Are We Still on Yellow Alert?

TerrorLevelsRemember when every day Americans were told the color of their national security risk? Today, we are at yellow alert, for example, which means an Elevated Risk of a terrorist incident. There were other colors, ranging from Green all the way up to red. In fact, there were five colors (sometimes six). You don’t hear about those anymore.

That’s because they were phased out in 2011. And do you know why? The public figured out they were all window-dressing bullshit.*

No, really. Security experts immediately scoffed at the complex system, saying that too many colors means too much confusion about what to do. Heck, the military never uses more than three (sometimes four). And the general public caught on that we always seemed to be at yellow—which, when you think about it—is a good place to be with terrorism: always on guard against it.

You didn’t hear about this, because the whole system cost us a ton of money and was, like most of Homeland Security’s best hits, a total joke from the start. No, we’re not blaming Obama on this one: this started under the Bush administration and it was the Czar’s least-favorite Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, who finally buried it quietly at sea.

One of the big complaints about the system was that no explanation was ever given to what the colors really meant. What were you, dear reader, supposed to do if things went from yellow to orange? Or blue to yellow? The DHS replied that this was more meant for law enforcement, but the reality was that law enforcement didn’t know what to do, either.

Okay, DHS clarified, it was really up to each agency to figure that out for their specific area. For example, a community with a bridge might want to protect that bridge better, whereas a community without a bridge could use its limited resources elsewhere.

Fine, and it makes sense that two different communities might need to respond differently based on their unique needs, agreed law enforcement. But what do the color codes mean for us? Do we guard that bridge in orange or yellow, both, or neither? And how do we know what our unique needs are?

Look, the DHS answered with increasing annoyance, you need to figure that out for yourselves. Maybe Westmoreland Heights needs to guard their bridge in Yellow, whereas East Elm Oak Hills needs to do it in Orange. You have to figure out what works for you.

In other words, concluded law enforcement, this color coding system doesn’t mean a freaking thing. Got it. We should just figure it all out for ourselves. Well, thanks a lot, Homeland Security! Enjoy that $122 million headquarters building you just built in our hometown. Let’s hope you built it next to the bridge.

Now, admittedly, a lot of the criticism was unreasonable. For example, people wanted to know why the color code might go from yellow to orange. Was there a threat against an airline? (We have family flying in! Are they in danger?) Was there a threat against a landmark? (The kids have a field trip to the museum! Are they at risk?) Was there a threat of widespread attack? (Danny’s in the National Guard! Does he need to mobilize?)

Well, the DHS answered, we can’t exactly reveal that information because it could tip off the terrorists that we’ve intercepted their communications a specific way. And if they find out we’ve figured out how they send their messages, they’ll change them and then we have to go back to square one.

Doesn’t changing the threat level ten minutes after they emailed each other kind of tip them off? Good point, the DHS realized, and generally left the alert status on yellow. If the terrorists don’t see the color change, they’ll have no idea we’re on to them!

The public scratched their collective heads and realized, in other words, this color coding system doesn’t mean a freaking thing. Got it. We should just figure it all out for ourselves. Well, thanks a lot, Homeland Security! We’re voting for Obama.

And so, in order to prevent people from voting for Mitt Romney in three more years, Napolitano threw the whole thing in the trash. It’s true: some homeless guy dragged the color-coded alert system out of the alley and took it, unsuccessfully, to a recycling center. It wound up in a curb, where skateboards use it for jumps and, sometimes, folk art.

The Czar believes that there are a lot of websites and flat panel displays that still have an RSS feed to this system, continuously notifying passersby that we are on Code Yellow alert, at least as of January 27, 2011.

Realizing the stupidity of the federal plan, which is a rare enough thing in politics, the DHS proposed a simple two-tier system: Elevated and Imminent. In short, “Be on guard for attack” and “You are currently under attack.” That’s actually a good system, because let’s face it, we’re never going to be at a low risk of attack anymore. We never were there, in fact—we were just ignorant of the risk.

So that’s another rare thing, especially under this administration: not only was the original plan utterly stupid, the new plan acknowledges we will forever be in danger.

*Metaphors, when mixed by experts, are impressive. The Czar is such an expert.

** Don’t bother searching above for the footnote referencing this. There isn’t one; the Czar just needed more stuff down here. ‘Puter once put seventeen asterisks in a row into one of his posts, some of which were weird statements like « Jean a une longue moustache. Jean a une longue moustache. » He messes with people all day long.

Palmyra

Dear World,

Yes, the Czar is sorry to hear that the beautiful ruins of Palmyra have been destroyed by ISIS.

Forgive the Czar if he’s not jaw-droppingly stunned like so many of you seemed to be. That’s what ISIS does: it destroys everything it contacts.

Rather, the Czar is utterly affected by other things ISIS is doing: murdering parents in front of their young families, raping women and girls, burning children alive and crucifying them. Lopping heads off Christians, starving Yazidis on cliffs, and using horrific biochemical weapons on Kurds.

