Beyond the Cusp

May 27, 2019

Israeli Elections Take a Familiar Route

 

Well, the deadline for the formation of a coalition and thus make the seating of the new Knesset came and went without a coalition. This might lead one to conclude that Israel is going to go to elections once again. Well, not so fast. President Rivlin used his power to grant a one-week extension which pushed the deadline to this coming Wednesday night, May, 29th, to tell President Reuven Rivlin that he has enough support to build a coalition, and until next Monday to present coalition agreements that would have to be voted on two days later, all of which is coming at us faster than the coalition talks. The news is that the negotiations are going on around the clock. Our suspicions are around the clock means that somebody each night is told to sleep on a proposal and their dreams count as negotiating. Whatever around the clock means, it could mean that they have a countdown-clock sitting in the middle of the table as they negotiate, it does not matter, only the deadline does as there probably will not be a second extension of the deadline.

 

This raises a question, with the Israeli public almost as divided between right and left as the United States, at least in Israel there has not been any declaration of war as in America, the question to be asked is would a new round of elections make any real difference. The reality is that it most definitely could provided all the parties are included and the coalitions from the most recent elections hold. From our vantage point, the Israeli public will not be kind to those who were most responsible for forcing another round of elections. Somebody has to pay the piper for the additional and unnecessary cost of holding another election. So, this begs the question, who will pay and what will be the cost. The answers to this question are where we get to guess what the mood will be. The one positive is that it will probably be a nice sunny day with a few scattered puffy clouds. The negative is it will also probably be over thirty-three degrees C which is over ninety degrees F. Depending on the distance it is to your polling station will definitely have an effect on your mood and thus potentially your vote.

 

Bibi Netanyahu most definitively does not desire going to elections again as he got pretty much everything he desired from this last round of voting. The two people he most desired to prevent from reaching threshold did not make it into the government. The top of this list was Naftali Bennett and his New Right Party. The main thing going for Bennett’s party was Ayelet Shaked and it would be a benefit for the Zionist wing of the Conservative parties for these two people making threshold. The other was Moshe Feiglin and his Zehut Party which hoped that backing legalizing of cannabis to compliment his right wing-Zionist platform, but it was not sufficient to get him over threshold. If there would be another round of elections, where Zehut would be unlikely to gain from this, Bennett and his New Right might clear threshold as some who may have considered voting for the New Right but with developments in the final two days of campaigning, where Bibi basically declared that he was prepared to enact everything which Bennett had staked his campaign around taking all the momentum and the wind out of his sails. Bennett likely learned his lesson and realizes that he needs broaden the subjects which he has positions on and communicate them far more clearly for the electorate. There are also doubts as to whether the Union of Right-Wing Parties will be able to hold their agreement together. The other party which might be hoping for new election is the Blue White Party which was a grouping of Israel Resilience Party with Yesh Atid. This gave Yair Lapid what he hoped was the punch to steal the elections and it almost worked. Then there was the addition of the Generals of which some had been the Chief of Staff. The leading General was Benny Gantz who was joined by generals Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi. New elections would give this party a feeling that they could take over and win as they basically tied Likud but as the right had the majority of elected ministers, Likud won the right to try and form a coalition. The Union of Right-Wing Parties, providing they can remain allied, stand to gain potentially a couple of seats should the party leader, another general, Rafi Peretz get to be heard by more people, as the Jewish Home Party is out of its crisis caused by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked who bolted from the party immediately after elections were called leaving the Jewish Home Party in disarray. As one in the Jewish Home Central Committee, I can testify to the mess from which we believe we will be stronger, especially with Rafi Peretz at the helm. The one party which stands to lose some ministerial position is Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud Party as the other right-wing parties gaining have to get their votes from somewhere. The other party which might suffer some losses is the Blue White Party as some of the things said early in the campaign have gotten more play and this could prove damaging.

