Beyond the Cusp

March 18, 2015

Long Night Births Hard Questions on Israeli Election Results

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With virtually all the votes counted we have the preliminary picture but the lines are fuzzy and the results produce more questions than answers. Likud is leading the pact with 29 seats with the “Zionist Camp” of Labor and Hatnua following with 24 and the Joint Arab List has 14 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 11, Kulanu with 10, Jewish Home has 8, the Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism tied at 7, Yisrael Beytenu has 6 and Meretz closes out the list with 4 seats and unfortunately Yachad party will be left out. The raw numbers would indicate a huge win for Netanyahu and loss for the “Zionist Camp” falling well behind due to Likud exceeding its lower polling and Labor-Hatnua equaling expectations. A closer look reveals where the Likud came by its higher numbers and it appears that Likud gains came at the expense of largely Jewish Home and potentially prevented Yachad from making threshold. The other obvious change has been that instead of preventing the fragmentation and reducing the number of minor parties the raising of the threshold only served to drive the smaller leftist, anti-Zionist Communist and Post=Modernist parties into a single block under the name of Arab Block and given them two to three additional mandates making Zoabi and Tibi appear all the stronger. These raw results are meaningless until the different parties, unions and blocks make their desires and support clear to President Rivlin producing a clearer picture who should be given first shot at forming a coalition.


The raw data would make Likud out to be the victor and to the victor go the spoils, but what spoils? The name of the game is coalition making and hopefully doing so with in kind minds and supporters of your positions. This means that any seats gained by Likud at the expense of Jewish Home makes the resultant total possessed by the two presumed to be allied parties no different and all the Likud gains from Jewish Home losses as simply rearranging the chairs on either a cruise ship or the Titanic. The truth is that Netanyahu does not really want the religious, Zionist, nationalist allied parties to be the base of his support when forming his coalition. Netanyahu wants to have as much political leeway allowing him to go in whatever direction provides him with the easiest path in the new government. By Netanyahu weakening the standing of Jewish Home, when forming any coalition now would make Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu parties more important and carrying a greater influence than Jewish Home and making Naftali Bennett’s voice virtually powerless and squelched while Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon will be the roaring lions in the government and also place them ahead of Jewish Home in choosing the Ministerial position of power in the cabinet. This will give Netanyahu the leftward freedom to ignore the demands of the Religious Zionists as he desired. Netanyahu’s ploy of assailing Jewish Home voters laying any loss he might face to Hertzog and Livni at their feet just as he had done previously except this time he did so with no apparent loss in voter totals that he faced in 2013.


So now we wait and see who will be chosen to form a coalition first and then suffer through six weeks of excruciatingly boring power plays which we already see Jewish Home and the Zionist and nationalists being mostly sidelined while the personal aggrandizing Yesh Atid and Kulanu parties empowering Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon loudly impressing their demands and thus control over the most critical areas in the next government. Lapid may demand Treasury Minister for himself and two other high position Ministerial position for his main people with Kahlon likely to demand Foreign Minister or Defense Minister and two other major Ministerial positions for his list leaving Jewish Home with second pickings of the scraps for the supporting members and a middle level leftover for Naftali Bennett. The one certainty is that the governing coalition will not be the nationalist, Zionist government that Netanyahu once again ran on but will once again claim he is prevented from pursuing due to the lack of support from, you guessed it, a weakened and ineffectual Jewish Home. As long as the religious Zionists fall for the Netanyahu cry after running a weak campaign making the certainty of his returning to the Prime Ministership a definitive possibility from the polls and then turning to the supporters of Jewish Home and the other ardent Zionist parties to vote Likud to stave off the leftist challenge then Jewish Home will be forever the bridesmaid and never the bride. Eventually the leader, be it Bennett or be it his successor or beyond down the road, assuming there is a down the road, decides to challenge and present Jewish Home as the new leadership for Israel, Netanyahu will continue to utilize this ploy of siphoning off the votes of those more Zionist than Netanyahu desires to govern with and neutering those Zionist parties from where Netanyahu glides to victory with the stolen support, then the real Zionist political power will remain neutered and voiceless in the future Likud Party led governments. For now we must wait and see what develops but be warned that the expectations of the ardent Zionists have once again been sacrificed to the Bibi and thus lower expectations are their feed in the coming government. The other reality is that it appears that Netanyahu will require Yair Lapid and his treasonous backstabbing to permit a coalition to be cobbled together, so expect new elections again in two or so years when Lapid again sees a wounded Netanyahu for his actions such as the silent building freeze or whatever other sacrifices made presumably in response to a powerful United States President Obama in order to salvage continued friendship from the White House. Anybody else notice that it is only Israel who needs to obey and bow to the will of Obama? Can bowing to golden calves or worse be far behind?


