Beyond the Cusp

September 4, 2016

Foundations of Pay to Play

 

The Clinton Foundation, or should we call it the Clinton’s Fundnation, where donations of varying sizes were deposited often in direct correlation to the length of time they were granted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Well, not all the visits with Secretary of State Clinton were linked to contributions to the Clinton Foundation; some were linked to very impressive payments for speeches by one former President William Jefferson Clinton. Of course we are told that there is no smoking gun or definitive proof or actual links, well, provable links. It is remarkable the degree to which far too many highly placed law enforcement agencies and individuals voluntarily develop tunnel vision. It is a miracle they can drive a car safely with such obstructed eyesight. Yet the news has been filled with reports about the horrors and downright dastardly practices and unconscionable business relations which apparently have plagued Donald Trump over the years. We can only assume that previously law enforcement and business oversight and enforcement departments have suffered an equal measure of tunnel vision when it came to policing the business deals of Donald Trump. Of course the surprising item is the lack of law suits brought against Donald Trump if so many of his business dealings were actually as fraudulent as we have been led to believe. There was one business venture though which truly could have qualified as fraudulent had it actually made the guarantees or promises claimed by the media, and that was Trump University. Fortunately for Donald Trump the only actual guarantees given by Trump University were that one might be able to benefit and enrich themselves with the lessons and they would receive a diploma and a picture of them with the facsimile of Donald Trump. The picture with the cardboard Mr. Trump was only worth slightly less than the wisdom one might have gleaned from the lessons. So, there has seemingly been loads of the blind leading the blind in law enforcement around both Presidential candidates if the media reporting on one and the claims of ignoring direct evidence on the other are to be believed. This leads to one big question, which one is the least crooked and least seriously soaked in criminal behavior and thus the lesser choice to be President.

 

I know what you’re thinking, where am I going with this and that I sure started with some twisted and tortured lack of logic. Well, why should editorial commentary here be any less confusing and in the dark than the rest of the media? If you answer is because you have come to expect better, then thank you for your confidence and read on, it will hopefully be worth your time. The problem is that far too many of the politicians are crooked as a broken and twisted ancient oak tree with the varieties of corruption, insider trading (which is actually legal for members of Congress and the members of the Administration of the President), bought and paid for political hacks, politician turned lobbyist and other crimes of unimaginable complexity and criminal behavior obvious even to the most casual of observers which reach out from the rotting central core of the political tree in the ever outward reaching branches seeking new and more imaginable ways to deceive and steal. Are there some politicians who are clean, respectable and trusted to work for their electorate? Astonishingly, yes. Unfortunately they are also the politicians shunned by the opposition party and their own party and unfortunately cannot seem to get together on issues due to their different beliefs and political orientations. If only there were some means of getting the true representatives of the people to work to clean up the rest of the political quagmire, that would be simply grand. Unfortunately most of the truly honest representatives of the people fall into one of a few categories, socialists even bordering on communist, religious conservatives often referred to as the religious right, and the true believers of causes which are as varied as often separate be the narrowest of degrees yet still chasing mutually exclusive dreams as one can paint. There are likely more than a dozen of causes which come under the ecological umbrella from save the whales or the seal cubs to save the rain forests as well as stop acid rain who sometimes protest with the save the oceans and even save the polar bears who have been taking care of themselves quite well. Then there are those who want electric cars, hydrogen cell cars, universal transports which take everyone to their destinations, public transport such as busses, light rail or subways and those who want to ban all vehicles which run on petroleum even including aircraft and the rigs without which we would soon have less choices of food and other goods, but that is not their concern. There are some who desire making the United States a Christian based nation where Christianity would become the recognized religion of their state or even the nation. And then there are our favorites, the constitutionalists who simply desire to have the United States return to the limitations intended by the Founding Fathers.

