Beyond the Cusp

February 1, 2015

Political Styles of Fancy, Function, Fantasy, and Far Futures

 

In case you just awoke with a ringing headache and returned from the woods to find your sleepy little town had grown exponentially and your house replaced by a strip mall and everyone when you told them your name queries where have you been, you were reported missing years ago and your tail includes dwarves bowling in the woodlands, the Republican money machine just won the midterm elections again. If such news is distressing, simply remember back to the last Presidential elections when it was rumored that the Democrat machine and money bought another Presidency for Barack Obama. Simply put, whichever side wins the election was the one which was bought by their big money contributors and political machinery. Have you ever bothered to stop and wonder what happened to the other side’s machine and money when they lost the latest round of elections? Do you really think that one side spent all the money one election cycle and in return allowed the other side to spend in the next election, something that an alien watching elections news coverage might be honestly trying to figure out. The truth is that they both spend about the same every election and the sore losers have to find some small factoid on which to blame their loss; as anybody who is, thinks, in the know, or however one defined reasoned and rational, which makes their political views the sole and superior choice, would most certainly have voted for their candidate allowing them to have won except for the illegal money spent by the other side, thanks to some loophole which must be closed immediately, and paid them to vote against their better knowledge or whatever. What is remarkable is that this line of thought is universal wherever people are fortunate enough to actually have governments chosen through proper elections where one’s votes are capable of affecting change in the government through legal elections; so be glad if after every election cycle there are those complaining that the other side bought the elections.

 

But what do we really mean when we claim the elections were bought? The phrase originates in times when buying an election actually meant buying an election by paying people to vote for a particular candidate. This was not a regular occurrence and was only feasible before there was the existence of a freestanding media which was not dependent upon the whims of the local governments. This slowly became the reality as the media started merging and coverages reached beyond a single city or borough thus beyond being owned by an interesting party or collection who were capable of owning the media in the same manner as they owned the politics as represented in old westerns where the people finally found an honest sheriff or entity who ended the evil cattle baron and his ranch hands who were all second rate gunslingers, most of which ended up dead by the end of the movie or left town after the Lone Ranger and Tonto road into town. There are stories whose validity is often questionable of elections where political bosses, whatever or whoever those amorphous entities might be, would give people a hundred dollars to vote for their candidate. There may even be people claiming such in elections today though such would be even more difficult to believe as even the most politically driven media would expose such. The truth is that even if you believe that FOX or SKY news is biased or that CNN or BBC are biased in the opposite direction, both sides are held to task and kept honest as whichever side which employed such boorish tactics would be revealed by the other side’s media thus the free press has ended any possibility of money for votes frauds. Despite this there are still claims that elections are bought, be it by the Koch brothers, George Soros or Sheldon Adelson. How is it possible for such claims to still exist?

 

Elections are bought the same exact way that everyday products sell their wares, an attractive advertising campaign. Basically the golden nugget in any campaign, political or otherwise, is a catchy phrase or concept which captivates the attentions of the public. In the 1950s the golden political nugget in Presidential campaigns was a catchy little slogan of “I Like Ike.” Call it the “Where’s the Beef” or the “Pause that Refreshes” of the political era. Of course it did also help that Eisenhower was also the man who defeated Hitler. Still, had General Douglas MacArthur run for political office, something feared by those thinking he might run on the other party’s ticket, there would have been a need for a different slogan though it would have fell to minds more inventive than mine to concoct such a slogan. Basically politics is the ability to influence people to support your candidate by making them appear to be the person of the hour or the solution to all society’s ills. In the United States the slogan of “Hope and Change” titillated the minds of the American public, especially the younger voters who turned out like never before. This was despite the fact that very few actually understood what the Hope was and what Changes it would incur. The secret was that “Hope and Change” allowed each individual to substitute whatever they desired for hope and thus define what the hope would change. If many of candidate Obama’s speeches are analyzed his definitions for hopes and changes were often amorphous and undefined allowing for those listening to still be able to define these terms to fit their desired outcome. Eventually such undefined terms become defined, and when they are defined through the actions and policies enacted by the politician who gets elected by such terminology, that becomes history which makes them rather difficult to alter going forward, something President Obama’s opposition is finding out as time passes in the United States.

