Executive Orders and Responsibility; Civil Service and the Iron Law; Draining the Swap. Space Council; and other important matters

Monday, January 30, 2017

Amnesty International Boss Endorses “Jihad in self-defence”

If Republicans want to force through massive tax cuts, we will fight them tooth and nail.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

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

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



It was hardly a surprise that President Trump issued an executive order, delaying for 90 days – for some 120 days – entry into the United States from seven polities – some, like Libya, can hardly be called “states” – with a history of being sources of terrorism. It was part of his campaign, and if he failed to do it, he would have been violating his promises. Needless to say, this has caused numerous professionally organized protests, similar to the protests in Carolina about opening restrooms to anyone who claims that sexual preference, but unlike those protests, these are treated by the media as mass movements conducted by the real winners of the election.

There was also in the executive order a ban on further refugees coming to the United State until new vetting procedures have been developed.

The protesters are acting as if a three or four month delay is an unbearable burden, and their interviews tend to focus on children, not the adults accompanying them; and on how many of them have already been vetted by UN staffers, and members of NGO (non-government organizations) staff. Some have been given visas by US Foreign Service professionals; the assumption is that these people are competent professionals, and have no political agenda. Any hint that there may be civil servants more loyal to Mr. Obama than to the incoming President is treated as either laughable, or worse, a gratuitous insult to the civil service, who are assumed to be underpaid, industrious, always hard working and incompetent – at least by the media when Democrats are in the White House. They never deserve to be the butt of jokes, such as the one current at Boeing when I was there – we called the Bomarc “the civil service missile”, because it won’t work and you can’t fire it.

Despite such jokes still being common (doubtless groundless foul canards) Mr. Trump  wants a confirmation of the vetting process we now use, on the grounds that his duty is to public safety, and while three month delays in coming to the United States while we confirm the vetting are terribly inconvenient to potential migrants, his first duty is to the people of the United States.

The Wall Street Journal, which can’t quite decide if it dislikes Mr. Trump as its owner used to say he did, or is simply overwhelmed by the rapidity with which President Trump is keeping his campaign promises, often has excellent columns well worth your reading.

The President’s Right to Say ‘You’re Fired’

Today’s civil-service system violates the Constitution. Trump has the power to fix it.



Philip K. Howard

President Trump wants to overhaul the civil service. Even ardent liberals agree it needs to be rebuilt, but past efforts at reform have withered in Congress under union power and public indifference. There’s a more direct path: Mr. Trump can repudiate civil service in its current form as a violation of the Constitution’s mandate that “the executive power shall be vested in a President.”[snip]

I had forgotten that unions in the Civil Service were permitted only after John Kennedy gave them that right by executive order; they do not have them by act of Congress. What one President can do, another can undo.

I do know that when I first got into campaign politics, civil servants were off limits: they were forbidden by the Hatch Act from having any part in political campaigns; you couldn’t even ask them for political donations. Of course things weren’t perfect then: that was, after all, the era of the Bomarc missile; still, we never had government employees participating in marches and demonstrations. Opting out of partisan politics was one of the choices you made when taking a civil service – as opposed to a political – appointment. It is one reason I became a writer rather than taking a government job in building the Army’s aviation program at a level high enough that it took a vote of the Civil Service Commission to let me enter with no seniority at that level. But that was long ago, and high level civil servants in those days were just beginning to unionize.

Right or wrong, Mr. Trump and his advisors question the vetting of potential migrants, even if done by US Career State Department employees – and very much so if done by UN and NGO staff, as shown on last night’s Sixty Minutes lament on the plight of Syrian refugees, who will now have to wait until after Mr. Trump’s revision of the vetting process (done by UN and NGO, mostly).


Changing the civil service rules is an important part of the mission to “Drain the swamp”, one of the most popular items in Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches. You can think of the mission to improve the schools as another exercise in swamp draining, except that fighting those alligators will be much more difficult; Teacher’s Unions are very powerful, and dedicated to protecting the jobs of all teachers without regard to their competence. There have been several studies indicating that you can just about double the efficiency – measured by the competency of the students at year’s end – simply by firing the worst 10% of the teachers. Not replacing them; simply firing them and parceling out their students into other classes. This has consistently had better results than reducing class sizes, or raising teacher pay across the board. As to who are the 10% worst teachers, come now: in every school I have visited, the other teachers know, and so do the students. Obviously this technique has not been tried in good schools with outstanding results; it’s hardly needed. Better to reward those schools. But that’s not allowed by the unions, either. You reward by tenure and length of service, not for good results. Of course that system has for generations produced a system of education indistinguishable from an act of war against the American People, but that’s no matter.

In California, about 2 out of 277,000 teachers are fired each year.

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 Constitution gives “The Executive Power” of the United States to the President. It is the essence of government by consent of the governed; we elect our king, and for a limited period of time, and we hold him responsible for what the government does.

