Bye, Sweetheart

RIP Sally 2007 to 2014The Czar wishes to report with personal sadness the passing of his beloved family member, Sally, whom a few of you emailed and tweeted to us about periodically.

Sally, as some of you may remember, was a Shetland Sheepdog we rescued back in July of 2009, and who had suffered more than any dog should need to suffer.

When we first got her, we were of course aware of her terrible and violent history and were not surprised to see her hide, cower, and shake incessantly. Over days, she realized we were not going to hurt her, and she started to become curious about her new home. We discovered she did not know how to walk up or down stairs, had no idea how doors worked, never ate warm or cooked food, and suffered from terrible nightmares.

In time, as we hoped, she seemed to get over the nightmares and became glued to the boys. We started to include her on short vacations, trips to the archery range, countless hikes, and family gatherings. In 2012, the Цесаревич wrote a story for a contest in the local Muscovy paper about why he thinks his dog is special. He wrote that she watched her puppies drown in a flood, and cried whenever it rained, and runs to each of the boys whenever the weather gets bad to make sure they are safe and sitting on something high up. And that despite all that, she has become quite a good dog and even though there’s so much wrong with her, it cannot take away all that was right with her.

He went for the sad angle, and of course the judges loved it. He won the contest, and the grand prize was a parade for her in her honor. She got to walk with him up front, just behind the American flag (which was carried by the Царевич in full Cub Scout uniform). The three of them, bedecked in red, white, and blue, led a parade of a couple hundred people and their pets. The turnout for the even was far more than Muscovy expected, and they received numerous requests from people wanting to open vendor booths next year. The Village awarded Sally not just with a parade, but lots of prizes and gifts including a free portrait session by a professional photographer. We have those portraits hung up all over the house.

Since then, Sally was featured on the cover of a local magazine based on that original essay, with lavish color photographs by the same photographer of her posing in front of the house. The photographer recommended the photo story for the magazine. She seemed to get this was something special, although Sally obviously had no idea what: just that people were coming over to see her.

A canine fitness franchise contacted us, based on the magazine article, and asked if they could use Sally for a local promotion. We agreed, and she had a wonderful time with the other dogs. The franchise then featured her in demonstrations, videos, and commercials. She has since appeared on local and national television based on her appearances in those how-to-exercise-with-your-pet videos. One good thing always led to something better with this dog. All this in less than two years!

Two weeks ago, Sally stopped eating. We ignored it, as sometimes dogs go through periods where they just don’t like the food. After two days, we took her to the vet. He could find nothing wrong on a cursory exam, so we tried different food.

Some days she ate; most days she did not. She began to lose weight. On Saturday, we took her for an X-ray: a mass was discovered in her large intestine. An ultrasound on Monday confirmed the presence of a large mass causing her pain. Exploratory surgery today revealed a six-inch tumor that basically was shutting her down. The vet called at once and said it was technically inoperable.

We said our good byes moments later: she remained under anesthesia the entire time, but the boys are convinced she heard them cry their last farewells. The Цесаревич thanked her for all the adventures and parades and television interviews. The Царевич reminded her that she needed to be a good dog, now more than ever. The Царица said Sally finally didn’t need to be scared anymore.

The Czar? Well. We believe this was a dog worth saving. We will receive many comments from our community, who regarded her as a minor but vital celebrity, and the Czar will be satisfied to say that to anyone. She was a good dog. A very good dog. And maybe we only got five years to spend with her, but it was five years that she could learn that life was really good to her more often than not. She deserved more of it than she wound up receiving, but we did our best.

And we will miss her.

The Man in the High Castle

amazon_studiosAmazon Studios just quietly greenlighted the drama The Man In the High Castle.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel, The Man In the High Castle is written by Frank Spotnitz (of the X-Files) and to be directed by David Semel (Legends).  It is set in 1962 and explores an alternative reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and occupy the United States, with the East Coast controlled by the Nazis and the West Coast owned by Japan, and a chunk of the Midwest still up for grabs. Fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names. But an aging Hitler has one foot in the grave, and the Japanese are preparing for an imminent Nazi stab in the back. The U.S. Resistance is scattered, scared, or crushed.

