Beyond the Cusp

August 11, 2016

Trump Paranoia Trumps Trump Facts

 

There were three articles this past week by two of my favorite reads and that struck me as a tad bit obsessive, so I decided I would be a little obsessive myself and write about Trump again and all too soon. The first item I wish to present are the recent polls showing Hillary Clinton defeating The Donald 50% to 39% with 7% going to the Libertarian Party candidate and the rest to the Green Party. The fact that these two were included in the poll and the Constitution Party was not was indicative of seeking every presumably mainstream viable candidates despite us all knowing that Donald Duck had as good if not better chance than the Libertarian and Green Party candidates of winning the elections, especially this year where more will be pressed to write in a Disney or Peanuts character. Still, it seems somewhat difficult to believe that Hillary Clinton gained nearly 8% points while Donald Trump lost around 3% in a single week, but then again this is an election like few others. The last time anything remotely similar came down the pike the United States elected James K. Polk as their President and that may have had more to do with the opponent’s campaign theme stating, “Who the hell is James K. Polk.” Perhaps there is something to be said for getting your name out before the public even if it is your opponent ridiculing your obscurity. Perhaps if Henry Clay had ran advertisements with his name instead of his opponent’s he would have won the election and nobody would ever have heard of James K. Polk, but he didn’t and so we now know that Polk was the eleventh President of the United States. But enough about then, this is now and we have a completely different problem as both the candidates are well known, maybe a little too well known.

 

James K, Polk and Henry Clay

James K, Polk and Henry Clay

 

Just a quick aside to those who feel I write too often about Trump and appear to be ignoring Ms. Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s shortfalls and misdeeds are more than well-known and her record stands as it is for better or for worse. Thus far she has not been indicted, but not for lack of trying. Some would claim that much of the effort has been spent finding reasons and ways not to charge her with crimes; many might say far too much effort. The one item which might be of interest is that there are no laws which preclude being President and giving all your State of the Union addresses from the Prison library. Imprisonment does not disqualify one from being elected President and would only prevent them from serving past a few weeks if the Congress brought charges of impeachment and a guilty finding removing her from office. Without an impeachment conviction from Congress there is no reason a President could not serve two terms as President while serving a long term in even Federal Prison, though such would be unlikely.

 

The most echoed complaint about Donald Trump has been his sophomoric attitudes and overindulgence of self-adoration. Then there is the further claim that he tends to go off on tangents and wild exclamations in response to what should be serious answers to serious questions. He takes criticism as if it was an attack on his being and returns as he perceives he has received. All of these are packaged in different orders of severity and then summarily referred to as disqualifying him to hold the office of President. Character faults, ignorance, self-adoration and aloofness are also not disqualifications to the office of President. Actually, there are very few actual qualifications to be President and none of them have much to do with intelligence, education, good character or even literacy. So, no matter how disqualified many of us believe one or the other, if not both, candidates put up by the two major parties may appear to be, let us assure you that both are technically as qualified as one need be to be elected President. So the next time you read a column claiming either candidate is unqualified to be President be assured that you are reading an editorial opinion and not a fact.

 

One of the other favorite reasons which make Trump a poor choice to be President, we have read, is that he will have his finger on the button, or more accurately direct access to a list of launch codes for different scenarios, which in and of themselves would likely take a week of briefings for any normal human being to master, and that would pose too dangerous a position to allow such a shallow and unserious person who seems more drawn to the adulation of the office than the actual performance of the duties to be permitted to access. Luckily, Donald Trump is likely not the buffoon he has been playing thus far on the campaign trail and likely is aware, as are many pundits though they are want to admit, the real campaign as far as some 80% of the voting public are concerned does not begin until the second or third week of April and everything before that is grist for the political mill, and Donald is giving the mill all it can handle. He will not even start spending in earnest as those paying attention now have already decided and picked their preferred poison. This is definitely going to be an election decided in the final two weeks and everything before is trimming hanging in the hall. If Trump is going to become serious as promised, do not expect this new Donald until the end of September as he will give the media a week or two of introductions before refining it for the final push when the election truly will be decided. Trump is not the fool he appears to be playing as you do not even hold on to a fortune as a fool and if half his claims are valid he has done rather well in his investments despite the media concentrating on those that went bust. Ask any true investor and one of their likely favorite quotes comes from Edison who claimed his success came from not allowing failures to deter him but only to show him another thing which would not work.

