Beyond the Cusp

December 1, 2013

What Should Americans Expect from 2014 and 2016 Elections?

It is understood and natural that all the stops will be removed for the 2016 elections by both parties as there will be no incumbent running for the Presidency and thus far there is no definitively obvious candidate for either the Democrats or the Republicans and the third party situation is currently fluid as the Tea Party block of mostly conservative and Constitutionally supportive group is currently being pushed aside by some in the Republican Party and could either form a third party with a fairly large base for such a venture or take the helm of one of the existent third parties such as the Libertarians or the Constitution Party, the latter not all that concerned with just the Constitution and more bent towards the Christian right lately. Before we get to the 2016 elections there will be the small matter of the 2014 election coming up in the coming year, so let us start with that.

 

If the political landscape continues on its current trajectory, it will be difficult deciding which of the two major parties will enter the 2014 midterm election more damaged as both are taking a beating at their own hands. The Democrats have what has become a ball and chain attached to them called Barack Hussein Obama. Where the President’s coattails may not have reached all that far but they had the effect by the Democrat Party out in full force with the additional troops and organizational tools, information, voter lists and campaign cash at the party level which may have made the difference in some of the tighter races. With the disastrous rollout and diving popularity of both Obamacare and its main supporter, the President, the Democrats will enter the start of the races at the end of the summer limping rather than running, but do not expect that deficit to continue long enough to make a huge difference if the press reverts to its default cheerleading for the Democrats as if they were part of the actual campaigns. Granted that the new media does provide some additional possibilities for other voices to be heard but thus far the Democrats have proven more adept at using the Internet than the Republicans. Likely the most important influence over the midterm election will be whether the Republican Party has reached some degree of accommodations in accepting the Tea Party segment of their base and have found some common ground and allowed for Tea Party candidates to run with the full support of the entire machinery and facilities available to the “mainstream” candidates on the slate of ballots. If the Republican Party elite continue with their denunciation and demonizing of the Tea Party they may find out that far more of their base is sympathetic and allied with the positions and candidates from Tea Party influence such as Senators Ted Cruz, Jim Inhofe and Mike Lee and Representatives Louie Gohmert, Paul Broun, Cynthia Lummis, Tom McClintock, Pete Sessions and Jim Bridenstine than to the establishment Republicans such as John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the like. But if the Republican Party establishment continue to threaten the Tea Party membership of the party they may chase away the support of not only the Tea Party members but many among the more conservative Republicans who might see such attacks as against their beliefs as well.

 

As far as what the results from the 2014 midterm are concerned, should the Republicans hold on or increase their majority in the House of Representatives then nothing will really change as far as legislation getting passed and such obsessions from President Obama such as Cap and Trade similar to the plan put forth by Vice President Al Gore which would place stringent caps on pollution and especially greenhouse gasses giving cleaner companies credits which they could then market to other companies who were exceeding their allotted quotas so as to incentivize companies to clean up their environmental side. The system, where workable in theory, would necessarily be abused and used to punish certain industries especially those using coal and promote favored industries such as biofuels. The Cap and Trade system would give the biofuel companies massive numbers of credits which they could in turn sell to those companies using carbon based fuels such as oil and coal and by selling their Cap and Trade credits they would be made economically viable and would spend most of their efforts into selling their credits for the highest possible rate and mostly end up ignoring the production of useable energy. The end result of such a system inevitably makes for higher, even skyrocketing, prices for energy making, as President Obama said during the 2008 Presidential campaign, “Under my plan, of a Cap and Trade System, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, even, (and) regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal fired plants, (you know) natural gas, you name it whatever the plant were, whatever the industry was, they would have to (ah) retrofit their operations, that will cost money, they will pass that money on to the consumers.” The only matter then would be whether or not the Democrats retained their majority in the Senate. Should the Democrats retain their majority, it would be expected that the Cloture Rule would remain changed as was done with the so-called nuclear option which would mean that the Senate would act more like a rubber stamp for the President’s appointments other than for the Supreme Court than it would an advise and consent body as intended and defined by the Constitution. That is not to say that the nuclear option was un-Constitutional as the Senate may pass any rules it feels necessary by a simple majority vote and all would be as the Constitution lays out the rules of the Senate being established by that body. There will only be a change if the Republicans can take control of the Senate but even then they might choose to allow the rule change to stand in anticipation of winning the Presidency in 2016, which brings us to that election.

