Civilizing barbarians

View 852 Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

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


At least one black leader, a State Senator, has declared that we are now in a race war, blacks and their sympathizers vs. everyone else. She has no authority to declare any such thing, and she certainly does not speak for anything like a majority of African Americans, nor, I suspect, for anything like a majority of liberal intellectuals, but it is an astonishing thing to say.

We are not in a race war, but there are similarities to a barbarian invasion. We have a barbarian culture within the United States. The most common cause of death of black males is to be killed by another black male. There are other sub cultures in which homicide is common. Generally the barbarian culture does not interact with the majority of the middle class, but in so-called ghetto areas American citizens cannot avoid interactions with the barbarian culture. They live there, and they can’t avoid it.

More than forty years ago when I was a city official in the Mayor’s office, I was asked to sit in on a meeting with the precinct captain of a district that included both black middle class and some “Inner city” “ghetto” areas. The meeting consisted of the police officers and several black women who were tired of the lack of law and order in their neighborhood. The captain explained that he had no more resources: he had patrols on overtime as it was. There was nothing to be done. I offered to send some of the Metro units in. These were elite police patrols who strictly enforced the law.  I warned the ladies that if we sent them in, they would come down hard on all criminal activity they saw.  All of it.  The ladies said that was very much what they wanted.

We sent some of the elite Metro units into the neighborhood. They began enforcing the law as they had been trained: not as community police, but as strict enforcement officers looking for good arrests. This was before Wilson’s “Broken Windows” theory became widely known, but I knew Wilson, and this was in that spirit: you don’t ignore minor infractions because that leads people to think you will ignore major ones.

The experiment lasted about a month, and the ladies reported they were really surprised at how much better conditions were; but there were black leaders who claimed that the district was being overpoliced. The LA Times talked about the invasion of the police. The mayor told me to get the Metro units out of there. Things went back to where they were before I attempted to intervene.

This was forty years ago, after the Watts riots but before the later Los Angeles riots.

The cure for barbarians within the gates is to educate the barbarian children. Humans are not born civilized. They acquire civility by living in civilization, and they learn it as they grow up in it. In the United States we have had waves of immigrants from areas with entirely different cultures, some from more civilized cultures than ours, but many from less, and few in which civilization was based on freedom: American citizens act civilized because they are civilized, not from fear of apprehension and punishment. The Metro Unit wasn’t really the answer to those ladies’ complaints; it was just all I had to offer.

But the way to civilize barbarians is to do it in the schools, from the earliest grades on: enforcement of discipline, being polite, respectful deference to authority – not cringing fear, but respectful deference. But those values have to be instilled, and enforced.

I remember a song I learned as a child.

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick

I think everyone I knew learned it. It’s a catchy tune, and it sort of described what we were doing in school. The hickory stick wasn’t much used, but it was legal for the teachers to use it. The Sisters in my first three grades had rulers which they were said to use freely (although I think I actually witnessed Sister Elizabeth Ann use hers no more than twice in the two years I was in her First/Second grade classroom). And the Three R’s were certainly what we were expected to learn. Reading and Writing and Arithmetic.

And when we moved to the country I was in a public school, again two grades to the room and about 20-25 pupils to the grade. This was out in the county in farming country, but we had the same textbooks that they had in Memphis, and we pretty well learned the same things: ostensibly reading, writing, and arithmetic. Of course reading included some real literature: no Dick and Jane, and alas no Cat in the Hat. I wish I had my Third Grade Reader. I have found the California Sixth Grade Reader, which I have edited and published as an eBook; our Tennessee Sixth Grade Reader wasn’t much different. Most of the same poems and stories.

But we were also learning to be civilized. To say “Ma’am” to the teachers, or call them Miss Dean or Mrs. Cooper and be courteous, and yes, obedient. We learned self discipline. You don’t run in the halls. You don’t hit girls (boys got away with a bit more roughhousing with each other, but you don’t hit girls). This is how civilized people live.

We were also learning that “dear old Golden Rule” as we were growing up. Explicitly, but that was just a lesson; but as a way of thinking. It was built into the stories and lessons, and the way we were expected to live.

When I was growing up the purposes of the schools was clear, and civilizing young barbarians was one of those purposes. Now this was the legally segregated South: the young barbarians I refer to were us, farm and country kids growing up in war time when adult supervision outside school was pretty rare.

It seems to have worked.

But as I understand it, that is no longer considered a purpose of the public schools, even though citizens with no children in those schools are taxed to pay for them. The teachers seem to believe – indeed many insist – that their task is not “indoctrination”, and it is not to “impose” a culture on their charges.

Of course it’s pretty hard to see what the system is supposed to do now: from observation a great deal of the system has become a ship which exists for the benefit of its crew, and its funding is not at all dependent on what it actually accomplishes. It’s surely not “the good old golden rule”, and from the results it’s hardly reading and ‘riting and ‘rithemetic either. It’s mostly to pay teachers, avoid any being fired for incompetence and few for anything else, and to pay for good benefits and pensions. The students are irrelevant. Yes, of course, there are dedicated teachers who hate all that, but they don’t run the system, and they aren’t paid in “released time” to be union officials. A ship which exists for the benefit of its crew.

