Connect with us

News

Congress abdicates authority over Syria

Published

on

Another national security event and another failure by the American government, specifically Congress, to follow the Constitution. Friday night’s strikes in Syria, despite being “limited,” are another example of the House and Senate abdicating authority to the executive and weaken the separation of power concept the founders put into the hallowed document.

The Constitution is explicit in its language on which branch of government has the power to enter the United States into an armed conflict with another nation. Article I, Section 8 writes, “Congress shall have Power…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” No other branch of government has the right to get American soldiers involved in war, despite claims by presidents, congressional members, and pundits otherwise. The fact presidents, starting with Harry Truman, started going around Congress to get the U.S. involved in wars is execrable.

Yet, Congress also deserves criticism for not asserting its power more when it comes to keeping the U.S. from going into war. The State Department’s archives detail a July 1950 meeting with Truman and then Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas on whether a resolution declaring war in Korea was necessary (emphasis mine).

Senator Lucas said that to go up and give such a message to Congress might sound as if the President were asking for a declaration of “war.

The President said this was exactly the point. He said that he had not been acting as President but as Commander-in-Chief of our forces in the Far East.

Senator Lucas reported that the President would be practically asking for a declaration of war if he came up to the Congress like this. On the other hand a fireside chat with the people would be good. He said the document itself was wonderful. He would merely leave out the paragraph on the top of page 14…

The President said that it was up to Congress whether such a resolution should be introduced, that he would not suggest it. He said it was not necessary to make the decision today and that he too was just thinking out loud…

Senator Lucas said that he felt he knew the reactions of Congress. He thought that only (Senate Minority Leader Kenneth) Wherry had voiced the view that Congress should be consulted. Many members of Congress had suggested to him that the President should keep away from Congress and avoid debate. He thought a debate on the resolution might last at least a week.

No resolution on whether the U.S. should go to war in Korea was introduced in Congress, and it’s been downhill since then. At least President George W. Bush got the authority from Congress to go to wa-sorry-Authorisation for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan and Iraq, although the text of the former has been used to allow the U.S. to keep its eternal “War on Terror” going. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested President Donald Trump didn’t need to get congressional authority on Syrian airstrikes because of the 2001 AUMF.

The problem with Ryan’s statement is the fact there’s no real concrete evidence tying the Syrian government to terrorist groups, although there are defectors who have claimed otherwise. A part of me wonders if Ryan made this statement because all he can do is point to the 2001 AUMF if the U.S. gets more involved (since we’re already involved in Syria) in a quagmire in Asia. This way it can’t be used by anti-war candidates to hit at any Republicans or Democrats who voted on a war resolution. It’s kind of a smart cop out by Ryan, but still atrocious policy.

The second problem is the text of the 2001 AUMF in general which gives the executive broad power, “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.”

There’s an even larger problem in all of this: the fact political parties seem wont to disagree with leadership on military actions. Lucas, a Democrat, told Truman most people in Congress were okay with the U.S. going into Korea without a resolution declaring war. Ryan, a Republican, said the 2001 AUMF gave Trump the authority to go to war in Syria. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash went a step further on Friday to point out this political hypocrisy.

The amusing thing is Congress would probably approve a vote for war in Syria with only few elected officials disagreeing with the strikes. The prevailing belief in Washington, DC is the U.S. needs to be world police and protect the world from itself, so there’s no reason why a resolution couldn’t be offered up. There’s no reason for the U.S. to be involved in Syria, even if it’s limited strikes which will slowly get larger and larger before even more ground troops are involved, something the Pentagon is still considering. It’s fine if Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Yemen, et al want to be involved Syria. America has no business participating in military action in Syria at all. All Syria is doing is proving war never changes, and no one should get involved in a land war in Asia.

Leave a comment

Continue Reading

News

Fearless Girl to stand on her own, at least for now

Published

on

By

Fearless Girl is finally going to move and, at least for now, she won’t be taking Charging Bull with her. The decision to move Fearless Girl a few blocks away to a position opposite the New York Stock Exchange was prompted by concerns about crowds and traffic. From the NY Daily News:

The much-beloved statue will depart her perch opposite the iconic Charging Bull to stare down some new scenery: The New York Stock Exchange, the Daily News has learned…

The move comes as the city and the company sought a more permanent home for the popular statue — and one with fewer safety issues than her current spot in a Bowling Green median, which gets overrun with onlookers who often stand in the busy street…

Due to safety concerns about traffic — and potential terror attacks using cars — the city said it was also exploring moving the Charging Bull itself.

But while Fearless Girl will move by year’s end, there are no immediate plans to move the bull — the city said Wednesday it was “exploring” putting it somewhere else downtown.

However, there’s really no doubt that Fearless Girl doesn’t work without some opponent to be fearless about. So will staring down the New York Stock Exchange be enough? The NY Times reports that Mayor de Blasio really wants to keep the statues together:

A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio said that it was important to the mayor, who has posed with “Fearless Girl” and spoken of its meaning to young women and girls, to keep the two works together.

“The mayor felt it was important that the ‘Fearless Girl’ be in a position to stand up to the bull and what it stands for,” said Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary. “That’s why we’re aiming to keep them together. The bull has also always been a traffic and safety issue the city’s hemmed and hawed over. The moves achieve a few goals.”

Artist Arturo Di Modica, the creator of Charging Bull, has said his figure was meant to be a symbol of “freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love.” It was, of course, a symbol of America’s economic strength and, implicitly at least, of the power of capitalism itself. Di Modica felt the addition of Fearless Girl turned his optimistic statue into a corporate comment on gender politics and, worse, a threat to be defied.

