Archive for category John McCain

the UN, NATO, and the trip-wire

I’m so sorry to write this missive as a lead article (for 15 minutes) but I don’t remember how to find the comments and respond to them. The lonely little side-bar response to my article I’ve not seen, except for half a sentence. It seemed to be saying that the old days are gone now, and so we need NATO and the JN. I agree. With NATO, it is the trip-wire provision that we go to war, automatically if any NATO nation is attacked, regardless of who the attacker is. This takes not only the United States Congress, but the president, as Commander in Chief, from the decision to go to war. I support both the UN and, if handled correctly, NATO. But President J. Reuben Clark and I oppose the automatic going to war. Just like the fools, the ancient general staffs of all sides in WW I. No one wanted that war. There was no Adolph Hitler in that war that destroyed the entire 20th century. Better to have shot the general staffs, who came to deserve exactly that. What President Clark called for, and I, are what the United States has always done, before NATO. That is, to have treaties of peace and friendship with our allies and then, should hostilities commence, such treaties would call for all parties to go to war, or not, as their constitutions provide. In this way, we don’t declare war against a nation, and surely all the people, have not yet been born. How, pray tell, do we justify going to war against, and for, people not, or no longer, live on earth. With a few caveats, ditto for the UN. No provision of law allows the UN to overreach Congress in the decision for war or peace. For anyone interested, read my book with the late Francis Wormuth, To Cain the Dog of War. It is by odds the best book ever written on the way we go to war. Every single war we’ve ever fought, including our wars against the Indian tribes, is there analyzed. Francis did not live to see this book in print. I worked two years after his death to finish it. And I updated it 4 or 5 times, alone. I still put my dear friend’s name first, because I am honored to be linked, now, forever. Something like Mormon marriage through time and eternity. ed firmage xoxo


The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox


Palling Around With…

McCain and friends

While engaged in making his own mavericky foreign policy over in Syria, Senator John McCain met with some Syrian rebels allied with al-Qaeda– including Mohammad Nour, an infamous terrorist who has been involved in the abduction of a group of Lebanese pilgrims. Nour is the man in the center of the photo above.

Does anyone else remember what Senator McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin said during the 2008 presidential election? She accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” I think the irony meter has been pegged.


HBO Films: ‘Game Change’ Trailer

It’s one thing to read about it, and something else to see the Hollywood version. “Game Change” premieres on HBO March 10.


Senator McCain Invokes LOTR Mythology

There was so much crazy stuff going on atop Capitol Hill today, it was hard to choose. My pick is Senator John McCain (R-AZ) comparing the Tea-GOP to adventurous Hobbits who ought to have stayed home in The Shire (Senator Mike Lee isn’t that short is he?).

Of course, the geographically-challenged McCain (in the past, he has mixed up Somalia and Sudan, talked about the “Iraq/Pakistan border,” and referred to Czechoslovakia, which hasn’t been on the map since 1993) said that Hobbits hoped to defeat Mordor and “return to Middle Earth.” The entire Lord of the Rings story takes place in Middle Earth. Hobbits live in The Shire.

On “The Ed Show” tonight, Liz Winstead pointed out that the Tea-GOP are more like Orcs than Hobbits.

So which Lord of the Rings character is John McCain? I vote for Saruman, the white wizard who flip-flopped from good to evil.

UPDATE: Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, responds to McCain: “Clearly he’s been corrupted by the ring of power.”

UPDATE: Another contender for craziest politician quote from Wednesday is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA): GOP lawmaker advises poor to ‘drop out of the country club’. Rep. Broun has sponsored a bill to lower the limit on our National Debt.

UPDATE: Stephen Colbert sets the record straight on Congressional Tolkien references


Senator DeMint: ‘We Can’t Just Keep Paying People To Stay At Home’

Sen. Jim DeMint announced Tuesday that he will oppose the tax cut deal that President Barack Obama negotiated with GOP leaders, and that he would vote against bringing it to the floor. Why? Because the deal includes a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits for a fraction of the 15 million jobless Americans.

Via Think Progress:

According to DeMint, the problem with unemployment benefits is that they amount to “paying people to stay home,” as he told South Carolina’s News 13:

The senator also said extending unemployment benefits that aren’t paid for isn’t helping add new jobs. “We can’t just keep paying people to stay at home,” said DeMint. “We’ve got to create economic activity to allow businesses to grow so they can hire people.”

