Dr. Pournelle Health Report


From Alex Pournelle, Dr. Pournelle’s son:

“Jerry had a small stroke. He is recovering well at a local hospital. Prognosis is good, though they’re running more tests and he’s expected to stay at least another day or two.

“He felt well enough to call Mom [Mrs. Pournelle] from the hospital.

“Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. More updates when we have them.”

Note that Dr. Pournelle cannot respond to emails at this time, although he and his family are grateful for your concern and well-wishes. If you wish to express your thoughts, we are allowing comments on this post only. All comments are moderated, so will not immediately appear. (To view comments, or add your own, use the link on the right of the byline under the title. Scroll to the bottom to enter your comments.)

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The Political Report

Mail 854 Thursday, December 11, 2014

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


It’s late and I have been working for a couple of days on getting some anthologies up as eBooks.  THERE WILL BE WAR, at least the first two volumes, will be available next spring or earlier, in print and as eBooks.  I am also getting 2020 Vision (Anderson, Spinrad, Ellison, Niven, Bova, and others) up as well.  Meanwhile the CIA is being flogged.  I found this mail essential:




More on the Senate report

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

It appears that former Senator Kerrey [D-Nebraska] is taking his own party to task over the ‘politicized’ torture report.


"I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

When Congress created <http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/about.html> the intelligence committees in the 1970’s, the purpose was for people’s representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.

The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.

Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none. I hope – for the sake of our security and our values – Congress will follow the leadership of Senator McCain and give them this guidance."

In other words, the report exaggerated the problems of the CIA while minimizing any benefit, carefully absolved congress of any misdeeds, yet neither carried any call for indictment nor any recommendations to be followed in the future.

A hit job, then.

So far as I am concerned the report is discredited on this basis; I cannot believe a Democratic senator would so call out his own party if it was not a partisan hack job, a disservice to the country.


Brian P.

Thanks for sending me this. 



Another take on the Senate Intelligence report

Of course, this whole thing will devolve into a he-said/she-said fiasco. However, I think this is a must-read for anyone wanting at least to hear the other side.


Richard White

Austin, Texas

Fascinating.  Very.





After spending more than a week trying to locate and read the putative presidential Executive Order on Immigration I am now sure that no such E.O. exists!

After failing to get responses from my various Congresscritters, the public library, and the New York Times….I finally put in a call to the Cato Institute where I was immediately connected to Mr. Alex Nowrasteh, the senior immigration policy analyst.

He explained that the Obamagration reform was not being implemented or even directed by Executive Order but rather through "Executive Action", with implementation accomplished by memoranda from Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security. Mr. Nowrasteh was kind enough to send me links to the memos implementing President Obama’s extralegal decrees.

My interpretation is that an E.O. is too transparent, to easily reversed though legislation, and too directly associable to President Obama so that an even less transparent means was used.

The links sent to me are quoted from the email sent by Mr. Nowrasteh and are quite terrifying.

"Strengthen border security


Revise removal priorities


Priorities enforcement program


Ice pay reforms


Expand Daca


Expand provisional waiver program


Revising Parole rules

1. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_business_actions.pdf

2. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_parole_in_place.pdf

3. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_arrabally.pdf

Increased access to citizenship


Supporting high skilled businesses and workers http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_business_actions.pdf

Alex Nowrasteh

Immigration Policy Analyst, Cato Institute"


Lawrence Cunningham




Russian buyer returns Watson’s Nobel:






I thought this was a satire site at first, but it isn’t…




“We can hope that the country club establishment Republicans have learned their lesson. It is not entirely clear that they have.”

Loved your recent piece on this topic, as usual, but here is another angle. I think that part of the problem with the United States is not just that the elites no longer feel any sense of duty towards the nation as a whole (although that is surely a lethal problem for any nation), but that they have been so isolated from the negative consequences of their mistakes, that they have lost the ability to think critically. Indeed, they have lost the ability to even realize that thinking critically is important!

So you can start a pointless war, mismanage it, and you don’t get fired. You are not treated as an object of scorn, rather, you are feted as an elder statesman, put on the board of directors of major corporations, etc. So of course we keep botching it all over again! You can lose a fortune in the financial markets and all your losses are made whole. You can totally mismanage the healthcare exchanges, and nobody important gets fired, nobody really tries to fix it – besides, your family has real health insurance so why worry?

The elites fail at every endeavor, and they call it experience.

