Beyond the Cusp

December 18, 2016

Imagine the Return to a Revolutionary Ideal

 

Once upon a time there was the Black Robe Regiment which was the name given by the British to the Colonial Preachers who supported American independence. Not only did they preach independence, they very often were officers in the militias against the Red Coats. The British did all they could to murder these preachers and many gave their lives for the Revolution but the danger did not curtail the Black Robe Regiment preachers who refused to be cowed and were one of the main inspirations of the American revolution. Their sermons inspired and often their brash and brave actions kept the Revolution alive and brought a number of victories against the odds with their bravery and words motivating their fellow congregants often at the most crucial of moments. The United States owes much of the founding in the fighting and the religious basis of the Founding Fathers and the state legislators whose input and approvals were required in the formation of both the federation of America and then the Constitution which was the foundation for the United States of America. There is a possibility that the Revolution could have failed without the local inspiration and organization which was often centered around the churches and their Black Robe Regiment preachers.

 

Black Robe Regiment

Black Robe Regiment

 

All that changed in 1954 at the behest of Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proposed legislation to amend the tax codes affecting houses of worship such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples and other nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions. The amended tax code limited the freedom of speech by members of organizations and entities who had tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) regulations making any political speech such as supporting a candidate, party or other specified political speech. The amendment to the tax codes was named for its presenter and is called the Johnson Amendment. Particularly prohibited was conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office or other sermonizing which may be perceived as backing a candidate or party. The language was vague and unspecific enough that many clergy were silenced from mentioning even certain Bible passages near election times as they might be construed as taking sides on a campaign issue and by doing so backing a particular candidate or party. Such brought to an end political preaching from the pulpit, at least in theory as some such still exists but as long as the parishioners are singing the same tune, nobody complains and such activity continues. This was specifically used to target and silence clergy from endorsing candidates. Over time this embargo on political speech became partisan in nature in too many locations as a ban against conservative politicking while backing leftist causes or progressive Democrat candidates. Still, care was taken to never mention any names and instead to often mimic campaign slogans working them into sermons or choosing verses carefully for recitation which would appear to back one candidate’s positions or damn the opposing candidate. Still, clergy still need be far more reserved and careful and a far cry from the history of clergy, especially when one remembers the Black Robe Regiment.

 

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

 

Should Donald Trump as president keep his word and successfully repeal the Johnson Amendment thus freeing certain tax exempt institutions and their personnel from conducting any political activities, especially campaigning or endorsing candidates, imagine the consequences. We would witness the liberation of the clergy and the resultant rebirth potentially of a new Black Robe regiment preaching and supporting political positions more aligned with their religious beliefs. There need be no great fears from secularists as they won’t be in houses of worship forced to hear any sermonizing, especially political sermonizing. Rescinding this regulation, expunging it from the tax code, would be a strike for freedom of speech. Placing a political muzzle on the clergy and threatening their tax exempt status was a bad idea from the start, one might even say criminal. But then Lyndon Baines Johnson was not exactly known for tact or freedom of expression for anybody disagreeing with his views. He was better known for strong-arming political rivals by any and all means at his disposal. This was most evident during his time as President which also served to allow his passing every piece of legislation which became the backbone of his “Great Society” and a remaking of the social safety net and the start of an increased welfare system. Some have blamed this for many societal problems being faced by American society currently. Just maybe a little moralizing before Election Day voting would serve as a positive influence. Just Maybe.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 20, 2015

Islam is not the Problem, Islam is the Answer

 

When we talk about the refugee problem walking their feet across Europe, when we speak about a hard core group of people demanding that every governing body on Earth change their customs, change their laws, change their school curriculum, demanding the Judeo-Christian world turn everything upside down, and why all these impositions and so much more are occurring what is the answer? The answer is Islam and there is no problem in recognizing or even stating such is the case. When we ask what is the main source of terrorism in the world today, ask where the main threat to Western civilization comes from, ask what is behind most of the wars have at least one side driving them, and ask what is the driving force behind the world-wide increase in anti-Semitism, anti-Israel movement and anti-Zionist propaganda? The answer is Islam and there is no problem in recognizing or even stating such is the case. We could continue this little song and dance until we got to such trivial inconveniences such as taking of our shoes, watches, other jewelry, belts and hold our pants up while being zapped with more radiation than we have taken from any five year period in our lives in a machine which shows exactly how little we exercise and there is little else the person manning the machine ever really notices and play this to that extreme all aimed at the answer is Islam but we feel we have made our point.

