Politics

Tax Cuts for Good

Tax Cuts for Good

The Republican Party recently passed a tax bill that is bad for America, but good for some Americans.  As one of those Americans, I had to figure out how I was going to use that benefit:  Purchase a new computer? Pay down the $14,000 in student loan debt my wife and I have? Go on a small vacation to Alaska?

Ultimately, we decided against all of these options, preferring to reinvest the benefit into the people and communities that will almost certainly be robbed to pay for it. In doing so, I set out to begin a three-part journey into identifying the most efficient, progressive, and beneficial charities, lobbying organizations, and political action committees that are taking on this fight for us.

Paradox of Progress

Paradox of Progress

Every five years the Director of National Intelligence releases a pretty substantial report on growing trends and they've recently released one called "The Paradox of Progress."  It's a fairly substantial report with numerous implications on American geopolitical positioning based on the assessments and assumptions made within it, and it's a report that most Americans will never consider reading. So I wanted to unpack it, key point by key point, and provide context as much as possible to help at least a handful of Americans slug through it.

The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment

The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA3)  published a rather dire scientific report Friday detailing the growing threats of climate change. The report stands in stark contrast to the administration’s efforts to downplay humans’ role in global warming, withdraw from an international climate accord and reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing U.S. greenhouse-gas output.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to attempt to deny the existence of climate change while Chinese leadership assumes the mantle of combating it, and Russia repositions its naval and air forces, and petroleum industry, to benefit from it.  The current Secretary of Defense, Mattis, at least recognizes the instability that Climate Change can bring, but he seems decidedly alone in this Administration.

Unfortunately, consumer consumption reductions alone cannot stop or reverse Climate Change.  This is a global crisis that requires a global response - starting with our elected officials. Vote for Democrats or Common-Sense Republicans at your local, state, and federal levels.  If you have the ability:  Donate to their campaigns.

Bush, Xi, and McCain walk into an Auditorium

Bush, Xi, and McCain walk into an Auditorium

The face of conflict is changing.  While leaders like Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump still see conflict in the traditional light, many of their peers - and certainly the next generation - see conflict differently:  Cultural, Economical, and Ecological. The kinetic warfare of the 19th and 20th century is a relic of past generations, a fact never more poignant than after recent speeches by three prominent politicians across two countries.

Syria, North Korea, and Trump - Oh My!

Syria, North Korea, and Trump - Oh My!

Two weeks ago, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) against Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province in response to a recent chemical attack carried out by the Russian-Backed Assad Regime. The attack was unsuccessful by most military measures. In fact, as far as Assad is concerned, militarily nothing has changed for the worse. 

So why risk so much for a largely ineffective strike against an airbase? Why use TLAMs against hardened targets when B-2s would have made more sense? Why deploy a carrier group to the East Sea? To send a message to North Korea. 

Making Sense of November 8th, 2016

Making Sense of November 8th, 2016

Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States on November 8th, 2016 in an upstart victory that, frankly, no one thought possible. As Daniel Estrada describes his feelings prior to November 8th, "I was convinced that Clinton would win not just because all the sources in the media said she would, but because I though [politics as usual] was the dominant position." My assessment that Clinton would win the election was not as thoughtful as Daniel's, but it was just as strong:  Clinton was all-but guaranteed the victory.

The media, after all, had all but promised a Clinton victory, with election predictions giving Donald Trump a 1 to 28.6% chance of securing the necessary electoral votes to win the White House.  So, what in the world happened, and how does it affect life as we know it?  

In order to understand the ramifications of the 2016 election we need to examine three key factors: 

  1. Political Polarization
  2. Historical Context
  3. Words, the best words

Foreign Policy of the 1800s, the Birth of Terrorism, and the Pursuit of Economic Security

Foreign Policy of the 1800s, the Birth of Terrorism, and the Pursuit of Economic Security

Barriers in the name of security, and defiance through bureaucratic incompetence, for the sake of an all too common theme: Economic Security. It's clear that President-Elect Donald Trump was elected with just this goal in mind, and with the 2008 Recession not having been far removed from the election, we can't exactly blame the American population for its vote.

We must be careful that we are not repeating the mistakes of our past. This pursuit of Economic Security cannot, nor should it, usurp the pursuit of minimizing human suffering or promoting the American ideals of equality, democracy, and freedom. Furthermore, as the ongoing War on Terror has all-but definitively proven, combating terror on the scale that we've forced ourselves to runs contrary to this elusive goal.

Nationalism: The Rise of the Warrior Class Post-9/11

Nationalism:  The Rise of the Warrior Class Post-9/11

I can no longer open an essay about September 11, 2001 with "We all know where we were that faithful day," because an increasingly large number of individuals are coming of age without having any discernible memory of a life prior to the World Trade Center attack.  This generation, even moreso than mine, has always lived in the Post-9/11 world, and embodies the concept behind my popular essay "Generation at War" better than my generation ever could.  

These individuals lack the pre-9/11 context in which to frame their new world views, and as such will rely heavily on the narrative that generations before them have provided. As a result, it becomes increasingly important that, as we round the fifteenth anniversary of this tragic event, we pause for some introspection in order to better understand the narratives that we are providing.

Pre-election Homework: Understanding the Issues

Pre-election Homework: Understanding the Issues

There are a lot of issues at play in this election cycle; some of them are very well voiced by both candidates (e.g. immigration) and others are secondary.  If you're looking for an essay on the feasibility of Trump's fabled wall (or how he's backpedaling on that promise), or whether or not Clinton actually stored classified information on her servers (or if her security inadequacies just made that possible), then this is not the article you're looking for.

This article seeks to paint the broader context in which these more sensational actions occur. It's one thing to be for, or against, Trump's resistance to multiculturalism and something else entirely to know that the United States has been resisting multiculturalism since before they were united.  Similarly, it's one thing to lament Obama's soft approach to dealing with ISIL and something far worse to consider that Obama is attempting to prevent the same mistakes that Bush (and a first-term Obama) made against AQI.

In understanding the broader context, it is my hope that we'll be able to understand the motivations of the candidates and the likelihood of them actually carrying out their various promises and threats. It's very rare that we see a candidate actually uphold his, or her, campaign promises, but when we consider the broader context of US political history, we needn't be as surprised by the promises they choose to leave unfulfilled.

Understanding American Geopolitics

Understanding American Geopolitics

American geopolitics is something that every voting citizen should know, but is seldom taught in public education institutions.  With so many trillions of tax payer dollars dedicated to keeping these geopolitical areas open and amiable to US interests, it's only fair that American voters know of at least a couple of them.