Beyond the Cusp

October 9, 2014

Why the United States Cannot Return to Greatness

You will hear how the United States will make a comeback and return to sane governance just as it did after President Jimmy Carter brought the nation to the brink of economic meltdown and had much of the public pessimistic to the point that the ‘Misery Index’ which had been used as a guide for politicians became a household word and was updated on many daily newscasts. Part of the reason that the United States recovered after President Carter was because they elected Ronald Reagan rather than trust President Carter a second term. President Obama was given a second term but there were some mitigating circumstances such as weak opposition by the Republican Party, the media almost taking a supportive position in backing the campaign of President Obama and foreign policy lapses had yet to prove disastrous and devolving to the threatening level it had with President Carter who faced a hostage crisis where Iran had held Fifty-two Embassy diplomats and citizens for 444 days, until President Reagan’s Inauguration Day. Had the foreign policy missteps by President Obama and his administration been made more evident before the election for his reelection, then he might have had a far more difficult time. Some may remember that the one area which Candidate Romney performed well was on foreign policy where President Obama made his best retort claiming when Romney answered that Russia was the United States number one adversary that, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for twenty years.” The clincher came not from President Obama but from the moderator Candy Crowley countered when Romney claimed that President Obama had not called the assault on the Consulate in Benghazi a terror attack and when Romney repeated his claim after President Obama challenged him to read the transcript and Crowley exclaimed with great authority and emphasis, “He did in fact call it an ‘act of terror.” That ended any challenge Romney might further make over Benghazi as he had been deflated and his argument flattened giving President Obama the impetus he needed to win that debate and escape any further claims on Benghazi, the subject had been poisoned.

Still, if anyone thinks that President Obama would not have received a far better bid for reelection than had Jimmy Carter no matter how the debates went or who he was running against obviously has no idea how almost completely President Reagan won that election, it was a virtually unanimous electoral vote except for the District of Columbia and Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and West Virginia. The electorate of the United States has witnessed a sea of change in the past ten years as certain critical demographics have changed with much of that change coming during President Obama’s time in office. Do not get this wrong, President George W. Bush made some huge influences which gave the changes an initial impetus which would have forced much of the change even without any additional shoves which they have received since. We need to remember that the prescription drug assistance granted to those who received government aided medical insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid very soon became the largest single government giveaway program. Sometime during the years when President Bush was in office the percentage of American citizens who were dependent on government at some level surpassed the fifty-percent fulcrum point where it had been theorized that their votes for increased government contributions to their pockets. This was predicted longer ago than many people are probably aware as it was said by Alexis de Tocqueville explaining the breaking point which would inevitable come and destroy the nation he saw as the most exemplary governance in existence when he stated, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

There was one Founding Father who foresaw and gave the resolution that would treat this eventuality when Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter upon receiving his copy of the Constitution in which Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” And earlier in the letter he commented on the frequency such watering the tree of liberty would require, he mentioned his view of the purity of purpose of the American Revolution and the necessity of the purifying fire of refreshment where he wrote, “And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” Yes, that is what Thomas Jefferson predicted, that the government of men would so far run adrift from the founding principles that every twenty years the nation would require the reset of another revolution and the reinstatement of the Constitution anew. Well, perhaps Thomas Jefferson was wrong though a serious inspection of the governance of the United States over the years there have been the historians who have made a convincing argument that the twenty year measure may not have been as ridiculous as we might think. Even if the measure of twenty years may appear too drastic, would one offer the same argument should one suggest that perhaps a two century timeframe were the measure in place of twenty years?

Whatever the measure one might place, it matters not. The fulcrum point has been surpassed and the preponderance of weight of votes are now likely to be cast in favor of retaining the programs and expanding the payments and the loosening the requirements as the first grants greater funds into their pockets and the latter brings more people into the program thus guaranteeing its continuation and potentials for increased funding. Once we see evidence that the balance has gone to the side of those who receive more from the government than they pay in taxes of all varieties plus those who are dependent on government, state, federal, county, or other elected body for their salaries compared to those whose tax payments are greater than payments received from government programs, then as long as the former vote at an equal or greater percentage than the latter the government will continue to grant greater payments while increasing taxes as those paying the taxes will have been silenced at the ballot box. The predictions that this point was surpassed during the Presidency of George W. Bush may have been correct but when the line was crossed is not as important as whether it was crossed. The numbers of Americans who were collecting the majority of their funds from government; be they welfare, disability, salary or other forms of receipt of government payments; passed the tipping point by a sufficient margin that there may be no turning back. The demographics of the next Presidential election in the United States may prove just as important as who actually wins the election. Once the demographics are studied and become known we may be seeing numerous articles signaling the death of the America which so impressed Alexis de Tocqueville causing him to state as well as to give an ominous warning in the same quote with, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” What would Mr. Tocqueville conclude visiting America’s churches and listening to the preaching within today? Would he surmise that the greatness persists or would he fear the empty pews and the generally milquetoast sermons and preaching just as empty as the pews signify the demise of American greatness?

