Beyond the Cusp

October 21, 2014

Upcoming Midterm United States Elections, a Slightly Different Look

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Who is ahead in the different races depends on the state and even on the political leanings of the news or talk shows one follows. If you go to polling it gets even more confusing. Not only are the polls often slanted depending on who ordered the polling but it also depends on what the subject the poll is covering. Here are a few examples from some polls. A CBS poll recently showed that fifty percent of those responding said the Democrats are the party that “cares more about the needs and problems of people” while only 34 percent chose the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans have a nine point lead concerning the economy, an eleven point lead on foreign policy and a twenty-one point lead on addressing terrorism in an October CBS poll. So, who wins; the party of the people or the party which appears to be more competent? These numbers are nothing new as often the Democrats have polled well on sympathy and feeling the people’s pains while the Republicans historically win on foreign policy and confronting threats from the outside world. The fact the Republicans are polling slightly ahead of Democrats on the economy is not nationally definitive enough to be applied to every race. The probability is that in the traditionally Democrat leaning states the Democrats will probably poll even or ahead of the Republicans while in traditionally Republican states the Republicans will poll ahead. The place where that mere nine point lead for the Republicans becomes evident will be in what is often referred to as the ‘purple’ states where the parties have split the wins between them would thus likely give the Republicans a slight lead on the economy. Unfortunately that may not transfer to votes as there is also the personality of the candidates as well as the effectiveness of their campaigns and whether there are third party or independent candidates on the ballot and from which side they will draw away votes. Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates tend to take more votes from Republicans while Green and sometimes Libertarian Party take more votes from the Democrats. But other than their campaign, their affability or their campaign commercials and use of media and social networks, the most important determining item will simply be which party gets the voters to the polls, period.

With this year not being a Presidential election year, the national party machines are operating but there are far fewer volunteers and fewer funds for them to make a large determining difference. This means that it will be up to the State and even more local party machines and the candidate supporting campaign staff which will make up a significant part of the get out the vote efforts. States with Gubernatorial elections this election will have more party influence than those without. What makes these midterms so difficult to make predictions is because there is no real enthusiasm evident in the electorate and it is very possible that both of the major parties will suffer from miserable voter turnout and thus calling the elections near impossible. There will be some states where polling data is so skewed to one candidate that there is almost no challenge to picking the likely winner short of an unseen stumble where the leading candidate is caught in a criminal act or other compromising situation. They do not even need to actually be guilty as that will depend on a court of law, but such accusations can sway the court of public opinion and that is exactly what elections are, the court of public opinion choosing those they feel are less guilty of potentially bad leadership. That has been the truth in all too many elections in the United States in recent times where people are literally trying to choose which evil is less harmful. Some have gotten to the point that they have finally refused to vote for the lesser from two evils and they refuse to ever again vote for evil no matter how slight. These voters are demanding the parties to put forth candidates who are capable of leading and representing the people with integrity and virtue. This might even lead to making a third party or independent candidate to have a real possibility to take elections and possibly change the American political landscape once again. Perhaps it is time for a new political movement as the last great movement was the Abolition Movement which birthed the Republican Party and the Whig Party was laid to rest. The more likely bet is that the two major parties have so slanted and poisoned the election laws throughout the United States that it has become next to impossible for any third party or independent candidate to make the ballot, let alone have any funds remaining should they manage to make ballot, and trust I know from where I speak. This is really a sad problem as this may prevent a new direction to be proposed and placed before the American electorate and instead continue forcing them to choose between two toxins, progressive Democrats who want to double the size of government every decade, or the progressive Republican who wishes to slow government growth so that it doubles only four or five times each century. Since both the major parties are in favor of growing government and the sole difference is exactly the rate of growth the American people can rest assured that over time the Republicans will seem like the Democrats of a few decades back while the Democrats will be breaking new ground which the Republican will fall in love with a few decades hence. Should this trend not be reversed soon the United States will continue in decline and only accelerate with time.