The Czar would happily let them demolish a dozen Palmyras to get just one of those lives back.

So if you want to be outraged because ISIS destroyed a beautiful piece of architecture, have at at. But be outraged at everything else, too, and push to do something about it. Because we can always rebuild a ruin and say “this is what it looked like,” but we can’t undo the murder of thousands.

Someday history will look back on ISIS and wonder why the world didn’t do anything about it sooner. And we better have a better answer than crying about some pillars in the sand.

The MSM Doesn’t Want Clinton To Be President

The Czar is too often right. No, he’s not always right, like ‘Puter, but he’s often right enough that he gets a little tired of it. What are we on about? This whole Clinton/Biden thing.

More specifically, the Czar’s long-held position* that the Mainstream Media despises the thought of supporting Hillary Clinton. They sure aren’t going to like forcing all of you to pull the lever for her on Election Day, and if anyone else ran against her in the primary who was more like President Obama, that would be so much better.

So when news about Hillary was good, it was downplayed. When news about Hillary was bad, there was carefully phrased coverage. No, nothing outright against her—you don’t beg a potential feeding hand to slap you—but little subtext questions: “Latest poll shows GOP rising; is Hillary done?” or “Does Sanders really have a chance?” You know: nothing outright against her, but peppering doubt and questions into the public’s mind.

And unquestionably, the MSM wanted Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be their person. “What does Warren want for lunch? Is Hillary washed up?” and other headlines portrayed Warren in an encouraging light, while still jabbing at Clinton.

Folks on the Right have scratched their chins too long about the MSM. Why do they keep supporting Clinton, even though she treats them badly? Well, of course, the MSM is perfectly aware that Hillary Clinton is going to treat them like crap; she always has. But what if she wins? Do you think she will be a loving and forgiving President, or a petty and wrathful one? So these little digs at her are reminders that the MSM, too, has a say in her campaign chances.

With news that Joe Biden is considering a serious run for the Presidency, and has met with Warren as a potential running mate, the MSM has been beside themselves with joy. Maybe you had 10-12 news stories in your feed about the email wiping. Now you’ll have 40-50 stories about the Magic Meeting between Joe Biden (whom you will learn everybody loves) and Elizabeth Warren (clearly one of the foremost intellectuals in the Senate or something).

For a third time, the Czar reminds you that they’re not calling Hillary Clinton over and done; but they are overly celebratory over the Biden/Warren meeting. Overly. Overly. Overly. And while you might not have heard that just about any individual Republican candidate can beat Donald Trump head-to-head in the polls, you surely have heard that Biden is edging out Clinton in the polls.

And that too is a message to Hillary Clinton.

*Long-held, as in over a year.

SJWs Ruin Yet Another American Institution: Public Education

“Do you see that smudge on the x-ray that looks suspiciously like my thumbprint? That’s complex trauma.” Dr. Nick Riviera, lead witness for the SJW windmill-tilt at America’s public education system.

Do-gooder social justice warriors filed a lawsuit accusing the Compton Unified School District of violating the rights of its students. You, like ‘Puter, may be thinking “What in the name of Sweet Baby Jesus in the Manger can Compton’s schools do to those kids that their ‘families’ and neighborhood hasn’t already done?” Exactly.

See, it’s the school’s fault for not addressing the “complex trauma” Compton’s kids experience simply by virtue of existing in that admittedly crappy, dangerous neighborhood. The SJW lawyers filing suit allege “complex trauma” is a disability within the meaning of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

Bullshit.

If “complex trauma” is a cognizable disability, then every kid’s disabled. Are your parents getting divorced? Disabled. Did your mom lose her job? Disabled. Have you ever been in a violent car accident? Disabled. Hell, we’re all disabled under the SJWs’ expansive definition of disability.

You want complex trauma? Try making that argument in a courtroom when ‘Puter’s on the bench. “The court takes judicial notice that Judge ‘Puter shoving his gavel up your ass sideways for bringing such a moronic, overreaching theory before this court is complex trauma.”

Want to know the real problem with American education? America spends no time or money pushing its gifted students to the edge of their abilities. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece on the topic just today.

American education sucks compared to the rest of the world because it pretends children with mental disabilities can achieve at the same level as students without disabilities. It’s the equivalent of insisting my paraplegic, asthmatic, morbidly obese 10 year old has the capacity to be the starting point guard for the Duke Blue Devils. Never. Going. To. Happen.

American education sucks compared to the rest of the world because we not only tolerate but excuse violent, dysfunctional and aberrant behavior from both students and teachers. Violent students should go to schools equipped to handle a population comprised of violent students. If you don’t want to end up in the psycho killer kids’ school, don’t be a psycho killer kid. And teachers who bang their students like a screen door in a hurricane should be summarily terminated with full loss of pension.

