Beyond the Cusp

October 26, 2013

Transforming America

One of the mantras used by President Obama during his first Hope and Change campaign was that he would basically transform America. He claimed that he would make the United States Constitution into a promise of positive liberties instead of a document of negative liberties which tied the hands of government instead of forcing government to act. President Obama did not likely realize this at the time but he was simply following in the footsteps of the majority of former Presidents, he was just more vocal and moved the ball across the field of play faster and further than most. There was a reason why the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in such a manner as to strictly define those powers allowed to the Federal Government and then adding in Amendment IX that the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. In addition the Founding Fathers went even further in the next with Amendment X restraining the Federal Government exclaiming that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. One trait of governance that the Founding Fathers knew all too well was the inclination for government to desire to grow in scope, size, power, and control. Having government do more is an easy task, just don’t oppose it and government will acquire new powers and simply continue to gather more power to itself hoarding everything it takes in and never relenting on powers assumed. My bet is President Obama knew this and was counting on there being no resistance allowing him to grow government through including goodies in the form of giveaways spread to varied and different groups such that everybody would feel like they were getting something for nothing. That is where President Obama may have gone too far as he awakened within an otherwise normally quiet group the spark of preserving that which they vaguely, some more so than others, the warnings from the Founding Fathers and other notable Constitutionalists from throughout American history. Probably one of the most pessimistic predictions came from the same pen that wrote the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson who has been quoted, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”


Another statement from President Obama was noting that people from every nation believes their home country to be exceptional and that American exceptionalism is no different than British or French or any other nation’s exceptionalism. There is much truth in that statement from President Obama as his actions in remaking the United States such that should he complete what he envisions for the United States, the United States would be indistinguishable from any European nation and would fit perfectly within the European Union and could just as readily adopt the Euro and drop the dollar. This would very probably be seen as a great stride forward by President Obama though there are a fair number of Americans who would recoil in horror from just the thought of such. Already the United States has approached the European national average for unemployment, is currently installing what will eventually become a single payer government run healthcare system, expect it to be sooner rather than later, and there are record numbers of people collecting a wide variety of Federal Government monetary payouts from numerous programs and the workforce has dropped to one of the lowest percentages of eligible workers in modern history. In foreign policy President Obama has gone to great lengths to make the United States as unremarkable as possible. He has almost completely lost any influence or other gains that may have been the result from the Afghan and Iraq wars by completely mishandling the peace efforts resulting in Iraq becoming just another arm under Iranian control and being used by Iran as a friendly skies and highways for funneling weapons and IRGC troops to Bashir al-Assad in Syria. Meanwhile the Taliban has become resurgent in Afghanistan while al-Qaeda has turned much of Iraq into a bomb range setting off car and truck bombs as well as suicide bombers detonating themselves often in police stations or at checkpoints making the position of Iraqi policeman an extremely dangerous position. The violence has risen to levels not seen since before the surge, which should have resulted in victory had the peace been handled more competently. The coup de grâce to the United States reputation of being the turn to nation and the exceptional friend in times of need came in two parts, the first in Benghazi and the second over the Red Line and Syria. In both cases the inability of the United States to either back their own and rescue men fighting valiantly for hours and still not receiving any relief or reinforcement despite numerous assets within close proximity was a disgrace that reflected badly on American armed forces despite that the real collapse was from somewhere much higher and the American servicemen and servicewomen were prevented from responding despite their readiness and willingness. Whomever originated the stand-down order should be shamed as well as tried for crimes against the nation and those who died valiantly trying to protect others as well as themselves and the American honor. The debacle that was the lack of response, direction, clarity, or any definition would be the response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. In what should have been a ready response already been assigned to special forces units who would have then planned, practiced, and trained for every conceivable contingency just needing the go order to response as President Obama had threatened instead turned into the Keystone Cops meet the Three Stooges except nowhere near as amusing. The inaction, dithering, lack of leadership, and apparent vacuum of leadership from the very top was an embarrassment especially when Russian President Putin of all people had to ride to President Obama’s rescue. There was sufficient egg on Uncle Sam’s face to feed an entire battalion breakfast. The entire affair was a complete embarrassment period.


There is some good news that I saved to end. Much of what has dragged the United States down off her pedestal, a place she has earned numerous times by aiding and rescuing others and then giving them a helping hand in rebuilding or rescue or whatever the need without asking for anything in return has been the responsibility of the lack of honest leadership in the White House. When the United States elects a President who has it as their main effort to restore the reputation of the United States, then she will once again climb back on that pedestal. It is as the Carlie Daniels Band says it in their song, “In America”, “This lady may have stumbled but she ain’t never fell.” There have been times in American history when isolationism has been the policy and politics of the day but when the world needed a savior the United States always has awakened and saved the free world. The one hope is that the United States has recovered before the world comes calling to be saved another time. There is little doubt that the American people will be ready even if that day comes tomorrow and even if the leaders of the nation would prefer to sleep through and not respond, the people will make the final choice. What many do not realize is the greatness of the United States does not lie with the day-to-day leadership but rather it lies in the leadership, philosophies, and radical ideals upon which she was founded. Never before or since in the history of man has a more enlightened, knowledgeable, wise, and able group of people come together to form a nation based on the guarantee of human and individual rights, the noble nature and creation of the human being, freedoms, liberties and faith that there is a higher source which defines goodness and provides guidance for behaviors which allow for the betterment of the human condition. The Founding Fathers wrote the documents upon which America was built and that foundation was strong and can still be resurrected and applied today. The magic is that they wrote the entirety of these documents in what was plain language of the day and is easily understood still in modern times. They used a great efficiency of words, something our current politicians should learn to emulate and have no more multiple thousands of pages legislation written in legalese codes. Perhaps we can limit all future legislation to being in total less words than used in the Declarations of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights combined. I wonder if the long winded fools currently in Congress could manage such a task, and I know there are a select few who do not fit that description, but it is unfortunately a select few and not the majority. That is the electorates’ fault and something that would require an educated and involved electorate which I have no idea how such can be brought forth. But there is always hope, but always ask what the change is when somebody links hopes to change.


Beyond the Cusp


October 4, 2012

Will the Presidential Election Really Prove so Critical?

Both of the Presidential campaigns claim to have the only path to take the United States into the future and remain a great country. Both campaigns claim that should the other side win the election that the United States would suffer grievously and great opportunities will become impossible to obtain as a result. The questions we need to ask are, will the consequences of this election be that much more critical than usual and are the ramifications as dire and impossible to turn around should we find we are heading in a wrong direction. Where both sides will claim the answer is that the consequences are that dire and any recovery from taking the other path will be next to impossible. Such critical and consequential decisions are very rare throughout all of history and are usually not known until decades, possibly centuries or millennium, later when history judges those events. In the history of the United States there have been two recognized decisions deserving of such a description. The first was the decision to break with the Crown and England rather than attempting to continue to find a way through compromise. The second was the Civil War and the end of slavery along with greatly increasing the central power of the federal government at the expense of the individual States. Almost everything else in the history of the United States can be attributed to these two pivotal events.

Some will argue that there have been numerous other such events. One that has often been touted was the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Where his Presidency was noteworthy as he held the office longer than any of his predecessors and was the impetus behind a Constitutional Amendment to limit the number of terms a President is allowed to serve to two, which is really not sufficient to be qualified as a critically crucial event. Much of the rest of the often mentioned items begun under Roosevelt’s Administration such as his big government work programs, the Social Security Act, and the plethora of programs designed to resolve the depression; all of these were made possible largely due to the result of the Federalization of Power in the central government during the Civil War. Some have claimed that the United States stepping up as a world power and acting as the World’s police force was another such event. What makes this less of a turning point is that this position has been passed from the leading powers of every age to the next great powers. Egypt was succeeded by Persia who passed off to Greece then Rome, Islam, Spain, England, Russia, China in the East, and the United States. But at what point did the United States actually become the preeminent power? Was it after World War II or after World War I or did the United States assume this role as early as when addressing the Barbary Pirates almost at the founding of the nation? The truth is that the United States has stepped up and then receded from the role of protector of freedom throughout its history and will likely continue to pass through times of outward diplomacy and force projection and passivity towards the rest of the world while turning inward to address internal challenges. Due to this changing from the role as leader of the free world or whatever slogan describes the outward looking United States and the introspective, inward looking, laissez-faire United States, one would need to be constantly determining critical periods as the United States directed her attentions in the two almost mutually exclusive directions. It has only been the last half of the Twentieth Century where the United States attempted to do both simultaneously and thus far that has proven to be a very difficult task. We are more likely to see the United States return more to being introspective and self-concerned turning to address the world as the situation demands. And to be honest, this is a lot of what this election hinges upon, do we want to remain a force in the wider world or do we want to be more reserved and take care of the home front and let the world take care of itself. The introspective, leave the world be is personified by President Obama’s policies of leading from behind where it is more likely that a Romney Presidency would stay more involved in world affairs and shaping the future outside of the United States while President Obama requires the world to take the lead and request the assistance from the United States before acting, and even then the answer may still be no thanks and good luck.