 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

 

With things as they stand, Bibi very likely does not desire going to elections. Also, there is another reality he has to fear. President Rivlin could ask the Blue White Party to try and put together a coalition in place of elections. That is unlikely but is still a possibility which might play well to have Bibi find some way of pleasing all the various requests, though with some he has two parties demanding the same Ministership. When everything is added together, the best bet is that somewhere between the wee hours before the deadline there will be some form of agreement. How it all will play out is anybody’s guess. There is always the possibility that there will be a coalition of parties making up sixty seats and Bibi will call in some favors and have one individual join the coalition independent of their party. That would be sufficient to put the coalition to the necessary sixty-one seats, the minimum required. There is always the possibility that a coalition of sixty votes will be approved again by Bibi calling in favors to have somebody vote for the coalition though not be a party to the coalition and sit in the opposition. This is extremely odd, but with Bibi, we have learned never to count anything out of the realm of possibility. Whatever will be, we will know by Thursday morning in Israel as we wait for the smoke to clear. Those of you in America will hear about the results on your evening news. We will simply wait for the new morning as if there will be new elections, we will have at least a half dozen articles out of the insanity which that would generate. Our bet, Bibi will put together the necessary parts for a coalition if for no other reason than to prevent Bennett from getting another chance and clearing threshold. Grudges are sometimes the best of motivators, especially if you have thirty years over which you have been collecting them.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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February 27, 2019

Answering My Most Asked Question

 

More than any other question is one few would expect to top my readership and friend list of questions. So, with no further buildup, here it is. Will there be a civil war in the United States. The answer in a single word is more than likely not. Much of the violence which appears to have plagued the United States has been in the major metropolitan areas and a few smaller but still main cities. These are areas which, even those in the most conservative states, are largely blue regions, also known as largely liberal and leftist areas where the Democrats basically rule the roost. As far as anti-fa instigated violence, it is mostly committed within cities and often against easily recognized chain stores such as McDonalds, Starbucks, the Gap and other smaller unit stores. They usually do not target major chain stores such as Sears, IKEA, Nordstroms or other stores which have security as the anti-fa people are interested in causing unopposed damage and violence with the exception being their attacking conservatives at Second Amendment, Republican candidate or similar rallies where they expect to be opposed by largely unarmed people. When the main people behind the violence are carefully choosing their targets in order to minimize the chance of real pushback then there is little if any possibility for any confrontation to escalate into that vital flash-point from which general violence would result. But this diagnosis holds solely through the next elections which will be Presidential Elections.

 

With the next Presidential elections, there will probably be additional violence above and beyond these elections. But that will still not escalate beyond the cities in which the problem will continue to exist. The real problem could come, if there is to be any problematic escalation, after the elections should President Trump win reelection carrying the Electoral College but losing the popular vote by a more than what people on the left believe reasonable margin. This has occurred before with Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 losing the popular vote by about 4% but winning the Electoral College by 19 votes, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 winning the Electoral College by 65 votes while losing the popular vote by 90,596, and George W. Bush in 2000 where he won the Electoral College by a slim five votes after a contentious series of recounts and hanging chads in Florida and Al Gore won the popular vote by 543,895 votes. There are stories that President Trump also lost the popular vote but there are also stories which claim he won the popular vote once all votes had been tabulated so it is safe to say that it was very close. The thing is a President can win the Electoral College by winning a number of smaller states as well as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan or Wisconsin by narrow margins while the Democrat had a healthy showing while losing Texas and took over two thirds or three quarters of the popular vote in California, New York, Oregon, Washington and across most of New England thus having a very large popular vote victory. This is close to what happened in this past election except the margin in the Democrat victories in the high population states was closer to 55% to 60% and not too overwhelming. But if the above were to occur, it would be possible for the elected President under the Electoral College to lose the popular vote by tens of millions which would cause an uproar, especially in the high population states and in virtually every major city breaking out in rioting and worse. How serious such might become would depend heavily on the actions of the mayors as if they, as happened in the riots in Baltimore after the unfortunate death of a person in police custody, decided to order the police to simply attempt to contain the rioting while allowing the riots to play out, that could cause the President to use federal power to end the riots which would appear to be completely out of control. That might cause an even greater amount of disruption as it might be interpreted as being overt and being used to punish the people who did not support them in the election causing even greater violence. Where such might lead is anybody’s guess.

 