And if the purpose of the schools is no longer to civilize young barbarians, that job is left to the parents and the churches; and we see the results of decades in which the schools are not

Dear old Golden Rule days
‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick

Young humans are not born civilized, and civilizations that leave the task of civilizing them to chance sow the wind.

We sow the wind. We are reaping the whirlwind.


I am told that more than 27 small businesses were destroyed by fire in Ferguson last night. I am also told that more than half of them were owned by minority owners (and I assume that minority includes Hispanic and Asian). The National Guard was present but not inserted to defend those businesses, but I do not know why they were ordered to stand down as the looting began. First there was pillage, then burning. When the barbarians come through the gates those are standard. If the Missouri State Senator is correct in pronouncing this their race war, we may see more.



Renewable energy ‘simply WON’T WORK': Top Google engineers

Windmills, solar, tidal – all a ‘false hope’, say Stanford PhDs

By Lewis Page

Comment Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or "technology" of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo were employed at Google on the RE<C project, which sought to enhance renewable technology to the point where it could produce energy more cheaply than coal.

RE<C was a failure, and Google closed it down after four years. Now, Koningstein and Fork have explained the conclusions they came to after a lengthy period of applying their considerable technological expertise to renewables, in an article posted at IEEE Spectrum.

The two men write:

At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …

Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.

One should note that RE<C didn’t restrict itself to conventional renewable ideas like solar PV, windfarms, tidal, hydro etc. It also looked extensively into more radical notions such as solar-thermal, geothermal, "self-assembling" wind towers and so on and so forth. There’s no get-out clause for renewables believers here.

Koningstein and Fork aren’t alone. Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn’t feasible. Merely generating the relatively small proportion of our energy that we consume today in the form of electricity is already an insuperably difficult task for renewables: generating huge amounts more on top to carry out the tasks we do today using fossil-fuelled heat isn’t even vaguely plausible.

I do not know if they considered solar power satellites, which may be able to achieve the goal; I recall studies that indicate that it’s possible, although it would take a lot of SSPS systems. We will certainly have to move to some form of nuclear power in order to sustain the present population at anything like this standard of living.



Will Finland suffer the fate of Crimea and Ukraine?

James Crawford=

Fortunately, probably not. I doubt the Russians want to rule a number of intelligent and hostile people and the Finns most certainly would be hostile. Ukraine is historically part of Russia, not merely an imperial acquisition.


Rosetta and Philae 

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I’m very surprised that you have not yet celebrated the soft(ish) landing of Philae from the Rosetta probe on Comet 67P (avg. 2.6 km dia.), after a 10 year flight and over 6.4 bn km travelled. Philae has performed better than 90% of its primary mission on its main batteries, but having come to rest in the shadow of a cliff, the solar-powered secondary batteries are not adequately charging, so additional, unscheduled tests cannot be performed (this may improve as 67P moves closer to the Sun and the intensity of the light falling on Philae’s photocells increases; at present it is about 330 m km away — beyond the orbit of Mars). ESA researchers are currently analysing the data collected from Philae, and we already know that organic molecules have been detected. You can watch videos and read reports on ESA’s web site, <>.

OK, I’m a European, and I’m really, *really* proud of what this consortium of nations has achieved with this mission. I’ve never felt so excited since my parents allowed me to stay up to watch the broadcast of the US Apollo 11 Moon landing.

And now I read that ESA/Airbus will be making the primary stage of NASA’s Orion rocket. :-)

Best regards,


You ought to be proud. It was a magnificent achievement. I probably should have commented but I have been swamped lately, and there was little I could say other than Congratulations!The final location of the probe was unfortunate, but getting onto the comet at all was wonderful.  I’m still absorbing the information.


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




Immigration, Deportation, and reality: continued

View 852 Sunday, November 23, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

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 temptation is to respond to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration with rage, but there are good reasons not to do that. First, what he proposes, although outside the powers of the presidency as I interpret the Constitution, are not so outrageously so as to produce anything like universal rejection.

There are many learned and respectable people who would argue that he may indeed have that power.

For example: All executives have prosecutorial discretion, de facto if not explicitly de jure. There are just too many laws and too few resources for every law to be faithfully executed. In addition the President has the unquestionable authority to issue pardons to anyone, including those sentenced to deportation. It would be pointless to apprehend and prosecute those who would be pardoned anyway.

Has the President exceeded his authority in these executive orders? One may argue that, but the odds of getting a bill of impeachment from the House are very low, and of getting a conviction of the Senate by two thirds of those voting are practically non-existent; while the energy used, and the hatreds generated, by impeachment and trial are not likely to be compensated by any satisfactions gained.

One may wish the nation were free of Mr. Obama, but that will happen in January of 2017 whatever we do. The result of a successful impeachment can remove Mr. Obama before then, after which we would be at the tender mercies of Joe Biden. This might not be a great improvement. “Stand up, Chuck, Let ‘em see you. Oh God bless you…” And if Mr. Biden were to resign, Nancy Pelosi would become President. And after her the Senator from Vermont. Are these improvements? [OOOPS.  Of course Mrs. Pelosi is no longer Speaker; that’s Mr. Boehner.  But first there is Mr. Biden.  It’s idle to begin with: there is no chance that an impeachment and conviction will happen over stretching prosecutorial discretion. If the Republicans pin their hopes on impeachment they are doomed.]