Yes, that is but one of the big ticket items and there are numerous others that need to be considered. The other main areas to be decided in this Presidential Election are the amount of a role the Federal Government should have concerning the economy and whether or not the Federal Government should have a large and direct influence and control of the lives of the citizenry of the United States, something that would be made necessary if the Federal Government were to take on the responsibility for the health care of each and every person. There are many aspects of these two choices which overlap. Both issues are a direct question on the range and scope of the powers to be delegated to the Federal Government. This is the other main aspect where we are choosing between two diametrically opposed views. President Obama has defined his view very succinctly when he claimed that he viewed the Constitution of the United States as a document of negative liberties when he believed it needed to be changed to become a document of positive liberties and that the Constitution should not tell government, the Federal Government, those things it must not do but should tell the government those things it must do. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has said he supports the position of the Founding Fathers who were largely in favor of a small central government which was of lesser power than the individual States and of the people. This is basically the definition of the Amendment X which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This decision is likely the most vital when it comes to the people and the future of the United States. This is why this election has also been framed as the decision between going forward to a new and completely different America or whether to retain and preserve those things which made America a unique entity among nations.

So, what exactly are the choices this puts to the voting public of the United States? Contrary to what is being peddled, this is not a choice of the future versus the past; this is a choice between diametrically opposite paths for the future. What is being presented is a radically different future against the retention of what has served the United States thus far for over two-hundred years. President Obama has told us that the United States has been on the wrong path since the founding and the writing of the Constitution. It is President Obama’s conviction that the United States should be more aligned with the European model of governance. It is his vision that it is not too late for the United States to join the European model of cradle to grave government care for virtually every need or requirement in life. President Obama wants the Federal Government to make sure that every person has a set of minimum basics in life as determined by those in Government who know more than any individual as to what makes their life worth living. It is President Obama’s opinion that the Federal Government needs to make all things more equal by redistributing resources such that everybody is guaranteed a certain minimal existence as determined by the Federal Government. The Federal government will also make sure that nobody is allowed to get too much as that would not leave enough for everybody else. He wants to bring the top down and the bottom up so that there is less of a gap between the two extremes. It is the opinion of President Obama that those who are at the bottom in the United States are living a horrid and deprived existence which denies them the basics in life. The fact that the poorest among us in the United States would qualify as middle class or wealthy almost anywhere else in the world does not seem to register with him, or does it? You see, President Obama does not only want to apply his vision of a more equitable society just to the United States; if he could find a way to do so, President Obama would apply his idea of equality in all things by force of government for the entire world. It is as he said in the 2008 campaign, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, and then just expect that other countries are going to say okay. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen” So, this might be something worth remembering when you vote for equality for all under President Obama, because if it is applied internationally we will all be living a far more Spartan existence while we send the bulk of our country’s wealth overseas.

Candidate Mitt Romney claims that he wants to preserve much of what has made the United States experiment work as well as it has. Unfortunately, Romney’s idea of preserving the United States as it has been is actually more towards keeping the United States where it has arrived and not going any further. The current state of the United States might be equated with a patient in the emergency room suffering from a severe loss of blood and the doctor saying he wants to keep the patient in his current state. Such a state is too weak to carry on with vigor but at least the patient has not died. The same can be said for the United States and its experiment in self-rule for mankind. The United States borrowed a concept from the Old Testament of the Bible in the Five Books of Moses where the government was to only posses the powers relegated to it by its citizenry. The government was supposed to protect each individual from outside invasion and to adjudicate between individuals in cases of disagreements or conflict. In all other things the people were supposed to act honorably with each other mostly by entering into contracts and agreements where exchange of goods, services, and other things of value ruled the day to day lives of the citizens. This is the ideal that the United States has slipped further and further from its realization. Where Mitt Romney claims he will, at the least, hold the line, many desire something a little more radical, a return to the principles of the founders, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Over the past two plus centuries the United States has slowly but unswervingly moved further and further from the ideals upon which the nation was founded. This is not any one generation’s fault as it began from the very first day and has continued and accelerated ever since. What we are offered in this election is Mitt Romney’s I will put the brakes on and slow the rushing train to avoid the wreck to President Obama’s we can avoid the wreck by speeding up, never mind that there is a cliff and no bridge, we will worry about that when we get there. The problem is we really need to stop, turn this train around and avoid the wreck all together.

So, the choice facing us will hopefully be made clear during the debates which the first was held last night. It really is worth taking a close look and inspecting exactly what each side is offering. For those who see the coming train wreck quickly approaching there is no decent choice and once again you will be choosing the least damaging choice. The actual choices are a radical shift which President Obama has made great strides in accomplishing a start at fundamentally transforming the United States against Mitt Romney who claims he will repeal and replace Obama Care which is also pretty much his view on much else of the current state of affairs. If what you desire is repeal without the replace, well, better luck next election as that choice is not available from the two main parties. So, watch debates, read, slowly go crazy and you vote and takes your chances.

Beyond the Cusp

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