 

Sometimes the election revolves around the personality where the candidate becomes the definition of the campaign and thus causing a cult of personality. This situation often results in a warping of the electoral processes and even an end to the electoral processes altogether. One example of such would have been Hitler who once he became Chancellor of Germany proceeded to consolidate all political power and became a dictatorial ruler ending the necessity for future elections. Another example of a cult of personality has been Russian leader Putin who has been Prime Minister or President of Russia where the real power of governance followed him from one office to the other and back again without anybody challenging his absorbing the right to rule no matter the office he held. With Russia hitting some difficult periods economically his future holding of power may hit a crucial test. It will remain to be seen how long Putin will remain in power and exactly how far he might be willing to go to retain power no matter the consequences.

 

Then there are the different forms of elected governments, the forms of democratic governance. There are Presidential systems where the President is chosen directly and the parliament or congress is elected separately. There are Parliamentary systems where the parliament is directly elected by voting for parties which present lists of candidates in lists to fill the slots depending on the numbers of positions they are awarded as their percentage of votes received and then the parliament has some system by which the Prime Minister is chosen to lead the coalition. There are also different forms of the elected house or houses of power. The United States has the House of Representatives and the Senate where the House of Representatives are elected with each state given their share of the four-hundred-thirty-five seats according to their population and the Senate is comprised of two positions per state. Then there is the parliament in many nations where the entire nation elects representation by voting for parties or there may be parliamentarian seats assigned to districts where individuals are elected. Parliaments can be unicameral, bicameral or possibility of any numbers of entities. Some parliamentary systems have two houses, one elected by individuals and the other by party lists. As for which form of democratic representation is superior is probably still being determined. The only thing we have established is a truth best put into words by Winston Churchill, a somewhat common situation here, where Winnie said, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Who can argue with that?

 

Actually, that is where mankind has shown the prerogative to constantly believe that their new idea has to be better than the previous as it comes reflecting on all the errors and difficulties previous attempts by man had failed with their efforts. But the latest is not always the greatest and the old tried and true may prove to have been false in all manners except that as the old and true it was what had become comforting as it was known and accepted. The British once thought they had attained the ultimate in governance with the enacting of the Magna Carta as now the King’s power was no longer absolute and deigned as coming from G0d but to be bent by the advisings by the other men of position and stature, the barons from whence the power of the military was formed when the crown required defending against foreign foe. The United States believes they have struck the perfect balance between popularist governance and select governance of a wise body of the chosen; and they may have been correct but that will never be known as they perverted their governance with the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution and established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. This removed the representation of the States themselves who had previously chosen their Senators through appointment by their elected bodies, some appointed by the governor and approved by the legislators while others were elected by the legislators. What was unnecessary about the Seventeenth Amendment was that the states were already empowered to choose their Senators by whatever means they saw as preferable which did not rule out their using direct elections had they believed such was to their advantage. But instead the Federal Government instigated the new requirement for Senators to be elected in a similar method as were the Representatives in the House. Some historians have posited that the Seventeenth Amendment was not properly ratified by sufficient numbers of states but was rushed and enacted despite this small problem as eventually sufficient states did ratify the amendment, just not within the time period set forth in the Constitution. Whatever the best form of governance, perhaps someday it will be found and when it is, my bet is the United Nations will be left to be wanting and hopefully dissolved and replaced with a body noble enough to realize its power should be wielded only responding to lengthy and tempered debate which has exhausted all avenues of investigation of alternatives and ramifications and then allowed for adjustments inspired by admissions of former inadequate thought which had seemed prudent at the initial time.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 26, 2015

Immediate Ramification of the Death of King Abdallah

 

Saudi Arabian King Abdallah died this weekend placing his half-brother Crown Prince Salman into the position as Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman and elevated his brother to the role of Crown Prince Muqrin. The new King Salman was born on December 31, 1935 making his age to be seventy-nine with less than optimal conditions of health as are all those who are in the immediate line to the throne. The new Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin was born September 15, 1945 making his age to be sixty-nine. Reports on both of the Saudi Royals’ health are poor or worse making one of their chief immediate duties to soberly choose from amongst the children and grandchildren and seek out which ones are to be groomed further and placed, once their attributes and attitudes have been referenced, cross-referenced, thoroughly parsed, dissected, itemized, examined and everything verified are they to be placed in line for grooming to be the next rulers of the kingdom. This will take a matter of years despite the evident necessity to find the likely path the leadership will take so as to make such explained and verified by the religious hierarchy and all others whose input will have been sought and those whose positions make their acceptance more important and necessary. The next generations of monarchs will need training in governing, budgeting, foreign policy, Koranic knowledge and the other necessities of ruling. They will be required to prove their worth and will likely be thrown into position to rule provinces or cities, be placed in liaison positions with the religious leaders of Saudi Arabia with an emphasis on the leading Wahhabi Imams, proper military training and service, and knowledge of the ins and outs of the oil industry and its use in international diplomacy. All of these are items which will have many in the nation concerned and a select few outside of Saudi Arabia. Still, there will be some ramifications which many will find affecting their daily lives and others which Middle East experts will dwell upon for hours if permitted the time during interviews. We will try to hit some of the immediate ramifications and hope we are sufficiently accurate or at the least no more inaccurate than the average expert despite being amateurs by comparison.

