Is that how appropriation works?

Another shortened look at all things war today. Regular programming should resume shortly. Oh. And it’s Wednesday. So.

Camels are the worst.

Here’s what happened in national security that you should probably know.

  • China’s got a new “loyal wingman” drone that can also be kitted out for one-way suicide missions, because Beijing appropriates Japanese culture even worse than Jon Gosselin.

  • The Indians are getting some Apaches and yes I get how terrible that sentence sounds because that’s how appropriation works if you’re the Indian Air Force. They took delivery of eight of the 22 they bought from the US, even though they like to get their boomsticks from Moscow, too.

  • Iran has admitted that yes the images were right and they lost a rocket on the launchpad again. They blamed a technical malfunction. Which is the same reason they’ll give for when a few rocket scientists’ cars blow up.

  • Former Secretary of Defense and current guy who just needs to get laid James Mattis is worried that boots will knock boots now that vaginas are in the barracks. I love me some Mattis, but this feels like a guy who watches MASH and throws empty Scotch bottles at the screen every time Hawkeye hits that with a nurse.

  • Woody goes full Randy Newman in changing his mind about Space Force in Toy Story 5: Buzz Lightyear Gets His Own Combatant Command, as the USAF is headed into the muddled blue yonder as it tries to figure out what to do with its new baby brother and his rockets.

Trump trumps himself with Iran tweet

It's today's look at war from the cheap seats.

Hope your weekend was awesome. Changing things up a bit…the daily newsletter is moving to paid subscriptions after today. There will be a weekly long-form deep dive into a national security issue each week, so if you’re not a paid subscriber, you’ll still see that.

Check that out this weekend. So if you like this daily read, show me the money.

Here’s today’s natsectacular things:

🚀 Iranian rocket has a “work accident”
✌ US talking to the Houthis
☑️ There’s an election coming in Afghanistan
🎌 Japan and Korea still can’t get along
💊 Peace proving to be a bitter pill for Colombia’s FARC


Trump’s tweets are better than your tweets

For the third time this year, an Iranian rocket has failed to launch, this time during final prep before trying to send the rocket skyward. Sharp-eyed researcher Dave Schmerler, who pays attention to such things, tweeted out that things appeared to have gone poorly.

Dave seems like a good dude, with access to commercial satellite imagery.

But when you’re getting more likes than the Tweeter-In-Chief, best up your game.

Because the next day this happened.

Yeah that’s a…much better picture.

With what looks like a camera flash in the middle.

And shadow of whoever took the picture in the SCIF around the gantry. Which confirms what a US defense official told CNBC, that the picture had been used in an intelligence briefing for the president.

Look, when your Aunt Cindy posts flash pics from her front row seat at Thunder Down Under, you’re glad the shot’s obscured. But your Aunt Cindy doesn’t have access to a briefing this classified. Because no matter how good her brownies are, your Aunt Cindy’s not the leader of the free world.

This is a problem because it shows the world how good US assets are. Sure, there’s something to be said for letting people look behind the curtain once in a while to show them how good you are at what you do. You do that through leaks or off-the-record releases to news outlets.

Not with a tweet.


The Taliban are so electable right now

In the middle of trying to put together a peace deal, it’s an election year in Afghanistan. For a president. That’s supposed to happen at the end of the month, and the only person who thinks that’s going to happen?

Ashraf Ghani.

You know who doesn’t?

The 16 people running against him. And the Americans, who in public are pro-democracy and pro-peace, but in private are worried that one’s going to make the other impossible.

Ghani believes that a vote gives his government legitimacy, while the international community is concerned that it will be the same shitshow (only worse) that happened five years ago.

Meet the new election, same as the old election

For those of you just joining us at home, 2014 was when they put together the National Unity Government, which was kind of like watching your Uncle Hal and Aunt Gloria that Thanksgiving when she'd just found out he was banging his 20 year old secretary and was ready to divorce his ass.

