Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Why an investigation is necessary

I'm cribbing from some of my online commentary...

Just as investigating the cover-up of Watergate revealed what was being covered-up, so too it will be here.

And the best part is getting the people from the CIA Annex and asking them if they had to sign an NDA.

Really, the Administration forcing people to do that shows that there is something to cover-up. And that would be signed under duress, and thus null and void.

The President has responsibility for those that serve under him, especially a hand-picked Ambassador sent to a place undergoing a civil war with terrorist attacks on-going. That is HIS representative there, HIS Ambassador sent there by HIM to do this job.

Where were the assets to extract him and his team in case things went south? Where were the naval and air assets necessary to do that in a place that is undergoing such turmoil? Who sends an Ambassador and critical national security personnel to such a place WITHOUT AN EXTRACTION PLAN?

Why was Stevens and, indeed, all the personnel put in such a vulnerable situation with no way out?


That isn’t a political question. It is a question that involves the Head of State, Head of Government and CinC: that is his responsibility to make sure that those people are protected with all means necessary and NOT having a way to get them out is dereliction of duty of the highest order because it was done ON HIS ORDERS.

That is before you even get to the cover-up. Investigating the cover-up will shed light on these questions because they are integral to the cover-up, itself.

The power of the Legislative Branch is to check the power of the Executive via ensuring that the Executive is executing the laws properly and carrying out the duties of President.  Watergate was a cover-up for a burglary for political gain, and this investigation into Benghazi will have that as a side-show, as well as the lack of care shown to those under the President's direct guidance and protection was done in an attempt to win an election.  That is political in nature.  The acts of neglect are matters of State directly attributed to the Presidential duties and no President is beyond such review.  I cannot think of a case similar to this one in which a personally appointed Ambassador for a specific mission in such a dangerous area was left without adequate protection and ready forces to get him out if things went to pot.  That is because Presidents take their job seriously and don't do such things unless it is absolutely and positively vital to the US and he is ready to explain that vital interest if things go wrong.

To date we have not gotten that, which is, in itself, dereliction of duty as Head of State.  Blaming the exercise of First Amendment speech as the focal cause for the attack is a gross attack on the rights of American citizens which is beyond the pale for any politician of any party to perform, not to speak of the President doing so and having cabinet members back him up on that.  There was zero justification for that, but that, as awful as it is, is just part of the cover-up and meant to be inflammatory and distracting from the actual events they are meant to hide.

Anyone trying to paint this as merely politics is missing the actual job of the President that was not done on multiple counts.

Even President Carter tried to rescue the Embassy personnel in Iran.

President Obama couldn't even manage THAT.

Or ordering the military to sanitize the site where this took place so that the INTEL carried by the Ambassador on operations in-country and in-theater would not fall into the hands of our enemies.  That was never done and that is the job of the President as well.

Why wasn't any of this done?

What is being covered up is woven into the fabric of the lies told after it.  And the best place to start with any after-action investigation is with the survivors.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Unamended right

There is a fascinating part in the US Constitution (archives.gov) about a right guarantee and it isn't in the Bill of Rights but in the body of the Constitution, itself.  Not even one of the more well known rights.  That is probably why it gets ignored.

It is a direct grant of right to the State Legislatures, and sits way down in Art. V, you know the Amendment process:

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

There, right at the end.

The State is granted equal suffrage in the Senate.

State suffrage at the time of the ratification of the Constitution, meant that individuals chosen via the State Legislatures were the ones doing the representation of the State.  Throughout Art. V the only body that is mentioned at the State level is the State Legislature.

Now Amendment XVI changed the process of choosing Senators:


Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Does Amending the process of choosing a Senator abolish the right granted via Art. V to the State Legislatures?

By changing the meaning of Suffrage for a State from Legislature to direct election of the people, the State Legislature is cut out of the decision making process for Senators.  That should be it, right?  I mean you cleverly cut out the State Legislatures and remove their power grant in the Senate in one easy change. 

Yet the State Legislature is the ONLY State level organization mentioned in Art. V and it is specifically considered as having suffrage in Art. V in the Senate.  If Amendment XVII did, indeed, intend to remove the power granted to the State Legislatures for considering Amendments, it could have said so.  This is not normal Senate duty, do remember, but deciding on an Amendment to the Constitution, to which the States were originally granted ways to have a say in it via their Legislatures: via the normal process of voting for it at the State level and via their representative in the Senate.

Sadly I do believe that the States signed away their representation with the move to direct election of Senators.  The idea of popular suffrage and direct election of Senators have left the States without a direct voice in the federal government. 

Yet the original intent of the Amendment process remains via implication of how Legislatures were to choose Senators and the Senators having a direct say via their votes in the Senate in the Amendment process.  So whenever you hear about how the US always 'expands' rights, do remember that it has removed and say from the State Legislature on how to run the Nation not just via normal votes but via Art. V Amendment votes.  If that simple Amendment to give direct elections of Senators didn't remove the State Legislative suffrage right for Amendments, then every single Amendment after Amendment XVII would be brought into question.  Because while the people vote directly on Senators, the sovereignty of the several States rests in their representatives at the level of the State Legislature.  By agreeing to Amendment XVII the State Legislatures agreed to give up part of their say and walk away from the guarantee they had in the Constitution for representation directly.  Their only real recourse is to pass a bill saying that the current Senators don't represent their State and the Consent to let them sit as representatives of the State, not the people of the State but the State as an entity, is withdrawn.

And what State Legislature has the courage to do that?  Really, if you have to gag someone, isn't it better to convince them to gag themselves?  Saves a lot of fuss when you can do that. 

The State Legislatures could still do all sorts of mischief to popularly elected Senators... too bad they keep making sure the gag is tightly in their mouth and that they make it clear that they no longer want to do their jobs of representing their States. 

Even with the consent they gave during the Amendment process, the State Legislatures could still have a say over the representatives of the State in the Senate via the Art. V grant.  That right has been left unamended and still sits in Art. V but by Amendment XVII has been changed from a sovereign exercise of will to representation to one of negating representation if the sovereign no longer believes that its representative is representing it.  Consider this right to be a veto power over a Senator by the State Legislature, because they are the ones to decide if the State is being properly represented for the Amendment process.

