Cancel culture coming for the Church

Our Lady of Guadalupe, with distinctly non-white features, from Wikipedia

This past week we saw two very different responses to Shaun King, a self-proclaimed activist that called on images and statues that showed Jesus depicted as a white European to be taken down. On its face, that sounds legitimate because if Jesus came from the Levant, in all reality he would likely be more tan or brown color. It might make it appear that the Catholic Church was whitewashing Jesus.

Except its not hard to see past this. I’ve traveled a fair amount, and every Catholic Mass I attend overseas, I noticed that the statue depictions are different. Jesus in Turkey was more brown. Jesus in Ethiopia is black. The Blessed Mother appeared in Guadalupe with distinctly Mexican features. And so on. It only takes a brief pause from your cat videos to Google “Jesus around the world” to see this first hand. The fact that Jesus and his Blessed Mother take on the various characteristics of the local population is amazing to me. We have a truly universal Church. It really is for everyone, no matter your skin color.

(And as an aside, if he was a carpenter, he was probably ripped and muscular from working all day, and could have run a Crossfit gym)

Sadly, this is the first part of linking the Catholic Church to slavery. Already, there is vandalism on the Wikipedia page about the Church and African Americans. Already we have people linking vague actions by the Church, such as this article, to racism:

“The way the church would sustain or enable racism would be through the acts of the people who make it up,” he told Catholic News Service. “But the actions of all of those people are deeply influenced and shaped by social, political, and economic structures they inhabit.

“Many of them would not perceive their actions as enabling racism, but if they accept the structures uncritically, they are doing that, and they inhibit the church from realizing the full impact or engagement of its social teaching.”

The Boston Pilot

So, pray tell, what are we supposed to do with the above information? Feed the poor? Educate people? Help people find jobs? The Church already does these things! Has the author not looked at a Church bulletin lately? There is a ministry for all these things and more, limited only by people’s imagination and time.

As said before, the best strategy with people like this is to push back. Folks like Shaun King won’t stop with their demands, they are simply looking for weakness to exploit. I give Bishop Hying props for standing up to this mob, where he accepts that we need to have dialog and action while rejecting calls for destruction. Compare this with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is now “reassessing” depictions of Jesus as white.

No matter what the Anglican Church does, someone in the mob will find it as not enough and will call for further action. Mobs don’t stop. When they find weakness, they push harder. Pushing back forces them to stop. The Anglican Church isn’t going to get a break, and they are going to learn this rule, unfortunately, the hard way.

We live in a democracy, but if aren’t willing to enforce its rules, we’ll soon live in a mob state.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Yup, they came for Jesus

Pearl Monument torn down, from Wikipedia

Not that long ago, the military sent me to Bahrain to work a particular mission. While I was there, I learned about the political differences between the King of Bahrain (a Sunni) and the majority Shia population on the small island nation. Protests against the King were somewhat common, and I would get text notifications if one flared up. The protests weren’t aimed at America (a nice change), but we were always advised to stay away from them because the mob mentality might make us a target of convenience.

Mobs make people stupid by allowing people to offload their decision making, and thus responsibility, onto the mob. The danger is that someone with a strong personality will use the mob’s power towards their own end. What starts as a peaceful demonstration can end in violence. That’s what happened in Bahrain, climaxing in 2011 with the demonstration near the Pearl Monument and its subsequent destruction by the government.

The scary part about mobs is that the people pulling the strings typically don’t have a peaceful end state. President Trump understands this and pointed it out in 2017 that tearing down statues to appease the mob isn’t going to work. Plenty of people ridiculed him, including Slate:

“So Trump’s comparison there is dumb. It doesn’t really even make any sense. And the notion that there’s some slippery slope is dumb.”

-Slate article, 2017

Doesn’t look so dumb now. It’s one thing for a city government to remove a Confederate statue or the federal government to rename a base. I’d be happy renaming Fort Gordon to something else, since General John Gordon seemed more capable of getting shot than being an effective general, and was probably a KKK member. There’s a system for doing that, so we should use that. We don’t need a mob for these things.