We still doubt that a civil war is likely in the United States unless a President decided to impose martial law and suspend elections, then there would be people fearing an end to the democratic base of government and an end to the Republic. As long as government continues under normal operation, the majority of the American public would continue to have faith that the system was still functioning, and only if the electoral system appeared to be being ignored or completely suspended would there be sufficient cause for universal upheaval. The reason there would not be a civil war in the United States short of a President usurping power by such actions as suspending the Congress or dismissal of the Supreme Court replacing these Constitutionally established institution with the rule of the President, the one person, then the concept of a nation ruled by law and not man would be turned upside down replacing it with a nation ruled by a person and not the law. This is something most of the American people would not stand by and allow to happen. Also, should a President suspend the powers of the people provided by the Bill of Rights, this too would be going a step too far and likely to cause a general upheaval from the population. Were such to be done in a slower series of measures limiting freedoms through slow steps using laws and the legal system to end freedoms, then it might be possible to bring an end to elected governance and have a dictatorial takeover of the United States. Such an erosion of freedoms might begin with laws against ‘hate speech’ which could be utilized to shut down expressions which were against the sitting government and thus allow only those supporting the strict policies of those in power to be expressed. This could be followed by restricting assembly of groups where such speech and positions which opposed those in power from occurring. Then, should those in power have such a control over the powers of government on all levels including almost every state and large city, the people who hold opinions which might unseat those in power could be brought up on charges of holding hateful positions and even begin to have criminal charges brought against opponents for having hateful thoughts. Once it can be established that people can be arrested and charged with thought crimes, then nobody would be safe and those in power would have complete and total power. They could move against the opposing party starting with their representatives in the Congress and on the Supreme Court replacing them with only people having the approved opinions and now you have a hierarchy where a select group of people holding what is defined as correct thought are the sole holders of power. This is something which would have been inconceivable in the United States just ten to twenty years ago. The problem on the horizon is that an ever-growing number of youth coming from many of the major colleges when queried if hate speech should be illegal, agree and say that free speech should only come with limitations and restrictions. This is a frightening reality which if it should continue signals the end of the American Experiment. Such a series of events starting from this and spreading to all corners of political power would cause a civil war with uncertain results.

 

Should sufficient officers be selected, as Generals need be approved by the Senate as they are selected presumably by the President or at least the executive branch, hold the same beliefs that free speech need not be a total right and that only certain approved speech should be free, then there has started a slippery slope to a dictatorial governance. This would not be the kind of dictatorship where one person was chosen and no further elections were held, this would be a form of dictatorship where all government positions, even elected positions, would be restricted to those who were the most correct in their ideas and thoughts. This is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers had envisioned but by simply adopting limitations of freedom of thought could come into existence. By restricting thoughts and expression through speech to a certain set of politically approved ideas and concepts, then one has also subjugated the media and limited even what religious leaders would be permitted to preach. From that point, it would be a short jump before people would be rounded up and sent for additional schooling, otherwise known as reeducation camps. Soon after such has taken place, we can predict what the next step would be, and that would be limitations on religious thought and then practice. The first ones to be selected for eradication would likely be the same as has always been the first religion for subjugation or attempted for eradication, the Jews. They may be selected along with other groups such as Evangelical Christians has been one such group which some claim would be included with the Jews should the United States turn to the dark side. The reasoning on these predictions are predicated on the belief that as the mainstay of Judeo-Christian ethos, these two groups could be considered the largest threat to be the mainstay against far leftist ideology and these theories all believe that such a thought based governance would be extreme leftist styled fascism. As such, those against abortions on demand, euthanasia, open borders, no corporate profits over half a percent, open work hours, fixed incomes, extending public lands, elimination of private vehicles, elimination of fossil fuels and whatever else one could conceive from the far-far-far-left on top of free speech as long as it agrees with the government and a similarly restricted media, after all, don’t we all love Big Brother, and doing away with privacy and full surveillance would also be implemented just to detect even the slightest indication that one was outside of group-think policies, this is where such would eventually lead. This could only be established slowly over about two decades, and that is about all that would be required as the job has been half way to accomplished with the ideas supported by far too many college graduates. The nerds would be tolerated as long as they simply quietly made everything work and minded their manners and were not too obviously nerdy.

 

Many people think that such an end for the United States is so far from being the America of the past two and a half centuries that it would be impossible and might be surprised if they were to become aware of what is taught in the finest of higher education, and that is slipping ever so slowly but inevitable into high school and even further. Eventually, the concept which has already begun in some region where they are not teaching children to read independently but only of approved readings. How, you ask? They are not teaching phonics and sounding out words from their spelling but whole word recognition, which works fine for words such as enough, but for most words that would not be the preferred means of reading new words. But they do not desire your reading new words because words represent ideas and ideas are very dangerous. Thoughts lead to ideas and if a child can read anything, then they can have thoughts which are uncontrolled and then they might have uncontrolled ideas which lead to undesired conclusions which then may cause difficulties, especially if they are able to express them and spread these concepts. Thus, through this new age teaching methods using whole word recognition, children grow up with limited vocabularies and thus have free thought stolen from their lives. They have a new form of math that they teach. They teach children to solve equations the way a computer might be good at but which leaves the child with no ability to ever learn algebra, let alone calculus and higher mathematics. They are taught to guess and then make another guess and if that second guess comes closer to the desired answer, go further until they guess and are further from the answer and then reverse direction. I can think of numerous problems where this method might drive a child insane. This also only works well for equations with one variable, as soon as you add a second variable the number of answers could easily become infinite as it is for the very difficult equation where y=x3-4×2+6 which has a strange graph and uncountable correct answers (see graph below). For any value of y from -3 to +6 there are multiple answers for x which makes guessing rather difficult. That was not even a difficult equation as there are trigonometric equations where there would be multiple solutions or no solution depending on the values for x and y such as circles and ovals. But this is not as earthshakingly important as what they do not require and in too many schools do not teach at all. That is our next stop on this tour de force.

 

Graph of y=x3-4x2+6

Graph of y=x3-4×2+6

 

History is not required for a high school diploma. Not just world history, but they do not teach American history and even recent history such as the study of the two World Wars or the American Civil War. They no longer require a civics course or a course that includes and explains the make up of the American government. They do not study the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, so do not even bother to ask about the Magna Carta. When they did finally have a single six-week course in American history and government, these were all placed together, they never studied the Founding Fathers or any of the so-called old white men outside of the great emancipator who was included with Fredrick Douglass as they were mostly studying the Native Americans and Americans of color. In English, they read largely the writings of people of color and none of Shakespeare, Dumas, Dickens, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Louisa M. Alcott, Mary Shelly, Dostoevsky or any of the classics because those had been taught already and it was necessary that the youth be introduced to writers of color. Perhaps the school district where my kids were educated was more progressive than most, or maybe they were just fortunate to have enlightened teachers, all I know is the teachers would dismiss my questions as ignorant and lacking depth and I just did not understand their new methods. This was nowhere more true than the mathematics teachers who basically told me that the methods I had been taught were the reason mathematics was so difficult and children hated it so much because the old ways just were not fun and they were not going to turn children off from math. One even said that if they got the wrong answer but could explain their reasoning, then they would get full credit. That included the reason of I guessed and it seemed close enough, as I actually asked that I was so frustrated by the eighth grade with the mathematics teachers. They are no longer educating the children and because of their unions, a teacher is next to impossible to fire once they have taught and received tenure. I can only try to imagine how future education will be and can only hold out hope that there will be machines teaching which realize that educated humans are easier for them to deal with and as such, they will actually educate children. Perhaps this education or lack thereof has been designed such that when everything falls apart, nobody will know any better and it will all appear to be normal and orderly no matter how discombobulated governance becomes.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 16, 2018

Challenges in the United States

 

Currently there are two regions of great challenges in the United States, one mostly physical the other completely manmade. The physical is in California where two massive and deadly forest fires that have raged beyond control destroying homes, communities and anything in their paths. Firefighters are battling around the clock to attempt to bring these disasters under control thus containing them, extinguishing the fires, and then hunting down the last of the hotspots, no small task of its own. Entire towns such as Paradise are going to require being completely rebuilt which will only come to be providing the inhabitants and commercial entities decide to return and not simply relocate elsewhere. One fire was presumably started by a campfire or may have been downed electrical wires sparking the exceedingly dry grasses and then, whipped by steady and strong winds, quickly spread and became an inferno. Being a former firefighter, when asked about forest fires such as what is consuming California in both the north and south, I slowly shake my head solemnly saying that despite training in structure and aircraft fires, I have never worked on fires such as these and considers myself to be extremely fortunate to have never faced such a fury. We cannot even imagine the furies loosed in California, hoping and praying that they manage to prevent any further losses of life. The death toll at the last count we have seen was approaching sixty while the numbers of missing topped one-hundred. The numbers of missing leaves fears that the number of fatalities attributed to the fires is not known and will likely rise. There is little one can add to the newswires coverage of the disasters in California which leaves hoping that things eventually come back to normalcy.