Michelle Obama’s school lunch fiasco is one minor example of this. Perhaps school lunches should be better balanced – in Japan the school lunches are wonderful, you’d pay money to get them in a serious restaurant in this country. Instead the government creates unworkable standards and produces nearly inedible lunches at twice the price – but Michelle’s kids eat catered gourmet food at private schools, liberals treat any criticism of her plan as racist, she is still treated with respect, and so she shows no interest in fixing the system. Why should she?

FDR was once asked by an aid about some policy: ‘but what if it doesn’t work?’ – and FDR replied to the effect, then we shall have to try something else. That sounds obvious, but our current elites don’t think that way. Because why should they? If the whole nation collapses they can just take their money and move overseas – like the cruise ship captain who abandoned his post when it began to sink. And when they do they shall shake their heads in sadness that the American people were not worthy of their brilliant leadership.

The country club establishment Republicans have not learned their lesson because, to them, there is no lesson to learn.





The only issue I have with the term "aristocratic" is that, as used, it shades over into "inherited aristocracy." Which tends to be sheer nonsense: oligarchy, yes, inherited power, yes, but inherited "rule by the best" — that’s been repeatedly disproved by societies which tried it. Even the best of the Roman Emperors couldn’t make it work.

It’s a language problem, I think. Our terms don’t distinguish between a system directed by genuine excellence, and a system directed by people who declare themselves to be excellent. The first, should it occur, could be very good indeed. The second, which occurs repeatedly, is usually both oppressive and pretentious. I have yet to see any system in which inherited power (including the inheritance of great wealth) doesn’t lead to destructive results.


Allan E. Johnson

Aristocracy literally means “rule of the best”: by definition doesn’t everyone want that?  Of course “best” doesn’t describe some of the French aristocrats, particularly M de Marquis in Tale of Two Cities.  Perhaps it does describe Marquis de Lafayette…  

It takes more than one generation to make an aristocrat. And it is not likely that every member of the aristocracy should be a part of it; there need to be means to shuffle off the failures and bring in new.  It is not at all clear that elections do this: look at your local city council.  How many of those would you like to spend any time with?  And would you choose them to rule? Is your city well ruled?  But then who would want to rule a city ?  What we have is a system that rewards people for learning how to get a political job; not for being able to do it well.

Cicero long ago (among many others) thought the best rule was a republic which incorporated aristocracy, monarchy, and democratic role of the commons into a unified system of government.  The old republic had some of that, but Cicero’s Rome did not.  It was said that Caesar wanted to restore something like the old republic: certainly he spared Cicero and most of his enemies.  But Caesar was murdered, and his successors hanged Cicero’s head in the Forum where Marc Anthony’s wife pierced his dead tongue with a hat pin.



At the last meeting of the Daytona Beach City Commission, one of the public comments mentioned that the police force is under represented by blacks. During comments by the city commissioners, it was stated that the reason we’re under representative is because we are outbid whenever a qualified black applicant applies. They end up at other cities. In order to hire more black police officers, we would have to raise the pay for all officers. (Our police officers are unionized.)




Dear Dr. Pournelle,

You may find this short essay enlightening, as the author outlines all the various dodges groups use to make their advocacy ‘settled science’ with very little substantiation of the same.


It does tally well with my own experience.


Brian P.





I’m here, and you’re there, and food, fun, danger, opportunity are over there!


David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work



Ferguson DA Rightly Avoids Seeking Indictment

Dear Mr. Pournelle,

A recent correspondent mentioned the argument "that liberals are asking — and I think it is a reasonable one — is exactly why the DA was essentially acting as Officer Wilson’s defense attorney…."

This argument in brief says that the Ferguson DA acted improperly, probably with suspect motives if not outright bias in favor of Officer Wilson by not strongly seeking an indictment through such means as withholding evidence favorable to Wilson’s version of events and permitting him to testify and permitting the grand jury to consider self-defense as a motive. In support of this idea they draft no less an authority than Justice Scalia.

First of all, this argument fails from the start IMO by attributing to the DA the low cunning necessary to twist the normal rules of grand jury proceedings to favor his preferred outcome, but then claiming his stupidity to be so boundless that he would release much of the evidence and transcripts of the proceedings to open scrutiny and thereby ensure that all would know of his perfidy and misconduct.

As to the legal merits of the case, I refer any interested to Andrew Branca, an expert in this area of the law and a lawyer himself. http://legalinsurrection.com/2014/11/no-it-was-not-improper-for-ferguson-grand-jury-to-consider-self-defense/

I believe that Branca clearly and convincingly explains the rationale for the procedure followed in this case and resoundingly destroys this straw man.

