Let's Talk
Your Questions, My Answers
  • The best part of this campaign is the civic engagement I get to take part in: only by listening will I know what matters most to the citizens of OH-6. While many of my ideas are published on this website already, some of you have specific questions you might want to ask me. Please feel free to send those questions via the contact form on this page (or anywhere on this website), and I promise I will respond to you by email as soon as I can.

    Some of these questions and answers — those I believe can be of interest to a broader audience — I will publish here. I believe you should know not only WHAT your elected officials think, but also HOW they think.

  • What are your thoughts on  H.R.82  and  S.597  (Social Security Fairness Act,  SSFA) ?

    In broad terms I support this bill. Striking out both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) are noble endeavors as they both violate the spirit of what the original Social Security Act (SSA), signed by FDR, intended for.

    My governing philosophy on all things related to such social programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) is that Americans should not be penalized for actuarial anomalies that arise from the tangled web of volumes of US law governing our social programs. The intent of Social Security is to provide for our citizens who led a dutiful life of service (public or private) to our country, and they should be rewarded and supported well into their golden years. It is particularly offensive to me that current SSA law disproportionately penalize public servants and, to my understanding, the SSFA addresses exactly this penalty.

    This being said, I am also aware of several other bills making their rounds through Congress to include the Social Security 2100 Act and piecemeal legislation like HR 4260 and HR 5342.

    In general, when it comes to social programs, I am wary of laws like these that are temporary since, in practice, they are akin to a heavy tax penalty to future generations. But I will concede that some of the provisions of these bills actually increase the benefits outlaid to certain retirees. By some estimates, the SS2100 Act will increase disbursements to 69% of those affected by the WEP/GPO but this comes at the expense of the other 31% affected. This does not sit well with me despite the noble attempt at increasing benefits to some Americans.

    Most of the deliberations around Congress is centered around the SSA's Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT) assessment on the financial impact of these bills on the Social Security trust fund. It is my belief, founded on my years of experience dealing with the federal government, both inside and outside, that this trust fund is merely an anachronistic vestige of financial accounting made irrelevant with the US Government abandoning the Gold Standard in 1971. All funds, regardless of destination, come from the General Fund of the US Dept of Treasury. The SSA trust fund is merely a bookkeeping exercise within the subset of this Fund that bears no impact on our Nation's financial health. If there still exists a strong desire to rectify the superficial accounting within the SSA trust fund, a better use of Congress' deliberative efforts would be to eliminate the anachronistic payroll tax cap.

    These issues only highlight that despite my general support for the SSFA, there is more to be done to ensure our citizens receive and that Congress expands the benefits intended by FDR nearly 100 years ago.

  • What are your thoughts on  H.R.7521 — Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act  (“TikTok Act”) ?

    In general, this is a good step in the right direction and I would support this bill. While the provisions of the bill are broad to avoid bill of attainder conflicts, I understand the public is chiefly concerned with the Communist Chinese owned application "TikTok" so I will address this question specifically towards that application but my response would be equally valid to a hypothetical app by an allied nation.

    TikTok is Chinese malware disguised as a social media platform. Even when considering our own American social media companies, TikTok is uniquely aggressive in its data collection practices and alarmingly invasive in the manner in which it harvests data from American citizens including keystrokes which represents a huge security risk. The most alarming aspect of its collection methods is their remote configuration capabilities where they can remotely inject code into our devices bypassing manufacturer protections to execute them without our knowledge. Cybersecurity experts who've attempted to reverse engineer TikTok to determine the degree of severity of their methods run up against increasingly obfuscated code and deliberate attempts to shut analysts out of inspecting their code unseen by other companies.

    Thus, even in isolation, TikTok meets the standard of malware that is already in violation of 18 USC 1030 commonly referred to as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Tellingly, this violation is still applicable even after SCOTUS narrowly redefined the scope of the CFAA under Van Buren v. United States by a conservative court. In fact this is merely the unclassified (publicly available information) explanation of the harms of TikTok. While we are not privy to classified reports, we are privy to their outcome. After being briefed by the NSA and DNI, the DOD, GSA, and NASA banned them from all government devices. The vote for HR 7521 came after the House Energy and Commerce Committee was given a classified brief on the nature of TikTok. After this classified briefing, the committee voted 50-0 to move HR 7521 to the House floor. In this era of hyper-partisanship, if any legislation passes unanimously after a classified briefing, the American People should take note. This in and of itself is reason enough to outright ban the app. The fact that HR 7521 is not banning the app but providing a workable off-ramp for Americans who wish to use it through a change of ownership should assuage many First Amendment concerns.