The will to exercise this right?  Absent.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What would a Tea Party foreign policy look like?

Is there a Tea Party foreign policy?

In general it can be said that the Tea Party movement is concerned with local and National affairs, and this is true   of the branches of the Tea Party that are being seen in the UK, Italy, Israel, Australia and even in such places as Russia and China (the Vodka Party and a more underground movement in China).  Getting local and National government under control so that it stops wild spending, gets out of people's lives and lowers taxation, all while continuing to pay down debt, is the main target of the Tea Party organizations.  Foreign policy has been outside the realm of this, which has allowed some National politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to try and craft some sort of foreign policy out of Reaganism or Libertarianism.  There is a problem in trying to graft on a foreign policy outlook that doesn't grow from the sentiments of a movement: it is likely to be rejected in whole or in part by the movement.  Worse is that it can serve as a 'wedge issue' that could split up Tea Party organizations into factions.

What has not been attempted is to look at the foundations of the interior of the movement and ask: what grows from this as a foreign policy?

Key issues internally beyond taxes are sustained by the support of the Natural Rights of Man as Individual.  Thus Liberty and Freedom for the individual are the underpinning for the tax and small government message.  By removing power to do things at the local and National level from government, the things done then devolve down to the people to address at a more localized level.  Foreign policy is the direction of a Nation as a whole and how it interacts with brother Nations.  If we seek to sustain liberty and freedom at home and have a government that recognizes that all rights and power come from the people, then should that not be a defining part of a Tea Party foreign policy?

If this is put center stage then there is an outgrowth from that in that the Tea Party movement seeks to recognize that the power of the individual is paramount and that those Nations that wish to befriend the US must also have similar sanctuary from tyranny for the rights of the individual FROM government.  That makes the Bill of Rights and the general rights secured by the US Constitution a touchstone to how we approach brother Nations, and in that we have a ready-made list of actual items that brother Nations that wish to be friendly to the US must have:

- Freedom of conscience

- Freedom of religion

- Freedom of speech

- Freedom of the press

- Freedom to peaceably assemble

- Freedom to petition government

These are Freedoms FROM government regulation, and even the US has fallen down on the job as its political elites have determined that government must be an arbiter of these things for the people.  Yet that power is not granted to it, thus all laws dealing with restricting these freedoms are against the US Constitution.  Even the famous 'not yelling fire in a crowded theater' is a LOCAL and STATE concern and is one of attaching liability, by law, to actual actions of malice towards others.  Hateful language is protected, language used to stampede people so as to harm them is not protected not because it is an exercise of speech but is abridging civil speech to coerce others to panic with a threat to their lives.  You don't yell fire in a crowded theater: you get up in front of all people and point out that there is a fire in the room and it needs to be evacuated in an orderly fashion so that all can be safe from it.  That might still get people killed, yes, but that has devolved responsibility of those reactions to the individuals by giving them the information necessary to make a decision.  That is the civil use of freedom of speech, and all freedoms have responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with them to uphold them as a freedom for all people.

After this comes additional rights from government.

- The right to keep and bear arms

- The right to not have troops or government agents stationed in your home

- The right to security in your papers, property and person

- The right not to self-incriminate

- The right to a jury trial by your peers

This goes on for a bit more, but the point is made that these are actual rights and freedoms to be exercised.  From the legacy of Great Britain comes these rights and they were hammered out to keep monarchs, which is to say the head of government, from encroaching more and more on the liberties of individuals and their freedoms by passing laws against certain activities that intruded into these areas.

It should be noted that the right to keep and bear arms is an adjunct to the Natural Right and Liberty of being armed and that as the negative form, which is to say offensive warfare, is relegated to the State, the positive form, that is defense from war, defense of the State, defense of life, papers and property... indeed defense of all other Civil Rights is backed by the Natural Right and positive Natural Liberty of defensive warfare and self-defense.  As our works and property are gained by exercising our freedom and liberty to gain them, thus exchanging time for goods, any taking of these things without due process of law is a threat to the life you have already created for yourself.  And when due process intrudes further than conscience allows, then the people have the right of self-defense of their lives in whole.

As a basis for foreign policy by a Tea Party these cannot be seen as 'window dressing' by a government.  A government cannot have a right to keep and bear arms and then require so many things to be done that, effectively, no one may be armed.   Civil government cannot abolish the positive Natural Liberty of warfare or the Natural Right to self-defense via arms.  All arms are included in this, and as those who break the law see no compunction about following arms restrictions, the people must be able to counter such threats by similar civil arms.  Similarly having freedom of speech but having that right so circumscribed by government to quash petitioning of government or to even allow freedom of civil assembly is not supporting the freedom of individual speech, assembly or petition of government.

Minimal government requires maximal individual liberty and the exercise thereof.  This is not, exactly, a Libertarian view as libertarians elected to office have seen fit to pack in their own ideas of personal liberty that require such things as grades going to a college student and not to their parents.  That intrudes on contractual agreements within a family and should be something that Libertarians uphold as a Natural source of contracting.  And yet that is not the case.  From that a minimalist view of government requires that government get out of the support of going to college completely and lower the burden of government to all of the people and let individuals see if they can actually afford the burden of further education.  Thus Libertarians can be caught in the idea of government doing 'good things' from their perspective, while Tea Partiers will take a view of government as a Punisher and that giving it the carrot and the stick is the recipe for tyranny.

Foreign policy wise this then puts requirements on those who would befriend the US to off-load as much of the overburden of government to the people of their government to their people.  As I've said the US has been doing just the opposite from this for over a century and it has led to fiscal ruin and debt that cannot be paid and, under the current view, has no intention of EVER being paid off.  The slow-roll of bonds and modest overspending and debt passed out of the rear view mirror back in the 1970's and isn't on the horizon ANYWHERE.  Fiscal rectitude by a brother Nation is something we need to practice at home and if it is a top value, then it is something the US should be encouraging abroad.