Beyond the Cusp


June 6, 2014

Signs to Look for as News Breaks About Bowe Bergdahl

Sargent Bowe Bergdahl whose release was attained at the formidable cost of freeing five members of Taliban senior leadership who will most definitely reenter their chosen field as fighters for Islam and Allah by whatever means proves necessary. That is the easy to swallow result. What is somewhat more dispiriting is that these were leaders who are very capable at recruiting and training others to assist in their Jihadist dreams. Often releasing five terrorists might result in an increase in terrorist acts proportional to adding five terrorists to the available pool and perhaps slightly more depending on the proficiency and capabilities of the released terrorists, after all, they were captured which might question their actual effectiveness. These were not run of the mill trooper from within the Jihadist Army of Islam; these were commanders, leadership, the planers and organizers. This release will have a multiplied if not exponential effect and will signify a great increase in potential for terrorist attacks as well as increasing the abilities to facilitate offensive military style operations being executed far more efficiently by the Taliban which means greater accessibility for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the remote tribal areas of Pakistan. All of this is a given and apparently was considered an acceptable and allowable increase in risks going forward in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. Somebody more cynical might point out that President Obama and the American military men and women do not need to be all that concerned as they will have packed up their gear and left Afghanistan before the ramifications of this trade take full and forceful effect. Be that as it may, what will be in the Afghan future is something that most in the United States will be willing to ignore once their troops have disengaged and been restationed preferably back home.


The big issue back in the United States is exactly who Sargent Bowe Bergdahl really is and what the real situation behind his being captured by, or joining with, the Taliban over five years ago truly was. As often becomes the case where there may be embarrassing truths which could bring difficulties onto the President of the United States, especially when these instances include items which are capable and likely to be handled solely by the military, the truth will never be fully revealed, at least not for as long as anybody aligned with the power structure of the present White House retain any amount of effective influence. This leaves the public to wonder and try to ascertain for themselves by whatever tantalizing bits of information may get leaked or given to the press and also more by those things that were expected to occur but did not happen. The latter will likely be the most revealing source but such requires the ever dangerous jumping to conclusions. Should no hearings be held by the Congress and the military investigation which is inevitable considering the rumors and purported information which leaves so many questions as to the events surrounding Sargent Bergdahl’s capture appear to be overtly secretive and of a very brief nature without any charges filed against Sargent Bergdahl, then the public should be very suspicious. Should Sargent Bergdahl then leave the service soon after the investigation then it would not be beyond reason to believe that there was an agreement that Sargent Bergdahl would simply resign or not reenlist and quietly go off into public life never to speak about the issues surrounding the entire series of events, suspecting the worst would be prudent and very probably valid. Should the departure of Sargent Bergdahl without any trial or disciplinary actions and then a blank wall of silence appear to have been erected completely around the incidents and those who should have answers refuse to comment and act as if there was never any suspicious events around the capture of Sargent Bergdahl, there is a high likelihood that we will have witnessed a grand sweeping under the rug of some very embarrassing truths. What will be more difficult to determine is whether what is being protected are members and protocols within the military or the White House and the actions and motivations of the President. An example of minimalization of an obviously horrific event and its rooting in terror which has been drawn-out to the point of being forgotten and was mischaracterized as “workplace violence” is the still ongoing trial of military psychologist Major Nidal Malik Hasan. How long will the American populace be able and have the desire to press for the truth behind Sargent Bergdahl and the events leading to his capture and the reasons for the exchange for his release. After all, with Justin and Molly and the Kardashians, not to mention Hillary’s latest best seller hitting the stands and topping the New York Times Best Seller list and Oprah interviewing Hillary, there is so much that is far more tantalizing coming down the pike to worry about the sad story of one soldier in Afghanistan, we’re leaving there, aren’t we?