I quote several paragraphs from his closing (but please read the whole thing):

"Indeed, to deny that the Grand Jury should consider self-defense is to embrace a legal and logical absurdity.

"As noted, in cases of self-defense,the defendant necessarily concedes the underlying criminal acts, but defends them on the grounds that he was legally justified to commit the acts as a matter of lawful self-defense.

"Were the Grand Jury be permitted to consider only the concession of the use of force, but not the claimed justification, then each and every act of self-defense would necessarily result in an indictment and be brought to trial, no matter how strongly the evidence in its totality supported the justification of that use of force.

"A Secret Service Agent cuts down an assassin moments before the killer can take the President’s life, all caught on cameras by news agencies worldwide as the President delivers a major policy speech? Sorry, Agent, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at the trial. After all, he concedes he committed the killing, and merely claims legal justification for doing so–but the Grand Jury is not permitted to hear the justification.

"A maniac gunning down children in a school is shot and killed by the school resource officer assigned to that duty, all events testified to by scores of surviving teachers and students? Sorry, officer, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at trial. Again, the Grand Jury is permitted to hear the concession of the use of force, but not the justification.

"A murderously abusive husband invades his wife’s place of work, killing her colleagues with shotgun blasts as he seeks her out, until a security officer takes him out with a well-placed gun shot to the head, all events caught on the company’s CCTV system? Sorry, sir, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at trial. You get the idea.

"I suggest that no reasonable or moral person could possibly argue for such legal outcomes."

Kenton Yoder




At precisely 11:11 a.m. each Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the sun’s rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (1)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-1.jpg>

The Anthem Veterans Memorial <http://www.onlineatanthem.com/anthem-veterans-memorial> , located in Anthem, Arizona, is a monument dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of the United States armed forces. The pillar provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who want to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to courageously serve the United States.


The memorial was designed by Anthem resident Renee Palmer-Jones. The five marble pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. They are staggered in size (from 17 ft to 6 ft) and ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corp, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (2)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-2.jpg>

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (3)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-3.jpg?w=800>

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (4)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-4.jpg?w=800>

Additionally, the brick pavers within the Circle of Honor are inscribed with the names of over 750 U.S. servicemen and women, symbolizing the ‘support’ for the Armed Forces. The pavers are red, the pillars are white, and the sky is blue to represent America’s flag. The circle represents an unbreakable border. Anthem resident and chief engineer, Jim Martin was responsible for aligning the memorial accurately with the sun.

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (5)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-5.jpg>


- Arizona Historic Landmark Designation 2012 – Arizona Historical Society

– Arizona Public Works Project of the Year Award 2012 – Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association

– ACEC 2012 Grand Award – Best Engineering and Environmental Consulting Project

anthem veterans memorial Arizona by Renee palmer-jones (6)<https://twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/anthem-veterans-memorial-arizona-by-renee-palmer-jones-6.jpg>


- Anthem Community Council <http://www.onlineatanthem.com/anthem-veterans-memorial>

– Arizona Tourisms: Anthem Veterans Memorial <http://www.visitarizona.com/places-to-visit/phoenix-central-arizona/anthem-veterans-memorial>

– ABC Arizona: Anthem dedicates memorial to veterans <http://www.abc15.com/news/region-northeast-valley/anthem/anthem-dedicates-memorial-to-veterans>

Anthem Veterans Memorial


Mr. Pournelle,

I re-read "Bind your sons to exile" yesterday, the first time I’ve read it since the early 1980s. You are a visionary. If the story were re-issued today, the only change necessary to update it completely would be to replace the Swiss with the Chinese.

I enjoy your work and am glad to have found your blog.

Kindest regards,

Some guy



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




The beat goes on…

View 854 Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.

Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


The release of the Intelligence Committee report has been called a great blow to the CIA’s effectiveness in protecting the American people.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The Senate committee has publicly released its findings.


I’ve only read the summary so far, which essentially says the enhanced interrogation procedures went out of control , beyond oversight and accountability, and did a lot of damage to our international standing [not to mention the detainees] while producing little actionable intelligence.

I’d invite comment from your other correspondents. I have to wonder if there’s more to the story than this …

At any rate, Americans seem to have only two throttle settings: "Paranoid/overdrive" and "don’t care at all." Just as, during WWII, we were in "don’t care" setting right up until the point Pearl Harbor was bombed, at which point we interned thousands of Japanese-Americans for our protection and safety.

It appears that the cycle, which goes back to the Salem witch trials, is repeating itself: Complete over-reaction of which we were afterwards ashamed. Maybe if we had rational protocols for things like torture we wouldn’t try to re-invent the wheel, with catastrophic results.