This then gives a set of tests to a Tea Party foreign policy of which of our brother Nations we can be friendly to and which will get reciprocity from the US.  This does not mean that all of such individual Natural and Civil rights and liberties are to be maximal, this is true, but that they must able to be practiced and government recognize that it is not the purveyor of these rights and liberties but the protector of them for their people.

Free Trade was a Reagan era mantra and the practice of it to make people free just has not worked.  Mexico is, if anything, in worse straights for its people due to NAFTA than they were before it.  The massive upheavals in their economy and the direct competition with US agriculture has had large-scale effects on Mexico which has created a large set of criminal syndicates that are waging war against the citizens of Mexico.  It is a good thing that local neighborhoods and towns take up arms in their own defense in Mexico and it is a bad thing that they must break the law to do so as their government restricts the use of even bolt action rifles to its citizens.  Why do we have free trade with such a Nation?  Similarly freer and more open trade with China has seen the few there, its government officials and cronies, prosper while the people of China earn little and have internal inflation going on that their own government can't even recognize.  The people have no freedom of assembly or petition of government, and yet it gets Most Favored Nation Trade Status?  Why?

In general this outline of a foreign policy begins to break out into a tri-fold path, which is something I've looked at before, but with an ideological backing to it that can be well understood.  The outline of the path is clear, and requires that those who put forth nostrums on things like Free Trade making people freer actually demonstrate this mantra after decades of trying it.  There are negative cases to this, and as those point to a major problem with the supposition, the mantra, itself, must be put in doubt and re-examined.  The US is not the World's Policeman and, in the words of John Quincy Adams, we support freedom and liberty everywhere, but are guardians only of our own.  To that end the first goal on the military side of foreign policy, is to help bolster and deepen the self-defense capacity of friendly brother Nations.  This can be done with direct trade, yes, but can also be done by seeking to have restrictions on the use of arms repealed so that there is a greater reservoir of those who can defend their own Nation to be called upon in event of crisis.  Working together militarily comes at the END of this process, not the BEGINNING, and those Nations that recognize that their own self-interest is best served by a civil armed populace goes a long way towards demonstrating the concept that governments cannot predict when and where war will happen as the negative Natural Liberty of warfare can be reclaimed by those who go savage and use it against their fellow man to their own ends.  If governments could control this, then they are the ones liable for every act of individual, which is to say personal, warfare as they CONTROL IT.  That is not the case.


Path I is established: foreign relations with those friendly to the US and who hold the same values for individual Liberty and Freedom are key to good relations.  From this grows fiscal rectitude, the removal of State overburden, the lowering of the accumulation of debt and the outlook that debts cannot be contracted for at high levels ad infinitum.  These are the Nations that deserve free trade: they are friendly, they support the rights and liberties of their people including the freedom from government, and seek to foster a fiscal climate at the large scale that allows greater freedom and liberty at the small scale.

Path II comes from those Nations not on Path I but who are not hostile in word or deed towards the US.  These are Nations to which we cannot afford allegiance and from that trade with them can be burdened.  A 10% tariff, which is to say a 10% payment of the value of goods to be imported by those seeking to sell them in the US, is paying the freight to support a government which fosters trade amongst Nations.  Want to get that lowered or removed?  Become friendlier to the US and begin upholding the values necessary for Path I.  This is something that can be tuned by Congress and by giving a framework as to why it is imposed it also puts a value on being able to support such individual liberties and freedoms to those who don't support them in full or who are not friendly nor unfriendly to the US.  The middle of the road is a perfectly safe place to be, don't expect the US to help you, however, unless you start to move towards Path I.

Path III is what is left.  Nations hostile to the US in word and deed, who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy in treaties and who seek to put their own people under tyrannical rule.  We don't trade with these Nations.  Indeed, part of that 10% tariff should go towards support of the military so that we are well armed AGAINST them.  If they give safe harbor to terrorists, pirates or any other form of Private War, then they are an enemy not just of this Nation but to the order between all Nations as they do not seek to act in ways compatible to civilized life.  We do not have to be antagonistic towards these Nations, no.  We do need to be well armed against them.  On the tit-for-tat scale they wish to live and so that is all they do understand, and we can only respond in ways that befits a civilized Nation in the brotherhood of Nations.  Sanctions are one thing.  Quarantine another.  Translating our works that describe our traditions and how man is the source of all power of government and then getting them to the people of those Nations hostile to us, is a third way.  There are others, of course, but the scope of what can be done is held in by civilized restraint and by holding the civil sword well honed and practiced with.

This outgrowth of a tripartite set of paths within foreign policy would be a direct outgrowth of the ideals held by Tea Partiers.  Ideology drives policy, not the other way around as is the case in the modern world that slips into tyrannical ends for government.  Moreover it is a set of principles that are well understood internationally and are easy to remember, as anyone can remember: Friends, Neutrals, Enemies.  That is the path of Law of Nations amongst all Nations in all Eras in all places on Earth without regard to race, ethnicity, culture or any other thing.  It was practiced by the Ancient Mayans like this, and so did the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians act like this.  International law is only a set of contracts between brother Nations that is built up and each holds the others to account for signing onto the contract we call treaties.  Nations can leave treaties, as well, and have that full right and responsibility to do so so as to safeguard their own people.  That is upheld via this tri-fold Path system and in particular it points out who those seeking to bring down the civil, international agreements between Nations are and points them out for all to see.

As a policy system it allows large amounts of work and fine tuning for individual cases, and yet the touchstones are clear and abundant, so that easy to pass milestones in improving the civil rights of citizens leads to better trade and more robust interaction, and improved self-defense.  Reaganites should understand such a systems as should Libertarians as it puts individual rights and liberties in a civil context into a foreign policy system that then seeks to uphold them for all mankind while securing them abundantly at home.

Of course this means the home-side dovetail of actually removing the burdens to civil exercise of rights that have been put in place for the last century and more, at home.  This is leading by example.

An Exemplar Nation.

