Trumpism defined and other matters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On matters of foreign policy, Trump is not a realist, isolationist, or neoconservative, although at times he can sound like all that and more. Instead, he is a Jacksonian who wants a huge club at the Department of Defense largely to ensure that he’ll never have to use it. And if he is pushed to swing it, he wants to flatten any who would hurt the U.S.

Victor Davis Hanson

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



Phil Tharp calls attention to this article:

Although I was a subscriber to National Review from the 1950’s, I have lately given up reading it; but this is by Victor Davis Hanson who is both a Professor of History and a Central California Valley farmer, and his insights are always worth paying attention to. This time he has exceeded himself: nothing original, but he patiently explains the meaning of Trump and his populism. How can a billionaire be a populist? Read Hanson’s article. It explains it all very well. You must remember that populism is not equalitarianism, nor is it plebiscitary democracy. Populists expect to earn what they get; but they also expect to keep what they earn, and to play hard on a level playing field.

[snip] Making Stuff

Trumpism is a pragmatist in another way: his unapologetic deference to 19th-century muscular labor and those who employ and organize it. Though we are well into the 21st-century informational age, Trump apparently believes that the age-old industries — steel, drilling, construction, farming, mining, logging — are still noble and necessary pursuits. Using one’s hands or one’s mind to create something concrete and real is valuable in and of itself, and a much-needed antidote to the Pajama Boy–Ivy League culture of abstraction. Silicon Valley, the marquee universities, and progressive ideologues might dismiss these producers as polluting dinosaurs, but all of them also rely on forgotten others to fuel their Priuses, bring them their kitchen counters, their hardwood floors, and their evening cabernet and arugula and, 12 hours later, their morning yogurt and granola. The producers acknowledge the equal importance of Apple and Google in a way that is never quite reciprocated by Silicon Valley. In other words, expect Trumpism to champion fracking, logging, Keystone, “clean” coal, highway construction, the return of contracted irrigation water to its farmers, the retention of federal grazing lands for cattlemen — not just because in Trump’s view these industries are valuable sources of material wealth for the nation but also because they empower the sort of people who are the antidote to what American is becoming.[snip]

There’s more, and it’s all pretty clear; I might have written much of it. I mean that in the sense that I found little to disagree with; I don’t mean to take anything away from Professor Hanson. Read the article. You’ll understand Trump better, agree with Trumpism or not.


It has been slow at Chaos Manor. I’m doing a lot more exercising during the day; I have to. My backaches and joint problems are creeping up on me, and lots of stretching is really the only thing that helps.

I suppose I need a new hip, but my observation of what happens to people who get artificial hips does not encourage me to try it. I’ve forgone the Tibetan Rites until I get the back problem under control. I’ve also had problems with hearing – mostly mine. I seem to grow more wax than bees do. Aggressive cleaning with a syringe is indicated, but I guess I was too vigorous because I managed a mild earache. Nothing serious, and it is subsiding, but it has been annoying. And of course there are still books to write.



President Obama gave his farewell speech. He did not mention one of his great legacies;

President Obama Increases U.S. Regulatory State by 12% in one Month

Actually that’s quite a record.





J M Davis

Interesting. Of course the Vikings always believed Vinland was closer to Greenland, but that could be misinterpretation.


DNC Hack –

Hi Jerry,

Attribution of attacks is a major problem.

Let me describe a situation, and see if you can guess what I’m referring to:

A high-profile hack occurred, including data disclosure, and has been attributed to a foreign government.   The original source for that attribution was a leak to the press, followed by statements from the executive branch.  Later, the intelligence community released a report that’s woefully thin on details, and have yet to provide a classified briefing to the congressional oversight committee with full information.  No joint statement from the select committee has been released.

I’m sure you immediately thought of the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee, but it easily could also reference the Sony hack last year.  In both cases we have an assertion of responsibility to a nation state, with no substantive details.  What’s interesting to me is how some in the security community responded to those two assertions.  One was widely dismissed, pointing out the difficulty of attribution, while the other – by the same security experts – was generally accepted.   Let me come back to that.

First, let’s look at the broader problem of attribution.

Primarily it involves indicators of compromise (things left from the hack) and human sources of information (things from people).  Hacker toolkits and techniques are designed to minimize the IOC’s as much as possible.  Everything from wiping logs, to hopping multiple compromised servers and using proxies to disguise the originating machine are bread and butter to the sophisticated adversary.

In some cases, malware code is left behind, which can provide a vital clue, but that only goes so far.  This week, there’s been a number of breathless news stories that Russian malware has been found on a computer at an American utility.  To paraphrase the greatest movie of all time, “I’m Shocked, Shocked! that there is malware from Russia going on here. (Insert a scene of a junior hacker running up and saying ‘hello sir, here’s the attack tool kit we bought off the dark web’).”

