Fort Hood, Republican Establishments,


Mail 764 Monday, February 25, 2013


Purple Hearts at Ft Hood

Dr. Pournelle,

I am not surprised by the "ruling" that those wounded at Fort Hood are not eligible for the Purple Heart. I don’t think that this is a special case, and I think those unfortunates would have been excluded as ineligible at almost any time in our history. Despite the perp’s purported jihaadist intentions, the injuries were not caused in an act by a declared enemy in a theater of war. In a superset composed of a two-valued system consisting of those wounded who are eligible, and all others, I suppose that the set of the latter includes those with workplace injuries. Someone is winding up their radio listeners.

I am upset about the state of prosecution of Major Hasan. This Court Martial should be completed. Since he is patently and admittedly guilty of several capital counts under the UCMJ, I do not understand why he is still among the living after four years. Military justice used to be administered more quickly than this.

Aid was also promised for the injuries sustained by the civilian police that took him down. I understand those individuals have been let down by the CinC.


The US declared war on terrorism and killed about 100,000 Iraqi’s military and civilian in the subsequent actions.

The Fort Hood victims were on active duty having either just returned from deployment or about to be deployed.

If an American citizen of Chinese origin "volunteer" had shot up Fort Lewis in 1951 in the name of Mao, there being no war at the time — or for that matter there was no declared war in Korea. Does that mean that Korean vets do not rate Purple Hearts for wounds?

Of course I agree that Hassan ought to have been found guilty and hanged by now. He doesn’t deserve the honor of a firing squad.

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

My lack of familiarity with the standard is only partly at fault. I do agree that the casualties of the Fort Hood shooting should receive recognition, I did not think they were eligible under the normal rules for the award of the Purple Heart. In the sense that this incident should be treated specially, it should be a special case. My statement was not intended as a judgement on the quality or degree of their sacrifice or patriotism, but just based on what I remember.

To my poor memory, it seemed as if uniformed soldiers wounded or killed out-of-theater, Soviet-sponsored terrorist action were not eligible for decoration — during Vietnam or during the cold war. I never heard of any injury caused by a peace-protester assault that resulted in the award of this particular decoration. I just didn’t believe that this case was different than those.

What makes this particular crime even more heinous is that Hasan was not an Iraqi, Afghani, or declared "member" of Al Qaeda. Up to the first pull of the trigger, he was a comrade-at-arms of his victims.

I had not heard that the Mr. Obama took direct action to deny Purple Heart to anyone eligible for it. If this is the case, I am in complete agreement with, and just as upset as you.

I will remain unsurprised at any incident that abuses this country’s veterans. This is pure cynicism on my part, but based on what I know of history and only partially on my own REMF experience in service.

A personal gripe goes to the losing party last election. The massacre happened almost four years ago and Hasan remains unpunished, it seems the GOP used to be better at making known such poor, careless dereliction by an incumbent CinC. A large part of the responsibility for the re-election must laid at the feet of the opposition.


Yes. My point is that we have a war on “terrorism”. Hassam was a terrorist. He operated here. Purple Hearts were awarded in the Civil War.

Of course the Administration does not want to say that Hassam was a terrorist, or that the massacre was an act of war. It’s a workplace injury.

I made a quick study. It seems Sec Army has the authority to determine Ft. Hood victims eligible for Purple Heart. I don’t know if this was done, or could be done prior to a courts martial verdict on Hasan.

I find this:

"The Department of Defense is still refusing to reclassify the attack, citing the need to maintain the integrity of the legal case against Mr. Hasan. A spokesman for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, however, did not rule out reevaluating that decision in the future."

I don’t know if the president decreed any other ruling (it would really surprise me to find him actively doing anything).

It seems that the civilians casualties (including the policewoman who shot Hasan) would be eligible for the Defense of Freedom Medal if the ruling was changed.

It seems that Congresspersons can initiate an appeal if an applicant is denied. I would love to see one make some political hay with this issue.


Fort Hood Attack

Dr. Pournelle:

The actions of Major Hasan that led to the deaths and injuries of soldiers at Fort Hood fall within the category of criminal attack, not combat. As such, his actions are considered equivalent to "fragging". Fraggings are neither enemy nor friendly fire related even if the motivation for the ‘fragging’ was due to a real-time or previous enemy-related situation; and as such, not eligible for the Purple Heart.

There is however, nothing stopping the commanders of those soldiers from submitting them for medals of achievement, commendation, or meritorious service for their actions during or recovering from the attack.

The Meritorious Service Medal may be awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service to the United States. For Fort Hood, this might be pushing the envelope.

Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM) is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself by heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service. I’m fairly certain that would qualify for the Fort Hood victims.

