. Yet the presence of Scots-Irish in New England is demonstration that the divide being spoken of is *not* that of the Scots-Irish vs. the Elites of New England and the Mid West.

No, what Mr. Hirsch is describing is a different cultural divide, not the North-South one but the Big City - Small Town divide of America. In fact it was many of the 'East Coast Elites' that *were* elites because they sat in the halls of power in the larger cities of America and had their own derogatory view towards their Small Town and Rural cousins. A piece I did on Sam Adams clearly shows some of what that city-based elite saw as it viewed other parts of the culture in the Colonies and the Early Nation. While a noted thinker, theorist, brewer and patriot, Sam Adams did have his prejudices against Roman Catholicism, here writing in his untitled document on the Rights of the Colonists:

In regard to Religeon, mutual tolleration in the different professions thereof, is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced; and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind: And it is now generally agreed among christians that this spirit of toleration in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society "is the chief characteristical mark of the true church"2 & In so much that Mr. Lock has asserted, and proved beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only Sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach Doctrines subversive of the Civil Government under which they live. The Roman Catholicks or Papists are excluded by reason of such Doctrines as these "that Princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those they call Hereticks may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of Government, by introducing as far as possible into the states, under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty and property, that solecism in politicks, Imperium in imperio3 leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war and blood shed-4

So, when Mr. Hirsch starts talking about a more 'diplomatic, communitarian' North East, one does have to wonder just *which* North East he is talking about? The rural North East would put up with a hell of a lot from the officious governments in their State Capitols, as seen during and after the Revolutionary war. Sam Adams was a *very* enlightened thinker for his time and period, and yet the clear distrust of Roman Catholics is demonstrated. That is neither 'diplomatic' nor 'communitarian' to seek outright restriction upon individuals because they happen to believe in one form of christianity over another.

Part of the Big City Elite vs Small Town and Rural is seen in the long and gloried career of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln who would be called out after the Revolution for a problem that faced the Confederacy (Source: History of War site):

Lincoln’s one remaining official post was first major general of militia. He accepted this post in December 1785, and made a series of suggestions for improving the state of the militia, but if he expected them to see any action, it would only have been guarding the borders of the state against Indian incursion. To his shock, he was to find himself leading troops against his fellow citizens.

At the heart of the divisions in Massachusetts was the split between the commercial towns and cities of the east coast and the entirely rural western part of the state. Just as the British had found western Massachusetts almost impossible to rule, now the state authorities found themselves facing a violent uprising. In the summer of 1786 protests began as a protest against the increasing burden of taxes. Added to the tax burden was an attempt to force the payment of private debts. Most of this debt was owed to the wealthy merchants of the east coast. The farmers in the west of the state felt that they were being oppressed by an oligarchy and were not properly represented by the state government. Many of their complaints were similar to those of the revolutions of the 1770s, an irony that appears to have escaped Lincoln, but that many did see (especially British visitors to the state).

The initial response of the state government was to grant a eight-month debt moratorium, but at the same time habeas corpus was suspended, and a new Riot Act put in place. Protest in the west soon turned into armed revolt. Leaders began to emerge, amongst them Daniel Shays (after whom the revolt was named). They began by closing the courts in the west of the state, but by the end of 1786 their rhetoric had grown to include a direct threat to march on Boston and overthrow what they felt was an illegitimate government. The similarities to the events of 1775 worried many, including Washington. As commander of the militia, Lincoln found himself in the front line against his fellow Americans.

The payment of debts incurred during the Revolution and the extremely heavy burden upon the poor, rural farmer caused many families to go into poverty as their land was confiscated to pay those debts. Here the Elite center of commerce in Boston put large debt repayment loads on individuals and enforced the payment of private debts, which further burdened farmers already close to the brink of going under. It is that view from the central, establishment in the Cities upon the rural folks that *is* the Elitist brand that Mr. Hirsch talks about, but the resentment OF IT is in no way limited to Jacksonians and the Deep South.

One of the reasons Washington did so well as General and President is that he did not cut himself off from his own frontiersman roots as a scout and surveyor for the British Army, and he continued to brew Rye Whiskey at Mount Vernon. These things and his humility in listening to his enlisted officers who had better knowledge of terrain and the army itself during the Revolution allowed Washington to manage that and so inspire the volunteers that many went without pay for long, long months. And while President Jefferson would not have religious practices during his term, and, in fact, formed a religious group of one individual (Source: Thomas Jefferson letter to William Short, 13 APR 1820 via Library of Congress), he would not seek to enforce that Elitist view upon the Nation and, instead, adhere to the wisdom of letting his fellow man decide for himself about what is right and proper in their lives in regard to religion. His continued support for agrarian views would continue to endear him to the more rural population, while his elitist views put him into the 'radical thinkers' camp in the realm of human liberty and religion. Would that latter day Elitists could take the lesson from that and learn to understand and even live with Small Town and Rural America.

The concentration of industrial capacity in cities would later put that divide into play as the Nation slowly moved from agrarian based to industrial based and the flow of money and power into Big City Elites and their corporations would entrench that view that Big City Establishments were out of touch with Small Town and Rural America. Whenever a politician speaks to the needs and beliefs of Small Town and Rural America they get a derogatory name attached to them: Populist. Populism, itself, is a 'grab-bag' terminology, often employed by the Elite establishment against anything that isn't part of it. Thus when Mr. Hirsch uses the following paragraph to tell what he is seeing he is deploying the 'populist' argument as an Elite:

The coarsened sensibility that this now-dominant Southernism and frontierism has brought to our national dialogue is unmistakable. We must endure "lapel-pin politics" that elevates the shallowest sort of faux jingoism over who's got a better plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. We have re-imported creationism into our political dialogue (in the form of "intelligent design"). Hillary Clinton panders shamelessly to Roman Catholics, who have allied with Southern Protestant evangelicals on questions of morality, with anti-abortionism serving as the main bridge. Barack Obama seems to be so leery of being identified as an urban Northern liberal that he's running away from the most obvious explanation of his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weatherman Bill Ayers: after Obama graduated from college he became an inner-city organizer in Chicago, and they were natural allies for someone in a situation like that. We routinely demonize organizations like the United Nations that we desperately need and which are critical to missions like nation-building in Afghanistan. On foreign policy, the realism and internationalism of the Eastern elitist tradition once kept the Southern-frontier warrior culture and Wilsonian messianism in check. Now the latter two, in toxic combination, have taken over our national dialogue, and the Easterners are running for the hills.