 

Donald Trump having the access codes for nuclear weapons is not giving a baby dynamite and matches and leaving them in the quarry to play. He is no more prone to starting a nuclear exchange on his Presidential whim than most of us, though there are some who might have doubts about that. Further, after two or three days in office Donald Trump will be disabused of any thoughts that he was just elected to the cushiest job on the planet. Those days will be spent receiving the most serious reality check conceivable as he is briefed by the CIA, Military Intelligence, FBI, NSA and a number of agencies neither he nor we have ever heard of and what he will learn would turn the hair on a peach white. I am fairly sure such reports and truths about the realities in the deepest recesses within our world, which most of us are not privileged to know, unequivocally and in the starkest terms would serve to alter even Donald Trump shaking all he believed he knew about the world in which we reside. Even things deduced by the fiercest news addict would take the wind from Trumps antics and bring him crashing back to be grounded in what is real and presented before him. Add to this the fact that he will have appointed people who are well known for expertise in the workings and situations around the world, people whose worlds most of us would never care to share if we were informed as many of these experts reside in day in and day out. The only two Presidents in since even before World War I who were likely not even the slightest surprised when they received their initial briefings would have been President Dwight David Eisenhower, as he had just finished commanding the allied efforts in Europe and pretty much knew many of the troublesome areas as he was living them, and President George H. W. Bush (the elder), as he had been head of the CIA formerly and Vice-President and probably trusted and included in many of the Presidential briefings thus knew most of what any briefing upon taking office was going to contain. There are very good reasons why the Presidency tends to age the men holding the office so visibly, and these are reasons which most of us would just as well not be made privileged to as it would remove any doubt about the shape of the world and threats held within.

 

There is also the truth that Donald Trump has presented defining core beliefs which are placed on his campaign website though for detractors it is far easier to challenge the Trump buffoonery he has shown the media, especially those in the media seeking to discredit him. Baiting the mainstream media has been one of the games that Donald Trump has played largely for his own amusement as he is just as aware as are we that there would be no pleasing the leftist media pundits and if he were to treat their questions seriously they would likely ask him when he planned to stop beating his wife and if he answered it the headline would read, ‘Trump Beats his Wife,’ or ‘Trump Refuses to Stop Beating Wife.’ That would be the reality of much of the reporting as we have already witnessed; so with these tricksters and gamers out there laying traps for him to fall into, and he has fallen for more than his supporters wish he had forcing them to defend the undefendable, why even treat their ‘interrogatories with any degree of respect and seriousness when all they exist for are for Trump to take them on seriously and then they report the choicest morsels strung together out of context and in an order often expressing the opposite or things never uttered by Donald Trump. We will not even deign to give any examples as doing so would also serve to send our readers into the darker corners of the liberal, leftist media and all its machinations. Suffice it to say, Donald Trump is giving a show for the pure entertainment factor as he realizes the media is trying to game him, so why not play along and game the gamers. Trump has his positions defined, as we linked to above, but that is not what the media wishes to cover or expose to the light of day. Informing the American public that Trump has serious positions, which anybody can go and read for themselves, is not what their coverage is about, theirs is to destroy all veracity and support behind Donald Trump such that their darling, Hillary Clinton, wins the election by hook or by crook come November. This is also why we will witness more and more polls showing Hillary Clinton pulling away eventually predicting a landslide win for Hillary Clinton all in an effort to suppress Trump voters from even going to the polls on election day.

 

Presidential Rivals Not So Different on Far Too Many Positions

Presidential Rivals Not So Different
on Far Too Many Positions

 

