25 June 2010

Commentary, commentary yet more commentary

Commentary given at a Hot Air Green Room posting by Doctor Zero on Night of the yeoman.

In arguing that the yeoman reappear in the Republican party, there is a point missed about America and Americans.

My original text has had a spelling error or two changed, but all else remains the same for the amusement of the populace.


There are also Americans that understand the following, but those that are attached to the corrupt system cannot fathom:

But this act does not permit competition in the purchase of this monopoly. It seems to be predicated on the erroneous idea that the present stockholders have a prescriptive right not only to the favor but to the bounty of Government. It appears that more than a fourth part of the stock is held by foreigners and the residue is held by a few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class. For their benefit does this act exclude the whole American people from competition in the purchase of this monopoly and dispose of it for many millions less than it is worth. This seems the less excusable because some of our citizens not now stockholders petitioned that the door of competition might be opened, and offered to take a charter on terms much more favorable to the Government and country.

But this proposition, although made by men whose aggregate wealth is believed to be equal to all the private stock in the existing bank, has been set aside, and the bounty of our Government is proposed to be again bestowed on the few who have been fortunate enough to secure the stock and at this moment wield the power of the existing institution. I can not perceive the justice or policy of this course. If our Government must sell monopolies, it would seem to be its duty to take nothing less than their full value, and if gratuities must be made once in fifteen or twenty years let them not be bestowed on the subjects of a foreign government nor upon a designated and favored class of men in our own country. It is but justice and good policy, as far as the nature of the case will admit, to confine our favors to our own fellow-citizens, and let each in his turn enjoy an opportunity to profit by our bounty. In the bearings of the act before me upon these points I find ample reasons why it should not become a law.

Back in the days when the legislative branch understood that the gifts bestowed by them in the name of the people must come up for review, the licensing of companies put into a secured government position must come up for a re-vote. Thus corruption is countered by having the very question of 'if' such a body should be held by the government is addressed often so as to review the corruption of such institutions helped in the name of the people. What has happened is a class of federal bodies has been formed with the largesse of the people, with a permanent grant into our treasury, that have NO re-vote ever cast upon them. They become havens for corruption and then feed that corruption back into the system with those who formed them and supporting them getting kickbacks from those organizations. Thus federal money is put in support of politicians, not the government, and the depth of corruption becomes commonplace and those wanting to stop it are then decried as 'neophytes' or 'dreamers' and the system is supported as 'good' or 'helpful' while they, in fact, drain the accounts of the people unaccountably. When laws are drafted to help some over others, to support federal corporations against their private counter-parts, and when the power of government is granted unaccountably, you do not get sweetness, light and the wisest governing. You get rulers and a ruling class. In that era it was a bank, a far reaching, federally authorized bank that did things that were not allowed by the Constitution and secured money for the rich and powerful, and put the common man at a disadvantage. Yet the cries of that age echo again:
The principle here affirmed is that the "degree of its necessity," involving all the details of a banking institution, is a question exclusively for legislative consideration. A bank is constitutional, but it is the province of the Legislature to determine whether this or that particular power, privilege, or exemption is "necessary and proper" to enable the bank to discharge its duties to the Government, and from their decision there is no appeal to the courts of justice. Under the decision of the Supreme Court, therefore, it is the exclusive province of Congress and the President to decide whether the particular features of this act are necessary and proper in order to enable the bank to perform conveniently and efficiently the public duties assigned to it as a fiscal agent, and therefore constitutional, or unnecessary and improper, and therefore unconstitutional.
We hear the cry, today, of 'too big to fail' and taking corporations over as a 'necessity'. That those federally granted corporations now taking over the majority of home loans, thus having a stake in them, is 'good' no matter how much red ink they bleed of our expense. This is a shirking of responsibility of the first order and against the fundamental system of review by our representatives, who we grant the power to use in our name in a limited way. It is not that such corporations are 'convenient' or 'necessary', it is that they are unaccountable:
On two subjects only does the Constitution recognize in Congress the power to grant exclusive privileges or monopolies. It declares that "Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Out of this express delegation of power have grown our laws of patents and copyrights. As the Constitution expressly delegates to Congress the power to grant exclusive privileges in these cases as the means of executing the substantive power " to promote the progress of science and useful arts," it is consistent with the fair rules of construction to conclude that such a power was not intended to be granted as a means of accomplishing any other end. On every other subject which comes within the scope of Congressional power there is an ever-living discretion in the use of proper means, which can not be restricted or abolished without an amendment of the Constitution. Every act of Congress, therefore, which attempts by grants of monopolies or sale of exclusive privileges for a limited time, or a time without limit, to restrict or extinguish its own discretion in the choice of means to execute its delegated powers is equivalent to a legislative amendment of the Constitution, and palpably unconstitutional.
A limit of time is necessary so that institutions and their venues do not trump the public will as it is the public will that is the holder of all authority. To insure that such institutions follow our will, they must be renewed on a regular basis... and yet you cannot get that for the Federal Reserve, SEC, Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie, Sallie, and now GM and Chrysler, along with some banks. When the government determines in its biased way who is or is not 'too big to fail' then we become beholden to government, not government to the people. The lax approach of 'so what, I get mine' and 'its all for the good' mask the horrific deed of our government seeking to own our goods, our companies, our land and our liberty in the seizure of same via these unaccountable agencies:
The Government of the United States have no constitutional power to purchase lands within the States except "for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings," and even for these objects only "by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be." By making themselves stockholders in the bank and granting to the corporation the power to purchase lands for other purposes they assume a power not granted in the Constitution and grant to others what they do not themselves possess. It is not necessary to the receiving, safe-keeping, or transmission of the funds of the Government that the bank should possess this power, and it is not proper that Congress should thus enlarge the powers delegated to them in the Constitution.
If the power is not granted to the federal government to do these things, then they can be neither necessary or proper, no matter how 'convenient' those actions are. The concept of rule of law is that the law knows no favorites and prefers to use the sword of justice to chop off the thumb on the scale rather than allow it. If these powers were seen as not necessary and proper, then it behooves the American public to take those agencies and corporations to court to ask where the federal government gets the power to seize lands and property without due process of law and without consultation of the States in plural. The federal government can no more 'invest' in these property bearing entities than it can in your home, save via grant from each State for each piece of land. Not accumulated and aggregated, but piecemeal as that is a necessary protection of you from your government. From all this and more, much more, the summation of why such things should not be continued, should not be upheld and should be countered rings as true today as it did when first given:

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.