 

The 2016 election for the Congress will pretty much follow the same patterns as described for 2014 with the only modifiers being whether the Presidential elections drive any measurable excitement in one party more than the other giving that party a useable advantage in funds and strong base turnout or if the Presidential race appears to be closely contested and there is a visceral, obvious and real difference between the two major party candidates and not just the cosmetic difference as we have seen in the past elections over the past twenty years. Once again for the Republican Party much will depend on whether or not they have come to some mutually acceptable agreement joining the centrists and the Tea Party and other staunch conservatives, which make up a goodly proportion of their base, or if these voters feel disenfranchised and their causes which they feel strongly about ignored or even opposed by those responsible for making party policy and the Republican platform. Currently the Democrats in theory have what is normally considered a leg up as they hold the White House and thus if they run the Vice President he will have the advantage, presumably, of the former President’s support and good name recognition and early platform as the White House can make sure he gets a fair amount of face time with the Press and before television cameras and radio microphones. The Democrats may have a second candidate with former Presidential support should Hillary Rodham Clinton run, her husband Bill Clinton would be a great asset during the campaign as he probably would have higher approval numbers than his wife. Many have claimed that the nomination is Hillary Clinton’s for the asking, but we have all heard that song before and it did not play to completion last time around when President Obama won out over Hillary Clinton in the primary elections. Still, before Hillary Clinton would decide to run again, she would definitely have to address her strong negative resulting from the mishandling of a number of items from the last time she ran and her time as Secretary of State. Her mishandling at the State Department include, but are not limited to, her inability to negotiate a continuation of forces treaty with Iraq which many blame for the current devolution into violence in that nation and its sliding into Iranian orbit without an American presence and the need for support by the Shiite government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as Benghazi and the death of four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, as well as an aide and two former Navy SEALS. Meanwhile the Republican Party will need to first and foremost figure out who they are. Their big-tent approach has appeared to possibly be a major factor in their recent losses both in Presidential election and in some Congressional races. There are those who claim that the Republicans need to move placing a large difference between their platform and policies and those of the Democrats while others claim that in order to defeat the Democrats the Republicans must entice the middle of the road voters and even some more conservative Democrats to vote for their candidate as the polls and voter registration rolls show the Republicans at a deficit compared to the Democrat voter numbers. What would need to be considered as an outside condition that might make a huge difference in tactics, choice of candidates and planks in their platform is what is the makeup of the unaligned and independent voters. There are as many theories as to the makeup of these groups as there are pundits with each having their own slant and percentages. The consensus here at BTC is that the Republicans have misjudged not only the weight of the conservative numbers among the unaligned and independent voters, but have also misjudged the number of voters among their own party who are definitely conservative. We feel that the Republican Party’s sliding to the left to be as similar as they possibly can to the Democrats is simply a recipe for disaster and as long as that is their policy, they are doomed and may as well pack it in and go to the country club and play a round of golf, at least then they will have had some fun and have something worth talking about.