It was originally aimed at being a four-hour miniseries on SyFy but they bailed on it.  “The Man in the High Castle” is one of Philip K. Dick’s best works – some would argue that is due to the additional editing he gave the book rather than shorting it as he did on other novels in a push for money.  GorT would argue that it is just one of the lesser “odd” novels by the author.  Philip K. Dick had a serious drug issue and some various mental health issues – some of his novels incorporated aspects and artifacts from these issues.

GorT is looking forward to the adaptation and is impressed Amazon is stepping up and throwing down on something like this with the traditional network channels.

The Party Is Ending

Quick—what does the Russian incursion of Ukraine have in common with the Israeli strikes on Hamas in Gaza? If you lean to the Left, you might be inclined to say something about an offensive military power taking advantage of a weaker community fighting for its freedom, especially if you were ignorant of the news. In most cases, that’s everyone on the Left.

But play along: what do these two events have to do with a rash of children flooding across our southern border?

Actually, all three news items have one thing in common: they all reflect what happens in the absence of a working foreign policy.

Every parent’s fear is coming home from vacation to discover the teens trashed the place with a party. This is what our next president will be coming home to, courtesy the brats who occupy the Executive Branch.

You can read this as a slam at Barack Obama, but frankly he checked out a while back after he decided partying and goofing off was a heck of a lot easier than being in charge. The real culprit here is the overall lack of leadership at any level in the administration. So, no—not Barack Obama, but the absence of adults in his administration.

Russia moved into the Ukraine because Putin knows no one will stop him. Not the hand-wringers in Europe who are more concerned with whether Cypriot fishing regulations should be in Greek, Turkish, or both. And certainly not the United States, whom Putin correctly read as unconscious.

Israel understood that the United States has been lying to her for years regarding support. Whenever we told Israel that we would apply pressure to the Palestinian government, it came as a strongly worded tweet, followed by the United Nations getting detailed information as to what Hamas was doing so that the UN could get its workers into safer areas. If anyone thinks the United Nations wants Israel to survive more than another ten minutes, they have not been paying attention. Israel, knowing the United States is actually sorta supporting the Hamas terrorists here, had to act on her own.

And the consistency of stories from the children being rounded up at our southern borders is terrible: they are being sent not just by desperate parents but by complicit governments, who are telling the children that the United States will take care of them and their brothers and sisters—just get them across the border and you get amnesty. No, the Obama administration never said this. But they have made no realistic effort to prove the Mexican and Central American governments are running a disgusting scam to dump their poor and clean up their welfare rosters.

In all three cases, the official American response is to shrug and ask “So?” But let us not put the cart before the horse: these problems occur because the shrug came first. The next president, Democrat or Republican, is going to have a terrible, filthy mess to clean up.

E.J. Dionne Is An Idiot: Halbig Decision Edition


Looks as if E.J.’s managed to give the attendants at the sheltered workshop the slip again. He almost looks normal without his hockey helmet with his name taped to the front. E.J. likes to bash his head repeatedly when confronted with truth and logic, hence the need for a helmet.

It’s been some time since ‘Puter’s excoriated E.J. Dionne, America’s Foremost Mentally Retarded ColumnistTM. Frankly, ‘Puter got bored tearing apart Mr. Dionne’s “logic.” It’s not very challenging to do so.

But Mr. Dionne’s column, run in today’s Washington Post,* piqued ‘Puter’s interest. Mr. Dionne chose to write about the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s recent decision in Halbig v. Burwell. Readers can readily discern Mr. Dionne’s storied open-mindedness from his column’s title: “A Conservative Judiciary Run Amok.” Classy.

Mr. Dionne makes the following observations:

  • The D.C. Circuit “effectively gutt[ed] the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday.”
  • The Court’s majority “showed how far right-leaning jurists have strayed from … impartiality.”
  • America “is confronted with a conservative judiciary that will use any argument it can muster to win ideological victories that elude their side in the elected branches of our government.”

Such good faith restatement of facts ‘Puter has never seen.** And that’s before Mr. Dionne gets to the Halbig decision itself.  Mr. Dionne offers us the benefit of his legal wisdom with these gems:

  • “Because the subsidies are established in a part of the law referring to state exchanges, the D.C. Circuit ruled that no one on the federal exchange is eligible for them. Poof! There goes the health law in most of the country.”
  • The majority “invents the idea that Congress may have intended to deny subsidies to people in states that didn’t set up their own exchanges as an incentive for those states to do so.”
  • “The extreme judicial activism here is obvious … .”
  • “[I]f you accept there is ambiguity in the law, … Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council held that in instances of uncertainty, the court defers to federal agencies rather than concocting textual clarity when it doesn’t exist.”
  • “We cannot use judicial sophistry as an instrument of anti-democratic sabotage.”