 

We can expect to expect little if any changes initially, especially the price per barrel of oil as the new monarchs were likely included in many of the planning, diplomatic events, implementation and OPEC preparations as well as the reasoning and diplomatic and foreign reasoning for keeping their production at such a high rate driving the price down below fifty dollars a barrel. We will probably witness a more conservative series of actions initially as the change in the Saudi Arabian leadership will force the new leadership to be security conscious and very concerned with intra-national as well as extra-national security with both having heavy dependence on the military. There will be the potential that Saudi Arabia will intervene should the continuing situation in Yemen threatens their southern border or should Iran move to impose their influence or should either the al-Qaeda or the Houthis take control and threaten the shipping lanes to and from the Red Sea and threaten the shipping lanes into and out of the Red Sea as well as the Suez Canal and its access with the Mediterranean Sea, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, Saudi Arabia will become more introverted and keep much of the rulings of the new Royal Family members addressing exactly what their expectations within their lands, especially concerning women and other matters which can be tied to Islam and the interpretations of the Quran and how it will affect their rule. So, what can be expected is for those outside of Saudi Arabia are similar to what the world has witnessed for the past year or so when Saudi Arabia was ruled by King Abdallah as the new monarch will not be straying far from his policies and giving some time to pass before stepping out on their own paths.

 

Formerly King Abdallah had taken a path not previously traveled and was very slowly but inexorably liberalizing the Islamic strict restrictions against women. He permitted women to leave the house and shop unescorted and to vote in some local elections provided they were escorted by a male family member. These relaxed societal laws may not be considered to be lessening restrictions for women under Western societal standards but they were very extreme for anywhere under the strict Sharia interpretations by the Saudi government. We can pretty much forget the idea of permitting women to drive in Saudi Arabia in the foreseeable future. New King Salman is considered to be quite more security conscious and libel to use force of arms rather than the subtle force of diplomacy or the using of the price of oil to bring adversaries to their knees or even play a part if bringing the Soviet Union to its timely end and thus assist in liberating all of Western Europe. Using a similar low pricing of a barrel of oil is strangling Russia and bringing many of the fracking and other costly methods from pumping because it has temporarily become unprofitable in the United States. Still, there is one more target which is being affected by this low oil price, and that entity is Iran as it is being forced to sell oil at next to no profit over taking it out of the oil fields, whether refining it or shipping it out as crude. This lowering of the price for oil by Saudi Arabia has been their only real weapon they have by which they are able to drive any competition out of business or deny an adversarial threat such as Iran of the funds to continue any development of arms or to end any adventures such a threat may have planned. This use of driving the price of oil down through production at capacity by Saudi Arabia was necessitated by the lack of resolve by the Europeans and the United States to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons or stepping up efforts to curtail ISIS as well as al-Qaeda on their northern and southern borders respectively. It will remain to be seen if the new leadership will continue this assault by way of oil prices as it also has required the Saudi Royal Family to utilize their reserves of funds to sustain efforts within Saudi Arabia to maintain funding which prevents the population from becoming unstable as well as funding the Wahhabi institutions worldwide.

 

The change of leadership through succession has been fortuitous as Iranian adventurism has not been stamped out as of yet by the Saudi Arabian oil war which has been their use of monetary sanctions by another means which they have utilized to replace the sanctions lifted by United States President Barack Obama. Iran was still capable of arming the Houthis in Yemen which just this week completed their push to topple the government. One might have expected that the United States would have been more proactive in preventing this blatant coup by the Iranian armed rebels as Yemen is one of the United States allies and refueling ports for the United States Navy despite the incident of the attack by al-Qaeda on the USS Cole in October 2000. Yemen has now become another failed state where the main governing forces are rebel groups or terrorist entities. This adds Yemen to the list of Lebanon, Somalia, and Libya.