Beyond the Cusp

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February 19, 2014

Political Terms Republicans Should Learn

After watching United States Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, marshal his majority of fellow Republicans to pass in a submissive and orderly fashion a completely clean piece of single item legislation raising the debt ceiling silently complying with the expressed demands of President Obama, we were struck by his complete lack of principles, vapid timidity, absence of cogent leadership and total absence of political gamesmanship. It occurred to us that perhaps Speaker Boehner had forgotten an entire slew of political terminology which any freshman Representative should know before ever arriving in Washington DC. So, in an attempt to provide some useful service, we figured that perhaps a short lesson covering some of the basic but vital terms necessary if the Republican Party ever again seeks to challenge the fates and take on leadership will need to understand.

 

Political Theater. This is the concept where even though you realize that you are facing a situation where any efforts you put forward are completely futile as you are facing a situation where the other party is holding all the cards, and the votes, and have the near total support of the mainstream media, you still make a display giving an accounting of your side of the argument simply to be able to state your principles and have them heard.

 

Principled Stance. This concept is very similar to political theater except on steroids. Here you actually pass legislation which represents your position and refuse to budge from these particular ideals, also known as principles, forcing the other party to make dire predictions and threats before acquiescing and eventually passing the clean bill while stressing that you are doing so solely because you are unable to win this time but promising that should your party ever have the advantage that they will act and enforce these principles you stood on.

 

Playing to You Base. This is a vitally important part of playing the political game where you make at the least a symbolic stand expressing succinctly the positions of you core segment of voters in the society. This does not mean that you only express those principles that play well in your district but more that you play to the core principles that represent the vast majority of your basic supporters on a national level. Doing this gives your mainstay supporters a reason to campaign and vote for your party in upcoming elections, and even more important, prevents the embarrassment of having your core support be so disenchanted that they stay home on election day. This should be something the Republicans are very familiar with and should be doing everything within their power to correct and correct as quickly as possible.

 

Stick to Your Guns. This is a simple concept which entails simply refusing to compromise without making the case and forcing the other party to sweat a little and make a compromise granting you some concessions before you eventually concede. In this way you at least extract a price and have something tangible to show your constituents come election time. Even more important is you establish firmly the difference between your party and the other party which provides the voters with a clear alternative to the current state of things. This is of the utmost importance at times like these where a large segment of the population is desperately seeking somebody to lead the nation in a different direction as there are now.

 

Calculated Risk. This refers to taking the measure of the situation and if there is an opportunity to fulfill the items described thus far, you actually brave the consequences and make your stand holding out from conceding the fight for as long as you are able. This may very well mean that the mainstream media will pillory you for taking this stand but at least they will also need to give you the microphone to speak to the people to explain you reasoning and the position for which you are making a stand. Yes, there are risks but often this will pay off down the road as long as you do not go overboard and completely refuse to address anything at all.

 

Object Lesson. This refers to a very simple and basic action in which you define a concept and then put that concept on display as publically as you are able. By doing so you will have adopted that concept as your own and ownership of popular concepts is a desirable aim. Currently, one such concept is the paying down the debt or, at a minimum, not adding any more to the already almost debilitating national debt. If any concept has found its time, the balanced budget requirement and the passing of a Constitutional Amendment stipulating such as one of the basic requirements demanded of the Federal Government is definitely one of them. Sure there would be the necessity to place a path around this requirement during times of war or other calamities and demanding a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Congress would make only truly serious situations allow for such. 

 

Government Shutdown. By all appearances you act as if allowing, or even forcing, a government shutdown would be the worst possible action ever taken. This may not be actually the case as the American voting public in polling has stated that one of their most important desires is to lower the debt. The majority of American voters has expressed their dissatisfaction with the current direction being taken by the Federal Government in particular and is desperate for an alternative. There is likely no bigger statement to be made than actually forcing the shutdown of the government. Even if you force a prolonged shutdown say six weeks or more, you will actually serve the purpose of allowing the vast majority of Americans to realize how little positive things in their lives owe anything to having the Federal Government fully functioning and this is an object lesson whose time has come.