Trenchant observations, Justice Dionne. Too bad reality and basic legal doctrine completely discredit your position.

To comprehend just how wrong Mr. Dionne is, let’s start with the basic facts.

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. As part of the Act, Congress set up a system of exchanges. States could elect to set up an exchange or not. If states did not set up an exchange, the federal government must set up an exchange for the state. Policies purchased on state exchanges could receive tax credits. Policies purchased on the federal exchanges could not receive tax credits. Upon realizing federal exchange policies could not receive tax credits, the Internal Revenue Service issued a regulation interpreting the Act to allow tax credits for policies purchased on both state and federal exchanges.

That’s it. The IRS wrote a regulation authorizing it to do something (provide tax credits to all exchange purchased policies, state and federal) that the enabling legislation did not permit.

Here’s how the D.C. Circuit reached its decision.

  • The Court applied Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, asking “‘whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue,’ for if it has, we must give effect to its unambiguously expressed intent.”
  • The Court acknowledged the provision “is but one piece of a vast, complex statutory scheme, and we must consider it both on its own and in relation to the ACA’s interconnected provisions and overall structure so as to interpret the Act, if possible, ‘as a symmetrical and coherent scheme.’”
  • The Court ultimately holds: (1) “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State’”; (2) the Act “does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges”; (3) the Act “plainly distinguishes Exchanges established by states from those established by the federal government”; (4) the federal government’s argument “that this construction generates absurd results” is wrong as it “does not render other provisions of the ACA unworkable, let alone so unreasonable as to justify disregarding [the ACA’s] plain meaning; and (5) the federal government’s “appeals to the ACA’s broad aims do not demonstrate that Congress manifestly meant something other than what [the ACA] says.

You really ought to read the entire 42 page majority decision to see how thorough and well-reasoned it is. It is a model decision, one which ‘Puter believes the Supreme Court is likely to affirm, if it gets that far.

As to Mr. Dionne’s tin foil hat allegations the D.C. Circuit majority has “run amok” and “strayed from … impartiality,” ‘Puter asks you to consider the following passages from the majority’s decision:

The point is that we don’t know, and in asking us to ignore the best evidence of Congress’s intent – the text of section 36B – in favor of assumptions about the risks that Congress would or would not tolerate – assumptions doubtlessly influenced by hindsight – the government and dissent in effect urge us to substitute our judgment for Congress’s. We refuse. As the Supreme Court explained just this term, “an agency may not rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate.” And neither may we. “The role of th[e] [c]ourt is to apply the statute as it is written – even if we think some other approach might ‘accor[d] with good policy.’” (citations omitted)

More generally, the ACA’s ultimate aims shed little light on the “precise question at issue,” – namely, whether subsidies are available on federal Exchanges because such Exchanges are “established by the State.” As the Supreme Court has repeatedly warned, “it frustrates rather than effectuates legislative intent simplistically to assume that whatever furthers the statute’s primary objective must be the law” because “no legislation pursues its purposes at all costs.” Thus, if legislative intent is to be our lodestar, we cannot assume, as the government does, that section 36B single-mindedly pursues the ACA’s lofty goals. (citations omitted)

Clearly, the D.C. Circuit’s majority is a court run amok, wantonly ignoring law to randomly pick and choose winners based on their personal policy preferences.

The D.C. Circuit’s majority did exactly what law requires. It followed the Chevron doctrine, despite Mr. Dionne’s false assertion it did not. The Court applied the clear language of the law Congress wrote, and refused to substitute its own judgment for that of the legislature. To do otherwise would be to legislate from the bench.

But that, friends, is exactly why Mr. Dionne and his liberal fellow travelers are irate. Liberals expect judges to legislate from the bench. See, e.g., Roe v. Wade. Liberals know there’s no way in hell Congress will be able to pass legislation authorizing subsidies for federal exchange policies. Democrats barely managed to cram the piece of dung that is the ACA through Congress when it controlled both houses. If courts won’t rewrite the ACA, then liberals know their Utopian dream of free shit (health care, in this case) for everyone will die, and die quickly.