Nor is our Government to be maintained or our Union preserved by invasions of the rights and powers of the several States. In thus attempting to make our General Government strong we make it weak. Its true strength consists in leaving individuals and States as much as possible to themselves-in making itself felt, not in its power, but in its beneficence; not in its control, but in its protection; not in binding the States more closely to the center, but leaving each to move unobstructed in its proper orbit.

Experience should teach us wisdom. Most of the difficulties our Government now encounters and most of the dangers which impend over our Union have sprung from an abandonment of the legitimate objects of Government by our national legislation, and the adoption of such principles as are embodied in this act. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution and the fathers of our Union. If we can not at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our Government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy.

Never forget that what we have today is not the only way and that if we grow used to the festering sore we shall be consumed by it.

16 June 2010

The DLS of energy and engineering

Watching the speech given by President Obama (transcript) and the reaction by Gov. Palin seen on Bill O'Reilly's show...

... I was struck first and most seriously by the problems that the President has in understanding just what sort of problem the oil well blowout is and how to deal with it.  So lets start with a bit from that from President Obama:

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  Eleven workers lost their lives.  Seventeen others were injured.  And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology.  That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge -- a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy.  Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

Deep water drilling is a result of policy set by Congress on restricting shallow water drilling on the continental shelf.  It is far riskier and has more unknowns in it than shallow water drilling due to the depth, pressures and what lies beneath the sea floor is harder to understand due to depth.  By policy set up by multiple administrations and Congresses over the past 30 years, we no longer go after the 'easy' to get at oil on land or near shore waters, even when there are demonstrated safer means to do so (safer meaning that they have fewer unknown risks and means to deal with known risks).  Getting energy from any source is a risk-cost-benefit analysis that requires the full understanding of what the risks and costs are for getting the benefit.  Solar cells need rare earth metals that need to be mined and they tend to be in places where they aren't easy to get at, and yield a low percentage yield of sunlight to electricity.  Algae stations on power plants or industrial facilities are re-capture systems for carbon and heat, and so cannot get more energy from the system than the waste materials allow.  Wind power is limited to a very few areas with relatively constant winds, and require infrastructure outlay and maintenance and result in a larger number of bird kills due to the blades of the devices than in the natural setting.

Each of these have a cost to them, a risk to them, a benefit to them, and an energy conversion or re-capture rate to them.  That is, at best, high school physics at work: the necessary equations of energy output, energy conversion and capture can be done with a decent high school science background that includes electricity, biology, and chemistry.  To make these systems work requires this other field the President lightly touches upon.


Engineering is the Dirty Little Secret of getting energy.

Only at the very far edges of energy production (say magnetically confined fusion or laser fusion) do you get to some advanced physics, and making those systems into something that is feasible to create on a mass scale requires good engineering.  Electrostatic contained fusion holds much and extreme promise, if it can prove itself out as the components are readily available for it.  Scaling it via engineering (up to larger facilities and finding the absolute minimum smallest useful system) requires little to know actual new physics or chemistry, but metallurgy and energy systems engineering.  When you are going through nearly a mile of ocean to dig a well on the bottom of the ocean, you have an engineering problem as the physics is pretty staid and well known.  Once you start drilling you have a geophysical and seismic prospecting venue to add in, but engineering gets you there.

So when you are forming up a 'team of experts' what is the role of a Nobel Winning Physicist?  He may be a great physicist, but what sort of a hands-on engineer is he?  Ken Salazar wrote a report on deep water drilling claiming that a panel of experts backed the report when, in actual fact, they did no such thing (Source: The Times-Picayune, 09 JUN 2010, by David Hammer).  Thus we do not have an expert engineer leading the project and the co-leader is a man who misrepresents deep water drilling experts when writing reports about the subject.

If Ken Salazar can't be bothered to write up the truth about his report on this subject prior to this panel, then what is the chance he will actually do so when heading up the panel?  And even an applied physicist is not the best of all possible individuals for heading up this team, while an oceanographer, geologist, or actual deep water engineer would be.  A Nobel Prize does not bestow deific wisdom outside of your tiny specialty, and for a panel meant to do something it requires experience, not prestige to actually address the problem.

Reading the above, knowing that there are dry land sources to be drilled (North Slope of Alaska, oil fields in the Dakotas, oil shale in Colorado, near shore drilling for California which has oil naturally seeping out from the ocean floor, and near shore areas around the Gulf and Eastern Seaboard),  what comes next I can only classify, at best, as misstatement and, at worse, an outright lie:

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered.  For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.  And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.  Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor. 

For decades we have heard the incantation of 'you can't drill there!' by environmentalists and NIMBYists that have restricted getting to the 'cheap and easily accessible oil'.  Now, when we need those 'cheap and easy' oil fields we are told that you can't drill in them... even with this disaster we have ongoing.  We also have another problem in that we haven't built a new refinery in this country since 1976, so we must pay extra for other Nations to refine our petroleum products for us.  That, too, has been done by politicians citing environmentalists and NIMBYists and appeasing them.  And by now blocking deep water drilling the President is seeking to escalate a crisis based on a false premise.  The risks and mitigation procedures get easier the closer you get to shore and damned easy once you have solid ground under you.  Yet that path has been blocked for decades, not by oil industry lobbyists of which BP has contributed a lot to Obama's past campaigns, but the lack of courage and candor by politicians willing to say that the risk for on-land and shallow water drilling are outweighed by the benefits to the Nation.

Now here I am going to take a swipe at Gov. Palin for mis-stating the triad of energy.  She puts for the triad of energy in America as:

1) Conventional fuels  (oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear)

2) Alternative fuels (wind, solar, biomass)

3) Conservation of energy

The actual triad that keeps the US powered?

1) Petroleum, including natural gas and derivatives

2) Coal

3) Nuclear

While conservation has made us more efficient, it does not contribute one single direct erg of energy to the grid, to your gas tank or to our energy reserves.  It reduces use, it does not increase supply.

Alternative fuels, combined, are in the neighborhood of 5-10% of our energy generation.  That is not a player in the energy game, save as a 'feel good' source to claim you are 'helping the environment'.  Well, good!  And the facilities that made all the solar cells, smelted the ore for the hardware, and transported all those lovely alternative fuel options around?  The actual Triad of energy.  This is a DLS of alternative energy: it isn't cost effective because if it were it would be beating out someone in the Triad.  When alternative fuels or energy sources can actually get into the 20% range of energy production, then it can look to beat out nuclear... although we are, finally, starting to build new nuclear plants of modern design that are far safer than the old style generation 1 and 2 plants.  If we could get some of the regulations out of the way designed for the old style plants, that is.

