Beyond the Cusp

November 23, 2013

The Debate is Cloture and Not the Filibuster

The main reason that the mainstream media is talking about the Senate changing the rules on the practice of filibuster is due to their being too lazy to explain what the Senate really did and actually educate the people who might not be as up on their United States Constitution as used to be the norm earlier in American history. The Senate changed the rules on cloture which is the means by which a filibuster is ended, not prevented or even stopped dead but ended with a possibility of allowing limited debate time to each Senator if the rules so permit. So, let us take a short trip back through history, and I promise to try to be brief. When the Constitution was ratified and became the founding document for the governance of the United States in 1789 there were no rules limiting debate in any manner. Senators could talk on any legislation pending before that august body until the cows came home and beyond. That was the beauty of the Constitution and the original interpretation of the idea that the House of Representatives was a rough and tumble and coarser body while the Senate was proper and deliberative with cordial rules and mutual respect, a far cry from what we have today and even originally. Do not for one second believe that American politicking has become raucous and vile only in the recent past as it actually has become more sensitive and polite. Nobody is referring to the other candidate for President of being a hermaphrodite or of being the son of a half-breed Indian squaw. To quote the two gentlemen in question behind those remarks, and they are to this day considered gentlemen though I doubt the shorter of the two would have agreed with such a description when he was alive; the Jefferson campaign described President Adams as a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” and Adams in return defined Vice President Jefferson as “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Yes, believe it or not these were the President and Vice President of the United States at that time as originally the candidate with the most votes became President and the candidate who came in second became the Vice President but we obviously changed that as it became a tad unworkable and obviously so. The Twelfth Amendment in 1804 put this problem to rest allowing for separate ballots for President and Vice President but did not dictate that the two office holders be from the same party, it is still possible though unlikely that the President and Vice President could come from different parties.

Back to the “nuclear option” voted on by the Senate this past week. The Senate rules call for a simple majority vote with limited debate for any motion to alter, add or deduct from the rules under which the Senate operates thus making any chance for a filibuster basically mute. Because of that the Democrats with their four seat advantage won the passage of the new rules by a 52-48 vote. President Obama took the opportunity to continue his war against the minority Republicans in the Senate in a short speech after which he delegated a person to answer any questions in what has become a normal routine of never allowing the President to be questioned by the press directly or be allowed to ever go off of the carefully scripted words on his teleprompter. Sometimes I think that it would be both revealing and educational allowing for the truthful revelation of the character and inner feelings of a President if it were required that he take a session answering press questions at least once each month and could be required when asked to appear before either branch of Congress to answer questions on any legislation brought to the floor by request of the White House or any member of the President’ own party. Any additional information that is revealed concerning a President’s inner feelings, ability to think quickly and respond to unexpected queries and situations as well as anything that fills the people with additional truths about the person supposedly running the nation and being the face of the American people and the nation on the world’s stage should be encouraged, even mandated. The Senate changing the rules such that a cloture vote which restricts virtually ending debate on appointment for judgeships and other posts to a simple majority has basically changed the process into simply the Senate being a rubber stamp for all but the absolute worst nominations, and even then it might be questionable if the Democrats would not simply bow before the President’s will. This may prove to be catastrophic or it may simply end up as a tempest in a teapot, it all depends on which appointments now gain affirmation who might have been prevented by a Republican or a single Democrat deciding to filibuster the nomination. This I just one more time will tell and I have found that time usually tells long after anybody is paying attention. A perfect example, except that people are paying attention, is Kathleen Sebelius and the catastrophic rollout of Obamacare. Had that gone relatively smoothly with only minor glitches we would have never known how vacuous that woman is and how Health and Human Services is being directed by an incompetent who appears incapable of managing a major project any better than a junior project manager in training.

 