After January, Congress will have the option of detaching from the budget  the funds needed to implement the executive orders, but this is only one of a number of possible strategies, and it is not obvious that it is the best one. It would probably lead to another experiment in shutting down the government, and that cannot end well. Also there are parts of Mr. Obama’s program that are likely to be popular, not just among the immigrant population but among the American people in general. The newspapers are already full of stories about the joy of those chosen, and the grief of those who fail to qualify for the new amnesty. The burden will be placed on those who seek to justify deporting a nanny, mother of two US citizens, who has been resident in the US for 12 years, has never been arrested, is loved by her single-mother employer. etc., etc. I would not want to be the prosecutor assigned to that case, and I don’t know many who would.

If we have come to the point at which conducting a rational discussion is somehow selling out the conservative cause, we have a poor definition of the conservative cause. It is not being a Republican in Name Only to look for alternatives to raising a constitutional crisis over this particular issue. It is a political move and deserves a political answer.

I am told I have overestimated the cost of apprehending and deporting 10 million illegal immigrants, some of them parents of US citizens. Perhaps I have, but I doubt it. It is certainly true that similar numbers of people were displaced in the turmoil following World War IT, with hundreds of thousands of Germans forced out of the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia, millions from Silesia which was given to Poland, millions of Ukrainian speaking citizens moved from lands given to Poland by Russia, Poles moved from what had been Poland and was now part of Russia. And of course

1944 to 1948: Flight and expulsion of Germans after World War II. Between 13.5 and 16.5 million Germans were expelled, evacuated or fled from Central and Eastern Europe, making this the largest single instance of ethnic cleansing in recorded history. Estimated number of those who died in the process is being debated by historians and estimated between 500,000 and 3,000,000.

Deporting ten million people over a period of some years would not be the largest such activity in modern history, but it would not be small. There would be protests, lawsuits, tearful scenes that would arouse pity from stone angels, and vast media coverage. It is not something to be undertaken lightly, and I think I can safely say it will be neither easy nor cheap. I suspect it is beyond the resolve of any Congress likely to be elected.

As to whose fault it is that there are now ten million when President Reagan thought  his amnesty would solve the problem of four million, certainly part of it was Reagan’s fallibility in believing that the border enforcement provisions of the law would be implemented by Congress; part by his failure to use executive action and the military to close the border in accord with the letter of the law (he would of course be accused of imperial ambitions for defying Congress to enforce laws Congress had passed but not funded); part by the American people, many of whom wanted their nannies and housekeepers and gardeners and were pleased that their faithful employees were now safe and enrolled in various Federal programs.

And we still have no agreement on what the next Congress, solidly Republican, should do.

Mass Deportation

I want to admit the unpopular position and I’ll use some horrific examples to prove a point. This president says that mass deportation is not feasible. That’s nonsense and history proves it to be nonsense.

While I am not advocating genocide or mass graves, Hitler and Stalin inter alios proved that it is feasible to identify, apprehend, and transport groups of people of certain persuasions to another location.

Mass deportation is feasible and, because we are not the Nazis or the Bolsheviks, we can undertake the activity in a way that maintains respect for human dignity.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Perhaps. But it would not be at low cost, and I think I would not care to run for office on that ticket. It may be feasible but it will neither quick nor pleasant.



Hello Dr Pournelle. I’ve thought a bit about the flood of illegal immigrants and what it does to society. You can list the downsides, economic, social and political, as well as I can. Let us then examine what can be done about it.

You have opined that it is not really practical to do mass deportations. I’ve not seen any serious calls for that, but there are certainly some practical steps we could take, if we had competent legal authority involved.

The first, and most glaringly obvious, is to control our border. Since we actually have enemies in the world, since random illegals bring out of area diseases with them, this is just a basic requirement and I would infer it from the statement that the purpose of national government includes providing for the common defense. We even have federal organizations intended to do just that, so actually doing this is almost painless. Reducing the flood is the first step, the one our government can’t figure out.

The second obvious step is to deport, with prejudice, anyone committing a crime in the US, against a US citizen or a serious crime in their home country which gives us reason to doubt he will play nicely with others here. It should be obvious that criminals fleeing the law are more likely than the average person to want to try a different country to live in, and we should be prepared to deal with that. Again, we have legal mechanisms to do this, and it is a combination of federal, state and local jurisdictions which screw this one up, which most of the citizenry would consider an obvious way to help keep them safe.

Finally, we can actually use the mechanisms in place to check whether those who work in the US have citizenship or official permission to work in this nation. Given the amazingly low proportion of our own population working, and the large amount who have given up attempts to find a job, it doesn’t seem likely that this will be a major challenge, even if it forces some industries to pass labor costs on to the public. Since this will end some price distortions, I’ll consider it a burden worth bearing.

What will this accomplish? Well, if the rewards of living in the US illegally drop, we can expect to see corresponding reactions. These will include fewer illegals violating our borders, and some of those present going back home where life will appear to offer higher rewards for the efforts required. I bet that many of those will take their families home, eliminating the need to do mass deportations for anyone other than criminals who have been convicted in this country, and I bet you wouldn’t really defend keeping them. We might quibble over where to draw the line, saying perhaps that misdemeanors aren’t worthy of deportation, but since we have multiple murderers to deal with, that can be treated as a lower priority.