If you want to be generous you can lump coal in with petroleum, move nuclear up to #2 and put Conservation in the #3 spot... but there is a difference between drilling for oil and mining for coal.  And mining for uranium ore.

To let you know how bad this pipe dream of alternative energy is, you can go to this paragraph by the President:

This is not some distant vision for America.  The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry.  As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels.  Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient.  Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries.

Well GE announced a new wind turbine factory!  And it will create 1,900 jobs!  In the UK (Source: Business Green, 25 MAR 2010, James Murray):

The UK's position as one of the world's leading offshore wind energy markets was forcefully underlined today when General Electric (GE) announced plans to invest €110m to build its first British wind turbine manufacturing plant.

After months of speculation that it was considering locating a manufacturing facility in the UK, the US engineering giant said that it plans to create up to 1,900 new clean energy jobs across both GE and the new factory's related supply chain with the development of a new site on the UK mainland.

Ok not so good, but Ingeteam is opening one in the US along with a solar plant (Source: Renewable Energy World, 26 MAY 2010):

At the Windpower 2010 Conference, Ingeteam, a Spanish renewable energy manufacturing company, unveiled plans for its new US $15 million wind manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. At full capacity, the Milwaukee plant will employee 275 people and supply equipment capable of producing 7,500 megawatts (MW) of wind turbines each year for the U. S. renewable energy market.

And why are they building a power facility in the US?  I mean isn't Spain supposed to be the be-all, end-all of 'green' energy?  Well for that you can look at this from JSONLINE, Tom Daykin, 16 FEB 2010:

Also new: details on the public financing assistance for Ingeteam.

Governor Jim Doyle's office announced that the state is providing $4.5 million in tax credits, and a $500,000 Wisconsin Development Fund loan to Ingeteam. Usually, those loans are forgivable if a company meets job creation goals.

Ingeteam has also received $1.66 million in federal clean technology manufacturing tax credits, and will receive "further assistance" from the city, Doyle's office announced. I'll update that information at JSOnline.com as it becomes available.

Yes 'loans' that don't need to be repaid if they reach employment promises, tax credits which are a form of subsidies, and 'further assistance' from city government.  So for $2.1 million they need to create 275 jobs.  And then get subsidized via tax credits... this is economical how?

At American Thinker, Andrew Walden looks at the pirates of wind energy on 15 FEB 2010:

Some say that Ka Le is haunted -- and it is. But it's haunted not by Hawaii's legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are "Na leo o Kamaoa"-- the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU's expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.


Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy. 

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming.  By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa.  In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned.  Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

The Spanish subsidized 'green' technology went bust when the subsidies disappeared and the investigation into the amount of fraud and corruption is still ongoing in Spain.  Even without that, the subsidies cost tax payers billions for a meager return and NO sustainable energy.  In engineering terms, the cost of building the infrastructure does not get payback fast enough to justify building it without subsidies and the ongoing maintenance costs then eat into revenue.  Plus the winds can be damned unpredictable.

Sustainable?  Really?

And as these manufacturers are already on the move from lack of subsidies, what makes anyone think that the US will do any better?  If you have been running down the US to be 'more like Europe' and Europe is moving away from 'alternative energy' due to it not paying anything back, then how can you support it here?  In fact as this is more engineering than science, and its not profitable, how can anyone justify subsidizing it, anywhere?

There are some places where 'alternative energy' is a great alternative as it is the ONLY alternative, or you can work out the cost/power generation/maintenance schedules to justify it.  That makes it a niche energy source, as the amount of energy to run a modern economy is phenomenal. 

If you want solar, it needs to be built in space where it is reliable, dependable, constant and only orbital mechanics put a facility in Earth's shadow for a few minutes every year.  Best place to get supplies is the low gravity well of the Moon and its resources, not Earth.  Want 'sustainable' energy?  Go to orbit where it is constantly sustained.

I notice that is not on anyone's agenda, but that is only because it is engineering, not rocket science any more.

But the worst part of this speech, and its hard to pick out just what is the worst but I'll give it a shot, is this paragraph where he comes in after wanting 'other approaches' on his road to a quixotic energy future that can't be economical:

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead.  But the one approach I will not accept is inaction.  The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet.  You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II.  The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon.  And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom.  Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for the America we want for our children.  Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like.  Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there.  We know we’ll get there.  

If he doesn't support inaction, then why didn't he do much of anything for 57 days except finger-point and cast blame around?  That is quintessentially inaction: not doing a damned thing to help the mess.

Then come the strawmen in the wind, that previous challenges to America were 'too difficult to meet'.  I'm afraid that when America had a good half of its industry idle due to the Great Depression it wasn't that we lacked 'industrial capacity' but that we had an insane financial system that was set up by the Federal Reserve and was then getting taxed to death which stalled out the recovery of 1937.  Japan worried that America would awaken from its political torpor and self-destructive finances put in by government.  They bet that we would let our politicians rule us... and that we would ask for an armistice or peace settlement.

As to going to the Moon: that was generally a feat of engineering and applied material sciences, along with the biosciences.  The basics of rocketry had been worked out by the 1930's and was in popular fiction, and then horrific fact with the V-2.  For the most part 'rocket science' was already known, it was just building the systems up around it to make it human friendly and survivable.  It wasn't 'if' it could be done, but 'how much cost and in how much time?'  What President Obama presents is a false representation of what those two achievements represented, and the atomic bomb can be included as it was the creation of nuclear physicists training themselves to become nuclear engineers, the first ever on the planet to successfully move from test reactors to nuclear devices.  The science was known, the engineering was new.

Each of those instances of engineering had a known end state: a goal that could be written down, defined, and have its parameters given.  That creates an engineering feat that can be done.  Goals for the number of aircraft to produce were met and then exceeded by increased worker efficiency as the aircraft were built and then a new set of engineers started designing new aircraft, from scratch, to meet design and threat envelopes, testing them and putting them into the air in weeks... something that would have taken years prior to the war.  And the moon landings were large scale system integration into how many pounds could be lifted from Earth to the Moon and returned, including a human crew.  The ratios were those of lift capacity, consumables, mass, endurance and trying to put in any leeway for contingencies as each ounce counted.  These are not things that can be done with 'alternative energy' as the economics of them are known on the engineering base and that base is slow to change as what is involved are easy to understand physics and chemistry.

