The Debate, Miracles, Strategy of Technology, and other matters

Thursday, September 29, 2016

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

James Burnham

Rudolph Giuliani: Trump is right about ‘stop and frisk.’ Lester Holt should apologize

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

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



But according to candidate Hillary Clinton and moderator Lester Holt during Monday night’s presidential debate, stop and frisk is “unconstitutional.” They are wrong. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, it’s the usual misrepresenting she does when she does not know what she is talking about. As for Mr. Holt, if a moderator is going to interfere, he should do some homework and not pretend to know the law when he does not. Mr. Holt and NBC cannot overrule the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stop and frisk is based on an 8-1 decision of the Supreme Court, Terry v. Ohio. That ruling hasn’t been overturned or even modified by the court since it was handed down in 1968. Stop and frisk is constitutional and the law of the land. The majority opinion, written by then-Chief Justice Earl Warren, approved the constitutionality of stopping a suspect if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, or was about to commit, a crime. If the officer also has a reasonable suspicion the person is armed, he can conduct a pat-down—that is, a frisk—of a person’s outer clothing.

Rudy Giuliani

I wasn’t astonished when Lester Holt tried to prop up Mrs. Clinton in the debate, but actually to interrupt Mr. Trump to insist that he knows the law when he doesn’t was a bit surprising. Perhaps he does know the law and this was planned? He knew the question would come up. He presumably was briefed on the law and Terry v. Ohio. Yet he interrupted Mr. Trump to assert a falsehood. This did not come as an astonishment to many;


One Federal Judge did decree that because more black and Hispanics were stopped and frisked, the practice as employed in New York City was racist. That governs no one in Chicago, where Mr. Trump recommends the practice be applied.

Mayor Bill de Blasio rushed to declare Donald Trump “literally all wrong” in saying Monday that stop-and-frisk is effective and constitutional. But the NYPD put out a statement that proves him wrong.

De Blasio was on MSNBC defending Hillary Clinton, who claimed that “stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional” and “ineffective,” adding that it “did not do what it needed to do.” Trump disagreed on both counts — and the facts back him up.

As the NYPD release rightly notes, “Stop, Question and Frisk is not unconstitutional,” and even Judge Shira Scheindlin’s disastrous 2013 ruling never said so.

Fact is, the Supreme Court found it constitutional back in 1968 and has never reversed or even modified that decision. Scheindlin ruled merely that the NYPD’s use of the tactic had shown “deliberate indifference” to constitutional rights, claiming racial bias.

Then the US Court of Appeals threw her off the case because her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

And it stayed her ruling — a step usually taken only when a decision is unlikely to survive the full appellate process.

But higher courts never finished examining her decision — because de Blasio, who’d won his race for mayor vowing to end the practice, squelched the city’s appeal.

Trump was also right to call Scheindlin “a very anti-police judge.” One of her own former clerks told The New Yorker that “she thinks cops lie.”

All of this must have been known to someone in the CBDS staff who briefed Lester Holt. Perhaps he fell asleep during the briefings?

Reading the Wall Street Journal’s daily Trump Thump has become painful, and I no longer do it religiously. I probably have missed some articles, because there remain a few neo-cons not yet converted to the official WSJ position.


Another Wall St. Journal column says of Trump, “If he had a plan to win this debate against Clinton, it remains as secret as his plan to defeat IDSIS.” I’m not all that familiar with Mr. Riley, a black conservative, and perhaps he is not very familiar with military action; but Trump had said, many times, that he’s not going to discuss strategy for the enemy benefit, and I agree with that. He has said he will do it rapidly, which suggests that he plans to accept the Caliphate’s declaration of war on the United States, and retaliate massively. I’d recommend a Corps sized expeditionary force, including one heavy armored division, with an air support team including both the A-10 Warthogs and a wing of air supremacy SAM busters. That will do it fast and with few casualties. It is an elementary military principle that you use overwhelming force at the point of contact (if you can); this keeps casualties low and actually costs less than trying to do the job on the cheap. As to what we do when we have conquered ISIDS, it will be our territory; we won’t do it as a favor for Iraq and/or Syria. We will own the oilfields, too. We can dispose of that territory as we will, partitioning it into more stable regions. I suggest we give the King of Jordan a reasonable part of Sunni Iraq, hopefully a portion with some oilfields in it. He can use the income, and the Middle East can use the kind of stability he has brought to his part of it. The Kurds also have a high stake here.