Finally, there are the routes to citizenship other than the currently legal one. Flat out, I want no illegal to be made legal by getting higher education in the US. Sure, let them get such an education, and then go back home to use the benefits to improve the way of life of their fellow citizens. Since I expect many will have learned subjects of no actual value, been taught to hate America and been given preferential treatment for political reasons, I’d rather have them away. Military service is trickier, but there are existing mechanisms for that, requiring them to follow established procedure. I’ve helped set up citizenship ceremonies overseas, including Afghanistan, so I know it can and does happen. What I don’t want is to accept as soldiers men who are willing to flout our laws and who might not have a comfortable grasp of English. Military life is often low tempo garrison life, but when we get the occasional exciting bit, it really does help if the guy screaming orders and the guy listening are both expecting the same language. I have been frustrated trying to talk to soldiers whose understanding of, and ability to speak, English was insufficient to pass high school. At least when I attended.

As to why, it seems obvious. Business wants lower costs, and after decades of increasing the cost of labor through direct and indirect means, they want to bypass it. Government wants more compliant voters who are cheaper to please. As always, big government and big business work against the people, all while claiming to champion them.

Retired Military (and old friend)

I find little to disagree with, although I think you underestimate the number who want immediate and full deportation of illegal aliens of any sort and condition.

Regarding the military path to citizenship, note that my proposal was citizenship after not one but two four-year hitches – meaning that the military wanted him/her to reenlist after first term, and acceptable to the military for a third hitch, but chose honorable discharge instead. I am willing to accept improvements. Make it three hitches: what I want to do is make it obvious that we are talking about someone we, including the military, want as a citizen.

What I am trying to do is come up with ways to deal with the obvious. You do not want to give green cards – not an automatic path to citizenship – to advanced degree graduates. Others say there ought to be a green card stapled to any MS in mathematics, physics, chemistry, or engineering degree granted to a non-citizen. I tend to agree. Given the wretched state of our liberal arts and voodoo science – oops, social sciences – I would not extend that to graduates of those departments. I would think an MD or RN degree might be a good qualification for a green card. This is debatable; it’s the principle I want to establish. Some people we very obviously want to stay here. And I would argue strongly that 8 or 12, and certainly 20 years military service (and thus retirement) would earn citizenship. If we fix the schools we can change the laws, but at the moment we are in need of importing brains.

I think of other paths to earned citizenship once the principle is established, but I am hoping to find a level at which we can all agree; adjustments can be made after that.

‘Some Republicans would like to modify it to help Mark Zuckerberg bring cheaper third world programmers and engineers to replace the Americans over at Facebook. Why settle for just wiping out the working class, when you can also take out chunks of the middle class?’



Roland Dobbins

But of course the cause of that problem is the abysmal state of the school system that has resulted from the creation of the Department of Education and “Federal aid to education”, arguably the worst disaster to the future of the US in our history.


What laws are illegal immigrants breaking?

The issue has come up on your site: what laws are foreign nationals who illegally enter and remain in the United States breaking? Obviously the immigration laws, and well as a slew of tax and labor laws, but in thinking about why illegal immigration should be illegal we are perhaps missing the point. The single most important function of any government is to defend the people from foreign invasion. Indeed, if a government refuses to perform this function one could argue that it is illegitimate. The foreign nationals who, having fouled their own lands, and are now moving into the United States, are nothing less than invaders. It does not matter if a castle is breached by shot and shell or because the gatekeeper has been bribed, invasion is invasion. What is the traditional point of invasion? To steal the resources of another nation, to dispossess its people and make room for your own. If you came home one day and found that a dozen strangers had entered your house and were helping themselves to your food and your money and your living space would you debate whether their presence added or detracted from the tax base? Would you care that they invaded your home with weapons drawn or ‘peacefully’ in search of a better life (as do all thieves and invaders). No, you would simply demand that these trespassers be removed, because they will make you poorer and more crowded and you need not apologize for a such a view. And no more should the American people apologize for wanting the laws against illegal immigration enforced.


I think you would find that your description does not fit all the illegal aliens in the US: I have met many who have not fouled their own land, and did not come here for welfare. They work and work hard, in many cases at farm labor that I know from personal experience is nothing I would do for any wage you would pay unless there were literally no alternative. I know nannies and housekeepers who are trusted with the houses and fortunes and children of wealthy people, and are trusted implicitly; and who have not invaded anyone’s home and whose weapons consist of vacuum cleaners and mops and diaper pails.

I have read The Camp of the Saints and I congratulated Tom Doherty on publishing that book in paperback. I have never disagreed that border enforcement is important, and I have supported every move to build more and larger fences: the cost of fencing the southern border is high, but we can afford it. And having done so, having perhaps magically closed the southern border to those coming across at other than authorized border crossing stations, we still face the problem that a great number of illegal aliens – some tell me a majority of them – entered quite legally and then overstayed a visa.

I am also aware of the consequences of crackdowns, more raids on employers, more activity to identify illegals; the results are considerable divisiveness in the rest of the population. That is not a healthy state for a Republic. If it is unavoidable it is unavoidable, but bitter social division is not a condition to be sought.


