Beyond the Cusp

December 5, 2017

Partisanship and North Korean Threat

 

The November 28, 2017, ICBM missile test by North Korea of a Hwasong-15 missile, the first test of this missile, was a development which forced the world, the United States particularly, to be placed on notice that Kim Jong-un just entered near parity with all other nations in launch capabilities. The missile reached an altitude of around 4475 km (2780 miles) and traveled some 950 km downrange with a flight time of almost one hour. If fired on a more traditional attack trajectory, then the Hwasong-15 would easily be able to reach anywhere in the United States and the world (see map below for ranges of previous tests including the Hwasong-14 ICBM). This latest missile is considered to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Whether North Korea has the technology to produce a tactically usable warhead has been debated by Pentagon and CIA personnel. The two questions which would require North Korea to be capable of making a tactically usable weapon come down to miniaturization of an actual weapon to sufficiently small size and weight, and survivability of reentry while retaining all capabilities. Most estimates grant the miniaturization part of the process, though some still have their doubts, but the jury is still out over the survivability part of the equation. We believe that North Korea has likely solved all of these problems and had done so even before Kim Jong-un came to power and he simply lacked the missile for delivery of the package. Now he has all the elements necessary making production and distribution of the missiles and warheads is all Kim Jong-un requires to have the ability to threaten the world whenever he chooses.

 

Hwasong-14 ICBM Estimated Range

Hwasong-14 ICBM Estimated Range

 

President Trump made a statement on the economy and tax cuts but began the media meeting with a short mention of the North Korean missile test in the video below. The remainder of his talk he stressed that the Democrat leaders of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate, Chuck Schumer, were absent from the meeting to which they were invited for a discussion with the President and their Republican counterparts. The President noted that the Democrats and Republicans are far apart in their ideas for the country and the direction it should be required to move. The main differences were defined as crime, immigration and national defense and how these issues should affect the budget and the issue of tax cuts and simplification. It was obvious that this meeting with the media had been planned for addressing economic priorities and that the President knew and was well prepared to make hay out of the Democrat leadership refusal to join him just to be harangued over their positions. Sometimes a small shame is preferable to a drawn out spectacle, and the President is long on spectacle and thus far short on production. This has mostly to do with two simple facts, one blaming the Democrat Party and the other the Republican Party.

 

 

We will return to the budget, taxes and the divided Congress and nation, but first a short trip to the United Nations where the Security Council held an emergency meeting on North Korea and their Ballistic Missile Launch. Below is a video about said meeting with commentary from United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as well as the Ambassadors from Japan, Great Britain, China, Russia and South Korea. The approximately one hour meeting spent much time on the seriousness of the breaking of the United Nations placed limitations on North Korea. The Breaking of this treaty is a serious and threatening action which requires the United Nations to take steps. The estimate was given that if flown on a standard trajectory it would have a range in excess of 13000 kilometers. The polar circumference of the globe is 39,931 kilometers which means that this North Korean ICBM could readily strike anywhere over around two-thirds of the planet with Africa and South America being the only continents not mostly within range and leaving the southern most parts of Australia beyond the missile range. This missile is the game changer which President Trump had set as one of the parameters of the North Korean capabilities which would force the United States to act. The other items included miniaturized warhead capability and reentry-hardened capability, both of which may already have been realized. The problem is without an actual successful deployment of a nuclear weapon on an ICBM, hopefully into an empty part of the oceans and after warnings with adequate time for ships exiting the effected area, there is no means of actually verifying these last two items.

 

 