Showing the Way.

A Shining City on a Hill.

We need some good neighbors.

And we need to clean up our act at home to get them, first.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Do you remember...?

Do you remember about how the START Treaty was going to make the world a safer and more stable place? I do.

Do you remember a time when Nations would actually declare their intentions and declare war before invading another country so that civilized norms between Nations are affirmed? I do.

Do you remember when the Left wanted the world to hold to standards of International Law? I do.

Do you remember when the Left criticized drawing lines and making threats as a serious destabilizing element of foreign policy? I do.

Do you remember a time when a President of the US would decry an act against International Law and the Laws of War as such? I do.

Do you remember a time when a President would have just said the plain things about International Law, the Laws of War and that the US decries barbaric invasions of an undeclared nature as making a Nation into a rogue as such activities were destabilizing to all Nations? I do.

Do you remember a time when a President, seeing foreign aggression would speak openly about working with our allies so as to formulate a response against rogue regimes? I do.

Do you remember a time when the Left decried activities of the US in the past when each and every particular of International Law was seen as unjust and that made the US a barbaric place? I do.

Do you see the way the Left reacts to this and how it now, when push comes to shove against a barbaric actor who does things against all standards of International Law, are making excuses for him? I do.

Yes I do remember these things and see the response of the oh-so righteous Left when a tyrant decides to just step into a place on his own without declaring war.

I remember that with Austria by reading history.

I remember that with Saddam Hussein and Kuwait by seeing it unfold.

I remember that by seeing Congress draft modern day uses of force, which are declarations of war, and having the Left decry the civilized manner of work between Nations as ‘illegal’ and ‘uncivilized’.

And now I see it again with Putin and Russia.

And I also see the inability to address civilized standards of diplomacy, the normality of relationships between Nations and the laws of war as part of the way civilized Nations act as not being upheld by the Left today.

Yes I see all of that and understand who the enemy is.

They are clear by their actions and inactions, both.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Form and function

Following the class on Early Modern England of the Tudor and Stewart from Yale online HIST 251: Early Modern England which covers the time period of the late 16th century to the early 18th century and is presented by Professor Keith E. Wrightson offers a look at the problems of the mid- to late-16th century, the time covering Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane Gray, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I.  This period saw an increase in the population of England, which had been stable since at least the 13th or 14th century.  The records are not good but sizes of villages, towns and cities indicate that coming into the 16th century there were between 2.2 and 2.4 million people in England and by the end of the century that had grown to 3.1 to 3.3 million people.  There was no great advance in public sanitation, medicine or improvement in diet or climate that can be pointed to for this phenomena.  It is possible that the closing of the Monestaries and Nunneries by Henry VIII contributed to this (approx. 25 to 28% of society had been involved with the Church prior to this) which may influence the number of marriages and children being born.  That would be a contributing factor but unlikely to be the driving one.

What happened due to this is classical economic: productivity didn't increase, the land still produced only so much in the way of crops and trade could not increase significantly to off-set shortfalls in food.  Thus with more people and more demand for all goods and limited production basis for goods to be sold and traded, prices rose.  With that poverty increased and a stable work system from the prior century, where individuals worked within 20 miles of where they were born, began to break up.  It was seen, at the time, as a moral problem and that by putting the Crown at the head of the Church of England, that this was some form of moral lack which was being visited upon the Nation as a whole.  That moral view of poverty is one that understood that there were different types of poor.

First there were those who were poor by circumstances.  Widows and those that fell gravely ill and could not work fell into this category.  These people were poor through no fault of their own and it was a moral duty to care for such individuals by families and through charity both through the Church and by civic means through holding special Ales and meals so that the poor could be cared for.  These poor will always be with us: the poor of circumstance.

Second are those who are poor because they lack will to work.  These poor could do something about their problems and deserved perhaps a bit of a charitable hand up at a civil level to at least pay their keep until they could get regular work.  Continuing not to work, after that, was a moral lack of the individual involved.

Those without work in that era faced an economy that would have to expand to employ more people, yet that was not happening.  Thus the poor who lacked work and actively searched for it meant that the old system of working jobs in and around where one was born began to erode, and there were soon people wandering far outside their local environs in the search of work.

In modern times we have added an additional category that has two aspects to this: the cyclical poor.

Cyclical poverty was something seen by those migrant laborers who moved from job to job seasonally, usually with harvest or catch at fisheries.  These individuals were not poor by circumstance or moral character, but by job type and this required different strategies of saving and planning one's life.

The other aspect of this is the rags to riches to rags or shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves phenomena where someone may start poor and find a way to 'make good' then spend their wealth until they are poor again.  This can take generations or it can be with just one individual in a single lifetime.

The forms of poverty in the Early Modern period of England meant hardship, hunger and often rootless wandering in search of work and being able to find a spouse and create a household as I went over in a prior post on this.  Without enough work to sustain a larger family basis and without enough positions available to allow enough work for those willing to do it the economy shifted in ways unknown to prior generations.  The hardship on the poor had effects on the Yeoman and Gentry classes which utilized the necessity for implementing higher land use fees and custom, shortened lease terms and then used funds to buy up lands that the Crown made available as it sold of prior Church land to fund overseas adventures.  The amount of land necessary to rise into the landed Gentry class expanded and number of Yeomen became minor Gentry via consolidating land holdings.

Elizabeth I when she came to power had seen the effects of these changes and took some pages from prior Monarchs in England who had to quell problems in the land that were problematical to the Nation.  Straight out of Henry I she took the idea of revaluing the coinage, which meant that there would be a stable currency with a value that everyone understood.  This is no minor feat during inflationary cycles when the suspicion of adulterated or shaved coinage means the currency value is not respected.  She also took advice to implement the first patent system so that inventors of devices would have a limited term of being sole producers so that some new forms of work could come about to employ more people to the profit of the inventor.  Within the Mercantile Capitalist system this would mean that competition could take place on ingenuity and such law would foster advancement of new ways of doing business to increase the number of people employed in new endeavors.  And for those without enough money to actually invest in creating something new she also put forward a grant system wherein those with good ideas could come to the Crown, outline them and seek to get a minor grant to start up their venture. 