 

The results of the 2016 Presidential elections will only be of importance if a true conservative wins the election. Should one of the “Compassionate Conservatives” win as the Republican candidate then all the American people can hope for is a replacement of Obamacare with a softer, gentler government healthcare plan rebranding basically the same horrendous system under a Republican’s name, say like maybe Romneycare? A liberal or progressive, they mean the same thing in American politics as they are simply brands worn and not really defining characteristics as most liberals are not libertarian and most progressives are not selling new ideas or progress but reselling the same old ideas that have been their stock and trade for the past century or more. Even an honest conservative might not make much of a difference unless they have a solid base of same-minded support in both houses of Congress, otherwise very little will change as the ideologues will block any true reforms which scale back the powers and intrusions into every corner of American life and society which the Federal Government has usurped over the past two centuries. What would be a saving grace for the United States would take a near miracle and at least a decade but it has been America’s charmed existence that she has gotten just those miracles at the time she needed them the most, and she could use one very soon. The last miracle was the election of President Ronald Reagan to follow and clean up after President Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a very large supply of such communicators who are both conservative and a Constitutionalist on the horizon, and no they do not have to be Republicans, though such a Democrat would really be a pleasant and unexpected surprise as they would still get the vast majority of the people who vote for the Democrat because my family has always been Democrat. Even with a Congress and President that are true and stringent Constitutionalists who have the energy and desire to scale back the Federal Government within the boundaries placed in the Constitution, we suggest they begin with applying the Amendment X to the overwhelming piles of regulations and simply repeal Amendment XVII and return at least some of the power which was intended to remain with the States through their legislatures and governor deciding how their US Senators were to be chosen. Those stats which desire to continue to allow the direct election of their Senators are free to choose such a method and those who wish to retain that power to the state’s governance can choose that manner. Then there is the other branch of government which is the slowest to change, the courts and, in particular, the Supreme Court. That is the reason this is a challenge that will persist and take longer than any one man is permitted the White House as President. The courts have been a difficult problem to rectify as the appointments are for life or until the particular judge wishes to resign or is making such a mockery of his position that the Congress invited him to step down though impeachment is not an easy procedure purposely. The challenges currently facing the United States will be difficult to rectify as they require a dedication and persistence in their efforts by the American electorate and the ability to keep their eye on the end goal and pass the importance of their effort on to the younger Americans to continue the effort. Anything short of restraining the government and placing it on a budgetary crash diet and soon will result in the United States falling prey to the same economic difficulties as are currently plaguing the European Union except instead of failing countries as in the European Union the United States will have bankrupted states, cities, municipalities and counties and a Federal Government wallowing in too much of its own debt to be of any avail. The Chinese curse that wishes for one, “to live in interesting times,” may apply to the next decade or two more than anybody will have cared for after the times have passed.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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October 3, 2013

Some Truths About the Government Shutdown

The main truth about the Federal Government shutdown is that what the holier than thou politicians claim is being destroyed, aggravated, or other wording describing deleterious effects are mostly false representations. Perhaps the most pernicious lie is that the furloughed government workers will not be paid. Where they are not currently receiving their paychecks, once the budgetary crisis is over the Congress will quietly pass and the President will sign without the usual fanfare of a press presence a bill which will pay the furloughed government employees all of their missed back pay to cover the entirety of the shutdown. Are some of these employees facing difficulties because of the shutdown? Yes, there are likely some who may be having some problems needing to use credit cards to buy groceries or should the shutdown last into the next month there will be those who may need to make arrangements to pay mortgages or rents late, which entails making a phone call as most lenders and landlords will work with these few government workers and wait until they receive the inevitable pay for the days not worked. Another lie is that the vast majority of Federal Government employees have been furloughed. The truth is well over half, some have figured it to be as many as three-fourths of Federal Government employees are still on the job. One thing you can be assured of is that any furloughed government employee who normally would have had direct contact with the public will have the services they provide all of a sudden becoming front page news to emphasize the horrible repercussions of the budget battle.