    Furthermore, while First Amendment concerns are important to consider, Congress has an equal duty to address privacy concerns under the Fourth Amendment as well as regulate telecommunications under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution which has been upheld by numerous SCOTUS decisions. This regulation stems from the “Public Interest Concern” doctrine which is codified in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under this Act, the FCC is empowered (47 USC 310) to govern the manner in which foreign entities may acquire stakes in traditional media. It is my opinion that such restrictions on foreign ownership be applied to social media as well, especially considering how social media is rapidly supplanting traditional media. Congress needs to keep pace with technological developments or we risk falling behind to our adversaries.

    I also understand that the restrictions under 47 USC 310 were loosened to accommodate for increased international free trade in line with our treaty obligations under the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement. This only strengthens the need for HR 7521 due to China's repeated WTO violations. Specifically with TikTok, China regularly bans our social media and internet content providers from access to the Chinese market. This bill merely authorizes the Executive to take appropriate retaliatory actions consistent with enforcing the spirit of the WTO agreements.

    Detractors of the bill will argue that this bill is xenophobic and that our American social media companies have equally violated our privacy and used our personal data for profit and to influence the public. While these critiques are true, as I've explained above, TikTok's practices far exceed those of any American company. Furthermore, I reject the excuse that “everyone does it so it's ok.” A violation of the law is a violation — end of story. This is why I say that this bill is “a good first step.” More needs to be done to protect American citizens' privacy rights in the cyberspace domain.

    The painful reminder of the Cambridge Analytica scandal with Meta (Facebook) and how they used algorithms to surreptitiously influence the 2016 elections to the benefit of Republican politicians shows us that even if TikTok's algorithms are seemingly innocuous now, this doesn't mean they can't stealthily alter their algorithms for a sophisticated psychological attack on the American electorate in time for Election Day. In fact, HR 7521 specifically addresses this since the only reason we found out about the Cambridge Analytica scandal was PRECISELY because the servers were in America and subject to American jurisdiction and subpoenas — this is notably absent with the case of TikTok where such nefarious activities can be accomplished on Chinese soil far from the reach of American investigators.

    Finally, the other criticism of this bill is that it unfairly and disproportionately affects young Americans who predominantly get their news from TikTok. As a Democrat, I am extremely sensitive to the concerns of our youth as they overwhelmingly vote Democrat. However, my duty to the country comes before political expediency. The fact our youth overwhelmingly get their news from one app (Chinese or otherwise) proves my point for the need to bolster our education system and reintroduce Civics so that our youth are mindful of foreign manipulation and authoritarian propaganda tactics.

    Their dependency on TikTok also further reinforces the justification for this bill under current antitrust laws. As stated earlier, rather than outright banning TikTok under these justifications, HR 7521 allows the sale of the app to Americans with specific provisions ensuring that users can download all their data and transfer them to another application of your choice. Monopolies shouldn't be able to artificially constrict the movement of your personal data to their benefit.

  • What is your stance on Israel-Palestine ?

    This is an incredibly complex issue and while I'd prefer to answer definitively one way or another, I cannot give you a simple clear-cut answer. To give your question the proper diligence it deserves, it would require an answer whose length goes beyond a simple email and I fear my answer will seem inadequate without such attention. Nevertheless, I will attempt to explain my views with the understanding that a concise answer will necessarily entail a certain degree of oversimplification. Thus, I'd ask you to understand the intent behind my words. I also believe that my explanation is a useful pedagogical tool to invite the broader question of: How should America conduct itself on the international stage in the coming decades?