I have been looking at some of the comments on Obama’s cheap-labor-uber-alles immigration policy. There are many fine comments – refreshingly free of most of the knee-jerk sloganeering on most of the so-called mainstream press.

I would like to point out, however, that the narrow issue of amnesty for illegals who are already here is largely a distraction. Granted this would likely increase the incentive for future illegal immigration, and rewarding lawlessness is always a bad thing, but by itself it would have a negligible impact on the US labor market. Which is why the rich really don’t care about that, it’s just a cover designed to distract us. The real game is the massive increases in legal immigration, and allowing effectively unlimited illegal/refugee immigration in the future – because adding massive numbers of new workers WILL drive down wages, which will drive up profits. Which is the plan.

I also point out that until about 1970 the United States enforced the law against illegal immigration, and as a result, before that time illegal immigration had negligible impact on the US labor market or demographics. Enforcing the law does work. I mean, the rich have no problems keeping poor American children out of rich school districts, do they? We could as easily keep poor Mexican children out of lower-class American school districts, but the rich want their cheap labor…

Globus Pallidus XI

I have no objection whatever to vigorous enforcement of border laws and regaining control over the border. I would enlist the states in that effort so that it did not create a new permanent bureaucracy at the federal level, which would be free to do more mischief with our citizens and the concept of liberty. There are prices to be paid for giving the government the resources to enforce laws involving millions of people.


employment of illegals

On the subject of illegal immigrants finding jobs, a proposal occurred to me a few years ago, though it may be more of a modest proposal in the Swiftian sense:

(1) Anyone who employs illegal immigrants is subject to a substantial fine for each such immigrant.

(2) A specified fraction of the fine is to be available to anyone not a government employee who turns such a person in (it’s the job of government employees already, and we don’t want to give law enforcement an incentive to trump up charges or entrap people).

(3) The illegal immigrants themselves are eligible for the reward.

This creates an interesting cost/benefit calculus: Do I want to go on working for this employer, for a low rate of pay, or do I want to get a big lump sum for turning them in and ending my job? Am I angry with my employer because they treated me badly? or for the employer, Do I want to hire a larger illegal workforce, at the cost of having a bigger reward for turning me in and a larger pool who are at risk of doing it?

It’s kind of inspired by Heinlein’s observation about factories being required to place their water intakes downstream from their outflows. . . .

William H. Stoddard

I have proposed other systems of rewards, as for example, $2000 cash for turning yourself in and accepting deportation without further litigation. We could go from there to ways of finking on your friends and employers for fun and profit, and of course accepting deportation as a condition of receiving the award.

Of course we have in California now a murder case involving a man deported four times already, at least one for domestic violence against the woman he killed. A reward system would not work without some means of making it difficult to impossible to return illegally. I suppose there are technical means, some kind of refined electronic equivalent of the Bertillon system.


Tickle me pink you addressed my letter – and in detail to boot.

Apropos the subject line:

And OK, these are my observations and assumptions – I am neither a prophet nor son of a prophet.

1. A "second class citizenship" will never be tolerated over the long term so all normalized illegals will eventually become citizens.

2. Having lived in California off and on since the ’60s, the state went from the closest thing to paradise for a middle class American to the quintessential Latin American rich-poor (white/asian-brown) stratification we see now. The left was able to "achieve" this goal based on its overwhelming support by immigrants. Without the 8-9 million foreign-born residents of California, we would see a political balance in the State favoring more conservative governance and (presumably) an environment much more favorable to the middle class e.g. Texas.

3. Add to the national political mix a new cohort of 10’s of millions of left-leaning voters concentrated in key states like Virginia and Texas — We will settle into a European political dynamic of Left and Lefter.

4. Say’s law notwithstanding, adding workers to this economy has resulted, not in job growth due to immigration, but in job absorption and job displacement by the immigrants. It is notable that exactly 100 years ago the US shut down mass immigration. The result: wage growth and the migration of American workers from poor and marginally poor to the middle class. By the 1950’s the tenements chock full of new immigrants were a memory. And those post war years without meaningful levels of immigration were good years. Unfortunately, the mass immigration resulted in the Democratic party gaining overwhelming power and setting us on a path from which we have yet to turn (See bullet #3).

5. So, while acknowledging the difficult task of returning millions of illegals to their homes, I see no choice. And, for similar reasons, it’s time to shut the tap on mass legal immigration. Without a change, my crystal ball says — Best case: The United States (of Brazil). Worst case: No more united States.

Stephen Coyne

You see no choice. Perhaps there is none, but surely it is worth examining the alternatives. I apologize for turning you pink. It was not my intention.



The Nihilist in the White House

This administration doesn’t build, it divides and tears down. Vindication is assumed.


Peggy Noonan

Updated Nov. 21, 2014 6:36 p.m. ET

There is an odd, magical-thinking element in the psychology of recent White Houses. It is now common for those within them to assume that history will declare their greatness down the road. They proceed as if this is automatic, guaranteed: They will leave someday, history will ponder their accomplishments and announce their genius.