This isn't 'conventional wisdom' but hard and fast engineering and known science.

One cannot toss billions of dollars at this and expect it to improve, because the advances necessary are not monetarily driven, but driven by testing and refinement of techniques that are known to get better productivity and marginal increases in energy generation capacity.  This is a huge disconnect between the political elites and their understanding of the actual, physical reality around them: they are so intelligent they aren't smart enough to figure out the basics of how it works.  I really am impressed by the strides made in such things as photovoltaic cell costs as our understanding of fabrication moves from clean-room fabrication plants to roll-to-roll printing on metal substrates.  Bioenergy recapture systems are a nice add-on to generate some fuel from waste heat and effluent, and should be investigated for larger potential.  Whole plant biomass conversion, particularly of pest plants and other non-productive plants, holds some promise at the fringes.  In a decade all of that might even break 5% of our energy needs... unfortunately our needs grow faster than marginal sources can provide.

Wholesale change of the type President Obama wants requires a fundamental restructuring and re-orientation of how we gather and use energy as a system.  Orbital solar power satellites are key to that due to cost efficiencies in orbit.  Electrostatic confinement fusion may play a huge role if it proves out, perhaps even a leading role.  Nuclear fission at generation 3 and 4 style plants will offer a long term shift for electricity production to augment e-stat fusion and sps systems.  If you want your car to be all electric, we need a brand new, from the ground up, electrical distribution system with storage capacity that is slowly coming together.  High density capacitors will play a role, as will superconductive materials as their physics and material properties are understood.  Liquid and solid high density energy sources will remain a staple for decades as we have a good system for gathering, transporting and utilizing them: fossil fuels aren't going away any time soon.

None of this can be subsidized if you want it to work right.  Incentivized, with prizes for given goals and achievements and then handing out production contracts?  Yes, that got us the modern aviation system back in the 1920's via postal contracts for air mail.  A prize scheme backed by actual contracts to do something is worthwhile as long as the prizes push the envelope and the contract work isn't critical... airmail wasn't critical, but helped build a critical part of the economy.  President Obama and the elite political class is unwilling to do that with 'alternative energy' not only because they can't figure it out, but even if they did it requires incremental achievements that lead to long lasting structural changes build by private industry in an economical fashion.  Subsidies don't do that, and can even retard achievement as you get paid off for what you have not what you can make that is better.  Challenging industry isn't bestowing it with gifts and subsidies, but putting down hard goals and prizes to be won... and 'first past the post' should be ditched for 'limited time achievement by anyone' sort of prizes so that multiple different ways of making things work gets rewarded.  Not all will be the best, but you don't know that up front.

Instead of an outward, future oriented programmatic view of energy needs, President Obama is sticking to known failed methods and procedures.

And he still isn't doing all that much to clean up the Gulf.

When our friends from the Netherlands and Norway, and other Nations, asked to help us on the clean up, we should have said YES and THANK YOU.  Instead they got NO and GO AWAY.

That is piss poor diplomacy.

It is worse management of a disaster.

And the job that has that in its purview rests on one person.

The lack of competence is stunning.

The lack of vision is lethal.

14 June 2010

21st century gold rush

The following is cross-posted at The Jacksonian Party.

In the midst of the economic recession in the West and the deepening debt and banking problems leading to the insolvency of Nations, there is one, small, bright spot now coming to light.  It is not in the West nor Middle East but central Asia.  The place is the war torn Nation of Afghanistan.

The mineral riches, if reports are accurate, are phenomenal.

Although this is the NYT (13 JUN 2010, James Risen) reporting this, so take it with a grain of salt, but the DoD has confirmed the survey results and analysis:

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

Yes, all those Lithium Ion batteries for devices need good, old fashioned lithium.  Apparently Afghanistan has that in abundance.

The importance of iron and copper, which is in so much of our equipment, buildings, electronics, vehicles... indeed the industrial revolution was built on iron then steel, and the electronics industry built on copper... that vast resources of minerals bearing these two in abundance could spur a major change in pricing downwards for much of daily life over a decade or two.  What happens if the bottom falls out from the lithium, iron and copper markets?  We just might find out.

How big is this discovery?  It is truly phenomenal:

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines.

Will every investment work out?  No, of course not.

Will the net influx of mining capital transform Afghanistan in profound ways?  Yes.

Mind you that $12 billion figure for GDP may not count the drug trade for another billion or two.  Even with that, no amount of opium traffic can equal what happens when modern mining concerns roll into action, and the money that will flow through Afghanistan will be tremendous.  Even with no local firms, the country will make money on a transactional basis and most likely have some minor amount put into the Nation's coffers.  That is a double edged sword, as the government may think of that as government money while it is, in actuality, the money of the people who have the sovereignty over their land via government.

Afghanistan had, at one time before the Soviet invasion, a relatively ethical government.  Reading Michael Yon and others, there was even some evidence of that going through to today: that government functionaries at the low levels understood that they must do their job.  Thus the question of how far and how deep the corruption of the current government is worrying:

Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

The question on the replacement is: was this done only because of US power or done due to US complaint.  The first is no safe harbor for the Afghan people, the latter is a demonstration that some accountability exists within the system to deal with corruption.

China, of course, is involved seeking mineral deposits to fuel their economy, which has such structural bad debt that anything that can be grasped as helping to mitigate that is seen as essential.  The mineral deposits, however, will take a decade or two to see full utilization and that is of no help to China in the present.

And Afghanistan is not ready for the 'big league's of being a top international player in anything, especially vital mineral ore:

The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.

The Pentagon task force has already started trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development. International accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors. The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.

“The Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,” Mr. Brinkley said. “We are trying to help them get ready.”

This started with a USGS and Afghan Geological Survey group that pulled out the old British and Soviet era maps for the country and then stage an initial fly-over of promising sites.  That led to indications of much larger than expected deposits and a wider and more comprehensive survey in those areas in 2007.  The results sat in files until recently as US officials were looking for some way, any way, of getting Afghanistan on its feet economically.  When they got a better look at the results and compiled them, the extent of what was there became apparent, and the need for skilled hands to help in this was paramount:

The handful of American geologists who pored over the new data said the results were astonishing.

But the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments. In 2009, a Pentagon task force that had created business development programs in Iraq was transferred to Afghanistan, and came upon the geological data. Until then, no one besides the geologists had bothered to look at the information — and no one had sought to translate the technical data to measure the potential economic value of the mineral deposits.