What I mean to say is that it's been uncomfortable, and not at all functional as a governing mechanism.

It was also pretty extortionate, as it was a then-Secretary of State Kerry showing up and telling Dr. Abdullah that if he didn't go along with the deal, the bank was closed.

Since Afghanistan can't function with either US government money or military support, Abdullah went along with it.

Basically an Adam Sandler movie, but without Rob Schneider.

And since Ghani got to be president he was pretty happy with it, too.

The concern this time around is that any government involving the Taliban will be some kind of caretaker/interim arrangement, which bodes ill for all concerned. Because what the country needs to hold a peace deal together is a legitimate government.

Also in Afghanistan

  • The Taliban would love to get a piece of Kunduz, and have launched major attacks on the northern city several times over the last few years.

    This most recent attack is timed to coincide with what seems to be a particularly weighty round of negotiations with the Taliban, showing the world that that they're coming to the table with AKs in hand, not their hats. Or their turbans.

  • At Wednesday's Pentagon news briefing, when asked if the US was open to a literal nuclear option in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said:

    "We reserve the right to keep all options on the table. But, look, clearly we have a plan going forward. The key to resolve this conflict is a political agreement. We're on that path right now. We're hopeful that we can reach some type of conclusion that would result in a political agreement that can get us on the right trajectory."

    That’s how you tell the world that you’re not going to make a country glow in the dark today, but tomorrow, who knows? Because when all options are on the table, you only mean the bad ones.

  • The world's first sentient walrus has been pushed to one side as National Security Adviser John Bolton’s opposition to a peace deal with the Taliban has fallen out of favor with a president that wants to be seen as a diplomat.

    Since he fumbled any deal with North Korea, what Trump would like to see from his legacy would be some kind of deal with the once-and-future rulers of Afghanistan.


Shot of the Day

Of course we trust you. Just…not with guns. And yeah, we’ll be wearing the body armor.

Who’s ready for peace? Looking at you, Yemen!

Like it's done in Afghanistan, the United States has been reaching out to parties directly in the fight in Yemen, instead of going through regular government channels.

This time it's the Tehran-backed Houthis, who are opposing the Riyadh-backed government in Yemen, that the White House is trying to get to the table in Oman. For "secret" talks.

And then it gets complicated, because nominally the largest regional ally for Riyadh in this fight is the UAE. Except they've been withdrawing troops, and then backed what I guess would be a military coup against the Saudi-backed government in Aden.

The enemy of my enemy will probably still sell me oil

To review, then, the US is trying to get a regional ally to deal with an Iranian backed insurgency while one of its other regional partners is trying to destabilize the government there.

What makes this messier is that ending US support for the Saudi role in the conflict has enjoyed rare bi-partisan in a US Congress, worrying regional partners about continued US support in the region.


Duterte about to live in interesting times

Rodrigo Duterte, world’s most famous ex-gay and guy who’s not afraid to go full Seagal to curb his nation’s drug problem, figured now was a good a time as any to make nice with both Beijing and the nationalist forces in the Philippines and told Chinese president Xi he had feelings about China’s tomfoolery in the South China Sea.

“He (President Duterte) said that the arbitral award is final, binding and not subject to appeal. In response, President Xi reiterated his government’s position of not recognizing the arbitral ruling as well as not budging from its position.”

That’s from Duterte’s presidential spokesman, and is in reference to a 2016 ruling at the Hague that made pretty much all Chinese claims in the South China Sea illegitimate.

Nothing about this should come as a surprise, and I suspect that Duterte’s response is to crack down on some more “drug dealers” to show he’s actually the HMFIC, even though he had his ass handed to him by the Chinese.


This new season of Narcos looks badass

Colombia’s settling(ish) things with the FARC is one of the few counterinsurgency success stories that doesn’t involve a long march, blankets, and people being stashed on a reservation. And for the most part a 2016 agreement has held, with almost 90% of the 13,060 ex-combatants behaving as they should.