The assumption of history’s inevitable vindication is sharper in the current White House, due to general conceit—they really do think they possess a higher wisdom and play a deeper game—and the expectation that liberal historians will write the history.

The illusion becomes a form of license. We don’t have to listen to critics, adversaries, worriers and warn-ers, we just have to force through our higher vision and let history say down the road we got it right.

They make this assumption because they don’t know much about history—they really are people who saw the movie but didn’t read the book—and because historical vindication is what happened so spectacularly in the case of Ronald Reagan. So it will happen to them, too.

…  …  …

The president’s executive action on immigration is an act of willful nihilism that he himself had argued against in the past. It is a sharp stick in the eye of the new congressional majority. It is at odds with—it defies—the meaning and message of the last election, and therefore is destructive to the reputation of democracy itself. It is huge in its impact but has only a sole cause, the president’s lone will. It damages the standing of our tottery political institutions rather than strengthening them, which is what they desperately need, and sets a template for future executive abuse. It will surely encourage increased illegal immigration and thus further erode the position of the American working class.

And there is the Keystone XL pipeline and the administration’s apparent intent to veto a bill that allows it. There the issue is not only the jobs the pipeline would create, and not only the infrastructure element. It is something more. If it is done right, the people who build the pipeline could be pressed to take on young men—skill-less, aimless—and get them learning, as part of a crew, how things are built and what it is to be a man who builds them.

On top of that, the building of the pipeline would show the world that America is capable of coming back, that we’re not only aware of our good fortune and engineering genius, we are pushing it hard into the future. America’s got her hard-hat on again. America is dynamic. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Not just this endless talk of limits, restrictions, fears and “Oh, we’re all going to melt in the warm global future!”

Which is sort of the spirit of this White House.

Great presidencies have a different one. They expand, move on, reach out.

The future acknowledgment of greatness only follows actual greatness. History takes the long view but in the end relies on facts.

“But history will be written by liberals.” Fair enough, and they will judge the president the more harshly because he failed to do anything that lasts. ObamaCare will be corrected and torn down piece by piece. The immigration order will be changed, slowed or undone by the courts, Congress or through executive actions down the road. Keystone will pass and a veto overridden.

And the president has failed liberals through unpopularity, which is another word for incompetence.


Her entire essay is well worth your attention.


We will continue this discussion of immigration so long as there is anything new to discuss. I do not intend endlessly to go through the same arguments. This was received not long after posting.



According to Bob Cringely, illegal immigrants actually have excellent credit, and enhance the credit ratings of the Americans whose SSN they steal in order to function. They don’t want to be caught, so they make sure they pay their bills on time, which is more than can be said of the average citizen. The utilities know what is going on, but turn a blind eye as long as they get paid:

He also estimates total illegal immigrant levels at 17 million.

As for deportation, in many cases the would-be deportee is not the nanny but the actual parent of a U.S. Citizen child. Official US policy in these cases is to separate the family and put the child in the tender mercies of the foster care program, which is of course utterly nuts. People completely underestimate how devastating an impact proper enforcement would have on whole swathes of the economy like agriculture, food service, construction and so on.

The best way to reduce illegal immigration is a Marshall Plan for Mexico, to reduce the wealth gradient across the border. It would need to be combined with a serious effort to clean up corruption there. Perhaps the NSA can allocate some portion of its eavesdropping to exposing corrupt officials. Then again, that could be turned against our own corrupt officials, and cannot be tolerated.

Fazal Majid

I do not believe that there is any possibility whatever of imposing law and order and civilized development on Mexico, and a US attempt at a Marshal Plan in an area over which we have no control and no means of taking control other than outright conquest would be a disaster unparalleled in US history.  It is not our job to solve Mexico’s problems, and attempts to do so would provoke civil war.

On Impeachment

re: impeachment. I agree – and have said repeatedly – that the one lesson that the Republicans learned from Gingrich is that they will never again attempt an impeachment of a sitting president, still adequately popular within his own party that removal from office cannot be effected.

If enough Democrats in both houses approached McConnell and Boehner willing to sign their names to impeachment charges, demonstrating dissatisfaction within the party and enough votes for removal from office, I am confident that Mr. Obama would be out of office within days. (In his case, probably not through resignation as with Mr. Nixon.)

However, not only do I not see that happening, enough Democrats applaud his action and are sufficiently accepting of its illegality (either through the desire to see the Constitution overturned or for the shear political folly of wishing to watch the Republicans squirm with their base for not being able to impeach) that removal from office could not be effected.

Emotionally, this distresses me, because this is just the most recent in a long line of potentially impeachable offenses going back to Mr. Obama’s first month in office (the overrule of bankruptcy laws and use of thuggish tactics to disenfranchise the legitimate creditors of GM and Chrysler in favor of the UAW). Logically, I have to concede the political reality of the situation – and note the collaboration of the Democrats in the House and Senate with these crimes.


I don’t disagree. It might have been better had there been a tradition of impeachment and Congressional supervision, but the nation didn’t grow that way, and impeachment has become unusual and emotion charged. It remains a means of removing an absolutely mad official, but as you note it takes both parties: indeed Mr. Nixon resigned when Senator Goldwater told him that he did not have sufficient support in the Senate.  Andrew Johnson was not convicted by one vote, and remained in office, a very lame duck indeed.  Nixon resigned. Clinton was not convicted and may have profited from the impeachment.