Finally, to deal with foreign affairs, particularly the wars and support for Catholic monarchs by Spain, she had to modernize the Navy while, at the same time, downsizing its utilization of resources which led to lighter, faster and deadlier ships that were hard to target and yet packed a punch above their normal weight class.  There would be some foreign expeditions, yes, and they would be ones that would not have an extremely high overhead and would seek to further support for Protestantism and require Spain to expend resources at a distance which is always a high cost affair.

Of the things that most attracted the Vikings to England during the time of the Danelaw, then under Canute and later under William the Conqueror was that the English people were enormously productive beyond their numbers.  For a period of time between the 7th and 9th century the city of York was the second largest city in Europe, right after Constantinople, which is no mean feat.  Canute left England alone as its vast prosperity was something he did not want to disturb, and he generally left areas under his control to local rule and imposed only a new leadership when it was necessary to assure fealty to him.  Elizabeth I is such a compelling figure in so many ways, perhaps the most intelligent of all the Monarchs of England or at least since Henry I, that it is easy to overlook her understanding of the role of the Monarch in the economy of the Nation as a whole.  She is so appreciated for her enigmatic stances on religion, both re-instituting a Protestant form of Christianity but keeping many of the trappings and forms of Roman Catholicism, that her deep and abiding trust in her own people is often overlooked in the realm of economics.

What she did was to bolster the ability of individuals to be prosperous by their own hand and only put forth limited funds (as they were limited after all the trials and tribulations from the time of her father's divorce to her accession to the throne) to reinforce the economy and shift the Navy from a relatively high overhead affair to one of somewhat lesser overhead.  The Crown could not make the realm prosperous and Elizabeth I put her trust in the people of England to work through inflationary times and use the support she instituted to become far more prosperous which would mean more jobs and productivity for the entire economy.  Before the era of economics she put forth a basic understanding that an economy flows up from its people, not down from the Crown, which was a hard thing to think of coming after the Late Medieval Period.  Plus by taking these measures she would shift the moral case away from the Crown and back to the people, so that they could figure out the best and most moral way to deal with their concerns.

Her wisdom on these matters elude many modern economists who take a very primitive and class oriented view of a Nation and do not understand that a government can only foster prosperity, not institute it.  If her government lacked funds for many things, which it did, by concentrating on the basics of defending the Nation, ensuring the value of the currency, and allowing people to utilize their ingenuity to create businesses and jobs, were in many ways extraordinary and show a keen insight into the basis of a Nation's economy which the majority of modern or modernistic politicians seem unable to grasp.  Her father had, in effect, redistributed the wealth of the Church to fund his Crown ventures and the result was inflation and a slow disintegration of a stable way of life.  With the money spent, the land in the hands of the Gentry and Yeomanry, the Crown could not spend as it did under Henry VIII and, instead, had to find a new way to do much with very little.  In doing this Elizabeth I draws us in on this level as well and demonstrates what an extraordinary woman and Queen she was who placed her faith not in government but in the people of England.  She figured she could handle the government on her own and beguile it and later generations no end, which she accomplished.

We could learn much of how a government that keeps to its knitting and lets the people be free to innovate and protects such innovation for limited duration can help change the economic aspects of the people and the Nation to the benefit of all.  Sadly such advanced learning is overlooked in a more primitive redistribution of wealth and an impoverishing of all to the benefit of the very, very few.  For so much supposed learning of the current crop of Elites, they sure aren't that advanced in their thinking.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One interesting stat from early modern England

This is one of those times where a single statistic can open up a wealth of insight, and yet it does not come from our present but our past.  This one is coming from the Open Yale courses, which are freely available for viewing and have some of the most interesting professors that can have a wealth of information.  The stat comes from the HIST 251: Early Modern England which covers the time period of the late 16th century to the early 18th century and is presented by Professor Keith E. Wrightson.  To understand the transformation of England during this period it is necessary to see where it started from circa Henry VII, just before all the major changes in England took place.  I've been watching these with my lady and our side conversations tend to make the simple presentation quite long as it is necessary to pause the presentation so we can discuss material.  Thus the insight comes from that discussion.

In the mid- to late-16th century there was a relatively stable social stratification that has the Nobility at the top, the Gentry of landed estates and 'gentle birth' next, then the Yeomen class who were not of 'gentle birth' and tended to be well considered in towns and cities running trades and businesses (as well as some farms which was necessary for the era, the Craftsmen and those earning a living via craft work, and then gradations through the poor end of the spectrum which ends in Unskilled Labor.  The Clergy are considered separate (remember pre-Henry VIII) and while they can have power, it is not by lineage (as in the Nobility and Gentry) but by appointment to position (such as Bishop or Arch Bishop) by the Pope.  Literacy was low outside of those who could afford such education or that required it for daily operation (like the Clergy).  Schooling was done at home and as soon as children could contribute in any way to a household, they did so via work, first at home and then, if coming from a poorer family, by paying a Master Craftsman to take on a boy as an apprentice or by going to a household to work in any of a variety of tasks for a one year term.

This society can be characterized as stratified and one in which survival at all but the upper ranks of society is a constant pre-occupation.  Mercantile capitalism tends to fall in to the Yeomanry and Craftsman realms of society, and while the Yeomanry were socially limited they could earn quite a lot of money and purchase land from plying business trades.  Across all strata of the non-Clergy is one particularly interesting phenomena and the statistic of interest: marriage tended to be put off until the early- to mid- 20's.  This was done because establishing a new household is a costly affair (even for the rich) and must be done with much due consideration.  At the upper ranks of society choices in one's class were limited, and matches between young men and women could take time but also required agreement between families.  Sliding down into the Gentry, Yeomanry and Craftsman realms of society, men and women had a bit more in the way of choices and leeway, but parental and family consent made marriage a multi-lateral agreement in which any single party could hold a veto.  This sort of concern lessened going down to the lowest levels of society, where there was a lot more freedom for couples, agreement tended to be limited to parents, but start-up costs of a new household was high in proportion to the income of the poor.