 

Then there are the falsehoods over who is to blame for the shutdown. It is a normal response for people to want to find somebody to blame for every perceived evil or even simple difficulty. The Federal Government shutdown is no exception and the media will gladly point you to those whose lack of flexibility forced the shutdown and those responsible according to media are the Republicans. There is some truth to this claim as the House of Representatives passed legislation that would have allowed for the continued operation of the government provided that the Presidents healthcare program was not funded. The Democrat controlled Senate also passed the Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating but struck the wording which would have prevented funding Obama Care, or the Affordable Care Act if you prefer. The President also promised that even should the Senate agree or find a compromise with the House of Representatives to continue the funding with some delay or reduction in funding for the healthcare act then he would veto it until he received a budget bill which fully financed Obama Care. It is obvious that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are being inflexible in their demand to defund the Affordable Care Act but the President and Democrat controlled Senate are equally adamant to totally fund the Affordable Care Act. There is a secondary story behind the shutdown which revolves around funding for Food Stamps. The media spin is that the Republicans want to dramatically cut funding for Food Stamps. This is the old standard lie which the media has employed for decades if not centuries where since the Democrats are proposing an increase in Food Stamp funding by seventy-five-percent and the Republicans merely want to allow the increase to be approximately fifty-percent then obviously the Republican increasing Food Stamp funding by just two-thirds as much as the Democrats wish then obviously that funding increase is a massive cut.

 

Meanwhile, while the Federal Government is working under only essential personnel we also have the rollout of Obama Care. The “Market Place” web site where one can research and maybe even purchase health coverage is supposedly running and those employees required to run Obama Care are on the job as essential workers. Where some of them will be toiling away trying to make the web presence for the Affordable Care Act actually function and serve the public, the rest of the support employees may be finding something to do difficult as it appears that most of the government functions for this service are not quite ready for prime time. Other considered essential employees are those who bring us PBS radio and television. You have no idea what a load off my mind that little fact has relieved as how could we ever make it through the day without PBS. There will be some severe ramifications of the shutdown. The members of Congress will no longer have elevator assistance as the employees who had the position to press the buttons on the elevators for the Congressional employees have been furloughed. The White House staff will be operating with what has been deemed to be a skeleton level of staffing but we have been assured that there will continue to be full levels of staffing of the Secret Service guarding the President and all others who normally are kept safe by the Secret Service.

 

The real problem which could result from a prolonged Federal Government shutdown would be the public coming to the realization that the vast majority of nonessential services really are exactly that, nonessential. The shutdown may lead the people to discover that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi might have been slightly exaggerating when she complained last week that there was not one single dollar which could be cut as government had already been cut to the bone. Dear, dear Nancy, if the government was cut so bare how is it there were nonessential personnel to furlough because of the shutdown. There is a suggestion which would help the Federal Government to reduce the federal budget, what many might call drastically and other would claim it merely a good start, which would be to strictly enforce the limitations placed on the Federal Government and the functions it is permitted to perform by the Constitution. Particular attention should be placed on the application of the Tenth Amendment. By enforcing the Constitution and its limitations on the purview of the Federal Government, the states would be empowered to perform numerous functions without having to meet or be constrained by Federal Government oversight and regulations. This would allow each of the fifty states (fifty-seven if you agree with President Obama) to independently decide on how to address and tailor each of these programs such as education, welfare, unemployment and almost uncountable other programs. In time the methods utilized by the more successful states would be proven as advantageous and thus some form of them would spread to the other states. There would also be different variations in what programs would be considered vital and how the different programs would be funded allowing for the people to reside in whatever state best matched their personal politics. This relegating much of the day-to-day operations of governance to the individual states allows for a form of governmental evolution as each state becomes its own experiment in how to address governance which would eventually lead to greater efficiency in governance, something much needed as the Federal Government has mutated into a leviathan which feeds upon the people while telling them it is all for their own good. The time has come to bring government back to the local arena such that it is more accessible to the people it is supposed to serve, not to lord over as the dictator of all you do. If once the states receive these additional responsibilities it would be a good idea for them to pass as much as feasible down further to the county and city governments where the people have a real and potent voice should they choose to use it. It is time to return government to where it is for the people, by the people, and, most important, of the people.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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