Beyond the Cusp

May 23, 2013

Aid Seeking Oklahoma Republican Reps Denied Hurricane Sandy Aid

There will be factual but misleading commentary and quotations in the coming week condemning the elected Congressional representatives from Oklahoma for accepting Federal assistance in the recovery from the EF-5 tornado that utterly destroyed much of the small Oklahoma town of Moore. These statements will claim that those Oklahoma politicians who had voted down the initial $50 Billion aid package to assist the Hurricane Sandy victims in New York and the Northeast when it was before Congress are now being simply greedy in expecting funds for the recovery from the tornado. The main targets will be these conservative Republicans; Senator Tom Coburn, Senator James M. Inhofe, Representative Jim Bridenstine, Representative Markwayne Mullin, and Representative James Lankford. Both Representative Frank Lucas and Representative Tom Cole will be free from blame as they supported this legislation, well, they may receive a pass now but come the next election this vote may be used against them for supporting such massive unnecessary pork included in this legislation. And it is the included pork spending which makes the blame game unprincipled and purely a political witch hunt in an attempt to gain political points by disregarding the actual truth.

The legislation which allocated generous funding to assist and enable full recovery from much of the damages incurred during Hurricane Sandy still did not utilize even half of the $50 Billion. The greater part of these funds went to numerous projects or to supplement existing programs which had absolutely nothing to do with hurricane Sandy. Many of the expenditures went to numerous states and locations untouched by Hurricane Sandy and even to some which have never been touched by any hurricane in recorded history. These were the expenditures which the Oklahomans in the House of Representatives and the Senate voted against and they had made their positions very clear back in Oklahoma. Furthermore, there is not going to even be a vote on relief aid for the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma as FEMA has a surplus of funds at this point and all outlays will fall well within already allocated emergency funds set aside for just such emergencies. The difference for Hurricane Sandy was in order to fund the repairs after that disaster had to come from spending above and beyond allocated spending thus the discussion was to allocate supplemental spending. This is a normal situation which has happened before and will happen again in the future simply because some years storm and other emergency disaster recovery allocations are less than budgeted and other years it will exceed allocated spending. The evil which is hidden in the example of Hurricane Sandy was the practice of attaching additional spending for pet items, most often funding items within a Senator or Representatives State or District, often to reward major financial supporters of their campaigns, to legislation which is obviously necessary such as emergency spending, defense budgets, and other pressing or popular legislations thus guaranteed to pass. This is a convenient and efficient way of hiding what is in reality unnecessary expenditures from discussion, debate, or media coverage while guaranteeing passage and allocation of these somewhat nefarious spending items which would suffer defeat and embarrassment if their sponsors were to submit legislation solely for the approval of such expenditures.

The hiding of pork and pet project spending within unrelated legislation is an old trick of the political class but has, like so many other underhanded and circuitous measures, exploded over the last fifty years. There is another legislative misdirection used by politicians by which they pass legislation for items which they are fully aware that should they support it straight out they would be pounded come the next election as their constituents would hold their feet to the fire for supporting something the voters would find undesirable, odious even. What is done is there are three versions of the legislation presented for consideration, each one worded just sufficiently different to make each one appear to be different. This can be accomplished by changing technical terms or making less direct references within the bill such that it is a difference without a difference. Then our Representatives and Senators can vote against at least one variation while they agree on which one will be passed, maybe all three will be passed and still allow any who need to have cover for opposing the legislation is also met. Another misdirection used was a favorite of retired Texas Representative Ron Paul who would add copious amounts of pork to guaranteed to pass comfortably legislation and then he would make a grand pontification denouncing all the pork in said piece of legislation and, after demanding a roll call vote, proudly vote against the legislation into which he had placed the pork for his district. When his reelection campaign was hitting the home stretch he could wave his vote against a bill containing pork for his own district as dyed in the wool anti-pork purist despite knowing full well that the pork would safely pass and his district receive the largess he intended for them. Representative Ron Paul was one of the most successful practitioners of this method of deceit.

