Beyond the Cusp

October 17, 2012

Honest Answer to Biden’s War in the Middle East Challenge

During last week’s Vice Presidential debate the Vice President challenged Paul Ryan with the accusation that he wanted to place the United States into yet another war in the Middle East. This was one of Biden’s snarky interruptions but was also an opportunity missed by Mr. Ryan. Romney’s Vice Presidential candidate should have grabbed that challenge and backed Biden off making him pay a price for such a bare faced insult. Paul Ryan could have started by saying the obvious, “Mr. Biden, nobody who is in their right mind ever desires war and will do anything within reason to avoid a war and nobody who is being honest would insult another human being by falsely accusing them of desiring a war where some of the best young men and women and the finest from among their fellow citizens may lose their lives.” From there he could then lay out what is the real pack of troubles that now exist in the Middle East and point to the actions and inactions of both the Obama and Bush Administrations which led to this situation where such an accusation actually has any foundation in reality.

Paul Ryan could have pointed out the increased terrorism and suicide bombings that have spread throughout Iraq mostly due to President Obama’s inability to negotiate a withdrawal policy which allowed for the remaining American forces to be free to continue to assist in the fight against the terrorists instead of being isolated in one base in the middle of the dessert where their only function is as targets. He could have pointed to the fact that al-Qaeda has been resurgent within Iraq and that Iraqi President Hamid Karzai has not only been allowed but very likely pressured into the awaiting arms of Iran and is now working with Iran in supplying Bashir Assad in Syria with the weapons and munitions with which Syrians are being slaughtered. Mr. Ryan could press the fact that the majority of the arms, munitions, and other military hardware that President Obama’s Administration has sent either directly or through intermediary allies to both Libya and Syria have ended up in the hands of Salafists, Islamists and even al-Qaeda. He could have referred to the disaster that has swept across the Muslim World centered mostly in North Africa would be better called the Arab Winter as the results have definitely not been an Arab Spring. Mr. Ryan could point out the exodus from Egypt that has occurred by those Coptic Christian Egyptians who were fortunate enough to afford leaving and the riots aided by government forces of Egypt that have burned down Coptic communities, churches, schools, homes and businesses.

Ryan could also point to the new demands that have become front and center of the Palestinian demands as preconditions that Israel must be required to meet before Palestinian authority President will allow negotiations to continue. The first being President Obama calling for a building freeze in the settlements and Jerusalem which came out of nowhere and had never even been broached as an idea, let alone a demand on Israel. And his statement that the 1967 Lines, which were the 1949 Armistice Lines, be used as the starting point for borders with only land swaps which are approved by the Palestinian Authority would be allowed to redraw these lines. These are the lines of the front at the end of fighting as per United Nations agreement and which the Arabs themselves demanded never be utilized as borders during their negotiations in 1948-9. Now, every time Mahmoud Abbas speaks his first two demands out of his mouth are for a building freeze in all of the West Bank and Jerusalem and a return to the 1967 borders, he does not even use the milder terminology of Lines. He could then have asked Biden if this was how he and the President defined being the greatest friends Israel has ever had in the White House.

There is a laundry list of other missteps and outright disasters that preceded this past week’s explosion throughout the Middle East. Included in this explosion was an attack by al-Qaeda on our Consulate and the Safe House located miles away that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three Americans attached to our Embassy staff. This is the same al-Qaeda that the President and Joe Biden have been touting died with Osama bin Laden who the President ordered assassinated in the boldest move by any President. Then there was the rioting that broke through the perimeter of our Embassy in Cairo, Egypt in which the American Flag was torn down and replaced with the Black Flag of the Salafists and al-Qaeda. Why not ask Mr. Biden to explain whether we are fighting against the Taliban or seeking to return the Taliban to power in Afghanistan. If we are fighting the Taliban, then why are we negotiating with the Taliban about including them in the Afghan government? Ryan should impress before allowing Biden to sputter an answer, “And do not tell me about the existence of a peaceful branch of the Taliban. There is no such entity any more than there is a peaceful Muslim Brotherhood which we are finding out to our dismay ever since President Obama threw our somewhat less than perfect ally Mubarak to the Islamist wolves.”

