Illegitimi non carborundum; Intelligence and the President; The Principle of Pursuit; lessons from the Velikovsky Affair; and more.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

Donald Trump

Between 1965 and 2011, the official poverty rate was essentially flat, while the government spending per person on poverty programs rose by more than 900% after inflation.

Peter Cove

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

Illegitimi non carborundum


I know it’s not real Latin, but if it was good enough for Vinegar Joe it’s good enough for me.

2330: bedtime after  LASFS; I have added much, some important.


President Trump may have been wounded more badly than he expected by the Flynn affair. Mr. Trump is, after, a rather decent man. He has no military experience, and as far as I know not much familiarity with military history. His instinctual reaction when an enemy is wounded is to stand back and end the fight. This is the civilized way of doing things, and in civil life it is much to be preferred.

The military know better. Battles may be won by valor; wars are won in the pursuit. When the enemy is down is the time to put the boot in. Relentless pursuit, slaughter of the retreating enemy, kill them all, take no prisoners because prisoners need guarding and care and reduce your strength; wars are won or lost in the pursuit. Yes: peace may be won by chivalry, and the West prized chivalry, mercy to the defeated enemy, for centuries. The Church urged it. Usually. Novels like The Talisman make good and inspired reading; but mercy and chivalry are dangerous. The spared enemy may be able to reform, reassemble, and win another battle. A dead one cannot.

All right. Those who’ve read my books know I don’t really believe all that, and my characters do not act this way; and while Mr. Trump does not conform to the ideal of chivalry, is hardly la belle cavalier sans reproache et sans peur, he is closer to that than the merciless enemies he faces. Flynn was removed – allowed to resign, possibly asked to – as a concession to the image of propriety. This was taken as a wound; there was blood in the water; and Trump’s enemies are merciless. And after Flynn:

Another Trump Casualty

Immigration foes and unions take down Labor nominee Andy Puzder.

Feb. 15, 2017 7:16 p.m. ET



Andy Puzder withdrew his nomination for Labor Secretary Wednesday after a ferocious union and media assault, and is President Trump paying attention? This is what happens, sir, when a White House starts losing, losing, losing.

Mr. Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, was a rare business executive willing publicly to support Mr. Trump during the campaign. As an expert in labor management, he was ideal to reform a Labor Department that was run for eight years as a wholly owned subsidiary of the AFL-CIO. He would also have been a much-needed advocate for free markets in Mr. Trump’s senior economic councils. [snip]

Andy Puzder, Donald Trump’s Labor Pick, Withdraws

Restaurant executive exits after several Republican senators express reservations



Eric Morath and

Kristina Peterson

February 15, 2017


Andy Puzder withdrew himself from consideration to become Labor secretary in a new personnel blow to the White House, after Republican support in the Senate disintegrated over personal issues that dogged the fast-food executive leading up to a planned confirmation hearing.

His swift withdrawal came just a day after Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, resigned over conflicting statements he made about contacts with Russian officials last year.

Edward Hugler, a career bureaucrat employed by the department since 1978, will likely remain acting secretary until a new nominee can be confirmed. That could put on hold any major policy shifts. [snip]

Mr. Trump may have won the Republican nomination, but it is not his party. Unlike 1964 when the country club Republicans cut the party ticket and assured the election of Lyndon Johnson, Mr. Obama’s smug triumphalism and Mrs. Clinton’s even more smug sense of entitlement were a bit much even for them; they didn’t do much for Mr. Trump, but that was partly because they didn’t think they had to; the notion of Donald Trump becoming President seemed just too absurd.

Came the election day surprise, many in the Republican elite had a change of heart: maybe miracles do happen. Maybe it is possible to drain the swamp and restore the Old Republic as described by Tocqueville and others. Maybe, just maybe we can make America great again.

But not all. Meanwhile, the left redoubled its efforts to unseat the clown prince and restore the old order in which opponents grew in office in order to win the approval of the media and get past the pain of the relentless attacks on them, their families, their friends, even their pets.

And meanwhile:

Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns

Decision to withhold information underscores deep mistrust between intelligence community and president

Sensitive information is being withheld from President Trump by intelligence officials and spies, a sign of mistrust between intel authorities and the White House. WSJ’s Shane Harris has exclusive details on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Olivier Doulier/Press Pool


Shane Harris and

Carol E. Lee

Updated Feb. 16, 2017 12:33 a.m. ET


U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.

The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him. [snip ]

And the Constitutional Crisis heats up more.