The Army Achievement Medal is awarded while performing in any way with the Army in a non-combat field, distinguished himself/ herself apart from his/her comrades by meritorious service or achievement of a lesser degree than necessary for award of the Army Commendation Medal. Considering the nature of this incident, I might consider this an insult to the men and women killed or injured.

One point to mention is that at least in the Air Force, all of these medals provide various extra points for promotion. Downgrade to a lesser medal can, and has, caused many a military member to be passed over until the next cycle. At this time, that might amount to several thousand dollars for each of the Fort Hood victims or their heirs.

Michael D. Houst, MSgt, USAF (Ret.)

p.s. Fort Hood damn sure wasn’t a workplace accident!

I contend that the Fort Hood massacre was an act of war conducted on US territory, and those involved have every right to combat pay and benefits.


Sequester Love


I have come to love the sequester, and sincerely hope that it goes through. Having worked for or with the military since the age of 17, I find the idea that DoD can’t easily take a 7% cut laughable. Even better, post-sequester we will have raised Taxes on the 1% and disproportionately cut Defense (half the sequester against 19% of the budget). What’s left after taxing the rich and cutting defense?

Dan Steele


Port Ludlow, WA

It is not an uncommon view and given the size of the cuts on that makes sense. Somehow we have to stop spending so much more than we make.


ancient myths and recent events


The recent meteor event over Russia sure reminds me of the myth of Phaeton. The chariot of the sun, driven off its usual track by Phaeton, burned both the heavens and the earth, until Jupiter hurled a thunderbolt knocking Phaeton off his chariot. The sun did not shine for a year, mourning his death.

Sure sounds like a shallow angle large meteor entry followed by an impact-generated dust or water vapor overcast, either local or global in effect. A rather spectacular volcano might do the same in reverse if it tossed up a particularly large chunk, but I think the myth sounds a lot closer to a low graze-angle large meteor entry followed by an impact heavy enough to cause either long-term cloud coverage or significant dust in the upper atmosphere.


I noted that back when I was doing research on an Atlantis novel. The other candidate for Phaeton would be the Thera (Santorini) event, an enormous volcanic eruption that caused tidal waves all over the eastern Mediterranean and clogged the sea with volcanic ash and “floating stone” for a long time. I spent a week with Marinatos at his dig at Akrotira discussing the concept, which was more or less his from a 1938 article speculating that this was the origin of the Atlantis legend (Atlantis was Minoan Crete). I never wrote that novel.


An interview with ‘the father of global warming’

What I find interesting is that he’s in favor of remediation rather than the destruction of economies.

I return to accuracies and what we know, which is that the Earth has been both warmer and colder than it is at present in both historical times and a very long time ago.


Marine generals showing rare dominance of top jobs

Traditionally the Navy – with the Marines – belong to the President. If it’s a bigger job than that, you need the Department of War, which is the Army, and belongs to Congress. This got all complicated after the Department of War was abolished, and the Air Force was ripped out of the Army to become its own independent self, leaving support of the field army as a job no one in the Air Force wanted, but which it wouldn’t give to the Army. My last professional job offer was to go to St Louis in 1972 and be part of the team that structured the Army’s air (mostly helicopter of course) force.

The Marines wanted Afghanistan even though it’s far from the sea. It is, after all, a small war, and that’s what the Marines specialize in.

Back in the late 50’s I published an essay pointing out that about 80% of the foreseeable violent incident missions for the United States could be handled by a battalion of Marines with helicopter support – i.e. an oiler, a destroyer, and a medium sized helicopter carrier. I wasn’t the only one to reach that conclusion and we built some.


11 states with more people on welfare than employed


Last month, the Senate Budget Committee reports that in fiscal year 2011, between food stamps, housing support, child care, Medicaid and other benefits, the average U.S. household below the poverty line received $168.00 a day in government support. What’s the problem with that much support? Well, the median household income in America is just over $50,000, which averages out to $137.13 a day. To put it another way, being on welfare now pays the equivalent of $30.00 an hour for a 40-hour week, while the average job pays $25.00 an hour. Wrong, the cost includes the cost of administering these benefits (paying government employees).

And over time there will be more and more states in which this is true.


Universal Background Check


The urge to Do Something federally regarding gun control seems to be coalescing around "universal background check". IE, no gun transfers whatsoever without the recipient passing a background check in a national database of people barred from firearms possession.

This may well pass, being the sort of thing that’s politically hard to argue against. Who could fail to support "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals"? (Never mind that it won’t do that; 3/4ths of weapons currently used by criminals are either bought retail through already-illegal "straw purchasers" or outright stolen.)