Time permitting, which this obviously might have gone a tad long on Mr. Ryan’s two minute limit, Mr. Ryan could have pointed out that it was the President’s call not to aid the students and large sector of the Iranian people when they rose up to protest what they saw as fraudulent reelection of President Ahmadinejad and instead to back the Ayatollahs and the madman masquerading as the Iranian President. Paul Ryan could have pointed to the leaks from the Administration which undermined Israeli efforts to make available assets which would be vital if Iran were to cause a war with Israel either through their terror proxies in Lebanon, Gaza or the Sinai Peninsula or by making a direct strike with WMDs or conventional weapons tipping their ballistic missiles. Mr. Ryan could state the obvious truth that the sole reason that Vice President Biden could even make such an accusation that the Republican candidates might get the United States in a war in the Middle East was directly due to the complete inadequacy of the Obama Administration’s muddled, addled and utterly failed policies in the Middle East, which are reflective of their entire foreign policy, if one can call the directionless policies of comprehensive responsibility avoidance a foreign policy. Then again, perhaps being the more intellectual, even tempered, mild speaking, but familial rather than aloof, and rational candidate was the best path and the one with which Paul Ryan is obviously far more comfortable.

Beyond the Cusp

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August 21, 2012

Coming Election Will Not Affect Seniors Despite Claims

We have already heard the Grandma off a cliff in her wheelchair reference and will likely hear a lot more of that ilk between now and the election. Fortunately for Grandma and Grandpa, this election will have little effect on their comfort in their golden years. It is highly unlikely their Social Security will be drastically curtailed though they may not get as healthy an increase going forward, they will at least be guaranteed to get at least the same levels they currently receive. The biggest threat to their Medicare funding will not come from Paul Ryan as his plan leaves everything as it stands for those over fifty-five years of age. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about President Obama’s signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama Care, which has already diverted (a political wording for stolen) approaching three-quarters of a trillion dollars from Medicare. Of course the administration has denied this even when confronted by Congress when Illinois Republican Congressman John Shimkus inquired of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a House of Representatives hearing on March 3, 2011, “So, are you using it (the $716,000,000,000.00) to save Medicare, or are you using it to fund health-care reform? Which one?” To this question Secretary Sebelius remarkably replied, “Both!” Congressman John Shimkus then replied conclusively, “So, you’re double-counting.”

So, as things currently stand, no matter who wins the election, Medicare will start with their administration having to figure out how to fund it with it already short close to three-quarters of a trillion dollars, a significant amount in anybody’s proposed budget. The funding will be found even if it has to be printed, something that has apparently become the new American cure-all for budgetary problems. What will be decided in the upcoming election in the United States will be how the country will face the problems going forward. All the blame games over who made the mess, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, the Republican Congress obstruction, headwinds, speed-bumps or the alignment of the universe is irrelevant as whoever wins the election will be facing the same financial predicament. What will be decided is whether spending will be cut by choice now or by imposed necessity later. The main difference is if cuts are made as soon as possible, then the cuts can be made over time in a measured manner, while if we wait until economic conditions dictate the cuts, they will be drastic and beyond the control dictated by the creditors. This is the choice being placed to the American public and this November they will decide. What makes this election somewhat of a crisis is that many claim that this could be the last chance for the United States to exit the spending freeway of their own volition.

But, the question is whether this is reality or is this simply being used as a scare tactic? Those claiming that another four years of attempting to stimulate the economy through government spending to presumably invest in order to collect the funds back in future taxes will lead to the situation where sufficient numbers of voters will be receiving Government dole-outs and thus will create a permanent majority for continuing such programs. This is much like what we are witnessing in Greece and other places suffering in the Euro crisis in Europe. On the other side there is the claim that should we cut spending and wait for time to solve the economic slowdown, then the economy will continue to stagnate and funds through taxes will drop and the country will fall into a viscous cycle of Government cuts yielding less funds forcing more cuts etc. So, which prediction is correct we will find out about after the election and will be left to guess where the other path would have led. Where spending and tax cuts for the rich, the middle class or anyone who pays taxes will be the major discussion debated during the campaign, which is only half of the problem, much of the real problem with the stagnant economy will be left alone. So what is the other half and why will it escape debate?

The other half, what we believe will be the larger half (if there can be a larger and smaller halves), is regulations, particularly on businesses. What will spur the economy faster than tax cuts would be to simply take a laissez-faire attitude and simply make a promise not to add any more regulations or other requirements and keep Government from any further impinging on the daily operations of business. Just allowing business to know that the playing field will remain constant and the requirements are not going to change on a whim allows the business owners to make plans with some degree of certainty what the rules will be going forward. One of the quickest ways to kill economic growth is to keep fussing and adjusting the rules making for a high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability which makes planning difficult to impossible. This has been proven in a very easy historic lesson for people to research. In the United States they refer to the economic problems that resulted from the stock market crash of 1929 as the Great Depression. In Europe it was the economic crash of 1929 and they were in recovery by 1933 only to have it all destroyed by a small interruption best known as World War II. The difference was that Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted one solution and within a few months impatiently tried his next approach on and on and on. In Europe their leadership could not agree on what they should do and what to enact to repair the problem, so the result was they did nothing and before they could agree their economies began to improve. That is the funny thing about economies; they are cyclic just like nature and just about everything else in the universe. Economies go hot then cool then simmer and repeat as needed. Often the best solution to any economic downturn is to simply be patient and wait, it will come back around. Unfortunately, doing nothing is directly against every impulse of humankind. So, the difficulty is to have the discipline to do nothing and rely that the cyclical nature of all things natural or manufactured is cyclical and the only thing that is constant is change. So, our advice to whoever wins in November, make your decisions on what regulations you like and which you wish to toss out and after enacting it in your first hundred days, just take your hands and sit on them. Do not do anything no matter how obviously correct it may appear. Can any politician actually have the mental discipline to leave things alone? Somehow it is doubtful.