 

What such an exercise as above is aiming at is that there is a problem with something in Islam that has the world all caught-up and turned inside-out and that is the real problem. The problem is not Islam as it is practiced by very probably one-billion-two-hundred-fifty-million Muslims out of the one and out of approximately one-billion-five-hundred-seventy-million Muslims total in the world today. That leaves a sizeable problem as that leaves three-hundred-twenty-million of what has been termed extremist Muslims who are driving, organizing and committing or having others over whom they have sufficient influence carry out terrorist attacks aimed at destroying our peace to such an extent that we will be willing to sacrifice any principle we may hold dear just to guarantee ourselves and our families and friends from the threat posed. This situation in which we find ourselves contemplating making sacrifices and other accommodations just to make life “safe” was foreseen by Benjamin Franklin, the closest of the Founding Fathers who could have qualified as a party animal, warned us of just such situations when he cautioned, “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” So, what is a worried and feeling threatened world to do?

 

The first thing which is necessary is to heed the warnings we are being given daily if we just seek them out. In order to seek them out we need to put some brave souls out there to do the legwork to discern what we need to know that the mainstream media might be glossing over in the name of political correctness, outright fear, avoidance of becoming a target as Charlie Hebdo and others have done and probably a myriad of other reasons both societal and legal. The nice thing is we each and every one of us can do our small part to keep ourselves and those in our social circles more involved and more knowledgeable on the threat in the world today from whatever source from toxins in our foods to workplace violence and extremists of any kind. The good news is there are some who could keep us informed on what is said in Arabic, Farsi and sometimes other languages as well reporting from one area which had had cause for upheavals which have been affecting the world more and more often as we move forward; and that is a groups named CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) where even if you check their front page taking a new translation every say Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it will be remarkable how much more informed one can become in at most six weeks of this short but potentially vital regimen. Now that you are well on your way to becoming informed about many truths which you otherwise may not have known about, how about a sample of what we might find. I figured the best way would be to provide a montage which was prepared by Dr. Shmuel Katz in his editorial article titled Did The Free World Go Insane, and What Can We Do about It? For your convenience we will include his video below.

 

 

 

 

There is another small adjustment one need make if they are to understand what drives certain people and groups in our world today which is something the vast majority of us have thought simply absurd of an idea, world conquest. Believe it or not there are people and groups who envision themselves as the next Alexander the Great, Cyrus the Great or Genghis Khan and actually appear, if not actually pressing forward with their plans to conquer the world or a good chunk of it if allowed the opportunity. One such person is Russia President Vladimir Putin (Vlad the Invader), another, though less obvious about it as his dream is reestablishing the Ottoman Empire and possibly then the world, is Recep Tayyip Erdogan and lastly there is the Ayatollah and Supreme Leader of Iran Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

 

 

World Conquerors Left Side Alexander the Great, Cyrus the Great and Genghis Khan and Right Side President Vladimir Putin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

World Conquerors Left Side Alexander the Great,
Cyrus the Great and Genghis Khan and
Right Side President Vladimir Putin,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

 

 

People in the Western World have lived through three very serious changes to their civilizations what the rest of the world mostly has only experienced or are experiencing one or two of these cataclysmic changes which have made the Western World more cautious and less ambition or at least not likely to view world leadership as quite worth the sacrifices and carnage such a venture would require. The first was the Protestant Reformation which led to the concept of separation of religion and government where the government is no longer the supporter of any religion requiring their subjects to also be of the faith. In the West one is far less likely to hear the slogan “For G-d and Country” when engaging in a war. The second change was the industrial revolution which brought forth massive societal changes with less people required to tend to ever larger and eventually commercial farming leading to the urbanization of the workforce and the production jobs with the higher pay and thus standard of living leading to today’s megalopolis where one’s attachment is more workplace oriented than neighborhood oriented as the size of the cities and the work schedule make that less likely. The final change was World Wars and particularly how World War II came to a close with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which made any worldwide conflagration out of the question because there was always the check of multiple powers possessing these horrific weapons thus keeping a guard against over aggressions. The threat of nuclear war had the casualty rate forward per year dropped precipitously after World War II and will continue to remain lower unless there is a conflagration involving the Western Word as well as Russia and China and there again is the recipe for carnage on an unknown scale until the lethality of nuclear weapons finally entered a stage where they became a weapon of choice in not only every national armory but also a weapon made or developed and available to terrorist forces who could place such a bomb into a cement truck to trash truck and drive it almost anywhere and use it as their nuclear drop-off bomb. This is the fear which should grip every cognizant person knowing the threats of the day and the fact that proliferation of nuclear weapons is very likely to begin worldwide. The most unfortunate idea is that nuclear weapons are a viable first strike weapon of choice for much of the world which includes MENA (Middle East and North Africa), South-Central Africa, South America, and much of East and Central Asia. The reality we face, with the soon to increase nations with nuclear capabilities, is simply frightening and the possibility that some of these nations who have already conducted assassinations and aggressions using terror forces might also present these terror forces with nuclear technology, or potentially an actual nuclear weapon to use in a targeted attack with unimaginable carnage the result, and that may be an attack on any number of cities as who knows how many nuclear weapons the world will possess outside of the ‘big five,’ will be beyond knowledgeable computation. Whenever there is a discussion of this nature there is the answer that Albert Einstein gave when queried as to what weapons would be like if there ever was a World War III. Einstein responded, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” That warning is one we must heed as a severe and honest warning and a suitable closing place.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 7, 2015