    When tackling complex issues such as this conflict, I prefer the Kantian approach of first affirming my axioms, independent of their results, and only then following through on the forthcoming logic-chain. In this respect, my guiding star is the doctrine that American ideals are uniquely exceptional because they are universal ideals that belong to all mankind (we are simply the ones who first championed them). Our ideals are made manifest through the international rules-based order best encapsulated by the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, as a former USAF officer, I was instructed in the Law of Armed Combat (LOAC) which helps guide me on matters of the Just War Tradition made manifest through the Hague Conventions for jus ad bellum considerations and the Geneva Conventions for jus in bello concerns.

    With these axioms in place, I am compelled to address my stance for this conflict from the starting point of UNSCRs 242 and 338. These two resolutions form the basis for the ISR-PSE peace process known as “The Oslo Accords.” These accords, in turn, were the condition for the PLO to cease being considered a terrorist organization and gain international recognition as the Palestinian Authority and representatives of the Palestinian people. These accords are vital for the US to explore diplomatic solutions to this crisis.

    With the election of Hamas to the head of the PSE government and their stated goal of a unified Palestinian state at the expense of ISR's existence, the conditions of the Oslo Accords have been violated and severely limit US ability to diplomatically engage with PSE. Thus, Hamas is singularly the most acute obstacle to advancing peace in the region. PSE will not be able to join the international rules-based order with Hamas at the helm and they must be removed.

    ISR, on the other hand, is not completely innocent in this matter either. While they may hold to the letter of the Accords, the Netanyahu government is most certainly violating the spirit of the Accords. The fact that an overwhelming majority of Israelis were protesting his conservative government's judicial reforms where they rightfully feared he was weaponizing the courts to erode the Oslo Accords and threatening Israeli peace should tell us all we need to know about his government's conduct and particularly in the West Bank where there is an increasing pressure to label the PSE conditions in Areas B/C an apartheid. The most telling example of this are the illegal settlements that the Netanyahu government uses as an underhanded way to tip the scales of “land for peace” in his favor. Settlements, it must be noted, that the UNSC attempted to declare illegal under international law, but for the veto of the US. Even the IDF joined in protests where reservists refused to man their posts and went on a general strike. As they would be the ones fighting against Palestinians, their strike is the clearest indication of the unacceptability of the conduct of the Netanyahu government. I'd be remiss at this point if I did not draw parallels to our own government where Republicans are weaponizing the Courts in the manner in which the Senate confirms SCOTUS justices — authoritarianism anywhere is a threat to liberalism everywhere.

    The IDF strike created a perfect storm for Hamas to take advantage of unmanned border defenses to strike at ISR. 7 Oct represents an egregious violation of LOAC and I find the attack and hostage-taking of Israeli citizens particularly offensive. Thus I unequivocally condemn Hamas as most Americans do. Here though I must remind my fellow Americans that “condemnation” is not mere “disapproval.” As such, I wholeheartedly support the ISR counter-attack and military objectives of freeing the civilian hostages and the dismantling of Hamas military infrastructure — my condemnation compels me to do so and accept the inevitable violence that comes with it in accordance with, but no further than, LOAC.

    This being said, the ISR war cabinet is not conducting their justifiable military operations in accordance with best practices that we in the US military would use. Their strategy is opaque and constantly in flux as are their tactics unclear and do not trace back to their stated objectives. This is not to play armchair general, but even in our most controversial military campaigns, the USA has presented its strategy and explained its operational philosophy to the international community as much as OPSEC would allow. ISR knows better. They have been fighting this enemy for decades and know Hamas' tactics. Hamas' modus operandi is to use Palestinian civilian deaths as a prop to further their political cause and extract international donations that feed directly into the lavish lifestyles of their leaders-in-self-imposed-exile. They refuse to evacuate civilians and use them as human shields in the hopes of inflating the civilian casualty and weaponize this news to stoke anti-Israeli rhetoric across the world. Hamas is a uniquely heinous enemy and I do not envy IDF's position in having to prosecute this counter-attack. However, LOAC is clear. Hamas' abhorrent violation of the Geneva Conventions does not allow ISR to do the same. The principle of proportionality must be maintained in IDF's conduct. This is not to say that ISR is violating LOAC, but without allowing international observers or being transparent in the manner of their prosecution of this counter-attack to include their legal officers archiving and publishing their opinions on specific strikes, as we in the West do, it is incredibly difficult to affirm that ISR is in the right. Yes, civilian casualties, given the urban environment and Hamas' LOAC violations, are comparably low compared to equivalent military engagements by countries like Russia and Sudan but this fact does not absolve ISR's duty to minimize them nor does it allow them to claim unfair treatment by the international community when they make little effort in transparent reporting of their conduct.