Worse, this mob mentality isn’t going to end anytime soon. We’re now seeing Catholic churches targeted in California. My wife alerted me to an FSSP parish in San Diego, where the address was being posted in order to mobilize a protest. The right to peacefully protest is a good thing. It allows things like praying outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. But it should be fairly obvious from the above Instagram picture, which makes plenty of assumptions on the church members, that the point isn’t to be peaceful, but rather intimidate people from attending church. Think about it, would YOU walk through a throng of angry protestors to attend Mass?

Mob leaders want people to submit to mob control. Worse still, when mob leadership adheres to Antifa ideaology, it will violently attack any authority that opposes it. This includes Church authority, especially Catholic teachings.

Prediction: we’re going to see attempts by the mob to link Catholicism to slavery, Trump, COVID-19, and whatever else comes to mind in order to justify defacing and tearing buildings down. This, despite a decent Church history of opposing slavery, even having a Pope that was a former slave. Remember that actual history doesn’t matter to the mob.

The question we have to start asking Catholics now is: are you prepared to wade through a mob to attend Mass? Will you tolerate a mob defacing or tearing down your Church? Because the mob is coming for Jesus. Which side will you be on when it arrives?

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

India standing up to China

Lost in the media’s fake news was a very disturbing report of a clash between India and China, the world’s two most populated nuclear-enabled countries, in the Galwan Valley. If you don’t know where that is, its a north-eastern section that divides China from India. India and China fought a war in 1962 over this and other regions, which China won. Ever since then, the Chinese have been encroaching on the area, and small flare ups have happened now and then, including this latest fight.

What’s different is that India probably learned lessons from last time and was better prepared. Previously China tended to have the upper hand in conflict, but based on the downplay from both sides on the most recent conflict, I’m guessing it was much more of a draw. India’s military has upgraded much, including training, so it was more of an equal fight, especially because that area makes it more difficult for more advanced weapons to be brought to play.

The big lesson to learn here is that China is only going to respect power when it comes to border disputes. If you don’t punch back twice as hard, expect China to simply continue to take. It’s become more apparent that China is like Hitler’s Germany, never quite satisfied with whatever land was given up to satiate Hitler’s desires. China will find excuses to lay claim to the Galwan Valley, Tawang, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Siberia, Hawaii, and whatever else it can get away with.

This also opens up huge opportunities for US-India relations. India has traditionally used Russian weapons and equipment, but as China rolls out more upgraded gear, better equipment and training is needed to stand up to them. Given the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, especially for special warfare personnel, the border disputes give an opportunity for enhanced US-India military training. Even better, from a strategic standpoint, having an open conflict on China’s western border would be a way to temper Chinese ambitions in other areas. China can take on Japan, Taiwan or South China Sea claimants one by one, but if they combine and also face a land war on their western border, its a bit much to handle.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

COVID-19 Wealth Transfer

COVID-19 is exacerbating many things, but one that is flying under the radar right now is a pending, unprecedented wealth transfer from old to young. The transfer of wealth from the Boomer generation to Millenials was already being discussed in 2014 due to its shear size (somewhere between 30 and 60 trillion dollars). While some people predicted it wouldn’t be as large because of rising health care and long-term care costs, those will be cut short by the disease.

This is important for a few reasons. First, COVID-19 wiped out any senior care center it touched. These centers all too often make their money by sucking the benefits from their members, to the point they have no wealth left to transfer to heirs. Now that many of the members have died, there will be a transfer of funds surviving family members, likely to spur a bit of the economy. Because COVID-19 hit the older population much more so than younger, it’s not a surprise that the economy can bounce back faster than expected.

Given the poor performance of senior centers, I would expect many people to be hesitant to trust them with aging boomer parents in the future. Once the full truth comes out, especially about how places like Michigan and New York knowingly put COVID-positive seniors back in homes, it will become the scandal of 2020. I’d expect to see a rise in senior centers that boast a better cleaning and isolation regiment, as well as people adding mother-in-law suites to provide for parents in the future.

