Beyond the Cusp

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

 

November 23, 2013

The Debate is Cloture and Not the Filibuster

The main reason that the mainstream media is talking about the Senate changing the rules on the practice of filibuster is due to their being too lazy to explain what the Senate really did and actually educate the people who might not be as up on their United States Constitution as used to be the norm earlier in American history. The Senate changed the rules on cloture which is the means by which a filibuster is ended, not prevented or even stopped dead but ended with a possibility of allowing limited debate time to each Senator if the rules so permit. So, let us take a short trip back through history, and I promise to try to be brief. When the Constitution was ratified and became the founding document for the governance of the United States in 1789 there were no rules limiting debate in any manner. Senators could talk on any legislation pending before that august body until the cows came home and beyond. That was the beauty of the Constitution and the original interpretation of the idea that the House of Representatives was a rough and tumble and coarser body while the Senate was proper and deliberative with cordial rules and mutual respect, a far cry from what we have today and even originally. Do not for one second believe that American politicking has become raucous and vile only in the recent past as it actually has become more sensitive and polite. Nobody is referring to the other candidate for President of being a hermaphrodite or of being the son of a half-breed Indian squaw. To quote the two gentlemen in question behind those remarks, and they are to this day considered gentlemen though I doubt the shorter of the two would have agreed with such a description when he was alive; the Jefferson campaign described President Adams as a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” and Adams in return defined Vice President Jefferson as “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Yes, believe it or not these were the President and Vice President of the United States at that time as originally the candidate with the most votes became President and the candidate who came in second became the Vice President but we obviously changed that as it became a tad unworkable and obviously so. The Twelfth Amendment in 1804 put this problem to rest allowing for separate ballots for President and Vice President but did not dictate that the two office holders be from the same party, it is still possible though unlikely that the President and Vice President could come from different parties.

Back to the “nuclear option” voted on by the Senate this past week. The Senate rules call for a simple majority vote with limited debate for any motion to alter, add or deduct from the rules under which the Senate operates thus making any chance for a filibuster basically mute. Because of that the Democrats with their four seat advantage won the passage of the new rules by a 52-48 vote. President Obama took the opportunity to continue his war against the minority Republicans in the Senate in a short speech after which he delegated a person to answer any questions in what has become a normal routine of never allowing the President to be questioned by the press directly or be allowed to ever go off of the carefully scripted words on his teleprompter. Sometimes I think that it would be both revealing and educational allowing for the truthful revelation of the character and inner feelings of a President if it were required that he take a session answering press questions at least once each month and could be required when asked to appear before either branch of Congress to answer questions on any legislation brought to the floor by request of the White House or any member of the President’ own party. Any additional information that is revealed concerning a President’s inner feelings, ability to think quickly and respond to unexpected queries and situations as well as anything that fills the people with additional truths about the person supposedly running the nation and being the face of the American people and the nation on the world’s stage should be encouraged, even mandated. The Senate changing the rules such that a cloture vote which restricts virtually ending debate on appointment for judgeships and other posts to a simple majority has basically changed the process into simply the Senate being a rubber stamp for all but the absolute worst nominations, and even then it might be questionable if the Democrats would not simply bow before the President’s will. This may prove to be catastrophic or it may simply end up as a tempest in a teapot, it all depends on which appointments now gain affirmation who might have been prevented by a Republican or a single Democrat deciding to filibuster the nomination. This I just one more time will tell and I have found that time usually tells long after anybody is paying attention. A perfect example, except that people are paying attention, is Kathleen Sebelius and the catastrophic rollout of Obamacare. Had that gone relatively smoothly with only minor glitches we would have never known how vacuous that woman is and how Health and Human Services is being directed by an incompetent who appears incapable of managing a major project any better than a junior project manager in training.

 

There will be some commentators and political talking heads who will go off the deep end and erroneously relate that this move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unconstitutional and that the Constitution enumerates the right and procedures known as the filibuster and cloture vote. They are mistaken at best and intentionally misleading at worst. The truth is that the Constitution says absolutely nothing about either process by name. Under the Constitution the original Senate had absolutely no limit on the length of the debate thus allowing every Senator and thus every State to have ample time to discuss and debate the merits of legislation and even return home to get their marching orders from the State Legislatures which chose the Senators. The Senate under Article I, Section 5, Clause 3 was empowered to write its own rules concerning debate and the procedures which govern the same. The Senate adopted its first anti-filibuster rule in 1917 calling such a procedure cloture. Traditionally the cloture vote has taken some form of supermajority in order to shut down debate. The rules of the Senate, according to the writings of the Founders, was to be a more deliberative body which fully debated legislation thus allowing the Senate to reject any legislations which was passed under emotional or other reaction to momentary events and to represent the individual States within the Federal Government such that the States would be protected from the rapacious appetite for power and dominion by any Congress or President. It is interesting that the initial limitation to debate came in 1917, four years after the ratification of one of the most destructive laws to ever make its way onto the books, let alone the Constitution, the Amendment XVII which forever changed the Congress and permitted the unrestrained expansion of the powers, reach, and oppressive abilities of the Federal Government. Under this amendment the States no longer appointed their own Senators in any manner they saw fit, be it appointed by the Governor, appointed by the Governor and ratified by some branch of the State Legislature, appointed directly by the State Legislature or even directly elected by the people which any State could have enacted as their method had they so chosen. This was a direct assault on the rights of the States and took place under a wave of humanist excitement where it was believed that the people, if allowed to voice their combined will, would reach a more reasoned and duly proper decision than any that could be reached by the corrupt and despicable State Governances. The members of the Federal Government even back then looked upon the State Governments, from which many of them had originally served, with contempt and disdain. They saw them as incapable of reasoned thought or honest debate. Looking at the Congress of today one might come to the conclusion that a monarchy might be preferable, but surely I jest. It is likely certain that had the Senate remained as intended a product of the individual State Governments deciding their selection process that the vast majority of States would have decided to allow for the direct election of their Senators in the Federal Government anyways, so there is probably little difference today that if the Amendment XVII were never passed or ratified. One note on history, both the Amendment XVII and the Amendment XVI, which enacted the income tax, have both had claims made that they were not truly ratified by the necessary States within the time limited by the Constitution and are therefore not enforceable. Thus far nobody has won a court case challenging either Amendment. Given my personal choice, I would prefer ridding the United States of the Amendment XVII as returning a greater amount of limiting force by the individual States would do more to limit and turn back the growth of the Federal Government than anything else I have ever heard promoted. The one item that would cease to exist immediately would be the imposition of unfunded mandates on the individual States by Federal legislation as that has become a nasty and not all that uncommon way that the Federal Government passes legislation while forcing the States to finance the implementation and continue maintenance of the legislation and not burdening the Federal budget with such costs. Imagine a Federal Government which was forced to pay for every consequence of their legislative agendas. They would soon go on a legislative diet which the press would label gridlock and the Representatives and Senators would label sticker shock from seeing the financial consequences of all of their actions and being unable to pass the costs off on the States. That was an imagine that Mr. John Lennon missed in his song, but being British I guess he should be forgiven.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 31, 2013

