The beat goes on…

View 854 Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.

Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses

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 release of the Intelligence Committee report has been called a great blow to the CIA’s effectiveness in protecting the American people.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The Senate committee has publicly released its findings.

I’ve only read the summary so far, which essentially says the enhanced interrogation procedures went out of control , beyond oversight and accountability, and did a lot of damage to our international standing [not to mention the detainees] while producing little actionable intelligence.

I’d invite comment from your other correspondents. I have to wonder if there’s more to the story than this …

At any rate, Americans seem to have only two throttle settings: "Paranoid/overdrive" and "don’t care at all." Just as, during WWII, we were in "don’t care" setting right up until the point Pearl Harbor was bombed, at which point we interned thousands of Japanese-Americans for our protection and safety.

It appears that the cycle, which goes back to the Salem witch trials, is repeating itself: Complete over-reaction of which we were afterwards ashamed. Maybe if we had rational protocols for things like torture we wouldn’t try to re-invent the wheel, with catastrophic results.


Brian P.

I am waiting for more information on the battle of the released intelligence report. I would think that the timing is obvious. It is a distraction from the unhappiness of the American people with Obamacare and the cynical way it was rammed through. We will know more soon.




While I agree with much of what Peggy Noonan said in the column you linked yesterday, there is one glaring exception that politically negates much of the rest: the immigration executive order.

Republicans have basically two choices: let it stand, or block it by whatever means necessary – which apparently means defunding the implementation, something the President will use as an excuse to shut down the government.

If the Republicans let it stand, the base is through with the party. That is a given. Particularly since its widely known that the progressive and "country club" Republicans would like to see the same action and are using the President’s lawlessness to give them cover – "we can’t do anything." This is why the conservatives in both houses are rebelling against the leadership on this issue, forcing McConnell and Boehner to reach accommodation with the Democrats to let the funding through.

(Even temporarily; once the lawless executive order is funded once, even with a three month continuing resolution, that is arguably enough legislative support to say that Congress is on board with the law and give the lawyers justification to force funding to continue.)

Conversely, if they block it leading to a partial government shutdown, the President and the MSM will paint the Republicans as the villains. Whether that will shift the moderates any more is debatable under these circumstances – but the "country club" leadership will certainly act as if it will, and will cave, which returns them full circle to losing the base, this time permanently.

What we’re seeing is not the Democrats self destructing, but the progressive movement in both parties self-destructing. The end result will range from not pretty to catastrophically ugly. Particularly while there are too many voters who vote party label without regard for actions or ideology, as avidly and mindlessly supportive as the fans of rival football teams. Unfortunately, the Democrats seem to have a monopoly on "useful idiots," probably because they’ve been buying them through wealth transfer, and making them through use of the educational establishment for indoctrination rather than instruction, for over eighty years. The Republicans you cite who leave out the hard parts of Adam Smith don’t help.

Mr. Heinlein still seems to have been right in putting the next crisis of American democracy during the term of the person elected president in 2012. And if this fully shakes out before the next couple of presidential terms, the consequences will likely be as catastrophic as in Mr. Heinlein’s future history; the pendulum will break. Probably with the country "stuck on stupid," but with the wolves waiting in the wings (something that Mr. Heinlein’s future history avoided was China, Russia, and resurgent Caliphate Islam).


I would hope that the American people are smarter than that. At the moment there is a clear majority in favor of rejecting what the Democrats have done. There is no majority consensus on immigration, nor even on what is possible. We can attempt to close the borders, but if the President does not want to act, there is little that can be done. What the Republican leadership must show is that they are willing and able to govern, and that they will not be obstructive for the sake of obstructiveness.

Of course the Democrats will provoke them, as they have with the release of the CIA report.

Thanks for the link to the Peggy Noonan article. I wonder if you think, though, that one major change should be made by the Republican Senate straight away: getting rid of the weird "pocket filibuster" rules. Others can explain the abstruse details, but if I understand correctly the Senate today works under a set of rules that pretty much guarantees a deadlock on any partisan issue. Maybe it’s time to go back to the real tradition, where a Senator could do a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster if he was willing to speak for hours and days, but no one would unless he cared so much about the issue that he would put everything on the line for it. –And otherwise things proceeded by majority rule. The Senate was supposed to be a brake, but wasn’t intended to be hopelessly deadlocked on anything important.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a good idea to seek bipartisan support for things, and that means passing bills that are somewhat less conservative than they would be otherwise. If you want any chance of overriding vetoes that’s a necessity anyhow. This is all part of responsible government.

Best wishes,



Garry Kasparov on Chess, the Cold War, and the West’s Shameful Appeasement of Putin


Although chess is featured in the title, the video interview with Garry Kasparov is all about Putin, Russia, and the West. His comments are quite interesting. Almost 30 minutes long, maybe worth a watch while you are snacking or relaxing?

Garry Kasparov on Chess, the Cold War, and the West’s Shameful Appeasement of Putin

(Article has transcript as well as video.)



I had dinner with Kasparov in Moscow. He will be part of the opposition to whatever government Russia has; as such he is a valuable asset to Russia, but I doubt that they understand that. I do know that the situation there is a very great deal more complex than any analyst here seems to understand.

Rohrabacher: ‘Moreover, reasonable observers the world over can see it as tantamount to a declaration that Russia is America’s enemy.’



Roland Dobbins

Dana is an old friend, a good :Libertarian conservative, and an intelligent analyst with a competent staff. His views are always worth paying attention to.





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




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