 

Founding Fathers of the United States

Founding Fathers of the United States

 

Those chasing causes, dreams some call them, are probably the least harmful as they are easily predictable and can be clearly understood. The less than honest politicians are also predictable once their motivations and those who own their pocketbook are understood. There are those who have so many positing bribes, sorry, contributions and charitable donations, which work their way back to the politicians through nefarious and twisted paths making them not so obvious. Let us say that a politician or group of politicians receive contributions to their campaigns and to supportive political action committees (PACs) as well as donations to charities or other groups who also contribute to the election campaigns where all this cash finds its way back to the politicians and they simply promote a bill which provides funding for some aid package helping the poor or the sick in impoverished nations which in turn buy drugs or food using much of the aid from the United States from those who initially arranged the funding from the varied sources for their campaigns. The twisted paths and the indirect funding leads to crossing the eyes of any investigations such as there is nothing directly untoward making these actions prosecutable. There are thousands of scams which have been operating for more years than any care to admit. Ask historians or political studies professors and one can learn that these problems assisted in the fall of empires past and have predated writing. There are theories about what is the oldest profession and it very well may turn out it was politician and the first politician was the individual who convinced the leader of their clan that they needed a religion and they should be the priest or medicine man or any position which did not require brawn as much as brains. That politicians got to eat without having to hunt as hunting was dangerous and too often the hunting parties came back minus one or more members while priests or medicine men stayed at the camp near the fires and out of the rain.

 

We have come a far way since then and now we have entire echelons of politicians in layers upon layers doing all sorts of functions. But in modern society the politician is not the greatest menace, just the most efficient ones where the greatest concentration of money can be found. The menace are those faceless individuals who sit in offices and cubicles making up rules and regulations and even law in some instances when directed to flesh out legislation which is all too often loosely written and paints broad swipes leaving room for interpretations and that leads to mischief. There was a temporary position a number of years back which was referred to as the Regulations Czar whose lead individual was Cass Sunstein known officially as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget. The position was directed to review laws and legislation from the last fifty years or so and define or formulate new regulations which could be enacted with a special emphasis to use these reviews to enact and formulate regulations supporting policies the Administration was having difficulty passing through Congress. How many thousands of additional regulations were discovered hiding in laws recent or ancient we probably will never discern. Things have gotten to a choking point with the numbers of regulations, requirements and other rules holding an equivalence of laws that the average citizen cannot be expected to even have knowledge of the extents and depth of what is considered illegal and can place one on the wrong side of the law in court. The sad truth is difficult to put one’s arms around but be it the United Statesor be it Briton or any nation in Europe or potentially the entire world, the reality is we all break laws as part of our normal everyday lives and the criminality of living increases by thousands of new laws and regulations annually. This is the real criminal output of politicians who are paid to pass laws which outright or through inferred regulations give those who can pay an advantage over the rest of the population. This is the crooked legacy which is almost as criminal as the money stolen from our pockets through taxes, fees or higher prices so that others can benefit from corrupt politicians. This is why elections matter and primary elections this year proved to be the surprising ones which mattered. In the United States the choice is between two political forces either of which will provide the media, and especially us if we choose, more to cover than they will know what to do with. One will have half the media screaming about the illegalities with the other half excusing it while the other will have half most of the media claiming they are completely lost as to what are the motivations of the actions from the White House and others will play the game of guess what’s up next. Either way we will have plenty of news we just as soon would rather tune out, but it will affect our lives and the effects will be anywhere from minor inconveniences to drastic enough to threaten the entire planet. The real problem is none of the candidates, including third party, have even an inkling about the state of the world and what needs be done to repair the most egregious of the difficulties or threats, and it will be some of the threat which will offer the greatest danger if not mitigated and mitigated right out of the gate. Many will claim that will simply cause more difficulty but indifference to the world of problems has worked so well that we’ll gladly risk actually addressing threats and problems over leading from so far behind you may as well not be there at all, which too often was the case, Benghazi anyone? Please America, choose well.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 18, 2016