From that this society can be said to have a high overhead cost of maintenance to it: it costs a lot of time as well as funds to get a household going.  Child birth, statistically, would happen within 18 months of marriage and then be a cyclic affair every 2 or 3 years of the woman's childbearing years.  Added to this was the high rate of infant mortality, endemic diseases, pandemics of plague, plus the normal assort of death by accidents, and life expectancy, while better than in Neolithic times, tended to be in the mid-30's with rare individuals surviving past 60.

Why is this interesting?

My lady was startled because of the American experience with families up to the early 20th century: large families with marriage happening in the late Teens.  Many marriage laws for what society would consider 'children' today included age of consent down to 12 in some States.

There are important changes by the start of the 19th century for Americans, but the life expectancy had not increased much over the 16th century, and while the Industrial Revolution would begin to transform America after the 1820's, American family size continued to be large even with advances in medicine, public sanitation and better diet.  Taking these factors into consideration, there is one other major factor that is encountered in the US that sets it apart from its Early Modern English forbearers in the 16th century: it is a society of not much in the way of 'classes' and it is one with a low overhead for maintenance.

The first is relatively self-explanatory, and while there were major land and slave holders in the Southern States (an equivalent of the Gentry class circa 16th century England)  and huge differences between those living in cities and those in rural areas, these are not largely different from the share-cropper system and differences between city and rural folk of the 16th century.  Without the rest of the class structure to burden the system and plenty of wilderness to settle in what happened is that the Americans of the early 19th century gained a definition that stuck until the early 20th century: a Frontier Culture.

By now, of course, this has interrupted all viewing of the course as this is a vital topic but approached in an oblique way.  There are large differences between a 'Settled' culture and a 'Frontier' culture, most of which revolve around the cost of maintenance of the infrastructure necessary to sustain the culture.  It is difficult to think of Early Modern England as a 'settled culture' but it has natural geographic limits to it, even when you consider Great Britain or the UK as a whole: these are islands and have definite boundaries and no frontiers.  Once an island has undergone initial exploration and settling, that is it for new resources and to get claimed land one must purchase it, which requires capital.  If you live in a town or city you can rent space, of course, but in the villages and household settings to have a new household requires land either by purchase or lease, and then a home on it.  There are many records in England from the late 16th century onwards, which allows us to glimpse a bit of everyday life via the records of deaths and coroner's inquests.  Prof. Wrightson recounts the death of one young woman who was working as a servant in a household who, at her death, had a total of 3 Pounds, 3 cows, and a chest containing items of clothing, bedding, bowl, spoon and the like.  Indeed an average of all deaths can actually yield that individuals owned perhaps as many as 25 to 35 items, total upon death.  The savings of a young woman was that of hoping to find a husband, marry, and establish a household amongst the poorer ranks of society.  She was already bringing something to the table for a marriage: she was gathering necessary overhead capital and goods for the start of a future household.

This is a stark contrast to the American Frontier experience that included clearing land, marrying early, and settling that cleared land for little to no overhead cost beyond sweat equity.  Raw materials were readily available, land was anywhere from free to cheap (compared to Early Modern England, at least), and the idea of 'go forth and multiply' was something that was held near and dear to the heart in reverence to God.

What is the condition of America today?


It has a high overhead cost of maintenance to start a household.  Even with politicians distorting lending markets no end, the cost of starting a household is high.  Those that learn the Trades in America, today, actually have a low overhead cost from education: there is less burden on them and a trade craft repays the cost of education in it quickly.  A distorted market in 'Higher Education' arising from the 'good deed'  in the GI Bill post-WWII flooded colleges and universities with people which then changed the requirements in the marketplace for what is a 'minimum necessary education'.  That 'Higher Education' no longer repays itself and is a debt burden to those who go through such education and have no useful job skills at the end of it.  It is a high cost that must be paid down before starting a family.  The result?  The age of marriage has increased, couples expect both parties to bring something to the new household, children are put off for a period of time after marriage, on average and yes there are exceptions to this just as there were in Early Modern England of the 16th century.

At the lowest end of the economic spectrum there is a payment of funds from tax receipts (or in added debt) to the poor to 'care for women and children' who happen to have children out of wedlock.  Women get payments based on number of children and husbands are no longer required to get support: government has taken on that role.  The result is a liquidation of the once solid poor family structure that was purposefully uprooted during the 'Urban Renewal' that started with the Truman Administration and the movement of poor families from homes they owned to tenements they rented from under the 'Great Society' programs.  Add in payments based on childbirth to women who are not required to be married and have a stable family situation, and you liquidate the foundations of the stable culture that was once a part of the urban landscape prior to the 1950's.  Although a Nation in which by any objective standard pre-1940 there is no poverty, at all, we still have the strange belief that the poor are a condition of poverty.  And yet the poor are always with us, as being poor is part of the condition of individuals within mankind. 

Poverty, as such, was transitional in America where anyone could aspire to be a 'rags to riches' story and maybe end up in the Middle Class or at least better off than one's parents in material goods and security.  What there also used to be was no support system for the rich who failed: you could go from rags to riches to rags and cycle back and forth between them.  The establishment of regulatory regimes to allow failing concerns to remain open (and even get direct government help via taxpayer funds) means that those who make poor decisions under those regulatory regimes no longer fail and they no longer succeed, either.  They become zombie concerns depending on the lifeblood of taxpayer funds and supported regulatory regimes to survive and exist.  Any comparisons between this and later English companies supported by the Crown and later found to be bankrupt is purely coincidental with the Modern England.  In the Early Modern England there was too much upheaval to allow for such things.

Thus there are similarities of type between the US of 2014 and mid- to late-16th century England, but not of kind.  There are entirely different sets of overhead concerns for starting a household, and yet they arise for the same reason of being in a settled and geographically limited society.  The Old West in America is just that: the historical Old West.  And while there are still unsettled lands in the US, no one can rightly call them a Frontier in the expansive way of the early 19th century.  Yes Alaska is still nasty, has a low population level and if you can gather the overhead costs to establish yourself there, it has a frontier-like feel to it.  Social stratification becomes more apparent in the modern US but not due to the gentleness of birth but the connectedness to corrupt government and those that serve and service its corruption.  Just as in Early Modern England this is not a stable situation.