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




Immigration and other matters

View 851 Friday, November 21, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

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 furor over President Obama’s executive actions – which are certainly at the edge of the President’s constitutional powers – continues, but there is precious little debate on the immigration question itself. Fortunately some of that can be done here.

Illegal Immigration

My problem with your assertions (and that of about 98% of the Republican pundocracy) that illegals crossing the border is the only illegal act committed by illegal aliens is so spectacularly wrong. Illegals spend their lives saturated in illegal acts.

1. Working (at all) is illegal.

2. Getting medical services using a false ID to avoid payment is illegal (or do illegals never see a doctor?)

3. Creating false documentation to use for employment is illegal (The 9-11 hijackers got their docs from a service created to serve illegals).

4. Filing federal forms using false ID is illegal.

5. Making false claims of income to receive EITC is illegal.

6. Filing false forms to gain access to welfare is illegal.

I could go on — and most of these violations have severe penalties — but apparently only for citizens. Simpson-Mazzoli taught the world how the system works — Get across the border, lie, cheat and steal while you are here – and be rewarded with citizenship. The push for "amnesty" will just reinforce this understanding by an order of magnitude ( or roughly the number of illegals we have to deal with now compared to Simpson-Mazzoli.) Do what you’ve done; Get what you got. In spades.

Thanks for your time.

Stephen Coyne

Presume agreement with what you have said. There remain problems. First and most obvious, most of those continuous crimes stem from their status. When Mrs. Pournelle taught in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice System, there were many young people in temporary detention because they were “status offenders”: they had committed no intentional criminal act, but were living in situations that sent them to detention. Most of them could not read, and had no sense of discipline: it did them no harm to learn some social skills and a bit of deference to authority and self discipline, but it was a damned expensive way for them to learn it. And of course it did them a great deal of good to learn to read, which the schools had spectacularly failed to teach them. Some counted themselves lucky to be in a place where it was relatively quiet and safe and the teachers actually tried to teach them something. But it’s hardly a plan for school reform.

Of course there were many others who were actual criminals, including a girl who had borrowed her boyfriend’s gun to kill her mother’s boyfriend as he was abusing her little sister. Others were shop lifters, prostitutes, and burglars. They shared the facilities with the status offenders because there was no money to build and staff more facilities for better segregation of the juvenile detention population.

I say all this not in answer to your summary, but as something to keep in mind.

You point out that working here as an illegal alien is itself a crime. Indeed: but it is a fact, and while finding some way to prevent their employment – no easy task – would partially prevent that crime, it would also create tens of thousands of paupers who would still be here, only now they have no income. Some might go back to their country of origin, but many would not; what happens next? If the answer is ‘deport them all,’ we will address that later.

The question of welfare abuse is important. The average person in the US living on welfare is considered in poverty here, but much of the world would consider them wealthy, and that includes the countries of origin of many of the illegal aliens here. The proportion of those coming here to get on welfare, as opposed to those coming here to work and send money back to their families is debatable, but there are at least some, and of course once here economics determines whether they try to get in on the welfare system.

Welfare reform is important, but also difficult. The simplest, require some proof of legal status before you can receive welfare or other benefits, has been tried and rejected by the courts. A federal law to this effect may well be passed by the next Congress, although it is unlikely that the President will sign it. But assuming it were passed and signed, it is certain to be challenged in the courts. California’s attempt didn’t survive. But assume that Congress directs the President to enforce the laws, and the civil service actually begins to deny welfare benefits to those who cannot prove legal status in the US.

This would be worth pursuing if for no other reason than it might well stop newcomers from receiving welfare and Medicaid and other such benefits, and that would discourage new illegal immigrants.

It would leave open the question of what happens to those formerly receiving it. They will still be here, and will still be guilty of having received welfare illegally. What shall be done with them? President Obama’s solution is to have them register and acquire a sort of pale green card that givens them legal status of a sort, and allows them to get on the welfare rolls again. What would be a better solution? Immediate deportation? We’ll address that later.

Creating and using false documents is a separate issue. It is already a crime for citizens and illegal residents alike, and is best enforced that way, as presumably it would be under the Obama plan. The same is true for many other fraudulent acts in your specification.


Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 – the lowest level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.

Under Clinton, about 2 million aliens were deported in one year. There are about ten million illegal aliens present in the United States. One assumes that the level of difficulty grows with each million deported. If we continued at the 2 million a year level it would take five years.

Whether we could sustain that rate is subject to debate, but it is less time and surely would cost less than our overseas operations in Iraq have cost. If that is what is intended, then it needs to be said; the question becomes then one of the will of the people. If it be that being illegal and here is sufficient grounds for deportation and the law ought to be enforced, we will have to be prepared for the resulting legal congestion in our courts as each case is contested. At present those deported are, usually rather obvious cases (many having previously been deported: there needs to be revision in the law about repeat offenses); that will be decreasingly so over time. We will need to be prepared for the endless newspaper stories with front and inside pictures of children clinging to their mothers as they are taken into custody, and American children crying because the feds took their nanny away.

One wonders if we are up to that.