Brian P.

I am waiting for more information on the battle of the released intelligence report. I would think that the timing is obvious. It is a distraction from the unhappiness of the American people with Obamacare and the cynical way it was rammed through. We will know more soon.




While I agree with much of what Peggy Noonan said in the column you linked yesterday, there is one glaring exception that politically negates much of the rest: the immigration executive order.

Republicans have basically two choices: let it stand, or block it by whatever means necessary – which apparently means defunding the implementation, something the President will use as an excuse to shut down the government.

If the Republicans let it stand, the base is through with the party. That is a given. Particularly since its widely known that the progressive and "country club" Republicans would like to see the same action and are using the President’s lawlessness to give them cover – "we can’t do anything." This is why the conservatives in both houses are rebelling against the leadership on this issue, forcing McConnell and Boehner to reach accommodation with the Democrats to let the funding through.

(Even temporarily; once the lawless executive order is funded once, even with a three month continuing resolution, that is arguably enough legislative support to say that Congress is on board with the law and give the lawyers justification to force funding to continue.)

Conversely, if they block it leading to a partial government shutdown, the President and the MSM will paint the Republicans as the villains. Whether that will shift the moderates any more is debatable under these circumstances – but the "country club" leadership will certainly act as if it will, and will cave, which returns them full circle to losing the base, this time permanently.

What we’re seeing is not the Democrats self destructing, but the progressive movement in both parties self-destructing. The end result will range from not pretty to catastrophically ugly. Particularly while there are too many voters who vote party label without regard for actions or ideology, as avidly and mindlessly supportive as the fans of rival football teams. Unfortunately, the Democrats seem to have a monopoly on "useful idiots," probably because they’ve been buying them through wealth transfer, and making them through use of the educational establishment for indoctrination rather than instruction, for over eighty years. The Republicans you cite who leave out the hard parts of Adam Smith don’t help.

Mr. Heinlein still seems to have been right in putting the next crisis of American democracy during the term of the person elected president in 2012. And if this fully shakes out before the next couple of presidential terms, the consequences will likely be as catastrophic as in Mr. Heinlein’s future history; the pendulum will break. Probably with the country "stuck on stupid," but with the wolves waiting in the wings (something that Mr. Heinlein’s future history avoided was China, Russia, and resurgent Caliphate Islam).


I would hope that the American people are smarter than that. At the moment there is a clear majority in favor of rejecting what the Democrats have done. There is no majority consensus on immigration, nor even on what is possible. We can attempt to close the borders, but if the President does not want to act, there is little that can be done. What the Republican leadership must show is that they are willing and able to govern, and that they will not be obstructive for the sake of obstructiveness.

Of course the Democrats will provoke them, as they have with the release of the CIA report.

Thanks for the link to the Peggy Noonan article. I wonder if you think, though, that one major change should be made by the Republican Senate straight away: getting rid of the weird "pocket filibuster" rules. Others can explain the abstruse details, but if I understand correctly the Senate today works under a set of rules that pretty much guarantees a deadlock on any partisan issue. Maybe it’s time to go back to the real tradition, where a Senator could do a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster if he was willing to speak for hours and days, but no one would unless he cared so much about the issue that he would put everything on the line for it. –And otherwise things proceeded by majority rule. The Senate was supposed to be a brake, but wasn’t intended to be hopelessly deadlocked on anything important.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a good idea to seek bipartisan support for things, and that means passing bills that are somewhat less conservative than they would be otherwise. If you want any chance of overriding vetoes that’s a necessity anyhow. This is all part of responsible government.

Best wishes,



Garry Kasparov on Chess, the Cold War, and the West’s Shameful Appeasement of Putin


Although chess is featured in the title, the video interview with Garry Kasparov is all about Putin, Russia, and the West. His comments are quite interesting. Almost 30 minutes long, maybe worth a watch while you are snacking or relaxing?

Garry Kasparov on Chess, the Cold War, and the West’s Shameful Appeasement of Putin

(Article has transcript as well as video.)




I had dinner with Kasparov in Moscow. He will be part of the opposition to whatever government Russia has; as such he is a valuable asset to Russia, but I doubt that they understand that. I do know that the situation there is a very great deal more complex than any analyst here seems to understand.

Rohrabacher: ‘Moreover, reasonable observers the world over can see it as tantamount to a declaration that Russia is America’s enemy.’



Roland Dobbins

Dana is an old friend, a good :Libertarian conservative, and an intelligent analyst with a competent staff. His views are always worth paying attention to.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.