Thursday, February 12, 2015

This Stuff Makes My Head Hurt

We often hear politicians and pundits comment o the brilliance of our nation’s founders regarding the manner in which they constructed our method of governance. But if you have watched the process over the last six years you have to wonder if the founders knew what in the hell they were doing.

Yesterday the House passed the final authorization for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The vote clears the way for the authorization to head to the president’s desk where it will be vetoed. For six years Washington has wasted taxpayer’s money debating a bill that Republicans doggedly said they would pass and the president consistently promised to veto. Six years of political grandstanding and no one in the room thought to offer the other side a compromise that might move the discussion forward? That’s not governance. That’s politics at its worst.

While congress was passing a Keystone Pipeline bill that is dead on arrival the White House was sending congress a request to formally authorize military force against ISIS. The request limits the authorization to three years. It does not offer any restrictions as to where such military force may be executed. It does not ask for specific authorization to use US ground forces in the pursuit of ISIS but it does not preclude their involvement either. Instead the request bans “enduring offensive combat operations.” I don’t know what that means.

The president has been conducting bombing strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq since September 22, 2014. He said that he was authorized to do so under the terms of the Iraq War Resolution passed by congress on October 16, 2002. The president has expanded those bombing strikes to include ISIS targets in Syria. Syria is not Iraq; but why sweat the details. After all he expanded the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan by conducting drone attacks against Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Yemen. Now we have the president is asking congress to pass a resolution that is far more restrictive in scope than the 2002 resolution under which he claims to have the authority to conduct his expansive operations?

And congress sits idly by! The president grants temporary amnesty to undocumented workers brought into this country illegally as children through no fault of their own and he is labeled an “imperialist president who should be impeached for violating the constitution.” But his decision to expand US military operations into additional foreign countries without prior congressional authorization is met with dumb silence. As I have previously written congress wants no part of another war resolution. War votes can kill political careers. Which is the only reason the president is forcing the issue now. He’s run his last political race and he wants congress on the record. Now that the November elections are over congress is a bit more willing to weigh in. Once again we have politics trumping governance. In my mind playing politics with national security is unconscionable.

This stuff makes my head hurt.

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