Soon, the Pentagon business development task force brought in teams of American mining experts to validate the survey’s findings, and then briefed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Mr. Karzai.

Yes, experience in Iraq counts and now offers an asymmetrical way to approach the Afghanistan conflict.

Asymmetrical?  In what way?

Whenever you find mineral deposits in strata there is a very good likelihood that much of the surrounding strata has similar deposits as they may have been put down by similar environments.  Over time with folding, thrusting and erosion the exact linear extent of such deposits may be warped, but the wider they were to start with means that it is unlikely that the resources sit just within the original finding areas.  That means that in the NWFP of Pakistan and other 'tribal' border regions, there may be mineral wealth beyond what has been found there to-date... which is nothing.  But then no one was looking that hard, were they, what with all the tribal and Islamic unpleasantness going on there.  So into the middle of an active, ethnic war zone comes some of the largest mineral discoveries seen in modern times.

Pakistan now has a great and deep incentive to push hard for surveys in its territory from the air based on the nearby deposits in Afghanistan and see what it can find.  I don't expect such finds to actually make things 'better' for Afghanistan or Pakistan, but then we are in the age where the lone prospector with a shotgun to defend himself has been replaced by multi-ton trucks the size of houses. 

And those will come, war or no war.

If there was any wisdom going into this, an amenable peace could be arranged for the final turning in of private war groups and a multi-ethnic, multi-Nation agreement to end hostilities and allow the local people to go to work which would enrich both Nations and all peoples of those Nations.  That would take a master statesman to do.

We are out of those, at present.  So is the rest of the world.

If you thought the fight for natural resources by the old Great Empires prior to WWI was a nasty business, then you ain't seen nothing yet.  That was orderly exploitation that built up local infrastructure which, though meager, has been lost after decolonialization in many Nations.  There are no high-minded, grand visionaries to see that giving people a job and a leg up in the world is a path to freedom and liberty for those involved.

America has a chance to help and do it right.

I am deeply afraid that we are about to screw things up royally for the next few decades and a resource that could lead to ending current hostilities and enriching the poor through hard work will, instead, plunge that region into chaos.  The last time that happened we got 9/11.  That was done on a shoestring.  Now imagine tens of millions of dollars going into Islamic terrorism not per year, but per month over the next decade.  Say an extended al Qaeda and Hezb-i-Islami doing about ten times their current income from narcotics, gem and gold smuggling and antiquities looting... every month perhaps every week.  As things stand they will get their terrorist 'share' of the pie and impoverish the people around them unless something is done very, very soon to end them.

You tell me what that looks like to you.

Because I do not like the look of it at all.

07 June 2010

Blockaded sense and the Nation State

At a recent violation of an Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, a number of Israeli soldiers landed on the lead vessel to get it to stop after having published and made public in multiple venues that such a blockade was in place and that Israel considered that area to be a war zone.  Israel has suffered attacks not only from HAMAS, a violent terrorist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, but from another terrorist group that allied itself with HAMAS (Source: Mariam Karoumy, Reuters 25 MAY 2010):

"If you (Israel) put our coasts under siege in any future war, I say all military, civilian and commercial ships heading to Palestine's coasts on the Mediterranean will be under the fire of the Islamic resistance fighters," he said via a video-link in a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon.

Earlier this year Nasrallah threatened to hit Israel's Ben Gurion airport if the Jewish state struck Beirut's international airport in any future conflict.

"(As for) those ships which will go to any port on the Palestinian coast from north to the south, (I say) we are capable of hitting it and are determined to go into this..if they besiege our coasts," he said.

"When the world will witness how these ships will be destroyed in Palestine's regional water nobody will dare to go there just as they will block (others) from coming to our coasts," he told thousands of supporters.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is the head of the organization known as HAMAS, funded and supported by Iran and Syria.

During a previous conflict with Israel, Hezbollah deployed cruise-style missiles against an Israeli warship and against an unarmed merchantman.  The following analysis comes from Austin Bay's blog (Source: 22 JUL 2006) who hosted Kirk Spencer and Trent Telenko to analyze the attacks, and I will do some editing for brevity:

On July 14, 2006, an anti-ship missile fired from Lebanon struck the Israeli SAAR-5 Missile Corvette
(http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/naval/saar5/Saar5.html) INS Ahi-Hanit.

Reports are mixed as to exactly what kind of missile struck the INS Ahi-Hanit.Initial reports centered in an armed UAV as being the culprit based on Hezbollah propaganda.

This Defense Tech post (http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002585.html) was typical. Most reports now center on the Chinese C-802
provided by Iran to Hezbollah.[Note on the C-802.  The Noor is based on the C802 as the C802 is based upon the Exocet.  It’s got longer range (by an estimated 25%).  It’s capable of being air launched.  It’s claimed to have an improved targeting system that’s less subject to decoys.]


According to the Israeli Navy, the ship’s sophisticated automatic missile defense system was intentionally disabled. This was done for two reasons, one, there were many Israeli Air Force aircraft conducting operations in the vicinity of the ship and it was feared that the system may accidentally be triggered by a friendly aircraft, potentially shooting it down. Second, there was no intelligence pointing to the fact that such a sophisticated missile, roughly equivalent to the American Harpoon, was deployed in Lebanon by Hezbollah. (A point made by Wikipedia.)

Haaretz.com reported (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/738695.html) another ship, a Cambodian flagged merchantman, was struck and sunk shortly after INS Ahi-Hanit was hit. The merchantman was 60 km from the coast and 44 km down range from the INS Ahi-Hanit and was hit by the missile that missed/was decoyed from the INS Ahi-Hanit.Both Debka (http://debka.com/article.php?aid=1184) and Defense-Update.com
are reporting a “High-Low” missile attack was conducted on the INS Ahi-Hanit with the initial C-802 being set for a higher trajectory to draw out the INS Ahi-Hanit’s electronic defenses and chaff while a second sea skimming missile came in behind it and activated its seeker while it was almost on top of the INS Ahi-Hanit.

The difference between the accounts is that Debka says the first C-802 was set for a “pop-up” trajectory and dove into the sea while Defense-Update.com says the second missile was a TV guided Chinese C-701, also known as the Kosar in Iranian service.

Do note that the missiles used were made in Iran based on copies of Chinese design.  By having such demonstrated capability, Nasrallah is putting forth that Hezbollah is willing to deploy such capacity to support HAMAS.  Both Hezbollah and HAMAS are non-Nation State actors, with any legitimacy of HAMAS' claim to being a government having flown out the window with their activities against Israel and Egypt and unwilling to hold itself accountable to anyone on its actions.