I see a couple of problems, however. First, there’s the minor one of Constitutional authority. Where is the Federal government empowered to regulate private citizen-to-citizen intrastate transfers of anything? (This will no doubt be answered by stretching the Commerce clause even farther beyond recognition, of course.)

Then there’s the major problem: There’s no practical way to enforce such a law that doesn’t boil down to national gun registration.

It would most likely end up as a sporadically (selectively) enforced sham whose main practical effect would be to push millions of citizens into explicitly defying Federal law. We already are said to commit "three felonies a day" in unwitting violation of the huge mass of Federal law. (I probably hit my quota this weekend in a routine bit of home maintenance.) It cannot be a good thing to push a large fraction of the citizenry from being unconscious members of "Ham Sandwich Nation" to being conscious outlaws.

Or it could include record-keeping and reporting requirements that would be a conclusive step toward a national database of who owns what guns. Retail sales data is already recorded and preserved, albeit restricted (for now) to being used only in tracing specific guns used in crimes. "I sold it (or bought it) privately" is currently a sufficient answer to any gun no longer being where the Federal retail sales records show. Pass a universal background check law that’s practically enforceable, and it could soon instead be the admission of (yet another) Federal felony.



Your papers, please.

Jerry Pournelle


"Democrats say that keeping records of private sales is necessary to enforce any new law and because current federal law requires licensed firearm dealers to keep records. Records of private sales also would help law enforcement trace back the history of a gun used in a crime, according to Democratic aides. Republicans, however, believe that records of private sales could put an undue burden on gun owners or could be perceived by gun rights advocates as a precursor to a national gun registry."

"Could be perceived", eh? A good rule of thumb is, if the government has the data, sooner or later someone will be in charge who’ll use it.

So, Senate Dems want the essentials of a national gun registry, while Senate Reps want to compromise on merely making outlaws of a major slice of their voters.

Here’s hoping the House Reps have a little more backbone.



I’ve realized since sending my first note that the Codevilla piece explains something that’s puzzled the hell out of me since last summer.

Do you recall my writing you when it became clear that Romney was going to win the nomination, that oh well, at least his conduct in the primaries proved we had a candidate who knew how to gutter fight? Then, come the main campaign, he inexplicably played nice and lost.

Codevilla calls it. The Establishment Republicans are still traumatized by the New Deal. They don’t dare hope to beat the Democrats; they believe the best they can do is join them as junior partners in a ruling coalition and modestly reduce their mismanagement of the economy.

From that point of view, the Democrats are merely the competition. The two-thirds of the Republican Party that actually wants to beat the Democrats and restore the old Republic are the deadly enemy.

Yes, the country would have been better off if Romney had won – Obama now is pushing even harder down a very destructive path. But next time, we need to nominate someone who actually understands the need to beat the Democrats, not merely moderate them.


Well, yes. That was what Newt overcame: a Republican establishment that simply wanted to exist in tranquility. His Contract with America changed all that. But when Newt left Congress, there was a feeding frenzy resulting in disaster, and the Establishment limped up and explained it all. Republicans can’t govern because they can’t restrain themselves. That isn’t true, but it can be a danger: why should the departure of Newt Gingrich unleash the greedy ghouls? And then came 9-11 and we decided on war. Deficit spending became traditional…


Ruling Class vs The Country 

This Angelo Codevilla piece in Forbes looks at current political party fundamentals, with more hope than many – me included – have been feeling lately. icans- link-up-with-the-democratic-ruling-class-millions-of-voters-are-orphan ed/


Angelo is a good cold blooded analyst. He used to work for me at Pepperdine. Glad to see he is still doing well.

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

Nothing there that you haven’t mentioned many times, save his explanation of WHY the CCRepubs are that way.

I’m one of those annoying kids who asks "why" a lot, and won’t really buy off on anything till I understand the why of it. Motive matters a lot if you’re trying to predict behavior.

Codevilla’s explanation – traumatized by decades of losing to the New Dealers, thus deeply committed to "if you can’t beat ’em join ’em" – plus the McArdle "New Mandarins" piece – slots right in with what else I know. Always a satisfying feeling when the pieces fall into a coherent pattern.

Convincing the CCR’s we really can beat the Dems so they shouldn’t yet again pull a Stanley at Bosworth backstab can’t be neglected, but isn’t sufficient. The key is what Codevilla points out – a third or so of nominal Dems don’t agree with the current statist push. The potential realignment needs a better name than the "country" party though…


The mandarinization of America

The column :

My takeaway is that it’s all very well to talk about providing food and medical care for the poor. How about providing them with the opportunity to be something other than poor? As it is, we’re building a society where only those with graduate degrees from Princeton can go on to success at large firms– we are increasingly ruled by people whose main qualifications are academic achievement, people who are good at taking tests.

