Recent Opinion Pieces

Recent Opinion Pieces

Greetings friends and readers, I decided to wait and post my last two pieces together, so that way you could understand my train of thought on the issue of the recent attempt to repeal Obamacare. Continue reading

Mattis and Kelly: Men of Quality in Charge

Mattis and Kelly: Men of Quality in Charge

For those who are close to home, please go to here for Generals Mattis and Kelly article and go here for last week’s article.

With the recent departure of General Michael Flynn, under suspicious of misleading or outright lying to the Vice President, and under accusations by the media of being a Russian operative, it’s important to re-examine the leadership at the helm of our National Security and Defense. Continue reading

​The Nuclear Option: Congressional Brinksmanship

​The Nuclear Option: Congressional Brinksmanship

With the beginning of confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Cabinet appointments and eventually his Supreme Court nominee, I’m sure you’ve heard on television, radio, or read in a newspaper something about the “nuclear option.” You may recall it being discussed before, about 2013, after there was strong opposition given to some of President Obama’s appointments. The nuclear option is a ruling in “parliamentary procedure” that removes the typical threshold of Senators necessary to overcome a filibuster on a confirmation; instead of requiring 60 Senators for legislation, or 2/3rds of Senators for amending Senate rules, all it takes is a simple majority vote (50%+1). This translates into the ability of the Senate majority to ignore any serious effort by the minority to oppose appointments and force candidates and laws through the Senate. When the nuclear option was finally put into power in 2013 under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), it had long been a known issue in the Senate.

For instance, in 1917, 100 years ago, the nuclear option’s existence caused the Senate to reform their filibuster rules. At the time, Senator Thomas J. Walsh (D-MT) noted that while Senate required a 2/3rds majority to approve rule changes, the Constitution stated that “each House could determine its’ rules of proceedings” which meant either House could decide all decisions be resolved by a simple majority. His conclusion caused a shakeup in the understanding of procedures and new rules of cloture (cloture is the procedure to end a debate and take a vote) were adopted to fix the hole Walsh had noted in the rules of operations. In 1957, Vice President Richard Nixon wrote an opinion on the proceedings of the Senate that the US Constitution still granted the presiding officer the authority to override rules. In 1975, acting to make cloture more achievable, the new Democrat majority made the necessary amount of Senators 60 and “having been sworn in” rather than “present and voting”.

But after almost a hundred years of trying to avoid such a blatant crackdown on opposition in Congress, Senate Democrats ended the tense, but respected tradition. After the filibusters of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz occurred on intelligence appointments, Senator Harry Reid felt it was necessary to ensure that Republicans who protested the appointments be incapable of stalling their path to carrying out their duties.

Now in 2017, with Republicans in charge of the Senate again, and with a President amenable to their will in the White House, the nuclear option presents itself as a possibility again. When Senator Reid eliminated the ability of the filibuster to stand in as a protest of truly awful or corrupt appointments, I protested it and considered it a violation of the peace in Congress. Senator Harry Reid had turned to his associates and said “Peace or War” and when Republicans protested, he said “war.”

With the nuclear option being the new tradition, Senator Mitch McConnell has stated that Gorsuch will pass, but how he passes will depend on what Senate Democrats do. Facing the sword they once used on Republicans, Democrats are presented with McConnell saying “I would say that is up to our Democrat friends.” With the offer of “peace or war” on the table to Democrats, if Democrats decide to protest at the threat like Republicans did 4 years ago, here is what will happen.

Mitch McConnell will enact the Nuclear Option on Supreme Court nominees, ensuring that from this point forward the Justices that make it to the Supreme Court will not be non-partisan options favored by all, but be politicized warriors for whichever party holds the Senate. As a Republican and Conservative, this situation worries me gravely. For however we may talk about the President’s executive orders treading against the intent and tradition of the Constitution, the act of turning our last legislative institution that forces unity to become a battleground of politicization is a breaking of tradition I cannot stand.

The nuclear option is an admission that the two parties are irreconcilable. It is an agreement by the two parties to refuse to find common ground, to reject subduing of their hearts and ideologies for the sake of the people. And with Supreme Court nominees no longer needing 60 votes, the Court will go from a “4 Liberals/3 Conservatives/1 Moderate” makeup as it is now to eventually a “5/4” or “6/3” split that always favors one party or the other’s ideologies. Perhaps there will be appointments of good people, persons like Gorsuch who stand not for their personal values, but the Constitution’s. Institutionalizing the end of peace, the Era of the Nuclear Option will not see many such persons seated on the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post Argues for Philosophy

The Washington Post Argues for Philosophy

Today The Washington Post posted an article discussing why students in K-12 need philosophy and the education of the First Science. Steve Neumann is the original author, but Valerie Strauss decided to share it in regards to the idea of pushing education further, specifically talking about Obama’s 4 Billion dollars for Computer Science education. The reality is that Neumann’s piece is quite truthful and philosophy is a necessary part that children need in their education.