The result in Early Modern England was the Industrial Revolution and the great colonization effort that spanned the globe.

America, today, is at the cusp of a similar sort of transformation, as well.  It is not a dour and bleak totalitarian one, that is if we don't work to counter it.  No, it is one that also had an antecedent in Early Modern England: a New Frontier.

America has tested its endless expanse and now is home to many private concerns that dream big dreams of endless expanses of territory and wealth to be made.  It can't be made just by the rich or even with robotic systems, as those are fragile to this new and hostile wilderness.  And in this wilderness children will learn from the earliest of ages how to survive, what to do and not to do, and the rest of 'education' as we know it will be geared to those concerns first and foremost.

What happened when the English had access to new territories?  Some people were banished to them.  Others fled to them because of the freedom they offered for a new life at great risk.  They were Frontiers.  No social stratification.  Relatively low cost of overhead compared to what was left behind. Great and terrible risk to eke out a new life together with those who also decided that this was better than being settled.  Vast populations from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy... they followed when the cost of transportation to the Frontier was cheap enough to escape the settled lands of their old homes.

As I've said before and say again: there isn't anything so wrong with America that a New Frontier will not cure.

Freedom and Independence will beckon to us, to all mankind.

No one from the time of Henry VII could have seen the rapid changes that would follow his death.

And we can compress those massive changes of centuries down to decades, and no totalitarian power will be able to stop it once the flood gates open.

All we must do is curtail the grasp of tyranny in the present, hold it off by all means possible, and a New Frontier will open to us.  Like Early Modern England seemed a strange place to look for such transformation in its stratified ways and settled lands, so, too, does America look like a strange place to expect the push for a New Frontier.  Yet Early Modern England was pre-adapted to such things by its history and America, along with a few other Nations, is pre-adapted to Frontier culture by its cultural heritage. 

It is easy to fight tyranny in space: open an airlock.  Nature plays no favorites, but you can.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


A personal retrospective on my physical well-being.

I hope to get some more normal posts up, but such is life.

Late in 2004 I began a trip into a land of darkness where my mind was slowly losing track of work and I was beginning to feel exhausted beyond anything I had experienced in my life before that.  With that also came a lack of awareness of these things and the simple and all too human attempt to rationalize these sensations.  Being made senseless and having one's mind dimmed when aided and abetted by rationalization meant that things that should have alerted me to my dire straights were passed off... until my body forced the issue by giving me a cataleptic attack while driving.  No accident resulted, but that warned me that something truly serious was going on, even through the mists of my befuddled state of mind and being, which was turning into a strange place where being awake and being asleep meant little difference at all.

By 2005 I just wanted to know what was causing these attacks and if they could be dealt with, and the list of tests I went through was long and deep.  The only change had been in a standard medication, one of the statins, and when my endocrinologist heard the symptoms he took me off them, but the damage had been done and worse was to come after that until the full extent of it was finally reached.  My brain had the normal attributes of someone a good 20 years older than my physical age, and yet that was not a natural thing.  Narcoleptic conditions run in the male side of my family and I had thought I had escaped them as they have two general periods of onset: up to teenage years and then again in one's 60's.  Well, my brain had reached that magic age, I guess, just decades ahead of schedule.

Climbing out of that pit meant trying to get my thought structure back together as it had been shattered and eroded by this condition.  I had become a creature of willpower alone, determined not to let this be the end of my life.  The hardest work in my life would not be physical, would not be trying to write great pieces of fiction or histories to last the ages, but to merely scrape back a formulation of my thoughts out of a land between waking and dreaming and back, fully, into the land of the waking and living.  We take the fact that we think for granted, at least most people do, but somewhere within my psycho-dynamic toolkit there is a repair kit that allowed me to begin the hard work of reconstructing my mental capabilities to get some thinking capacity up and running again.

Those dark days are dealt with in my early blogging, which take place after the internal collapse of my mental structure, diagnosis and the first medications to deal with the actual phenomena.  There is no magic pill to rejuvenate the mind, as yet, to repair damage and to regain lost capacity.  Maybe we shall have that in some future, but until that point one is stuck with the old fashioned way of hard work.  I set myself some tasks to exercise my mind: learn some rudiments of Javascript, find out just what terrorism is (not the talking around it to attempt to call it something else, but its actual being as an activity) and then to learn connectivity structures based on Person-to-Person systems which are the basis for so much of human life that it pervades the far reaches of the horrific and the criminal realms.  For, as my Uncle Joe used to say disparagingly of so many corporate and government affairs, 'it isn't what you know, its who you know'.

Thus diagnosis was done by others, but I was willing to go through just about any test they cared to put me through, and I would hazard a good couple of hundred of vials of blood were taken to that end.  I have a long, long, long list of things I don't have and for that I am very thankful, indeed!  I will give the Sherlock Holmes method of scratching off stuff from a list and whatever you are left with is what it is a hat tip: it works.  Unfortunately it is the brute force method of logic, and I prefer inductive reasoning of 'this is the only thing that fits to make the entire thing work' sort of approach to the list scratching business.  As I have learned, that is a bent of mind that one must have by some means other than education as no one can teach you how to take a look at a whole thing and then see where something is missing and say what it is.

Countering the effects of the problem, although not the problem itself, came next.  I was a Type 1 diabetic before this happened and can tell you that dealing with a problem is not the same as curing it.  For all the advances in genetics, biology, biochemistry, and 3D structural analysis of molecules and how they interact, plus the human genome, a simple auto-immune disease dating back into the far reaches of human ancestry is still beyond modern medicine to cure.  Somehow every promising approach is thwarted by it.  Yet one gains a toolkit of mental requirements to deal with such a problem on a daily basis and that means I had one available for yet another problem that has no cure.  We know that there are cases of spontaneous remission of Type 1 diabetes after about 20 years of having it: the poor immune system just gets tired of fighting that part of the body and natural regeneration takes place for islet cells.  That I still have the condition points to an immune system that is still misdoing its job!  Now I also get to take medications that modern medical science can say what its structure is, but has no real idea of how it works.