If not, then what should we do? Mr. Obama has proposed a course of action. Unlike the Simpson- Mazzoli Act of 1986 signed by Reagan, it doesn’t seem to impose penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, and has no citizenship path for those covered by the amnesty. The Reagan amnesty was intended to deal with about 4 million illegal aliens then resident in the US. There are some ten million now some 28 years later. Of course some put that number as high as 40 million, and most agree that ten million is an underestimate. Whatever one’s opinion of Mr. Obama’s decree, it does not solve the problem addressed by Simpson-Mazzoli, just as that amnesty did not solve the problem it faced.

It truly is time and past time for a rational discussion of immigration policy, and of the measures it will require to regain control of the US borders. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to propose sensible measures to cope with a large and growing problem; even if they are rejected by the President (the lame duck Democratic majority in the Senate vanished in January) it is an opportunity for the Republicans to show they can govern.




I agree with nearly all of your comments about not panicking, especially as I see this as doing long-term damage mainly to the President.

But I think you have the pardon power wrong. Sure, Obama could pardon each and every illegal for having been in the country illegally, but the next day they are still here illegally. He can no more pardon them prospectively as he could pardon someone from ongoing perjury or being a felon in continued possession of a gun.

Kevin Murphy

Yes, I expect so. But he is a former lecturer on Constitutional Law…

Constitutional Crisis

Hi Jerry,

I wonder how many people who applaud Obama on the immigration executive action, will likewise applaud a pro-life president who orders the FDA to stop certifying medical devices and drugs used in abortions, or to stop reimbursing hospitals and doctors who perform them.

Executive overreach always sounds good when it’s one doing something you like, but precedents are dangerous. Eventually the other side has their turn at the plate.

I don’t disagree that we need to do something, and that that something doesn’t include deportation. But the constitutional principle is a separate, and frankly more important, long term concern for the future of the country.

He doesn’t give a darn about immigration. This was a purely political snipe to put the Republican’s into a dither and have them expend limited political capital in ways that won’t put legislation on his desk.



I’m hardly applauding him, but his encroachment in the illegal aliens case is still in the debatable range. It is not allowable in my view, but I am merely a former professor who taught constitutional law to undergraduates. I will agree that the long term implications are important and ought to be addressed, but it is not time to panic. On the other hand, the time to panic over the condition of our grade and high schools is long past, yet we seem to muddle along.


Illegals Serving In US Military For Green Card

There’s two broad classes of illegals: those who wish to be US citizens, and those who do not, and simply wish to make money here and then return to country of origin. The military scheme might work for the former, although history shows what happens when foreign mercenaries take the place of native citizens.

Probably a better solution would be to, in addition to military service being a path to a green card, allow civilian service as well, in organizations similar to FDR’s CCC and WPA, designed to repair and replace infrastructure. President Obama might think that illegals are only good for being hotel maids, but I’ll tell you from personal experience that most construction workers and skilled tradesmen these days are Hispanics. Employing them in Americorps or some similar infrastructure program with a green card incentive would only make sense.

Robert Evans

I would certainly keep a close watch on numbers, but serving in the armed forces as a path to citizenship is a pretty good indication of loyalty. I am well aware of the dangers of a Republic entrusting its safety to hirelings – as was Machiavelli, for that matter.  The Venetian Republic took Machiavelli seriously…  Adding various civilian service paths might make sense; I hadn’t thought about that before.




Apple Stores


My experiences in Apple Stores have ranged from very good to excellent; however, at this point I would hesitate to go for the resolution of a problem without a Genius Bar Appointment.

Apple Stores are currently suffering from success. It appears to me that every Apple Store I have been in in the last year has had about twice the number of customers that the store was designed to handle smoothly. Staff has been added to try and handle the customer load, but the stores are so crowded that everyone is literally tripping over each other.

I am sure that Apple is well aware of the problem and is actively working on locating and opening new stores. This will take some time. For the time being I will take my own advice and schedule a Genius Bar Appointment if I have a problem to be solved.

Bob Holmes

That squares with my observations. And I am making an appointment to take in my MacBook Air with the swollen battery before I go look at the new iPhone six. Discussion in the November column, which I am of course late in getting done.


Donald Cook systems disabled by Russians, NOT


As an engineer and former navy aviator and consultant, I don’t believe for a second the report that a Russian plane disabled systems on the Donald Cook. It may have blinded the radar when it was really close – that’s easy. It might have jammed all the radios – that’s easy too. There is no way it disabled other systems. This is pure Russian fantasy, being re-transmitted by gullible westerners. Modern weapons systems and platforms are designed to tolerate nuclear EMP and HEMP, which are far more powerful than any electronic weapon. Popular entertainment media greatly exaggerates the capabilities of these weapons and of hackers.

In a combat situation, the aircraft would not have gotten close enough to blind the systems. And, if it tried, it would have been taken out by a home-on-jam missile – that’s what they are for.

John Moore

I knew a Wizzo (Electronics Warfare Officer) in a RF4B who shut down 3/4 of Los Angeles for 15 minutes in the early 80s by accident. It ain’t unheard of, particularly in the military. In fact, we have routinely fielded aircraft to do exactly this. It’s how anti-aircraft defenses are disabled. The tragedy is that we continue to build electronics without EMP protection.

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




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