The strange thing is, President Obama tried to do the Republicans a favor. Extension of unemployment benefits during a period of high unemployment used to be a routine function of Congress. Lately, the Republicans have decided to turn these extensions into a protracted partisan battle every three months, a battle they can never win. With a year-long extension, the GOP leadership could avoid taking these intensely unpopular stands.

Unemployment insurance is paid for by working people. We rarely need it, but when we do it can make all the difference between staying in the middle class or sinking into poverty. Unemployment insurance, along with Social Security, are two New Deal programs that probably saved this country from another Great Depression when the Republicans wrecked our economy two years ago. Unemployment insurance helps prop up consumer spending, which helps businesses avoid even more layoffs.

But NO, the Party of NO opposes unemployment insurance on narrow ideological grounds. Senator John McCain openly campaigned against it in 2008. Basically all right-wingers hate it. Meanwhile, they are hypocritically pushing unfunded massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Interesting footnote: Yesterday, Christine O’Donnell (remember her?) called the proposed extension of jobless benefits a “tragedy,” comparing it to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“Today marks a lot of tragedy. … Tragedy comes in threes,” O’Donnell said. “Pearl Harbor, Elizabeth Edwards’s passing and Barack Obama’s announcement of extending the tax cuts, which is good, but also extending the unemployment benefits.”

Of course, like most Republican politicians O’Donnell has never had to depend on unemployment insurance for survival. But she has been unemployed most of her adult life, using campaign contributions to pay for living expenses. Her latest campaign left her with a fund of nearly $1 million.


Kabuki Theater: Defense Authorization Vote

Kabuki theater

For the first time in 58 years, Congress won’t be passing a Defense authorization bill. Because the Republicans are filibustering, led by “Country First” TM Senator John McCain. Let me say that again, the Republicans filibustered the Defense authorization bill.

Of course, today’s Kabuki theater production was arranged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The DREAM Act and the “repeal” (subject to the determination of the Secretary of Defense) of DADT were inserted into the Defense bill. This way, 57 Democrats can pose as champions of immigrants and gays… without actually accomplishing anything!

According to polling, 70 percent of Americans support the DREAM Act and 75 percent of Americans support fully repealing DADT.

When the new Congress comes in next year, the first order of business must be to re-write the Senate rules on filibusters. Shut down the Kabuki theater.

Both parties deserve condemnation for playing political games while America is at war. Today we learned that 2010 has become the deadliest year for our side in Afghanistan. The previous high number killed in action was last year.

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BP Oil Disaster: Reality Has a Well-Known Liberal Bias

Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon on fire before it sank

As the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill reaches the coast today, it’s time to belatedly acknowledge reality. Offshore drilling is dangerous, expensive, produces insignificant amounts of oil, takes no less than a decade to start extracting oil, and would only yield about one year’s worth of oil. “Drill Baby Drill” is not the answer.

According to a University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute’s (PERI) study, for every $1 million of U.S. investment in clean technology (including wind, solar, smart grid work and building retrofits to increase energy efficiency), three times as many jobs are created than if the same amount were invested in the oil and gas industry.

In 2008, candidate Obama called offshore drilling a “gimmick” that would fail to protect pristine coastlines from environmental disaster. He praised the decades-long bipartisan consensus against drilling to protect our coasts, and criticized John McCain’s flip-flop on the issue.

And just weeks after President Obama’s own flip-flop in favor of offshore drilling, the brutal reality of the dangers is evident in the form of an 1800 mile-long oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the very kind of disaster Obama himself warned about when he opposed offshore drilling during the presidential campaign. Like Stephen Colbert said, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

On Friday, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) said that President Obama’s bill that includes provisions to increase offshore drilling off the coast of the United States would be a non-starter in the Senate.

“As the White House looks down the line, it wants a climate change bill later this year,” Nelson told MSNBC. “[Sen.] Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was insisting that there’s going to be offshore drilling. I think that’s dead on arrival.”

sign the FDL petition to cancel the Obama administration’s offshore drilling plans.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh has a theory about what happened. He thinks “hardcore environmentalist wackos” blew up Deepwater Horizon to call attention to Earth Day.

