Beyond the Cusp

November 19, 2016

Islamic Hierarchy Should be the Target as Well as ISIS

 

Is Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL or al-Qaeda offshoot) honestly that horrific a threat and challenge that it should be treated as an individual threat needing a solution before any further assessment can be conducted? If you were to make this an inquiry of the United States State Department, they would answer in the affirmative and probably make Islamic State the sole terror threat requiring attention. Pose this same question to the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their answer would place Islamic State as the immediate threat but would follow that up with a litany of other threats hiding in the background, in the darkest of recesses. So, which assessment is the most accurate and which should be utilized to address future actions. Obviously the Pentagon assessment is more in depth while the State Department takes a mere cursory glance seeking the least invasive path and the least need for involvement having a minimal footprint. This demands further explanation more as to why the Pentagon explains a path which is far deeper and requiring greater invasive solutions and the State Department leaves most of the problem unaddressed and untouched. The reasons are simple and would be obvious to any observers. The Pentagon is funded by the width, depth and breadth of a threat and gains funding and importance through greater involvement. The State Department gains funds by having obscured threats which it can assign staff to investigate and report threats in such a manner as to allow them to linger, requiring greater inspections over the longest time frame. Thus any military assessment should be judged knowing their report will make the threat the greatest potential possible while State Department assessment should be realized to define the situation calling for minimal involvement in order to preserve the situational threat generating further investigations. The best path would more often than not be somewhere between the two assessments.

 

So, what do these realities have to do with Islamic State? A fair analogy would be somebody waking one morning feeling poorly and upon looking in the mirror they notice there are red blotches all over their face and further checking they find more such red blotches all over their bodies. Reacting to these skin lesions they make an appointment with a physician. The question becomes what type of physician they should call. The initial assessment is the patient has a skin condition so they might make an appointment to visit a Dermatologist and treat the skin ailment while ignoring the underlying disease. The result is the patient will remain ill and would need visit the dermatologist repeatedly while if they had visited an Internal Medicine Doctor they quite possibly would have been admitted to a hospital and undergo a more rigorous cure than they would receive from a Dermatologist but would also be cured. Simply put, if you have the measles you do not visit a dermatologist, you visit a doctor of Internal Medicine. The State Department is the Dermatologist and the Internal Medicine Physician would represent the Military. So, the military will present a harder path with the greatest potential challenges you will be presented with and some painful choices need to be made. The State Department provides for a simple and immediate repair of a situation while leaving the underlying problems churning away and no difficult choices would be necessitated. So, the path you choose will likely be somewhere between the two, which one you follow more closely will dictate the level of curative actions and their lasting effects.

 

Making war on Islamic State is a requirement of immediate urgency, President elect Donald Trump will need answer the riddle of how far does he wish to peel back the onion. A fully committed military campaign to destroy Islamic State presence in Syria and Iraq could be executed taking no longer than three or four months. The time it would take would depend on how ruthless and how close to barbarism the military forces will be permitted by their Rules of Engagement (ROE). The obvious problem with such tactic is that such a solution does little to permanently change the situation. When choosing civility while fighting barbarians, one makes leaders and financiers unaffected, they will just wait for the opportunity and start right up anew. The sponsors must be made to pay a price, even to threats on their lives, before anything will change. This was proven in all theaters of World War II where German leaders needed to be hunted down even to the last bunkers in Berlin and the Emperor of Japan had to be convinced the allies could utterly destroy his nation without losing any of their military forces. This has also been proven in the current “War on Terror” where we are treating the rash and ignoring the disease.

 

By now most Westerners realize the problems caused by terrorism and the threat posed by Islamic State. Where many fall down is in linking the two problems and realizing that these two problems though often unrelated directly, both have a root cause and any logistics, funding, know-how or other support for both are derived from the same pool of sponsors. The source for both terrorism and Islamic State come from the various wealthy and powerful governing entities throughout the nations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and the infrastructure put in place utilizing the tribal make-up of the society often pitting one tribe against another tribe in order to procure additional power and a broader area from which to operate. Should one trace the cash flowing into the coffers of Islamic State one would see a trend that the same monies also fund the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda and other Sunni terror masters and their operations. Much of the funding originates in or by those close to the Saudi Royal family as well as graft skimming funds from government funding by Egyptians and other Sunni ruled nations supporting the Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood, forces worldwide. There also exists an extensive Shiite terror networks which is not quite as expansive but still a very real threat. These groups are financed, organized and run by the Iranian government and the Grand Ayatollah (Arabic:آية ‌الله العظمی) and Supreme Leader of Iran. The leadership of these terror forces controlled by Iran starts with the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) who incorporate the leadership of Hezballah and oft time Hamas as well. The reach by Iran is not as diffused as are the disparate Sunni terror forces. Much of the reason behind this is simply numbers. The Sunni make-up slightly over four-fifths of Muslims worldwide while the Shiites find themselves around a mere 17% of Muslims worldwide thus Shiite power structure by necessity must be more centralized and rigid while the Sunni can easily create anywhere from three to five separate groups.