American Election, Self-Absorbed, Ignoring World Crises

 

Spend time reading the distressing news coverage of the upcoming American elections and the subjects vary from the superfluous to the mundane all the while ignoring anything more serious than illegal immigrations from Mexico or the American economy. Most of the coverage zeroes in on misspeaks and gaffs while attempting to gloss over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and ignoring all things concerning foreign policy, especially her time as Secretary of State, Benghazi and the loss of four American lives including an Ambassador, the Clinton Foundation contributions for favors potential scandal and any other foreign policy problems facing the United States, Europe or the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This is nothing new as American elections are almost always about the economy, jobs and the manufactured crisis which usually activates in October and has been even given a name, the October surprise. Not all elections require the emergency October surprise which is usually targeted at one of the candidates to make them appear weak or unprepared while the other will receive a last minute bounce just in time for election Day. Even the political considerations are usually a secondary affect in the election and in recent elections it has become a popularity contest. One would easily believe that the elections are actually the American public voting en-masse for class president and not the presumed most powerful man or woman in the world. As long as the candidate is perceived as the most personable and least threatening, then they need only motivate their base and make a final push with slick advertising campaign using all forms of media including radio, television and internet, especially social media. The social media campaign is largely handled by younger voters and volunteers so whichever candidate has the greatest number of youthful volunteers has an advantage in the final push on social media. There is one final area of effect which comes from organized media including talk radio, television news and commentary, radio news and entertainment shows on both radio and television such as the Tonight Show, South Park, Saturday Night Live, Howard Stern and any and every entertainer imaginable. It has been the contest of personalities since President Bill Clinton played saxophone to prove his suitability and his being in with ‘it,’ and it all depends on what the meaning of it is, that may have pushed him to victory despite some negatives which had been hounding him. Some present that President George W. Bush was elected due to scare campaigns pushed on conservative talk radio which resulted in his election. President Obama has been all about the cult of personality.

 

All of this about an election between two people with the highest negatives ever coming into the election campaign and their final push. Many have pointed out that the choice is between a self-absorbed lunatic clown and a crooked untrustworthy liar. Talk about between a rock and a hard place; this election is truthfully exactly that. The choice is also described as total unpredictability against predictable deceit. Obviously the choices in the upcoming Presidential Elections in the United States could easily be said to leave a little to be expected better than the available choices. The problems were legion in the primaries of both parties. One party used power politics and back room dealings to force the choice to the promised one while the other permitted in numerous places anybody to vote and as they had over fifteen choices at the start. This permitted one to take an early lead due to name recognition and being the sole personality who received media coverage beyond any advertising the rest could manage combined. This led to both parties having regrets and second guessing as to whether the candidate they ended up with on their ballot was necessarily their best choice. With the candidates they ended up presenting, Hillary Clinton on the Democrat Party side and throwing out Donald Trump on the Republican side, both parties are limping with the choice they became stuck with. The Democrat difficulties were evident outside and within the convention in Philadelphia while the Republican problems have been far more evident as one group of party elites coming forward demanding some way be found to disrupt and intervene to block Trump all the way up to a vote taken in the convention rules committee where the elites were silenced by an overwhelming rejection of their attempt to release delegates from their obligations in order to get the selection past the first ballot and hope to then introduce a candidate the elites found more presentable and aligned to the party elites. The difference is on one side the elites cherry picked the candidate they desired to present while the other part the elites were shocked and dismayed by the choice which came from the primary votes cast across the nation. In either case there are going to be elites sore about the choice no matter which party wins.