American education sucks compared to the rest of the world because we let parents have far too much sway over curriculum and policy, down to insisting completely unqualified kids be seated in honors and AP classes. “MAH PRECIOUS Q. SNOWFLAKE IS TOTES REDDY 4 AYPEE CHEMUSTREE EVEN THO SHE GAWT TEH 46 ON HUR ALJIBRA REGENTS EXAM!!1!” No. Your kid’s a wonderful person, but dumb as a box of rocks. If you push her to do more than she’s capable of doing, she’ll end up working a pole to support her heroin habit down at the Klassy Kat after school.

American education spends more money per student than any system in the world, and gets little to no return on its investment. Good students succeed in spite of the system, and bad students still fail in spite of the system.

Yes, reformers are correct that much of education’s outcomes are preordained, dependent on a student’s home life. But it’s not the job of schools to make up for a student’s crappy home life. It’s the job of Child Protective Services.

If the kid’s home life sucks so bad he’s completely unable to participate in his education, maybe the answer is to remove the kid from that environment entirely. It’s far more honest than pretending the schools can effect meaningful change for children living in toxic environments.

Pretending public education can undo years of parental and societal neglect is horse shit. Likewise, bleeding our best and brightest dry in a quixotic attempt to solve poverty’s destructive legacy is pure applesauce.

Here’s your take away. SJWs are awful people who ruin everything they touch, including America’s once great public schools.

Excuse Parade

I love a parade....the tramping of the feet...hey, get those people outta my way!

I love a parade….the tramping of the feet…hey, get those people outta my way!

Hillary Clinton’s email debacle isn’t going to get any better nor go away anytime soon.  She has two things going for her in this disaster: (1) the media hates to report on her what would be – just about for anyone else – a career-ending story largely because the Democratic bench is so woeful and (2) while there is little love lost between the Obama administration and the Clintons, the administration is either toeing the party line with regards to investigating her or is so inept is hasn’t yet….you pick.

GorT usually cringes at most of the NY Times reporting pieces (and definitely at the Opinion pages with the likes of Paul “democrat mouthpiece” Krugman) but diving into a piece from the New Yorker is I-think-I’ve-thrown-up-in-my-mouth-a-bit.  Given the titanium stomach (and body, in general) that GorT has, we will press on brave readers.

Jeffrey Toobin authored this article in yesterday’s New Yorker online.  I doubt that Mr. Toobin has ever held a security clearance let alone worked with classified data.  His reliance on his reading of the late Sen. Moynihan’s book seems to be his primary source.  He doesn’t directly reference any other sources nor does he indicate that he spoke with Sen. Moynihan regarding this subject prior to his death in 2003.  It gets worse (no surprise), as President Obama signed into effect Executive Order 13587 in October 2011 that sets up offices and efforts to reform the protection of our classified networks and the sharing of classified data.  This E.O. includes setting up an office that shall “consulting with the Departments of State” and others regarding the sharing of classified data.  Furthermore, President Obama also issued Exceutive Order 13526 in 2009 that states in its preamble:

This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism.  Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government.  Also, our Nation’s progress depends on the free flow of information both within the Government and to the American people.  Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations.  Protecting information critical to our Nation’s security and demonstrating our commitment to open Government through accurate and accountable application of classification standards and routine, secure, and effective declassification are equally important priorities.

Given that we’ve established that Mr. Toobin is operating under 12 year old information at best, let us review the contents of his piece:

As the world now knows, Clinton used a private e-mail address and server to conduct official business as Secretary of State. That in itself was certainly unwise and perhaps a violation of State Department policy.

No, not perhaps.  It is a clear violation of the State Department’s policy that was in place since 2005 which warned officials against routine use of personal email accounts for government work

The more significant question now, though, is whether Clinton improperly passed national-security information—that is, classified information—over this private, non-secured connection. Her answer to that question has evolved. Clinton first said, “I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material.” More recently, she said, “I did not send nor did I receive material marked classified.” Clinton’s quasi-official defenders at Media Matters have seized on this distinction as well. They argue that she is in the clear because she never disclosed information that was designated as classified.

First, “evolved” is a kind word for this situation – others might prefer changed her defensive tactic when faced with mounting evidence.  Second, while maybe a more significant question the most significant question, in GorT’s mind, is, “Why is the Secretary of State treating communications are likely sensitive at best, classified at worst in a manner against her own Department’s guidelines, in a manner that is contradictory to her reasoning (multiple devices are hard), and, on the surface, appearing callously ignorant of the potential for disastrous outcomes?”  Should we consider such a person eligible for the Presidential candidacy?

Classified information is supposed to be defined as material that would damage national security if released. In fact, Moynihan asserted, government bureaucracies use classification rules to protect turf, to avoid embarrassment, to embarrass rivals—in short, for a variety of motives that have little to do with national security.

That’s a wonderful story and he tells it so well.  However, the subject at hand is documents, emails, satellite images are not items that are “protecting turf” or “embarrassing rivals”.  These are operational and intelligence based content that is CLEARLY subject to appropriate classifications.

It’s not only the public who cannot know the extent or content of government secrecy. Realistically, government officials can’t know either—and this is Hillary Clinton’s problem. In investigating only a small portion of her e-mails, government investigators have already flagged more than three hundred that are potentially classified. They will surely find more.

It’s not for the public to know the extent – that’s why it’s called “secret” or “classified”.  Idiot.  And government officials who deal with this data day-in and day-out are very familiar with the requirements around classified material.  If you have a clearance you are required to receive an annual refresher on security classification, which includes how and why you classify material and how and why to protect it.  Secretary Clinton, unless she’s above the law, should have been refreshed annually.

Criminal violations for mishandling classified information all have intent requirements; in other words, in order to be guilty of a crime, there must be evidence that Clinton knew that the information was classified and intentionally disclosed it to an unauthorized person. There is no evidence she did anything like that.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Maybe, strictly speaking she won’t get prosecuted on criminal charges but there are other federal laws besides the one that he references.  Ones that put an onus on people involved to protect classified materials (see parts of this post).

Could this issue cripple Clinton’s candidacy? Certainly it’s no help, especially for a candidate who has had trouble earning the trust of voters. Still, it’s hard to imagine that voters will be focussed on this issue six months from now, to say nothing of Election Day, which is more than a year away. But it may not be too much to hope that if Clinton does surmount this controversy and take over in the Oval Office, she will recognize, as Moynihan did, the folly of our system of over-classification and take steps to reform its obvious excesses.

Yes, it absolutely could cripple and end the Clintons in the Democratic party.  Yes, voters could still be cognizant of this issue – does this guy think that the GOP candidate won’t bring up Benghazi or this email scandal in the full election if she is their opposition?  What kind of weed is Mr. Toobin smoking?  This is a matter we should be concerned with – the callous attitude that she is displaying (reference her odd joke about “at least Instagram messages disappear automatically”) should be worrying for any voter when considering who the next President should be.  Especially at a time where our country is dealing with threats like these.  Let me parallel Mr. Toobin’s ending:

It may not be too much to hope that liberals will recognize the need for the compartmentalization of sensitive information with regards to our government’s intelligence and policies pertaining to foreign powers and terrorists.

For more, read the Czar’s excellent post here too.

Clinton’s Turning Point

Republicans and conservatives—who are not always the same group—have had a fantasy for some time that Hillary Clinton—already reasonably beatable in a general election—may be defeated in the primary due to the email scandal. Cooler heads, usually prevailing, remind us that she is a Clinton, and that if anyone can brush away these spider eggs and breeze into the White House, it’s her.

But maybe not. Two signals of real trouble have appeared in the last 24 hours, one internal and one external. And when you have a problem hitting you in both directions, you don’t have to be Sun Tzu to know there’s a big deal afoot.

Internally, we had Hillary Clinton talking to the press about the email scandal. She was asked whether she had, in fact, wiped the server. “With a cloth?” she asked, feigning confusion. She added that she doesn’t understand digital technology well enough to know what that term meant.

She might just as well have added “I’m a cute, blonde bimbo who’s just too ditzy-witzy to understand compooters,” She’s clearly attempting to convey that any illegalities couldn’t be her fault because she doesn’t even know what the term “wipe” means when erasing data. Of course, she refuted that instantly by mentioning she doesn’t understand any phrases that pertain to erasing data. This is like saying you don’t know what it means to “apex a turn,” because you “don’t know enough about driving a line.” Race fans know you’re full of it.

At this point, Hillary Clinton is no longer trying to win the presidency: she’s working hard to keep herself out of prison.So why is this line significant? Because nobody is going to believe it in the press. And nobody is going to believe it in the party. Voters will either know she’s lying (millions of Democrats know what it means to wipe a server) or will not understand (what’s a server?) either way.

So who might believe it? A jury pool.

At this point, Hillary Clinton is no longer trying to win the presidency: she’s working hard to keep herself out of prison. And that’s a significant change in tack that explains a lot of her behavior in the last two weeks. The moment that server was turned over to the FBI, this went from being a PR problem to a legal defense strategy. It is possible that people deep inside her campaign recognize this is over: there’s no turning this around. Look for high-level staff members to quietly resign and take on jobs far from where they can be subpoenaed.

Plus, there’s the external factor as well: how liberal progressives react to bad news.

Remember Anthony Weiner? Sure you do: he was the liberal progressive who was accused of sending salacious and pornographic pictures and texts to female staffers. For weeks, you will recall, the liberal progressives defended him, decrying the entire event as a partisan witch hunt. Here was a good man, a real player—and Republicans just want to destroy him for the fun of it.