Lastly, COVID-19 is likely to spur quick changes on Medicare. Medicare as a program has never been setup for long-term success. Taxing the working people to pay for seniors only works if you have a large, growing population and a relatively short lifespan. Given that people live longer and have less children, those economic don’t work when health care costs rise. But COVID-19 exposed medical treatment costs as perhaps more driven by red tape than anything else. Regardless, the lack of taxpayer funds due to unemployment will likely bring in some much needed change to the system.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Posturing before the deal: Russia and nuclear weapons

The Davy Crockett Nuclear Munition, from Wikipedia

Amid the chaos in the news was an announcement that President Putin signed an updated nuclear deterrent policy for Russia, which expanded the use of nuclear weapons as a response against conventional attacks on Russia’s critical government and military infrastructure.

I haven’t found a translated copy yet (the original Russian is linked in this article), but if you were to ask me if this is a surprise…its not. We need to view this through Russia’s eyes and see what nuclear weapons mean to them, why they would change policy now, and what is their desired end state.

First, when we talk nuclear weapons, realize that Russia has always had a pretty wide range of weapons. When we hear nuclear, we think giant missiles with multiple warheads, and for the current U.S. stockpile, that’s pretty true. But we forget that the U.S. had an interest in tactical nuclear weapons, right down to the man portable “Davy Crockett,” a man-portable nuclear bazooka that you can still see on display in the Army Ordnance Museum. Russia has never lost its taste for tactical nuclear weapons, even going so far as to look at suitcase (really, backpack sized, ~70 pound) warheads that could be smuggled and detonated inside the U.S. Russia’s Navy has always viewed nuclear weapons as a viable option in naval warfare against U.S. Carrier Strike Groups.

A Special Atomic Demolition Munition with a W54 warhead…essentially, a backpack nuke.
Image from Wikipedia

For Russia, using tactical nuclear weapons doesn’t mean we will go to full-on nuclear conflict. It’s not in Russia’s best interest to have a full nuclear exchange with the U.S. or NATO. Think about it. Russia loses in a full exchange: they have less people, less ability to rebuild, and will likely lose all military forces (and thus ability to defend) in any full exchange. Russia doesn’t want to own the whole world, but to simply dominate the parts that were the former USSR.

Because the U.S. views nuclear exchange as an “all or nothing” game, Russia uses this to its advantage. It’s always viewed theater war as a limited exchange that could allow tactical nuclear weapons to be used without escalation, so long as they achieved a specific objective. In this sense, Russia is OK with an “escalate to deescalate” policy with nuclear weapons.

So given that, why the policy change now? It’s part technology, part negotiation. On the technology side, conventional weapons are becoming incredibly accurate and more lethal. Russia fears a decapitating strike by the U.S. using advanced weapons like the Tomahawk cruise missile. Russia has watched the U.S. strike country after country with these weapons to great effect. Nuclear policy, specifically Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), was written before conventional weapons were this accurate. Does MAD work when I can hit decision makers in under an hour (like the program Prompt Global Strike was pursuing)? Doubtful. The technology has simply changed too much.

It’s also a negotiating move. Withdrawing from the INF treaty means the last nuclear treaty is the START treaty, set to expire in February 2021. Russia can’t afford an arms race with the U.S. The Russian economy is tanking due to COVID-19 and sanctions. If European nations stay in NATO and allied with the U.S., this situation is unlikely to change. Plus, Russia is shrinking as its population gets older and more sick due to the poor healthcare in the country. If START doesn’t get re-upped, Russia is in trouble, as it can’t compete with U.S. and European manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

So, as Russians are fond of doing, its striking hard. It’s trying to get people scared that it might pull a “Crazy Ivan.” That’s a possibility, but an unlikely one. Its big hope is for the U.S. to blink and negotiate on their terms. Given the current administration, that’s unlikely too. In fact, the DoD is practicing against just such a thing, much to Russia’s ire.

In the next six months, expect the Russian’s to run drills and emphasize their use of tactical nuclear weapons. Russia could even find a way to test a nuclear weapon underground as part of these drills. RT and Sputnik news will play this up, bringing in images of the Cold War, with kids under their desks and mushroom clouds in the background. We’ll probably “find” a nuclear-like device in the U.S., or uncover a plot to transport one. All this is to get the U.S. to give them the nuclear deal that they want.

All this will be done with the hope of persuading the American people and sitting President to negotiate. Whether it works will depend on how willing we are to look past the fluff.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

COVID-19 and a baby boom?