The D.C. Circuit’s deference to the Constitution’s clear separation of powers has been all too rare during President Obama’s lawless administration. Perhaps that’s why it’s so shocking for liberals like Mr. Dionne to see it.

* ‘Puter used to read the Washington Post daily, but ever since they’ve gone to a 30 article cap per month, ‘Puter sticks with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. These access limits to regional daily newspapers drive ‘Puter nuts. It makes good sense if limited to internet users in your hard copy distribution area, but other than that, you’re alienating people.

** This is a good example of the Left’s argument style. First, assume your opponent acts solely from evil motives. Second, demonize the living crap out of your opponent. Third, ignore inconvenient facts. Fourth, rant a bit more about points so far removed from the topic they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Fifth, falsely portray yourself as the defender of average Americans. Last, claim victory while frothing at the mouth.

*** The D.C. Circuit’s decision makes the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s conflicting same day King v. Burwell decision look like the demented ramblings of, well, E.J. Dionne.

Hitting the Lottery

This guy is working on the "Suck It, Czar" App.  It's going to make millions.

This guy is working on the “Suck It, Czar” App. It’s going to make millions.

GorT is a manager of 20+ software engineers in two different cities in the United States.  GorT has been in the software industry for 20+ years and this group is one of the highest performing and talented teams he’s seen – both in competitors, partners and within companies at which he’s worked.

Having said that, many of the developers are in the millennial generation and have expressed opinions that lead me to believe that the instant gratification culture that they grew up in has set a level of expectations that is unreasonable and, frankly, dangerous.  These behaviors range from salary expectations to people departing in order to chase making millions by pushing out the next “Yo!” app on the iTunes App Store.

I wonder if they have an appreciation of the numbers involved here.  There are some infamous questions that companies like Google ask (or used to ask) in their interviewing process that go something like, “How many piano tuners are there in the United States?”  In that vein, how many developers are there in the United States?  The IDC recently estimated that there are 18,539,000 software developers in the world with 19.2% or about 3.5 million in the United States.  Even if you took the top 10% of those as the cream of the crop (and consider yourself one of them) who can knock out great apps that will land them a fortune, you’re competing with 349,999 others for that chance.  While that’s better odds than a lottery ticket.  But wait, there’s more.  A study shows that 50% of the revenue from apps in the iTunes Store (at least a few years ago) was collected by 25 game companies.  So that payout might be a little harder to reach.  Forbes shows that in 2012, $5B was paid out to developers of apps on the store.  Factoring out 50% to those game companies, that leaves $2.5B for the rest.  Forbes continues in the article and concludes that, for Apple apps, the average developer payout is $21,276 (The Google apps and Microsoft apps fare worse).

GorT suspects that the app development market is getting diluted and the chance of being that one major hit (i.e. Angry Birds*) by a single developer is a pipe dream at best.  The numbers show that working at a decent software development firm pulling down anywhere from three to ten times that average payout - depending on years of experience, market, etc. – is a much better opportunity.

Although you could buy a lottery ticket on the way home too.

Ancient Tropes

St. Jerome, in his busier days, once wrote that pretty much nihil was novus under the solis, and that observation is pretty true in politics. Know all those stupid tropes that Democrats keep throwing out about their Republican rivals? You might be surprised that most of them go back a ways. In fact, most go back way longer than you.

“My opponent is a wealthy, racist fat cat who hates women, children, and immigrants.” “Really? Mine too!”

Republicans, as you have heard, want to go back to the failed policies of the past. This was a big part of Wilson’s 1912 campaign speech—even adding the Constitution is a living document that needs to change with the times.

Republicans, as you have heard, are in an evil collaboration with big business. In fact, they care more about Wall Street than Main Street. Interestingly, but perhaps not too surprisingly, they have been so ever since FDR’s 1932 campaign. Anti-capitalist slogans among Democrats go back to the rise of Marxism, of course, but were never mainstreamed until the early 1930s.

Republicans, as you have heard, are racist bastards who like the keep the black man down, even though they were formed as an anti-slavery party, opposed Jim Crow laws, battled the Klan throughout its history, ran and elected legitimate black candidates long before Democrats did, and pushed for Civil Rights. But as we all know, Democrats recognized they had lost the issue in the mid-1960s when they saw themselves losing the South—the birthplace of the party—to the GOP. Realizing this would possibly let the GOP have the presidency for decades,* the meme began that Nixon was a racist, and that black Americans needed to vote for LBJ. This flip-flop was a massive undertaking, given the shame that Democrats would otherwise need to admit to.