It should not surprise anybody with an ounce of integrity who has experienced even the slightest glimpse into how the media operates and the extents the state with all of its power even to include court challenges which even if fought and won would take those proceedings past election day thus accomplishing the goal of hiding true democratic choices openly to the public. The reality is the fix is in that there are but two parties and that the United States has a two party system. Check your Constitution and you will not find anywhere a limit to the number of parties permitted in American political theater. There have been elections thrown to Congress to sort things out as none of the candidates, sometimes more than even just three, reached the required number of electoral votes to become President and the delegates remained locked. Four candidates, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford and Henry Clay, had originally campaigned for the presidency in 1823-24 and each man had the unyielding support base generally reflected the geographic region from which each came. Further confusing the election of 1823-4 was the fact that all four candidates claimed to represent the same party, the Democratic-Republican Party. Who said there had to be more than one party for controversy and more than a single candidate for the office of the President? Numerous Presidential elections have included more than two parties and others have had one party nominate and run two candidates in order to win differing states with neither candidate strong enough overall. This seldom made any difference as fielding two candidates proved to almost always throw the election to the other party. This in and of itself as well as the destructive antics of people such a Teddy Roosevelt running with his own Bull Moose Party simply because he did not win his party’s nomination which simply weakened his former party’s position splitting their vote and throwing the election to their mutual opposition. Often such splits worked to divide but not conquer as that divide was most apparent on the side of the third party candidate taking votes from their former and natural party leaving their mutual opponent the electoral victory.

 

The finality is this claim that the only fact which supports a Trump receiving anybody’s vote is due to their distaste for Hillary Clinton. This is an insult to the true supporters of Donald Trump though these pundits would also claim that the average Trump supporter is too ignorant or lacking in intelligence to understand that they had been insulted; simply piling on now, aren’t we. What makes the claims against Donald Trump appear to be greater than their support base is directly due to elitist and Republican hierarchy who detest Donald Trump and are ashamed of his candidacy representing their party, a party they believe deserves better than Donald Trump. If these people are pushed, the reality surfaces and we find that these are the very elitists and establishment Republicans who gave the electorate John McCain and Mitt Romney, both wonderful men with lots of talent and capable of being an outstanding President except they are centrist candidates more popular with the party leadership than its people. This is where Trump can claim his right to the nomination as he defeated all the centrist elites’ candidates and the other conservative darlings even once it became evident that the race was finally between two men, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, neither very popular with the Republican upper crust leadership who were left wondering where they went wrong. That has an easy answer, they were fully behind repeating every mistake of the last two elections and the people decided otherwise. One needs look no further than the campaign funding of the candidates. Initially all money was bet on Jeb Bush. He crashed and burned early. Then the money went to Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and others except for Trump. Donald Trump was the red haired, freckled step child nobody wanted left to grow up in a political orphanage but Trump took to the mean streets, like the ones in New York where he was raised. He then proceeded to battle the entire power structure of the Republican Party, the party he was attempting to garner the support for his candidacy for President. Somehow this proved the best path to tread as this was the year of the outsider. Yep, the year of the outsider and the primaries gave us the two main candidates having over 50% negatives for both in polling and two as connected monetarily deeply in the establishment of either party. That was the one truth evident in the 1823-4 elections, when carefully examined there is still only one party which could be called the Democratic-Republican Party even today. The main difference is that the Clintons have always been in the midst of the political mainstream and elites on the left while Donald Trump can actually be viewed as an outsider despite his campaign contributions, which he made often equally to each party, which were pay to play contributions so Donald could always claim he had supported either candidate dependent on his access to whatever approvals his next project will be required. That is the reality of how business need operate in order to not become subservient to either party and especially to their politics.

 