"They really are very bright and hardworking. It’s just that they’re also prone to be conformist, risk averse, obedient, and good at echoing the opinions of authority, because that is what this sort of examination system selects for.

The even greater danger is that they become more and more removed from the people they are supposed to serve. Since I moved to Washington, I have had series of extraordinary conversations with Washington journalists and policy analysts, in which I remark upon some perfectly ordinary facet of working-class, or even business-class life, only to have this revelation met with amazement."

You think about it, that’s exactly what we have in President Obama: A product of the Mandarin system with no real experience outside of it.

It took five thousand years, total humiliation by foreign powers for China, and a bloody revolution to drop the system and rediscover capitalism. Here’s hoping we don’t have to go through anywhere near the same difficulties.


Brian P.

It is not a new concept, of course. Wittfogel had much to say on the subject. The temptation of smart people to control the lives of others is great. Adams, who was certainly smarter than the average bear, concluded that “we in America believe that each man is the best judge of his own interest.” This is summed in the notion of liberty. Of course that means being free to do stupid things including falling for con schemes, leading to the temptation to make ever more complex laws and regulations, the result of which are often a cure worse than the disease.

‘Twas ever thus.


One of Us.

> But I don’t miss TV. I do worry about not being connected. I wasn’t for most of my life, and now the prospect of a few hours or even a day of not being wired is scary.

For someone approaching his 80th birthday in a few months (congrats on that!), you do a superb job at making the "generation gap" appear over-hyped!

Curiously, I expect my grandmother to start using Facebook some time this year; she didn’t care for it the last time she tried it, but her most recent exposure to my own account delighted her with the virtual torrent of up-to-date information about those family members that don’t visit as often as perhaps they should…

One of us. One of us…

Michael Mol

Well, thank you …


Brian Bilbrey, one of my long time advisors and the operator of the ISP that provided web access for Chaos Manor for more than a decade, recently got his degree, so I induced him to write something about it.

None of the details are very interesting. It’s not like I waited until I was 95 to finish the degree I started at 18 … that might be interesting.

I just took a couple of classes at a time while working full time. I maintained a 4.0 throughout, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Computer Information Technology. All of the last 5 years of work were online through University of Maryland University College, and I worked my ass off. Some classes had proctored finals on campus, but there was strong drive to write more papers… I guess that’s "better", but I’m really good at computer-based finals – I knocked down two of them back to back one Saturday morning in about an hour and a half.

Some correspondents in the world have stated that online education is a watered-down version of the real (and real expensive) thing – face time in a classroom with professors. Well … teaching assistants being paid a pittance is who you really spend time with in classrooms. Personally, I think it’s down to the student. I was a terrible student when I started, thirty-odd years ago. Why wouldn’t a school want the money, regardless of student academic achievement. Yet I was invited to take my custom elsewhere. In the intervening decades, I took a few classes at other institutions, but didn’t get rolling properly until I started up with UMUC in 2008. I’m a much better student at this stage of my life.

Online I had a few less-than-stellar instructors, a fair number of pretty good ones, and a few absolutely superb teachers. One of the best of the latter is Charles Neimeyer, who taught History of War. He’s also the Director and Chief of Marine Corps History at Marine Corps University. I also had some good writing courses, and as long as the instructor had command of the English language, things went pretty well. Most of my schoolwork was technology-related though, in pursuit of the CIT degree. A lot of the world (especially the technology side of things) has changed dramatically since I started taking college courses in 1979. So I learned a goodly amount from every course, even the silly required courses. Learning is always good.

That said, I’m glad to have time to be down in the woodshop, building stuff in my spare time, again.



The moral of the story is that it’s never too late.


National Security


The following tells about DHS "stealing" a new boat on importation from a very suspect country.

Roland Hill

The Iron Law at work. I have met bureaucrats like that. It makes me long for the institution of paladins.


Jerry: A ‘fluffy’ article on a weak nuclear force reactor. The science might explain the ‘false positive’ cold fusion results.

Chris C


Daughter of Time


Apparently you have readers around here – when I went to reserve a copy of The Daughter of Time at the city library website after your recommendation, there were two people already ahead of me, and several more shortly after. I finished it last night; a fine short read and a fascinating slice of history. (Yes, I’m going to return it today so the next in line can get to it.)

It occurs to me that it may be just as well the scheming and ruthless Tudors displaced the arguably popular and benevolent Richard III. The formidable British clandestine services that were key to winning the great wars of the twentieth century got their start under the Tudors.

Without those centuries of devious covert tradition (much of it passed on to the US at the start of WW II) this would be a very different world, likely not for the better.

thanks for the recommendation!


The British Security Services pretty well began with Walsingham…




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