“What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?” he rhetorically asked. “I’m just, I’m just noting the timing here.”

Somebody ought to tell Limbaugh that nobody cares about Earth Day since it was taken over by the corporate PR departments. Which reminds me, has anyone seen that cute green BP flower logo on TV lately?

Talking Points Memo has compiled an interesting timeline of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.


President Obama has declared a temporary suspension on the issuance of new offshore leases until an unspecified future point in time. This is not particularly meaningful, however, as in the near-term, there was no new activity planned. Obama continues, sadly, to maintain a supportive position towards offshore oil drilling.

The perils of industry self-regulation: British Petroleum’s 52-page exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, says repeatedly that it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.”

And while the company conceded that a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it argued that “due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.”

Via Think Progress:

MMS was all set to hold its annual “2010 Annual Industry SAFE Awards Luncheon” on May 3. Perhaps recognizing that now is not the time to applaud the oil industry for safety on the job, MMS postponed the event.

…The LA Times notes that last year, BP “was among the luncheon’s winners, cited for ‘outstanding dedication and leadership‘…”

Read the rest of this entry »


President McCain: ‘Drill Baby Drill’

President McCain
President McCain announces plans for expanded offshore oil drilling, reversing more than 20 years of federal environmental policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President John McCain plans to allow oil drilling 50 miles off of Virginia and is considering opening up significant additional stretches along the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts.

McCain’s plan will cover a lot of ground — and water — offering few concessions to environmentalists, who have been strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation’s shores. Hinted at for months, the move would modify a ban that has limited coastal drilling outside the Gulf of Mexico for more than 20 years.

…White House officials hope Wednesday’s announcement will attract support from Republicans, who adopted a chant of “Drill, baby, drill” during 2008’s presidential campaign.

By way of contrast, in the 2008 campaign rival candidate Barack Obama called for a moratorium on offshore oil drilling. But you know what they say, elections have consequences. If people wanted a moratorium, they should have elected Obama.

Correction: The Associated Press actually reported that President Barack Obama is announcing plans to allow more offshore oil drilling. I apologize for the error.

UPDATE: Analysis from David Dayen on FDL.

UPDATE: RLMiller has a well put together diary on DKos, with maps.

UPDATE: Surprise! House of Representatives Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner says that Obama’s new offshore oil drilling plan doesn’t go far enough.

Matt Yglesias writes:

“I don’t understand this at all. Increased coastal drilling would be a small price to pay in exchange for actual congressional votes for an overall energy package that shifts us to a low-carbon economy over time. But any price is too high a price to pay in exchange for nothing at all. This isn’t the greatest environmental crime in human history, but it sure does seem like poor legislative strategy.”

UPDATE: In a conference call, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and White House environmental policy advisor Carol Browner tried to downplay the administration’s bizarre triangulation on offshore oil drilling.

Read the rest of this entry »


Health Care: Beyond Cynicism

This year’s health care debate is so hard to describe. The concept of cynicism (defined as “having a sneering disbelief in sincerity or integrity”) hardly covers it.

The word “cynic” or “dog-like” was first applied to the followers of the original ancient philosophy of Cynicism.

[T]he dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it.

The Blue Dogs of the U.S. Congress might not follow all the dictates of the ancient Cynics, but they embrace shamelessness wholeheartedly. And the same can now be said for most other Democrats. Of course, Republicans already repeatedly upped the ante on cynicism during the Bush administration.

Health care politics
Source: Poll: Most Say Health Care Fight About Politics, Not Policy

Candidate Barack Obama campaigned FOR the choice of a public option in health care. He was AGAINST the individual mandate, and AGAINST the Hyde Amendment. Only a month before the election, Obama severely criticized Senator John McCain’s proposal for an excise tax on health benefits for what it is, a new tax on the middle class.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not even pretend that the AHIP/PhRMA giveaway bill signed into law yesterday includes progressive policy ideas. No, she credits the conservative Heritage Foundation and quotes WaPo’s E.J. Dionne to say the legislation “built on a series of principles that Republicans espoused for years.”