Obamacare and the Slippery Slope

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, was first passed it was Democrats against the Republicans and passed purely by the Democrat unstoppable majorities. The Democrats had a large majority in the House of Representatives and a filibuster proof sixty vote majority in the Senate. This was used by many in the Republican Party as their campaign cry which blew them through the midterm elections allowing them to take the House of Representatives and ended the Democrat domination in the Senate. The call was that the Republican politicians were going to kill Obamacare by hook or by crook. Well, here we are after another Presidential election and approaching another midterm election and Obamacare is rumbling towards the people unabated. Even with President Obama overstepping his constitutional limitations granting exemptions to preferred friends, large campaign contributors, unions, and other friendly entities and just recently granting a one year reprieve for employers from the Employer Mandate requirements, he has already proven there is no limits to what he will do, legal or not, to fulfill his dream of Government mandated healthcare. After losing the Presidential elections and only controlling the House of Representatives, the Republicans have come up with a different way to prevent Obamacare being inflicted upon the American populace, either by depriving funding by omitting it from any budget or from any continuing resolutions or if they are unable to pass a budget which specifically excludes any funding for Obamacare, then shutting down the government until such an agreement can be forced through the obstinate Democrat majority Senate.

 

But there are problems developing in the Republican ranks as many recall the Gingrich government shutdown that reflected poorly on the Republicans as President Clinton used it to berate the Republicans and demonize them. What makes matters even more complicated is that there is another faction within the Republican Party who believes the best way to put Obamacare in its grave and make any future ideas for the Federal Government to enter the healthcare industry bring back memories of the worst blundering fiasco ever produced by mankind is to allow it to be implemented and fail. Their obtuse plan is to allow Obamacare to proceed to implementation as it stands and allow it to collapse, implode, fly completely out of control or catastrophically fail as an example of government gone horribly wrong. So, which would be the best route to address the monstrous, government expanding, cataclysmic program; prevent its release on the American public or allow it to be inflicted upon the American public and allow it to flail as it displays the worst side possible of government gone wrong. With the health exchanges scheduled to be deployed this October 1 and the remainder of Obamacare rolling out at the start of the New Year, any actions to prevent the actual attempt to implement Obamacare needs to start immediately after the August recess at the very latest.

 

The very first step requires the Republican Party to decide on which way they want to address Obamacare from the options they are currently considering. The Republicans cannot afford to be split with separate factions going in one direction while others are off in another direction. This is especially pertinent when you consider that some decide that the best plan would be to prevent Obamacare by any means necessary while others want to allow it to be implemented and utterly fail. These two plans are about as incompatible as possible. The Republican leadership has a proven track record of being absolutely unable to solidify the rank and file behind a singular approach. This means that the only thing that can herd the Republicans into an organized group behind a singular approach is by the American people speaking up loudly and making their desires heard. This means that the 9/12 groups, the Tea Party groups and the individual precinct captains all get out, organize and make some noise. It might also be advisable for the leaderships of these separate groups to get together and get behind a singular mode of attack. Of course such efforts are only necessary if the desired end is to prevent Obamacare from being deployed as if anyone simply agrees with the let it loose to fail away, then there is no need to do anything as that is the default position which will happen without any interference. But to stop the disaster before it is loosed there is plenty of work to be accomplished and not much time in which to implement the plans. But there is one more group that needs to join with the Republicans if Obamacare is to be prevented from destroying the United States, those Democrats who also love their country and know that this monstrosity will bring down the United States just the same as government provided centralized healthcare eventually bankrupted much of Europe. If the people do not stand and make sure they are counted now, then they will have no honest right to complain once Obamacare has been implemented. And for those who are claiming that they have decided to let it fail gloriously and use it as an object lesson, name one failed Federal Government program that upon failure was not simply propped up by throwing more and more money at it? Face the truth, the Federal Government never admits they failed, they simply bellow out their call of last resort, “It just hasn’t been sufficiently funded, throw more money at it and it will work, you’ll see.”

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

« Previous PageNext Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: