Treason! and the newspaper of record; Thoughts on space

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

(The fact that in normal life and in psychiatry, anyone who “consistently and persistently insists” on anything else contrary to physical reality is considered either confused or delusional is conveniently ignored.)

Michelle Cretella, M.D.


The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski


Niven and Barnes will be over in an hour to discuss our latest book, and I haven’t time for this, but the situation has become absurd. Supposedly sane and educated people are accusing Donald Trump. Jr., of treason – treason – for accepting a meeting that in which, supposedly, damaging information about Hillary Clinton would be offered.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

Donald Trump, Jr. receives an email from a former associate of his father offering a meeting with a Russian former “Crown prosecutor”, whatever that is; a Russian lawyer who will deliver information damaging to Mrs. Clinton. She may have connections with the Russian government.

When I was a campaign manager for Mayer Yorty in the Yorty campaign, I received countless offers of information for sale about the Mayor’s opponent, former LAPD Lieutenant Bradley. I ignored most of them. One or two were intriguing enough that I accepted meetings with the offerer; on at least one occasion, the offer was through a third party, just as in this situation. In that particular instance, I was offered a number of unsubstantiated rumors which I could have someone run down, mostly of crime victims unhappy with Bradley’s police performance; worth nothing, as it happened, but I think I paid $20 for copies of the documents, none of which proved useful. Another time, the information might have been true, but the compiler made it clear it was dirt on Bradley’s daughter who had famously once been arrested for shop lifting in a department store for attempting to leave wearing a dozen or so pairs of new underwear. I quickly stopped that conversation: the Mayor had directed that we would never use anything related to Bradley’s family in the campaign, a policy I fully agreed with.

Another time, I did pay about $50 to a private investigator for documents relating to some investments Bradley had made, but after inspecting them I could not see any use for them.

Although no criminal acts were involved in any of this, I never informed the Mayor or Campaign Director Salvatore about any of these meetings; why would I? It was just another part of the campaign.

As it happens, in Trump Jr.’s case, the Russian lawyer, a former prosecutor, had nothing on Clinton and wanted to discuss Obama sanctions against Russia which had caused Russia to terminate American adoptions of Russian babies. The whole May 2016 meeting in the Trump Tower took less than half an hour, and nothing came of it.

Is there any sane way of making any of that treason? A promoter former associate of his father’s offers a meeting with a Russian “Crown lawyer”, who may have some information damaging to Mrs. Clinton, possibly obtained from the Russian government. Should young Trump have telephoned the FBI or Homeland Security with this hearsay? He certainly had no legal requirement to do so. We all hear rumors all the time; I certainly do.

Any campaign manager, offered information damaging to the opponent, has damned good reason to look into the offer, although chances are good that it will come to nothing. Doing so is not levying war against the United States, and as to giving aid and comfort to its enemies, who is the enemy? I was not aware that we were at war with Russia, or ever had been. You can’t give aid and comfort to an enemy you don’t have, and taking a meeting in the Trump Tower in hopes of receiving information rumored to be damaging to a political opponent is certainly not levying war against anyone.

On the other hand, destroying subpoenaed emails and documents is certainly a felony. Deliberately leaking classified documents to the public is certainly a felony. Exposing classified information to the public, even if inadvertently, is illegal and may be felonious if the negligence was severe and a reasonable person should have known it would result in exposure of classified documents. (One reason one doesn’t take Top Secret documents to the local Starbuck’s to read them.)

Treason! Is there no end to this madness? Of course there are “Republicans”, particularly some “conservative Republicans” who are terrified of victory: they might actually be held responsible for something. Better to be in the minority. The perks, coffee in the Congressional and Senate Dining Rooms are just as good.



Fake News Will Only Get Worse With the Maturity of Tech Like This:

——– Forwarded Message ——–


Fake News Will Only Get Worse With the Maturity of Tech Like This:


Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:06:44 +0000


Michael D



And the beat goes on.