The meeting was as much of a punch-down on the Democrats and list of their opposing attitudes for the future of the United States. The fact is that the Democrat Party members in Congress, both the House and Senate, will vote almost exclusively as a single entity opposing everything and anything which President Trump or the Republicans attempt to pass as legislation. The President also took a jab at the media for their misreporting on his words parsing his words looking for any single misstep to flaunt before the people. The recent Senate passage of tax reform legislation was a perfect display of both problems faced by President Trump and the shortfall of the Republican leadership in and outside of Congress. The tax cuts were passed without a single Democrat voting in favor, not a single Democrat Senator voting favorably. This has become the expected voting by the Democrats where their leadership has taken an extreme position of complete and total opposition. The sole example of the Republican opposition of President Obama and his legislation was against Obamacare, otherwise the Republicans were permitted to vote their conscience and representing the desires and needs of their constituents. Not so from the Democrat Party which has decided that everything passed which was not of their drafting will be opposed totally and completely until the Republicans realize the error of their ways as the majority party and allow the Democrats, who are in the minority and do not hold the White House, to write and pass into law everything according to their demands and ideas. Very simply stated, the Democrats have decided that only their party may lead the country and they will oppose everything not of their authorship. That is more dysfunction than principled stance. A principled stance would permit those in the party who felt that something written by the other party was worthy, could support that legislation. That is no longer permitted by the Democrat Party and any Democrat voting for any legislation will not be permitted funds from the central party and may face party sponsored opposition in the primaries. That is not the actions of a functional party, that is the attempt of the few to assume all-powerful positions given even the slightest opportunity.

 

The other side of the coin has exactly the opposite problem, as there are a group of Republicans, specifically in the Senate, who willingly oppose the Party leadership and especially the President and his proposals by refusing to pass necessary legislation. Even this tax legislation was held up by the ‘Never Trumpsters’ until they were permitted to weaken some parts and add their own pet propositions which were not desired by the President as his aim was to simplify the tax code and this small set of demands accomplished the opposite. These are the same Republicans who while guaranteed their legislation to repeal Obamacare was guaranteed under President Obama passed legislation calling for exactly that over one hundred times yet now that such legislation would be received with great enthusiasm by President Trump, this small group of anti-Trump Republicans who believe that only political functionaries such as themselves should be permitted to seek the White House, have refused to try and repeal Obamacare now. These few recalcitrant Republican Senators, which include a former losing Presidential candidate, believe their positions are more popular than those upon which the President of the United States campaigned. These problematic Republicans could guarantee that President Trump would be reelected simply passing two or three of the Presidential programs, tax reform, border wall and stronger immigration vetting, to make the Presidential 2020 campaign one based on accomplishments. They appear to prefer he fail and the Democrats gain control. This may be because they find it easier to oppose from the minority than act as a majority and take responsibility for the country and the needs of the people. So the two problems the nation is facing are the complete opposition by the Democrats and the lack of unity in the Republicans. There will always be those who side with the other side and others who insist on the limelight not capable of sharing center stage. If they only would realize that they are but the clown left to entertain before the adults take the stage, perhaps they would act responsibly for a change.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 24, 2017

Obamacare in the Balance

 

The Graham-Cassidy partial repeal and replacement for Obamacare is rapidly approaching the September 30 reconciliation deadline by which it must be enacted to be of any real usefulness. The problem facing the Republicans is very simple, they probably will never have the votes to do any replacement and a straight repeal is even less likely. The problem is very easily stated from their last fiasco where the votes which sunk them all came from the Republican side, as they knew going in that the Democrat vote would be a single block of solid against any repeal of their President Obama signature accomplishment. The Democrats are going to double and triple down on Obamacare as without Obamacare they stand behind eight years of nothing. The problem this time includes everyone from the last go-round Lamar Alexander, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman plus one additional, Rand Paul. Many a pundit and Capital Hill expert claim that this list can be narrowed down to probably just four names, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski. The good side is apparently the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Replacement Bill has addressed the concerns of the rest of the Republicans and cemented the opposition of the entirety of the Democrats. With reports that place Rand Paul and Susan Collins in Schumer’s Democrat opposition column, McConnell cannot lose a single other Republican vote; and with too many placing John McCain and Lisa Murkowski as still in the undecided column, the entire idea of calling a vote should be in doubt. Still, it appears that McConnell will call for a vote next week. Now many articles are going to talk endlessly about how the Republicans are committing suicide playing these games while the entire healthcare insurance business burns to the ground. They will claim that their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare was a sacred oath which will cost them dearly in the midterm elections. Well yea and yes on all of that and what more can be said. That has been covered ad-nauseum. Why not talk about Chucky Schumer and the Democrat solid block of opposition for a change.