Notice that his first attack is on 'coarsened sensibility' which he then categorizes as: frontierist, shallow jingoist, backwards looking religious based views, anti-urban Northern liberal, UN demonizing, anti-Eastern elitist foreign policy while being pro-warrior and messianic Wilsonian. Do notice that he puts forward no positive views on this, nor does he recognize the large Roman Catholic populations that came to America from Italy, Poland and Spain. However he does correctly pin the problems of the Elitist as that of 'urban Northern liberal' and puts forward that *that* allows for anything against the United States to be absolutely OK with him so long as it has cover in something like 'inner-city organizer'... while not ever explaining what an 'inner-city organizer' does. Even worse is the attempt to look only at the 'messianic' part of Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy views, while trying to distance THOSE from the fact that they are tied up with the idea of extra-National organizations like the League of Nations and, later, the UN.

That last is particularly galling as Woodrow Wilson, himself, was an East Coast Elitist (to use Mr. Hirsch's terms) who used the messianic views as they were seen as a normal part of the political speech of that day and age. Indeed he did look to 'liberate Jerusalem' but when push came to shove he would not want to *fight over it* when given the opportunity to do so by taking on the Ottoman Empire. No, President Wilson was not going to do *that* to carry out a warrior-based, messianic foreign policy. Those were not Southern views he was giving, but they were part of what is called 'Progressivist' views, which Woodrow Wilson held. 'Progressivism' at that stage of things was decidedly a Christian-based movement, for all the fact it would later morph into one that held beliefs more in line with socialism and atheism.

I looked at the basis for Wilsonianism for Transnationalism, and found that President Wilson actually had a disdain for things like the Declaration of Independence (Source: 14 JUL 1914 speech Independence Hall in Philadelphia, President Wilson's Addresses, via Project Gutenberg:

In one sense the Declaration of Independence has lost its significance. It has lost its significance as a declaration of national independence. Nobody outside of America believed when it was uttered that we could make good our independence; now nobody anywhere would dare to doubt that we are independent and can maintain our independence. As a declaration of independence, therefore, it is a mere historic document. Our independence is a fact so stupendous that it can be measured only by the size and energy and variety and wealth and power of one of the greatest nations in the world. But it is one thing to be independent and it is another thing to know what to do with your independence. It is one thing to come to your majority and another thing to know what you are going to do with your life and your energies; and one of the most serious questions for sober-minded men to address themselves to in the United States is this: What are we going to do with the influence and power of this great Nation? Are we going to play the old role of using that power for our aggrandizement and material benefit only? You know what that may mean. It may upon occasion mean that we shall use it to make the peoples of other nations suffer in the way in which we said it was intolerable to suffer when we uttered our Declaration of Independence.

Yes, like many of the Elites of the 'Progressivist' movement, Woodrow Wilson did not describe the Declaration of Independence as having eternal truths but only transitory ones that lose their significance once the Nation was born. This is not one of those uncouth, ill-bred, ignorant masses telling us about the transitory nature of the Declaration, but a well-heeled gentlemen of the East Coast Elites doing so. Nor are the 'warrior culture' folks of today using the highly linked idea of President Wilson of a Christian Nation that would take part in international bodies for the greater good of the world. You can't import the Wilsonian 'messianic views' without also dragging in the international part as they go hand-in-hand, so saying that the 'warrior culture' would embrace both the pro-international institutional views of Wilson and the anti-UN views of corrupt international institutions doing more harm than good is extremely ahistorical and trying to cherry-pick an ideal here and an ideal there to put together an incoherent mish-mash to tar other folks with.

And if Mr. Hirsch will rail about the lack of holding on to 'realism and internationalism of the Eastern elitist tradition' then perhaps Mr. Hirsch can point to the actual GOOD that tradition has done for the Nation? I have looked at the unreality of those 'realists' and see much that is at fault with their high minded views that want little or nothing to do with the actual dirty ways that Nations and societies run themselves. While they did, indeed, form a semi-coherent position against Communism, these great elitist foreign policy thinkers like Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, and James A. Baker III plus many others across party lines all *missed* the salient problems of Private Warfare, Islamic Fundamentalism and Radicalism, and had taken no price to try and confront either those waging Private War against the Law of Nations nor to confront the underpinnings of Islamic Radicals who started shooting up and blowing up choice parts of the Middle East, Europe, Russia, China, India, Africa, South America, North America and, indeed, other parts of the world. What did these great and oh-so-wise thinkers on all things Realpolitik actually *DO* about this?


For all the combined brain power they couldn't even bother to figure out that war waged by Private groups and individuals is anathema to all Nations and a threat to the entire international system they all so adored. So when a political figure starts to ally himself with a preacher speaking an ahistorical, unfounded gospel to condemn America and a homegrown, unrepentant terrorist, one does begin to look a little askance at just *why* this individual is so 'transcending' politics, when he is supporting those who think the place should be condemned and thrown into the ash heap of history. You don't have to be a coarse, warrior culture individual to know that such ties end up to bad places in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other choice parts of the world being blown up and shot at by other religious and politically totalitarian individuals spouting the EXACT SAME THING.

That set of Eastern elitist views backed by powerful industrialists who seek to dissolve National borders in the name of 'free trade' and their liberal counterparts looking to liquidate society based on illegal immigration do seem to be walking hand-in-hand these days: those are views to strip those outside of the elite enclaves of their ability to have a strong culture, strong society and protect the Nation. In that we are seeing a strange confluence of individuals like Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, Hillary Clinton and John McCain who are *each* from the elitist establishment either by background or by shifting their views to that of the establishment so as to gain political power from it.

If Mr. Hirsch wishes to look for the problems caused by the Big City Elite establishment with the Nation, it is not the future that he should worry about, but the past and Shays Rebellion. That is the problem he is describing and it isn't a purely Jacksonian one, but is of the vast Red Nation with the isolated pockets of deep Blue in the Big Cities. The last time the Elites tried to push an unfair and destructive regime of taxation that would undermine family and society, that is what the Nation started to get and far beyond just the North East. A direct attack on that culture, itself, by the Elites and backed by politics may see something very similar.

The Big City Elites are one fine Shays away from getting something far worse than a 'coarsening of culture'.

26 April 2008

Looking at 'bio-fuels' and long term policy

This has been a topic I have gone over before, and will now extract the basics from previous articles and commentary given to address the problems of 'bio fuels'.  First, however, my background links to previous work:

First the outlines of an Energy Independence Policy for the US.  This gives the first glossing over to 'alternative energy sources', looking at the variety and types of production involved.  Wind, tidal, solar, Geothermal, biomass, and traditionals like coal, oil and natural gas all get looked at.  I then set the criteria for what a good energy source would look like:

  1. Renewable. Self-renewing is better and somewhat efficient in conversion capability.
  2. Continuous. 24/7 is optimal.
  3. Low maintenance cost. You don't want to have to keep worrying about the conversion area and tinkering it all the time.
  4. Do-able with modern technology. No additional wheels need to be invented.
  5. Low cost per conversion unit. You want a nice low cost to power ratio.
  6. Relatively low up-front cost for startup. To get at any renewable you will need to push hard to get an industrial base going to support it for large-scale deployment.