Yes, someone actually used this as a pick-up line

The COVID-19 shutdown has had many changes, with a notable one being more time spent at home. For couples, this had lead to more…alone time, if you know what I mean. More alone time means that 40 weeks from the start of pandemic in the United States (so around Christmas time) means we might be seeing a surge in births.

While definitely under-reported in America, other countries are reporting signs that we might see a large increase in babies. Indonesia saw a 10% decrease in birth control use, and in countries like Nepal, which already don’t have good transportation, family planning is out the window. India, already set to overtake China by 2050 in population, is likely seeing a surge too. Even in Ireland, pregnancy test purchases are spiking in some cities. It seems everyone is using COVID-19 as a bad pickup line to get it on.

What does this mean long term? First, a surge should help stave off economic downturn. World War II saw a decline in population of almost 2.5% worldwide, but a surge in the birth rate after contributed to the regrowth of the population and economy to boot. With better health care and schooling, a jump in birth rate means more workers to produce more , which long term should raise GDP.

From Reddit

Second, the population will change dramatically where it is located at. China, already on decline, will likely decline more, falling behind India faster than 2050. That may put pressure on China to consolidate gains made by the One-Belt-One-Road Initiative and territoriality in places like the South China Sea. Russia faces a significant loss in manpower and may struggle to maintain control over its vast territory, which could lead to civil war. African nations like Nigeria and Ethiopia, with relatively democratic governments, could become huge markets for goods and the new source of manufacturing for companies escaping China.

Lastly, COVID-19 exposed that how we manage the elderly, especially in America, is a borderline death trap. Nursing homes, already struggling to keep workers, are the single largest source of COVID deaths in America. But longer life spans and the tendency of nursing homes to suck every penny out of retirement funds means that people will be likely outraged and desire to move aging parents into safer facilities. Expect to see a focus on cleanliness at nursing homes plus a boom in new homes being built with mother-in-law suites for aging parents.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Open Skies, Game Theory, and what’s next for treaties

The OC-135, the (very old) airplane the US uses for OPEN SKIES flights, from Wikipedia

Recently President Trump pulled the United States out of the Open Skies Treaties, continuing his push of leaving treaties he feels aren’t useful. Given that we’ve pulled out of the INF Treaty, redone NAFTA, and scrapped a few other treaties (like the JCPOA), are we closer to war, and what treaty is next on the chopping block?

Trump renegotiating deals, and in some cases leaving them altogether, isn’t a surprise. A quick read of his book The Art of the Deal, or a study of his real estate deals, or just watching a few episodes of The Apprentice, would tell you that Trump is all about big deals. He doesn’t nibble at the edges of a small deal. He goes in for the big deal, or nothing at all.

A big reason for that is waiting for the big deal typically maximizes the leverage he has. If you give something away first, and the other side doesn’t reciprocate, you lost a portion of your negotiating power. It’s like giving your kids dessert before dinner on the promise they’ll eat both. Sure, it could happen, but if the dinner isn’t finished, you can’t threaten to withhold dessert.

President Trump always looks to maximize leverage, which means pressing on points that do something while ignoring those that don’t mean anything. For example, very early on he called out a number of NATO countries and threatened to withhold US defense money. A critical media made it out to look like he was threatening to leave NATO. Ironically, this worked completely in his favor. The chances of Trump leaving NATO were pretty slim, because it wouldn’t gain much (by the way, the only country to have done so was France when it left the military portion of NATO). But with the media making it look like he would, and a re-surging Russia acting like it wants to re-establish the Soviet Union, many NATO nations upped their funding. Trump won pretty “bigly” in that case.

If you think the whole “negotiating” piece is a sham, you shouldn’t. In fact, Trump has said on many occasions exactly what he’s doing. Here’s a NYT piece from 2016, where Trump was being interviewed by David Sanger and discussing missile defense and Japan:

TRUMP: Or, if we cannot make the right deal, to take on the burden themselves. You said it wrong because you said or — or if we cannot make the right deal for proper reimbursement to take on the burden themselves. Yes. Now, Hillary Clinton said: “I will never leave Japan. I will never leave Japan. Will never leave any of our ——” Well now, once you say that, guess what happens? What happens?

HABERMAN: You’re stuck.

TRUMP: You can’t negotiate.

