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

January 19, 2014

Disparate Impact Meets Zero Tolerance

Thanks to an unprecedented cooperation between the Department of Justice and Education Department crafting a directive rolling out new directives for meting out discipline in schools, we now have competing dictates where enforcing the existent zero tolerance mandates will run headlong into disparate impact guidelines. This new directive details that all discipline must now be measured before application to be able to assure Federal authorities from Departments of Education and Justice that each application will not cause one group of students to have received discipline in greater proportions than any other group. This directive has implications beyond initial impressions as though most have looked at the application of disparate impact would force on disciplining minorities in many city school districts such that outcomes resultant from application of discipline is shared equally across all races. But all previous real world applications of disparate impact have constantly run into problems, many of which were unexpected when this theory was applied, and the same is likely in this application and is probably guaranteed. The real test will come when school systems run into my favorite consequence which lies in wait to despoil even the best of plans, unintended consequences, and this rule is guaranteed to run afoul of this.

 

One of the earliest attempts to apply the disparate impact guidelines were in criminal applications spurned by statistics which revealed a disproportionally larger number of minorities were being sentenced to prison than were other sectors of society. One of the results from the application of disparate impact guidelines to incarceration rates was a series of legal suits challenging the manner and practices of numerous urban police and justice departments which resulted in forcing the justice systems to release large numbers of convicts and adjust sentencing guidelines in order to equalize incarceration rates to fit the new guidelines. The same results will soon be converging on many schools systems and administrators are going to be challenged in how they keep discipline in their schools. Forget about the usual suspicions of applications of disparate impact and just fathom the coming lawsuits against schools when little Johnny is suspended for fighting and his parents sue over the disparate application of suspensions if boys as compared to girls for fighting. This is a disparity which is both expected and probably nearly universal in its occurrence. Boys tend to settle their differences in a different manner than girls. Simply put, boys tend to use contests of physical prowess to settle differences or taking revenge while girls are far more subtle and inventive in their manners of meting out revenge and settling differences. If school systems are to be required to discipline girls and boys in equal numbers and lengths for fighting then either school officials will need to find inventive ways to discipline more girls for fighting or turn a blind eye to many occasions of fights between boys. But what now happens to that old standby, zero tolerance. Zero tolerance forces school systems to discipline any rule breaking event as if it was the trigger of an apocalypse. The same will apply to disciplining students for disturbing the peace complete with intense screaming and attempted hair pulling. Good luck finding any boys to equal out this category. The schools are going to run directly into the same problems as law enforcement and the courts had when disparate impact guidelines were imposed on arrest, conviction rates and sentencing throughout the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. While we have witnessed some seriously insane applications of zero tolerance when six year old boys are suspended for using finger guns and yelling “bang, bang” and being suspended for using a (pretend) firearm on school grounds, now we will have twice the irony when we also have disparate impact applied in parallel with zero tolerance. One will have to give ground to the other and who knows which one will win out in the school yards across the United States. Let the inanity of insanity begin.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 3, 2013

The Liberty Crushing Mechanism Being Built

Back starting in junior high school my mother tortured me with a habit that ended up as a defining pillar in life, she had me read Section A and the editorial page of the Washington Star newspaper which was at the time the competitor of the Washington Post and the more conservative of the two. To give one an idea for reference, one of the editorial writers I developed a liking for back then was Mary McGrory until the Washington Star went bankrupt and Ms. McGrory began writing for the Washington Post which came with an equally compromising shift in her writing slant. I began to notice all the way back in the late 1960s that it appeared that the two parties were working in a form of tag team good politician bad politician game while both of them worked towards building something nefarious. What I began noticing in my misspent youth was that when the Republican Party was in power the Congress passed legislation which increased the powers of the Administrative branch of government while the Democrat Party when in power concentrated on regulations derived from actual legislation which limited personal activities and restricted freedoms and liberty. What I noted which made everything that much more problematic was that often the new laws and regulations were not being enforced, simply passed and then ignored. It eventually occurred to me that the intent was to set all of these restrictive laws and regulations and the accompanying departments and enforcement personnel were set in place but left unenforced waiting for a later time when all of these regulations and laws would be enforced all within a short period probably during a government induced emergency at the clarion calls of the population demanding order and protection from government.

 

Over the years this trend has held such that when the Republican Party held the Presidency and a plurality if not majority in the houses of Congress, the laws granting powers to the Administrative branch or the differing agencies with intelligence, defense and enforcement were empowered while when the Democrats held power laws and regulations which were passed mostly had to do with redistribution of resources and wealth along with restrictions on personal liberties and freedoms. What drew my attention to what was passing mostly beneath the public radar was the simple fact that most of these new rules and regulations were enacted but were not enforced. They all resided dormant on the books and were seldom returned to the surface and utilized in their initial intentions. I even went out on a limb when writing a paper for my civics class, yes I am old enough to have had a civics class in public school, I wrote an opinion paper where I stated that I predicted that the United States would move inexorably towards a society and economy more aligned with the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union would move inexorably towards a society and economy more aligned with the United States and the two nations would exchange places politically. Needless to point out that before 1970 such a paper was not exactly well received and my grade barely attained above total failure. I would love to have that paper regarded today.

 

My reading over the years and listening to those supposed experts of political subtleties have only reinforced my suspicions that there is some future expectation towards which laws and regulations have been passed, written, put in place and then only noticeable by their complete lack of enforcement waiting for some future situation where such laws and regulations will be required to fully transform American society and the lives of what will then be citizens transformed into subjects. There have been some actions recently and in specific places where progressive policies have been enacted and enforced leading to a glimpse of what may be the future awaiting everyone should the restrictive instituted laws and regulations be completed and finally activated. Probably the best example could be Mayor Bloomberg in New York City and the draconian regulations he has had enacted mostly restricting such items as smoking, large drinks, salt levels and other food and nutrition related restrictions. Between making smoking even outside virtually illegal, outlawing salt, trans-fats, and numerous other supposed food toxins and dangerous substances and also limiting the largest size soda one may purchase, New York has been transformed into a dream society for the strictest food Nazis. Where restricting such habits as smoking and healthy eating will likely be restrictions brought about through government enforced healthcare, there are almost inestimable numbers of restriction throughout all other areas of life and particularly political activities which will come under close to dictatorial and draconian restrictions and overview by government once the entirety of the designed Big Brother mixed with Brave New World limitations and restrictions on personal activities and political pursuits put in place are finally dusted off and enforced taking away from every citizen their previously believed guaranteed rights restricting and limiting the powers, influences and allowable challenges to the complete controlling power of the government which has taken on nearly unlimited power almost instantly simply by applying laws, regulations and other powers enacted but concealed through lack of enforcement for such a long time that nobody will understand where or how such power was instantly assumed by the government. The real problem is that there will be little recourse and those who rise to challenge the new super government will be secreted away from the rest of the public and labeled as conspirators opposed to the state and disloyal. Unless a decent sized fraction of the governed awake to this long term subordination of the populace, the government will eventually rule over us with the same brutal laws enforcing their will as existed before the Magna Carta and the other revolutionary ideas which provided rights to the people. Returning to a system giving the ruling class absolute power has been a secretive aim of government ever since the people rose up mostly since the Eighteenth Century and took control of their lives and over those who governed them. It will be a terrible shame and an awful day when those hard fought for rights die under the boot of oppressive governance.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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