Each of the 'alternatives' suffer in 1-6 as compared to the sunk cost of the infrastructure for traditionals and cost of conversion.  This does tease out, however, areas that are not readily considered when looking at the energy formula.  The general end result is that of Gerard K. O'Neill's Princeton group from 1968 which utilized then known technology to proposed a space based solar power satellite system, along with orbiting manufacturing and lunar mining industries.  That is a long, 30-50 year transformation, but offers the ability for very low cost energy gathering with the bonus of getting industrial capacity out of the biosphere and into the vacuum of space.

My second article utilizes the purely mechanical view given by Popular Mechanics on the transformation of biomass to useable energy source.  Each of the major biofuels examined have costs and problems in production efficiency, transport, storage and needing to either add in a new infrastructure for such things or having to seriously upgrade all parts of the old one.  The startling conclusion is that any biomass system converts, at best, 10% of sunlight into useful end energy product. 

The problem is that this high overhead system of crop production, transport, reduction to fuel and such is negatively comparable to something like solar cells:  solar cell arrays have low maintenance cost and the work (currently unexamined) of nanosolar utilizing roll-fed offset presses, is changing the cost of production and ability to place large amounts of solar-electric systems cheaply. 

Each of the bio-alternatives of methanol and ethanol require large investments in production and delivery systems, particularly as both are highly corrosive in the current gasoline/diesel pipes.  Your vehicle won't notice it much, but the fittings in ships and pipelines will all need to be overhauled for this work. 

Natural gas is a little better, having a set system for compression and transport... save for the problem of driving around a fuel-air explosive vehicle, it isn't that bad.  Biodiesel looks better but here, again, the conversion ratio is still under 10%, even with better per-unit energy storage as compared to the ethanol/methanol systems, the actual output percentage is still low.

Direct electricity is running out of the large scale production areas (hydroelectric) and can be usefully changed over to third or fourth generation nuclear plants which have none of the problems of first and second generation plants.  That is a multi-year to multi-decade investment, depending upon current environmental laws and the NIMBY/BANANA problem.

Hydrogen would be excellent if it didn't have to be cracked from water and that energy input is high as compared to resultant energy of hydrogen itself.  Fuel cells are very efficient and need newer capabilities to scale up for industrial use, which currently is a 'slow-go' arena.

In an add-on article to look at Iowa's subsidies for corn to ethanol conversion, I cover the algae to oil concept in the commentary.  While it is sound technology, the company that bought the patent, DeBeers, is not known for its industrial might in the energy sector but for diamonds.  It being on patent, the company can do as it pleases for the length of that (with any extensions) short of government fiat to take the patent away.  The main problem with algae-oil production is the high cost of manufacture and the slow rate of manufacture.  Even at the steepest ramp up of production one can imagine, cross-licensing it to every major industrial concern on the planet and getting these systems retrofitted into industrial plants, the ability to get the US *current* oil needs met is measured in DECADES.  While it sounds like wonderful technology and it *is* those production concerns along with comparison of amount of output to current input needs yields a curve well beyond 2030 for a purely terrestrial and continued polluting oil source.  Short of Communist or Fascist take-over of that industry, and the resultant problems with that, nothing will get that done faster than the best possible timeline for it.

The third article of mine is a Stop-Gap Energy Policy that addresses the gap between current systems and the future one proposed in the first article.  Here government plays little role in subsidizing industry and plays a larger role in setting up goals and objectives for industry to get to, along with incentives and guaranteed short-term contracts.  It is this system that was used to help offer incentives to the aircraft industry back in the 1910-1940 timeframe.  There government offered contracts for air mail delivery with bonuses for timeliness over given distances and for bulk carrier operations.

Utilizing that outlook, then, government can offer things like 'X-Prizes' for each of categories of need for long term energy self-sufficiency.  This is also not a 'first past the post' system, and encourages multiple organizations to reach goals via different means and even incentivizes *that*.  America cannot be stuck with a sole-source method of energy production, transport or storage and in each of these realms there is a high need to shift from current, costly infrastructure, to one of low cost and easy deployability.

The incentive areas include: Biomass, Solar Conversion, Space Based Power Generation and Transmission, Superconductors, Nanotechnology.  Each of these is given incentives and guaranteed contracts for the creation, transport and storage of energy, plus incentives to form the foundation of a purely space-based private industry.  The goal of moving polluting industries out of the biosphere and to economically transition to an majority electric system will be neither easy nor fast, but by offering incentives and rewards the government can play the more traditional role of standards-setting and reward for performance that gave us the modern aviation industry.

The second area of the stop gap is current production and refining of petroleum based fuels.  The US has not allowed a new refinery to be built in the US since 1976, which beats Iran in that area.  One of the main bottlenecks for refined fuels is doing the actual refining and the US has been slacking in that area.  Production, too, has been slacking, and the new Bakken formation in the Dakota's along with the oil shales of the Colorado to Montana realm, both offer opportunities now that new technology has made those conversions economical.  Also, the continental shelf has had no new wells drilled for decades, even though Cuba, which shares North American shelf space, has had a viable industry of getting foreign concerns to drill for oil on the Shelf.  As modern systems are cleaner, safer and more efficient than those railed against in the 1970's, the concerns of environmental groups should be lessened.

To address refining the US Government can offer polluted lands under its custodial care to those companies willing to pay a pittance for rent, in return for a guaranteed 99 year clean-up.  By adhering to State regulations and waiving federal regulations for land that is *already polluted* companies can be given an incentive to quickly stand up new infrastructure and research while doing a public good of environmental clean-up that the US Government has been unable to do.

That outlook is to shift away from a majority petroleum based infrastructure and to one of electricity based infrastructure.  Advances in electrostatic contained fusion, also offer a strong way forward for this, and New Mexico will be building the first ever reactor of that kind with help from public and government funds.  This does not obviate the need, however, for better storage and transmission of electricity, itself, to slowly shift away from chemical based systems to ones aligned with superconductive or nanoscale electrical storage.  Nor will fusion or 3rd to 4th generation fission plants address the concerns of industrial production in the biosphere, which has been a constant problem of mankind since the first tanneries were set up in ancient times.  With X-Prize systems already in place for the space based side, the US can augment those and add new prizes for set cargo and turnaround time to Low Earth Orbit all the way to Geostationary Orbit and Lunar deployment and return.  In many areas of basic manufacturing, adding in robotics and removing gravity both remove the need for human based labor for production and as the sunk cost of orbital plants is spread over decades if not centuries, due to lack of environmental damage and maintenance (replaced with lower ones of solar radiation repair and maintenance) the overall system cost is low with the start-up cost being high.  As O'Neill's class postulated, once the basic infrastructure is in place the cost of expansion is miniscule compared not only to the original sunk cost, but to the same marginal cost on Earth.