Thus when Israel sent in soldiers with paint guns to try and keep 'civil' protesters at bay so they could talk directly with the captain of the ship, they were not prepared for the attacks they suffered and at some point their final self-defense pistols, actual handguns with real bullets, were wrestled from a couple of the soldiers.  There is also a report of a real rifle being used from the ship with the 'civil' protesters, which puts them at odds with their being 'peace activists'.  Also at odds with that are the last wills drawn up by members on-board who were preparing themselves for martyrdom, an activity usually taken by terrorists just before they go into a situation that will get themselves killed.

While the 'peace activists' are a relatively new phenomena, in that they avoided all attempts to land at a designated port to get their supplies delivered in a proper manner to the Gaza Strip, those running blockades are not a new phenomena and have been dealt with multiple times in history.  When a Nation is threatened by another Nation or non-Nation State actor that threatens it, and all diplomacy has not worked or, in the case of non-State actors, cannot be deployed, then how such threats can be stopped becomes a matter of increasing pressure without resorting to open warfare.  Unless you have non-Nation State actors, then you may dispose of them as you please... that last is harsh, no?

Still we can step back to another recent blockade and examine it to see if Israel has done what is necessary, and that is the Cuban Missile Crisis (and Wikipedia's entry isn't that bad) which was a slowly ratcheting up affair that took some years to come about.  The US policy towards the USSR was to ensure that something like the Berlin Blockade didn't happen again, and that the Soviet supplies to North Korea were not appreciated, thus the US worked with Turkey and deployed IRBMs in Turkey.  The Gary Powers U-2 shoot down ratcheted tensions more, and then the USSR responded by placing missiles in Cuba.  The US response was to blockade the threat of nuclear devices deployed in Cuba.  The blockade was publicly announced and the denouement would see the USSR back down and then a mutual agreement by the US and USSR to remove missiles from nearby neighboring Nations (Turkey and Cuba).  The blockade of Cuba was one of the tensest periods of the Cold War and there was a great fear that this would be the sparking point for a nuclear conflict.

In the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US made its point clearly that it was unacceptable for the deployment of nuclear missiles in a neighboring or near hemispherical Nation to the US which is also seen as a part of the Monroe Doctrine.  As Lord Palmerston noted, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”, and that serves as a good description of the Monroe Doctrine in regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The crisis de-escalated and the mutual agreement to withdraw missiles was put into place, thus removing the immediate threat.

Israel, having had bloody conflicts visited upon it since the day it was founded, has taken the survival attitude of attacking outwards to stop invasions, as there is not much of Israel to invade.  Thus, in fighting defensive wars for survival, it must attack outwards or be easily conquered as it has no capacity for defense in-depth.  From that Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula and Syria the Golan Heights as Israel has secured territory to ensure that its neighbors understood that to threaten it has grave consequences.  Egypt came to peace terms to the satisfaction of Israel and the Sinai was returned to it.  That is 'land for peace'.  Syria, however, is unwilling to make that sort of bargain for the highlands of the Golan, some of the choicest strategic real estate in the region.  Israel has indicated at numerous times that it was willing to work with a Palestinian Authority that could actually work with some authority, at all, and renounce terrorism and on-going attacks against Israel.  While lovely papers were signed off by the Palestinian Authority, they have done little to nothing to actually demonstrate that they have any authority in the Gaza Strip.  HAMAS, once it 'won' elections there, immediately started to attack Israel, did not keep up the word of the Palestinian Authority and worked contrary to it at all times.  Even worse they have moved arms and terrorists through Egypt, much to the consternation of that Nation.

As the Gaza Strip is a relatively thin piece of land on the Mediterranean Sea, and requires sea based support for survival, a blockade of it for not adhering to any civilized principles is not only expected but pretty much required by the Israeli doctrine of survival against its enemies.  In point of fact that is the only sea access area for the Palestinians and you would think they would see a vested interest in securing that against terrorists so that they could ensure regular trade and humanitarian supplies to the rest of the Palestinian areas on the West Bank.  Instead the PA is unwilling or unable (or both) to deal with HAMAS and prefers to see its people impoverished and dependent upon relief supplies from its neighbors to survive.  One would think that if Palestinians were much beloved in, say, Jordan or Syria or even some place like the ever rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that they would chip in and support the PA to put down terrorists, and help to get the Palestinian people back up on their feet as a viable Nation State.

Unfortunately that would be in a sane or rational world in which Nations and 'activists' actually meant what they said.

For all the billions... tens of billions... of dollars in support of the Palestinians, it seems the last people to get anything out of it are the Palestinians, themselves.  Strange how that winds up in the pockets of the Palestinian Authority leaders, Fatah and HAMAS, isn't it?

Those who condemn Israel seek to stand upon simple grounds: the plight of the Palestinian peoples.  I have no problem with that standing, but it is incomplete in two instances.  The first is that the Palestinian peoples have not created a government to which they will abide and adhere to, that can make treaties in their name and that they, as a people, will agree to in regards to themselves.  When the Transjordan region was ceded to the British Empire by the Turkish Ottomans, it was an exchange of provinces between Empires due to Treaty agreement after WWI.  The framework of Treaties was not strictly adhered to by any side, however, but that did not disturb the Transjordan over much, although it did a fair number on the Kurds who saw the proposed Kurdistan evaporate in the wind.  Palestine only became a concept during the waning colonial period that came just before and during the Great Depression and even then it was an administered province not a State or Nation.  Post-WWII would see the division of that territory to create two regions for Jews coming to that land to re-form Israel and the rest of the territories were handed over to the Palestinians.  President Truman recognized Israel as a Nation within minutes of its declaration.  This should have been a strong, strong hint to the Palestinians of what to do... but, instead of forming a State and Nation, they wanted all of the Israeli territory, instead.  We still hear, to this day, that someone outside of Palestinian territories should come in and 'help' to form a government and Nation there.  Its as if the supporters of Palestinians see them as less than able to actually do this on their own.

The second ground that the supporters of Palestinians step upon is the simpler to understand duty of Nations to utilize such duties to the benefit of other peoples.  To explore this we must turn to the Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel, and Book II is as good a place as any to start with:

§ 1. Foundation of the common and mutual duties of nations.