 

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC

 

What people in the United States need know is that the current fighting between Islamic derived forces and the Western forces, particularly in and around the Mediterranean Sea is just the latest stage in the war with the Barbary Pirates. Truth be told, the European interests back to around 632 onto the current age have felt constant rumblings of discontent filled by dreams and desires to return to their ages of conquest and swallow Europe as they have tried before only to meet a standoff or complete defeat as was Andalusia, as was Spain. Much of the march of Islam colonizing the entirety of MENA has been accomplished by Sunni though there have been Shia heroes through the ages. Still, this fight to choose the ultimate ruler, the single Caliph who talks the talk but all are curious if one can be found who additionally walks the walk. Despite gaining a sizeable following and demanding he be recognized as Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will not become the Caliph restoring the Caliphate as the requirement is a vast stretch of lands which are individually owned and most have real air power which would decimate any ground assault not possessing sufficient air cover, something which likely plagues al-Baghdadi day and night and he likely dreams of having sufficient fighters and the people to launch adequate air support. The Arab and Islamic worlds are far too tribal and fragmented each refusing to particularly perform feats of great valor and have somebody outside your team ending up with all of the glory. The tribal overriding thought power need be abandoned should Islam ever desire to become great again and have yet a second sense of glory and accomplishment. Such an accomplishment will take a true Caliph, one such as the last Imam, the one who leads the final conquests leading to an Islamic World running under Sharia, the Islamic Code of Laws as preached by Mohammad and the original force.

 

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and into Europe before Ottoman Rule

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and into Europe before Ottoman Rule

 

There are realities which must be faced and faced immediately. Before there can be progress the new President already has a large pair of conflagrations he need work out a solution which will probably require a fair number of military service personnel. A President Trump must use all the forces at his disposal in order to remove Islamic State from the picture. After this has been accomplished the next task will be forming a governance or set of governances such that Libya becomes a normative entity capable of trade with the world which will bring wealth to these governing bodies and the people as well. Once Libya has been resolved and returned to viability it will become time to deal with Russia and do similar for Syria. Russia will press for the entire area be returned to Bashir al-Assad while the remaining “rebel” forces will protest loudly and just as vehemently as they have all along. Meanwhile, a refuge for the Kurdish population will necessarily be needed while Turkey and her President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are edging towards conquest and taking lands formerly belonging to both Syria, a lifelong enemy, and Iraq, whose Saddam Hussein had stashed thousands of barrels of nerve agent and other chemical and nuclear weaponry in an attempt to evade justice. Erdoğan’s hopes and dreams of reestablishing the Ottoman Empire will be muted. Once again all these solutions do little to nothing about remedies for the tribal alliances and primitive culture which keeps the nations of MENA suffering while other nations quite distant as in the Horn of Africa and as far east as Pakistan and Afghanistan are all experiencing national traumas from forces at the tribal area. These problems were exasperated by the imposition of the Sikes-Picot Agreement of 1916 which set arbitrary borders, making self-rule all but impossible. Sikes-Picot ignored tribal alliances and clan structures splitting these entities between three nations in some cases and two at others which simply added wood to the fire. Sikes-Picot also redrew the maps of Eastern Europe breaking up the Austria-Hungarian Empire. All of this eventually led to World War II and has set in motion the potential for a third shooting war, World War III. The problem is amplified with the knowledge that Eastern Europe is also facing economic distress along with threats from Russia to incorporate them back under soviet style land and they wish to remain free.