The problem is that some government employees do what they want, not what the President wants. An Iron Law of Bureaucracy takes control. In every bureaucracy there are those devoted to the interests of the public whom they in theory serve, and those devoted to the interests of the bureaucracy itself. A good example is teachers: there are those who want to teach, and those who want “released time” to attend to union affairs and other administrative work. In any bureaucracy, the second group always gets in control, and serves the interests of the bureaucracy – and its leaders. Over time an establishment is built. Employment becomes a property right. We have built a ship whose first mission is to service its crew. Sometimes, like bunny inspectors, it has no mission that anyone but the crew wants. If we took a national vote on whether stage magicians ought to have a Federal License before they can have a rabbit in their act, and they must provide an emergency evacuation plan for that rabbit in the event of fire or earthquake or hurricane, how many votes – other than those of bunny inspectors – do you think such a measure would gather? Yet it seems to matter not who is President: we have had bunny inspectors for decades, and we will have bunny inspectors forever and aye.

President Andrew Jackson made the civil service a “spoils system”: those not loyal to President Jackson didn’t get Federal jobs. For all its defects, it was responsible, to Jackson and to those who elected him. The present system is responsible to no one. The Iron Law prevails. And some establishments chose to harass Mr. Obama’s opponents. It was, to them, the right thing to do.

It may be inevitable that establishments grow and consider public office a personal right. The only remedy I know of for this is periodic “Draining the Swamp”, and apparently enough agreed with that to elect Mr. Trump.

Now some of the old Republican Establishment seeks to make common cause with the Democratic establishment to the Establishment get back in control; better to be a minority member of the Establishment than to see a populist government drain the swamp. The Establishment has the media. What it does gets publicity. In its view, only the Establishment makes “real news”. Everything else is fake news, propaganda, and deserves obloquy.

Mr. Trump knows this. He also has the White House. He doesn’t have the media.

I anticipate interesting times.






The pledge drive ended yesterday. It was successful but perhaps not as much so as previous drives have been; probably because I have had less time to spend here. SAs one gets older, the amount of productive time goes down, but the demands of life and the general chaos does not decrease; if anything it demands more time. The price of age, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I’m still working on my books, I try to keep up with technology and the news, and I believe this remains as one of the few places where rational discussion, not proof by repeated assertion, generally prevails. We’ll keep it going.


I’m told my musing about a Space Council to draft a space plan for the new administration discouraged efforts in that direction. Apologies: I’d support a new and better commercial space plan, but the time for Larry and me to try to make it happen – as we did at Larry Niven’s house for Reagan 37 years ago – has long since passed; neither one of us is up to the responsibility of doing that. That does not mean that there’s no need for new united effort to build a thriving space industry. I hope there is one; just that it won’t be Larry and me running it.

Alas, many of the original participants – Max Hunter, Stefan Possony, many of the astronauts, Robert Heinlein and Poul Anderson, General Graham, Colonel Kane – are no longer with us. It was, I have to repeat, thirty seven years ago. On the bright side, some are still very much with us, and a very great deal of progress, some of it directly due to the original Council and its reports, has been made.

Space remains the best hope of mankind. It remains true that 90% of the mineral resources most easily available to humanity are not on this Earth at all; we still have a friendly thermonuclear power plant only 93 million miles away with a daily output far in excess of any needs for man for centuries to come. It’s still raining soup out there, and we’re standing here with forks rather than soup bowls.

It’s very likely time for a new space council. I’m all for it. But I can’t be chairman, and Larry can’t host it.



new phone scam

Read about this on Drudge this morning. You get a call, the caller asks you if you can hear him OK. They want you to answer yes or sure. They record your voice and then use it to sign you up for something. Police depts are recommending you not say anything and hang up. About an hour after reading the article, I got one of those calls. It was a local San Jose number and I answered. After a pause, I got “This is Josh from the customer service dept. Can you hear me OK?”. I hung up. Be careful.

Phil Tharp

In case you did not see this. It’s real and dangerous.


It is often suggested that there can’t possibly be millions of false ballots. We do know that Kennedy was elected by the votes of Cook County, which gave him Chicago, which gave him Illinois, which gave him the Presidency; Eisenhower did not want a constitutional crisis and did not allow a court dispute.

Bob Holmes has another opinion.

Vote Fraud?


President Trump says fraudulent votes accounted for more than his opponents popular vote margin of close to 3 million votes. The consensus of the Media and others is that this claim is ridiculous, but is it?

The registration process in most states requires little more than a claim by the person registering that they eligible to vote.

The registration can be performed in a variety of ways. Most of them do not require the person registering to appear before a government official or supply proof of eligibility.

The actual process of voting, in the majority of venues, does not required the person voting to demonstrate that they are the registered voter beyond signing the Voter Roll.