Anthony Weiner was innocent, innocent, innocent of all Rethuglican charges! Wait, he did it? Well, now we have no idea who you’re talking about. Anthony who? He’s no liberal progressive we ever heard of. Must be a weird dream.—This is how liberals treat their fallen. Deny, defend, and deflect…until the evidence is too strong and the accused must be destroyed.


Until it became obvious that this wasn’t a brief slip of judgment, or even a symptom of simple creepiness: the guy was an out-of-control addict who hurt the entire party. Then, with no other recourse, the liberal progressives destroyed him, denouncing him as some freakish heretic, and gouging him from their hieroglyphics. This is why the Czar asked if you remember him, because they do not. Weiner—who is undoubtedly still working behind the scenes anyway—has become invisible. He’s one of many liberal progressives who got caught and violently expunged after it became impossible to hide.

What a curiously parallel track we find with Secretary Clinton: she was long-rumored to be up to something illegal. She denied it, deflected it, concealed it, and ignored it. Eventually, she was forced to hand over the server to the refreshingly non-partisan FBI, who recovered the data—you already know how bad it looks. There’s hundreds of emails already, and more each day, that never should have been sent or received. Confirmation the server resided in a bathroom at an unsecured facility belonging to a company that lacked security clearance. And there’s ample evidence the Russians and the Chinese read every email on it.

The media, the party, and the campaign are calling this a partisan witch hunt, attacking a good woman because—hey, we said this already! It’s getting impossible for Hillary to hide.

So what’s next? Well, she should be bracing herself for that backlash. It can be a doozy.

Nostalgia

Marie has been our archivist for quite a while now, and every so often races up from the Castle basement because she either found something really interesting from our past, or another casket moved a couple inches while growling at her. Today, fortunately, it was the former.

Remarkably, she found the Czar’s very first tax return from 1913. The Czar always paid his taxes and tariffs and whatnot, but this was the first form we ever filled out to do so. Sigh. How long ago that was, that the Czar had only $37 million in income that year. Thanks to our influential accounting practices, of course, we had a million more in deductions. Remarkably, we show a million dollar loss that year as we almost always do.

The tax forms back then were a little simpler, but were basically two pages with another two pages of instructions. Remarkable compared to today.

Czar1913taxreturn

What Republicans Ought To Be Saying: ‘Puter Pens A Platform

“Americans like hats, especially hats that say things. I will get the yuuuugest, classiest, most luxurious hat with the most words I can find, because I am Donald J. Trump. I’m a brilliant self-promoter, so I will then say profoundly simplistic and dumb-ass things that play to conservative grievances. America will then elect me president, because I’m a classy huckster in a luxurious hat who strokes their yuuuuuuge egos. My plan is genius, classy and foolproof.”

‘Puter’s tired of the Donald Trump Experience.* ‘Puter’s even more tired of media pretending Trump’s off-the-cuff ramblings are indicative of conservative ideology. ‘Puter’s most tired of the internecine, juvenile squabbling between the “Trump now, Trump tomorrow, Trump forever” and the sane portion of the Republican party.

So, in order to maintain his sanity, here’s a quick list of what responsible candidates should be saying on various issues.

Jobs: We will do what the Democrats claimed to do with the ill-fated stimulus. We will spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next four years. We will focus bid awards on the following: electric grid modernization/hardening; electric generation projects (nuclear and natural gas preferred); water and sewer infrastructure repair, replacement and modernization; highway and bridge repair and replacement; metropolitan subway/light rail modernization; and air traffic control systems/airport modernization. We will speed the bid and award process by eliminating racial and gender based set asides. We will preempt state regulatory authority with regard to the siting and construction of interstate transmission lines. States with cumbersome regulatory processes for local projects (e.g., subway routing, power plant siting) will be ineligible for any funding of such projects. For good measure, we will approve the Keystone XL pipeline and preempt state regulation of (read: bans on) fracking.

Immigration: We will not grant amnesty under any conditions. Neither will we embark on a deportation purge of everyone who looks vaguely Mexican. We will not build a wall on the border and charge Mexico, because that’s retarded.** We will issue all Americans national IDs. We will vigorously enforce existing immigration laws against employers in order to cut the supply of the jobs luring illegal aliens to America. We will demand states and cities detain and turn over on demand to federal authorities any illegal alien convicted of a violent crime. Here’s a fuller list of ‘Puter’s prescient thoughts on immigration from nearly two years ago.

Taxes: We will end corporate taxation altogether. We will tax dividends and stock sales at the individual taxpayer’s marginal tax rate. Doing so will free up corporations to spend money on innovation rather than regulation. Here’s a full post on ‘Puter’s thoughts on corporate taxation. On individual taxation, we will flatten the tax rates, while leaving it a progressive code. We will phase out all deductions, credits and exemptions other than the personal/dependent exemption. We will have a generous, refundable personal exemption which will be counted as income for purposes of welfare eligibility. All Americans over 18 and not disabled will pay a minimum income tax of $1.00, because as Americans, we must all have skin in the game.