So, what can we say about Donald Trump and the fears he exudes to so many pundits and other commentary of these elections? Much of the fear is simply the media attempting to play on other people’s fears which can be largely traced back to early losses by favorite candidates such a Jeb Bush, likely the candidate with the moneyed support and who was considered, according to the media, to be the established leader which should have read the establishment’s candidate whose sole fear is that they have nothing truly behind them but the moneyed leadership whose sum total is greater in dollars compared to numbers of supporters. Such proved too deep a hole to get oneself extricated no matter what the monetary reserves contained. This was proven time after time where some even threw their hat in the ring supporting others who remained to fight a better fight but each failed until Trump and not-Trump remained the two standing candidates. Candidates other than Donald Trump were no longer gaining supporters as much as they were gaining people desperate to prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination making him their candidate for President. Even now after the convention and every last ditch efforts having failed are seeking to find some way of placing a favorite son in every state to deny Trump winning in every state where this may become an accomplished reality. What these panicked elitists of the party are missing in their calculations is that if they prevent Trump winning some state all they have accomplished is electing Hillary Clinton as she will win such states handily. So, those opposed to having Hillary Clinton for their President had best find some reason they can latch upon in order to place Donald Trump into the White House. The one advantage this year had brought is both of the party candidates will desire looking truly knowledgeable in most areas desperately seeking any bump they can garner. It still remains to be seen exactly where the youths’ votes will fall at the end of the day. Another crucial area which bears watching, as it will be a vital and necessary component if Donald Trump hopes to be competitive, is the trending of the voting for married women, a demographic to both be voting on Election Day and supporting Trump in sufficient percentages. This one vital demographic is and has been the biggest question mark in the Trump equation, married women, especially those with a college education, and whether they will vote in sufficiently high percentages as well as vote Trump overwhelmingly. Without this demographic a Trump victory appears shaky and in jeopardy. Of course that is if polling is to be believed. Possibly the most manufactured and profoundly wrong segment of the entire election might turn out to be how little polling can be an accurate gauge of public opinions in this new digital world. One poll may prove to be the most accurate of them all are those based on social media, Twitter in particular. We will have to wait and see while keeping in the back of our minds that the pundits have sold Donald Trump nearly every step of the way. They have raised questions on his origins, intelligence, seriousness, knowledgeability, competence, skill set and any other quality which could be used to berate, belittle and otherwise oppose his candidacy and Trump has proven them wrong at every turn. The question now is whether he can do this one more time in November.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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March 7, 2015

The United States Lost Republic to Democracy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

December 17, 2014

Has the World Gone Crazy? Government Wants to Look and See

 

Thus far this week we have witnessed too many instances of violence from all across the globe with none of it making much sense. There was the taking of hostages in a small eatery in Australia with a wannabe ISIS crazy who amongst his demands insisted on talking to the Prime Minister of the country. There was a Taliban raid on a Pakistani school murdering innocent children with the count approaching one-hundred-fifty and nearly countless more reportedly in area hospitals, let’s pray it does not exceed that number. The United States did not miss out as a former Marine went on a killing spree in Philadelphia northwestern suburb in Pennsylvania murdering his ex-wife and her sister, mother, grandmother and two children of the sister as well as shooting and injuring the sister’s husband. These, as with too many murders reported unfortunately almost daily, are the actions of disturbed minds or people blinded beyond sanity by their cause will remain beyond our ability to understand. Where the twisted reasoning behind any murder may be beyond the ability of our ability to discern and understand, efforts should continue to see if any discerning and identifying character traits or other determining actions and indicators can be discovered such that in the future some of these grisly events can be prevented. We will probably never have the ability to prevent every time somebody goes beyond all societal norms and commits some act of violence tearing a hole in society as a whole.

 

The question we as societies will need to answer is how far are we to permit law enforcement to go both in their abilities to collect information and survey public or even private areas in order to prevent crimes and provide a higher level of safety in their efforts to circumvent crimes, especially crimes of violence. There are already increasing usages for cameras and sound detection equipment in cities throughout the world with London taking the lead as the most surveyed city with sound detectors and cameras placed throughout so that they can see virtually every area of the streets, river, shopping centers, service alleys and probably the darkest recesses and corners throughout the city. Surveillance carried out to such an extent combined with the advancing artificial intelligence advances in computer technology including facial recognition software, gait detection and profiling which will lead to computers monitoring the entirety of these cameras and potentially adding the microphones so that they can discern every spoken word and conversation using software collating the data in order to alert police to suspected criminal acts they determine are imminent. The police would be directed in the hope that their mere presence would prevent the crime and to interdict any criminal act as soon as it occurs or prevent any violent action intervening at the predicted moment such violence might occur. It would be a virtual future crime system used as deterrence and placing police exactly where they might be needed moments before any criminal act. For crimes such as theft or a holdup such a system would likely deter many criminals but then how far would such a system be empowered. Would they use such a system to determine the name of a person crossing a street in other than a designated crosswalk and send them a summons or ticket just as speed cameras and red light cameras do in many cities currently? Such a system would potentially provide a huge increase in revenue which could potentially completely finance the entire police department.