 

Additionally there are the nations in north and central Africa which are currently fighting for their survival against terrorist entities which include but not limited to Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, South Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic. A number of these nations are facing threats from Boko Haram which is an entity similar to ISIS and one that had identified with al-Qaeda but has recently claimed allegiance with ISIS. ISIS is another threat which has Saudi Arabia concerned especially since recently there have been fighting between ISIS forces and the military of Saudi Arabia in the northwestern province. These assaults have been more of a test of resolve and with the recent death of King Abdallah and the ascension of Crown Prince Salman into the ruling role, his somewhat more militant attitude could be exactly what may be necessary in Saudi Arabia considering the threats on its northern and southern borders as well as the reassertion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai Peninsula and their threat against Egypt, a crucial and necessary ally of the Saudis and a traditional supporter of the Royal Family. The changes in Saudi rulers will still require a period of time to fully understand the coming changes and will need to be watched before coming to any lasting and necessary changes in policies. This was something which was expected though it still happened fairly rapidly which often makes such changes problematic but the Saudis have handled such changes in their ruling structure better than others. For the meantime any of the changes which may have been in the planning will likely be terminated until the changeover is complete and then all will see. Until then the world will need to necessarily simply wait and see and be lenient though in trying times as the present lenience is a luxury which one may not have the necessary time to wait.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 27, 2014

Israel Defense Force Commander Criticized Over Religious Reference

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Commander Ofer Winter from the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has raised the ire of the secular media, NGOs and other general busybodies over his using a reference to G0d when addressing his troops right before they entered Gaza and potential life-threatening situations in combating Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist entities during Operation Protective Edge. Commander Winter received generous compliments from the founder of the brigade, Brigadier General (res.) Yehuda Duvdevani at an event honoring the Givati soldiers held Tuesday at Nahshonit Park east of Tel Aviv where he, remarked “I hope that in the future we will have more commanders that will walk in his (Winter’s) path.” The Southern Commander of the IDF Major General Sami Turgeman when making an address at the same ceremony lauded Commander Winter saying, “the brigade, under the command of Ofer and the battalion commanders, came wherever it was needed and through creativity, planning and determination defeated the enemy every time.”

 

As part of the calls denouncing Commander Winter for his religious reference and invoking G0d, when he cited the Shema prayer in his last address to troops before entering combat, came from the Israel Democracy Institute which took a novel if not incorrect approach claiming that religious soldiers might decide that G0d’s Will runs contra to specific orders. They were obviously unaware that Halacha mandates obeying commanders’ orders when defending the Jewish People. Further, there is likely no more appropriate prayer than the Shema prayer when the task at hand is potentially life threatening and where death can come over one with a suddenness that would preclude the individual soldier from reciting the Shema before expiring. What this entire tempest in a teapot is all about is the secularists in Israel knowing their numbers barely mount to ten percent of the population, if that high, feel they must scream, shout and attempt to intimidate the religious Jews from the public square or else face religious references resulting in what they would view as an Israel that would be too Jewish.

 

The truth be known, the answer to many, if not all, of the Western world’s problems could be resolved by a returning to G0d and religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Hindu, Taoism, Islam or any religion where man is placed under a more moral structure and especially those which provide either a more perfect role model or G0d above the normal human such that each individual must work towards a more moral and perfect life and live with the realization that they are not the highest form of being defining what is correct individually and measuring their lives by their own defined and usually lacking standards. Such a return to a life spent thriving for a perfection defined traditionally which places the societal goodness and the dedication to the continuation and aiming to provide a better future than the present day instead of living entirely in the moment and almost exclusively for oneself placing the self at the pinnacle of creation and foremost in the plans and seeking of desires controlling each and every action would even solve the problems of the death of the civilization through birth rates below replacement levels. It has been the loss of faith which has also brought on the loss of community; loss of the sense of belonging; the collapse of the family, including as an enduring relationship, as the path to the future, the creation of that future through children and as the nurturing development of children; and the cause of an emptiness inside and in our lives which we forever seek to fill often at the cost of fulfilling others around us.