These are simply a pair of ways our Senators and Representatives mislead and outright lie to us and still manage to do every dirty little trick necessary in order to build government and spend all of the citizens’ tax monies to buy the votes to keep them in their cushy jobs in Washington or each state capital. There is one method which will never see the light of day unless “We the People” demand that such be made into law, or better yet, made into a constitutional Amendment. What is necessary to end these practices is single item legislation requirement where each piece of legislation must state exactly the measure or condition it will address and then every article, addendum, and amendment must be justified as to how it addresses the defined subject of the legislation. Such constricting rules will never be imposed by our elected representatives because such would end much of their little games and secrets through which they enrich their big money supporters and even often find channels that put more cash directly into their own wallets. Single item legislative requirement would not be the end and cure-all but it would be a solid step towards curbing runaway spending which we currently suffer from in almost immeasurable amounts. Once we have corralled the spendaholics in our government, perhaps then things will become easier to observe, then further steps towards honest and forthright political service can be demanded and excesses finally be rendered to the past. Everybody is allowed to dream and sometimes that first step, the dream, can lead to actual achievements. Truth be told, if you never dream it, you will never achieve it, so let’s get the dreams started and the necessary changes introduced into the discussion.

Beyond the Cusp

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August 29, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing Unexpected

Well, I do not know if you have heard, but the Republican Party at their windswept convention have voted for Mitt Romney to be their actually declared candidate against President Barack Obama in this November election. No surprise there, was there. I guess this means we have finally seen the last of that phrase which has been driving me absolutely loony for the last many months, Mitt Romney, the presumptive candidate for the Republican Party. I hope this event came as much of a surprise for you as it was for me, which is somewhere down there around none. The biggest complaint I have heard from commentators has been the complete lack of confetti, balloons, and other signs of reverie. My opinion is it is about time the childish rah-rah cheerleader and homecoming style celebratory goofiness may have finally been relegated to the good-old-days where such silliness was cute and fun. With the problems the United States is facing and the serious nature of the choice the American people will make, which may very well define the future of the United States and all that entails and that will result from the coming election, perhaps it is best that the lightheartedness has been put aside for some future time when it will once again become appropriate.

I, for one, am glad that there was a more subdued response where the many delegates who represented presumably adults who voted in the many and various primaries actually treated the solemn and serious execution of their duties with the respect it deserves. I suspect that I will be among a small minority in this opinion as many would rather say not having the customary balloons, confetti, noise-makers, kazoos, and other raucous stupidity will be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm. Which would you rather have leading the United States going forward, somebody who was serious and thoughtful and did not bother with traditions of reverie or somebody who treats their nomination to represent one of the major political parties as their candidate for the most important office currently in the world as if he was just elected homecoming king. I would not be the least bit upset if this marks the beginning of these conventions taking a more serious and businesslike approach to the nominations and elections. Yes, I know that there will still be the catchy tunes and phrases run in ads ad infinitum as such tactics have been proven to be effective and I unfortunately have to agree with the idea that nobody ever went broke by underestimating the immaturity of the American public. Needless to say, many of the little quips which stood in place of seriousness from many of the state delegations’ chosen speaker were further proof of playing to the lowest intellects among us. This is something I relegate to the personality of those who would go to any extreme in order to attend a convention.

All that is left now is for a train of Republican Party members who are being honored or featured for reasons that, for some, escape the rational of any reasoning person, to stand before a captive audience that would likely cheer anything trotted out to the podium to have their fifteen minutes of fame, and many will attempt to stretch that time limit and overstate and overstay their welcome. There will likely be some actual work done such as approving the planks and rejecting others building a platform which will forever be completely ignored but treated as if it held actual importance when the other party takes pot shots and attacks it. There will also likely be rules voted upon which were likely made the old fashion way, in a semi-dark room full of cigar smoke hidden out of the sight of the vast majority of regular folk. None of this is a symptom that is part of just the Republican Party as it happens in the Democrat Party as well as the Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, and every other political group. Then comes the great finale where we will likely see the balloons, confetti, noisemakers and the rest of the silliness we fortunately escaped today. Some things in life are just plain and simple unavoidable, but one can always hold out hope that the adults have taken hold of the reins of power, if only.

