Donald Trump

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.

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.

When Bots Become Bombs

When Bots Become Bombs

Ambiguity in cyberspace and the legality of hacking and manipulating sovereign nations; does it benefit the attacker, or the victim?  We've all but survived the potential catastrophe of the 2016 election, and the Russian interference within it, but what does that mean for the future of cyber and psychological warfare throughout the world?

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. 

Redefining the Cold War

Redefining the Cold War

Consider the following questions:

  • How does a NATO country, like Belgium or Spain, raise its defense spending rapidly over the short term (i.e. 4 years) without incurring the risk associated with research and development or costs associated with increased manpower?
  • How does a businessman-turned-politician drive down the costs of a weapon's program whose costs are "out of control?"
  • How does one make good on promises to "bring manufacturing jobs back home?" to appease Economic Security voters?
  • How does an administration, in dire need of showing strength against a country who allegedly helped it get elected do so without leading to an accidental international incident?

The answer to all of these is through Foreign Military Sales; the one thing that the U.S. government has been decidedly good at over the last several decades.  Currently, the most prolific export of the U.S. military sale market is the F-35 and it has been catapulted into the limelight as a cornerstone in the next Cold War.

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.

On Classified E-mails

On Classified E-mails

With the election cycle nearing its conclusion, you have undoubtedly heard a lot about Hilary Clinton (henceforth referred to as her honorary "Secretary") and her damned e-mail scandal.  In fact, you have probably heard about it far more than you would have liked; because, to put it bluntly, if Republicans aren't talking about Benghazi, then they're probably rambling on about this damned scandal.

The problem is, not many people really understand what the scandal is about, or why it's important in the first place. So, I endeavored to read through a few articles on the Internet, and - more importantly - the FBI documents released on the investigation, in an effort to build a primer on the issue and its relevance to the American Citizen.

This is not a political post; it is a technical primer, and as a result, my conclusions at the end of the post will be focused primarily on the ways in which technicians and engineers, like many of the people who read this blog, can learn from this cluster fuck.

The Accidental World War

The Accidental World War

A recent report by the Washington Post claims that the IC is investigating the possibility of Russian influence in American politics through cyber attacks, propaganda, and disinformation.  While this makes for a fantastic headline, it doesn't really tell us anything.  

However, the existence of the investigation does give us an interesting thought experiment. US interests are routinely being barraged by cyber attacks, like the Sony hack by North Korea in 2014, that are nominally ignored by the US government apparatus and IC alike.  However, there are two key differences between an attack at the electoral system:  First, it is an attack that undermines our ability to practice democracy; and second, it undermines our ability to project military, political, and technological power throughout the rest of the world.

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.