Now, if there is an actual Courts Martial trial, be it General or lesser Courts Martial, then we can feel assured that there exists some damning evidence that was so far beyond the system’s capability to ignore and even the White House was unable to bury the whole story. If Courts Martial charges are brought against Sargent Bergdahl, then it is very possible this could be one of the shortest trials in military history. The main reason behind the holding of a trial would be because the military decided that the actions of Sargent Bergdahl were so obscene and over the top and the price paid in lives and efforts initially when trying to locate and “rescue” him immediately after his disappearance, or walking off his post, were deemed necessarily to demand payment by the guilty person or persons. The military would be pursuing something which would conceivably reflect poorly on their Commander in Chief, who maybe could have dithered a little longer on this choice, and the price and seriousness of the ramifications from Sargent Bergdahl’s actions overrode any consideration of the consequences for the President. So, a Courts Martial would be the worst case scenario and would signify extreme misconduct that was beyond the pale and such a trial deemed unavoidable all things considered. Somewhat less suspicious but still signifying that there was sufficient amount of misdeeds or suspicions of such deeds with strong evidence behind them, that would be Sargent Bergdahl leaving his military service within days, possibly hours, after he is released from the hospital and returns to a base within the United States. A lesser indication of suspicions of guilt would be if Sargent Bergdahl was refused reenlistment when his current tour ends. This would be a simple divorce for irreconcilable differences. Only if there is a hearing or a trail and Sargent Bergdahl was found innocent of all charges, and all suspicions were to be explained with the record set straight with Sargent Bergdahl continuing to serve and hopefully in an exemplary manner and with distinction then he should be considered innocent by even the most skeptical among us. As much as this would be the most preferable result, somehow it does not appear it has any possibility of being the results we will witness. In many ways the likeliest result will probably be a quick and clean divorce and Sargent Bergdahl will simply be allowed to quietly depart from service within weeks and under the understanding that he never speak of the events under penalty of charges being levied against him and the full force of the military enforcement system brought to bear against him. The worst case scenario would be if for political reasons and in an attempt to embarrass the President, members of Congress force a very public investigation attempting to make front page headlines at the expense of the reputation of the United States military simply by association. Any highly publicized investigation with the aim of proving bad judgment by the White House would result in further polarizing of the American populace which has already been torn apart enough by so many other highly charged and often manufactured stories over everything from cakes for gay weddings to accusations of racial basis for opposing policies proposed by the White House. In many ways and for the peace within American society I hope the accusations over how Sargent Bergdahl came to be held by the Taliban is resolved with quiet efficiency and still departs a fair measure of justice if and where necessary, be it against Sargent Bergdahl or against his accusers. Somehow I bet this will not be resolved quietly or quickly but we can still hope for fair and justly.


Beyond the Cusp


June 3, 2014

America Starts Down the Slippery Slope

The standing order the industrialized western world once stood solidly and uniformly behind was the ideal which forbid the negotiation with terrorists and especially not to negotiate the trade of prisoners no matter who was held by the terrorists. This was the position that was initially taken because of the rash of hijackings of passenger aircraft. President Obama just stepped away from this principle by trading five Taliban prisoners who were some of their top leaders and trainers for one American soldier. The fact that he did not follow the set procedure and notify the Congress of the trade and receive their agreement will prove to be the least of the ramifications down the road, or should I say further down the slippery slope. Today the President of the United States traded five terror leaders for one soldier and now before too much longer the United States will end up offering hundreds or even thousands of terrorists for a single soldier or possibly just to be granted an audience in order to pretend to negotiate a peace which all know cannot be reached. How can I predict this? Easy, Israel started trading three terrorists for a single soldier and within a couple of decades Israel traded over a thousand terrorists for Gilad Shalit, and even worse, they agreed under pressure from the United States government to offer over a hundred terrorists just to sit and be insulted in what was recognized by all from the start to be a farce dressed up as a peace process. Israel had held out for years before finally breaking their policy of never ever to negotiate with terrorists. How did Israel end up starting to negotiate with terrorists? The same way other western nations ended up agreeing to negotiate with terrorists, it seemed like the necessary and right thing to do at the time. Once Israel had negotiated the first time with terrorists the barrage became inevitable and was helped along when some Israelis bought onto the idea that negotiations could be carried on with Yasser Arafat and the PLO as long as they took another name for the sake of negotiations, thus was born the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his willingness to be transformed from one of the world’s terrorist leaders into an advocate for peace. Of course Yasser Arafat actually had not changed; just the honors and treatment he was to be granted by the western nations changed and the blind spot they developed in order to continue that farce only grew with time. That very same blind spot grew sufficiently that it now conceals the terrorist heart beating in Mahmoud Abbas.


The transformation from never negotiating with terrorists to trading a thousand plus terrorist prisoners for a single soldier and even offering to trade over one hundred terrorist prisoners in exchange for false peace talks took a simple matter of a few decades at most and might happen almost instantly by comparison as the United States will be traversing a path already paved by Israel making the transition that much the easier. The giving of an inch and compromising what had been initially presented as an unalterable, cast in iron policy and shattering that policy and principle has been done so completely that it can never be reassembled with anywhere near as little effort. Transgressing principle the first time is often unbelievably stressful and difficult but once transgressed, the principle will take near beyond insurmountable climb to reclaim and reestablish, especially that those who are the opposition will hold the controlling position as back down and folding once simply makes the enemy redouble their efforts to push to shatter the next principle and then the next as once they break the first ring, the center, the heart becomes the target and the susceptibility of your heart makes it perilously endangered. So, America is now one giant additional step closer to fulfilling the promise made by President Obama during his first campaign; to fundamentally transform the United States of America. This begs the question of how long before President Obama makes good on the second most ominous of his campaign promises, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Oh, never mind, he just did that one today so that makes two in a row. At this rate he might keep every promise he has ever made by Labor Day. I guess the dreams of hope and change are finally on course to be realized now that President Obama does not have to face the electorate ever again. Or at least we can hope he never faces another election to any office.


Beyond the Cusp


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