THE following maxims will appear very strange to cabinet politicians; and such is the misfortune of mankind, that, to many of those refined conductors of nations, the doctrine of this chapter will be a subject of ridicule. Be it so; but we will, nevertheless, boldy lay down what the law of nature prescribes to nations. Shall we be intimidated by ridicule, when we speak after Cicero? That great man held the reins of the most powerful state that ever existed; and in that station he appeared no less eminent than at the bar. The punctual observance of the law of nature he considered as the most salutary policy to the state. In my preface, I have already quoted this fine passage — Nihil est quod adhuc de republica putem dictum, et quo possim longius progredi, nisi sit confirmatum, non modo falsum esse illud, sine injuria not posse, sed hoc verissimum, sine summa justitia rempublicam regi non posse.1 I might say on good grounds, that, by the words summa justitia, Cicero means that universal justice which consists in completely fulfilling the law of nature. But in another place he explains himself more clearly on this head, and gives us sufficiently to understand that he does not confine the mutual duties of men to the observance of justice, properly so called. "Nothing," says he, "is more agreeable to nature, more capable of affording true satisfaction, than, in imitation of Hercules, to undertake even the most arduous and painful labours for the benefit and preservation of all nations." Magis est secundum naturam, pro omnibus gentibus, si fieri possit, conservandis aut juvandis, maximos labores molestiasque suscipere, imitantem Herculem illum, quem hominum fama, beneficiorum memor, in concilium cœlestium collocavit, quam vivere in solitudine, non modo sine ullis molestiis, sed, etiam in maximis voluptatibus, abundantem omnibus copiis, ut excellas etiam pulchritudine et viribus. Quocirca optimo quisque et splendidissimo ingenio longe illam vitam huic anteponit.2 In the same chapter, Cicero expressly refutes those who are for excluding foreigners from the benefit of those duties to which they acknowledge themselves bound towards their fellow-citizens. Qui autem civium rationem dicunt habendam, externorum negant, hi dirimunt communem humani generis societatem; qua sublata, beneficentia, liberalitas, bonitas, justitia, funditus tollitur; quæ qui tollunt, etiam adversus Deos immortales impii judicandi sunt; ab Us enim constitutam inter homines societatem evertunt.

And why should we not hope still to find, among those who are the head of affairs, come wise individuals who are convinced of this great truth, that virtue is, even for sovereigns and political bodies, the most certain road to prosperity and happiness? There is at least one benefit to be expected from the open assertion and publication of sound maxims, which is, that even those who relish them the least are thereby laid under a necessity of keeping within some bounds, lest they should forfeit their characters altogether. To flatter ourselves with the vain expectation that men, and especially men in power, will be inclined strictly to conform to the laws of nature, would be a gross mistake; and to renounce all hope of making impression on some of them, would be to give up mankind for lost.

Nations, being obliged by nature reciprocally to cultivate human society (Prelim. § 11), are bound to observe towards each other all the duties which the safety and advantage of that society require.

The boldface is mine in the last paragraph, as it is the great general rule of Nations and the thing that the political Left always wants in all circumstances, and they can even point to the paragraph 2 to support that on the Offices of humanity.  Unfortunately it is just the general outlook and it comes with a raft of interlocking duties and problems attendant upon it:

§ 3. General principle of all the mutual duties of nations.

The nature and essence of man, who, without the assistance of his fellow-men, is unable to supply all his wants, to preserve himself, to render himself perfect, and to live happily, plainly show us that he is destined to live in society, in the interchange of mutual aid; and, consequently, that all men are, by their very nature and essence, obliged to unite their common efforts for the perfection of their own being and that of their condition. The surest method of succeeding in this pursuit is, that each individual should exert his efforts first for himself and then for others. Hence it follows, that, whatever we owe to ourselves, we likewise owe to others, so far as they stand in need of assistance, and we can grant it to them without being wanting to ourselves. Since, then, one nation, in its way, owes to another nation every duty that one man owes to another man, we may confidently lay down this general principle: — one state owes to another state whatever it owes to itself, so far as that other stands in real need of its assistance, and the former can grant it without neglecting the duties it owes to itself. Such is the eternal and immutable law of nature. Those who might be alarmed at this doctrine, as totally subversive of the maxims of sound policy, will be relieved from their apprehensions by the two following considerations: —

1. Social bodies or sovereign states are much more capable of supplying all their wants than individual men are; and mutual assistance is not so necessary among them, nor so frequently required. Now, in those particulars which a nation can itself perform, no succour is due to it from others.

2. The duties of a nation towards itself, and chiefly the care of its own safety, require much more circumspection and reserve than need be observed by an individual in giving assistance to others. This remark we shall soon illustrate.

When I speak of the law of nations, lower case concept, as 'scale free' law or a 'scale free' system it is the bolded area of text that points out what this means.  If you can reasonably expected to do something for yourself, then the absolute most assured way of doing it is to do it yourself.  If I can govern my affairs in a civilized fashion, interact with others in a civil manner and seek not to offend others nor give reason to take offense, then I damned well expect that not only of my fellow man but of my Nation and all Nations, and all peoples.  The start of civilization is not at the level of government on the outside, but governing yourself on the inside so that you require NO external government.

Thus when I hear anyone putting forth that the Palestinians 'need help' to form a Nation, I know that they are losing touch with mankind and their own self-governance: no one needs help from the outside to do that, just internal restraint towards civil ends.  Before we even get to HAMAS, Gaza, the blockade and those running it we must ask ourselves: why are these people not governing themselves so as not to give offense to their neighbors?  The fault for that does not lie with the neighbors, but with oneself.  And if one wishes the fighting to stop one must stop fighting and come to accord with their fellow man.  When this does not happen we have a decay of society and lack of self-governance and no imposed government can change that, can make people civil without their assent and active participation.  When HAMAS takes it upon itself to attack Israel, it violates that single concept and acts in an uncivilized fashion, which is an answer to nothing and only demonstrates lack of self-control and a considerable amount of self-hatred to impose your demands upon others.  There would not need to be a 'peace' flotilla if HAMAS was civilized and the people of the Gaza Strip repudiated them as being uncivilized.  Is that so much to expect of people?

