Oct 01 2007
Get all the Republicans and 18 Democrats to sign on, and it comes up for a vote. Not hard to do. And people would hold the other 210 Democrats personally responsible for 18 Bush Dogs doing it, too.
An interesting theory. Now, it so happens that those of us who argue for the not funding option are aware of the discharge petition, and the more likely avenue, a motion to recommit. We are aware that the Republicans, joined by enough Democrats, can force funding without timelines. It is why we have argued that we need 218 to embrace the not funding without timelines option. And despite saying “it would be easy” to get majority support for a motion to recommit or a discharge petition, saying it does not make it so. But let’s assume it is easy, the benefit of forcing the Republicans do that is it will prove to all of us that the Democrats in Congress have done everything they can to end the war. There is truly nothing more we can ask of Speaker Pelosi. And we do not ask for more than that. But she will not do it. So she has not done everything she can.
You want to make it a Republican war? Make the Republicans pass THEIR bill funding it. Let the Dems who want it to be their war go on the record and vote for it. Why anyone would be opposed to this strategy is beyond me.
Oct 01 2007
Matt Stoller writes:
To party committee leaders like Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel, the money coming through Moveon and Actblue is nice but no longer necessary. There’s no reason to make any trade-offs to progressives to get it, unlike the period from 2002-2006 when business lobbyists had no reason to give to Democrats. . . .
(Emphasis supplied.) What exactly are Move On and Act Blue pushing for? They have been stunningly quiet on pressing Democrats on Iraq. Oh let me guess, this is about the stupid Move On censure, cuz that is what matters. The Dem Capitulation on Iraq? Not so much. What a joke.
Oct 01 2007
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer this morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demonstrated she has no intention of doing anything to end the war in Iraq:
BLITZER: Let's talk about the war in Iraq. When you became speaker, you said, “Bringing the war to an end is my highest priority as speaker.”
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: It is.
. . . BLITZER: The war, if anything, is not only continuing, but it's expanding. There's more troops now in Iraq than there were when you became the speaker. What are you going to do about that?
PELOSI: Well, we did, when we took office, we took the majority here. We changed the debate on the war. We put a bill on the president's desk that said that we wanted the redeployment of troops out of Iraq to begin in a timely fashion and to end within a year. The president vetoed that bill.
He got quite a response to that veto, and the Republicans in the Senate then decided he was never going to get a bill on his desk again. So we have a barrier and it's important for the American people to know that while I can bring a bill to the floor in the House, it cannot be brought up in the Senate unless there's a 60 vote, now 60 votes.
He got quite a response? What the heck is Pelosi talking about? He got, FROM HER, a bill with no timetables! Who does Speaker Pelosi think she is fooling? Blitzer is not fooled:
Oct 01 2007
I think there is some confusion about the unitary executive theory and what it has become under the Bush Adminstration. Initially, it meant something less ambitious than what the Bush Administration turned it into. The older theory was describe by now Justice Alito, as follows:
In a speech to the Federalist Society in 2001, Alito said:
When I was in OLC  . . ., we were strong proponents of the theory of the unitary executive, that all federal executive power is vested by the Constitution in the President. And I thought then, and I still think, that this theory best captures the meaning of the Constitution’s text and structure . . . .” “[T]he case for a unitary executive seems, if anything, stronger today than it was in the 18th Century.
Frankly, this is not a remarkable nor important view of the theory. The problem is what is has become under the Bush Administration:
Here’s what it means for Bush:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.
The Bybee Memo put it this way:
Any effort by the Congress to regulate the interrogation of battlefield combatants would violate the Constitution’s sole vesting of the Commander in Chief authority in the President. . . . Congress can no more interfere with the President’s conduct of the interrogation of enemy combatants than it can dictate strategic or tactical decisions on the battlefield.
This is the pernicious Unitary Executive theory as we know it today. It is utterly unsupported by the Constitution and the jurisprudence. I’ll explain on the flip.
Sep 30 2007
In discussing John McCain’s outrageous statement that he won’t vote for Muslims, Atrios makes a good point:
We’re at this absurd spot in our political discourse where “faith” somehow matters but the specifics of that faith do not. And even this obscures the fact that what this really means is Christian faith matters. If religious beliefs matter, then surely it’s the substance of those beliefs which matter and not simply some meaningless nod to “the importance of faith.”
I wrote something along those lines last December:
While Bill O’Reilly celebrates and defends the secular American Christmas holiday from imagined attack, he and the evangelicals we see on Meet the Press, you know the ones, they are the folks Barack Obama is courting, NEVER actually discuss what it is they supposedly have faith in. It is relatively insignificant politically, but illuminating intellectually. The reality is the intersection of religion and the State never REALLY happens – radical social conservatives are NOT acting based on any true religious beliefs – on abortion, sexual orientation or anything else. It is a conceit that we grant extremists for no good reason frankly. But there it is.
If “faith” is going to be an issue in politics now, then let’s debate it. What is Christianity? What is Mormonism? What is Rudy’s standing in the Catholic Church? Otherwise, keep religiion and “faith” in churches, homes and in the decisions and actions of individiuals.