 

The loss of faith and decline of religion can be measured simply by taking measure of the extent which government has enlarged itself and how it has succeeded in replacing religion in the societal roles such as assisting the needy, sheltering the homeless, clothing those in need of clothes and every other societal function previously seen as the calling of the religious entities most often through the community’s house of worship be it a Synagogue, Church, Temple, Mosque, or other such group. This societal problem of the death of religion is only the initial stage, a stage that Europe and the United States, if not all of Western society, has already passed and would take an enormous effort and years of taking apart the government behemoth returning to religious entities those roles for supporting the needy and providing a guidance which has been replaced with cold regulations and laws. The next measure is to what extent the government has replaced the family and also broken the family function making it more of an empty, cold, hollowed out existence of two people who are often too drawn-up in their work relations to actively support and nurture each other, let alone children. Government provided meals at school even to the point of forbidding parent prepared lunches from home insisting on the student consuming the government provided and carefully planned and measured correct caloric count and meeting nutritional guidelines, before and after school activities making government the nanny caring for the children, and final stage is government provided and licensed day care for even the newborn. Many in the West have surrendered their responsibilities to the government allowing the government to actually nurture their children, assuming they even bothered to have children and did not resort to birth control or even resorting to abortive actions waiting for that perfect right time to have children, a time which never comes. We in much of the Western world have replaced religion with regulations and government programs and now spend our lives in supplication to the State even to the point of tithing of fifty percent of our gross salaries or more to support that State. Even our healthcare and the critical decisions over life and death are surrendered to a government panel as part of our healthcare. Is there much left we can surrender to government, will we actually move into government provided cubbyholes called our environmental residences and allow constant monitoring of our every move with warnings not to act in ways which may cause harm and cost the government revenue which could be better used?

 

The current growing and seemingly unresolvable conflict is between Western society and its government as religion system against Islamists who want a religiously controlled government where religion has replaced government. Some of the accusations made by the Jihadists against Western nations have lost their souls and engage in a lifestyle that represents what they define as debaucherous desires and actions and a society consisting of people whose only concern is their own pleasure and who have no piety or belief in Allah, or even G0d or other guiding enlightened archetypical standard. Their accusation is that, especially in Europe and the United States, lives are wasted and only strive for sexual pleasures while abstaining from religion completely. What would be amusing, if was not so much a threat, is that the best weapon the West could have to successfully resist the Islamist extremist would be their Judeo-Christian roots and a return to a living religiously guided lives, returned to our houses of worship and reestablished our sense of community intertwined with our religious observance. This would provide the glue which could unite us and give that unity a bonding agent which would be unbreakable and further provide the citizens in the Western world a sense of belonging which was worth defending. Without a return to the basics which gave Western society a strong and moral base, the conflict with Islam will only grow and eventually result in the end of Western culture and with that the Judeo-Christian ethic which resulted in the advancement and pursuit of truths which our science provided and the benefits from those discoveries. Should the extremist Islamists win in what they perceive as their primary source for Jihad, then further advancement of science will be stymied for the foreseeable future and this would be catastrophic.

 

The future of mankind is currently resting on a single decision which history will make over the next decade or two and we reach the conclusion of this culture war which we have entered into whether we chose to accept that or not. The medical and biologic discoveries alone that the next half a century could produce are beyond belief and would have astounding application in extending life expectancy, prolonged or even restored youthfulness, replacement of organs using one’s own cells and so much more. The advancements in physics, chemistry, computer sciences and engineering will be almost as impressive and produce items and opportunities some of which are beyond our comprehension or ability to even imagine. But lose the Western based culture and enter into a religious straightjacket which insists that study of the Quran is the end-all of necessary knowledge and study beyond the Quran and the Hadiths is forbidden unless it is for advancement of the conquest and conversion of the entire world as Allah commands will result in a new Dark Age. Should the Jihadists succeed the losses for society and mankind will be immeasurable. We should have no problem with Muslims who accept a plurality of religions and a separation between religious influences and government and the basic freedoms spelled out in the United States Bill of Rights and the acceptance of common law in its historic and modern interpretations. Militant Islam which believes in Jihad as the spread of Islam over the entirety of the world and the forced conversion or death to all inhabitants within must be terminated and if that means a reinterpretation or even rewriting of the Quran and the Hadiths, so be it. Judaism and Christianity have experienced reformations which adapted them for a harmonious world where all enjoy equal rights under the law and within the society. These beliefs do exist in the Quran and were the entirety of the Quranic writings when Muhammad joined with a scribe to inscribe the revelations for the Quran in Mecca. Those writings were all about harmony, peace, coexistence and the recognition of the rights and continued existence of other religions. This earliest rendition of the Quran provided for the conversion of the willing and those accepting its teachings but did not provide for the violent conversion or the sword approach currently being put on vivid and horrific display by ISIS. Either path for Islam and its adherents matters less than the return to religion and restoring the place for the houses of worship returning to them those powers and responsibilities taken from them by force of law by the government, more often than not, the Federal Government of the State. That restoration is of the utmost importance despite the seeming lack of ability for Western society to perceive this imbalance and their respective losses.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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