 

Default on Debt. This is simply a scare term used as a weapon of threat that predicts an overt and outrageous eventuality which, in reality, is technically false. The Federal Government takes in simply on fees, taxes, duty paid on imports, tariffs and sundry other remittances collected daily to pay the necessary required debt payment, which is simply paying the interest on the debt and does nothing to pay down the principle, making an actual default an impossibility. If the Federal Government were forced to shut down, the debt payments would still be possible as the sole individual necessary to make such payment is the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who would not be affected. Even if the President, in order to create the absolutely worst case scenario, were to require his Cabinet members to also not report to work during a shutdown, the President also has the power to make the required debt payments.

 

Framing the Argument. This terminology is also called Framing the Debate and consists of setting the acceptable terms and their meaning such that the ability of the other side to argue their position becomes untenable. The best way to combat this tactic is to take the initiative and get out in front of the debate and defining the terms in a manner supportive of your arguments. One example of this tactic has been the defining illegal immigrants as undocumented workers, poor people leaving a really unfortunate and bad situation who have simply entered the United States illegally in order to find employment and raise their families or persons lacking the proper paperwork. Another use of framing the argument in the immigration reform drive has been the claim that the border can be enforced closing it to illegal smuggling and illegal immigration simply by electronic surveillance and that drones patrolling an area is just as effective, if not more so, than building an actual and real fence. Simply by defining the problem such that the only realistic solution is the one offered by those defining the terminology the debate has been won without really debating a single item allowing the blanket application of one side’s entire set of arguments and solutions.

 

Teachable Moment. This phrase has become one of President Obama’s favorites and has allowed him to set its definition thus far. Even though President Obama has adopted the phrase Teachable Moment does not prevent anybody else from also utilizing it. All this phrase means is that the person or group invoking it believes that the discussion is beyond the common understanding of the general public and they are going to use the situation to define the particulars and implications of the event or item to which they refer. The phrase itself is not a very strong argument as long as somebody contests the definitions assigned by the author using the phrase. Teachable moment is the announcement used by any politician when they wish to frame the debate favorably to their arguments and close down any disagreements or discussions coming from the opposing view.

 

Opposition Party. This refers to the party having the least power. The Senate has the Republican Party in the minority and thus they are the opposition party. The House of Representatives has a majority of Republicans making the Democrats the opposition party for all intents and purposes there. As the Senate and the Presidency are held by Democrats, even with the majority in the House of Representatives, this casts the Republicans as the opposition party. As the opposition party there are some basic guidelines that are required. The most important requirement is for the opposition to offer an alternative view on the most important subjects, legislations and problems facing the public. They are also tasked with presenting opposition, sometimes standing on principles despite the consequences. What they are not supposed to do is simply cave to the demands made by the party holding the majority of the power by utilizing the safeguards placed in the Constitution to curb this exact situation.

 

In the recent debate, or lack thereof, over raising the debt ceiling once again, the Republicans shirked their duties by folding before President Obama and the threats and intimidation of the Democrats allowing for a clean piece of legislation and passing on any attempt to make the Democrats pay a price thus accomplishing at least one small iota of the Republican agenda. The complete capitulation and collapse of the Republicans in the House of Representatives was absolutely one of the most repulsive and appalling acts of cowardice. The pathetic performance by the Republican Representatives was outdone by craven disregard for principles and resorting to the most deceptive of actions by the Republicans in the Senate. The Republican controlled House of Representatives could have very easily forced through legislation which would have required a discussion if nothing else over the concept of giving the entire American public a reprieve from the requirements of Obamacare by including granting a waver as part of raising the debt ceiling. Since President Obama has already granted waivers and stay of execution of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, for both businesses large and small as well as wavers to Administration and Congressional staffers and other favored groups through blatant disregard for the limitations placed on the office of President by the Constitution, the extending of a similar set of waivers for the general public is really not such a revolutionary concept. Demanding that the general public receive equal treatment to that granted to even the largest of corporations would simply be leveling the grounds for enforcement and removing the disparate treatment favoring wealthy corporations over regular citizens by President Obama.