 

The one item which has escaped coverage in the debate over repeal and replacement of Obamacare has been the lockstep denial of any need to do so by almost every single Democrat and every single democrat in the Senate. Senator Chuck Schumer has been leading them to what might be for them an inglorious end come the midterms. The people who have witnessed their insurance premiums go up or their plans nixed all together or who have lost their physician were not merely Republicans, many were also Democrats who may feel betrayed if something is not done to turn these events around. One need recall that President Trump won thirty states outright in the Presidential elections which would appear to depict that there are some very upset Democrats who either voted for Trump and thus favor the repeal and replace of Obamacare amongst other items or an equal number of Democrats who stayed home as they are done with the Democrats until they get their bearing back. Either way you look at this, it means that the Democrats tripling down on Obamacare is very likely to bode poorly for them come the midterm elections. Sure, the Republicans will face some anger but their anger will be focused on those who refused to vote according to their promises of seven years when they were repealing Obamacare once a month on average, or so it seemed. The voters know that Obamacare was passed purely on Democrat support and lies, but mostly on forced Democrat unity while the Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate voted against it, not a single Republican vote was cast to pass Obamacare. Apparently, there is a difference between voting for Obamacare and voting to remove Obamacare on the Republican side, not so on the Democrat side, as they remain lockstep voting as a block without any defectors to save Obamacare at all costs. This has apparently become a position upon which the leadership of the Democrat Party are willing to hang their shingle upon and run as the Obamacare Party in elections for as long as this remains an issue, which apparently will be at least through the midterm elections. They are following Chuck Schumer in the Senate as if he were the Pied Piper.

 

Chuck Schumer and his Democrats

Chuck Schumer and his Democrats

 

The idea that not being capable of repeal and replace will sink the entire Republican Party is what we hear from critic after critic and apparently, the Democrats have been sold the concept that Republicans and only Republicans are going to pay for any failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is a false picture as what is far more likely is that should Obamacare not be repealed and replaced then on the Republican side Rand Paul, Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski will be held to blame and face the ire of their voters. Senator McCain will not likely be running for another term due to health issues and thus does not care about the ire of his constituents, but the rest, if they are not also retiring, should. On this issue, all those hurt by Obamacare will likely have very long memories even to lasting six years out for those just reelected. Meanwhile, the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Replacement has been revamped and though not a complete repeal and replacement, it fills in many of the gaps and repeals much of the hurtful sections of Obamacare, retains the most popular, and is still not the complete fix desired but a long step in the right direction. There is plenty to be happy over and there will be further legislation to tweak and patch the remaining problems both foreseen and unforeseen but soon to crop up. The voters are not in favor of the complete repeal because Obamacare did give voters free things and they want to retain all the free stuff which is understandable even if unwise. Where the problems arise is it took far too many things people have relied upon for a long time and destroyed those systems. Many realize that should Obamacare continue that it would destroy the entirety of the healthcare insurance business leaving only government healthcare for all and this was completely unacceptable to a large sector of people. This includes a good percentage of Democrat voters and they are scared, just as scared as the Republican voters, and this will be shown as the Democrats become the Obamacare Party and seen to represent little else than complete takeover of healthcare by the government. Has it even occurred to anybody that the people of the United States do not want to become just another European style government handout nation? If that thought has escaped you as a representative of the people, perhaps it is time you weighed that thought before you vote to retain the one piece of legislation designed to do exactly that. That includes Democrats as well as Republicans. If the Democrats wish to go down as the Obamacare Party, that is their choice, but as the Whig Party went down over opposition to slavery and the Republican Party was thus born, perhaps some of the Democrats should consider what to call the party that will be founded on the remains of the Democrat Party as its brand dies over Obamacare.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 20, 2017

The Trump, Pelosi, Schumer Fallout

 

Did former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi really believe that there would be no fallout from working with President Trump? Did Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer really think that there would be no fallout from working with President Trump? Then again, did President Trump really believe their would be no difficulties once he deserted his base of support and courted with those considered the heart of the enemy camp? And then there are the initial signals from the new direction, the change from confrontation to cooperation. The biggest sign that there is trouble in Potomac River City was the comment by President Trump that, “the wall will come later, we’re right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new.” Many of us will claim very simply that we have heard this song and seen this dance number before from President Ronald Reagan through President George W. Bush. The Democrat promise that if you give them amnesty now they will gladly build your wall on the border later has worked every time they have pushed it before, it will probably work now as well. The problem with President Trump is that he knows little to nothing about political history and is like a neophyte seeing all of this for the first time. The fact is that most of his Cabinet are also new to politics as many are from the military or business world and not exactly long standing political experts. But there has been more in commentary from both sides.