HABERMAN: Right.

TRUMP: In a deal, you always have to be prepared to walk. Hillary Clinton has said, “We will never, ever walk.” That’s a wonderful phrase, but unfortunately, if I were on Saudi Arabia’s side, Germany, Japan, South Korea and others, I would say, “Oh, they’re never leaving, so what do we have to pay them for?” Does that make sense to you, David?

It’s crystal clear: President Trump will threaten to leave, and then ACTUALLY leave a deal, if it’s not to his liking. That gives him the most leverage to get the other side to comply.

Open Skies is no different. The deal was first brought up in 1955, but was only recently ratified in 2002. It’s supposed to allow unfettered access to anywhere in the signatories countries. The US upholds that end, and as a military member, I’ve been notified before when the Russians plan to fly over an installation I’m working at. Russia began denying access to key areas, including exercise areas and parts of Georgia.

From President Trumps point of view, Russia gets a good deal and the US is slowly losing any advantage for the deal, so he pulled out. Both sides can pull other intelligence assets to make up the loss, but Russia will take a harder economic hit to do that than the US. This gives the US an advantage, and makes a subsequent deal easier. But the next Open Skies deal, if it was to happen, wouldn’t look like the old one. Trump will drive a hard bargain. I wouldn’t be surprised if he demands something completely absurd, like a drawdown of Russian forces from Kaliningrad and the Arctic, with verification flights to ensure compliance.

Now the Open Skies is going away, what’s next? My first thought was Nuclear Test Ban, since the US never ratified it, but the President already beat me to it. Expect the media to really blow this one up, which again plays right into the President’s hand. I would expect him to use this as leverage over China, because he could:

  • Threaten to arm Japan and/or Taiwan with nuclear weapons
  • Threaten nuclear weapons on hypersonic missiles
  • Change US policy and bring back tactical nuclear weapons
  • Negotiate a better nuclear deal with India, to include selling them nuclear submarine technology. Not only would that make China angry, but it would strip Russia of arms sales!

Another deal on the chopping block is the Outer Space Treaty. Trump already announced moon mining. I’d expect him to be looking for partner nations to mine the moon and asteroids. It’s a good chance to bring in non-traditional partners like Brazil, India and Japan that have this technology, but also places like Indonesia and parts of Africa where geography makes launching satellites easier.

The last one I’d expect to see go away is our treaties on drugs. This goes beyond legalizing marijuana. The drug enforcement cost in America is massive and yet is not particularly effective. Legalizing and taxing the drug trade could not only take money away from cartels, but also increase the safety for drug users. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t come up yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump proposed big changes to drug control.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Russia’s Hunger Games

Images from Kadykchan, Russia

While debates continue to rage online about what the true death toll of COVID-19 is, one thing is for certain: Russia and China’s numbers are 100% false. As of this morning, the John Hopkins COVID dashboard is recording 2,537 deaths for Russia and 4,637 deaths in China. If you trust those numbers in countries with 144 million and 1.44 billion, then I’d hate to see your investment strategy.

For Russia, the virus is particularly deadly. Russia’s demographics have all the wrong characteristics for resisting the disease. Russia’s population is considerably older, with an average age around 40 years old. This is skewed heavily, with women living on average almost 10 years longer than men. Stereotypes aside, Russian men have considerable alcohol problems, and compounded by a high smoking rate, the population isn’t exactly healthy.

All of this is made worse by a crumbling hospital infrastructure. While Russian health care is universal and government funded, it suffers from a high level of bureaucracy and lack of funding. Worse still, because of the high concentration of the countries wealth in Moscow verses the rest of the nation. This causes health care to decline significantly the farther away you get from Moscow, causing places like Siberia to suffer considerably more. If you needed a place that resembles The Hunger Games, Russia would be a great fit.