Citizens Council


You wrote last week: “The Council essentially ceased to exist after our meeting with Dan Quayle was instrumental in creating the DC-X. ..the last Council Meeting was in the early 1990’s… ..Many of its members including of course General Dan Graham and Max Hunter have died; others including myself have aged in the more than 25 years since the last meeting. It’s someone else’s turn.”

Yeah, it’s been a while. Damn, I was young back then! (I will admit to middle age now.) But a little extra history for your readers, if you will:

I was a junior participant in that historic ’88 meeting – I’d been a very focused (occasionally obnoxiously so, I’m sure) “it’s the transportation dammit!” part of the Council’s informal online working group since late ’85.

I’d also gone to work for L5 Society in early ’86, but quickly discovered everyone there had their own grand space scheme – every one of which counted on someone else to provide the transportation.

But from my back room at L5 HQ I moonlighted helping G.Harry Stine pull together the published ’86 Council Report, “America: A Spacefaring Nation Again”, which was great but didn’t quite take the final step in detailing *how* to solve the problem.

Then in ’88, of course, we took that final step, and changed the world.

Only not quite as quickly as we’d hoped.

You’ll recall that the original program that emerged from your 1989 visit to the VP included both the initial low-altitude DC-X plus a high-performance DC-Y “two pilots to as near orbit as possible”

experimental follow-on. DC-Y was intended to see just how close to orbit a budget single-stage reusable rocket could get.

Then a year or so later, at a point where we were all distracted with day jobs, some farking genius at SDIO decided to start touting the DC-Y as a many-ton-payload carrying “Brilliant Pebbles” deployer.

Thus both totally missing the point of an X-vehicle (to quickly and cheaply learn what we needed to know *before* trying to design an operational payload-carrying version) and also GUARANTEEING that the Congress of the time would immediately kill it.

As we’d explicitly warned them. Which said Congress then did. Leaving us with DC-X, far better than nothing but less than we’d planned.

Which started me making like a broken record within our small circle, to the effect that *someone* needed to begin watching the store full-time, lest that sort of fell-through-the-cracks screwup set us back even further.

(At the time I did assume it was merely an ignorant screwup, not bureaucratic sabotage, which in hindsight may have been overly charitable. Regardless, losing DC-Y early led directly to the NASA X-33 fiasco and ten wasted years, not to mention a couple of billion dollars down the drain. But that’s another story.)

Then in ’92 I got laid off from my game development job with a handsome chunk of severance, and in a momentary excess of enthusiasm I volunteered. Thus Space Access Society was founded to continue pushing the core ’88 Council policies, with me as chief cook & bottle washer – protesting loudly that OK, I’ll do it, but for five years only, no more.

Hah. Did I mention “not quite as quickly as we’d hoped?” Twenty-five years later, in between all the distractions the world keeps throwing at me, I’m still at it, still with a loose informal brain trust that’s the distant descendant of our gang back in the day, and still pushing an evolved but recognizable version of the ’88 Council policies.

With some success to show for it in recent years, but that too is another story.

What was it you told me back in ’88? “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Or as I put it once to someone worried about having his pet idea stolen, “Don’t worry. If it’s actually a good idea, nobody will steal it – the only way you’ll get anyone to accept it quickly is at gunpoint.”

Anyway, don’t worry. The revived National Space Council will get good advice, in amongst all the bureaucratic rent-seeking. Whether they’ll take it, who knows? I don’t have anything like General Graham’s silver bullet handy. (I need an impressive motto for my office wall. Anyone know what’s Latin for “Not Responsible For Advice Not Taken”?)

The good news is, twenty-five years later, the usual bureaucratic suspects have twenty-five years of abject failure behind them, while the Council’s advice, to the extent it’s ever been implemented, has tended to produce results.

In the words of the immortal Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This Time For Sure!”

Which actually would be a more appropriate motto…

Henry Vanderbilt


Henry was invited to join the Council in 1984, and attended the meetings in my office where we planned to present the SSX proposal to the National Space Council.