Requesting an Absentee Ballot does not require a voter to appear at a polling place. Filling out and mailing an absentee ballot does not mean that the person voting is registered or even eligible to vote. (No safeguards whatsoever beyond an in absentia affirmation.

There are a number of political organizations registering people to vote. Many of these organizations have a less than stellar record for honest and aboveboard behavior.

There are said to be over 11 million illegal immigrants in our Country.

If 30 percent of these illegals were registered to vote and voted that might account for the a significant portion of the Popular Vote difference.

I believe that an investigation into voting irregularities is warranted given facts listed above.

Bob Holmes


We are likely to have a constitutional crisis.

‘Thus, the entirety of the judge’s order is unlawful and proceeds from an assumption of legal facts about U.S. visas that are wrong. This judge isn’t stupid. She knows this. She knows that the order she issued is unlawful.’



Roland Dobbins




Bunny Inspectors

Mr. Jordan posted about bunny inspectors recently and asked what other things might be similarly regulated. I agree that there are way too many regulations out there, but to do something about it, we need to understand why the regulations exist in the first place.
There is a common misconception that regulations are dreamed up whole cloth for the sole purpose of raising revenue for the government. Far from it, most regulations generate no revenue at all and those that do often cost far more to enforce than any fees that are charged for their enforcement. The dreaming out of whole cloth impression does not work, either, since the executive branch has no authority to write law.
But, these are regulations, not laws, right? Surely the executive branch does write regulations without the approval of the legislative branch? Actually, it does not and cannot. Every regulation written by the executive branch has its roots and authorities in laws passed by the legislative branch.
Let’s take a closer look at the bunny inspector issue. Where did the regulations come from? They started in Congress when laws were passed to protect the welfare of animals used in interstate businesses. Such businesses were forbidden by law to be cruel to their animals (which we might all be agreed is a good thing to forbid) or to put them in cruel situations by inaction or negligence (again, something that sounds pretty reasonable). The law, once passed, falls to the executive branch to enforce, and it must enforce the law evenly, as we are all (rightfully) equal under the law in this nation.
To apply the law evenly, the executive branch must define a few things, such as cruelty. What willful acts against an animal can be considered cruel? What acts of negligence or inaction might be cruel to an animal? It would seem pretty reasonable to say that allowing an animal to drown in a flood, be burned in a fire, or crushed in an earthquake would be cruel if these outcomes of a disaster could be reasonably prevented, would it not? So how do you prevent these outcomes? By planning, no?
So this gets written into the regulations, which in actuality don’t tell we the people what we can and can’t do or must or must not do, but rather tell the executive branch how to enforce the law, as written and passed by Congress, as completely and evenly as it can. We the people get caught up in these things when we have to show the executive that we are complying with the law, not being cruel to our animals used in our businesses, for example, by having a disaster plan.
How does our small time magician with his one bunny get caught up in this? Equality under the law. Congress did not exempt ANYONE from the responsibility to not treat their business use animals cruelly. So one rabbit is as important as a dozen white rhinos or a circus full of lions and tigers and snakes.
If we want fewer regulations and more sensible enforcement policies, we need to get Congress to write better laws, with better definitions of the thing being legislated, and better information on their intent for the law. It is real easy to blame the executive branch for all of this, but the problem starts in the legislative branch.

Kevin L Keegan

It may start there, but I do not think the civil service is ever eager to declare any job redundant; certainly their union never has. It is also certain that it will take the cooperation of Congress to drain the swamp. But note that the Republican Establishment, having said that having both Houses of Congress were insufficient to let them do anything, now is seeking common cause with the Democrats on the grounds that they need a more popular President. One suspects that if they bet that, they’ll have other reasons for leaving the Establishment alone.

If the Executive has no power to hire and fire the government officers, just who is responsible to the people? Anyone? Why is that better than a king? As Parkinson observes, kings can waste money on favorites and mistresses, but there is a limit on how many they want, or indeed can endure; but of psychologists, sociologists, experts in voodoo sciences, there is absolutely no limit. Ever.


Perpetual Motion without energy

I’m looking forward to the practical applications for such technology; something I admit I can’t quite envision.

For months now, there’s been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals – strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy.
Now it’s official – researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they’ve actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new form of matter.
The discovery might sound pretty abstract, but it heralds in a whole new era in physics – for decades we’ve been studying matter that’s defined as being ‘in equilibrium’, such as metals and insulators.
But it’s been predicted that there are many more strange types of matter out there in the Universe that aren’t in equilibrium that we haven’t even begun to look into, including time crystals. And now we know they’re real.



John Harlow

This is the first I’ve heard of any of this, and I have yet to see any actual data. Anyone know more? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof…


spacesuit progress



Phil Tharp

And hurrah.




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



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