Except for around 2,500 rebels who have now said they’ll take up arms again, prompting Colombian President Ivan Duque to offer a $1 million bounty for the FARC’s top peace negotiator.

So that’s going well.

Not that the FARC’s disarmament has put an end to hostilities, as the more radical ELN has filled the void in the country. Which, might be part of why the FARC is trying rise again.

Complicating things even more? FARC holdouts keep finding ways to hide out in neighboring Venezuela, which regional opponents and the United States have been using as a way to make life even harder for Venezuela’s president Maduro.


Say it ain't so, Joe

Today's look at war from the cheap seats

TGIF so long as you’re not somewhere in the path of Hurricane Dorian, and if you are, thoughts and prayers, I guess. I mean, we could drop a nuke on it, but seems unlikely. If you’re in Florida, seriously: stay safe, and know that the president is there for you.

I’m guessing he stole two of these quotes from Melania:

  • “It’s been interesting.”

  • “We all got lucky…it missed Puerto Rico.”

  • “It could be an absolute monster.”

Today’s natsectacular things:

👶 Citizen babies
👴 Uncle Joe’s favorite memories
🎤 It’s not cosplay, it’s a uniform
👩 Ladies learn the wargames
🤖 The robots are coming


This is what it sounds like when SJWs cry

When they’re not arguing over who hates fireworks more, vets or dogs, keyboard soldiers like to pillory the Creamsicle-in-Chief for yet another gaffe when it comes to his base. Which base, in this case, is members of the armed services, whose babies were totally going to be denied citizenship if they were born overseas.

Turns out that’s not…well…at all true, it’s just that the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) is really bad at product rollout. Not as bad as Tesla is at auto insurance, but bad.

The policy affects kids in four flavors

  1. Children of parents who have never lived in the United States or established residency

  2. Children of couples including a U.S. citizen and a non-citizen

  3. Children of non-citizens serving in the armed forces

  4. Non-citizen children adopted by U.S. citizens

And the numbers?

Pretty staggering, according to one official speaking on background.

We ran reports of applications we received from APO and FPO addresses overseas -- that's the closest we could come to approximate those who might be applying with us from overseas, and it averaged between 20 and 25 per year.

Here’s what we need to know

  • If you’re the parent of a kid in the above categories, you need to apply for citizenship for that kid

  • In most cases, that was already a requirement, just now there’s a different form

  • USCIS has worked closely with DoD on this

  • Targets of this policy? US troops who are not already citizens, and those married to foreign nationals

Sure, I could have said “affected by” instead of “targets of,” but it’s hard to give this administration the bureaucratic benefit of the doubt when they keep trying to make America white again.

Still, it’s like 20-25 kids. Which isn’t that many, if your last name’s Duggar.


We were senators once, and remembered things

Today we can be thankful that this isn’t a story about how handsy Joe Biden is. I wish we could be thankful about how well he remembers things, but this is not that kind of story. It’s the other kind of story, one that gets better every time you tell it.

In other words, it’s the best kind of war story: a tale told by a politician, full of hope and lies.

Presidential candidate Joe “Touch Me Like We’re Family” Biden has been telling various versions of a story from his time in Afghanistan for years. And it gets…better…every time he tells it.

In the latest version, Vice President Biden was asked by a general to pin a Silver Star on a Navy captain who had rappelled down a ravine and recovered the body of a fallen comrade by carrying him out on his back. Said captain told the VP with tears in his eyes that he didn’t want the medal, because the soldier had died.

And, like most great stories, it’s too good to be true, according to the Washington Post.

In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.

And Biden was a senator at the time.

He did get one bit right.

One element of Biden's story is rooted in an actual event: In 2011, the vice president did pin a medal on a heartbroken soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn't believe he deserved the award.

Biden’s gonna Biden, and facts are overrated

Even more unfortunate is Biden’s response, that the “essence” of the story is true.