 

Beyond the Cusp

August 20, 2012

Partisan Divide Reaching Dangerous Levels

Saying that politics in the United States is reaching heightened levels of hostility between people on the opposing extremes is an understatement of unimaginable proportions. The animosity between supporters of one party for the supporters of the other has almost driven people to violence. It is as if polite discussion and disagreement is no longer an option and the best policy might be to simply avoid all discussions about the coming elections or, if such is unavoidable, simply agree and be happy to walk away intact. Politics have reached toxic levels and not only with the ardent followers of politics but has gotten to a point where anything is fair as long as it serves your candidate and nothing is forgivable if it is done by the other side or their supporters. There appears to be no room for forgiveness or even civil discourse which makes voicing a preference a potentially aggressive action which may be interpreted as an offense. The question is where will this viciousness lead us and our society?

The viciousness of some encounters has resulted in the breaking of friendships which had withstood previous election cycles. Some family relations have become strained and even broken off. It is as if many view this upcoming election as the ultimate political confrontation from which the losing side will be unable to recover. They view this election as being for all the marbles, not just until the next election. Where we may not have witnessed an election which took such hold of people’s emotions, this is not unprecedented. Those familiar with the history of Presidential election in the United States have likely studied elections throughout our history and can attest that the election between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams was another election which caught the attention of the population and was thought to be an election to determine the future of the young country. Where one candidate, Thomas Jefferson had one view of the role of government within the greater society, John Adams had a near opposite view and the debate between the men was something far short of civil. We like to believe that all previous elections were more civilized, honest, and respectful; a sanitized view of our history. Perhaps some particulars and examples would help define how contentious the campaign of 1800 really was.

One thing for sure, the mutual respect and friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson made no appearances during their campaigning. Thomas Jefferson’s campaign accused John Adams of being a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” John Adams campaign responded accusing Thomas Jefferson of being “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Before it was all over and the voting decided the elections, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward. Both candidates spent most of the campaign at home allowing hired spokesmen and character assassins to carry the name-calling in their stead throughout the States. It was during this campaign that the Thomas Jefferson affair with Sally Hemings was first made public complete with the claims of Thomas Jefferson fathering Ms. Hemings’ child. The one advantage our countrymen had in 1800 that we no longer have today was that they did not receive the final results of the election the night of the votes being cast. Where we will know who won the election before we go to sleep on Election Day in November, the Americans of 1800 would not even know the results of the voting in their own area until the next day or even for a week if they resided in a sufficiently large city. The final results of the election and who would be sworn in as the next President would not likely be known to the general public for weeks, likely months. They had all that time without hearing any more electioneering, any more claims and mudslinging before they would have to deal with the final results. We, on the other hand, will know by Wednesday at the latest, more than likely, who won and we will not be far removed from the emotional aspects of the campaign and everything will be a recent memory, a recent wound should our choice lose. This instant knowledge is a disservice as it does not allow for Americans in this immediate modern world to gain a little space and perspective with which to moderate our reactions.

The acrimony and sheer intensity of emotions being forged already in this Presidential campaign could lead the American people to a place we will forever rue. We may be witness to violence being caused by an election unseen since the middle of the nineteenth century with the onset of the Civil War. Emotions are running rampant and unchecked with both pundits and regular people who are reacting with a certainty of their convictions which does not leave room for compromise. The emotional levels being exhibited by both camps are truly frightening; at least I find them so. My fortune, or misfortune, is that I do not support either of the major Party candidates and have no animosity or preference which leaves me horrified by the fanaticism being exhibited by both sides. I already was not exactly looking forward to Election Day as when the winner is announced I know it will not be a candidate I support for the office of President. The only advantage I will have is that I will be equally unemotional about who lost as I am sure to be about who wins. Unfortunately, I will still be subject to whatever results which will come and have to live through the possible vindictive actions pursued by the most ardent supporters of the losing candidate. I pray that the reactions will be restrained, controlled and passive instead of what I have heard some predict will be their reaction should their candidate lose, and I have heard such claims from people from both sides. Perhaps all the claims are pure bluster, or so I hope as we cannot afford it to be otherwise.

Beyond the Cusp

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