There are times when I suspect the strain of being known as Witch Doctor is still with us to this day. 'What is it, what does it do?' you ask and the response is 'Dunno, it just works, take it.'

I am not nor ever have been impressed by degrees sitting up on a wall.

Doctors are still practicing medicine.  They need more practice, less overhead, please, as the practice still is not perfected.

Now all of this research, fiddling with code, playing with stuff got me to firearms as there was a warning bell going off in my head circa 2007.  A good year before the elections, hell before there were candidates, some part of me was saying: Prepare For No Good Shall Come Of This.  I took NRA training to ensure that I properly understood function and safety of firearms, plus only rudimentary cleaning... there needs to be a real course on that, not just gunsmithing but just 'how the hell do you clean this piece of Swiss watchmaking called a gun?' sort of course.  And I like older firearms, so drift punches, springs, and scouring around for parts became a ready past-time.  All of this is DIY in the firearms community, and the modern arms are much, much simpler to work with than much of the older stuff until you get back to the bolt action rifle: those are, at least, pretty simple to understand.

My goal was to next find out what sort of useful skills I had or could gain, and I'm still on that path today.  Firearms leads to stocks made of wood and that means wood finishing.  In my family lineage is woodworking going back at least a couple of generations, and I had not only shop class but a father who did cabinetry in his spare time.  That means I had some of the old 'young shop assistant' sort of deal going on, although not a lot of it, enough to get me familiar with the tools of the trade.

Building back stamina became the major goal as of 2009-10 and woodworking, well once you start using the manual tools you now have a major way to utilize physical capacity and measure endurance, now, don't you?  Even on the power tool side, the lifting and toting of boards, planks, and other less savory bits of trees can get you all sorts of exercise, especially if you have a small shop and need to set up and break down the power tools so that you can have access to the rest of the shop when you aren't using them.

Up until the past few weeks here has been the deal: 1 day of a few hours of work, 2 days of recovery.  Doesn't matter if the day is woodworking, shopping, or whatever, either.  On rare times I could string a couple of days together and then need additional down time to recover.  That was getting me to an even keel, but the boat still had water up to the gunwales and I was bailing as fast as I could.  Stamina was not returning but I at least could keep what I had.

About a month ago I talked with my neurologist who told me that there are some preliminary longitudinal studies that indicate that for diabetics in Japan and Germany (two populations with a major concern over the disorder by genetic causation) that the use of a CPAP helps to lower the HbA1c (a basal blood glucose reading that you strive to get to 7% as a diabetic) by a full 1%.  That is an eye-opener, to be sure.  A real eye-opener as a CPAP improves flow of air to the lungs while sleeping.  I had tried a CPAP before as there were indications of some marginal sleep problems, and they continue to be marginal and the neurologist doesn't know what to make of the actual readings as they aren't showing a disorder but something else going on... but that a CPAP might help that and the the cause to actually get one.


The prior CPAP device made my sleep worse, not better.

There have been improvements over the last 6-7 years, not grand ones but gradual ones, to the point where I can actually tolerate the device, more or less.

It will take some months of use to see what it does for that long term basal blood glucose reading.

A more immediate effect is to get lots of oxygen into my system at night and well distributed through my body.  I do wake up logy, no two ways about it: it is the sleep of someone who has worked themselves to exhaustion.  I knew what that felt like, back before 2004.  It is the sleep that when you wake up you just had no idea of how tired you actually were.  Apparently I need that sort of sleep.

From that sleep I now have better and larger amounts of physical energy and mental awareness longer into the day and even into the evening.  I can accomplish a lot more with the energy once I get the logy feeling out of the system.  Learning to hand plane maple that has just been skip planed is really hard work, let me tell you.  Yet I haven't been tempted to power tools (although I have a planing jig for a router) because it just feels good to be able to put some actual physical capacity into the work.  For a few hours at a stretch.  So now I can have sore muscles when I wake up!  This is a good thing.

The next step of the recovery is actually reversing not just the effects of one of my major conditions, but the thing, itself.  Those require an actual, functioning medical system in which trying to redistribute wealth and making everyone sicker in the name of 'health insurance' is not the goal.  That is an enemy to actual scientific advancement.  Strange that the most backward looking people are now on the political Left: they are starting to sound like the old fogies who just want to do things the same, tired old way that doesn't work well because that is all they know and will tell you about how righteous it is to do things the broken, tired, old way.  Yet the 21st century isn't going to wait for them to catch up, and no matter how much kicking, screaming, and theft under the guise of 'doing good' goes on, this century is set to steamroller the prior 3,000 years of advancement with changes that seemed impossible just a decade ago.  Be it the first formulation for a warp drive or getting to the bounds of computer capacity and then leapfrogging that with quantum computing or finding out that the ways to deal with disorders and diseases isn't to just ameliorate the effects but treat the damned things with some skill ('what does this drug actually do?' 'I dunno, it just works') and get the idea of practice out of the way or education that is self-performed via online systems of study that can't be categorized but can be tested as to skill, knowledge and capacity to utilize it... everything, and I do mean everything, that has been the foundation for the modern world is about to undergo a sea change that will make the Industrial Revolution seem like something for children.

Thus my goal is to survive the current bout of MegaStupidity via Centralized Insanity of Government and get to this new age of Individual Freedom and Liberty writ large.

As has been my threat: the more I recover, the less I will be posting.

I hate repeating myself and that is mostly what I would be doing to no good effect.

I need to recover so I can join this up and coming age of wonder.

The age of Back to Basics, DIY and reaching for the stars and getting off this damned starter home of a planet.

And I hope you will join me.

For we are better than the old 20th century has led us to think.

And governing is the problem, and government is not the solution.