 

From the left we have Murshed Zaheed of CREDO Action claiming that the California and New York representatives, indicating Pelosi and Schumer, were “out of touch with the zeitgeist of the progressive movement.” But wait, there’s more! Democratic Representative from Virginia, Gerry Connolly, warned that dealings with the President was unwise stating, “Let’s not fool ourselves, he is this person we know, and I just think there must be both political and moral limitations with how far we’re willing to cooperate with that.” From a different Democrat viewpoint veteran Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau stated, “We might have to deal with this guy for four years. What can we do during that time to save America?” Imagine that, there is somebody with a touch of reason from amongst the fury and anger we have seen on the college campuses and social media. Still, it is kind of reassuring that the Democrats appear to be as good with their communications as are the Republicans. Talking of the Republicans, Representative Steven King, a pro-Trump Congressman from Iowa, put it like this commenting on what will come should the wall not be delivered as promised, “The base will leave him. They can’t support him anymore.” Apparently, Representative King has doubts that the Trump assurances that there are sections being renovated, upgraded and being made brand new will ring all that well out in the midlands and he is very probably correct. The actual test will come down the road, just like it always has and it will be a concrete, easy to measure means, simply whether or not the Border Wall, an impenetrable (or at least excessively difficult) border system guarding from above and below ground, in the waters and the highest mountain tops, the open plains and the deep woods gets constructed and proves its mettle against the illegal immigrants.

 

The Betrayers Trump, McConnell, Pelosi, Schumer

The Betrayers Trump, McConnell, Pelosi, Schumer

 

President Trump sent the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to the Congress for them to consider and decide whether to codify President Obama’s Executive Order into legislation and return it then to President Trump for his final ruling by one of three ways, a straight veto, signed into law or using a pocket veto which by ignoring to take any position for ten days allowing it to be vetoed through inaction and presumably avoiding making an actual decision and avoiding the scowls and reprobations of the media. Needless to say, whatever choice President Trump might take, the media will make him seem like the scourge of humanity. The only way out is if the Congress does not manage to pass a DACA Bill. Since we can count on the Democrats to vote almost unanimously to codify President Obama’s order and the Never Trumpers to assist them plus the Republicans who supported amnesty from the start will be sufficient to pass some form of amnesty with little to no difficulty. The Democrats were chomping at the bit to get this handed to them and all but immediately pass it back to Trump all formalized with the assist of not too few Republicans. One must wonder what President Trump wanted from this entire scenario of including Democrats except if he wanted to appear to be working with the Democrats for some reason, possibly to aggravate the Republicans as punishment for their inability to cooperate with the President on repeal and replace Obamacare and leaving town without even giving the President even a single tip of their hat concerning his tax simplification and reduction plans before taking the first flight out of town in mid-August. Maybe President Trump has learned a thing or two and perhaps he is being played by the Democrats, only time will tell.

 

Something tells us it is going to be an interesting four years and the next Presidential election will be even more interesting. Watching Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren battle for the senior circuit position in the Democrat Party while there will be the new young guns shooting for the stars hoping that at least one will have what it takes to challenge the senior circuit. There are some placing the early wagers on Senator Elect from California Kamala Harris as the young and energetic new face being groomed for Presidential run in 2020. Then there will be plenty more infighting within the Republican Party as Senator John McCain attempts to prove that he deserves to be the Republican candidate in 2020. He truly believes that he deserves a second shot at the brass ring. There is nothing sadder than an old guard captain who refuses to understand when he would be best served simply hanging on to the position he holds, if he can. His pouty child act might just cost him his Senate gig in 2022, especially if he were to replace Trump in 2020 and then lose a second run for the office of President. What would happen if both major parties tear themselves to pieces and in the interim numerous new faces from people who have never been in politics come from nowhere and make the noise necessary that the majority in the Congress shifts in an entirely new direction. Imagine a Congress is 2020 made up of a majority of new faces belonging to neither party and then it would matter not who wins the Presidency. That would present a whole new dawn for America if only the people have the bravery and fortitude to take back their nation.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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