The United States Lost Republic to Democracy

 

While a complete democracy is neither desirable nor practical, yet the United States has irrevocably moved steadily closer and closer to outright democracy since the first days of her founding under the present Constitution. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments which were debated and selected from an original thirteen and sliced down to a nice round number, ten, gave the first step in that direction by delineating the rights which were included in those guaranteed the people as they were gifts from the creator mentioned so specifically in the Declaration of Independence which many of the Founding Fathers believed was a part of the founding documents which defined the society and its governance just as much as the Constitution. As time progressed the Federal Government gathered unto itself more and more powers stealing them either from the States respectively, or from the people. This was from the government which supposedly was restricted by Amendment X which read, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Founding Fathers were divided into two groups, the Federalists and, of course, the anti-Federalists with one group desiring to balance the governance in favor of the most local governance as possible while the others believed that centralized powers were required in order for the governance to rule the entire nation. The first attempt to fashion a weak central governance over the newly liberated English colonies, the Federated States of America, was a dismal failure as without any powers to raise money and left at the mercies of the charity of the individual States the government very soon ran aground and became high, dry and out of funds. So, the United States of America’s Constitution was America 2.0 and made with powers given the central government unconscionable the first time around. Had the Federal Government continued to be restrained and restricted to its original powers then the United States would probably be in better shape and the European powers would still have militaries of sufficient size and capabilities that they would not be dependent upon the United States to be the sole determining force of NATO and the European Union would have died long before the Euro became the bane of Greece and the lucrative coinage for Germany. But the changes that put the final knife into the Constitution slashing it and tearing it and signaling the end of that Amendment X and the State’s rights it presumably protected came in along with the end of many individual rights for the individual American just before World War I began on July 28, 1914.

 

Earlier in that fateful year Amendment XVI established the income tax with the promise from the politicians that it would only tax the most wealthy one percent of the population and would never be permitted to become a burden on the average person and on that promise likely being the clinching argument allowed it to be ratified into law on February 3, 1913. As any American will attest, the income tax became far more than burdensome on the average person but also grew to such a point and the IRS which it founded gathered such information that the government through provisions and added regulations eventually could tell the average person their expenditures throughout the year and was rumored jokingly that the IRS could look up the color of the guest towels hanging in your bathroom. Now the Federal Government can tell you a whole lot more than the colors of items you have purchased, the extent and particulars of your every investment and virtually anything anyone might care to know about your life, your purchasing habits, your diet where you go on weekends for fun, where you vacationed the last ten years, the make and mileage on your vehicles and just about any other detail imaginable, and people worry about their privacy. Privacy in this world died a long time ago somewhere right before data mining and agreements between governments arranging for each to spy on the other’s citizens and then provide the information upon anybody that the other requested which eventually led to the decisions to forget the middle-man and simply for each nation to spy on their own citizens making everything so much easier and less complicated.