 

Of all the items about this election, the hardest of things will be predicting who will win. We can count on one fact which will be soothing, polling will not be anywhere near as accurate as in the past as many of the voters only own cell phones so they may not be polled by robo-calls. Further, many younger voters are very difficult to poll and older voters are already telling pollsters that they will likely not be sure which candidate they will support until Election Day morning, some not until the levers are before them and still others have mentioned closing their eyes and never looking at the paper record as they prefer not to know. There has already been a perfect example of how horridly polling has proven. Donald Trump won primary after primary while polling kept claiming he was about to crash and burn and pull out of the primary elections disgraced and head hanging low. On the other side the polls initially claimed that Bernie Sanders would be a laughing stock and have little if any effect on the primaries which was to be a contest between Clinton, Chafee, Webb and O’Malley and if needed Biden could come in late and save the party. Bernie was not supposed to create the Bern yet had the primary system in the Democrat Party had been weighted more towards the voters in the primaries; he might have stolen the candidacy from Hillary just as President Obama had done. So, Trump was supposed to burn out while Sanders was never supposed to Bern. Go figure.

 

Presidential Rivals Not So Different on Far Too Many Positions

Presidential Rivals Not So Different
on Far Too Many Positions

 

So the election drive is lining up at the start line and the red lights at the top of the tree just blinked off and the first yellow bar is lighted and about to continue down soon to hit green in now in the middle of August and then the candidates are heading down the quarter year sprint with election Day as the finish line. Just as in a drag race, the start is more smoke than flashing down the track as they try to get initial traction and pull out first ahead of the field. We have a number of third party candidates with Gary Johnson representing the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein representing the Green Party, Darrell Castle representing the Constitution Party and a number of what can only be called lesser party and completely independent candidates. Yes, most, if not all, of these third party candidates and independents have no possible path to the Presidency for no other reason other than lack of credibility, lack of money and complete lack of media coverage unless they say something so ridiculous that it all but disqualifies them from the human race, then they would get one day coverage. So, the reality is by early November the world will know who to fear and what kind of fear they will have by the end of the third week of the new year. So, until then we get to fantasize and guess what will be coming in the next year when President Obama retires to write his memoirs and, if you believe rumor, work on his resume so he can be the next Secretary General of the United Nations. One thing for sure, Obama is still thinking big and the problems with him heading the United Nations are beyond imagination. What causes me to wake at night in a cold sweat is the thought of Obama as head of the United Nations and Bernie Sanders as President of the United States, at least I can put that nightmare to bed.

 

The talk shows and media have been having a field day with Donald Trump but after his last appearance he appears to have been forced by whatever means were necessary to follow a script to the teleprompter letter to the letter to the letter. This will provide the media with a very boring Trump for as long as his discipline holds out. Hillary Clinton, on the other side, appeared to have some very sticky legal predicaments until she officially became the Democrat candidate for President. Now the FBI, CIA, State Department and Attorney General’s Office are all in her corner and have been instructed to make everything disappear. Well, not so much disappear but more to pass along as not really all the prosecutable as technically things are not as clear as they may have appeared to the public and things are far more complicated than we the stupid old public could ever understand. There are finessing situations which demand delicate treatment and assessments so complicated with oblique and acute angles which are not actually complementary leaving room between legal and illegal and Hillary and Bill Clinton were playing in that grey area between the lines. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has said some wild claims and some were contradictory to earlier statements, as the media has made sure we heard about, and thus who knows where Trump stands on anything. That will be as close to honest reporting on either candidate as they will lie one into public menace number one and lie the other one into the White House if at all able. It is a sad day America has reached when the mainstream media takes sides on elections becoming almost a spokesperson repeating every accusation against one side while pampering the other. I would love to say the American Presidential race will be exciting but I cannot do so. I can promise that we will try and find things worthy of reporting or commenting upon but really this election looks like we will be facing more of the same for the entire campaign which will eventually become overly tedious. Imagine how our friends in the United States will feel as they will receive little if any real news between now and Election Day. For the average American the entire world just went black and nothing exists outside Hillary and the Donald. The world will continue on and things both good and horrific will continue to happen around the world but little will occur making the evening news as the election blanks out everything even if World War III were to begin, assuming it has not already.

