Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Business As Usual

You would think that having followed Washington politics for all these years I would be at least somewhat anesthetized to the nonsense that comes out of our nation’s capital. But I must admit that the level of buffoonery exhibited over the past few weeks has exceeded even my expectations.

The president has asked congress to grant him formal authorization to take military action against ISIS. The president has been authorizing bombing raids against ISIS for months; which he claims he is empowered to do under the congressional authorization granted in 2001. So why the need for another resolution?

At the same time an official spokesperson for the Obama state department is appearing on all the news shows saying “We can’t bomb our way out of this war against ISIS. We can’t kill out way out.” So why are we bombing…and why the need for another resolution.

Over the past three years there has been a heated debate over whether or not the US should provide military arms to the pro-Syrian rebels fighting against the Assad regime. The neo-cons argued that the regime was slaughtering thousands of its citizens while the administration stood idyll by. The administration countered that it was reluctant to arm the rebels because it could not clearly identify who they were arming. Intelligence sources said that among those fighting in the rebel camp were factions sympathetic to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Now the administration has decided to arm the pro-Syrian rebels. Included in the armaments will be the technological capabilities for calling in airstrikes against ISIS. There is still no clear assessment as to the true intentions of those receiving the weapons. And should the rebels call in a US airstrike against Assad’s military forces…it would constitute an act of war. Meanwhile congress dithers over the terms of the questionable war powers authorization.

ISIS is considered by many to be a direct threat to the homeland. ISIS lures disenfranchised US citizens to their training camps in Syria. These individuals are radicalized and trained and then sent back to the US to terrorize and kill US citizens. The agency responsible for protecting the homeland against such threats is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS is also the agency responsible for executing the president’s executive orders on immigration.

The Republican led congress is opposed to the president’s immigration efforts. So rather than fund the DHS in a stand-alone bill they have passed an appropriations bill that strips out any funding for the president’s immigration orders…even though those orders include beefing up border security to protect against radicalized ISIS operators coming to our shores.

Now the bill goes to the senate. Senate Democrats don’t want to pass it because they don’t want to set the precedent of allowing appropriations to govern policy. Republicans are forcing the issue because they don’t want to see their newly elected majority position undermined by the Democratic minority.
Both parties want DHS to be funded. Sadly this has become more an issue of procedure than policy.

While congress is engaged in this partisan debate a federal court judge has ordered a stay on the president’s immigration reform initiatives. The Obama administration says it will appeal. So in all likelihood congress will pass some sort of short term funding measure for the DHS and kick the can down the road until the courts have resolved the legal issues. Meanwhile 5 million undocumented immigrants return to the shadows fearful of having their families torn apart and ISIS sends more and more terrorists to our shores.

Business as usual.

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