I don’t mean that we should teach kids philosophy the way they would encounter it in college. Adolescents don’t need to dive into dissertations on Plato’s theory of forms or Kant’s categorical imperative. (That kind of study is valuable, too, and should be included in secondary education somewhere, but that’s an argument for another day.) The kind of philosophy I have in mind helps kids become better citizens by turning the classroom into what the philosopher John Dewey called “embryonic society.

Continue reading

The Iowa Caucus

The Iowa Caucus

If you aren’t following the first of the primaries running through this election season, I am going to give you the link to RCP, which shows the breakdown of the caucuses for both the Democrats and Republicans.

For the Republicans, TED CRUZ beat Trump. Trump BARELY beat Marco Rubio. The combined total of the 3 men was 75%, meaning that at least 75% of the state’s Republicans wanted nothing to do with Establishment candidates like Jeb Bush or John Kasich, or Chris Christie. For a state that is traditionally liberal and Democrat, the fact that there has been an anti-establishment surge tonight proves most of my rhetoric real. I was worried Trump might win, but I hoped that Cruz might edge him out simply because Cruz is the right kind of warhawk. (As opposed to Trump, who would rather fight Saudi Arabia, China, and Mexico rather than Iran, Russia, and ISIS). Continue reading

Donald Trump: Chew Bubblegum and Instill Fear

Donald Trump: Chew Bubblegum and Instill Fear

Why Americans, not just the GOP, have an inclination towards Strong-Men

I have been troubled recently, not by the efforts and words of some men, but by the reaction of many of my fellow Americans to the existence of the candidacies of those men. I am sure that while many Americans may feel that certain candidates are an ‘anomaly’ or ‘oddity’ in the political cycle the reality is, they are not. So I figured I would try to give some brief arguments for why Americans, not just “old, white Republicans who are angry and hatemongers” are finding themselves supporting Trump, or anyone else of similar ‘ill-quality.’

Fear of Foreign Nations

The beginning of our context as a country obviously begins before we were a nation, when we were still colonies of the North American portion of the British Empire. During the not-so-often discussed French and Indian War, the French paid for Native American tribes to make raids on the American colonies. From this beginning, we feared foreign nations would fund those who would seek our destruction.

Eventually the boogey-man became the British who not only fought us in the Revolution, but also attacked us in the War of 1812 and provided antagonism in the nation’s history all the way through the Civil War, when they contemplated recognition of the Confederacy.

The next State enemy came in the form of Spain, who during the lead up to the Spanish-American War of 1898, had been antagonizing Latin American states, particularly in South America. When things got heated in Cuba, and we assumed they attacked our ship, the USS Maine, Americans were immediately ready for the warpath, fearful and ready to fight an enemy they thought sought their destruction.

While Germany and Japan occupy the same threatening portion in history, that of World War II, the German and Japanese fear translated into a persecution of American citizens, something that wasn’t new for the period, but when examined from the present, seems an outlier in behavior. I will discuss the fear of Immigrants later, but the Japanese internment was not an ‘isolated incident.’

The most recent span of Enemy State fears comes from the Cold War, the animosity Americans have for the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese. The Soviet Union/Russian Federation is pretty easy to explain, given the fact that we know the Soviet Union aided Vietnam War protestors, and today the Russian Federation aids Nationalist organizations in Europe, and Conspiracy groups in America. The Iranians play to our fear of death and nuclear destruction. As for the Chinese, they occupy the threat to our economy, and while the threat isn’t quite loud yet, I would argue it is building and will continue to build as the years go on.

Fear of Dis-similar Immigrants

The story of American animosity towards immigrants begins with the post-Revolution fear that Papists would betray the country. Almost immediately after the Founders won the war of Independence, fears of Catholic immigrants from France and Spain, and the Catholic citizens, primarily in Maryland, were going to betray the nation, took heart. This created the animosity towards “different” immigrants that we often see towards Mexicans and Muslims today.

In the 1800s, fear of the Catholic European exacerbated when poorer Catholic migrants began coming over, predominantly from Ireland, Germany, and Italian, these immigrants were not only perceived as eminent threats because of their religion, but because of the fact many were poor. Later, when the Chinese and Koreans began immigrating, hostility to them occurred because they looked different, spoke unknown tongues, and weren’t Christian.