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

May 5, 2016

Ancient Thoughts and the World Today

 

I read an e-mail article which listed what it claimed in its title to be “20 Quotes From Ancient Greek Philosophers That Liberals Still Don’t Understand” and four of these in particular got my brain reeling, drowning in swirling daydreams and thought perhaps it might be fun to share. I found myself gravitating to three philosophers where one was the most gifted student of the other and the other their sole peer. Below are the thoughts in decreasing order of relevance, or at least in ease of application and understanding. This dictates we tackle them in reverse order working from the sublime imperatives from which we then reach the inevitable brutal and undeniable truth.

 

“Republics decline into democracies and democracies

degenerate into despotisms.” – Aristotle

 

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs;

when he first appears he is a protector.” – Plato

 

“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion,

a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” — Socrates

 

“The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered

by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.” – Plato

 

 

Plato Socrates Aristotle

Plato Socrates Aristotle

 

That places our starting point with Plato and the concept, “The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.” This is true in every government which depends on the opinions of the people discerned through an elective process. Be the system parliamentary, republic, direct democracy or other form where the voting public consists of eligibility of the greater part of the adult electorate and where promises gains votes those promises will come fast and loose. This will inevitably lead to greater and greater promises which will become more and more immediate often inventing problems and difficulties which are designed for easy quick solutions which can be readily enacted and implemented despite there being no reality to both the invented problem and an easy answer. Everything becomes something which requires an immediate solution and this demand continues to grow and now the people soon demand that even the greatest difficulties of the world be solved with the same brilliance, alacrity and without difficulty or complications. The expectations have become unrealistic but then when the people are demanding miracles, those who desire to hold office will make promises which they know cannot be solved with promises which they know will never be solved and only lead to greater problems as the half measures designed as quick actions which are definitive, definitive failures causing more and deeper problems. The demand for immediacy by the public eventually leads to the need for a savior.

 

That brings us to the next quote from Socrates which states, “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” This is where taking the false promises of charlatans who are the sole makers of empty promises selling them as definitive solutions to the most knotty and complex of problems starts us down a slippery slope. These have the ability to sell a framing of the problem in such a way that their solution appears obvious but nobody seems to think why if the solution which now appears so simple, easy and immediate that it did not appear for the last body of officials. Nobody wants to question whether the defining of the problem has been molded and crafted simply to facilitate the elevation of the individual and not done to reach a viable solution. These charlatans always play emotional weaknesses and know the desires of the people more than they understand the problems but emotionalism plays well, think Donald Trump with one difference, imagine Trump with a solution to the Middle East which is easy, immediate and apparently just hidden from view in such a way that only Trump could see it. Of course Donald Trump has not put forth such a solution and instead has simply sold that things will be great, trust Trump, great. Well, it is so completely different than Yes We Can. Both “Make America Great Again” and “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth” are empty boasts on which all problems can be put aside as the personality is sufficient to repair every problem. These set up a system of morality which is made of empty platitudes that caught the people up in an emotional defining of the world and choosing a leader purely on emotion which eventually leads to disappointment making the situation primed for the next step.

 

We go back to Plato where we read, “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” When the solutions are minimized such that false solutions become the norm, we reach a mire so deep that only a savior is believed to be the only possible solution. A person who is charismatic and has a plan, a plan that sweeps the public up with the promises, causes them to fall head over heels for the man with the plan which will heal their nation and restore it to greatness and return every glory which was once true and real. The savior and restorer of the greatness are seen as one who will revamp the government and streamline the process and accomplish that which formerly was not possible. The protector comes with promises if only you can and will trust what he knows must be executed to bring about the future promised by this protector. The promise is that once they are loosed from the restriction built into government and being freed from the tethers designed to limit and constrain government, but the savior cannot be constrained by such petty inconveniences. The releasing of the tethers and streamlining the methodology leads only one place, tyranny, and tyranny inevitably leads to one thing, despotic ruin.