There will be some commentators and political talking heads who will go off the deep end and erroneously relate that this move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unconstitutional and that the Constitution enumerates the right and procedures known as the filibuster and cloture vote. They are mistaken at best and intentionally misleading at worst. The truth is that the Constitution says absolutely nothing about either process by name. Under the Constitution the original Senate had absolutely no limit on the length of the debate thus allowing every Senator and thus every State to have ample time to discuss and debate the merits of legislation and even return home to get their marching orders from the State Legislatures which chose the Senators. The Senate under Article I, Section 5, Clause 3 was empowered to write its own rules concerning debate and the procedures which govern the same. The Senate adopted its first anti-filibuster rule in 1917 calling such a procedure cloture. Traditionally the cloture vote has taken some form of supermajority in order to shut down debate. The rules of the Senate, according to the writings of the Founders, was to be a more deliberative body which fully debated legislation thus allowing the Senate to reject any legislations which was passed under emotional or other reaction to momentary events and to represent the individual States within the Federal Government such that the States would be protected from the rapacious appetite for power and dominion by any Congress or President. It is interesting that the initial limitation to debate came in 1917, four years after the ratification of one of the most destructive laws to ever make its way onto the books, let alone the Constitution, the Amendment XVII which forever changed the Congress and permitted the unrestrained expansion of the powers, reach, and oppressive abilities of the Federal Government. Under this amendment the States no longer appointed their own Senators in any manner they saw fit, be it appointed by the Governor, appointed by the Governor and ratified by some branch of the State Legislature, appointed directly by the State Legislature or even directly elected by the people which any State could have enacted as their method had they so chosen. This was a direct assault on the rights of the States and took place under a wave of humanist excitement where it was believed that the people, if allowed to voice their combined will, would reach a more reasoned and duly proper decision than any that could be reached by the corrupt and despicable State Governances. The members of the Federal Government even back then looked upon the State Governments, from which many of them had originally served, with contempt and disdain. They saw them as incapable of reasoned thought or honest debate. Looking at the Congress of today one might come to the conclusion that a monarchy might be preferable, but surely I jest. It is likely certain that had the Senate remained as intended a product of the individual State Governments deciding their selection process that the vast majority of States would have decided to allow for the direct election of their Senators in the Federal Government anyways, so there is probably little difference today that if the Amendment XVII were never passed or ratified. One note on history, both the Amendment XVII and the Amendment XVI, which enacted the income tax, have both had claims made that they were not truly ratified by the necessary States within the time limited by the Constitution and are therefore not enforceable. Thus far nobody has won a court case challenging either Amendment. Given my personal choice, I would prefer ridding the United States of the Amendment XVII as returning a greater amount of limiting force by the individual States would do more to limit and turn back the growth of the Federal Government than anything else I have ever heard promoted. The one item that would cease to exist immediately would be the imposition of unfunded mandates on the individual States by Federal legislation as that has become a nasty and not all that uncommon way that the Federal Government passes legislation while forcing the States to finance the implementation and continue maintenance of the legislation and not burdening the Federal budget with such costs. Imagine a Federal Government which was forced to pay for every consequence of their legislative agendas. They would soon go on a legislative diet which the press would label gridlock and the Representatives and Senators would label sticker shock from seeing the financial consequences of all of their actions and being unable to pass the costs off on the States. That was an imagine that Mr. John Lennon missed in his song, but being British I guess he should be forgiven.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 8, 2013

The Ugly Side of a Government Shutdown

The Federal Government shutdown has turned ugly and vindictive by design with the Administration going through each and every service, historic sites, museums, web portals and other various forms of public-government interaction with an eye to shutting down anything and everything which would cause the public harm and inconvenience. They then claim that the Republicans own the shutdown and that the President feels the pains and hardships the public are experiencing and President Obama claims that the Republicans will not negotiate with him over the budget. This is the biggest fabrication I have ever heard from any politician even including President Nixon’s claim that he is “not a crook.” Some examples pretty much make obvious where the closings originate. At Andrews Air Force Base the PX is closed but the golf course which the President loves is open. The right lane of highways and byways from which one can snap pictures of Mount Rushmore have been coned off so people are unable to stop. The last straw and most unbelievable act committed by the Administration was forcing people, mostly elderly, to leave their homes which border Lake Meade claiming that since the government has found it impossible to guarantee services preventing possible harm such as flooding from endangering their lives, they must leave immediately. Many of those people had no clue that the government did anything other than monitor the Hoover Dam as far as protecting them and even understanding the extent and scope that the Administration has gone to in order to maximize harm to the people and citizens of the United States; I seriously doubt they have suspended monitoring the Hoover Dam. The almost ridiculous lengths employed to maximize harm has been unprecedented and should be the main critical consequence of the budget battle covered by the mainstream media but instead they simply follow the President’s lead claiming that the Republicans are the sole source of all evils emanating from the shutdown.