The important part to remember is that ISIS rules only if it rules. Its legitimacy is that it applies Sharia to areas it controls; if it controls no area, if it sovereign nowhere, then it is just another terrorist group; perhaps not the Junior Varsity, but not a Caliphate. Its main attractiveness to recruits is that it claims to fulfill the will of Allah, and Allah favours the Caliphate.

I do not know Mr. Trump’s plans; I doubt he does in detail. I do know he does not consider himself a military expert and will seek advice from those he thinks are; just as when he decides to construct a new building, he does not start with blueprints of the men’s room (or whatever the Federal regulators require in the area he will build it). He will have to decide on policy, he may even choose a plumbing company, but I’d be much surprised if he spent much time on ball cocks. Eisenhower built highways, but he wasn’t a civil engineer.


The Debate

Dear Mr. Pournelle,
I suspect the debate didn’t change much. Those of us who find Trump intolerable saw an intolerable Trump. Those who find Clinton intolerable saw an intolerable Clinton. Those who dislike both of them about equally probably saw little reason to change their minds.
I’m coming to the conclusion that what we need for the next four years is a caretaker President. In a better world, that would not be the case. Our country has work to do, and “steady as she goes” isn’t likely to get it done. However: some years back I read an article maintaining that, in a representative government, it is not plausible to find a strong, visionary leader unless a large consensus of the population roughly agrees on what direction they want to be led.
At present, the vision of one party is more or less the nightmare of the other. For either to claim “leadership” would require demonizing and marginalizing about half the voters. Which wouldn’t bode well for the future of the Republic.
It would be pretty to think that a Presidential mandate could break this deadlock. I don’t see that happening. What is urgent, I believe, is to begin clawing ourselves back from our current polarization. Other crises will be resolved well or poorly; but this one renders leadership impossible.
I’m inclined to think the United States is healthy enough that, if necessary, we could more or less coast for the next four years. There’d be damage; but not nearly as much as trying to impose a “vision” which half the voters detest. That would give us four years to try to find something like a national consensus.
Granted, that in itself would be a challenge I’m not sure we can meet. but hey, the horse *might* learn to sing…
Allan E. Johnson

The problem is that we can’t coast. The rest of the world isn’t. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton seek to convert this from a nation of states to a national democracy, majority rules; and with two more USSC Justices, they will succeed.

Then there’s

China actively pursuing space-based solar power.



Roland Dobbins

Take the high ground, boy, or they’ll kick hell out of you in the valleys. I learned that as a first principle, and it applies in a technological war as well.


“A gigantic technological race is in progress between interception and penetration and each time capacity for interception makes progress it is answered by a new advance in capacity for penetration. Thus a new form of strategy is developing in peacetime, a strategy of which the phrase ‘arms race’ used prior to the old great conflicts is hardly more than a faint reflection.

There are no battles in this strategy; each side is merely trying to outdo in performance the equipment of the other. It has been termed ‘logistic strategy’. Its tactics are industrial, technical, and financial. It is a form of indirect attrition; instead of destroying enemy resources, its object is to make them obsolete, thereby forcing on him an enormous expenditure….

A silent and apparently peaceful war is therefore in progress, but it could well be a war which of itself could be decisive.”
–General d’Armee Andre Beaufre

From The Strategy of Technology, Winning the Decisive War, by Stefan Possony and Jerry Pournelle

The address is wrong in the invitation to send money. If you care to make a donation, the address is

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

12051 Laurel Terrace Drive

Studio City, CA 91604

We wrote Strategy of Technology almost fifty years ago. It was used as a textbook in the military academies at one time. The principle remain true, although all the examples come from the Cold War. I hope to revise it with new examples some day; it is still important.