At the turn of the century, as Russian began its decline, the flight of Eastern Europeans saw similar amounts of ethnic and religious hatred because Russian or Greek Orthodoxy, in either form seemed at all similar to at least Catholicism or Protestantism.

Today that fear of Immigrants is placed on two groups, Mexicans and Muslims. Muslim immigrants are feared because they speak differently, appear and dress differently, and believe in Islam. Mexicans are viewed less hostile nationally, but still economically threatening because they “undercut the American citizen’s ability to hold a job.” Whether the arguments are real or not, the fears are real. Which is why our Economy is vital to this problem.

Weak Economies Drive Social Policy

Despite Political Elite and their best efforts to deny reality outside of Washington DC and New York City, most of the nation suffers from a rather weak and frustrating economic situation. In many locations, jobs are at lows still compared to years before the Great Recession. Whether the President has fault in the trigger and immediate aftermath of the Recession, he is seen as having blame, along with the GOP and Democrat establishment in the lack of recovery in the seven years since.

When people are frustrated, as they were in months after the Revolutionary War, during the Great Depression in Germany and America, people seek to alleviate their struggle economically by blaming someone. It’s a bread and circuses effect, when the people can eat and enjoy their lives, no one has to suffer to appease the population.

Law and Order as Social Policies

As it was with Reagan’s Drug War, when there are perceived threats to safety, in hard economic times, the people usually turn to government for it to punish behavior they feel wrong. The rise in the desire to vet our refugees, like those demanding we vet gun owners, comes from the same territory that saw us want to punish drug dealers for putting kids in hospital beds. The rise in reducing and eliminating illegal immigration comes from the same place that saw us demand the Patriot Act to eliminate terrorists before they commit another 9/11.

We, as a population, demand leaders and policies from those leaders that will reinforce our strength when we are in times of hardship because we believe the hardship has come from our lenience for social grievances and abuses. I would accuse those who seek to punish bakeries for denying services are the same as those who want to punish businesses who employ illegal immigrants.

Why Trump Appeals to Americans is Simple

Americans aren’t willing to trade all of their civil liberties, and they want to protect themselves because they know government won’t be able to, but Americans have a history of showing themselves acceptable with domestic violations of the Constitution if the man in power is doing the right thing. And this is why Trump is popular to Americans, he says the right thing, he suggests doing the right thing, and he has people around him and supporting him saying he will do the right thing. Whether you think he will do the right thing doesn’t matter, what matters is that Americans believe he will do the right thing.

When you look at history, it’s clear to see why the GOP and Democrat leadership has lost control of the nation. Who would put faith in men and women who cannot make the population feel safe? Trump is rising because he talks about restoring America. He does not pretend it is doing well as some have. He says what the population is thinking.

Who Am I to Say These Things?

I live and work in DC, and I have had jobs where most would say the elite reside. However, I am from a small town in Illinois, a place of under 5000 people, where I know most people’s names and their families. And I know a handful of Trump supporters. Those folks are not the personified “Racist Redneck” that many would label as Trump supporters, they are financially reasonable, good folks who are genuinely scared of the current economic and political situation of America, and feel that their only choice to protect what they love is to give power to a man, who while appealing to the base instinct, appeals to their interest in restoring America’s position and power, and also their prosperity and safe homes.

Obviously, there are bad eggs in the Trump supporter basket, but just as we demand as Christians that people not let the Westboro Baptist Church define us, we should not let those who assault protesters, and commit violent crimes define the base supporter for Trump. We should pressure them when they wave off bad behavior of a candidate as acceptable, but my intention is not to castigate anyone, but to showcase that it is more culture than the cult of Trump that drives his support.

*I Submitted this to the Op-Ed Section of the New York Times, the 3-day ban on this content being posted has ended*

History of Russian Space Aggression

History of Russian Space Aggression

So in my last major paper at school, I wrote a minor summary of Russian space history and made allusions to the theory of sea power when discussing space power.

I had the assistance of a good friend, and he is the co-author on this paper, and assisted me with converting the technical ideas into something easier to explain. I am posting it on this blog to be seen, as nothing I wrote in the paper is anything from classified or secretive sources, its all public information. Feel free to share it if you like. We realize that this paper is not a full review of the subject in that a book could be written on the subject. I think for future efforts, there is a wealth of knowledge to discuss Russian successes and failures, American successes and failures, current Space Policy of Russia, and the current (or rather lack thereof) Space Policy of America.

There is also plenty more to write on comparisons to Mahan’s theory, and the history that created Mahan’s theory, and how comparisons between sea power and space power
show that a need for a focus on the weaponization of space by rival states, such as Russia and China, is vital for the security of the American people.

For those interested, the link below is the PDF of the paper.
Space Power Theory