 

The future has taken on an ominous tinge due to a small fact that once any politician opens the door to a new venue of consequences or behaviors it becomes just another tool which virtually any politician from either party will add to their tool kit for future use. Future budget battles will now target services designed for the people which will be the first services where personnel will be furloughed in order to deny these services to the public. The fact that there have been some midlevel and operational workers reporting that they have been instructed to make the shutdown as inconveniencing and causing maximum hardships as they are able is the most frightening aspect of this shutdown. These specifically targeted closings of open air monuments where it is costing the government funds in order to barricade these places which under normal operation might entail their being cleaned periodically but otherwise operate at no cost to government is opening a level of vindictiveness that cannot be stressed too strongly. The same goes for the numerous sites such as Mount Vernon where private groups who take absolutely no government funds are being ordered to be shutdown presumably because the Federal Government services and provides upkeep for access roads or parking lots or even because they claim they will no longer be able to provide security support in case of an incident. These actions are simply an abomination revealing a level of contempt for the public by those in government who are behind these closures who, just like those responsible for the stand-down order during the assault in Benghazi, remain unidentified though it can be assumed they are high up in the Administration and their orders very probably come from the highest levels if not the President himself.

 

There is going to be a phase two to the budget battle approaching rapidly and that is raising the debt ceiling. The claims that raising the debt ceiling will not increase the actual level of United States government debt because it is only being increased to cover spending which has already been approved is false. If that argument sounds highly suspicious and disingenuous, then you very likely have a good grasp on budgeting and money handling. The fallacy in that argument is that once the government has made a commitment to provide services or other governmental functions which require funding that there is no way to fund these expenditures in the future other than by raising the debt limit in order to cover the expenditures. This would be the same idea as if you decided to take a vacation this summer and as the time for the vacation approached you did not make any adjustments to your daily expenditures nor decide to postpone some purchases and instead simply applied for a new charge card on which you would pay for everything while on vacation claiming that the new charge card was not going to increase the family’s level of indebtedness as you had decided on the vacation already so the new charge card to cover the expenditures was unavoidable. We can expect that should any members of the Congress suggest that there be spending cuts made to defray some of the future spending rather than simply take on all of the coming spending by taking the easiest route and just increasing the level of indebtedness of the United States Federal Government will be ridiculed by the President and his minions in the press. Some of the driving reasons that the debt limit is once again being crashed has a lot to do with the fact that there has yet to be a single budget passed during the entire Presidency of Barack Obama. This even includes the first two years of his first term when the Democrat Party held a filibuster proof majority of over sixty in the Senate and a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives which in theory should have allowed President Obama to pass any legislation and establish any program his heart desired. Despite this unopposable majority in Congress, President Obama never passed a single budget as even the Democrats attempted to prevent some of his spending and he never passed his Cap and Trade energy legislation though he did manage to force Obama Care through the Congress using brute force along a party line vote which had not a single Republican supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.

 

President Obama’s Presidency could be defined as an Administration which never found an increase or new expenditure it didn’t love. Since President Obama, possibly to his credit, did close down two fronts in what was originally labeled the War on Terror by ending much of our deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, there should have been a savings which would have been reflected in budgetary savings, lower debt, and an economic peace dividend. The fact that we not only did not receive such a bonus and instead have found ourselves raising the debt ceiling repeatedly and facing budgetary shortfalls and an anemic economic recovery if any is just another result of an Administration whose spending is completely out of control. President Obama has craftily and cunningly used Continuing Resolutions in order to compound the spending increases thus causing vast additional spending across the boards on social programs. Even draconian spending cuts to the Military budget and cuts to the NASA budget (which never garner much savings as the NASA budget is less than 1% of the total budget) have failed to balance the excessive added spending on existing social programs and on the new social programs initiated by the Obama Administration. Yet, when the debate over raising the debt ceiling begins we can expect the usual blame game claiming the Republicans are trying to refuse to pay for spending which has already been approved and that these despicable Republicans would default on the United States payments on her debt. There is not an ounce of truth in either of those accusations. The Treasury Department receives inflow of cash every day from the Internal Revenue Service and from other taxes, tariffs, fines, and other revenue sources which are vastly greater on a daily basis than is the scheduled debt payment. Simply put, the debt payment can be made out of what we could call ready cash which the government takes in each and every day. Any claim that by not raising the debt ceiling we would default on our debt payment is simple demagoguery and absolutely false, but I guess we have all gotten used to lies from Washington no matter which party has the majority.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 25, 2013

