Martha Stewart, Military Tribunals, and Mactribesmen

Mail 703 Sunday, December 04, 2011

· Solyndra

· Leaving the work force

· Talking to government agents

· Military Tribunals

· Mactribesmen : a voice from the past



Solyndra scam

Hello Jerry,

Apparently ‘Solyndra scam’ is moving toward recognition as a generic

term, much like the much loved ‘Ponzi scheme’. Or should be:

Take the government loans and subsidies for your ‘green solution du

jour’ up front’, make the money disappear, then bail. So far, it has

worked better than all historical Ponzi schemes (not counting the

ongoing government versions) combined. Its only down side is that it

requires active collusion between the government and the scammers.

The upside is that the required collusion appears to be readily


Bob Ludwick

I am sure that many of those involved meant well. That’s one of the big problems with modern debate: much of it is based on an ethics of intention. “We meant well” is supposed to excuse all. Apparently prudence is no longer a required virtue.

The classic four cardinal virtues are Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice. Without Prudence there is a far greater likelihood that a given action will not be virtuous at all. Pleading good intentions for imprudent actions is common now, but the plea ought not be accepted.


: Gave Up Looking?


I am constantly skeptical of the often reported notion that ‘x number of people gave up looking for work last month’. How is that counted? If someone is laid off from a job, and five months later is still unemployed, they are counted as unemployed, yes? But if they are still unemployed after 25 months and their unemployment insurance payments have been exhausted they are declared to have given up looking for work? Really? I know this has been commented on before, but I feel compelled to bring it up because going along with such misleading labels clouds perception and thereby judgment.

I understand that people do give up looking for work, either temporarily or permanently. That figure can only be estimated indirectly, as with the number of Americans who are still seeking jobs but for whom unemployment insurance payments have run out. The automatic classification of a person whose unemployment insurance payments have run out as having ‘stopped looking for work’ is ludicrous and is only useful as political propaganda by whomever is in office at the time. It’s akin to counting an emergency surgery successful because the (now deceased) patient no longer has a life threatening condition. I’m sure you know the old saying.



I don’t think that’s how they count the “looking for work” crew. I could be mistaken.


Don’t be another Martha Stewart…

Give ’em a dose of their own medicine.

Charles Brumbelow

Heh. Actually, I wonder if some more prudent variant of this might not be a good idea. As it stands, it really is a bad idea to talk to government officials about anything; yet self government requires that the citizens cooperate with the officials. Of course the whole notion of self government is not only under attack, but in many places and on many levels lies prostrate in defeat.


This Brit’s take on the situation is the funniest and most down-to-earth commentary that I have heard in a long time. Great ending.

British Commentator on Bin Laden

The British Commentator returns to discuss the ass-whopping OBL got. The last minute is hilarious. This guy is good. <


Subject: Yet another case of TSA terror Political Correctness

This young lady was likely to miss her flight because she was late, but clearly, the TSA overreacted.

I have a consulting engagement in Colorado Springs next week … it’s a 8 hour drive or one hour flight for me to Denver. The cost is about a wash, but I’m driving because of the TSA and what will happen when mixed with the holiday air traffic.


TSA as Fashion Police

Security Theater continues.


“The irony is that even with all that cheating we still got an F on our latest progress report.”


Roland Dobbins



Large volumes of water-ice found on Mars?



Roland Dobbins

I follow this story with great interest. Of course I had thought we would have a colony on Mars by 2020.


“Silver bullets have won a lot of battles and for a long time. There’s not a lot of glory in winning by bribing the enemy commander or buying his supplies out from under him, but it’s almost always cheaper in blood and usually cheaper in gold than fighting it out.”


No, not if you want to nuke nuke nuke…

When the opposing country no longer exists, no more threat…

That is indeed true. Carthage was no longer a threat to Rome. But that hasn’t happened often in Western history; we usually accept surrender rather than insisting on extermination. Under the Constitution only Congress can declare war, as opposed to the King of England who could make war on anyone he chose (but then had to get Parliament to pay for it). As to wanting to nuke someone, I never met anyone who really wanted to do that. Certainly the people who controlled the weapons didn’t want to use them. They also knew there might be a situation in which they had to. One reason I wanted a policy of Assured Survival rather than Assured Destruction. When deterrence fails, you may have no choices left – Herman Kahn wrote a lot about that in Thinking about the Unthinkable, but not many read that book now. Perhaps they should.


Top Five Regrets of The Dying


Top Five Regrets of The Dying:

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. . . . When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five” <snip>

Worth thinking about, I believe. I think I can see why you do what you do.



I have a lot of mail about military tribunals, and in particular the tribunal that tried and convicted the World War II saboteurs who landed in Florida and New York.

WWII military commission

Dear Dr Pournelle:

states that the complete trial records are held by the national archives, including the Executive Order convening the Commission and naming the members of the court, the prosecutors and defense counsels, all serving army officers I believe. Other material may prove of interest.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes

Very Respectfully

Matt Hayball

Robert Matthew (Matt) Hayball

Nazi tribunal info found in book

The book is "Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America" by Michael Dobbs.

The starting point was FDR’s orders. To quote from p. 204: "The president signed two documents relating to the saboteurs. The first was an order establishing a military commission to try the eight invaders, giving the chairman of the tribunal the right to admit any evidnece that would have "probative value to a reasonable man." The tribunal’s verdict and sentence would be transmitted directly to the president for action, rather than being subject to the normal review procedures contained in the Articles of War.

The second document was a presidential proclamation denying the defendants access to civilian courts. [Attorney General Francis] Biddle was worried that lawyers for the saboteurs might try to invoke a "troublesome" Supreme Court decision that dated back to 1866, just after the Civil War, restoring liberties suspended by Abraham Lincoln while he suppressed the Confederate rebellion. The Supreme Court had ruled in Ex parte Milligan that civilians could never be brought before a military tribunal at a time when civilian courts were "open and properly functioning." It was unclear whether the saboteurs were civilians or not: only two of them, Burger and Neubauer, were formally enrolled in the German army. It was also unclear whether the Supreme Court decision applied to foreigners. Roosevelt’s advisers hoped to avoid this legal controversy with a presidential order carving out an exception to the Milligan ruling."

(Let me see if I can pick out a few facts from a quick scan of the rest of the chapter. The tribunal consisted of Major General Frank McCoy and six others — three major generals and three brigadier generals.

Here’s a profile of the "reasonable man" in charge: "A distinguished soldier-diplomat, McCoy was the epitome of the ‘reasonable man’ standard established by the president for the conduct of the tribunal. Like most of his fellow judges, he had no legal background. But he had impeccable military credentials. He served in the Spanish-American War with Theodore Roosevelt and was wounded in the Rough Riders’ charge up San Juan Hill. TR later described his protege as ‘the best soldier I ever laid eyes on.’ Determined to prevent the saboteur case from getting bogged down in technical legal wrangling, McCoy even objected to [defense attorney Kenneth C.] Royall’s use of the term ‘court’ to describe the proceedings.

‘This is a military commission,’ he lectured. ‘Please use that term.’"

(me again) The men were charged this way:

* "Charge One: Violation of the Law of War." The defendants were "enemies of the United States acting for and on behalf of the German Reich," who had passed through American defense lines "in civilian dress contrary to the law of war … for the purpose of committing acts of sabotage, espionage, and other hostile acts." They were also charged with violating the eighty-first and eighty-second Articles of War. The first of these articles dealt with "relieving or attempting to relieve enemies of the United States with arms, munitions, supplies, money, and other things"; the second punished "lurking or acting as spies in or about the fortifications, posts and encampments of the armies of the United States." The final charge was criminal conspiracy."

"The defense lawyers objected that the accusation of "relieving" enemies of the United States was designed to be used against U.S. citizens who aided the enemy. Furthermore, the clients had never "lurked" about U.S. army encampments. McCoy overruled the objections in his usual brisk manner, causing Royall, who had been born and raised in the South, to think of an old saying from Reconstruction days: ‘Give the nigger a fair trial and hang him quick.’"


Bill Peschel

1942 Tribunal


Perhaps this is what you are looking for:

Order Establishing a Military Commission to Try Eight Captured German Saboteurs

July 2, 1942

The Military Order:

By Virtue of the authority vested in me as President and as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, under the Constitution and statutes of the United States, and more particularly the Thirty-eighth Article of War (U.S. C. Title 10, Sec. 1509), I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, do hereby appoint as a Military Commission the following persons:

Major General Frank R. McCoy, President

Major General Walter S. Grant

Major General Blanton Winship

Major General Lorenzo D. Gasser

Brigadier General Guy V. Henry

Brigadier General John T. Lewis

Brigadier General John T. Kennedy

The prosecution shall be conducted by the Attorney General and the Judge Advocate General. The defense counsel shall be Colonel Cassius M. Dowell and Colonel Kenneth Royall.

The Military Commission shall meet in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, 1942 or as soon thereafter as is practicable, to try for offenses against the Law of War and the Articles of War, the following persons:

Ernest Peter Burger

George John Dasch

Herbert Hans Haupt

Henry Harm Heinck

Edward John Kerling

Hermann Otto Neubauer

Richard Quirin

Werner Thiel

The Commission shall have power to and shall, as occasion requires, make such rules for the conduct of the proceedings, consistent with the powers of Military Commissions under the Articles of War, as it shall deem necessary for a full and fair trial of the matters before it. Such evidence shall be admitted as would, in the opinion of the President of the Commission, have probative value to a reasonable man. The concurrence of at least two-thirds of the Members of the Commission present shall be necessary for a conviction or sentence. The record of the trial including any judgment or sentence shall be transmitted directly to me for my action thereon.


Which pretty well settles this. Thanks.



You made the cover –

Jerry, you made the cover of the Modern Mechanix blog today. This blog

posts scans of old magazine articles and advertisements. Many of the

articles are from the early part of last century, but lately he’s been

mining the latter part of the century. Today’s top article is your

column from the July, 1984 Byte magazine. I’ve had to pause in reading

the article because I’m hyperventilating at the prices for hardware

and sizes and capacities. Oh, how times have changed!

–Gary P.

Chaos Manor column from 1984 – ‘Mactribesmen’.



Roland Dobbins

Interesting. Not sure about copyright. That was a well known column…


College students and nuclear secrets 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I thought I would pass on to you this report on students at Georgetown university who have demonstrated the Chinese nuclear arsenal may be quite a bit larger than we’ve led to believe.

Congratulations to the kids. Outstanding work.

The thing I don’t get is the criticism by the "non-proliferation experts" referenced in page 2 of the article. Their condemnation stems from the fact that this gives more countries a reason to hold onto nuclear weapons. I find their logic puzzling. Are they saying we should make policy based on what they want us to believe rather than the truth?


Brian P.

The ethics of intention are pretty fundamental to modern liberalism. And after all, can’t wishing make it so?




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