We won’t get the true COVID-19 numbers from Russia, as the government will clamp down on them considerably. But given their setup, be ready for true devastation. Personally I would watch satellite pictures of light intensity, because I would expect areas, especially remote ones, to become uninhabited.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

The Iran War Powers Act, and what it (doesn’t) mean

Qasem Soleimani, Commander of Quds Forces during National AGIR commanders conference, from Wikipedia

There is much to-do about President Trump’s veto (that was not overridden) of the Iran war powers resolution. On its face, a bill that says President Trump can’t just declare war on Iran seems to be a good thing, given the crazy number of places we have committed our Armed Forces to so far. I was curious what the bill actually said, so I did a bit of digging. At first, it was difficult to get the right bill because there have been multiple bills introduced by various members trying to restrict war with Iran. The one that was recently vetoed was S.J. Res. 68. You can read the PDF version here.

It’s a pretty short bill, so let’s dive into it! We’ll skip the fancy header stuff and get into the meat of it:

Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Congress has the sole power to declare war under article I,
section 8, clause 11 of the United States Constitution.

Well, no issue there. In case you only read the amendments to the Constitution, this is squarely in Article I.

(2) The President has a constitutional responsibility to take actions to defend the United States, its territories, possessions, citizens, service members, and diplomats from attack.

Sounds about right.

(3) Congress has not yet declared war upon, nor enacted a specific statutory authorization for use of military force against, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) do not serve as a specific statutory authorization for the use of force against Iran.

Sure… but how does this apply if you’re a terrorist funded by Iran? Iran is running a proxy war against the United States, and the U.S. has responded in kind. Both nations are fighting each other in the shadows, but hesitating to attack each other directly, although there have been the occasional assassination attempt. Essentially, this says you can’t use these two pieces of legislation to justify war with Iran.

(4) The conflict between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes, within the meaning of section 4(a) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1543(a)), either hostilities or a situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances into which United States Armed Forces have been introduced.

That is correct, see the USC text here. Then again, you could say this applies every time we conduct a Freedom of Navigation transit. It’s pretty vague. A U.S. Carrier Strike Group would be always “equipped for combat,” so anytime it goes anywhere its meeting this criteria.

(5) Members of the United States Armed Forces and intelligence community, and all those involved in the planning of the January 2, 2020, strike on Qasem Soleimani, including President Donald J. Trump, should be commended for their efforts in a successful mission.

Yay, I guess? Did they just give a shout-out to the President? Who snuck that in?

Even Democrats give me credit!

(6) Section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)) states that “at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs”.

True, but missing a section. The previous portion, 5(b), allows the President to essentially deploy the military for up to 60 days before he has to remove them. Kind of important. Should read the whole text, available here.

(7) More than 100 members of the United States Armed Forces sustained traumatic brain injuries in the Iranian retaliatory attack on the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq despite initial reports that no casualties were sustained in the attack.

And initial reports are normally wrong, so the point here is what? Iran shot a bunch of missiles at us and nobody died? Some people get a Purple Heart and a VA disability bump? Sure, its just a statement of fact, but to what end?

I’m not downplaying the damage here, it sucks that people got injured. My bigger point is that it doesn’t matter to this bill in the slightest.

(8) Section 8(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(c)) defines the introduction of the United States Armed Forces to include “the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged in, hostilities”.

100% true.

(9) The United States Armed Forces have been introduced into hostilities, as defined by the War Powers Resolution, against Iran.

Introduced? Against Iran? Here’s where you can lawyer-away. The troops were in IRAQ. They were attacked in IRAQ. President Trump authorized a strike on General Soleimani in IRAQ. Not Iranian soil, Iraqi soil. He even notified the Iraqis. The troops in Iraq are in no way sufficient to invade Iran. We’re not even shooting across the border…General Soleimani was killed in Baghdad, which is over 200 km from the Iranian border.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this simply sentence seems like its reaching a bit. Troops that were already there (not introduced) and are helping Iraq (not fighting Iran) are somehow now engaged in hostilities against Iran? Please, if a lawyer wants to drop a comment to explain this, I’m all ears. I just don’t see it.

(10) The question of whether United States forces should be engaged in hostilities against Iran should be answered following a full briefing to Congress and the American public of the issues at stake, a public debate in Congress, and a congressional vote as contemplated by the Constitution.

Sure, couldn’t agree more. Congress hasn’t lost the ability to declare war or turn off the military funding tap, neither of which it has decided to do. And, to be fair, President Trump hasn’t put military forces in Iran, nor is he massing troops on the border to do so.