Thoughts on Space

Dear Jerry,

Mr. Heinlein once said/wrote somewhere something about avidly following The News was not healthy, that closely monitoring the troubles of several billion other human beings was not good for you. More and more I am concurring with this sentiment. I have run a small experiment, informally. Each day, whenever I drag myself from under the covers and get some coffee, I turn on CNN. If they are talking about anything other than Trump, I watch more than a few minutes. If it is a Trump piece, I watch a moment or two to see if it is as ridiculous as usual, and if so, turn it off. Results? In the past few weeks, I have seen only one story that was not Trump, that being that the North Koreans had finally gotten an ICBM to do more than flop into the sea a few miles from the coast. It takes hard evidence of a looming existential threat to knock Trump off their hand painted radar screens!

As for getting us into space: I noted long ago the propensity for the old L-5 Society, as well as other Big Idea groups, to gloss over the transportation part of the equation. It was one reason I never got involved much with that crowd. I respected their dreams, and they did, and are doing now, important work in dreaming big, but I think they mostly thought NASA would take care of the transportation bit, if only they could get the Proxmire crowd off NASA’s back and increase NASA funding. Up until the late 80s or so, it still seemed to those with no inside information that NASA still had at least some of the Right Stuff.

Alas, the fiasco when NASA grabbed the DC-X and pranged it, as well s the X-33 boondoggle, put that idea to a well deserved rest. If I were able to decree one thing that would, IMHO, increase the chances of making humanity an exospecies (Hey, I just whipped up a term!), it would be to break NASA up into a series of independent labs, along with the launch centers, and have a mission oriented project organization (i.e.

Do this job, by this date, then you’re done, defunded, turn off the lights, the party’s over!) contract with the labs OR private industry for transportation service. You’d see “X” projects Up The Wazoo, Yazoo and Kazoo Toot Sweet!

On the Cheap Energy front, seen the news that China is going for Thorium reactors in spades, with Big Casino? The fact that Thorium is a major “waste material” in the mining and extraction of rare earths, as in one mine can produce five-thousand ton’s of thorium annually, has not escaped their notice.

Oh, if anyone here needs to be reminded, we had a working thorium breeder reactor in 1970. Nixon canceled the program, and we gave the tech away to anyone who wanted to buy the info from the government printing office.

How much you want to bet the Chinese also picked up a set of DC-X plans while shopping?


Thorium is what, the sixth most common element in the Earth’s surface, and its mining and refining, while expensive, is not prohibitively so in vast quantities; but so far, light water Uranium reactors would produce electricity at lifetime plant and fuel costs competitive with fossil fuels; probably the main cost of nuclear energy at present is regulations, and the lawyers to fight them; both regulators and their opponents in court are very expensive.


Mr. Heinlein always said, we’re going; but there’s no guarantee that those who go will speak English.





listing to port, or to starboard? typo 12 July View

Dr. Pournelle,

Nitpicking copy editor comment: you wrote “been arrested for shop listing in a department store.” Left hand QWERTY keyboard typing being what it is for me, I’m assuming you meant shoplifting?

I’m dumbstruck by the leftward spin on this Trump-Russia story. Seems as if it is getting a bit defensive, as I’ve heard no one point out that Comey has essentially lost all credibility due to his own disclosures of government information, leaving Mrs. Clinton open for re-investigation and both of them, along with both former attorneys general liable to impeachment and prosecution. Also haven’t heard anything about the amount of smoke and innuendo around what some foreign service or hacker group might have that would implicate Clinton: even though the “Russian Lawyer” might not have had anything, doesn’t the sheer quantity of rumor make it true?

Trump is still the master of misdirection.



Lifting, of course, and I’ve fixed it. Thanks. The cry of Treason by supposedly rational journalists shows that sensible journalism is no longer the objective.  It’s now “Trump must go by any means necessary,” and apparently they mean it.  I am dismayed. We no longer have a “newspaper of record” or anything like it.




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



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