It’s interesting that the progressive Mayor is so eager to maintain that reinterpretation of Di Modica’s art. In fact, I think his press secretary’s statement goes a long way to proving Di Modica’s point about the attempt to reinterpret his work. Fearless Girl isn’t just standing up to the bull but also “what it stands for.” Why would Mayor de Blasio want to do that? A statement he made last year to New York Magazine might give a hint:

I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development. . . .

Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality. [Emphasis added.]

Fearless Girl’s placement opposite Charging Bull goes well beyond standing up for more women in high finance jobs and boardrooms (the alleged point of the statue). The Mayor who praised the “socialistic impulse” toward government planning is doing is best to change one of the best-known symbols of America’s free market into a threat to be defied. I really don’t think that’s an accident.

Leave a comment

Continue Reading

News

Whoa: DOJ Inspector General sends criminal referral for Andrew McCabe to U.S. Attorney

Published

on

By

You know who you can thank for this? James Comey! He’s the one who initiated the IG investigation into leaks to the WSJ in October 2016 about the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation, or so he claimed to the Daily Beast. Which makes this tweet from January seem … awkward now:

Comey will be on Jake Tapper’s show for an interview within the hour. I wonder what the first question will be.

The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime, according to people familiar with the matter…

Lying to federal investigators is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, and some legal analysts speculated in the wake of the report that the inspector general seemed to be laying out a case for accusing McCabe of such conduct. The report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies “was done knowingly and intentionally” — which is a key aspect of the federal crime

Ironically, Comey — who appointed McCabe to his post as the No. 2 official in the FBI — stressed in his book released this week the importance of telling the truth to federal investigators and holding accountable those who do not.

“People must fear the consequences of lying in the justice system or the system can’t work,” wrote Comey in his new book, per WaPo, and how here we are. Will the next McCabe fundraising webathon be for bail money?

Comey reiterated yesterday on “The View” when asked about McCabe that lying to the feds isn’t okay. McCabe and his lawyer didn’t like that:

“In his comments this week about the McCabe matter, former FBI Director James Comey has relied on the accuracy and the soundness of the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) conclusions in their report on Mr. McCabe. In fact, the report fails to adequately address the evidence (including sworn testimony) and documents that prove that Mr. McCabe advised Director Comey repeatedly that he was working with the Wall Street Journal on the stories in question prior to publication. Neither Mr. Comey nor the OIG is infallible, and in this case neither of them has it right.”

The wrinkle here is that the IG’s recommendation is based partly on a test of credibility between McCabe and Comey himself. McCabe claims that when Comey asked him in October 2016 whether he had authorized any info on the Clinton Foundation probe to be released to the WSJ, McCabe told him yes, that he was working with the paper to correct inaccuracies in the story. Comey, however, told the IG that McCabe told him he didn’t know who’d been talking to the paper. Upon further investigation, the IG agreed with Comey. Which is to say, if this turns into a prosecution — and there’s no guarantee that it will — the star witness against Andrew McCabe might be … James Comey.

The statute here, by the way, is the same statute that Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to violating: 18 U.S.C. 1001, which makes it a crime to lie to federal officials. The U.S. Attorney will be under heavy political pressure to indict McCabe in order to show that the “no lying” rule applies to its own officers just as much as it does to Trump’s aides. Although I wonder if Trump might inadvertently let them off the hook by tweeting something celebratory about the McCabe referral, leaving the U.S. Attorney to argue that the president’s endless Twitter attacks on McCabe have made it impossible for him to get a fair trial. As such, he might not be charged or, if he’s amenable, he may be allowed to cop a plea with a wrist-slap penalty. If anything is capable of driving home the lesson to Trump that he shouldn’t be tweeting about pending legal matters, watching McCabe walk free because of his big mouth might be it.

Nah, who are we kidding. Nothing will drive that lesson home. Exit question: What if McCabe and Michael Cohen end up as cellmates in the federal pen? I smell sitcom.

Leave a comment

Continue Reading

News

Trump: Feds will not pay for Jerry Brown’s National Guard ‘charade’

Published

on

By

The war of words between President Trump and California Governor Jerry Brown over illegal immigration heated up again this morning. Just yesterday Gov. Brown suggested 400 National Guard troops would be headed for the border and that the federal government had agreed to pay for it. But this morning President Trump tweeted this:

This all started a couple weeks ago when President Trump announced that, since funding for his border wall was stalled, he was calling on states to send National Guard troops to the border. A week later, there was another surprise when Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he would be sending 400 National Guard troops to the border to fight smuggling and drug trafficking. However, Brown also drew a line at getting involved in preventing illegal immigration saying, “It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

That made it a bit unclear what California’s troops were actually going to do. National Guard troops are not allowed to arrest people at the border. That’s the job of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. Troops from other states were using surveillance equipment and notifying the border patrol if they saw someone trying to cross the border. They were also given jobs doing paperwork and other support roles aimed at freeing up more border patrol officers. But earlier this week the Associated Press reported that California was rejecting most of the actual jobs the border patrol wanted the troops to do.

The state informed federal officials it will not allow its troops to fix and repair vehicles, operate remotely-controlled surveillance cameras to report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, operate radios and provide “mission support,” which can include clerical work, buying gas and handling payroll, according to officials with knowledge of the talks who spoke condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The next day, California officials said they were not backing away from sending troops to the border even as a CBP Deputy Commissioner confirmed the core of the Associated Press report, i.e. Gov. Brown would not let his troops do a number of support jobs for the border patrol.

Wednesday, Gov. Brown released a statement saying 400 troops were headed to the border, “after securing the federal government’s commitment this week to fund the mission.” That certainly makes it sound as if some agreement has been reached. But if so, Trump’s tweet this morning appears to be rejecting that agreement. So far, there has not been a response from Gov. Brown clarifying whether or not his National Guard troops are still headed for the border.

Leave a comment

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Like us on Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Close