What is seen, then, is not an argument about 'climate change' but the long-term sustainability of the US and the entire human species by shifting industry, power generation and, more slowly, habitat, to off-planet foundations.  A forward and future looking energy policy must address the fundamentals of not only the use and storage of energy, but its prime motivator, which is industry.  Human administrative needs can be addressed at lower impact if the worst part of the systems no longer impinge upon the common biosphere and are allowed to grow to meet economic needs.  That does require a basic shift away from the dichotomy of 'industry bad/environment good' to one of addressing what it is that industry *does* and seeing if it needs to be in the environment at all.  That is not, however, a yell and scream campaign about carbon dioxide but a rational discussion of what is the best way to get these things at the lowest cost to humanity while providing the maximum opportunity for human liberty.

Activism will not get you from here to there.

And you cannot get to a future that is better for everyone on the planet by trying to forever retain the things that are most criticized when they can be shifted into an arena where they will stop being a problem.

This is a program about industry, economics, energy production and consumption and the best place to put these things in a sustainable way.  Even better the US can do this without consulting ANY OTHER NATION ON THE PLANET and just DO IT and show the best way to go, which is the traditional role of the United States of America.

Stop shouting and get back to work.  Not protests, not forms, not speechifying to edify grievances, but hard, long work that will yield fruits slowly but continuously to make life better for all involved so that a longer term goal can be met.  Go out with a sign and protest and I know you care more about yourself than the planet or your fellow man.

That will be your choice this election and every election that is left until you die: give more power to government and make the problems intractable, or restrain government to a few things and let it endorse good ways to go without controlling them.  NASA is the new Amtrack, and the ability of either to innovate on the scale needed is miniscule and their outlook towards employing bureaucrats, not doing something for the common good.  Which do you want?  Government 'help' like after Katrina or the help of the American people like after the 2004 Christmas Tsunami where individual giving by the people of the US outstripped any other single giver including the US government? 

I can see where the power is in that equation.

Can you?

24 April 2008

When I don't have much to say...

... I don't say much.


That is one of the things that leaves me out of the entire 'social networking' and constant blog posting phenomena: most of what I have to say needs to be thought over as these are my public thoughts.  And when my private life is keeping me busy, and I don't have time for much in the way of posting, then there is a lack of posts.

What sort of things do you NOT get?



The updating of my computers!  Ahhhh... how does one make Bluetooth work?  Can you find the right drivers that match the operating system *and* make sure the OS doesn't do its own fandango with them?  And if, like I have done, you *upgrade* by getting rid of Vista and going to XP Pro x64, can you make sure that you have all the drivers to let the machines run with full function?

Out of that search I have realized that there is a 'spam' drivers database setup where multiple different sites all host the exact, same, useless database of drivers that link to all sorts of fun and irrelevant sign-up/sign-in schemes.  The few that *do* have drivers are worth knowing, but that flock of sites that are mere clones?  What sort of insanity is that?

Go to the manufacturers website!  And find they *don't* put the drivers out for their products!  Yes!


Then you get things working, after hunting down through message boards and tracks linking to dead pages and roaming cache sites to the actual downloading, installing and checking out of said drivers and software.  Fun was not had.

The decisions are myriad, the research even worse than tracking down the Red Mafia and, to top it all off, theoretically *good* vendors of name-brand hardware and software turn out to have so well refined their websites that you now need a guide, trusted servant, a few Askari warriors and a trail of supply packers to get through the sites.  Yes, that is you: Microsoft, Dell, Apple, LG Electronics, Hitachi Data Systems, Samsung, and Sony.  And the flash-based navigation is so snazzy its useless: how about a directory?  Not a 'we have decided to agglomerate odd bits of stuff together and give it a title' category, but a *real* category system?  The MS Knowledge Base needs this as of 6 years ago: segregate by OS, SP, and date, then allow menuing up and down that data tree.  Want to find all the Hot Fixes since a Service Pack, and have them ordered by timing?

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!  Even MS DEVELOPERS want that, and have for YEARS!!  I consider it bad news that the best piece of code to do that is 3 years old and not too well made.  In theory you could download them one-by-one, but, really, this should be an automated procedure.

Back to drivers... if you put out a driver for an OS a few years back and have since stopped producing the equipment and don't want to support the driver, could you, as a manufacturer/reseller/distributor, just *say so* and make the old one available?  Please?  That covers all save Dell, which has the impenetrable fortress of drivers, with various search capabilities that don't really get what you want.  If I have a device, with an OS you support, would it be that hard to get a list of every single driver for that device?   It is, probably, do-able, just not obvious, and I have spent time looking for the obvious.

Then there is brand *NEW* hardware!  Get a low cost Bluetooth dongle and find the software is so old its not even on the 'somewhat recent list' of the maker.  If the maker is still around... yes I finally *did* get the Dell add-ons to work for their respective notebooks.  The *other* ones I got for easy file transfers?  Heh.



Yes that is a LOLCat, don't ask me where I got it from: no idea, I tend to just download fun images and not keep track of them.  You can probably get it at its home site, but I'm way too tired to check it out.

One of our cats has pulled up with a heart condition, which means applying liquid medications a couple of times a day.  Plus water.  Luckily it is all in liquid (especially the water) and feeding by oral syringe is the way to go.  Three times daily.

Luckily the other cat has not decided that getting such medicines is a sign of favoritism!  For small blessings we are always thankful.



Nope, can't remember where I got that one, either.

Really, this is one of those election seasons where my mind starts to wander and make things like this:


Suitable for your next May Day parade!  You know the old 'Marx, Lenin, Stalin' sort of deal?  Done in my copious brain-dead time, when nothing else really appeals...

It has been interesting to see a few people finally starting to look at the candidates and who they surround themselves with... well... Barack Obama finally getting ANY scrutiny, which, if he had gotten this, say 8 months ago, would have sunk the SS Obama like the Titanic.  Unfortunately the MSM has had so many different 'cards' played against it that the deck is starting to run thin.  We have had the *Black* card, *Racist* card, *Gender* card, *Religion* card (in at least four different suits!), *Populist* card, *Warmonger* card, *Pacifist* card, *Hope and Change* card followed by the *Change and Hope* card, *Terrorist* card and who knows what else all played out.  Often within minutes of each other.  The game is, unfortunately, Big Government Runaway and both Parties are winning.  After that deck runs out, it will be the deck of Shameless Pandering to start the next round of Big Government Runaway, so that we will know exactly how much each candidate will extract from the American people to waste on government and giving government more power and less capability.

Worked for the USSR, now, didn't it?  This, 'put government in charge of everything to decide your life for you and take all your rights away and make you poor' deal.  Worked just fine.  Notice the lack of a USSR today...

You can have your Democratic Socialist John McCain, your Left Socialist Hillary Clinton or your outright Communist With Molotov Cocktail Friends Barack Obama.  Any way you vote you will get Socialism. And, so, if I have to vote for mythological views of the world, I might as well...


Yup!  And makes a heck of a lot more sense than the views of any of the three running for office: He gets everything, or you are a snack.  Good, open, honest Evil!  None of this 'trying to figure out healthcare' junk that politics is ill-set up to do... really, what is supposed to make politicians health care geniuses?  These three can't even be bothered to read the Constitution and understand their *current jobs* - why should any of them get promoted past their admirable level of incompetence?  Really, by the Peter Principle these three are perfectly situated... and little do they understand that the power they seek is not what it appears to be.


Reading about the antics going on by each of the candidates, the mud slinging, fur flying, card trumping idiocy of the Democratic Party is only being matched by the slow walk-out from the Republican Party as the concept of a 'Big Tent' to address the needs of ALL inside of it is finally dawning to be a false promise.  If Reagan couldn't do it, no one could.  The old Country Club Chummy Government Republicans look to have taken over the party and are about a decade or two behind the Democrats in that.  Just as the Democrats hemorrhaged the Jacksonians starting in 1968, the Republicans look to be losing the Traditionalists, who gained enough headway to cross over into Economic and Military venues, pointing out the wisdom of not getting into military arrangement you don't intend to back fully.

That is the problem I've been pointing out about democracy: you need to have a majority at least voting for it to be anything close to representative.  It hasn't been, on the Legislative side, since the 1960's.  Now we will get that for the Executive AND Legislative branches, by the two parties so marginalizing the old-line Nation State supporters that neither party actually understands what a Nation State actually *is* nor how it is set up to function and why it is done this way.  That started back in the 1920's, as near as I can figure out, accelerated in the 1930's, turned on the turbo-boost in the 1960's and added nitro injection during the 1990's.  Once that system falls apart, mankind is left with very, very little to support it as Nation States were made to be flexible, adaptable and to give respect and accord to different peoples.  All that multi-culti BS spewn by the Left and mimicked by the Big Government Right points out that Big Government is the problem in human affairs, not the solution.

Which means...


The old D&D done with a twist, what is not to love? 

When Big Government goes super-size and under able, it is time to look to yourself.  I, famously, do not trust myself with such things.. but I do trust myself far, far more than I trust government and the two parties.  I know my limitations and my faults - government, most assuredly, does not.  At the founding good and hard reasons were put forth as to *why* government should be restrained, limited and kept on a short leash with sign posts of what is seen in society and government when those things are put aside. 

And as the founding generation that talked about this looked at all the outcomes when government *did* start accumulating more to itself, brushing off those concerns when we do the exact, same thing is not only unwise but foolhardy.  But no one goes past the Federalist Papers anymore, to look at the broader scope and context of the discussions going on.  When Federalists are being questioned on their grounds because they are *not* adhering to federalism, as a few people DID, why did they get lumped into the 'Anti-Federalist' area, when what they wanted was a more complete form of federalism?  And the 'Anti-Federalists' who *did* criticize what was being made pointed out that such accumulations of power have not worked out in the long haul and pointed to other Republics and their governing systems and then put those into context of what was being drafted.

Looking at those times and writings, I am shocked that the modern, two-party, binary logic is not seen for the problem that it *is*.  This has gotten down to the reductio ad absurdum of who can give the most to the most people while impoverishing all.  The economy is not a measure of freedom or liberty, but of economic activity.  So if government can find ways to *restrict* individuals while not putting that in peril, then it can be pointed to and say 'everything is fine' or 'that candidate is putting the ECONOMY at risk... here are the things I will take from you to fix it'.  And, huzzah!, the economic cycle shifts and gets better while the people get poorer and more restricted.  Soon the government will have absolute control over *both*, and call government mandates on what you do, how you act, how you think and how you live: liberty.

My recommendation?


Even if, somehow, America can avoid the worse, a bit of self-reliance can never hurt.

That and much else is occupying my limited time of consciousness and even more limited energy.

Survival first... trimmings later.

21 April 2008

Regarding the Winter Queen and her descendants

There are very few titles that still hear a faint echo in the modern world, and one of those is Elizabeth Stuart's unofficial titles, which stuck because her demeanor won popular affection wherever she went.  She would gain these titles after the marriage to Frederick V, Elector Palatine.  Frederick V took up his father's position as head of the Evangelical Union and would briefly become King of Bohemia, and from that short time on the throne Elizabeth Stuart became 'The Winter Queen' or 'Queen of Hearts' to Frederick's status of 'Winter King'.  Her son, Charles II, would restore the English throne and she would be seen as the mother of the lines of Kings via her daughter Princess Sophia in England, Scotland and Ireland.  It was that brief, extremely brief, reign that would spark off the impending cataclysm known as the 30 Years War, and embroil France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Holy Roman Empire and truly all of European Christendom.  There were other battles going on, but by shifting this small, but key principality the other great powers would come to find a need to intervene.  The sons and daughters of this marriage would help to not only protect the English Crown against Cromwell in the Civil War in England, but to help restore the English Crown afterwards.

Their son Charles I Louis would be re-instated as Elector into the Upper Palatine by the Treaty of Westphalia (Source: The Avalon Project) and it is from that lineage (via the view of Charles I, deposed and beheaded, who claimed guardianship for Frederick and Elizabeth)  that England has ties to the entire Treaty.  His support of the execution of Stafford during the early part of the English Civil War would also tend to reinforce that tie, as would the restoration via Charles II.  In particular it is paragraph XIV of the Treaty that states:


As for what regards the House of Palatine, the Emperor and the Empire, for the benefit of the publick Tranquillity, consent, that by virtue of this present Agreement, there be establish'd an eighth Electorate; which the Lord Charles Lewis, Count Palatine of the Rhine, shall enjoy for the future, and his Heirs, and the Descendants of the Rudolphine Line, pursuant to the Order of Succession, set forth in the Golden Bull; and that by this Investiture, neither the Lord Charles Lewis, nor his Successors shall have any Right to that which has been given with the Electoral Dignity to the Elector of Bavaria, and all the Branch of William.

Amazing stuff, no?  While England could not actually sign the Treaty of Westphalia, its line of authority from this would embody it because that line recognizing the Golden Bull of 1356.  The Elector system was established to give the prince-electors in various principalities the responsibility of establishing the King of the Romans and, from that, the Head of the Holy Roman Empire.  Thus the office that Charles I Louis took up is that of appointed Elector, in this case by reinforcing the lineage through Frederick V and his progenitors, but under a *new* electors office as the old one had been under Papal ban (can't have a Protestant Elector majority in what was supposed to be a Catholic kingdom, now, can you?) which would balance out the system for awhile.  Thus the Lower Palatine went to Charles I Louis. Westphalia solidifies the ties between England and the Lower Palatine via this, and those of the line of that succession are tasked with the work of the Treaty.  The preamble to the Treaty of Westphalia address *all* of those covered, and I will take the benefit of excerpting that extremely lengthy list, to get to the meat of that preamble:

In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom in any manner it may belong, That for many Years past, Discords and Civil Divisions being stir'd up in the Roman Empire, which increas'd to such a degree, that not only all Germany, but also the neighbouring Kingdoms, and France particularly, have been involv'd in the Disorders of a long and cruel War:[ lengthy listing excerpted]It has at last happen'd, by the effect of Divine Goodness, seconded by the Endeavours of the most Serene Republick of Venice, who in this sad time, when all Christendom is imbroil'd, has not ceas'd to contribute its Counsels for the publick Welfare and Tranquillity; so that on the side, and the other, they have form'd Thoughts of an universal Peace. And for this purpose, by a mutual Agreement and Covenant of both Partys, in the year of our Lord 1641. the 25th of December, N.S. or the 15th O.S. it was resolv'd at Hamburgh, to hold an Assembly of Plenipotentiary Ambassadors, who should render themselves at Munster and Osnabrug in Westphalia the 11th of July, N.S. or the 1st of the said month O.S. in the year 1643. The Plenipotentiary Ambassadors on the one side, and the other, duly establish'd, appearing at the prefixt time, and on the behalf of his Imperial Majesty,[another lengthy list excerpted] And by the Mediation and Interposition of the most illustrious and most excellent Ambassador and Senator of Venice, Aloysius Contarini Knight, who for the space of five Years, or thereabouts, with great Diligence, and a Spirit intirely impartial, has been inclin'd to be a Mediator in these Affairs. After having implor'd the Divine Assistance, and receiv'd a reciprocal Communication of Letters, Commissions, and full Powers, the Copys of which are inserted at the end of this Treaty, in the presence and with the consent of the Electors of the Sacred Roman Empire, the other Princes and States, to the Glory of God, and the Benefit of the Christian World, the following Articles have been agreed on and consented to, and the same run thus.

Of the things the Treaty of Westphalia does, it establishes the Trinity as the Orthodox for Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists.  So, while Christendom would be divided between Catholics and Protestants, they would be united via Orthodoxy.  The Ambassador from Venice, was, in theory, from the Doge of Venice, but the Doge was limited as to what the Great Council would allow.  Also the temporal leader, chosen via a multiple lot system, was not of necessity an inherited position and by that multiple election system, the Doge would perform closer to something we would think of as a President or Prime Minister.  Anyone who could have their estate fined after their death for a poor judgement on their leadership was not in a grand position to assert great authority.  Venice, itself, had suffered intrigues against it by the Hapsburgs (Austrian and Spanish), Turks, and others and finally form an alliance with Austria and, later, Russia in 1684.  It was that pressing by the various corsairs and pirates of the Ottoman Empire's outskirts (along the Barbary Coast) that made Venice interested in getting the rest of Europe at peace. 

It was the work of Cardinal Mazarin, under Louis XIV of France (who was still a child, so Mazarin was running the place), that would win the final battles of exhaustion and bring the 30 Years War to an end. It is interesting that Pope Innocent X was not one offering much in the way of 'Divine Assistance' and actively protested the Treaty, but God does help those that help themselves, and Mazarin's hand seems to have been a bit more important in helping France than that of the Papal representative. Really, ending the thing would have been nearly impossible without Cardian Mazarin and his prior expertise at gambling, but the need of Venice being pressed by Islamic Pirates and getting its sea-based holding ravaged was of no small matter.... to Venice, but soon Austria, Russia, etc.  The Ottoman Turks were pressing things hard and the ability to unite anyone was to the benefit of Venice.  And for all of Innocent's protesting, Urban VIII had taken a hand in stirring the pot during the 30 Years War.  So while Innocent X may protest the Treaty, some of the bloodshed is directly attributable to the Vatican in favoring one line over another in succession which would necessitate a Vatican based Arsenal.

So, the Treaty of Westphalia  could not address the Vatican *exactly*:  Pope Urban VIII who should have kept his nose out things was dead, Pope Innocent X didn't want the Treaty and Cardinal Mazarin, the de facto leader of France, was key in creating the Treaty by getting some of the last battles to go France's way thus leaving France the least of the exhausted.  The English Civil War was well under way with help from the descendants of Elizabeth Stuart, and the Crown would not be re-established until after the Treaty, although by a descendant, Charles II brother of Charles I Louis, of those who had been put under Papal ban.  What the Treaty did do was place just about anyone who had been directly involved, and a lot of indirect folks, too, under it.

The part that does address England is by way of what was given to Charles I Louis and the rest of the family, covered in the following paragraphs:


Further, to ease the Lord Charles Lewis, in some measure, of the trouble of providing his Brothers with Appenages, his Imperial Majesty will give order that forty thousand Rixdollars shall be paid to the said Brothers, in the four ensuing Years; the first commencing with the Year 1649. The Payment to be made of ten thousand Rixdollars yearly, with five per Cent Interest.


Further, that all the Palatinate House, with all and each of them, who are, or have in any manner adher'd to it; and above all, the Ministers who have serv'd in this Assembly, or have formerly serv'd this House; as also all those who are banish'd out of the Palatinate, shall enjoy the general Amnesty here above promis'd, with the same Rights as those who are comprehended therein, or of whom a more particular and ampler mention has been made in the Article of Grievance.


Reciprocally the Lord Charles Lewis and his Brothers shall render Obedience, and be faithful to his Imperial Majesty, like the other Electors and Princes of the Empire; and shall renounce their Pretensions to the Upper Palatinate, as well for themselves as their Heirs, whilst any Male, and lawful Heir of the Branch of William shall continue alive.


And upon the mention which has been made, to give a Dowry and a Pension to the Mother Dowager of the said Prince, and to his Sisters; his Sacred Imperial Majesty (according to the Affection he has for the Palatinate House) has promis'd to the said Dowager, for her Maintenance and Subsistence, to pay once for all twenty thousand Rixdollars; and to each of the Sisters of the said Lord Charles Lewis, when they shall marry, ten thousand Rixdollars, the said Prince Charles Lewis being bound to disburse the Overplus.


That the said Lord Charles Lewis shall give no trouble to the Counts of Leiningen and of Daxburg, nor to their Successors in the Lower Palatinate; but he shall let them peaceably enjoy the Rights obtain'd many Ages ago, and confirm'd by the Emperors.

The Mother Dowager is *still* beloved after all those years, but note that all Brothers and Sisters of Charles I Louis, namely the children of Frederick V and Elizabeth Stuart, are covered completely by the Treaty.  When Charles II goes to England and restores the Crown he is *still* covered under the Treaty.  The movement by Henry VIII to end the idea of State imposed religion would be continued onwards and the Treaty would add to it, even when abridged in specific circumstances, those circumstances would slowly change the view of not only England but all of Europe, but only once a state got stood up that was founded on the Westphalian premise as its basis: the United States.

Beyond just the concept of religious freedom and the slow cessation of State intervention in what is allowed to be worshipped, the Treaty of Westphalia sets standards for post-war reconciliation and manners in which to lawfully accommodate debts of war and then sets limits on what can and cannot be rightfully sought.  The basic rule is:  pay off your debts, seek leniency for those that cannot do so, for those whose status has suffered wholesale change do forgive those debts, and anything extracted under force is to be paid back.  Also restore to those people who had positions either like positions or pensions/dowry/annual payments.  For things dealing with lands or objects, bring itemized lists and settle things in court.  This goes far beyond *just* the actual governments involved as seen here:


As soon as the Treaty of Peace shall be sign'd and seal'd by the Plenipotentiarys and Ambassadors, all Hostilitys shall cease, and all Partys shall study immediately to put in execution what has been agreed to; and that the same may be the better and quicker accomplish'd, the Peace shall be solemnly publish'd the day after the signing thereof in the usual form at the Cross of the Citys of Munster and of Osnabrug. That when it shall be known that the signing has been made in these two Places, divers Couriers shall presently be sent to the Generals of the Armys, to acquaint them that the Peace is concluded, and take care that the Generals chuse a Day, on which shall be made on all sides a Cessation of Arms and Hostilitys for the publishing of the Peace in the Army; and that command be given to all and each of the chief Officers Military and Civil, and to the Governors of Fortresses, to abstain for the future from all Acts of Hostility: and if it happen that any thing be attempted, or actually innovated after the said Publication, the same shall be forthwith repair'd and restor'd to its former State.



Finally, That all and every one either States, Commonaltys, or private Men, either Ecclesiastical or Secular, who by virtue of this Transaction and its general Articles, or by the express and special Disposition of any of them, are oblig'd to restore, transfer, give, do, or execute any thing, shall be bound forthwith after the Publication of the Emperor's Edicts, and after Notification given, to restore, transfer, give, do, or execute the same, without any Delay or Exception, or evading Clause either general or particular, contain'd in the precedent Amnesty, and without any Exception and Fraud as to what they are oblig'd unto.

Forgive, payoff, forget and end it in a civil way, would you?  FROM NOW ONWARDS.

Now comes the truly inspired part that affects us to this very day:


That it never shall be alledg'd, allow'd, or admitted, that any Canonical or Civil Law, any general or particular Decrees of Councils, any Privileges, any Indulgences, any Edicts, any Commissions, Inhibitions, Mandates, Decrees, Rescripts, Suspensions of Law, Judgments pronounc'd at any time, Adjudications, Capitulations of the Emperor, and other Rules and Exceptions of Religious Orders, past or future Protestations, Contradictions, Appeals, Investitures, Transactions, Oaths, Renunciations, Contracts, and much less the Edict of 1629. or the Transaction of Prague, with its Appendixes, or the Concordates with the Popes, or the Interims of the Year 1548. or any other politick Statutes, or Ecclesiastical Decrees, Dispensations, Absolutions, or any other Exceptions, under what pretence or colour they can be invented; shall take place against this Convention, or any of its Clauses and Articles neither shall any inhibitory or other Processes or Commissions be ever allow'd to the Plaintiff or Defendant.


That he who by his Assistance or Counsel shall contravene this Transaction or Publick Peace, or shall oppose its Execution and the abovesaid Restitution, or who shall have endeavour'd, after the Restitution has been lawfully made, and without exceeding the manner agreed on before, without a lawful Cognizance of the Cause, and without the ordinary Course of Justice, to molest those that have been restor'd, whether Ecclesiasticks or Laymen; he shall incur the Punishment of being an Infringer of the publick Peace, and Sentence given against him according to the Constitutions of the Empire, so that the Restitution and Reparation may have its full effect.


That nevertheless the concluded Peace shall remain in force, and all Partys in this Transaction shall be oblig'd to defend and protect all and every Article of this Peace against any one, without distinction of Religion; and if it happens any point shall be violated, the Offended shall before all things exhort the Offender not to come to any Hostility, submitting the Cause to a friendly Composition, or the ordinary Proceedings of Justice.



And that the publick Peace may be so much the better preserv'd intire, the Circles shall be renew'd; and as soon as any Beginnings of Troubles are perceiv'd, that which has been concluded in the Constitutions, of the Empire, touching the Execution and Preservation of the Public Peace, shall be observ'd.

Welcome to 2008!

As Treaties pass on from mother country to colonies and those colonies which take independence upon themselves are still under such Treaties until and unless they are renounced, usually done at such time and specifically for each Treaty, I do say that there is a problem with an Ecclesiastical view that is taking place aimed at two of the descendent nations of the Treaty of Westphalia: Mexico and the United States.  To wit the aid from the Vatican into Mexico to aid those seeking to disturb the Peace between Nations and the Tranquility of relations by showing no respect to the sovereignty of the Nations involved.  This taken from a USA Today article of 15 APR 2008:

MEXICO CITY — The Vatican donated at least $20,000 to build a shelter for Central American immigrants traveling to the USA, angering immigration control advocates as Pope Benedict XVI begins his first official U.S. visit.

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America, which reports to the pope, sent the money in January to help the Brothers on the Path charity construct a $120,000 shelter in Ixtepec in southern Mexico, the Vatican confirmed Tuesday.

Many Catholic churches in the USA and Mexico have programs to aid immigrants, but few receive direct support from the Vatican, said Alejandro Solalinde, a priest and director of the project.

This, being an enticement and support to break the Law of Nations held between all Nations which includes the Vatican as the Papal State, and encouragement under any pretexts to break this understanding is not only against that most wide view of how Nations are to act, but is a specific abridgement forbidden under the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.  In giving aid the Public Peace is no longer being supported by the Vatican and the sovereignty of the United States and Mexico is being infringed upon by Ecclesiastical support and outlook, via the Vatican.  As the United States descends via those encumbered with the perpetuity of peace and that is the same of the people of Mexico, the Vatican by aiding and abetting those breaking the peace between Nations via disregarding them is specifically going against the perpetuity of that decreed peace under which no Ecclesiastical Judgement or Decree or any view that gives aid and sanctuary to those disturbing the public peace is allowed and all citizens of those under the perpetual decree to end the 30 Years War are to uphold that Treaty via their actions, I do note that the Vatican is breaking into that public sphere between Nations and not doing its job to facilitate agreements amongst Nations but, instead, to force its view upon them.