    I join others in calling for a cease-fire but I am also aware that this may ring hollow considering that 7 Oct occurred through the breaking of an already-established permanent cease-fire. Thus I am inclined to ask the President as our constitutionally-mandated Chief Diplomat to demand a cogent explanation for ISR's strategic objectives and how their operational conduct is being used to meet these objectives as quickly as possible. It is a maxim as old as Sun Tzu that a quick and decisive end to military conflict avoids the most human suffering.

    The President must work with our regional partners to come up with a tangible plan to free the hostages and remove Netanyahu's main excuse to prolong this war and delay elections that the Israeli population is eager to conduct to remove him from office. If this means an exchange of Palestinian detainees-in-limbo, so be it. The stain of Guantanamo Bay detainees on our international credibility still haunts me so I hold ISR to the same standard. Either charge Palestinians with a crime and prosecute them or release them. The writ of habeas corpus is the cornerstone of liberal judicial thought and neither we nor ISR can ignore it.

    Going forward, I believe Congress must reevaluate our financial commitments to ISR. American weapons should not be at risk to be used in the potential conduct of a genocide. I have serious reservations in funding offensive weapons to ISR that may damage our credibility at the international level. That being said, I also recognize that ISR itself is under constant threat of genocide. The strength of the IDF and ineffective tactics of Salafi-Jihadists in the region, to include Hamas, does not negate the fact that ISR is under threat of a genocide. The Genocide Convention is clear in that an attempt at genocide, no matter how ineffective that attempt may be, is still punishable to the same standards as a successful genocide. Thus, I believe in the continued funding of defensive weapons to ISR and specifically munitions for the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow systems.

    Moving forward, at the end of hostilities, a regional peacekeeping force would be prudent. ISR having to conduct the necessary security operations in PSE ultimately harms ISR because of the constant conflation of legitimate security operations with occupation rhetoric by anti-Israeli agents. I understand this may be easier said than done. Palestinian conduct in this region historically has not been acceptable. There is not a single Arab country willing to house Palestinians or maintain their security due to their historical tendencies of spreading violence and inciting terrorism in host nations that have received them. The Palestinian people need to understand that if they are to join the international community as full members, they must disavow violence as a means to international relations. I will not rob PSE of this agency. Likewise, if the Arab League seeks greater influence on the international stage, they must take responsibility for their regional security and stop the furthering of Salafi-Jihadism. The economic benefits of the Abraham Accords that many of these countries will reap should be tied to their willingness to remove the burden of Israeli security against Palestine.

    After a stabilizing of the region and a reaffirmation the Oslo Accords by all parties, I believe a good next step would be for the President to reinitiate permanent peace talks with a map based off the 2007 Annapolis Conference that was asynchronously agreed to by both ISR and PSE.

    On a broader level, this conflict reaffirms one of my key policy objectives of restoring the preeminence of our Diplomatic Corps. Those of us familiar with the wider Eurasian conflict know that this war is an unfortunate pawn in the larger chess game by Iran and Russia. Iran seeks to erode our influence in the region and spread the Ayatollah's brand of militant Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region. Russia, seeing our dogged determination in defending our European allies, seeks to coordinate chaos operations throughout the world to weaken our resolve in Ukraine by spreading ourselves too thin. Shoring up our allies with a strong diplomatic corps to stop Putin and the Ayatollah's destabilization operations will go a long way in reducing the suffering of Palestinian civilians and strengthening the peace and security of our Israeli allies.

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The upcoming elections are not about choosing a politician or a party, it is about choosing the right person to send to Congress who will fight for your interests. You can help the cause by spreading the word, by talking to me and sharing your ideas, or by donating. To make all of this happen, I need your voice, I need your support.

Michael L. Kripchak

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