It used to be that if you held the Congress you pretty well directed the policies of the government. Then came the New Deal, and the executive powers multiplied exponentially. At first that was under the control of the President, although Eisenhower discovered that he was no longer Commander in Chief of the government; he had enough residual authority within the military, but even there he detected opposition, a buildup of power outside the authority of both the legislative and executive branches. The Supreme Court discovered fresh new rights every day; while these were said to increase individual rights, it didn’t always seem that way: what they did was to decrease the power of the responsible arms of government, and increase the power of the unelected officials responsible to no one. This was seen as a good thing. The result has been something else.

Education is no longer responsible to local school boards and those who pay school taxes. In theory it is responsible to experts, but those experts control credentials and thus “expertise”. Mrs. DeVos has no credentials, thus no expertise no matter how many successful schools she has founded, and must be destroyed. That fight Trump won, although it is hardly over: “protesters” physically prevented her from attending a meeting with the experts, and paid no penalty for this act of rebellion: there was victory, but no pursuit. It costs nothing to go out and burn buildings, disrupt public meetings, delay the general public’s access to publicly paid for buildings, squares, even the roads themselves. There is no pursuit.

Valor wins battles; wars are won in the pursuit. Mr. Trump’s enemies know that and believe it. Perhaps Mr. Trump is learning it.


Yes, there is a case for Chivalry. There is also a case for courts of chivalry for those who do not follow the rules. That is a matter for other essays.

In The Talisman, Sir Walter Scott examines this in a whacking good novel about the Third Crusade. If you have spare time, you might like it.


The career intelligence regime is concerned that there are leaks in the Trump headquarters; and of course have a genuine concern to protect sources, particularly clandestine sources. And of course almost any intelligence contains clues as to what the source was.

Example: During the Cold War we developed electronic means for spying on certain telephone calls made from the Russian headquarters in East Berlin. These became important; very important. It was even more important that the Russians never learn we could do that. It made for a delicate balancing act: would acting in the information reveal its source? Came an ambitious scheme: what if there were an alternate source to the same information, one that could be revealed; we could have our cake and eat it too.

Painstakingly and very secretly a tunnel was dug under the Wall to the basement of the East Berlin building. All traces of the age of the tunnel were removed. Eventually it would be discovered, and it was; in fact that was itself a rather dramatic story, with the last man out getting a minor wound in the butt; the taps were removed, sealed off; but in fact the electronic surveillance continued for some time after, since the technology to do it was still unknown. Eventually that, too, was leaked; almost everything we did was.


This not the first time time intelligence has been kept from the President. Both Roosevelt and Truman were denied all knowledge of Venona, the Army’s “black chamber” decoding of Soviet KGB and GRU codes used by agents to report to Stalin.

Decoding Soviet Espionage in America



The Venona Project began because Carter Clarke did not trust Joseph Stalin. Colonel Clarke was chief of the U.S. Army’s Special Branch, part of the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division, and in 1943 its officers heard vague rumors of secret German-Soviet peace negotiations. With the vivid example of the August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact in mind, Clarke feared that a separate peace between Moscow and Berlin would allow Nazi Germany to concentrate its formidable war machine against the United States and Great Britain. Clarke thought he had a way to find out whether such negotiations were under way.

    Clarke’s Special Branch supervised the Signal Intelligence Service, the Army’s elite group of code-breakers and the predecessor of the National Security Agency. In February 1943 Clarke ordered the service to establish a small program to examine ciphered Soviet diplomatic cablegrams. Since the beginning of World War II in 1939, the federal government had collected copies of international cables leaving and entering the United States. If the cipher used in the Soviet cables could be broken, Clarke believed, the private exchanges between Soviet diplomats in the United States and their superiors in Moscow would show whether Stalin was seriously pursuing a separate peace.

    The coded Soviet cables, however, proved to be far more difficult to read than Clarke had expected. American code-breakers discovered that the Soviet Union was using a complex two-part ciphering system involving a “one-time pad” code that in theory was unbreakable. The Venona code-breakers, however, combined acute intellectual analysis with painstaking examination of thousands of coded telegraphic cables to spot a Soviet procedural error that opened the cipher to attack. But by the time they had rendered the first messages into readable text in 1946, the war was over and Clarke’s initial goal was moot. Nor did the messages show evidence of a Soviet quest for a separate peace. What they did demonstrate, however, stunned American officials. Messages thought to be between Soviet diplomats at the Soviet consulate in New York and the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs in Moscow turned out to be cables between professional intelligence field officers and Gen. Pavel Fitin, head of the foreign intelligence directorate of the KGB in Moscow. Espionage, not diplomacy, was the subject of these cables. One of the first cables rendered into coherent text was a 1944 message from KGB officers in New York showing that the Soviet Union had infiltrated America’s most secret enterprise, the atomic bomb project. [snip]

There’s a great deal more, some technical. Most of it was unknown to mainstream media. Even after the super-secrecy ended and knowledge of Venona came out, most J schools ignored it. The Communist Party line was that Venona was propaganda – fake news – and while no one believes that now, they did in J schools; of course by now it is old hat.