“I think it’s ridiculous. The essence — that there’s anything I said about that that wasn’t the essence of the story. The story was that he refused the medal because the fella he tried to save and risked his life saving died. That’s the beginning, middle and end. The rest of you guys can take it and do what you want with it.”

What Biden has done is what most of us do with our stories: they get better every time we tell them. There’s a military tradition of starting every story with “no shit, there I was.” What follows will be a great story. It may or may not be true.

Essence works if it’s a perfume, not a presidency

Where this gets problematic is that the moral high ground of veracity has already been ceded by the sitting president, who according to the Post has lied over 12,000 times since taking office.

Biden and the Democratic party cannot afford to be seen ceding anything to the president, who consistently dodges genuine criticism by calling things “fake.” And exaggerating a war experience is something that never ends well for anyone in the blue party.


Maybe it was laundry day

Everything else Maj. Ginger Tate owned was in the wash. That’s the only logical explanation for why an officer in the South Carolina National Guard who’s not on orders would put on their uniform and show up at a political rally and endorse a candidate for public office.

The other explanation is that the major didn’t know that per Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 she could…

Attend partisan and nonpartisan political fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions, or activities as a spectator when not in uniform and when no inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement can reasonably be drawn.

…and that she could not…

Participate in partisan political fundraising activities (except as permitted in subparagraph 4.1.1.7.), rallies, conventions (including making speeches in the course thereof), management of campaigns, or debates, either on one’s own behalf or on that of another, without respect to uniform or inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement. Participation includes more than mere attendance as a spectator. (See subparagraph 4.1.1.9.)

All politics is war

In times of war, politicians love to make it about the war. Unless of course the war is boring or doesn’t affect a lot of people. Except that in the 2020 cycle, war is going to figure prominently, as the current occupant of the Oval Office scrambles to make this campaign about something other than his abysmal domestic record.

Maj. Tate’s timing could not have been better/worse, since this happened the same day that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this as part of his tight five at the Pentagon’s semi-regular open mic night:

“My commitment is to keep this department apolitical. And I believe the best way to do that begins with the chairman and I behaving in an apolitical way. And from there, the leadership that we demonstrate, the values we emulate, work their way throughout the force, and to me, that's the best way to do it.”

He reportedly said that with a straight face.


War rooms need women

When Lauren Bean Buitta wanted to serve her country, instead of joining the military, she went to a think tank. And since most think tanks are run by dudes, most of the jobs in national security (particularly at the senior levels) are held by dudes.

She opted to change that by founding Girl Security with this in mind:

National security is and will increasingly become a central topic in our public discourse.  Girls are affected daily by national security issues, and girls have opinions about these issues. While women are only one group underrepresented in the U.S. national security sector, girls offer a unique perspective on resiliency-one of our greatest national security strengths.

Buitta took her vision of putting women into the war rooms to RAND, and their center for gaming turning a bunch of female college students loose on the “Tangling With Tigers” wargame, set on the Korean Peninsula. The game, developed by female RAND analysts, is a Kobayashi Maru scenario, where no one really wins.

“There were no good solutions. The cons always seemed to outweigh the pros. It was just, what situation can you figure out that would have the most pros?”

That’s Meaghan Burnes, a history major who says that the wargame helped her decide to pursue a career in military strategy. The goal for RAND and the women in the room? To get more people like Meaghan in places where the decisions get made.

Meet the new war room, same as the old war room

Except that what’s happening isn’t all that disruptive, at least in terms of how the game was played by this group. Which, no surprise, was seen as a win by RAND.

A lot of the decisions, strategies, and conversations were very reminiscent of what we see with military officers and DoD actors,” Wasser assures the players. Asked how professionals would have played the game, she tells them: “Not much different than you.”

At the risk of the junk punch, the issue isn’t just about gender, it’s about thinking differently. And places like RAND are wired to think the way they have for years now. Because truly disruptive thinking threatens what matters to places like RAND the most, and that’s government funding.