Sep 29 2007
Time magazine gives space to Juan Williams to attempt to shut down criticism of Bill O'Reilly. Jaun Williams, like O'Reilly, is an employee of Fox News. Williams writes two things that struck me as pathetic and ridiculous. The first:
That twisted assumption led me to say publicly that the attacks on O'Reilly amounted to an effort to take what he said totally out of context in an attempt to brand him a racist by a liberal group that disagrees with much of his politics.
Um, so Juan, you feel comfortable smearing poeple while at the same time taking umbrage that you were smeared by ONE commentator on CNN?
But the out-of-context attacks on O'Reilly picked up speed and ended up on CNN, where one commentator branded me a “Happy Negro” for allowing O'Reilly to get by with making racist comments without objection.
Well, shame on that commenter Juan, but shame on you for smearing people yourself. For smearing people like Eugene Robinson:
ROBINSON: Well, you know I'm not going to go inside of Bill O'Reilly's head — you know, is he racist, what does he know? You know, all I know is that it was, at best, a casually racist remark. But you know, what really ticks me off is that when you say that, when you point that out, you know, immediately you get charged by O'Reilly and cohorts with, you know, you're the thought police, you're the thought Gestapo, you're the word Nazis, you're interfering with free speech, and somehow cutting off an honest debate about race. . . .
And for the record Juan, Eugene Robinson is a black man too. I wonder if Time will give him a chance to respond to your smears.
Sep 28 2007
Green Greenwald wrote:
At the beginning of this year, when the Democrats took over Congress, it would have been unthinkable — truly — to imagine the Congress expressly authorizing the use of military force against Iran. It was always certainly a strong possibility that the administration would find a way to provoke a war with Iran and then argue that they need no further authorization on the ground that the current Iraq AUMF implicitly authorizes them to defend our mission by attacking Iran.
Stranger in a Strange Land wrote that Jim Webb gets it:
I share Jim Webb’s concern that, given the opportunity, Dick Cheney will not hesitate to use the vote on yesterday’s amendment as part of his justification to attack Iran should that opportunity come to pass.
The opportunity, as Greenwald points out, is the continuing Iraq Debacle. And Jim Webb will not do what must be done, not fund the Iraq Debacle. Which means Jim Webb does NOT get it. No Democrat in Congress can truly claim to be doing all they can to end the Iraq Debacle and to prevent an Iran Debacle if they continue to support Bush’s war by funding it. Webb is supporting the Iraq Debacle as he votes to continue to fund it. More.
Sep 28 2007
Senator Chris Dodd: [T]he question is not just how you bring the troops out, but why are we there? As president of the United States, your first responsibility is to guarantee the safety and security of the American people. And so the question you must ask yourself as president: Is the continuation of our military presence enhancing that goal?
I happen to believe very strongly that this policy of ours, military involvement in Iraq, is counterproductive. We’re less safe, less secure, more vulnerable and more isolated today as a result of the policy. So I believe that we ought to begin that process of redeployment here.
I would simultaneously engage in the kind of robust diplomacy that’s been totally missing from this administration, to enhance our own interests in the region as well as to provide some additional security for Iraq. You can do this, Tim. Practically, it can be done, by military planners — can tell you — you can move a brigade to a brigade to a brigade and half, maybe even two a month out of Iraq. So the time frame we’re talking about is critical.
But Congress has an obligation here. It’s not enough that we just draft timetables. The Constitution gives the Congress of the United States a unique power, and that is the power of the purse. As long as we continue drafting these lengthy resolutions and amendments here, talking about timelines and dates, we’re not getting to the fundamental power that exists in the Congress.
And that is to terminate the funding of this effort here, give us a new direction. As everyone who’s looked at this issue over the last two or three years have concluded, there is no military solution here, and we need to do far more to protect our interests not only in that region, but throughout the world. We’re not doing it with this policy.
Sep 27 2007
Rush Limbaugh, on his show said that those troops who come home and want to get America out of the middle of the religious civil war in Iraq are “phony soldiers.” I'd love for you, Rush, to have me on your show and tell that to me to my face.
First, in what universe is a guy who never served even close to being qualified to judge those who have worn the uniform? Rush Limbaugh has never worn a uniform in his life – not even one at Mickey D's – and somehow he's got the moral standing to pass judgment on the men and women who risked their lives for this nation, and his right to blather smears on the airwaves? . . .
Time for a Congressional resolution condemning Limbaugh. Yes, I am serious. This is how the game of politics has to be played.
[UPDATE] Dems firing hard at Limbaugh.
Sep 27 2007
A misunderstanding is leading to a good argument, that the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment sucks, being argued with bad facts. In essence, the argument goes that this language:
that the United States should designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists…
triggers the September 18, 2001 AUMF. It does not. Let’s check the text:
SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Nowhere is there a finding that Iran was involved in the 9/11 attacks. No one can credibly argue that they were (after all, Saddam was behind 9/11 . . .)
Nothing in the Iran Amendment passed today authorizes the use of force (nor would it even if it was NOT a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” resolution.)
But what are the effects of having the IRG declared “Specially Designated Global Terrorists?” Let’s consider that question on the flip.