 

California Wildfires

California Wildfires

 

The other challenge is in counting ballots in numerous states including Maine, New Jersey, New York where two races remain, Texas and Utah which is just about the house of Representatives. Then there are the states where Senatorial races are still in doubt which include Florida and Mississippi. Lastly are the races for Governor in Florida and Georgia which are still in recount. Most of these have been resolved and have largely gone to the initial winner while in Maine there is an unusual means of voting where people cast tanked votes which are used in case no candidate reaches a majority rather than merely a plurality. This has led for the Republican incumbent Representative Bruce Poliquina to file a lawsuit in a federal court trying to block Maine from tabulating ranked-choice voting ballots. The governor’s race in Georgia appears to be an attempt to count sufficient votes such that neither candidate gets an outright majority and merely a plurality in order to force a runoff election which would usually favor the Democrat candidate, if voting profiles from the past would hold. The real contests, at least by the coverage, appears to be, where else, but in Florida and particularly in Broward County and West Palm Beach, OH MY!

 

If a recount hinging on Broward County and West Palm Beach, Florida sounds familiar, it should, as that was one of the focal counties in the 2000 Presidential recount in Florida between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The problems in West Palm Beach was presumably accepted ballots were mixed with some of the rejected ballots. The problems in Broward County are over which ballots require recounting and which should not even be acceptable for the recount. Needless to point out, everybody is getting involved and the accusations of voter fraud abound. The bright side have been the cartoon with Sesame Street figures mostly including the Count have been a feature in many places with the figures claiming they are headed to Florida to teach them how to count. Unfortunately, these recounts are of a far more serious nature than to which such cartoons allude. We very well may see a number of these recount races result in court battles where the result will be cries of, ‘Selected, not elected,” coming from the losing side, a standard set in the Bush-Gore recount and the Democrats protesting the Supreme Court ending the recount process leaving Bush the winner, by court selection, we are to presume. Whatever the results of these various recounts, hard feelings will remain and the winner may ultimately pay should they face the same opponent in their next election where that election will be cast as some form of recount of the former to determine the truly legitimate winner. Of course, that vindication will only count if your personally favored candidate wins in that election and without the necessity of a recount and definitely not needing going through a court battle. There have been claims, which we have attempted but been unable to verify, that in the recounts for Congressional and Gubernatorial elections since 2001 that, depending on which claim you run into, the Democrats have won the vast majority or the Republicans have won the vast majority. In the ever more important side where the initial winner resulted in having their victory overturned by recount, we again have competing claims which will depend on which echo chamber from which you get your news as to which one you will hear. We hope that whichever side you prefer is the only side whose victories you will read and none of the victories by that mean and horrible other party. Always remember, elections set up a temporary opportunity to get out next elections and try that much more to avoid the messy recounts and the vitriol they engender.

 

Voter Reality in Most of America

Voter Reality in Most of America

 

For those who are in the inconsolable department and are suffering election trauma, may we offer a solution. There are numerous places where one can move where such trauma inducing acts such as elections will never again invade your life. Such places as North Korea, Cuba, Russia, Eritrea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam, Angola and Iran, to name a few, where they have predictable election results or no elections, well no true elections where there is any doubt months before on who will win and are places one can move to be rid of election meltdowns. We would probably even advise against taking a vacation in most of these nations, but perhaps elections have become so fraught with anxiety that some might actually desire a more regimented governance where every day you know who the leadership is, well, until the other form of election occurs, the always fraught with danger popular uprising or its cousin the coup. Personally, we kind of prefer true and democratic elections, be they a pure democracy, republic, parliamentary or other more innovative form or representative governance and are happy that they turn out to sometimes be messy, it gives us things to comment on and proves that the people actually care about elections, well at least the forty to sixty percent of registered voters who vote in a population where often at best two-thirds actually bother to register. The only question we often want to ask, if in too many places you have a candidate win with sixty percent of the sixty percent of eligible voters voting who from a population where only sixty percent of eligible people register, does anyone realize that means they did not even get twenty-two percent of the people who are eligible for voting and they are declared the person the majority chose? Well, they do refer to these elections as a voluntary representative democratic process which kind of takes the fact that all too many people are anywhere from the most fanatical to somewhat ambivalent to completely unaware and uncaring to make a society. The one thing I do advise those who think that making voting mandatory is, do you really desire people who are currently too lazy to register along with those who do not care sufficiently to vote actually choosing who represents those who do care and actually make a point to vote? Personally, we would not mind if voters had to actually provide two things their candidate actually proposes to support in order for their vote to count, but that would be requiring people to actually take the elections as seriously as they should, and we know that such a requirement would drive the voting public down to next to nothing. As for if such would improve the system we will let you decide, in the meantime, we will continue to vote for those whose positions we prefer in the elections we are legally permitted to vote, and we promise to vote once and only one each.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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