Think thanks exist mainly to serve as an echo chamber for prevailing ideas. The value of bringing in young, female minds should be in seeing how it could be done differently. And it says something about the capacity of senior DoD leadership that a bunch of teenagers fought Korea the same way their elders would.


The robots are coming, and is that ok?

Sure, I could’ve gone with a Terminator GIF, but a flamethrowing Thomas the Tank Engine is the stuff of nightmares, and if I can’t unsee it, neither can you. Because what we all mean when it comes to worrying about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is that we’re going to get wiped out by robots.

Or see our dream of flipping burgers die a gloriously automated death.

This is probably something I should do in a longer forum, but it’s been a while that I’ve been saying that we’re about to hit an inflection point where less expensive automation is going to meet the needs of industries that need things done and can’t find humans to do them. It’s already happening in the trucking industry, where according to Bloomberg the driver shortage is expected to double over the next 10 years.

The US Air Force has similar challenges, with a shortfall of 2,000 pilots across active and reserve components at the end of 2018. The USAF claims the drain has been halted, but is, of course looking at other options. Like Skyborg.

So you took the Borg and Skynet and combined them into one terrifying thing. Because “Flying Death Robots” was too on the nose and Stealth was already taken.

What’s a Skyborg when it’s at home?

The Skyborg project is designed as a lower cost alternative to putting multiple F-35s in the air at one time. Because if you’re flying 4 x F-35s at once, that’s around $400m in hardward on the wing, and losing one is a bit of a hit on the wallet. So what Skyborg plans to do is field multiple lower cost (few million a pop) semi-autonomous aircraft to fly in conjunction with the F-35.

In theory, this would mean that one F-35 pilot could control a squadron of AI-enabled aircraft, and so instead of worrying about human pilots in pricey planes, you just have to worry if the damn thing goes full I, Robot and decides it’s better off without the humans.

But the humans are still in the loop

The argument is still that humans are making the decisions about who gets killed when. Even though those decisions are increasingly being supported by machines that help humans make those decisions. Because we’re rapidly moving from specific AI (“That is a missile, I will shoot it down now.”) to more general AI (“That person is behaving like a bad person. I will kill them now.”).

And the argument for putting more of those decisions in the hands of the machines will be a lot like the burger bot: by taking the more mundane/night sweat inducing jobs away from the humans, our robot counterparts are doing all of humanity a service.

I, for one, hope our overlords make mine medium rare.


The best of the rest

  • Robbing Peter to give a bed to Pablo, DHS is taking $271m from FEMA and the Coast Guard to help pay for beds for detained migrants. Just in time for hurricane season.

  • Because if there’s one thing he knows it’s numbers, Trump has said that 8,600 troops will remain in Afghanistan after any withdrawal that may or may not be part of a deal with the Taliban.

  • Even though Alan Jackson doesn’t know the difference between the two, the Israelis probably do, and so their bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month (just confirmed by US officials) was most likely not a mistake.

  • Not one to let a good crisis go to waste, Vladimir Putin showed off Russia’s Su-57 stealth capable fighter to Turkey’s Erdogan this past week a month after the US blocked Ankara from buying F-35s.

  • And because why not put more money into the hole that is the F-35, the Pentagon just awarded Lockheed a $2.4 billion contract for spare parts after a watchdog found that most of the fleet was being cannibalized to keep them in the air.


I stand corrected

In the newsletter, I said that yesterday was the first day of Space Force. It was not. It was the first day of Space Command. The Force will come later. And it will be with us…always.


Help me keep the lights on: $5/month, $50/year - and the first month’s free.

Or just ignore the button. It’s fine, really. Either way.

To stupidity and beyond

Today's look at war from the cheap seats

In space no one can hear you talk like a pirate

It’s the 29th of August, 2019, the first annual Sing Like A Space Pirate day, since the US Space Force launches today. To counter, you know, the space pirates.

“Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space.” -- Ted Cruz, senator and Wolverine cosplayer if Wolverine was actually a badger and the whole franchise went direct to DVD.

So rest easy, America, we’ve got the ice pirate threat covered.

Kids, before there was a Space Force, there was the Air Force, which is still a thing, apparently, and its X-37B space drone just set a new orbital record of 719 days in continuous orbit. I’d get more excited about that, except that it’s possible that the Air Force just forgot it was up there, since the USAF does lose track of things.

Like nuclear weapons: during the Cold War at least eight nuclear bombs wandered off into the wild blue yonder (or the deep blue sea).

Apparently they weren’t as ready to drop a nuke on a hurricane in the 1960s as the Tweeter In Chief is in 2019.

Before we laugh too hard at the sentient creamsicle, someone had this idea before: one Jack W. Reed, an Air Force meteorologist who rode through a few typhoons in a B-29 while serving in the Philippines. Said typhoons left an impression on Mr. Reed, mainly, “Fuck typhoons. Let’s nuke ‘em.”

The initial idea involved weakening the storms and changing their trajectory — not necessarily destroying them. He theorized America could achieve this by detonating nukes in the air just outside the eye of the storm.

“It seems such a burst would, for at least 15 minutes, greatly influence the horizontals circulation of a hurricane … if a burst were made on one side of a storm or two bursts on opposite sides of a storm, considerable asymmetry in circulation could result,” Reed wrote in his proposal to the Plowshares committee.

Now the Air Force is more worried about how to ship a couple of Dodge Chargers to the UK, since, well, Dodge wasn’t thoughtful enough to equip their muscle cars with tie down points.

“The chase vehicles we received have no Air Transportability Test Loading Agency certification. They have no fixed area to be restrained or tied down in the aircraft, so there’s no black and white way on how to transport them. When they arrive to our area like that, they are deemed non-airworthy and that’s when we have to figure out how we can load them safely or we may have to make the call that we can’t load it.”

And before we all bro out over this, the vehicles aren’t just another poor life choice made by America’s airmen, but serve as chase cars for a U2.

The plane, not the most overrated band in the world.

So the Air Force has gone from figuring out how to nuke hurricanes to asking…

Different times.


Yes, there’s more, but if you haven’t signed up for this thing, why not?

Because then you’ll get the awesome right in your inbox.

And maybe get the paid version? You know, whatever.


Air Force: "He's a Nazi." Army: "Hold my stein."

It’s good to have a hobbies, and Air Force Master Sgt. Cory Reeves has a couple, like skiing in Colorado, and posting his white nationalist views to the social media pages of Identity Evropa, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a white nationalist organization, and the Anti-Defamation League labeled a white supremacist organization.

It’s that second bit that caught the attention of the USAF, and a three month investigation has led to…his keeping his job. In uniform. At his current rank.

And lest you think he just posted to the wrong Facebook page because he was looking for his sister-in-law’s essential oils, allow Reeves himself to retort.

While congratulating another member for posting fliers across Front Range colleges, Reeves wrote: "We all applaud you. Colorado will be sieged relentlessly and become the capital of the ethnostate."

Of course, whatever the Air Force can do, the US Army can do better, and in the most “hold my beer” way possible, a commander of a Houston-area recruiting company in Texas went uber German trying to get his recruiting numbers up.

To be fair to the (former) commander, the memo wasn’t distributed with the image, just the phrase, Arbeit Macht Frei, which is German for “you’re so fucking fired,” and also, “Work Will Set You Free,” and the photo’s from a Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The phrase headlined a section of the memo explaining incentives, including time off, available to recruiters depending on the number of contracts that they are able to complete.

Could’ve gone with…well…anything else.

And Navy, what are you snickering at? Because your SEALs aren’t exactly poster boys for good behavior of late, what with the raping, murdering fellow special operators, and the world’s most ill advised re-enlistment props. Navy Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green has a fix: haircuts.