Republicans, as you have heard, have declared a war on women. That phrase actually goes back to the 1980s, if you can recall back that far. While many of us might think it applies to the Mitt Romney campaign of 2012, it was a tip-of-the-tongue trope among Democrats by the early 1990s. Anyone remember the ironic candidate the Democrats ran in 1992? Anyway, like racism, this is another flip-flop-by-guilt position since Democrats overwhelmingly opposed giving women the right to vote in 1915. The GOP supported it from the get-go, with Democrats conceding in 1919 but refusing to support the Equal Rights Amendment— which, yes, the GOP supported from early on. That, by the way, had everything to do with the unions. So the Republican War on Women really goes back to union influence peddling over 100 years ago.**

Republicans, as you have heard, care only about the one-percenters. This, too, goes back to FDR’s announcement that two-thirds of American industries are in the hands of five individuals.

Republicans, as you have heard, oppose campaign contribution reforms. There need to be limits to how much individuals, particularly rich individuals, can contribute to a campaign, otherwise the Presidency can be bought. This can be found, in very contemporary language, in Wilson’s 1916 campaign speeches.

Republicans, as you have heard, are opposed to an open and transparent government. This too hearkens back to FDR’s 1932 campaign.

Republicans, as you have heard, hate immigrants—even though this position would contradict many of the other tropes about Republicans. The GOP hates immigrants? Actually, this was first used in the 1850s as a way of poisoning the anti-slavery folks who left the Know Nothings to help coalesce into the Republican party. You don’t want to vote for that former Know Nothing Republican: he hates immigrants.***

Yes, we can go on and on, but we do not need to do so. The next time you hear an annoying cliché from a Democrat politician that you know is not the case, the odds are good that it is a really old one, recycled from campaign after campaign. Why? Because the Democrats win elections, and therefore they assume these tropes work. Like a baseball pitcher who kisses his mit and taps his toe before throwing a fastball, the Democrats stick to whatever they think works for them.

Yes, Republican politicians do it, too—just not as well. The problem though is that when Republicans throw out the same old charges against their Democrat opponents, it often is based on truth. Or, perhaps just as importantly, polls suggest the public believes them to be true.

* The “Southern problem” was recognized by Democrats in the late 1940s; Truman himself saw the need to win the votes of the people he routinely referred to as N-words, even though it badly fractured the Democrats through the 1950s, as they divided up in over and covert racist bastards.

** The women problem was eventually recognized by the Democrats in the 1970s as compatible with progressive ideology regarding abortion and Feminism. As Feminists tended to be liberal and active in politics, the Democrats quickly moved to include them as a voting block given they rarely voted for Republicans. Interestingly, the acceptance of abortion as a party plank means that Roman Catholics are in contempt of the Church by voting for Democrats. This is a problem the Democrats have never actually been able to solve within their ranks.

*** The immigrant problem was recognized in the 1850s, all right, but the Democrats are clearly recognizing the voting potential of Mexican Americans as a reliable source of Democratic votes. The jury is still out on whether Mexican Americans will remain the traditional Hispanic abhorrence of abortion.**

Xena – HYDRA Princess

Lucy Lawless photo-001Gentle Readers,

Dr. J. saw this casting news this morning. Lucy Lawless will be joining the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast this fall in an unspecified role for an unknown duration of episodes.


Dr. J. would like to make a casting suggestion: Viper, AKA Madame Hydra.

Hydra’s not dead, Baron Strucker will be in Avengers 2, so why not have them lock horns with his number one assassin?

Compare And Contrast

Gentle Readers,

Dr. J.’s thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the Malaysian Airline that appears to have been shot down in the Ukraine by Russian or pro-Russian forces.

President Obama gave an odd forty second acknowledgement yesterday at a fundraiser in Delaware, before moving on to more pressing issues like shtick and mocking of his cabinet.

Among his bon mots included stating that it may have been a terrible tragedy. MAY? WTF!??

Second he said that his first priority to determine if there were any Americans on board. That’s a weird thing to say. If a plane was shot down (which it appears that it was) the presence or absence of Americans should not change the American response. Implying that it does (intentionally or unintentionally) is foolish. Determining what happened, who did it and why should have been enunciated as the highest priorities, as they will determine the best response.