Re: Trump’s First Debate

Dr. Pournelle –
Just read your column on the debate and I thought I’d add a little tidbit.
Hillary condemns Trump for allegedly not paying any federal income tax; that he’s “gaming” the system.
She needs to informed of how the tax system works, that the only way to not pay federal taxes is because you have used your money elsewhere in ways of which the government approves and rewards. these include charities, capital purchases, capital improvements, all sorts of things that improve the lives of others. By doing so, the government lets you off the hook on federal taxes.
To imply that Trump is doing wrong is simply bald-faced dishonesty on her part and a hope that her listeners are ignorant enough to fall for her tripe.
Further, I suggest that an examination of her tax returns will show that she “gamed” the system in the exact same way.
I will admit that I was not a big Trump supporter. My mother was from the start, but I was for Walker, then Fiorina, then Cruz. But, once he got the nomination, he won my support 100%. The important thing right now is to ensure Hillary does not make it to office. Then, we can work on smoothing our rough edges for next time.
Cam Kirmser

But it is all irrelevant. We know that the Clinton Foundation will thrive under Mrs. Clinton. We suspect that Mr. Trump will not go broke in office. And all that is trivial compared to exponential growth of the national debt in the past 8 years, under both Democratic and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. One candidate says he will cut taxes and reduce costs. He may be lying. The other says she will spend a lot more money shoring up Obamacare, giving free college education, increasing entitlements, and so forth. I suspect she is not lying.


Smallpox Vaccinations Aren’t Available

Smallpox vaccinations are not to be had anywhere, at any price, unless you actually work with the virus or you’re part of a “smallpox response team.”
The government claims to have enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone in the U.S.

Ray Van De Walker

And you can believe as much of that as you want to.


Terrorism Risk Alert

Well, as it often happens, high-risk individuals go missing from military programs and we hear from them again at some odd terrorist attack. I wonder how long before we hear from these boys?


Several Afghan nationals undergoing military training in the United States disappeared from U.S. military bases this month, according to Pentagon and Homeland Security officials.

“During the month of September, seven Afghan students were considered absent without leave (AWOL) during international military student programs,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Patrick L. Evans said.


Not to worry, I’m sure some federal bureaucracy or other has an Afghani sensitivity training campaign on the shelf for just such an occurrence. After all, being concerned about potential security risks is racist and only enables climate change!

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

We will win the narrative and get Pulitzer Prizes.

You wrote that you’d worry about ADHD. You also wrote that many boys were drugged and this still happens in some places. What would you do if you confronted ADHD in your child in today’s day and age?

My experience has been that most cases described as ADHD occur in rich families and those with really good health insurance. Since the diagnosis didn’t exist when I was in graduate school in psychology, I don’t know the recommended treatments. In my time I once had a psychology practice in association with a leading pediatrician; I only took cases of bright children who were not doing well in school. I tended to teach them self discipline, and give them interesting things to do and read, and this was successful in those cases. I don’t believe I ever recommended drugs, which of course would have to be prescribed by my physician associate. It was a lucrative but time consuming practice and I gave it up.

I have seen kids of rich friends diagnosed as ADHD and have not found one I thought was autistic. That includes relatives of my daughters in law. I generally recommended more interesting schools, which advice was not always taken, but seems to have worked where it was tried. I have no experience with average IQ kids, so I cannot recommend anything. In general, bright kids who are bored tend to exhibit behavior indistinguishable from the diagnosis of ADHD, and since all of those I have encountered tended to respond well to self-discipline and interesting subject matter, I couldn’t say what I would do when “confronted” with ADHD, since I have never actually encountered it.

I have friends who had genuinely autistic bright children, but far more severe than the DSM ADHD. They eventually recovered, but the ordeal was severe and required enormous patience.


Freeman Dyson

The Green Universe: A Vision

Freeman Dyson

I have not read this, but Mr. Dyson is one of the great thinkers of our time.


Miracles –

Hi Jerry,

I’m blessed to count Mark Mittleberg and Lee Strobel as two friends – they are both best selling apologists, and provide a great filter between academia and the mass market.  One of the really cool parts of their work is that they provide references and citations to the deep academic literature.  