(11) Section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a) provides that any joint resolution or bill to require the removal of United States Armed Forces engaged in hostilities without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization shall be considered in accordance with the expedited procedures of section 601(b) of the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.

Yup, but again, the soldiers involved were all already in IRAQ, and there to help the Iraqi Army.

SEC. 2. TERMINATION OF THE USE OF UNITED STATES FORCES FOR HOSTILITIES AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN.

(a) Termination.–Pursuant to section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a),
and in accordance with the provisions of section 601(b) of the
International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976,
Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United
States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of
Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly
authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of
military force against Iran.

OK. So, pray tell, what hostilities? Did we shoot missiles into Iran? Did we invade some piece of Iranian territory? I’d like to know.

(b) Rule of Construction.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the United States from defending itself from
imminent attack.

Well that’s good to know!

So I’m not seeing the big deal with this bill, besides that its a bunch of grandstanding. It’s a lot of fluff and it’s accusing the President of conducting operations against Iran, without saying WHAT operations he’s engaging in. It also is attempting to link soldiers that are already in IRAQ as somehow having something to do with IRAN. I get it, the countries are only one letter apart…but seriously.

How this piece of legislation feels

I’ve had a few people quote President Trump’s tweets about “raining fire down on Iran” if they attack our Navy vessels. OK, I’ll bite. For starters, imminent attack and self defense are still protected, so President Trump threatening to use them is a giant nothing-burger. Did he threaten to invade Qeshm Island? If so, I’d be all onboard saying that’s a really bad idea without a war declaration.

That’s not what is happening. Essentially, we have a President that is totally fine making bombastic claims when another country threatens him. It’s his personal style and likely part of his negotiating strategy. We can argue about whether this is effective, and I think there is plenty of room for debate on that. I personally think it isn’t always the best strategy to use with our allies, for example. I’m not the President, so I don’t get to make those choices, and for people that really don’t like that style, there is the voting box come November.

To accuse President Trump of engaging in hostile acts directly against Iran, but then not being able to name them, and trying to disguise it as an attempt to reign in a President that is trampling on Congressional rights is nothing more than stupid grand standing. We continue to be promised World War III with President Trump, and it continues to not happen.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Will COVID-19 change your care level in local elections?

From https://penobscotbaypress.com/news/2018/oct/31/voting-information-for-election-day-november-6/

Everyone wants to talk about President Trump. Even when the President isn’t focusing the media attention on himself (which is pretty rare), people want to discuss what he’s doing or not doing. If you wander onto social media, the overwhelming number of political posts are about President Trump, followed by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.

Given all that focus, you would think that the President has an outsized influence in our daily lives. But unless you work in the federal government, that’s not really true. In fact, your local judges and politicians have a far greater impact on your daily life, and yet most people can’t name but a handful of them.

Let’s look at your average day. After you get up, you drive into work. The roads are managed at the state level, with some states spending significantly more in administrative costs than others. Your gas tax varies widely from state to state. Whether your hair stylist or braider needs a license is mainly state controlled. Whether you can buy alcohol on Sunday, or at night, or from a private store, is controlled by your state.

The COVID-19 responses in your state are mostly controlled by the governor. While Michigan and New York have capitalized on media coverage, the reality is that most governors seem to have done OK. I’m not a fan of our governor, but his response to COVID-19 and the restrictions he put in place made sense. I can still shop and get take-out from restaurants, without getting pulled over by the police and having my trunk checked for essential items.

The rules in place get funded and reinforced by the state legislature, and yet I struggle to find people who know anything, even the name, of their state representative. These people have a huge influence on your daily life, and people actually get to choose them every few years, and yet most have no idea who they are.

Schools are even worse. School board elections are so mundane, and yet most people figured out that despite the administrative costs paid by your property taxes, most schools couldn’t build a distance education plan to save their lives. I’m having to teach my kids math and science because the math and science teachers aren’t allowed to lecture more than an hour a week because of the school administration. After having that stupid rule explained to me, I’ve taken a larger interest in school board elections.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a chance for many people to reevaluate portions of their life. Could you spend long periods of time at home? Could you stay connected with others when you couldn’t travel? But perhaps most importantly, it exposed most of us to how well or not well our local elected officials run our government. That experience should drive your vote this year.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.