Lastly, moving into cracking jokes straight away, was nothing but amateurish and showing an utter disregard for the unnecessary loss of innocent human life. He should have changed his speech to something more somber and respectful.

See it here:

Now, if you want to see how a proper condemnation of a Russian (Soviet) shooting down of an Asian airliner is done, look no further than the Reagan Library:

Peace through strength folks, peace through strength.


Obama’s Smart Diplomacy Is Neither Smart Nor Diplomatic

Since 2006 or so, when David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett decided America needed was an untested, uninterested community organizer as president, we’ve been told America’s conducted its foreign affairs wrong since its inception. What America truly needed was “smart diplomacy,” a phrase as devoid of meaning as “social justice.”

With the election of our second black president,* we learned its definition. “Smart diplomacy” is a series of measures designed to diminish American influence worldwide, kowtow to tyrants, ignore real and burgeoning crises, and pretend there are no groups bent on doing us harm.

We created the conditions for the Arab Spring, then did nothing to assist burgeoning democracies as decades old dictatorships fell. Did we ask Jordan for assistance? How about Morocco, the most stable and freest country in North Africa? Hell, Morocco’s constitution even recognizes the rights of Christians and Jews to be free from persecution. Morocco was also the first nation to recognize the United States after independence. But no, it was far smarter to listen to kids fresh out of college and professors who’d never left college, who’d been recently appointed to polish desk chairs with their ample foggy bottoms.  Our smart diplomacy has left North Africa (except Morocco) a wreck. Libya’s a hellhole (as usual), Tunisia’s doing its level best not to become a hellhole, and Algeria’s still a hellhole but now a hellhole on steroids.

We waffled on Egypt after hanging a longtime ally Hosni Mubarak out to dry, allowing a military caretaker government, followed by an “elected” Muslim Brotherhood government. But that couldn’t be, a duly elected terrorist government, so our smart diplomats prodded Egypt’s military to step in when moderate Egyptians rose up against the Muslim Brotherhood. Our smart diplomats tacitly approved the ensuing military coup, putting Egypt’s educated middle class back under a strongman for another generation.

And who can forget the genius behind our Syria policy? Moderates rise up to force out a brutal dictatorship which gleefully allows Iran to use its territory as a staging base for its terrorist wing Hezbollah to stage attacks. We warn Assad not to use chemical weapons, or else. Assad thumbs his nose at us and gasses his own people. We pretend it didn’t happen and issue another stern warning. Assad continues to gas his people. We go groveling to the United Nations, where Russian and China tell us to pound sand. Meanwhile, we refuse to arm the militants, allowing Syria’s crappy air force the run of the skies, free to bomb militants and civilians at will. After seeing America break promise after promise, the militants seek assistance from other, unfriendly sources like Al Qaeda. And our smart diplomacy’s staggers onward, blithely ignoring the bloody trail of bodies it leaves behind.

Iran? Don’t get ‘Puter started. We’ve completely lost all credibility. Those centrifuges are for making baby milk? Oh, OK. That secret complex you never admitted to is really just a day spa for wives of high ranking officials? OK. Oh, and by the way Israel, we don’t care that the regime has repeatedly stated if it gets the opportunity, it will nuke the snot out of you. We’re more concerned Russia won’t like us if we’re mean to Iran.

And so we come to yesterday. Russia’s watched Obama, and probably prayed for his election and reelection. Russia has seen America’s weakness and rationally decided to take advantage of it. Putin invaded Crimea, knowing full well America would do nothing and Europe couldn’t do anything because (1) Europe has no meaningful military capacity anymore, preferring instead to implement a socialist welfare state funded by America’s military protection and (2) Europe stupidly made itself dependent on Russian natural gas. Putin was right. Afterwards, Russia invaded eastern Ukraine, pretending its troops were average Ivan Ivanovs who spontaneously rose up to throw off the shackles of an oppressive Western government. Never mind that the “rebels” all had gleaming new and high tech Russian arms. Emboldened, Putin pressed on, leading to yesterday’s seemingly inadvertent but totally predictable catastrophe wherein pro-Russian “rebels” armed with Russian surface to air missiles (and possibly aided by the Russian military itself) shot down a civilian airliner.