Beyond the Cusp

March 15, 2012

Santorum Wins, Newt Soldiers On, Romney Still in the Lead

The first report I heard this morning on last night’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi along with caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa just had to mention Mitt Romney after referencing any of the other candidates. It went something like this; Santorum won both southern primaries in Mississippi and Alabama while Romney came in a competitive third also coming in behind Gingrich. Romney swept the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa. Santorum will pick up around forty delegates while Romney will garner fifty. Gingrich coming in second will add over thirty delegates to his count leaving Romney still comfortably in the lead.

 

The main themes of the news last night appeared to be that despite winning both primaries, Rick Santorum was still going to lose ground because of the delegates being assigned in the Pacific Islands. It was further pointed out that Rick Santorum can only win should Newt Gingrich leave the race and that possibility was hashed out until after Gingrich spoke showing all indications of continuing to the bitter end. This slid the conversation to how Mitt Romney winning the nomination was now guaranteed and an overly long string of attempts to rationalize the reasoning behind Newt Gingrich remaining in the race. I thought maybe I might share my insights on the rest of the Republican delegate race heading for the Convention.

 

I have a little difference of opinion with the so-called experts and pundits about Gingrich remaining in the race will solely work to thwart any chance for Rick Santorum to win the nomination outright. The reasoning for this line of thinking is based upon the primary belief that almost every vote won by Gingrich would have otherwise been a vote for Rick Santorum. I find this a difficult point to swallow. While I will grant that very likely three fourths of the Gingrich support is diverted from Santorum with fifteen to twenty percent are taken from Romney, the remainder very probably would have sat out the primaries. Some of my thinking has been due to the fact that in many states the numbers of votes being cast in the Republican Primaries have been higher than the average as the race is tighter and more competitive and thus stirring up increased participation. The real question is what is Newt Gingrich thinking which has him believing that he can actually win the nomination?

 

My theory has it that Newt Gingrich does not believe he is going to win the nomination any more than does Ron Paul. Newt also resembles Ron Paul in that he believes he is the only candidate representing his views which is a vitally necessary message which must be professed no matter what the consequences. I suspect Gingrich has another reason to remain to the bitter end, and that is because he believes that he and Santorum together can garner sufficient delegates to prevent a first round nomination of Mitt Romney thus leading to that mystical political state, a bartered convention. Should the Republican Convention end up unable to give any of the candidates over fifty percent of the vote, then the bartering and maneuvering begins. If the divide is such that Romney has less than fifty percent, say forty-five percent, with Santorum a close second at say thirty-nine percent and Gingrich holding fourteen percent with Ron Paul holding the remaining 2 percent, insufficient for Ron Paul to put anybody over the top. This places Newt Gingrich in the spot of king-maker as whoever he backs would easily win with their delegates added together. My suspicion is even more absurd as I can easily envision Newt Gingrich presenting himself to the Convention as the sole candidate not destroyed by the process as both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney had focused their aim on each other leaving Newt safely on the sidelines away from the mud-slinging.

 

For those who claim that the only result that can come out of Newt Gingrich remaining in the race taking most, but not all, of his votes and delegates from supporting Rick Santorum thus keeping him from winning outright have overlooked a small matter. My thought is that when Mitt Romney falls short of the necessary delegate count we will find that this will be due to the small but still measurable number of votes and delegates stolen away by Newt Gingrich and simply having the votes he took away from Santorum being insufficient to have put him over the top anyways. So, it is possible that it will be better for Santorum to have Gingrich in the thick of things instead of dropping out of the race. Finally, should we end up with a brokered convention, actually a convention that goes past the first vote casting before reaching a nomination, it is more likely that Rick Santorum would be able to enlist the support from Newt Gingrich than would Mitt Romney. The drawback would be that after a certain number of ballots have been held, some states release their delegates from their elected obligations allowing them to vote for whoever they choose. This would very likely lead to the so-called Republican elites making the decision on who would be the candidate. Even if this was not the real reason for a Romney win, it would be suspected should he not have reached the magic number of delegates through the primary process and a perceived back-room deal appeared responsible for a Romney candidacy. Such a perception would weaken Mitt Romney’s campaign from the outset which might affect the outcome of the national election in November. The best result for the Republican Party is for one candidate, whichever one is less important than the manner, to win the nomination outright through the primary votes and not reliant on super delegates or other non-elected delegates being the deciders.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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