Beyond the Cusp

October 1, 2014

Dozen Families Face Riotous Neighbors in New Neighborhood

The Shiloach neighborhood in Jerusalem is known to its Arab residents as Silwan which they believe is their land and must remain inviolate from any Jewish presence. The twelve newest residents came thanks to a purchase through an American company, Kandel Finance and are owned by Jews. Immediately on realizing that Jews had managed to buy residences in this predominantly Arab Muslim neighborhood they began yelling foul and demanding that the residences in question were owned by Arabs and the Jews were stealing them and must be forced out. There are actual logical and understandable reasons that Arab, especially Muslim Arabs, will deny that Jews bought any lands or apartments in what are traditionally Arab neighborhoods, especially in those areas which were previously held illegally by Jordan before the June 1967 Six Day War. Under Jordanian law selling any property to Jews was punishable by death; trials for such often optional and proved unnecessary. The future for these twelve families promises to be interesting as the Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood has been a flashpoint for anti-Semitic attacks of varying degrees of ferocity. Attacks have spanned the gauntlet from yelling epithets to shoving to assaults to rock throwing and slinging to assaults using two-by-fours with nails protruding to fireworks and Molotov cocktails being hurled at passing Jews. These twelve families are aware of the threats and challenges they can be promised to have to survive and endure but have that pioneer spirit to take life and its difficulties in stride and seeing each as another step through which they can strengthen their resolve and reinforce their spirits.

The Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood had contested ownership of the majority of residences and lands similarly to much of the areas in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) resulting from the occupation of the lands by Jordan resulting from their attacks during the 1948-9 Arab war of elimination to drive the Jews into the sea and destroy Israel, an effort it is claimed they lost only because some of the state of Israel remained in Jewish hands when an armistice was set. At the end of the fighting Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan, and occupied Judea and Samaria which they gave the title of West Bank to remove the obviously Jewish denotations. Both Egypt and Jordan forced the Jews off of the occupied areas taking their properties, homes, apartments and other possessions by force and threat of death and then granting these assets to Jordanian Arabs. After the 1967 Six Day War Israel liberated these lands from Jordan and Egypt and when making peace with both nations, Egypt and Jordan surrendered their formerly occupied lands to Israel and relented any claim. Despite Egypt and Jordan relenting their claims granting the lands back to Israel, the Arabs did not return any of the confiscated properties to their former Jewish owners and when Jews bought back any of these properties the Arabs would claim they were stolen and challenge the Jewish ownership in the courts often preventing the new Jewish owners from taking possession of their properties for years. Even larger problems have developed when Arab landlords sell properties to Jews, often the landlord lives outside Israel and Jordan, not just outside the West Bank. These landlords often do not inform their tenants of the new owners or the tenants were advised but simply refused to believe they have any obligation to the new owners. This has also led to long court battles and growing frustrations. What has made these court battles even more threatening has been the propensity of the Israeli courts to decide that the Arab claims were valid and supercede the new Jewish owner’s claims returning the property to the Arab claiming he had not sold the property. This has led to a cottage industry where Arabs, either the actual owner or a counterfeit pretending to have ownership sells a property and then when the Jewish owner tries to take ownership there comes the challenge in the courts which often takes years and the Jewish defendant has at best a fifty-fifty proposition in retaining their newly purchased property instead of the Arabs retaining ownership and the money paid for the sale. When the Jewish purchaser loses these cases, they still have a remaining mortgage owed to the loaning institution which becomes an unsecured loan which leads to the possibility of a change in the interest rates, always to a higher rate. That leaves the former prospective Jewish owner of a property with no property and still a mortgage to pay on that property which was rewarded to its former owner. One of the reasons that the Arabs have for fighting in courts claiming that they had not sold the properties is because, just as when the lands were under Jordanian occupation, selling of property to Jews was punishable by death. This law is still applied by the Palestinian Authority over lands under their control in Area A and often enforced in vigilante fashion in predominantly Arab areas in the rest of former Jordanian controlled lands and even has started to become a problem within Green Line Israel in Arab neighborhoods.

The heart of the matter might have one asking why would a Jew or anybody with an ounce of common sense ever take such risks and take on such a struggle with such a large amount of doubt and possibility to be indebted for much of the rest of their life and impoverished should they have their ownership challenged and lose in a liberal court system that tends to support any Arab claim? Believe it or not, the answer is easy even if it may be a bit difficult to understand or believe. It is considered a blessing and an imperative to settle the entirety of the lands with some believing that settling the lands of Eretz Yisroel is required for the coming of the Messiah. What there is no argument is that settling the lands is definitely a mitzvah. Whether it actually is a mitzvah denoted in Jewish holy books and writings which include at the least; Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, Mishnah, Gemara, Talmud, and Kabbalah, is and has been a debatable subject. Actually, whether it is actually a blessing or a commandment is unimportant as it is only important that those intending to buy lands believe they are performing mitzvahs.

This is simply another facet of the conflict in which the Arabs are contesting whether Jews will be permitted to own properties and rule their own country in an area formerly part of Arab Muslim lands which according to the Quran, or at least what many Arabs and Muslims believe, makes the lands inviolate and permanently to remain Arab and Muslim lands. This form of this conflict is less known than the more obvious forms which include terrorist acts and the Israeli responses to terrorism and organized, aggressive attacks by terrorist fighters using rockets, explosives and the other tools of war in open conflicts as the two month open warfare which threatens to become open warfare in the near future as Hamas is threatening to restart rocket barrages of Israel if Israel refuses any of their demands in negotiations such as an open and unencumbered seaport and airport through which they would be permitted to import weapons without any limitations or restrictions. The different forms of Arab and Muslim resistance to the existence of Israel has gone through changes from warfare by neighboring Arab Muslim nations which met with various levels of failure to remove the Jewish State to the multi-facetted resistance which uses open warfare, Lawfare in the courts (Israeli courts thus far which has given the Arabs and Muslims numerous victories), through international demonstrations and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), terrorisms, rioting, public relations assaults using productions often with the aid of European leftist agitators who excel in making and editing videos for upload to social media and with which to charge IDF and Police with abuse again in Israeli and IDF trials with varying successes, and numerous other methods. There are also numerous new methods that may develop with time, some sublimely devious and some grotesquely violent, and everything in between.

Beyond the Cusp

September 24, 2014

Why Religion Has Started to Die in Society

Almost three-fourths of those Americans polled by Pew Research agreed that religion is losing influence in American life. This is reported to be the highest this subject has ever reached and thus begs a number of questions. The most evident question is what have these nearly three out of four Americans done to bring religion back into their lives and the lives of those around them. Religion cannot retreat from its place in society all by itself; it has to have accomplices who no longer incorporate religion into their daily lives. It is probably a fair statement to say that if only half of those who polled lamenting the loss of religion in the public square would make a personal effort to bring religion into the square that this would be sufficient to bring about the start of reversing that trend. The other truth is that there has been a concerted effort by a small but vocal and bothersome minority which have aided the retreat of religion from the realm of the American society, and they will need to be fought tooth and nail if their nefarious deeds are to be slowed and eventually thwarted and reversed, but it will take most of that almost three quarters of America. If in the words “Under G0d” could be added to the Pledge of Allegiance by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress, then religion can be restored to its rightful place in our society if the majority of Americans wish and act in a manner that assists rather than neglects the place of religion in their daily lives.

Of course there have been other forces at work beyond the control of the average person as an individual. These are mostly societal pressures which often react to the concerted pressures made by smaller groups which are better organized and financed thus giving their views weight beyond that of any number of individual citizen even should they be part of the majority, even should that be a vast majority as long as that majority has not mobilized uniting together and financing concerted efforts to push their views before those who control the establishment of laws or their enforcement. One can place blame on those in high office who permit or even encourage such regulations and laws which work against religion but before doing so there are a few items within their own lives which they would be better served by addressing them if their efforts should prove less than helpful. Before claiming that the powers that be have acted irresponsibly they need to review whether their own actions have properly portrayed through their lives the importance of religion. The most important single item one can do to show their support for religion and their desire to have it reflected through the society in which they live would be to regularly attend weekly services and being active in the organized religious activities related to their particular religious beliefs. Nothing sends the message to those in high office that religion no longer matters to the citizenry louder than empty pews in the nation’s churches, synagogues, temples and other religious services. Holders of political office are not so well tuned and sensitive that they can divine the thoughts of the people by some extrasensory means allowing them to form opinions and impressions of the people’s beliefs in some way other than drawing conclusions from the activities of the people. Short of making decisions formed by the actions of the people they can only respond to what it appears that the people are demanding of them and that is where a small minority can sway these lawmakers simply by inundating them with calls, e-mails, letter and other forms of lobbying. The regular citizen rarely writes their representative and believes that simply by voting for a person to represent them is sufficient to have that representative actually represent them without any efforts on their behalf. So, if one’s actions such as attending regular religious services or writing and calling their representative’s offices, both in the capital and locally, then they are simply relying on exactly what to assure their representatives understand the importance of religion is in their lives and how important it is for religion to be permitted in the public square. But what are some of the other forces pressing religion into retreat from its former place of prominence in American society.

As already mentioned, there are forces at work here which have as their sole intent to beat religion out of the lives and society no matter what the cost or dangers. One such group is the Freedom From Religion Foundation. This and other related anti-religion and anti-faith based organizations spend millions and concerted efforts to chase religion from the public square by any and all means necessary. Such groups have lobbyists who press their influence personally making themselves friendly and close to your representative, make letter writing campaigns whenever legislation they support or wish to defeat inundating your representatives offices both in the capital and locally even going so far as to assure that these letters no matter where they originate are postmarked within your representative’s district for maximum influence, organize phone campaigns calling your representatives offices not only in the capital but in every community within his district, and know all the other ins and outs of pressing your ideas and opinions maximizing their influence, which is all part of the political game. The problem is that they also are minimizing your ability to influence your representatives and often doing so using people largely who do not reside anywhere near you and share none of your convictions, but they have the clout to silence your desires and press their desires squelching all others. This is the most serious problem with representative governance no matter its form, the ability of a small minority to use potentially nefarious methods and silencing a potentially vast majority in the halls of power. There is an easy and available means by which such groups can be vanquished and silenced their influence without doing anything immoral or underhanded, but it does require good people to take actions and do so under the auspices of a joint effort through an organization to which they all belong and are active in, their religious institutions where they gather and worship together. Unfortunately, the empty pews are evidence to the reason such efforts are so easily ignored; they have few who can be motivated to make the voice of the majority heard.

There is yet another problem which may be another facet of the lack of people attending services regularly, or even at all even on the most major of religious days. This next reason, next excuse, may also be a result of lack of regular attendance as by feeling that these leaders stand alone makes them more vulnerable to the malevolent forces. These leaders of our neighborhoods, or at least in better times they were our true leaders, the pastors, priests, rabbis and other clergy, other men of the cloth who have come under attack by forces within our societies. Some of these forces are the same as the ones garnering undue influence over our political representatives and others are the arms of our governance which are simply responding to what they perceive as the will of the society as well as to the dictates of the courts which are influenced by the cases brought before them. When courts see that across the lands there are cases brought demanding the ban of all religious symbols from the public square and the only protesters with numbers are supporting these legal maneuvers, they can only act to support what they perceive is the law as they witness the people interpret the law. The clergy would have a greater standing and voice if their houses of worship were filled weekly by people enthusiastic in celebrating their faith. But when they preach to a small few each week then their strength and power is reduced to a level equal to the numbers in regular attendance.

The United States is approaching the place where Europe has already reached where the clergy fear to speak out against injustices or to oppose those in the government allowing government to stifle and mute their voices. They have fallen in influence so far that they now speak for almost nobody and are thus easily pressed into a corner where they speak solely of those things which are supported by those who appear to have the hearts and souls of the majority of the people. A society is molded and formed by those who have the support and power granted by the ones willing to force their opinions onto the seats of power. That seat of power potentially is the secular governance or it can be the pulpits of the houses of worship, that choice lies with the people. Attend the houses of worship in numbers and the government will notice and adjust to that influence. This has been proven in Europe where the Mosques are vibrant and well attended while the churches in the home of modern Christianity sit empty echoing the silence, providing they have not been sold and converted to Mosques. If people desire to see the future of their communities and in turn nations all one need do is seek where and which religions hold the wills of the people and have the greatest support and there lies your future. It really is that simple.

Beyond the Cusp

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