Why Washington Will Never Repeal Obamacare

There have been and continue to be grassroots and organized petitions and lobbying calling on the Congress to pass legislation repealing or at least greatly delaying the imposition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The truth be told, none of these movements have the slightest of chances of being successful at changing, negating or even delaying the enactment and enforcements of everything under Obamacare legislation and related litany of new regulations. Where the lack of a means to enforce or enact some particulars required by Obamacare will prevent everything being in place on time, nothing will stop the most important and constricting requirements and demands of Obamacare from inflicting not only our healthcare but every other sector of our lives that come within the purview and scope of the legislation and accompanying regulations. We can expect every fee, tax, fine, and other monetary requirements to be implemented in order to enrich the government coffers as much as is marginally legally possible. We will also very quickly realize that we have been sold a bill of goods about the wonders to be gracing our lives because of Obamacare and instead will witness the end of high quality care as we have come to know in the past. No matter how bad things might get, the government is completely dedicated to implementing Obamacare simply as it leads unavoidably to government single payer healthcare. So, why is this so vitally important that it has the elected officials, public government employees and the government employee unions so totally in the tank behind forcing this monstrosity on the people?

 

The reason behind the support for the implementation of Obamacare by such a majority of those affiliated in any manner with government is because it will vastly increase the ability for government to control people’s lives, control people’s diet, control people’s activities, and to impose fees for any activities or pursuits which government deems as placing an undue risk for increased need for medical treatment. Eventually under the auspices of mediating healthcare costs and required levels and amounts of service the government could dictate dietary requirements for the good of the person and the people while also minimizing healthcare requests from certain people with health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other condition which improved and strictly controlled diet can be a mitigating factor, and that would include just about everybody in some way or another. Simply imagine New York City Mayor Bloomberg with total control over everybody’s diet, the same Mayor Bloomberg who has passed laws or attempted to ban salt, trans fats, super-sized sodas, popcorn oils and other high calorie or tasty items from the diet of New Yorkers. Using the cost of healthcare the government could at some time in the future require people to purchase activity licenses for undertakings deemed overtly risky and likely to cause injury requiring healthcare resources thus issuing permission certificates for skydiving, cliff jumping, scuba diving, auto racing, skiing, ice hockey, football, soccer, even jogging and anything else beyond approved, actually more likely required, exercise routines. There would be special issued certificates necessary for eating such horridly dangerous foods such as ice cream, red meats, French fries and other evil foods on the government risky acts list where virtually every activity and edible food are listed with their fee for allocated potential excessive medical requirements. The powers of control which can be applied to the average person and the fees levied simply for living what is now considered a normal life is endless and is actually the least of the threats that government will pose once Obamacare has completely converted and changed healthcare as we have known it. President Obama is for, if nothing else, the basic transformation of the United States, especially healthcare, individual rights, and government ability to interfere and control the lives of the people. Obamacare will grant to the government abilities to control and dictate even the most insignificant parts of our lives in the name of efficiency and cost management.

 

This unlimited control is pretty much itemized within the Obamacare policy announced as the “Complete Lives System” which was composed largely by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of former Obama Chief of Staff and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Once it is generally understood what the Complete Lives System states and that it will be the guiding curriculum integrated into Obamacare as the guide for what kind and how much care should be invested in an individual which is strictly determined on the potential contribution the individual potentially will, over the remainder of their life, contribute compared to their cost to the system. Under this system both the elderly and the youth are not afforded expensive healthcare procedures as was exemplified in the recent controversy where Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding the appropriateness of allowing for a young girl to be placed on the adult waiting list for a lung transplant, which she denied, which would have basically been the same as giving the girl a death sentence. Despite all of the potential horrors which will become reality either immediately after the complete Obamacare boondoggle is put into practice or in rapid succession as time passes over the initial decade or at most two, the people will very likely protest with ever greater vociferousness and vigor but all to no avail. Eventually the final application of complete control will be enacted and applied which we were introduced to with the recent IRS scandal of placing conservative non-profit group’s applications under extended scrutiny and unprecedented invasive queries in order to tie them up with paperwork and other legal hurdles to clear which very likely kept their influence in the elections to be hindered if not completely circumvented. Imagine when this same IRS is also responsible for deciding whether or not individuals receive adequate and necessary health care using a similar politically tainted scale, a scale that can be applied against either end of the political spectrum dependent on who is in power. That alone should scare the average person to death which would at least alleviate them from any worries of being denied healthcare services in the future.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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