America’s foreign policy is a disaster. President Obama has been unserious on the issue since his first day in office. He’s offended our allies and emboldened our enemies. He’s delegated foreign policy to two singularly lousy Secretaries of State, Mrs. Bill Clinton and Mr. Teresa Heinz Kerry. These numbnuts couldn’t manage a Dairy Queen much less run foreign policy for the strongest nation on Earth.

America’s foreign policy should be based in realism. America will take foreign leaders at their word. If you want to say you’re going to destroy America, the Great Satan, we will respond accordingly. If you say Israel, our great ally, has no right to exist, America will respond accordingly. “Accordingly” can range from diplomatic sanctions to disappearing close family members to cyberwar to outright war. America won’t telegraph what “accordingly” means in your case. You’ll find out soon enough. Don’t mess with America, you won’t like the results.

We should reward our allies lavishly with support, diplomatic, financial and military. We should also reward those who remain neutral toward us with increased trade and closer ties.

America: no greater friend, no worse enemy.

Foreign policy is not difficult in concept. It’s not rocket science. You play by the rules of the game your opponent is playing, not by the rules of the game you wish you were playing. It’s like pretending you’re playing Candyland while your opponent is playing Stratego. You’re going to get your ass kicked and look like a complete dipshit in the process.

Mission accomplished, Mr. President. You’ve weakened a great nation, squandering its hard-won credibility and made the world significantly less safe for at least the next fifty years.

* For you Millennials who believe history started with your birth and is dedicated to extolling the beauty and genius that is smart phone culture, William Jefferson Clinton was in fact our first black president, at least according to Toni Morrison.

Automated Mailbag

gort_mailbagGorT got this delivered via the autonomous mail delivery system we have here at the Castle…mostly because the denizens of the moat don’t play nice with our regular postal carrier. We love our postal carriers, but it’s pretty hard to move those things in the moat.

Maybe ‘Puter can send Dat Ho out to pick up our mail from the local post office and hand deliver it.  I think ‘Puter might be scared of this whole automated delivery and driving thing.

Dear Great Shiny One,
This minion is in much the same camp as you about the temporal proximity of the popularity of self-driving cars–not sure I’ll like it, but pretty sure it’ll happen regardless.

However, I do take issue with some of the reasons given. I realize these are Mr. Godin’s and not yours, but I don’t know him, so I’m addressing this to you.

Few traffic jams–cars will have a slower top speed, but rarely stop

Why would the top speed necessarily be slower (if we consider that 80-85 mph is the fastest most anyone ever drives on a commute)? In fact, with the virtual elimination of collisions due to driver error, why couldn’t traffic move much faster on freeways and other appropriate stretches of road?

No traffic lights–cars talk to each other

And no more frustration at other people running red lights, or “making” yellow lights!

Dramatically less pollution

How? Is there an assumption that all these new vehicles will be electric rather than gas or diesel? Or is it simply due to eliminating waiting at red lights, circling for parking spaces, and making inefficient trips because of faulty memory or planning? Perhaps the “car sharing” idea plays a large part here?

Pedestrians are far safer, bicycling becomes fun again

This will be a huge boon, if it is done through sensory systems that can identify human (and pet!) forms and avoid collisions.

No parking issues–the car drives away and comes back when you need it

If I’m paying for the fuel, I don’t want it to drive very far.

The last two appear to be related to car sharing, which may or may not work out as envisioned.

I hope your post kicks off another great discussion among readers!

With energetic regards,

I tend to share ScottO’s opinion about some of these.  I assumed that the reduction in pollution is due to a reduction in traffic jams and therefore less time on the roads with running engines.  While I’m not sure about the car sharing idea, I think it is one that the Millennials and younger generations will adopt.  There will be an app for it (probably many) and much like Uber and Lyft, will be trendy, convienent and cost-saving.  The fact that someone else “uses” your car (as long as damage policies, etc. are worked out) probably won’t matter.

As far as the speed, I think Godin was thinking of urban driving where computer-determined flow patterns will be limited by the size of the roadway and cars.  Scott’s right that driver error (including distracted driving) should allow for higher speeds but it’s a flow problem – cars have to enter/exit that area and navigate through it and they take up space.  It’s a huge, dynamic network flow optimization problem.  But I wouldn’t see why on highways the top speeds wouldn’t be higher.  Of course, we’ll get into the discussion of what the optimal speed is for fuel efficiency and pollution.  But that is a separate issue.