Then there is a matter of those waging Private War upon other Nations who the US has been a target of.  During military operations the US has acted under the Geneva Conventions that it has signed up to, which does not include the 1977 amendments as they go against principles established not only in the US Constitution but deriving from the Law of Nations.  The Vatican used to understand what it meant to safeguard against those waging Private War without Public support from any Nation but on their own and sole behalf to attack those that they wanted without licence but with great licentiousness.  One of the Orders set up by the Roman Catholic church to safeguard the seas and the safety of them, and to counter those waging Private War was the group that would come to be finally known as the Knights of Malta.  While this was before the work Law of Nations was written, the general understanding of what law of nations meant had arisen with the first City States of ancient times long before Christianity, Judaism and served as a basic understanding of how to operate such States long before either.  Coming from a mixed background that is half-Polish it is very painful to read this brief summary in which the current Pontiff has his views given (Source: AP via Google 15 APR 2008):

It was not the first time on the trip that the pontiff has delicately critiqued his host nation.

Speaking to his American bishops Wednesday, he said the U.S. must be welcoming to immigrants, helping them to flourish in their new homes.

Following a White House visit, a joint statement from the U.S. and the Vatican hinted that Benedict raised concerns with President Bush about punitive immigration laws. It said the leaders discussed "the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially the humane treatment of immigrants and the well-being of their families."

The statement also said Bush and Benedict "touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights" — an apparent reflection of the Vatican's strong condemnation of the mistreatment of prisoners.

During Thursday's Mass, Benedict worried about divisions among Catholics, and what he called the "troubling realization" that many are not following church teaching.

There used to be a time when the Roman Catholic church recognized a difference between those waging Private War and Public War, and it is painful to see a church so distanced from that viewpoint that it begins to sound like a Leftist group backed by George Soros.

I have looked at the Geneva Conventions as the US understands them to be, and find that we are operating within them, because those waging Private War do not fall under the GC: to do so is to elevate the individual or small group up to the status of Nation, and no Treaty, no doctrine, and no teaching supports that.  Looking at illegal immigration, there is one document always touted for human rights and that is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Unfortunately it is limited to Nations and to citizens of Nations who abide by the laws of their Nation and all treaties signed and covering them.  Unfortunately both terrorists and illegal immigrants step away from the Universal Declaration by breaking with it in Article 30, the last article of it:

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

That article does not allow you to break the law or do anything contrary to the laws, and note that it is not delimited to Nations but goes all the way down to individuals.  The remedy that has been traditional for dealing with those caught waging Private War, all the way up to the founding of the US, was execution on the battlefield or a simple trial to indicate an individual was involved in that activity and death.  The United States in its wisdom started to change that outlook for that form of activity falling under Piracy and the penalty is merely life imprisonment if caught on the civil side.  On the military side the standard way to deal with those out of uniform, under no Nation, waging war has been simple battlefield execution.  What is being done in Guantanamo is far, far more humane than *that*, although, perhaps, less KIND.

By taking up those activities that are anathema to all Nations, these terrorists step outside of the purview of Treaties describing human rights.  Further they step away from civilized warfare, and the reciprocity between Nations during conflicts.  If bringing up the Knights of Malta and their work to PROTECT civil safety is disquieting, that is *good* as it reminds us that those who forego all form of civilized intercourse, all form of civilized behavior and who set themselves above all Nations and as a law unto themselves are also forgoing the protection of civilized law.  They want perfect liberty to act as they will and will not hold themselves responsible to anyone save themselves.  The Roman Catholic church used to understand what that meant and why safeguarding commerce and civilians was a *good thing*.

I do admire the Catholic church in many of its works: when it helps to build peace and understanding in communities, it is one of the most powerful and persuasive voices on the planet for peace.

When it forgets that it is also a State and looks to castigate other States for protecting themselves when the Church used to support doing the *exact same thing* and with good reason, I have serious problems.  We cannot depend on the good will or good faith of those that have openly disdained *both* towards their fellow man.  The Roman Catholic church does extreme good in conducting that understanding of how man is to comport himself in the temporal realm in ways that are lawful and peaceful.  Doing more of that might help to get a further understanding to those areas of the planet that don't see law or peace as things to be upheld by ANYONE.  Telling Nations to ignore their own fealty to their societies, to ignore their own safety and to start trying to embrace those that have no wish to be embraced and who, instead, seek our end, is an insult to those Nations so castigated.  The US cannot take up the doctrines of a tiny land locked State protected by its neighbors, and that is small in population but rich in the wealth of its global following.  And in this day in age being land locked is no longer a guarantee of safety nor, as the US has found to its sorrow, are wide and deep oceans.

The United States needs deep help in getting citizens in all Nations to understand their responsibilities to each other, their society and their Nation.  The Catholic Church does a lot of heavy lifting in that area.

The US also seeks to protect its citizens, its commerce and its society from those wishing to abuse our good will, our liberty and our freedoms so as to undermine and end them.

It is sad to see that in the universal message being preached that there is no understanding of how tough that is from the Roman Catholic church which used to take that burden up centuries ago.

The freedom of worship does not come free, as the Treaty of Westphalia points out. 

Nor does it come from good feelings and dissolving societies which was the *cause* of those wars due to religion.

Human rights have diminutions in liberty so that safety can be established, and when those who seek perfect liberty to put at peril the safety of others without regard to civilized norms attack, the US in taking them in, giving them shelter, giving them good food, ensuring their safety from the elements and making damned sure they can hurt no one else is doing something good: by restricting their liberty we show them the costs of having human rights and while that individual lesson may end with them at the end of their natural lives in prison, the word gets out for the church to work upon.

By our works we gained this from Westphalia:

Photo courtesy: Michael Yon, Thanks and Praise, 2007
Thanks and Praise: I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. - Michael Yon

The Polish Order of St. Benedictus and their "Martyrs of Our Times" campaign(h/t: Gatewaypundit) seem to be willing to call out those doing this.

Perhaps the Pope can look within the Church and find some wisdom there, and see the cost of not supporting those doing the putting up of the cross and only defending those doing the blowing up of the buildings and the worshippers inside. 

Unfair?  Yes.

But getting that cross to that point in Baghdad took supporting something that no one seems to want to do much, these days: support the right of individuals to worship without coercion or fear of death for doing so.

Remember that?

Treaty of Westphalia?

I'm worried more about what it takes to secure society to let those people to worship peaceably than what happens to those looking to kill them for doing so.  And that is a very unfair position.