A strange idea of 'communal rights' is sometimes brought up, but from whence do they come?  What rights and liberties can you possibly get as a group that you cannot get as an individual?  Numbers is about it, and that is not a right nor liberty, just an amount, and as the rights and liberties within us are absolutes, numbers do not matter in the type and kind of rights we have when we create society.  We can use our rights and liberties to create an agreeable set of rules, systems, taboos, activities, proscriptions and other such things that help us to define society and run it, but if we were all perfect in spirit we would never need to create government as we would abide by others and respect them and be absolutely sure in the reciprocity of same.  Yet that is not the nature of man, and while we may strive to be more perfect, we cannot reach perfection save in the grave, where we no longer actively harm any and serve as a good source of nutrients for other life upon this Earth.  Then we are at one with Nature and the material stuff of who we are is then part of the world once more from which we arise as individuals and gain all our rights and liberty.  No community can bestow them upon us, no community can 'create' rights, indeed the only thing any community can do is recognize the rights within us as individuals and respect them.  I can do that as an individual, and I expect that of my fellow citizens who are civilized.

It is in the primary exception that Nations are to look towards themselves, first, and only seek external help via the offices of man when they suffer as a Nation.  Any National government must have form, must have offices, and must have accountability for its actions as it represents the people of its Nation.  As we are accountable to each other as individuals, so are Nations accountable to each other as individual Nations.  When any group disassociates itself with government and seeks to impose its will upon people, any people, then that group is no longer acting or has the form of a Nation's government and represents only those individuals within the group and no higher organization.  That is an act not only of rebellion, but when rule is imposed on the innocent, it is an act of repression... an act of conquest with no bounds and no respect for any civil law.  Such actors beleaguer the innocent and are to be opposed at all levels, by all civilized people, and their end sought as they are the bringers of destruction, not their civilized neighbors.  Thus HAMAS may have won elections, but they repudiated the form, offices and accountability of government and cannot be said to govern anything, not even themselves.

Then what of the innocent, themselves?  What is to be done?

The standard procedure has been to offer asylum to those who truly are innocent.  That means those individuals seeking to leave the confrontation are to be given safe passage and then processed to ensure that they are not a member or supporter of the conflict organization waging Private War.  The good offices of humanity between Nations is not to support an area where a non-Nation State belligerent can gain supplies from such offices, but to allow the innocent to flee to the arms of civil Nations and honestly present themselves as civilians.  Those found not to be civilians but supporters or members of HAMAS would fall under military jurisdiction for their actions as HAMAS has taken warfare upon itself without regard to international law so they fall outside of lawful combatant status and have put their lives to the brutality of Natural Law and so they should be judged as such.

As of yet we do not see such a flow outwards from the Gaza Strip nor do we hear of offers from Nations with flagged vessels in the 'peace activist' flotilla that would actually want Palestinian refugees within their lands until such time as either HAMAS is defeated or a Nation of Palestine arises that can confront and take down such a terror entity.  Such refugees should be welcome in the West Bank also, one would think.  Or if the refugees saw that the Palestinian Authority acted contrary to the wishes and will of the people, then a government in exile that supports liberty and freedom with peace for its neighbors should be encouraged to be created wishing for legitimacy in support of the refugee population and willingness of Palestinians to support it in the West Bank.  This would require a written constitution, regularized system of government and accountability for those office holders to that government and its people.

Strange that Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia has yet to propose this, no?  Or, indeed, any other Nation on the planet or any of the 'supporters' of Palestine.  Israel has been fighting tooth and nail against Fatah, Black September, HAMAS and Hezbollah for decades and it is easy enough to see why they have tired of having their civil offers rejected by their fellow Nations.  It is a great black mark upon all Nations that the help and support to a government in exile that repudiates lawless violence and supports peace with its neighbors has not been encouraged to form and gain widespread support so that it may return to establish order and peace with its neighbors.  That creation cannot be led by other Nations, however, only encouraged for Palestinians to do themselves so they can demonstrate self-governance.

Running a blockade to aid those brutally exploiting and repressing the innocent, who place no accountability save that of savage war upon themselves is not an act of 'peace' but of taking sides in a conflict with the most brutal and savage of lawless man.  To actually support peace one must support and respect self-governance at the level of individuals, first, so that they can form government and Nation, second, that is accountable to the people creating it and living under it.  Terrorist organizations have demonstrated that they can organize easily for war, but cannot, ever, find peace within themselves as shown by their actions.  Seeing such is indicative that they are unable to form a system of accountability to hold themselves accountable for their actions to their fellow citizens and to mankind as a whole.  That is the supreme difference between 'terrorist' and 'revolutionary': creating a system of self-governance, accountability, putting on a uniform, acting in accordance to rules and laws set forth by a chain of command, fighting under standard laws of war and supporting civilization even when in conflict.  Terrorists cannot and do not do these things.  Revolutionaries do.

One cannot support brutal, savage people fighting only with the bounds of the Law of Nature and claim to be supporting civilization or civil behavior.  That is a support for lawlessness and then the tyranny of the powerful and lethal over the weak and disarmed.  That does not end in any good place and is often the harbinger of a dark age of mankind when we forget that being civil starts not with Nations but in our own actions and deeds.  The path of civilization is clear from the level of the individual all the way to the Nation State, and it is the path of self-governance and accountability to your fellow citizens, at the low end, and your fellow Nations at the high end.  When the low end starts to undercut the high end by the actions of individuals, they are not welcoming 'justice' nor 'peace' but savage Nature to return to mankind.

That is because they are becoming savages, themselves, and no longer respect their fellow man.

If they did they would not do the actions they do.

Supporting the decay of civil accountability is a dishonorable activity that cuts the basis for personal honor and integrity: accountability.  Even if what you say, mean and do are in accord, they are in accord against the very concept of honor when accountability is attacked.  That is not even the facade of being civilized and is the face of corruption in and of itself.  No one can change that for you, you must do it to yourself so as to support accountability... else you are seeking an end to accountability to you and the face that stares back at you from a mirror is slowly becoming that of savage man, brutal man, natural man in all respects.  Without trust in yourself, you do not trust your fellow man, the civil means of man, the accountability of man and the good office of humanity which supports civilization.

Civil man can very easily discriminate between civil actions by those respecting civilization and those of savage man.

The actions of each speak volumes.

And the duties of civil man to protect civilization do not rest upon the highest level, that of Nations, but the lowest level: oneself.

It is not pleasant duty to ensure that savage man cannot harm you.  But no one can lift that duty from your shoulders, lest you become enslaved to them.  Being a citizen means having civilization rest upon your shoulders and supporting it in all instances and recognizing the difference between those who hold themselves accountable and those who do not.  It is a difference of night and day... and if you can't support the day, you get the dark.

It is a supremely simple concept that anyone can speak.

Carrying it out, however, requires determination and commitment.

I can and will support myself, first, so that I can then reach out to my fellow man who also seeks the same, and I will not support the lawless, savage man upon this earth.