Keeping Venona secret had its consequences. These are discussed at length in the linked text. Example:

[snip] During the early Cold War, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, every few months newspaper headlines trumpeted the exposure of yet another network of Communists who had infiltrated an American laboratory, labor union, or government agency. Americans worried that a Communist fifth column, more loyal to the Soviet Union than to the United States, had moved into their institutions. By the mid-1950s, following the trials and convictions for espionage-related crimes of Alger Hiss, a senior diplomat, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for atomic spying, there was a widespread public consensus on three points: that Soviet espionage was serious, that American Communists assisted the Soviets, and that several senior government officials had betrayed the United States. The deciphered Venona messages provide a solid factual basis for this consensus. But the government did not release the Venona decryptions to the public, and it successfully disguised the source of its information about Soviet espionage. This decision denied the public the incontestable evidence afforded by the messages of the Soviet Union’s own spies. Since the information about Soviet espionage and American Communist participation derived largely from the testimony of defectors and a mass of circumstantial evidence, the public’s belief in those reports rested on faith in the integrity of government security officials. These sources are inherently more ambiguous than the hard evidence of the Venona messages, and this ambiguity had unfortunate consequences for American politics and Americans’ understanding of their own history.

    The decision to keep Venona secret from the public, and to restrict knowledge of it even within the government, was made essentially by senior Army officers in consultation with the FBI and the CIA. Aside from the Venona code-breakers, only a limited number of military intelligence officers, FBI agents, and CIA officials knew of the project. The CIA in fact was not made an active partner in Venona until 1952 and did not receive copies of the deciphered messages until 1953. The evidence is not entirely clear, but it appears that Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley, mindful of the White House’s tendency to leak politically sensitive information, decided to deny President Truman direct knowledge of the Venona Project. The president was informed about the substance of the Venona messages as it came to him through FBI and Justice Department memorandums on espionage investigations and CIA reports on intelligence matters. He was not told that much of this information derived from reading Soviet cable traffic.

This omission is important because Truman was mistrustful of J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, and suspected that the reports of Soviet espionage were exaggerated for political purposes. Had he been aware of Venona, and known that Soviet cables confirmed the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers, it is unlikely that his aides would have considered undertaking a campaign to discredit Bentley and indict Chambers for perjury, or would have allowed themselves to be taken in by the disinformation being spread by the American Communist party and Alger Hiss’s partisans that Chambers had at one time been committed to an insane asylum.

    There were sensible reasons (discussed in chapter 2) for the decision to keep Venona a highly compartmentalized secret within the government. In retrospect, however, the negative consequences of this policy are glaring. Had Venona been made public, it is unlikely there would have been a forty-year campaign to prove that the Rosenbergs were innocent. The Venona messages clearly display Julius Rosenberg’s role as the leader of a productive ring of Soviet spies. Nor would there have been any basis for doubting his involvement in atomic espionage, because the deciphered messages document his recruitment of his brother-in-law, David Greenglass, as a spy. It is also unlikely, had the messages been made public or even circulated more widely within the government than they did, that Ethel Rosenberg would have been executed. The Venona messages do not throw her guilt in doubt; indeed, they confirm that she was a participant in her husband’s espionage and in the recruitment of her brother for atomic espionage. But they suggest that she was essentially an accessory to her husband’s activity, having knowledge of it and assisting him but not acting as a principal. Had they been introduced at the Rosenberg trial, the Venona messages would have confirmed Ethel’s guilt but also reduced the importance of her role. [snip] [emphasis added]

It is all worth reading, but it makes clear that there are both advantages and disadvantages to keeping the President out of the loop. I expect this will be a new object of debate: does the President actually command?


For all that, much has been accomplished in a few days. Yes, the President has been wounded; but Mr. Trump’s career shows that he has learned to endure wounds, rally and carry on. This is hardly the time for his supporters to despair. It should be no news that the country club Republicans and the responsible-to-no-one elite permanent government. Renewed the Old Alliance; the good news is that there are so few.

Draining the swamp was never going to be easy. First the populists needed the House. That did turned out to be insufficient. Then they needed the whole Congress. Both went Republican, but in 8 years Mr. Obama doubled the National Debt and the size of the Federal Registry as the Republican Congress looked on helplessly. “We need the White House,” they said.

They have the White House, both houses of Congress, most state governors, and in fact most local offices outside the big cities in New York and California. Of course they tremble in fear even so: the media says they should.

But in fact they need only a few more seats in the Senate (since some of the ones they thought they had are not really theirs); think how much has been accomplished in the past few years. How much has been accomplished in the last few days.

Illegitimi non carborundum


This article should cheer you up.

BTW, I watched Pres Trump’s presser today. He ate the MSM for lunch.

My favorite part was when Pres Trump told the media, “I’m not a politician.” then he paused and said “Well, I guess I am now.”. Leader of the free world qualifies I would think.



Now he has to talk Putin out of Iran; very difficult, particularly with Flynn to arrange actions against Iran short of war.  Trump lost a lot with Flynn.  And Flynn did nothing wrong: he covered up an action that was not in any way a crime, I think no one has ever been convicted under the Logan Act, and I think no one has even been indicted in the 20 or 21 Centuries. They need him.


‘There is absolutely no precedent for courts looking to a politician’s statements from before he or she took office, let alone campaign promises, to establish any kind of impermissible motive.’



Roland Dobbins

There is now.


Limits of executive orders. Particularly “reviewability”.


“Black letter law gives the President authority to suspend or delay admitting any class of immigrant he sees fit if he declares it a matter of national security. That law has been in effect for a long time. Mr. Obama used it in reverse to admit migrants and refugees; he did not see them as a threat to national security. That was his prerogative as President, whether we agree or not.”

I think you are nearly alone in that opinion.

Actually, what the President has is broad latitude and deference, but not unlimited authority. The Trump administration has—quite incredibly—asserted that the President’s action is “unreviewable”. 4 Judges have now disagreed, two were Republican appointees, two were Democratic.

“Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review the decision at all. We disagree.”

And it isn’t like this is big news, as Obama found out.

If you object so vehemently to the stay of Trump’s order, then did the stay of Obama’s generate the same ire? If you truly mean this as a matter of law, then I’d like to know if you consider the two cases in the same way, and why or why not?

Personally, I think there is a CLEAR case against Trump’s executive order, both on establishment clause and equal protection grounds. There is, of course, an issue of “standing”. I think Green card holders have obvious standing, while some others are less clear. The courts also took into account Trump’s (many times over) stated intentions to create a “Muslim ban”, and he’s also on record as wanting to favor Christians. These things are deeply disturbing.

It’s very interesting to see the commentators on this matter, now that we are pretty deep into legal technicalities. What’s interesting is the discussion is very rational, rather calm, with opinions on both sides that are carefully buttressed by facts and precedents. It reminds me of how political discussions should be, and once were.

Pretty sure Trump is going to lose this one.


Are you actually contending that the power to deny any class of immigrants, which by black letter law is given to the President, is the power to admit any even those contravening black letter law?  I suppose so; that seems to be current legal thinking. But they have an ability to believe contradictory things without discomfort.  I find that odd, and it is almost certainly irrational. This is a place of rational discussion.

I do not see why campaign statements are relevant to actual executive orders, but I suppose any stick will do when you are looking for a weapon.

Stay well.



This explaineth much.

Re: Toxic Psychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – good name for it!
At 11:39 AM 2/9/2017, xxxx wrote:

Rappaport agrees with you…

MSM refuses to accept that they have lied themselves into irrelevancy.



Federal Judge in Washington State 

I believe that the grounds the Federal Judge in the State of Washington (apparently also cited independently in a brief filed in Minnesota) are based on questions about both the establishment clause in the First Amendment and on the Equal Protection Clause of the constitution.   The attorney generals in Washington and Minnesota brought the case.

I was told the 9th circuit has agreed to  hear the case.  A good friend who taught constitutional law (and does not wish to be named) thinks that the 9th may rule, but it will likely go to the supreme court.

I’m also told that there is an amicus brief underway as well from multiple states suggesting that the ban brings harm to the states.    


The courts have not and should not be been invited to determine if it harms the states.  Assume it does.  Many federal policies harm one or another state.  It is black letter law that the President has discretion over excluding any class of aliens he chooses, for any period of time he chooses.  The judge has no authority to countermand the president, no more than you or I have.

