Beyond the Cusp

June 1, 2015

The Great and Powerful Bibi

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has announced another power which he has awarded unto himself. I had attempted to think up some comical manner based on Toto, the Scarecrow looking for a brain, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man desiring a heart and Dorothy who would have played the part of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Of course Bibi (read respectively as Prime Minister Netanyahu and also intended to give the thought of ‘The Great and Powerful Bibi’), as stated in the article title, would have played the Great and Powerful Oz which was manipulated by and represented the timid little man behind the curtain who decided on the new persona so as to give himself gravitas and impressive dimensions he feared he lacked in person. With Bibi now taking a new and almost completely original definition for veto power over legislation, the comparison might have been appropriate. Unfortunately for you and a letdown for me, I am not the greatest of comic writers if I might be called such at all. So, instead we are left discussing this new power, its ramifications and perhaps a look into the crystal ball to try and divine the real reasons and what future this portends.

 

First-off, the comparison of the veto power as explained that Bibi has assumed and the veto power of American Presidents have only one real comparison, they are both referred to as ‘veto power’ by the executive be they President or Prime Minister. Where the American President must wait for legislation to be passed and then he is able to veto the bill which then returns to the Congress where a two-thirds vote by both houses can override the veto by the President making his veto not necessarily the last word on the legislation and it becoming law. Prime Minister Netanyahu has a completely different veto as he informs a ruling member of the Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Levin also serves as deputy to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, chaired by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the Prime Minister’s desire to kill any legislation and he is empowered to kill the bill right there never even allowing a reading before the Knesset or any form of vote or override. This makes the veto by the Prime Minister a preventive action making this particular power more attuned to an Emperor or a Monarch with supreme and undisputable powers. Levin stated speaking with Haaretz that the veto will be used very rarely adding, “I don’t want to make serial use of it,” as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and he shared a “good rapport.” That is all well and good, but any use of such power and even its existence makes the Prime Minister all powerful beyond the norms of his office, but if he was able to get this approved by the coalition, then, obviously, more power to him.

 

The question that this begs is when does the Prime Minister intend that this power be exercised. There is one obvious and one which strikes fear in us here where this power would be wielded, one widely and one to rein in those the Prime Minister fears inside his coalition who might have more extreme views, some might say were made of sterner stuff. The obvious use of such an extreme veto power would be that it was expected that having such a narrow, actually the most minimal, coalition majority at a mere sixty-one that it might be expected for a series of critical maneuvers might be made by swamping the Knesset with divisive legislation not intended to ever pass but to expose and widen differences eventually tearing down the coalition forcing another election cycle and in order to achieve anything productive and agreed upon within the coalition. These petty targeted legislation would be best nipped in the bud and prevented from doing their intended destructive influences. Then there is the feared use where Bibi would be implementing this power to prevent any confrontations between himself and the Knesset with the Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court. Justice Ayelet Shaked has stated she intends to cut the Supreme Court’s overbearance and overwhelming power to dictate and influence laws by actually reviewing every law passed by the Knesset and then vetoing whichever laws they disagree with and even rewriting or writing original laws and through judicial fiat making these laws be enforced. Many have referred to the Supreme Court as a second or shadow government far more powerful than the Prime Minister and Knesset combined as their veto is not made available to review and their enacted by judicial fiat laws are also not reviewable or removable as any attempt at doing so is simply struck down by the Supreme Court.

 

This is, unfortunately, a trait which has plagued Bibi in his role as Prime Minister and is something his impressive and well recognized military career would not have given one to expect such hesitance and insecurity from one such as Prime Minister Netanyahu. Should this power be intended to avoid any confrontations with the Supreme Court and used to strike down those instances where the Justice Minister takes on the court too directly and with what Bibi fears is too little tact and delicacy. Unfortunately, the only way the Supreme Court will be reined in and brought to more represent the people of Israel and not be a self-selecting and self-sustaining clique which wields power beyond measure will be a direct assault with the full support and backing of the Knesset and the Prime Minister. Currently the Supreme Court Justices in combination of near even representation between the coalition and the opposition as well as the head of the Bar Association and the Attorney General, who is appointed largely by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has influence and a leftist influence which has only been further exaggerated through a string of leftist appointees being placed on the Supreme Court Bench as well in the Attorney Generals spot and any other institutions which are under the direction of these offices instituting an echo chamber where these legal arenas are resistant to change in their political viewpoints and still are representative largely of the early socialist, almost communist, political ideals which were the vast majority the first few decades of the history of Israel which cemented the courts in place and sustained such views across the six decades of the nation’s history.