 

Even this lack of will to establish a position by the House of Representative Republicans was not a valid reason for the Republicans in the Senate to deceptively vote for cloture ending debate and then vote against the legislation raising the debt ceiling mostly so they could claim later this year, or whenever they come up for reelection, that they opposed the debt ceiling being raised as demonstrated by their “Nay” vote but betrayed by their cloture to end the sole Republican taking a principled stance, Senator Cruz of Texas. The argument by the Republican leadership in the Senate was that they would have eventually lost anyways, so why resist. The problem with that defeatist argument is that a filibuster supported by the entirety of the Senate Republican would have prevented passage of this legislation. The nuclear option taken by Senate Democrats to permit cloture on a straight up or down vote only applies to confirmations and not to the filibuster of legislation. That means to end debate the Democrats would need to find about a half dozen Republican Senators to vote with them or the filibuster on the legislation would block its passage. Presuming that the Republicans expect to someday actually win elections, particularly the Presidency, they had better first establish a definable difference between themselves and the Democrats. Taking a stance that represents fiscal responsibility would be a very good principle on which to start making your stand. Apparently the Republicans only desire to follow behind the Democrats and take every precaution to prevent making trouble for President Obama or Harry Reid. Perhaps, in reality, there is no opposition party and what we have is two variations of the same party system which leaves the American people without an alternative to the current destructive road on which they are travelling ever faster and faster. The brakes probably could not be applied demanding a price for raising the debt ceiling, but perhaps the foot could have been removed from the accelerator pedal and even maybe the car placed in neutral in preparation for braking in the not too distant future. If such slowing and eventual reversal is not executed soon, then the execution of America and her economy is indubitably assured.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 1, 2014

Immigration Reform and the Republican Surrender

One item which the Congress will be pressed to address this term is immigration reform and the fate of twenty-million illegal immigrants at the very least (though official tallies try to minimize the problem claiming only twelve-million illegals currently living in the United States). The problem has been slowly growing in both complexity and severity ever since it was presumably solved during the Administration of President Reagan. The immigration reform legislation passed back in the 1980s gave blanket amnesty to the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States and called for securing the border sufficiently that the problem of illegal immigration would never again plague Congress and the American people. As the demands to close the border were delayed and were to be addressed in the near future after the amnesty was awarded, the Congress once again took the path of least resistance and did nothing thus leading to the situation existing today. There were calls in immigration legislation passed since the start of the millennium which called for the building of a fence in most of the known high traffic areas where the majority of crossings of illegals take place. Somewhere between the passing of the legislation and the building of the fence as a barrier the fence was magically transformed into a virtual fence secured by drones and watchtowers instead of any actual physical barrier. For reasons that may be obvious, this virtual fence was virtually useless in preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the southern border of the United States. So, what does the future hold in addressing the illegal immigration problem once again facing the nation and the Federal Government?

 

If memory serves me correctly, which would be a first, the current debate over immigration reform began in the last two years of President George W. Bush’s second term and went unresolved for the ensuing almost seven years with much posturing, pontificating, laying out of demands and discussions of various solutions with the biggest debate over amnesty being the main sticking point making reaching any agreement virtually impossible. Where much of the mainstream media coverage of the amnesty-no amnesty debate circled around how the Democrat politicians were presenting a humane and acceptable position which would grant the illegal immigrants currently living in the United States a path to citizenship which was reasonable and protected the rights of all concerned while the evil Republican politicians were insisting on the maximalist position calling for every last illegal immigrant to be held for deportation without any regard or concern for the possibility of extenuating circumstances. Of course the Democrats were warm and cuddly while the Republicans were harsh and hardened. Well, the Republicans have finally been worn down as we are now informed that they are willing to accept some form of a path to citizenship as long as there are defined requirements that those seeking to remain and become American citizens will need to pass a background check, learn to speak English, pay some reasonable fine, pay all of their unpaid taxes and learn about the governance of the United States as is required of immigrants who take the legal route. So, where will this apparent willingness by the Republicans to meet the Democrats half way lead?