 

These areas are powder kegs just waiting for the fire from a mistakenly tossed match or misread of any situation to have the entirety of these places to sheepishly huddle under Russian wings. The United States lack of influence throughout the MENA area as well as the entirety of the globe for the last eight years has left foreign policy in such turmoil as to provide room for threats from all sides and levels. The world, and the United States and allies in particular, are facing an invigorated Russia, a China willing to manufacture Islands in order to further their goal of taking certain Islands which they claim as have other nations. These threats are backed by a new and proficient fleet China is building, a worthy blue-water fleet. Add to this the dual threat of a nuclear armed North Korea who has already developed and tested a number of nuclear warheads and appears to be attempting to manufacture an EMP device to knock out the power grid in North America thus neutering the United States military and causing widespread death. Along with North Korea we also will be facing a nuclear armed Iran who has the missiles with advanced guidance and range capabilities with which to deliver them. Once Iran is confirmed to have nuclear weapons one can safely assume that Saudi Arabia will call in their markers for their financing of the Pakistani bomb thus instantly becoming a nuclear armed nation as well. After this the proliferation across all of MENA will likely occur with blinding speed. From that point the rest of the world will be rapidly acquiring nuclear weapons and from there to annihilation of the human race is a short trip and it all might take place in a blink of an eye. It is truly sobering realizing how so very close we are from slipping beyond the cusp into a reality even Hollywood was unable to imitate believably.

 

The race now is to educate and bring the third world somewhere even with the advanced world. By this we mean to teach them from our mistakes such that the world benefits. These newly acquired nuclear capabilities must be impressed not to use them for the sake of humanity. At the same time the world need share its many secrets and the desire to go into space beyond just the solar system but to other star systems even beyond our cluster setting out to truly become a space-born people. That need be our goal if we plan on being a long lived species. I guess we will soon know if the Earth will become the origin of a truly enlightened space based society or will the Earth need await the next great catastrophe to rid it of a stagnant humanity so another intelligence reaches senescence and go off into space and be the long lived Earth born species.

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

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December 17, 2014

Has the World Gone Crazy? Government Wants to Look and See

 

Thus far this week we have witnessed too many instances of violence from all across the globe with none of it making much sense. There was the taking of hostages in a small eatery in Australia with a wannabe ISIS crazy who amongst his demands insisted on talking to the Prime Minister of the country. There was a Taliban raid on a Pakistani school murdering innocent children with the count approaching one-hundred-fifty and nearly countless more reportedly in area hospitals, let’s pray it does not exceed that number. The United States did not miss out as a former Marine went on a killing spree in Philadelphia northwestern suburb in Pennsylvania murdering his ex-wife and her sister, mother, grandmother and two children of the sister as well as shooting and injuring the sister’s husband. These, as with too many murders reported unfortunately almost daily, are the actions of disturbed minds or people blinded beyond sanity by their cause will remain beyond our ability to understand. Where the twisted reasoning behind any murder may be beyond the ability of our ability to discern and understand, efforts should continue to see if any discerning and identifying character traits or other determining actions and indicators can be discovered such that in the future some of these grisly events can be prevented. We will probably never have the ability to prevent every time somebody goes beyond all societal norms and commits some act of violence tearing a hole in society as a whole.

 

The question we as societies will need to answer is how far are we to permit law enforcement to go both in their abilities to collect information and survey public or even private areas in order to prevent crimes and provide a higher level of safety in their efforts to circumvent crimes, especially crimes of violence. There are already increasing usages for cameras and sound detection equipment in cities throughout the world with London taking the lead as the most surveyed city with sound detectors and cameras placed throughout so that they can see virtually every area of the streets, river, shopping centers, service alleys and probably the darkest recesses and corners throughout the city. Surveillance carried out to such an extent combined with the advancing artificial intelligence advances in computer technology including facial recognition software, gait detection and profiling which will lead to computers monitoring the entirety of these cameras and potentially adding the microphones so that they can discern every spoken word and conversation using software collating the data in order to alert police to suspected criminal acts they determine are imminent. The police would be directed in the hope that their mere presence would prevent the crime and to interdict any criminal act as soon as it occurs or prevent any violent action intervening at the predicted moment such violence might occur. It would be a virtual future crime system used as deterrence and placing police exactly where they might be needed moments before any criminal act. For crimes such as theft or a holdup such a system would likely deter many criminals but then how far would such a system be empowered. Would they use such a system to determine the name of a person crossing a street in other than a designated crosswalk and send them a summons or ticket just as speed cameras and red light cameras do in many cities currently? Such a system would potentially provide a huge increase in revenue which could potentially completely finance the entire police department.