 

A short time later the Amendment XVII was ratified on April 8, 1913 establishing for the direct election of each State’s Senators instead of allowing each State to decide the methods their Senators were chosen. Previous to this Amendment to the Constitution most States chose their Senators in a various number of procedures with the two most used being the Governor choosing the Senator as each came up for election and possibly having to present them to the State’s legislature or higher branch of the legislative branches to have them approve the selection with some States requiring a larger vote for approval than a simple majority. The other method was for the Senator to be selected by the legislative branch of the State government and in most cases have them approved by the Governor under the same rules as legislation was passed or vetoed by the Governor. This Amendment took away the individual State’s ability to have their voices heard in the Federal Government making the Senate simply a less populous House of Representatives having both wings of the bicameral legislative governance chosen directly by the people. The reasoning presented was that the people were more knowledgeable as a group or mass intelligence than any combination of State Governors or legislatures in choosing the Senators. There was also the claim that State level politicians were too corrupt which was laughable as the majority of Federal legislative politicians were simply the most competent of the people in State governance. This was amidst the populace movement where the average citizen was presumed to have better sense when the whole was allowed to speak as through elections. What was completely ignored was that the Founding Fathers had planned for the Senate to be the legislative branch representing the States’ governance such that the Senate would guard over State’s rights and protect the powers of the State and limit the influence the Federal Government could have over them. This change brought on the slaughtering of the States individually and collectively such that they have long ago seen their powers slowly but inexorably misappropriated, stolen even, by the Federal Government which now faced no opposition from the individual States. This also allowed the Federal Government to control the individual States by demanding that the State acquiesce to the demands and whims of the Federal Government in order to receive funding such as requiring that the States meet caloric and vitamin requirements and curtail the choices offered the children otherwise not receive a large amount of Federal school funding which is earmarked for the lunch and other food programs. Further, the Federal Government has come up with this wonderful manner in which to place onerous demands on the States through unfunded mandates. These are programs that each and every State is required to carry out according to Federal regulations or even actual laws but for which the Federal Government no longer funds the program dumping the entire mess upon the States to finance. The numbers of these programs increases every year and this is partially due to the Federal government attempting to release itself from onerous financial obligations which were laid out in legislation for some program every State is required to carry out and funds were set aside for the first so many number of years and were presumed to be funded further by the Federal Government but somehow down the road the Federal funding ceased but the mandate continued and the States found themselves on the hook to finance program after program as the Federal Government cut off the flow but did not cut out the requirements.

 

Both of these Amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified but under suspicions of fraud. One was found to have received the final ratification a few weeks or a couple of months beyond the set time allotted for ratification to be permitted, Congress claimed that somehow this had been covered by some extension despite no such allowance stipulated as possible by the Constitution and the other was not ratified by sufficient States falling a couple short. Well, World War I struck on July 28, 1914 and the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915 was sunk by a German U-boat and American lives were lost as a result. There has been debate ever since the sinking as to whether the RMS Lusitania carried weapons or explosives for use in the war which was vehemently denied by Britain and the United States as well as the other allied powers and the debate has persisted and apparently will continue forward. Meanwhile, President Wilson argued against joining the war while simultaneously demanding that the U-boat attacks not target indiscriminately and especially avoid any further attacks upon civilian craft like the RMS Lusitania. Wilson was already stoking the public to allow an American effort join the efforts while also campaigning on a platform that he kept the United States out of the war. United States President Woodrow Wilson finally demanded a Declaration of War and the Congress responded giving him his desired declaration of war on April 6, 1917. As the initial Declaration of War identified only Germany as the nation the United States had declared war upon, this proved to be untenable; so after President Wilson again requested a Declaration of War and Congress did comply as they declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 17, 1917. The United States never actually declared war against all of the forces fighting against the allies who also consisted of the Central Powers, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. World War I came to an end on November 11, 1918 and by this date the horrific pandemic known as the Spanish Flu had broken out and some of the troops brought the virus home with them which caused the pandemic to break out and spread across the United States. By this time the two Constitutional Amendments numbers sixteen and seventeen were faint memories pretty much lost in the fog of the decade which followed them with the war and the flu who had time to be concerned about the potential of inconvenience of two little Amendments. Unfortunately, as was learned many years later these two little Amendments proved to be anything but minor little legislative additions to the Constitution but rather major changes in the breadth of Government powers and the depth of their effect to be felt years later. These two Amendments may have been the most influential pair of legislative action ever passed and ratified since the Bill of Rights was passed. These Amendments laid the framework by which power became centralized in the Federal Government and provided the funding through direct taxation of the people and stripping the States of choosing their own representatives within the central government thus liberating the Federal Government from any limitations by the States nor could they protest directly the absorption of the powers which had previously been within the control of the individual States and subjugating the States beneath the Federal Government’s heel without recourse.