 

If placing cameras and listening devices all throughout our cities and towns is acceptable, then what if the government decides to go further? It would start with a program where the government would give people payment if they were permitted to add any monitoring cameras and sound devices people currently had in their homes and businesses. The program would begin innocently and be voluntary so what would be the harm, people could simply say they have no interest and such a program might make others who would be unable to afford an alarm system with cameras and twenty-four hour monitoring and such a program would be enabling more homes to be monitored and kept safe. What argument could be made that this was not a good thing and it is still voluntary, right? Then the government would eventually see this as now a right they could extend as were not most of the people who had systems voluntarily opting to join the government subsidy. Anyways, anybody now refusing the government mandated monitoring systems and the government including these systems in their extensive monitoring would be proof that you have something to hide. The thing is such a demand would not be instituted until the vast majority of the public had already agreed to this monitoring by the government and nobody had been adversely affected, so where is the harm in government placing monitoring in every home. Such monitoring would keep homes safe from burglaries while people were at work and where would be the harm? There was a time when people would only accept a ticket if it was written by an officer who had witnessed their exceeding the speed limit or running a red light. Nobody would accept a ticket from a camera radar trap and receiving one would result in their going to court and demanding to confront their accuser. Initially this defense was accepted by the courts and then the city council allowed for a regulation, or even passed a law in some instances, that made these tickets legal and no longer permitted the defense of demanding to confront your accuser and thus no judge would accept that defense. It has become common for camera evidence to be considered superior to an eye witness’s testimony. Add facial recognition and cameras can be utilized to identify people beyond any reasonable doubt in most courts. Where these automated law enforcement technologies will end is anybody’s guess. The camera and the microphones are just the tip of the coming iceberg as we can expect explosives detection systems placed in sensitive areas or places where large crowds are expected to form such as malls, ballparks, amusement parks, concerts, fairs and special events as well as whatever devices and data gathering system which have yet to be developed. Many of the larger ports and other commercial shipping and mass travel systems including trains, planes and ships have detection equipment which checks the luggage or shipping containers as well as magnetometers to check the people while visual checks are made of carryon luggage and bags. These detection devices are simply a computerized version of using a dog or other trained animal and currently almost as reliable and their evidence is acceptable in a court as sufficient evidence for permitting an officer to search and arrest any person refusing the search in order to search the person once in custody.

 

There are numerous types of surveillance equipment with abilities which would astound the average person readily available to police departments should they care to make the outlay funds to purchase such devices. There is equipment which can listen to a conversation simply by placing an invisible laser onto any window to the room which the conversation of interest is being held. This technology has progressed to the point that one would need to cover the window with sound dampening screens or external cover such as aluminum storm shutters. There are systems which can see through walls with amazing detail capability. There are systems being researched which will allow governments to monitor people in ways they likely never imagined. People can be tracked by tracking their cell phones. Using your cell phone a person can be located to within ten feet and their cell phone can be activated to listen to any noises or conversations within the ability of the microphone to detect. Even the cell phone camera can be activated though such is often not very revealing as if the phone is in a purse or pocket the video will not reveal much. There are ways to monitor people’s computer usage as long as their computer is linked to a network which has internet connection active or if the computer itself is connected to the internet. The invasions of our privacy which government can potentially utilize if they wish to monitor our lives covertly are astounding and place every individual potentially in a very compromised position even without their knowledge. These are simply implications of the modern world we all reside within. But then in a world where many of us post even intimate information about ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Vine and others, why would many of us complain or have any problem with the government monitoring our daily activities. Perhaps the government could start their own social media site and simply put videos of some of the craziest things they monitored and maybe also the top ten crimes of the day. The one prediction which can be made safely is that privacy is a quaint idea whose definition is growing ever smaller with every passing new technology. Perhaps any legal definition claiming that we have unalienable rights to privacy, that our homes are inviolable or that our papers, effects and private information are secure from search or seizure without a court order, summons or warrant are simply cute little ideas whose potential possibility is nil in our high-tech world where information rules and those who can best gather information rule. In simpler terms, if one wishes to have privacy they best be prepared to make a sizeable effort to assure that their desire has been attained. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Perhaps this could be adapted to modern times where we add that not only is eternal vigilance is the price of liberty but also the price for personal privacy from government. It could be argued that privacy is necessary to have liberty and to have real freedom. To be honest, it is rightly well worth the effort and allows one to sleep better each night.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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