 

The result will likely result in legislation which will sound reserved and containing some reasonably strict requirements and limits on illegal immigrants being allowed to attain United States citizenship as the Republicans claim they will insist upon while the actual application will closely resemble a free ticket to unquestioned amnesty after everything is codified and put into action by the bureaucrats from INS (Immigrations and Naturalization Service) have fleshed out the system. The Republican surrender in calling for a strict pathway to citizenship in place of blanket deportations is their belief that by bowing to the Democrats what they claim is halfway, they will satisfy their base and still be able to appeal to and reach Hispanic voters, a growing number of voters across the United States. Of course the reality is that by surrendering once again on immigration reform, the Republicans will fail to woo Hispanic voters other than those who were already in their camp and also fail utterly in satisfying their base which has increasingly shown signs of being completely fed-up with the spinelessness of the Republicans in Washington. This is simply another instance of the Republicans misreading the will of their base and the likely voting tendencies of the strictly Democrat Hispanic voters, which is far from all Hispanic voters as a fair number of Hispanic voters actually vote for real conservatives and will likely be just as angered by the collapse by the Republicans as the rest of the base will turn out to be.

 

The erosion and near complete collapse of the Republicans in Congress is just another card in the house of cards they are building believing that it will appear sufficiently conservative to their base while not appearing so conservative as to lose their imagined conservative leaning Independents and Democrats, the same Democrats which voted for Reagan. Where the Republicans have gone off the tracks is believing that if they just take positions slightly to the right of the Democrats that they will gather in the votes of those Democrat voters who tend to be center of the road voters who do not invest much time in watching politics and can be swayed to vote Republican if only the Republicans can appear almost as soft and cuddly as the Democrats. The fault in their reasoning is simple, most of those they are aiming to sway simply vote Democrat because that is what they have done all their lives. If the Republicans desire to gain voters then they are going to have to stand for something on their own merits and not simply say we stand for almost the same things as the Democrats except we are more reasonable. Why would any voters who normally vote for any Democrat candidate suddenly change and vote for a Republican who claims to be Democrat-Lite, the almost as liberal choice. The truth is they will not be won over and the base will increasingly stay home as more and more of them are refusing to vote for evil, especially the lesser of two evils, and have decided they will only go out and vote if they have somebody to vote for and not just to vote against the worse candidate. This is the secret appeal of the so-called Tea Party candidates is they actually present themselves as having positions they believe in and are willing to stand and defend those values and not cave at the slightest hint that the wind is blowing in a different direction. When the Republicans, or whomever replaces them if they continue on their self-destructive path they are following, finally figure out that there are a good forty percent of conservative and libertarian voters who are thirsting for a real solid and independent candidate who will stand on their two feet and take a stand, a principled stand, and will not be persuaded or become jaded by the culture in Washington where all too often even the principled fall from grace, these voters will return to the polls as their need for a candidate they can in good conscience support will be worthy of receiving their votes at last. The only people who are going to take the United States in a different direction and possibly save her from the apocalypse which is rapidly coming her way is if principled believers in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and who understand and fully support the core beliefs stated in the Declaration of Independence make their case and take the lead and guide the United States back from the brink. We can only hope it is not already too late as the road back is already going to be painful and difficult but that will turn out to be preferable to the results of continuing on the current path which those well versed in history can already see the end results. They are not pretty and there are examples of the coming results of current policies and one need look no further than Greece for an example.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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