Recently Lee recommended Craig Keeners two-volume set on Miracles.  It provides compelling and powerful case studies and documentation that they really do happen.  I’m halfway through, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

I’ll witness to one myself – I was raised in a non-religious family, not even really C&E.  In college in the late 80’s, I became actively hostile to religion (lovely environment, CU Boulder, so very intolerant).  In 2004 I was in the habit of spending my lunch hour at our local Barnes and noble, often picking up and reading scientific books (Brian Greene, Hawking, etc.).  They had a display with The Case For Christ, and Darwin’s Black Box.  I thumbed through both, thinking I’d debunk them with a good laugh.  But neither was that easy.  That launched a 5 year deep investigation of my own – I read all of Lee’s books, read his sources, and read those sources, and all the counter arguments as well.  In the end, I came to a rational decision that Christianity was true.  Some months later, in late 2009, I came to faith – through a true apologetic, rational path.  My wife had always been a believer, and we set out to find a church to attend.  The second one we tried, just a month later, was Cherry Hills Community Church, which seats about 2500 people in the worship center.  They have a tradition as part of the service to turn around and greet and shake hands with the people around you.  

As I turned, I found myself shaking the hand of Lee Strobel.  We’ve been friends ever since.

God has both impeccable timing, and a great sense of humor.

I challenge anyone to brush that off to coincidence.  Of all the gin joints in all the world….



One of the Brothers told me in high school that each of us will experience a miracle or two; what we do with that experience will determine much in our lives. This was not Church doctrine, just an observation by a person I admired very much. His name was Brother Fidelis, FSC.


Sweden as a case study

Greetings Doctor
A short mail from Sweden. First to get it out of the way, you’ve been a longtime formative hero of mine. I got my basic world view from then illicit (sold but not kept at the library) Biggles books. World-view was then re-enforced by the Lord of the ring, but not really explained until getting my hands on Falkenberg’s Legion, and go tell the Spartans. Yes, I exaggerate a bit, there were other influences, but yours was important.
No one around here wrote books like that, since I grew up in Sweden, where we of unlimited welfare take our rights seriously and skip lightly over our outmoded duties, except those having to do with paying taxes.
Anyway, Sweden today might be the best case study possible with regards to a comprehensive and declining welfare state and free immigration. Of course, also the best, worst example in the world of poor and slow integration, since we due to feelings of supreme goodness, and strong unions, keep perfectly healthy immigrants out of the work force and on the dole. Twenty years ago I didn’t understand the term “Welfare Islands” when reading the Falkenberg books. I due to language and a less fractured country, envisioned real islands where the govt dumped the refuse. Now, the term makes perfect sense here in Sweden. Linguistically though, welfare is a good word here, encompassing everything the govt handles out as schools, hospitals, unemployment money and the coins you get from your social worker. So, linguistically, here, welfare is good, while money from “soc” the social workers is sorta frowned upon, and being re-named every fifth years or so to avoid pointing fingers at the dolees. So voters mainly care about jobs and welfare, ignoring defense and education. Yeah, recently we worry about immigration too, but the solution is simply more taxation.
I’d say Sweden is the perfect example of politicians bribing the voters with their owntax money, and most people have long lost sight of it. Recently cheap loans and somewhat lowered income taxes have made the middle class dependent on banks instead of politicians, and brought a day to day prosperity but little accumulated wealth, certainly not as compared to the loans. This perceived affluence and increased stratification, basically people living in rentals missed out on the property rally and cant borrow for consumption, have given the middle class a big touch of upper class guilt meaning no one says no to silly ideas. Thus every idiot idea coming out of leftist campuses in the US, or France, or dreamed up by those among us who simply hate civilization, are happily adopted by a very vocal minority and not resisted on fear of being labeled a Nazi.
Sweden; still comfortable, yet increasingly dismal and headed for the abyss, but a great case study, although few around here would admit it. Look it up, if you have any spare time to speak of.
If published, please keep name out. I could lose my job or at least the next three raises over it. As I said above, not agreeing with the lefties ideas makes you a Nazi around here. We take corporate policy one step further and call it something like shared bottom-line values. Said values are then decided on by the employer, and manifestly good, they have to be since they are shared values. Not agreeing with them, is a bad thing.
Thanks for the books. As I said formative.


I am Norman, which is Frenchified Danes and Swedes who were hired from our homeland in then Denmark (now Sweden) by the King of France to keep our relatives from raiding Normandy. I have a great deal of empathy with Sweden. I am sad to see Sweden used as a social experiment, but it is well that there has been one with obvious results.




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



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