Seriously, a substantial percentage of the malware in circulation today relies on toolkits built by Russian hackers – they’re very good at it.  But the source code is almost all available for sale, so the original author (and remember, Russian hacker doesn’t mean Russian government) is rarely the one perpetuating the attack.   More to the point, it’s no surprise to anyone in the security profession that there’s Russian, North Korean, or Chinese on any particular machine in America – any more than it’s a surprise for Iran, Russia, China, or North Korea to find that there’s American, British, or Israeli malware on their systems.  Everybody hacks.  But unless the hacker makes a mistake, successful prosecution and reliable attribution from IOC’s alone is very challenging.

That’s where the people side of the investigation comes in.   Most hacking involves money, and following financial trails is something law enforcement is very good at.  The majority of the remainder involves intellectual property theft, which can also be traced – often when knockoff products appear, though by then it’s too late to do anything about.  Pure activism hacking is the hardest, but in all three cases people talk, either in exchange for protection from prosecution, venting on a forum, or social media bragging rights, and law enforcement finds out.   Lastly, for some attacks there’s both signals and human intelligence that can be brought to bear, but much of that will never be revealed (and rightly so) as it would compromise sources and methods.

So we’re back full circle.   For the hacks I referenced above, we must remember there are geo and domestic political motivations to attribute those to a particular nation state.  I treat any such assertion (from either party) as suspect, particularly when it’s ‘leaked’ to the press.  My own experience with folks in the intelligence community is that the ones who really know, don’t talk, and the ones who don’t know, well, they talk too much.

Wikileaks claims that they didn’t get the information from the Russian government, rather that it was delivered in a Washington park by an insider.  Given the complete lack of details in the report issued this week, the timing of the attribution, the refusal to brief the select committee, and the petulance of the outgoing administration, I’m skeptical of the asserted story.  I don’t dismiss it, but I am skeptical.  I’m also skeptical of the Sony Hack attribution, and still skeptical of much of Snowden’s story as well.   We have assertions and very limited real information on all three – we pretty much know “what” happened, but the who and why remain unclear.

It’s very human to take what facts we do have and try to make a coherent story out of them.  That’s my job actually – to recognize the pattern and story in what my clients are saying, and then capture and articulate it back as a security architecture and strategy. Of course, I have far more information to work with than we’ve been given on these attacks, and can go back and ask questions to make sure I fully understand the situation.

But that’s where the analogy breaks down.   I work for a company that sells security software and services.  Both my own integrity and our company values, require that I work in the best interest of my client.  That’s why part of my job is to integrate with competing solutions and services.  Of course, when our products and services meet the requirements and provide good value, I’ll recommend what I sell – that’s my job, and no one expects me to do anything different.

Attribution is different.  As professionals, we must set a common yardstick and apply it equally and fairly to regardless of target, source, or impact.  Rarely will we know with certainty.   Ethically we must disclose the speculative nature, alternate explanations and probabilities involved.

For the DNC and Sony attacks, because there are nation state issues, we’re never going to have all the facts, and will have to rely on a trusted third-party who does.  You can stop laughing now, because you’re right – that doesn’t exist;  I don’t trust either administration on this one.  The best that we could do is a joint statement by both the majority and minority leaders of the house select committee on intelligence, after a full classified briefing by the entire intelligence community, that provides attribution and some level of IOC’s.   Until then, I remain skeptical.


As you say. Certainty of attribution is an extraordinary claim. As to voting integrity:

In One Detroit Precinct 52 Ballots Yielded 307 Votes


A scientific consensus that does not include Freeman Dyson is no consensus at all.

Well worth your reading.


“Russian” hack redux

The KrebsonSecurity article, linked by Tracy, is very informative. However it, like nearly every other article on the subject, ignores the most important piece of information in all this. Julian Assange — you know, the founder/head of Wikileaks, who actually released the “hacked” emails to the public — has assured us that he got the material from a DNC insider.

Should we trust Assange? Should we trust Clapper? Hmmm . . . Tough choice.

They could both be telling us “the truth”. There is abundant evidence that the Russians — or someone pretending to be Russians — penetrated both the DNC and the RNC. But should we believe that they were the only ones? Probably so did the British, the French, the Dutch, the Israelis, the Bangladeshis and a couple score of script kiddies working from their parents’ basements.

It may be that Clapper is being truthful (for an arbitrary value of “truthful”), in telling us that the Russians (or someone pretending to be clumsy Russians) penetrated those systems, but he simply cannot know who gave the goods to Wikileaks.

Occam’s Razor suggests that Assange is telling us the truth about that.