 

The change in how Senators were to be elected directly by the people simply made the Senators nothing more than super representatives with two permitted per state. Now the United States had entered the point of no return sliding almost completely into democracy and definitively no longer a republic. Benjamin Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, “Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” and Benjamin Franklin answered bluntly and directly to the heart of the query stating, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Never in the history of founding of nations has the situation been so accurately assessed nor has the problem been predicted as how the Governance will be altered eventually unraveling the delicate balance between the individual States and the Federal Government. It is said that one can assess any Governance by a simple measure; just determine which side is the more fearful of the other and should the Government be more fearful of the people than are they of the Government, then you have freedom but if the people are fearful of their government than the government is of them, then you have tyranny. With all the branches which are appointed to make the general rules and stipulations and requirements from the people now directly elected with the exception of the President, the United States is teetering on the edge and about to fall beyond the cusp and into the electing of the President directly ending any vestige of a republic. The direct election of Presidents has been proposed and one of the most dangerous legislative suggestions which recently was rejected for yet another time by the Oklahoma Legislature which would have demanded that the Electoral representatives for the State vote for the winner of the popular vote by the entire nation while ignoring the will and votes of the citizens in their own state. Should that legislative effort win in sufficient states which would provide an electoral victory then all any candidate would need do is campaign in the cities and areas with the greatest concentration of people to assure himself victory in the popular vote and completely ignore the less populated areas such as Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine and all of the rural areas in every state. This idea is simply the latest manner to circumvent the Constitution and make the Electoral College an abstract and ancient methodology to be forgotten except by those few who major in ancient manners for electing leaders in city-states and nations; a major just slightly more useful than Indo-Chinese Love Sonnets of the Ming Dynasty.

 

So, as we can see the United States has slowly but inescapably moved towards a total democracy. There have been calls in the last couple of decades as computers have made this possible for the United States government, as a final act, provide everybody over the age of eighteen a voting tablet which is dedicated to one function and only one function, listing the legislative issues and bills currently up for voting and tallying every citizen’s vote. Each citizen of voting age would be permitted to cast their vote on anything plus they could present legislation they desired to see placed before the people and seek a qualifying number within a reasonable time to continue to be eligible to remain on the list of proposed legislation. This number would slowly rise over at most two months and at that predetermined time, if the proposed legislation has attained the highest level of approvals it would qualify as a piece of general interest and the suggestion would be listed as a Bill and then have two weeks for everyone to vote. Should a Bill be passed it wound be passed on to the President much as things work today. Do not expect such to occur soon as it would require career politicians to vote such into law and thus make their chosen profession obsolete.

 

Still, the United States today is much closer to being a democracy than it is to the republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers and once those populists on the extreme left or the Federalists on the extreme right get their way, then even the President will be selected by straight majority voting. All it would probably take is for a popular candidate which one side felt was undeniably the best choice to win the popular vote but lose the election. Then another ridiculous exhibition of populist insanity would boil over and press through some version of directly electing the President and the United States will have completely been transformed into a democracy. Nothing happens in a bubble and everything has its originating source. The movement to a democracy rather than a republic is that with a democracy it is possible and made more likely for government to become a case for mob rule in which the mob would be the more populous states which is those with the most cities, the most megalopolises. When the cities are given the rule, then what happens to the needs of rural America? We are seeing the effect of cities ruling as the most dominant force in government in California where the water allotments were made over the years to favor the cities over the farmers. Now there are stretches of farmlands which are just acre upon acre of brown dusty soil with dead crops which simply were not provided with the necessary irrigation water at the most critical growing part of the season and these crops and lands are now almost worthless. The family farms will cease to exist due to not being able to pay for their last seeds which never had a chance to grow and will be forced fiscally to sell their lands to the mega-farm industry. This all because the people in the city pressed their allotment of water over that of the less populous farmers were able to and the farmers simply lost their last crop and now are finished. This was a sad example of how straight democracies can destroy an entire segment of the population simply by pressing the mob’s desire for green lawns, full swimming pools, green parks and water amusement parks and a myriad of other needs for water in the big city. The farmers had a similar need but lacked the muscle to lobby the government either at the State or Federal levels and thus lost their crops and many will lose their farms. Once the industrial farm corporations gain ownership of enough of the farmlands, then they will have the lobbyists and they will have the clout to get the irrigations water turned back on and limit the lawn watering city dweller to only be permitted to water their precious lawns on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. They may scream bloody murder but at least the farms will return to producing food and not just dusty soil. This entire water battle has and will play out across the United States over time and perhaps teach some of us the values of indirect governance over straight mob rule democracy.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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