Military: We will fundamentally restructure military procurement regulations with an eye to streamlining time frames and review. We will restructure the Pentagon and Department of Defense employment, cutting civilian employees significantly. We will encourage private development of military technology, with risks borne by (and rewards owned by) corporations, not the taxpayers. We will make military’s goal what it always has been: winning wars quickly and efficiently, with appropriate but minimized regard for collateral damage. We will not undertake war or lesser military action without Congressional authorization. In any military action, our instructions to military command will be simple: “Win the war. Win it quickly. Minimize American losses. No options are off the table, including use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Avoid collateral damage where consistent with the prior instructions.” We believe this new approach to war will make American involvement in wars less, not more, likely. Congress is less likely to authorize war under these conditions, and Americans are less likely to support it.

Foreign Policy: Our foreign policy will be based on this core idea: “We will take a country at its word, and we will respond accordingly.” We will not insist every country be America’s friend. We will insist no country be America’s enemy. We will understand other cultures in order to understand how they think. In doing so, we will negotiate better treaties, trade deals and alliances. We will reward and promote employees with the best ideas regardless of seniority or pedigree. We will work with unsavory and brutal regimes where doing so advances America’s core interests, without apology. We will restore the world’s faith America’s word is good. We will use foreign policy as a tool to advance America’s interests around the world, again without apology. We will form a new, international organization comprised of like-minded, democratic countries to take the place of the corrupt and ineffective United Nations.

Welfare: In connection with our proposed generous refundable personal exemptions, welfare will be reduced. If the personal exemption is $7,500 per person, and you have four people in your family, you will either receive from government or earn tax free $30,000 of income. This income level puts your family above the poverty line. As such, much direct assistance will be of reduced importance. Food assistance will still be available, especially to families with young children; however, it will be limited to nutritious foods only (e.g., fresh/canned/frozen fruits and vegetables, meat, breads, etc.). Housing assistance will be available, up to a multiple of the poverty line, with higher eligibility levels in high cost areas. Work will again be required for all welfare recipients over 18 and not attending school full time. We will encourage (but not require) private charities and corporations to provide transportation assistance (e.g., vehicle donations, low or no interest auto loans, ride shares, etc.) to low income families.

Social Security and Medicare: We agree with Democrats that Social Security must continue. No elderly American will starve on the street. However, we will call these programs what they are: welfare. We will acknowledge these programs were set up as insurance programs, not as entitlements. The retirement age will be indexed to the average life expectancy, so it will rise. Social Security will be means tested; however, everyone who pays in will receive payments totaling at least the amount they paid in plus interest at a low compounded interest rate. Medicare will be converted to a “free” catastrophic health care plan, and rolled in with Medicaid and ObamaCare. Seniors will purchase their own coverage for everything else, if they wish. Poor seniors will receive a voucher to purchase such coverage in the private market. We will require insurers to offer a la carte coverages, so seniors can create a plan sufficient to meet their needs.

Governance: We will work with Democrats where possible, and that will mean compromise at times. We understand Americans don’t believe we will hold true to our core beliefs. We have earned your distrust. We will work hard to earn your trust back. We will cut federal regulation where possible with an eye to leaving decisions where they belong: the people. We will sunset every administrative agency at ten years. All administrative rules must be passed by the legislature and signed by the president before taking effect. Congress cannot feasibly create all regulations itself, but Congress must sign off on all regulations, lest it abdicate its legislative function to the executive.

National Debt: We will reduce the national debt by making income match expenditures. This will be accomplished through a combination of cutting spending where appropriate and raising taxes where necessary. This will be a multi-year effort, and will depend on Americans holding our elected officials’ feet to the fire. Americans know politicians won’t retire debt unless they are forced to do so.

Term Limits: We support term limits for legislative and judicial branch jobs. Americans deserve politicians who know politics is not a career. For the legislature, we propose 18 years in any combination of House or Senate service. For the federal bench, 10 years of service at the district court level, with an additional 10 years each at the appellate court or Supreme Court levels. For all legislative and judicial officials, there will be a mandatory retirement age of 75.

That’s a good start, isn’t it? So much better than the non-substantive clown show we’re currently enjoying, right?

‘Puter eagerly awaits the calls from nervous Republican candidates (and the RNC) seeking a winning platform and the guy to implement it.

* Soon to be a yuuuuuuge, classy, luxurious virtual reality attraction at Trump’s many classy, non-bankrupt properties.

** No, Trumpistas, it doesn’t sway ‘Puter that Trump’s Taj Ma-Wall will be the yuuugest, classiest, most luxurious-est border wall in the world. It’s a dumb, expensive idea that has exactly zero chance of happening. But hey, at least impotently and incoherently ranting about Trump sticking it to The Establishment makes you feel good.

Made In China

I’m sure we all have heard this questions posed lately and it will likely be asked of the candidates for the 2016 Presidential election as that progresses: “What is the greatest threat to our national security?”