Jane Hamsher:

If Bush had tried to pass this bill the entire progressive movement (such as it is) would have squealed like stuck pigs, with the volume and intensity they responded to Bush’s privatization of Social Security. …The question is why anyone was ever hoodwinked into thinking this was a “progressive” victory simply because the Republicans were against it. It was a Democratic party victory.

The White House is betting that those who committed themselves to Obama during the campaign won’t be bothered if he triangulates against his own campaign rhetoric and passes a right-wing health care bill — that their commitment to the ideals of the campaign will be trumped by their commitment to him as a personality. They may well be right.

UPDATE: Obama Hosts Anti-Abortion Signing Ceremony

Republicans Block Senate Committee Hearings, Including On National Security Matters, For Second Day In A Row

UPDATE: Viagra, ACORN and Gay Marriage: The 10 Most Ridiculous GOP-Proposed Health Care Amendments (Senator Bennett wrote one of them).

UPDATE: The prize for the lamest excuse has to go to Senate Democrats. They deliberately missed the chance to add in the public option to reconciliation, because then the legislation would have to go back to the House for another vote. Which it did anyway. Jon Walker on FDL runs down the list of now-inoperative Democratic excuses for why we can’t have the public option.

UPDATE: The prize for the worst bald-faced lie goes to President Obama today in Iowa City:

Challenged by a young man in the audience who shouted several times, “What about the public option,” a liberal-backed proposal for the creation of a government-sponsored plan to compete with private insurers, Obama said: “We couldn’t get it through Congress.”

How stupid does the President think we are?


They Are Still The Party of NO

The Party of NO
Party of NO at SOTU

Sam Stein on HuffPo mentions one of the genuinely funny and ironic moments of last night’s State of the Union:

When Republicans didn’t even applaud on behalf of his tax cuts, Obama pointed to the GOP side of the chamber and expressed surprise: “I thought I’d get some applause on that one,” he said.

The Party of NO won’t agree when President Obama does exactly what they want, and cuts taxes. They won’t even agree when he proposes a spending freeze, which has been a Republican mantra ever since the start of Bush’s Great Recession.

Another moment of irony came when President Obama again ad-libbed to address the phony objection that his proposed freeze doesn’t take effect until FY 2011: “That’s how budgeting works.” Duh.

The Party of NO complains constantly about Democratic policies, but they can’t take any criticism themselves, not even if it’s merely implied. President Obama recited the facts last night:

“By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.”

From Think Progress:

Senator John McCain went on Fox News and talked to Sean Hannity after the speech. “What we’re hearing tonight is ‘BIOB’ — let’s call it that from now on. Blame it on Bush. Whatever has gone wrong, let’s blame it on Bush,” McCain moaned.

(1) President Bush’s catalog of fiascoes is impossible to ignore, and (2) McCain must have forgotten that former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush also did not hesitate to point out things that had gone wrong in the prior administration.

UPDATE: President Obama did get Republican applause for his Orwellian statement describing nuclear power, offshore oil and gas drilling, and coal as “clean energy jobs.” Seriously, why didn’t we just elect McCain?

Today, a Senate majority voted to reinstate pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO), which stipulate that all spending increases will be offset by either budget cuts or taxes. Every Republican voted NO on PAYGO– even the ones who voted for it in 2004.


Another Glenn Beck Witch Hunt

Just in time for Halloween, Glenn Beck is on Faux News with another witch hunt.

Witch hunt scene from
Witch hunt scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)

Via Media Matters:

In attacking Anita Dunn, claiming that she “worships” her “hero” Mao Zedong, Glenn Beck has targeted yet another Obama administration official in his Fox News-assisted witch hunt of President Obama’s so-called “czars.” Beck and Fox News have previously attacked with falsehoods and spurious claims White House officials Kevin Jennings, Cass Sunstein, Harold Koh, and Van Jones.

First question: Who is Anita Dunn? Anita Dunn is the interim White House Communications Director.

Next question: Does she worship Chairman Mao? Not any more than Senator John McCain does. Both Dunn and McCain made joking, ironic references to Mao.

Last question: How stupid is Glenn Beck? Very stupid. But he makes $23 million a year.

Media Matters: Beck, Drudge, WND, Fox Nation falsely accuse Dunn of admitting White House “control” over news media. Based on remarks she made before Obama became president and before she was hired by the White House– about controlling the message, not the media.


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