Archive for category Mitch McConnell

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


GOP = Guns Over People

GOP guns


The latest national survey from Quinnipiac University confirmed something that’s been widely evident in the months since the massacre in Newtown, Conn.: Support for universal background checks is pretty much, well, universal. According to the poll, 91 percent of American voters support background checks for all gun buyers, while a mere 8 percent said they are opposed. The poll also showed 88 percent of gun owners in favor of universal background checks…

Today two things happened:

(1) President Obama eloquently made the case for gun safety legislation that is overwhelmingly popular with the American people.

(2) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that he would not allow any such legislation to be debated or voted on in the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE: RUNNING AWAY: Backers Of Gun Filibuster Duck Interview Requests. Cowardly is the only way to describe this.


Are Senate Republicans Trying to Force a Constitutional Crisis?

Brother Benen suggests as much:

What we’re talking about here is a shrinking Senate minority pursuing a nullification strategy — they want to nullify federal law by abusing procedural tactics in a way that’s literally never been done in the United States.

If Senate Republicans want changes to the CFPB, there’s already a mechanism in place that allows them to pursue reforms: it’s called the existing legislative process. Senators can write a bill, send it to committee, try to persuade their colleagues of the proposal’s merit, debate it on the floor, vote for it, etc.

But that takes time and effort, and it might not work, especially since the changes the GOP wants are absurd. So, instead, Republicans intend to block existing federal law from taking effect unless Democrats accept changes demanded by financial industry lobbyists.

This is crazy. The Republican message, in a nutshell, is this: “Weaken consumer protections or we’ll use filibusters to block the executive branch from enforcing existing federal law.” Our system of government simply can’t work this way.

Republicans are trying to deliberately crash our constitutional system so they can then argue “See government doesn’t work.”  It’s insane.  It’s like someone who never sets foot in a gym declaring exercise has no positive benefits.


‘A Moment in Senate History’

Just not a good moment. The Senate reached the height of dysfunction today when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered his own bill.

Teddy Partridge on FDL:

Today, the United States Senate hit a new low. This morning, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a bill to reform the debt limit charade so that the president could spend money authorized and appropriated by Congress as long as the Congress didn’t vote by two-thirds to prohibit him from borrowing the money necessary to conduct United States operations at home and abroad. This would eliminate the absurdity — and economic damage — done last summer when the Congress held the debt limit hostage in budget negotiations.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader then decided to let the bill come to a vote this afternoon. To which Senator McConnell objected, calling for a 60-vote threshold to pass the bill.

He filibustered his own bill.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked the parliamentarian to determine if this has ever happened before, but it couldn’t happen at a better time as the Senate prepares to reform (or eliminate!) the filibuster. This craziness, as demonstrated by McConnell’s absurd pretzel logic on the floor today, must end.


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