Released to senior leaders and then obtained by Navy Times, Green’s guidance returns the SEAL and boat teams to standards expected of service members across the fleet, with a mandate for leaders to conduct “routine inspections of your units and strictly enforce all Navy grooming and uniform standards, including adherence to all Navy traditions, customs and ceremonies.”

That’s a gross simplification on my part, as the whole memo reads better than that, and points to leadership wanting to slow the pace of force growth, emphasizing quality over quantity.

Except the beards are cool, right?

They are, even though a combat beard is pretty silly, since it immediately identifies you as a special operator. And is therefore not terribly covert. And the beards aren’t really the problem, it’s the pirate-y culture that’s pervaded particularly with the SEALs because, well, Navy, but for the other special operations units, as well.

It’s a force that collectively is made up of some of the most highly trained combatants on the planet, and like most things that you keep in a case that says “break glass in case of war,” need more than a few adults around to make sure they’re adhering to something that looks like institutional values.

Or, you turn them loose and let them shrug off whatever moral compass you think that slide deck you made on “Why You Shouldn’t Pose With Dead Bodies To Re-Enlist” gave them, and let them do whatever the fuck they want. Which, since we like to think of ourselves as civilized creatures? Not a good look.

Anchor babies away?

Here’s a fun fact: if you want to become a US citizen, one way to get there? Join the military. And if you’re not a citizen yet, but you’re serving in the armed forces, and your kid’s born overseas? Used to be that kid was a citizen. Because, well, humanity.

Looks like that’s changing…sorta, as the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) attempts to get rid of confusing and competing paths to becoming a ‘murcan by getting rid of the whole “have a baby in uniform, and that baby’s from the US.”

Per the USCIS, the following children are exempt from having to apply for citizenship before they turn 18, since it’s no longer an automatic thing.

  • Those whose parents are both U.S. citizens, with at least one parent who had a residence in the U.S. or its territories before the child was born;

  • Those who have two married parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen who "was physically present in the U.S." or its territories for at least five years, with two of those years occurring after the parent was 14 years of age;

  • Those who have unmarried parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen meeting requirements listed in U.S. statute INA 309;

  • Those who are eligible to have their U.S. citizenship certified at birth;

  • And those residing in the U.S. with their U.S. citizen parent after being admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence.

First read by the oligarchs of outrage is that this is directed at the troops, a segment of Trump’s base that usually votes pretty red. Not always, since millenials are breaking a lot of the stereotypes around military service, but it certainly impacts those in uniform.

Well, just the ones aren’t citizens yet.

But I got my papers

Look, full disclosure: I hate how political this thing gets sometimes, because FFS I want to avoid talking about the Trumpster as much as possible. Because he’s not the real problem, it’s the policies that his administration is putting in place that worry me. And the deterioration of that office to the point where he’s flat out telling his subordinates to do all the crimes, he’ll just pardon them.

When aides have suggested that some of his orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials present at the meetings.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he has told officials in meetings about the wall.

Yes, that wall, and not the Matt Damon culturally articulate biopic, or even the Pink Floyd children’s singalong album. Worth reading that whole Washington Post piece because it’s full of neat details like this one.

And in case you don’t know what it looks like when a despot gets his way:

Trump’s determination to build the barriers as quickly as possible has not diminished his interest in the aesthetic aspects of the project, particularly the requirement that the looming steel barriers be painted black and topped with sharpened tips.

In a meeting at the White House on May 23, Trump ordered the Army Corps and the Department of Homeland Security to paint the structure black, according to internal communications reviewed by The Washington Post.

Administration officials have stopped trying to talk him out of those demands, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to instruct its contractors to apply black paint or coating to all new barrier fencing, the communications show.

Hey, ‘murca, we have a president that’s worn down officials to the point where they won’t argue with him about painting a pointy fence. So that’s not great. And if you think the people who support him don’t see this all as a chance to shape America in their image? Hope you liked voting for Hillary.

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