Lately, we have heard a number of answers.

Me, bad? No. I’m your friend. Reset button is good.

Russia

Do a little googling or listen to some analysts and they’ll name Russia as the greatest threat.  General Joe Dunford, who has been nominated to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”  Mr. Putin’s actions have been a cause of concern and the United States public policies regarding Russia haven’t done much of note with regards to the situation.  I’ll leave the details to the reader as GorT thinks Russia is number 2 or 3 on the list.

 

Would you like to play a game?

Would you like to play a game?

Cyber Attacks

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, believes that cyber attacks are the number one threat.  “Cyber threats to U.S. national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact; [and] the ranges of cyber threat actors, methods of attack, targeted systems and victims are also expanding”, said Clapper in Congressional testimony earlier this year.  All true and concerning but there are steps we can take at the government and private sectors can take to mitigate this so while a threat, GorT might rephrase this to be cyber attacks against the inept bureaucracy that is our federal government.  For example, our government has not met its own goals of moving to IPv6 which could help address some of the security weaknesses of our systems.*  Again, though, this might be a number 3 or 4 on the list.

 

Islamic_State_(IS)_insurgents,_Anbar_Province,_IraqIran

Any honest analysis of the recent Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran says that at best it is a bad deal and at worst disastrous.  It is a haven of ISIS and when you mix the two, it won’t be good.  The current administration, again, hasn’t done much (at least publicly) to deal with the situation and is – in some people’s eyes – reversing course on military action with regards to ISIS and Iran seeing little progress otherwise.  By no means is GorT downplaying the threat here – I would rank this as the number 2 threat to national security largely due to scope of the impact and the timeline.

 

Made in ChinaChina

And specifically the Chinese economy.  That is the number one threat to our national security.  But China’s economy is the 2nd largest in the world.  True.  But look at the recent numbers and you’ll see how it is imploding.  Chinese leaders are in-fighting and trying to deal with their failing economy.  Now to their credit, many have named China (as a whole) as a threat – for instance, General Dunford said that it and ISIS are right behind Russia in his list.  A collapse of the Chinese economy will have more than ripples around the world impacting stock markets and other economies in the global market.  However, what is more concerning is how the Chinese leadership will react when this is imminent or occurs.  It is likely that they will work to divert the world’s attention (and blame) from their economic collapse.  Prognosticators, including GorT, think that they might lash out – maybe at their nearby neighbors (Taiwan, anyone?  Maybe Korea?).  This is supported by the increasing anti-American rhetoric that is coming from China.  Hopefully, if the media does their job, we will hear more about this as the Chinese state visit nears.

 

* IPv6 isn’t the panacea for the cyber weaknesses of our systems.  Laziness and bureaucracy are the largest threat followed by a lack of effort (both in funding and work) are what impedes us improving our national security posture.  For example, having a system that holds highly sensitive information such as the information found on SF-86 forms (click to see how and what they are, if interested), probably shouldn’t be on a system exposed to the internet – even with firewalls interposed.  Instead, a programmatic gap to ensure proper and limited access and function should be the minimum requirement.

National IDs: A Good Idea or A First Step To American Gulags?

“Ausweis, bitte.” Despite fears, a national ID program in America does not indicate modern day Nazis are resurgent, ready to impose a lawless, fascist, socialist dictatorship. Obama’s election already gave us a lawless, fascist, socialist dictatorship.

Before ‘Puter starts, permit ‘Puter to note for the record he is far classier and YUUUUUGER than Czar. To wit, ‘Puter cooked two teriyaki and ginger marinated flank steaks last night while puny, stupid head Czar could only manage one meager, solitary steak.

And ‘Puter’s flank steaks were more luxurious-er, worthy of Donald Trump’s sensitive palate. Czar’s steak sat on the plate, charred, forlorn and gray in the middle. Even a Mexican stuck on the wrong side of Trump’s wall would’ve turned up his nose at Czar’s steak.*

Niceties out of the way, let’s get right into it. ‘Puter thinks the time has come for a national identification card. ‘Puter supports national IDs because they solve multiple problems at relatively low cost.

  1. National IDs Make Illegal Immigration More Difficult

Want a job? Show your national ID. It’s that simple. You are either work authorized in America or you are not work authorized in America. Enter an applicant’s national ID into a government website, find out instantly. Like NICS checks for gun purchase checks, the system would be instant.

At the same time, increase penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. Once it’s easy to verify work authorization, employers have no reasonable excuse for hiring illegals. Knowingly hire an illegal, face a huge civil fine. Do it again, go to jail.

If we make it easy to verify immigration status and increase the penalties sufficiently, demand for illegal workers will dry up. Illegals will either self-deport or stay and suffer. Either way, once illegal immigrants know they will not be hired, far fewer will come.

National IDs are a grown up solution to the immigration problem. Plus, they’re far cheaper and much less juvenile than “ZOMG! THE JIUNT WALL WIPF THE LAZOR BEEMS WIL KEEP OWT TEH ILLEEGULZ!1!!!one!!” lunacy.