Richard White

Del Valle, Texas

The point being that we simply do not know, but saying that we do is an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. We have seen little.


The most alarming facet of the on going circus surrounding the DNC Hack and document dump is how politicized our National Intelligence Agencies have become.

This is, perhaps, the swamp that needs to be drained first. The Department of Education’s demise is important, but its abolishment should be much easier.

Bob Holmes

But the DoED is much harder to control; we have a unique opportunity to undo the mistake made after Sputnik. We should take it. Intelligence services we will always have with us, and that swamp will always need periodic draining.


This will seem to ramble a bit, but there’s a lot of background, to be able to appreciate the punch line.

Over the Christmas holidays, as part of a combination “escape from Huntsville/last-minute mileage run”, I took up a new hobby.

I’m learning to fly the Boeing 737NG, in simulation, on a Pacific Simulators ( PS3.5, a state-of-the-science Advanced Aviation Training Device.  This is a flight simulator without a motion base: the pilot gets his motion cues from a high-quality visual scene.

Their customers are usually people who want to get a taste of airliner flying, or (usually) give their children a taste.  I went in, explained that I wanted to learn the 737, stick-and-rudder flying, really learn it.  They looked at me and basically said “We can do that.”

I have 1 1/2 hours of “orientation”-type rides, and 8 hours of hard working time.  I flew every day for six days: 4 days of 1-hour sessions, 2 days of 2-hour sessions.  I have learned a surprising amount, made memories that will last a lifetime, and I’m just getting started.

Thirty years ago, during lunch hour one day, I had the opportunity to fly the Research and Engineering Simulator at General Dynamics / Fort Worth Division.  It was a fixed-base sim, with visual scene.  It required five (later reconfigured to need “only” three) Harris superminicomputers to run, and used an Evans & Sutherland light valve (I think that was the term for the projector system).

The PS3.5 is nicer than the R&E sim was.

And now I finally get to the point:

After a particularly instructive session (you really don’t want to know), I discovered that the simulator was running on Microsoft Windows computers and Lockheed-Martin’s Prepar3d.  (  Prepar3d is what used to be the professional version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  When Microsoft discontinued it, Lockheed-Martin bought the rights and has continued to develop it, for non-entertainment purposes.

Windows.  PCs.  PC graphics cards.  Commercial projectors.

We are definitely not in Kansas any more, Toto.

–John R. Strohm


Dear Doctor Pournelle,

A little late, as the information was put out at a news conference in 2015, but NASA confirmed the presence of liquid water in multiple locations just below the Martian surface and in large amounts.

How large?

One of these locations, in Valles Marineris, as a bare minimum to explain the observations, would have to contain 10^5 cubic meters of water. That’s one hundred million liters in one of these wet spots, which have a long name that NASA abbreviates to “RSL”.

Here is the original news conference:

Aside from the implications for possible life on Mars, this means human colonization is now proven much more feasible. Mars is known now to have the minerals in the soil, CO2 and Nitrogen in the atmosphere and water to grow food in “greenhouses”. Simple nineteenth century chemical engineering, a la Robert Zubrin, allows you to turn water and CO2 into oxygen and methane, which makes a nice rocket fuel. The perchlorates in the soil that are what seem to make this solid water possible by expanding the temperature range of liquid water on Mars from the narrow zero Celsius to ten Celsius of pure H2O to something around nine times wider are also very useful chemicals. Solid fuel rockets can be made from aluminum perchlorate.

These wet points have so far only been observed at the driest time of the day on Mars, and only in the roughly five per cent of the Martian surface that has been mapped at hi-res by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. There is in all likelihood a LOT of water on Mars, and not hard to get at, nor frozen.


Elon Musk envisions colonizing Mars, with thousands of ships.


Space Access Conference Announcement 1/8/17

Sunday, 01/08/17 – There will not be a Space Access Conference this April in Phoenix. Our long-time Conference Manager is retiring from that role. Proposals are now being accepted to organize and run the next Space Access Conference, date and location TBD.

Details at


Congressional Black Caucus Rehangs Painting Depicting Cops as Pigs Day After Black Cop Shot Dead



A high school student’s painting that portrays the events in Ferguson, Missouri, is back on the wall on Capitol Hill. Democratic congressman William Lacy Clay rehung the painting on Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker had removed it because he found it offensive.




Half of young people have so many ’emotional problems’ they cannot focus at school, study finds


This is mostly about how at-sea kids feel today.

One is struck by how much they feel they will not have jobs. This is understandable. So why not provide jobs for everyone? Ditch welfare – we can’t afford it anyway. Pay people to do things we can’t afford to pay for today because we are too busy paying for welfare.





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



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