The circuit court of appeals has not that power.  Nor does the supreme court.  Debates over whether it induces young Muslims to go jihadist are in order, but no judge’s decision has any more power than any other citizen’s.  A judge may decide that the income tax harms his state, could he simply forbid its collection?


One more point.  He agrees that the President has the right and responsibility to issue the ban(s).

However, he feels that wording of the ban was very poorly done and raises constitutional issues.

He said that a  simple rewrite and resubmission could have been done quietly and all of this avoided.

He finds it all very peculiar.


I could certainly have written it better. My pre-law students could have written it better.  The career lawyers in the Justice Department should have written it better.  Donald Trump is the elected President of the United States. It is the duty of the courts to enforce lawful orders, not to issue injunctions against bad grammar. The decision made was political. Do not be surprised if those who claim immunity from politics then blatantly practice politics are treated politically.



What I learned from Velikovsky

Dear Jerry:

When you mentioned the Velikovsky affair on 2/2/17, I was reminded that I owed a great deal to the man as the result of just one encounter.

I first heard of Velikovsky in the mid-1950’s when a high school friend became obsessed with him. Not being interested in Velikovsky’s claims, I forgot about him until 1965 during my first year as a physics Ph. D. student at Brown University. The university sponsored a forum with Velikovsky as the key speaker. Four distinguished scientists formed a panel to respond to and criticize whatever Velikovsky was going to say. As I recall, at least two Nobel prize winners were on the panel, one from Brown’s physics department and one who had driven the 55 miles from Harvard. It was a major university event that my wife and I attended along with a large crowd of students and faculty.

Velikovsky was a powerful and persuasive speaker. I waited eagerly for the panel’s response and rebuttals.

To their shame, these distinguished experts were quite unprepared and seemed less than familiar with Velikovsky’s writings. They were an embarrassment to behold in the face of Velikovsky’s masterful preparation. Velikovsky ran rings around them, though cuneiformist Abraham Sachs is said to have put him in his place. If so, Sach’s presentation went right over my head.

I concluded then that faculty often fail to do their homework and are content to fall back on glibness when they think they are facing their intellectual inferiors.

It was that Velikovsky lecture that taught me always to test elite experts and not depend on their statements. Of course that’s an old, even Biblical, lesson, as the Bereans knew and Luke described.

During my next 43 years at several public and private universities, I continued to learn that faculty often do not do their homework. They seem not to know that in debate we should be able to present our opponent’s arguments better than our opponent can. The problem of unprepared faculty has worsened in the past 50 years. Now the professors turn to lawsuits and the politics of personal destruction when frustrated by well-prepared opponents, even in the sciences.

Best regards,

–Harry M.

That deserves a longer comment. Apologies.  Dr. Possony became interested in the Velikovsky Affair, not because he thought the Earth once changed its direction of rotation or that Jupiter emitted Venus as a comet. but because Big Science so feared Velikovsky that they pronounced anathema on him; he had not to be refuted, but silenced. What were they afraid of? His interest sparked mine.  I discovered two sets of “consensus” both attuned to silencing the old man. It remains a most curious incident. more understandable now in view of Global Warming, oops, Climate Change which may well be real, but pretending to understand what you do not understand is an odd way of dealing with it.



Educating Racket 

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

From recent personal experience, here are two examples of our tax dollars at work supporting higher education- Student at a community college in Orange County, CA under the age of 21 is required to take a course in Physical Education. The student in this case took a course, with a teacher, and all the associated costs of administration and so on, paid for by taxes, in “walking”. Note, this was NOT some form of |Speed Walking”, a recognized sport. No, I mean ordinary perambulation, such as you enjoy ambling about your neighborhood.

The same community college offers a course in “Theatrical Lighting”, training students in the art and skill of lighting stage productions for live theatre. Somewhat to my surprise, there is a textbook for this course. Okay, a technician can always use such a source for reference, but I would think most of such a course would be hands on work actually lighting a stage, rather than studying any theories of lighting.

Okay. Want to know what the textbook costs?

A student I know of purchased a used copy. A wise choice, of course.

Same book, but you pay less. In this case “less” was-

Put down your beverage


Thus answering the question, “Just how many professors does it take to teach someone how to change a light bulb?” Only one, if you pay $173.00 for the instruction manual first!

Mr. Heinlein was right again, re: |The Crazy Years”.




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



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