 

If placing cameras and listening devices all throughout our cities and towns is acceptable, then what if the government decides to go further? It would start with a program where the government would give people payment if they were permitted to add any monitoring cameras and sound devices people currently had in their homes and businesses. The program would begin innocently and be voluntary so what would be the harm, people could simply say they have no interest and such a program might make others who would be unable to afford an alarm system with cameras and twenty-four hour monitoring and such a program would be enabling more homes to be monitored and kept safe. What argument could be made that this was not a good thing and it is still voluntary, right? Then the government would eventually see this as now a right they could extend as were not most of the people who had systems voluntarily opting to join the government subsidy. Anyways, anybody now refusing the government mandated monitoring systems and the government including these systems in their extensive monitoring would be proof that you have something to hide. The thing is such a demand would not be instituted until the vast majority of the public had already agreed to this monitoring by the government and nobody had been adversely affected, so where is the harm in government placing monitoring in every home. Such monitoring would keep homes safe from burglaries while people were at work and where would be the harm? There was a time when people would only accept a ticket if it was written by an officer who had witnessed their exceeding the speed limit or running a red light. Nobody would accept a ticket from a camera radar trap and receiving one would result in their going to court and demanding to confront their accuser. Initially this defense was accepted by the courts and then the city council allowed for a regulation, or even passed a law in some instances, that made these tickets legal and no longer permitted the defense of demanding to confront your accuser and thus no judge would accept that defense. It has become common for camera evidence to be considered superior to an eye witness’s testimony. Add facial recognition and cameras can be utilized to identify people beyond any reasonable doubt in most courts. Where these automated law enforcement technologies will end is anybody’s guess. The camera and the microphones are just the tip of the coming iceberg as we can expect explosives detection systems placed in sensitive areas or places where large crowds are expected to form such as malls, ballparks, amusement parks, concerts, fairs and special events as well as whatever devices and data gathering system which have yet to be developed. Many of the larger ports and other commercial shipping and mass travel systems including trains, planes and ships have detection equipment which checks the luggage or shipping containers as well as magnetometers to check the people while visual checks are made of carryon luggage and bags. These detection devices are simply a computerized version of using a dog or other trained animal and currently almost as reliable and their evidence is acceptable in a court as sufficient evidence for permitting an officer to search and arrest any person refusing the search in order to search the person once in custody.

 

There are numerous types of surveillance equipment with abilities which would astound the average person readily available to police departments should they care to make the outlay funds to purchase such devices. There is equipment which can listen to a conversation simply by placing an invisible laser onto any window to the room which the conversation of interest is being held. This technology has progressed to the point that one would need to cover the window with sound dampening screens or external cover such as aluminum storm shutters. There are systems which can see through walls with amazing detail capability. There are systems being researched which will allow governments to monitor people in ways they likely never imagined. People can be tracked by tracking their cell phones. Using your cell phone a person can be located to within ten feet and their cell phone can be activated to listen to any noises or conversations within the ability of the microphone to detect. Even the cell phone camera can be activated though such is often not very revealing as if the phone is in a purse or pocket the video will not reveal much. There are ways to monitor people’s computer usage as long as their computer is linked to a network which has internet connection active or if the computer itself is connected to the internet. The invasions of our privacy which government can potentially utilize if they wish to monitor our lives covertly are astounding and place every individual potentially in a very compromised position even without their knowledge. These are simply implications of the modern world we all reside within. But then in a world where many of us post even intimate information about ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Vine and others, why would many of us complain or have any problem with the government monitoring our daily activities. Perhaps the government could start their own social media site and simply put videos of some of the craziest things they monitored and maybe also the top ten crimes of the day. The one prediction which can be made safely is that privacy is a quaint idea whose definition is growing ever smaller with every passing new technology. Perhaps any legal definition claiming that we have unalienable rights to privacy, that our homes are inviolable or that our papers, effects and private information are secure from search or seizure without a court order, summons or warrant are simply cute little ideas whose potential possibility is nil in our high-tech world where information rules and those who can best gather information rule. In simpler terms, if one wishes to have privacy they best be prepared to make a sizeable effort to assure that their desire has been attained. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Perhaps this could be adapted to modern times where we add that not only is eternal vigilance is the price of liberty but also the price for personal privacy from government. It could be argued that privacy is necessary to have liberty and to have real freedom. To be honest, it is rightly well worth the effort and allows one to sleep better each night.

 

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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