 

One change which has been proposed both within the government and amongst the legal and popular representatives of the people and the media that the court appointees should have to pass through some review by the Knesset in order to bring the courts and legal system of the State of Israel more closely aligned and able to be altered as the citizens themselves develop, mature and take on new ideas and choose to stress certain political ideals which might differ with an unalterable and moribund court still stuck in the viewpoints of the initial decade of Israeli existence, an extremely leftist viewpoint which stands in opposition to much of the current societal views. Should this and the ability to prevent any of the more extreme and untried views to solve many of the most pressing problems facing the nation and people of Israel be presented by those more to the right or of a more strident form of Zionism attempt to press legislation, this veto power would grant Bibi with relatively unprecedented and supreme power to prevent such views from being debated. We will have to wait and see how often and in which manner this unalterable veto is used. Sometimes it will have to be divined by the media and public whether the reason that certain ideas seem to go silent extremely suddenly and unnaturally. This Prime Minister normally has great amounts of power in a Parliamentary form of governance but this new veto, more of a kill switch, power over legislation will require great and astute scrutiny in the coming months in this new government and perhaps might result in a call for new elections with the greatest question of who other than Bibi can be chosen as Prime Minister? Perhaps this is the greatest question which may fall upon the Likud leadership to decide, but here too Bibi has gathered great centralization of power to himself making uprooting him from the lead of the Likud apparently impossible for now. That may force the people of Israel to seek a new leader elsewhere which should be a step taken with care and serious deliberations well before any action. Such a question would merit being a central issue for the citizens of Israel to consider amongst themselves in the immediate future rather than waiting until the next elections are upon us. Time’s a wasting.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 12, 2015

Ayelet Shaked, Justice Minister for a Change

 

Ayelet Shaked has one obvious difference from almost all former Justice Ministers, she is a religious, Zionist, nationalist, right wing reformer who has a separate view of the Supreme Court and how it has been chosen and unlimited in its power and wishes to change this situation. She has taken on a challenge which has bothered and frustrated others of her political ilk but somehow had remained beyond their reach as even in right wing governments the Justice Minister has inevitably come from the leftist or least right wing minister who either saw no problem or was overwhelmed by the opposition to change. The problem has been a threat faced by every right-wing, Zionist, nationalist or religious legislation whether produced by a liberal or conservative Knesset. The Supreme Court has acted as a gauntlet which every law passed by the Knesset has had to survive. This has worked in two completely different ways. The Supreme Court review allows a centrist or leftist Knesset to pass legislation demanded from religious parties or even center-right parties which may have been included in their coalition by necessity or expediency and then rely on the Supreme Court review prerogative to declare the legislation unconstitutional despite Israel having no constitution. A conservative, right-wing, religious, Zionist, nationalist coalition government will find that gauntlet to be a stiff challenge foiling even the most popular legislation, well, most popular anywhere in Israel outside central and northern Tel Aviv and other similar left-wing brie and wine party communities. It remains to be seen how far Ms. Shaked will get with her planned reforms, some of which are fairly benign and others targeting some sacred cows.

 

The early reactions have been alarming even if not completely surprising. There have been charges against Ayelet Shaked making aspersions targeting her being an attractive woman though these references have been anything but complimentary. The sexist commentaries would never have been permitted to pass without howling from the media and those self-appointed conscience for society had the comments been made against a leftist Minister of the Knesset. There have been some from the left such as Tzipi Livni and Meretz chairperson Zehava Galon who have denounced the threats and aspersions, giving one hope that civility can be reached and ranks closed against such uncivil effronteries. Still, the threats to Ayelet Shaked included death threats and other forms of physical harm and were of sufficient quantity and many so overt that she has been assigned security details to assure her safety. The fact that a Minister of the Knesset who has set for themselves to reform a part of the government which has met with complaints from across the political spectrum, though mostly from one end, should require twenty-four hour security protection is a sad commentary which tells us more about those opposing change than it says about the changes themselves. Reformations are never easy and often are opposed strongly by those served best by an inequality which is to be addressed; the reforms are often lauded by the people retrospectively. Change often is best performed slowly over time but there are those rare instances when change must be performed in one sweeping set of reforms. This is the latter form and will also require broad support actively communicated by the people if it has any hope of being successful. The fact that this is a sixty-one seat coalition which is as narrow as is possible makes the possibility for these reforms to be enacted and successfully implemented seemingly impossible. But then again, should the changes by obviously measured and not overt and far-reaching but fair and even-handed, then perhaps it will receive a more favorable reaction and the acceptance reach beyond just the coalition and also receive votes from outside the coalition showing a greater range of acceptance than initially expected.

 

The announced expectation for possible reforms to be applied to the various powers and specifics in choosing and possible oversight of the selection process has made a stir clear across the political spectrum. Not all the reactions would be what one might expect. There are those traditionalists on the right who are against change, especially any sudden or expansive changes and there are those on the left who also fear the powers vested and nearly unlimited scope given the Supreme Court. The one thing those who today enjoy the excess of power backing their points of view may find themselves facing a similarly long period where the Supreme Court would have slowly but inexorably changed its slant and become a tool of the other extreme. The test that any changes should be best judged by would be those where both those on the right and the left have similar misgivings and both complaining equally, then we will know the changes are balanced. We can expect there to be extensive debates and, if Ayelet Shaked is near as wise as some have asserted, a balanced group representative of the entire political spectrum included in the proceedings making for a balanced set of recommendations is utilized such that everyone has some investment in the changes. Those who have found the Supreme Court selection process to be self-perpetuating and so resistant to change as to make the Supreme Court potentially an anachronistic body fossilized and incapable of changing with the society and eventually leading to it becoming so out of touch and lost within their own little cocoon so as to make their decisions as much a joke as a target of derision. No body of highly educated individuals would ever desire to be part of efforts which would eventually lead to the irrelevance of that very body leading to its having to be erased and rebuilt from scratch yet that is exactly what the Supreme Court risks if they continue on their current path. So, while some will look onto the proceedings with great hope, others will dread the possible changes which may weaken their powers today, the truth this very well will make a Supreme Court and accompanying judicial proceedings and selection processes more adaptive and representative of the people and their society retaining sufficient resistance to rapid and excessive changes so as to retain its deliberative standing making the court a curb to changes which may prove too far and too fast acting as an anchor but an anchor which can be repositioned when required. May Ms. Shaked find success and may her security details have the most boring jobs in all Israel.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 10, 2015

It’s an Upside-Down Topsy-Turvy World

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Many times we look at things the way they are and simply scratch our collective heads and wonder: When did the world go off the tracks? Who was at the helm asleep? Am I the only one who sees things like this? How did it get so bad? What went wrong? How can we get things straightened out? Will I and the few others have to take this on alone? And the biggest question: Where do we start? Let us start with the good news which is that you already have taken that first step as have millions of others. The bad news is that yes, it is going to seem like we the so few are initially going to have to attempt this alone. But the outlook had more good news than bad because slowly more and more of us are waking to see the problem. Unfortunately, all too many of us are having great amounts of difficulty taking that first step towards a new tomorrow. The reason for that is we are trying to use the tools which created the problem to repair the damage and that simply cannot work. We need to look deep in our hearts to find what has been missing. Many, myself included, see that much of the solution can be found in religion and the lessons it teaches and its focus on family, children and the future. Without these three ideas and ideals and all that is built around them, there is no solution and what we are fighting for is ridiculed and belittled as superstitious religion. The idea is to take the entirety of any future into their own hands and reserving it for their children and only their children, not for the rest of us. They still want us to have children just as long as there are not too many of them and they are willing to perform the menial functions in service of their betters.

 

The problems with much of society today are the ideas that we are to live our lives for ourselves and to maximize our own pleasures. Just look at the solutions and where they lead. If you are pregnant and are not ready to give up your lifestyle or not financially ready to afford a child or any of a million reasons in modern society for not starting a family, then simply have an abortion and do not let anyone tell you that it is selfish and you are killing a human life. You have your life and your reasons and can think for yourself. Empower yourself and you can always start a family later, when you are ready and after you have had as much fun as you deserve so don’t let it bother you, you are doing the right thing. Anyways, you did not actually plan this pregnancy and have not taken the necessary preparations for having such a burden right now, later when you are settled and have achieved that level and reached your potential, then you will be ready and you can start your family, after all, there is that promotion at work and just think what this would do to your chances of advancing? This reasoning has become so prevalent in societies across the advanced world that as many as half of all pregnancies in those communities result in abortions. This has cut the number of children being born to well below replacement level and those societies are slowly eradicating themselves, some doing so not all that slowly. The greatest occurrence of this style of thinking is plaguing Europe where there are insufficient births to produce the numbers which their society needs to replace the workforce and provide the resources for continuing the healthy operation of the society.

 

Throughout the Western World there has been a steady decline in babies born to each generation placing an ever increasing burden on each individual member of the next generation to provide sufficient taxes to care for the retired from the previous generation who are living longer and longer lives thus demanding more financing to cover their senior benefits. The youth are seeing this burden and realizing that there is no possibility of these benefits being there for them when they retire. Eventually, and more likely sooner rather than later, the youth are going to revolt against this retirement arrangement and might very likely place a cap on the age where people can continue receiving these benefits if they have the ability. The problem they will face is that there will be more people close to or already receiving these benefits for them to be voted out of existence. It really is a self-perpetuating problem. What is the solution? Simple, have more children and stop listening to those who constantly tell you that the planet cannot support that many people because unless an unforeseen widespread disaster were to strike, the earth could produce three times the food simply by bringing modern technology to the areas where farmers are still using what can only be described as primitive methods of farming. The lack of having sufficient children in each generation to at least meet replacement levels is a large part of the societal problem being faced as in order to have the present society function even at the previous generational level there comes a need to allow larger and larger numbers of immigrants often from areas which are less advanced and requiring training to meet the job requirements and permit the continued function of society. Of course the same safety net which was designed for a society with a work ethic which has been lost to too much of modern societies such as those causing the problems in Europe where the native population and its societal norms rapidly becoming the minority and their social norms being replaced by an alien set of societal norms and this is racing to the tipping-point beyond which there will be no turning back.

 

The simplest reason behind the failure of Western society is that it has stopped investing in the future in the most basic manner, offspring. Having children was a directive of religion as part of the concept of be plentiful and multiply. Modern society says experience and enjoy the pleasures and wonders of the plenty the world we have built provides and don’t worry about tomorrow, it will soon be here and yesterday gone, and that is a part of the problem, we allow too many yesterdays to be gone and unalterable and often each generation has experienced life to a later age before having families, so much so that the childbearing years have passed and many couples have one child or even no child. Replacement levels are approximately two and one tenth children per woman in the society. The problem comes when a large portion of the society has under this reproductive replacement rate placing a larger portion for replacement level reproduction on the remaining women making the new replacement level to rise to as high as five children per reproductively active young women.

 

The source of the lack of children in a society comes as a direct result of the ethos of live for today and let tomorrow take care of itself. This is the sirens’ call which combined with the accusation that religion had no place in modern society as science is the new religion and where to turn for our answers. Religion has been belittled as something society has left behind along with all those other superstitions such as the existence of G0d. The claim has become that there is nothing higher than mankind and that we are to be subservient to the newest provider of all freedoms, the all-powerful State. We are no longer to seek the reason for our rights coming from our Creator but from the structures we have placed over us to rule though we continue to retain our right, for the time being, to elect our representatives. The proof of how powerless the individual has become one need not look any further than the numbers of bureaucrats who are tasked to facelessly craft the regulations and actual enforcement codes required allowing for the legislations passed by the Government to be enforceable. The idea for replacing religion with government and the guarantor of our freedoms to the State and not from our Creator the transformation has been completed where the State is now responsible for our freedoms and as such can restrict or even do completely away with any freedoms which are not specifically enumerated as coming from forces outside of government, and even these are being circumvented whenever possible or, at the very least, being defined as coming under enforcement by the State and eventually at the pleasure of the State. This transition changes the society into a social-democratic republic which is based on the rules from man leading to have made our governance under the rule of man more than the rule of law. This eventually leads to a society where there are the elites who see to the definitions of the law and their enforcement and the rest of the society which obeys the regulator’s rules. This is an impossible task as there exist far too many codes, laws and regulations on the books thus causing a situation where if government desires to turn a person, say an individual attempting to change the way the rules are enforced from the rules of men to a more lofty goal of living under the guidance of a higher truth which protects our freedoms making it so that no man is able to take away our rights, such a person threatens the all-powerful State and leads to the State proving the futility of challenging the rule of man which stands over our societies. Still, no matter how difficult it may result in being or how steep the challenge, we need to restore a higher authority for our laws and protector of our individual rights because should one look throughout history we will witness how mere mortal men cannot be trusted to safeguard our individual freedoms as only by claiming and forcing the society into believing that their freedoms are issued by government and thus can be positioned to lord over the rest of the society. As long as we permit the State to define our liberties and freedoms we will remain as slaves to the governing mechanisms and the men who sit faceless meting out regulations and taking or granting those freedoms and liberties which used to claim our Creator as their source as now the State claims that power. We should return and place our faith where it belongs and as much of our coinage cries out, In G0d We Trust and never, ever in man we trust as man is fallible and greedy and G0d is all knowing and all caring. Where would you wish to place your trust, in some unknown and unseen bureaucrat or in the all-seeing and beneficent G0d? I know where I place my future and the future of my family though we also understand that mankind is capable of great strides, they will never reach a point where they are even remotely comparable to the Almighty, praised be His Name and His Glorious Kingdom for the L0rd our G0d, the L0rd is One.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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