 

This last revelation finished the slide defined so accurately by Aristotle who stated, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” The Republic was seen as the finest form of governance no matter the style, be it direct elections, parliamentary or anything between or alongside where the people hold the power and the government has to respect the people’s power. With time the republic governance reaches a point where their society actually needs minimal government and definitely does not need any interventions, new laws, programs or anything else but the government has to find relevance in order to form promises around which will grant them the support of the people and result in their next election. This leads to demagoguery and populism which tend to bring an end to the slow and deliberate governance and replace it with governance which has a tendency to divide the populace into groups based on positions on issues, some real and some manufactured by the politicians themselves. Such governance works by promising larger groups of citizens benefits which will be paid for by smaller groups treasure, usually unwarranted wealth made by abusing the workers and these political riders of white horses topped with a wide brimmed white Stetson hat riding off into the sunset after collecting the votes of the masses. This results in a government which will end in bloated inefficiency where the promises have far outstripped revenue collection and has built a deficit which only grows along with the government. The collection institutions are inefficient often using half the collected wealth simply to finance their department making it obvious an impediment to balancing the budget as that cost is rarely figured into the formulas promoted by the political charlatans.

 

As noted above the situation reaches some critical point where the population is primed for a savior, the one who can return sanity and prosperous times. This promise keeps growing and as this savior has made some progress they start to complain how the government itself is preventing them from rescuing the society from itself. Slowly but surely they strip down the government taking over one layer after another until they no longer stand for reelection, their continued leadership has been accepted as permanent. Soon the other governing bodies are replaced with sycophants and lackeys making them simply the echoes of the dictator allowing for them to hold ultimate power and makes for efficiency in all operations which saves revenue which further permits the dictator to show success after success.

 

But even an all-powerful dictator runs into problems eventually as they too continue promising more and more until it becomes necessary to find new sources of revenues. This has historically led to wars which eventually make for the end of the rule of dictators as once they start to attack neighbors, the neighbors are likely to form alliances and end the spread and conquest of the dictator and after conquest the people may eventually make their way back to representative governance. The one rule is that the generation which falls and allows the rise of a demigod will not return to free governance with it more often taking many years, even centuries, before the people will be permitted to rule themselves. This is evident today as Europe and the Western world is slowly lurching its way down that well-worn path to ruin while developing nations have shown a sign of seeking to develop representative republic governance, what Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all believed was the most favorable form of governance.

 

Where on this merry-go-round your nation is can be figured simply by measuring the freedom each has as an individual and the size and scope of the governance. In all situations where the people are more powerful than the government and are capable of changing the entirety of their legislature and their leaders with regular elections, that would point to a society with a great deal of freedom and is a republic. With the power shared or favoring the government agencies over the people, then one is likely no longer in a republic but in a mere democracy, a good place from which an engaged population can turn things around. But if the governance is under a single person or small cabal which is unelected and not dependent on the approval of the people and rule as they wish, that is the final stop of a democracy where it dies and will not be reborn during the lifetime of any of its citizens, even any infants born during the year of the final elections, a meaningless election at that.

 

That is both the end of freedom and the start of the path back to liberty, freedom and the rights of man. The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of humankind has never known freedom or even truly elected governance and probably never will. For this majority of the planet will require great expenditures by the free world to instruct, educate, form and develop the basics, principles and understanding of the mechanisms required. After the entire world finds itself on the merry-go-round where we slide from freedom to despotism and finally revolution and a return to republic and the new optimism which will eventually end in disappointment until humankind learns to control their appetites and refuse to follow demigods who promise perfection and untold riches and joys, delivering none of them and few promises being realized. Perhaps that is our fate or maybe we will eventually learn to control our slide of our own personal weaknesses. Perhaps we will learn and our species finally break free of petty differences, greed and acting in a manner which eventually leads to our subjugation when our greed outpaces our good sense. Perhaps.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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