  1. National IDs Take Voter ID Issues Off The Table

Want to vote? Show your national ID. Presto. No more in person voter fraud. Want to vote absentee? Show your national ID when you apply for an absentee ballot. Presto. No more absentee voter fraud.**

If cross-indexed to the Social Security number database, a swiped national ID from a dead person would register the person as dead. Chicago may lose tens of thousands of votes. This gives ‘Puter teh sadz.

Because the national IDs would be federally issued to all American citizens at no cost to the individual, we avoid the “all Republicans are racists who want to prevent Blacks from voting” canard. Further, a five year phase in would permit every American to get a national ID before a presidential election.

States could choose whether or not to use national IDs to verify voter legitimacy in state elections, but national IDs would be required to vote in all federal elections.

  1. National IDs May Lower Federal Program Fraud

Want welfare? Show your national ID. Want Social Security? Show your national ID. Want Medicare, ObamaCare or Medicaid? Show your national ID.

Since government (usually) knows who’s alive and who’s dead, it makes it easier to weed out Sonny cashing Grandma’s Social Security checks for years after she’s dead, or voting for her, or applying for more welfare benefits for her.

National IDs would also allow efficient weeding out of multiple applications for the same beneficiaries, such as when a mother and a grandmother are both receiving benefits for the same dependent children.

If data sharing were permitted across agencies (this makes ‘Puter nervous, but for efficiency, perhaps it ought to be considered), it would be relatively easy to quickly determine whether an applicant is impermissibly receiving benefits to which she is not entitled.

  1. National IDs Make Applying For Any Federal Benefit Or Program Easier

Want any federal benefit? Show your national ID.

Since it’ll be connected to the federal database, any application should autopopulate. If data sharing across agencies (with an applicant’s consent) is permitted, your name, address, age, social security number, income, etc. could all be filled in automatically.

Streamlining the application process will make oversight easier and require fewer employees. This, of course, will royally piss off public sector employee unions, which makes ‘Puter’s plan even more attractive.

  1. We Already Have National IDs, And No One’s Complaining

Have a passport? You have a national ID. Have a social security card? You have a national ID.

Sure, a passport’s voluntary, provided you don’t want to ever leave the country. And sure, a social security number’s just a number, not an ID card with biometric features and linked to your personal information. But you’ve already got national IDs.

The prevalent notion that national IDs are evil is belied by national IDs existence and the lack of complaint.

  1. National IDs Can Be Strictly Limited To Certain Uses

National IDs should only be required in certain limited circumstances. If they work well, perhaps those uses could be enlarged or additional uses permitted.  For now, ‘Puter would restrict the use of national IDs to the items listed here. ‘Puter’s sure there are other valid uses for national IDs, but he’s too lazy to spend more time thinking at the moment.

No federal or state officer could demand production of your national ID except in limited circumstances (e.g., you’re under arrest for a reason unrelated to not producing a national ID). Any federal or state officer demanding production of your national ID when not permitted to do so would be guilty of a felony and forfeiture of any pension benefits in full. Making the downside painful for law enforcement officers should improve their compliance with the law.

All that said, ‘Puter recognizes the real potential risks associated with national IDs.  Citizen privacy may be compromised, as seen in the recent IRS scandal. Too, government may use data gleaned from legitimate use of national IDs in a punitive manner (see, e.g., the aforementioned IRS scandal). National IDs are not immune to counterfeiting, though biometric features could make forgery less likely.

To ‘Puter, the largest downside to national IDs is government itself. Our current government is incapable of doing even the smallest things well. Government is sloppy, inefficient, wasteful and spiteful. At times, government is actively malevolent. Government’s ability to implement national IDs efficiently and without malice is rightly suspect. Short of burning it all to the ground and starting over, there’s nothing to be done about it.***

So, despite Czar’s implication, ‘Puter’s not a rabid fan of national IDs. ‘Puter simply believes national IDs are a potential and potentially inexpensive solution to multiple national problems. Government can phase in the national IDs over time, and if they work well, great. If national IDs fail miserably, cancel the program.

National IDs are the rarest of ideas: a relatively cheap governmental solution to a number of large, real problems. Let’s give national IDs a chance.

* Czar is actually an excellent grill master, one of the best among the Gormogons. ‘Puter has gorged on Czar’s cooking, and enjoyed it immensely. Also, in case your sense of humor is impaired, we Gormogons frequently use sharp, inappropriate humor to criticize stupidity we encounter. Hence the “Mexican wall” reference. So lighten up, Francis.

** At least no more multiple voting frauds. There’s still the “I’ll just help everyone in the nursing home vote the right way” voter fraud.

*** Yes, Clark. ‘Puter sees you waving frantically at him, though the jerry cans of gas and crates of dynamite surrounding you make you difficult to pick out.