Friday, January 22, 2016

Who Spiked Miss McConnell's Bourbon?


I've heard a lot of odd things about Mitch McConnell-- especially in regard to Pickle Park Cherokee, Waverly and Coxs parks in Louisville-- but I never heard he was an acid head. Maybe someone slipped him a dose in his bourbon Wednesday night. Out of the blue-- with no warning to his own leadership team, let alone the Democrats or the party's presidential candidates-- McConnell used a parliamentary maneuver to tee up and fast-track a debate for a complete blank check war authorization against ISIS. McConnell's surprise au­thor­iz­a­tion for the use of mil­it­ary force "would not restrict the pres­id­ent’s use of ground troops, nor have any lim­its re­lated to time or geo­graphy. Nor would it touch on the is­sue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has used to at­tack IS­IS des­pite that authorziation’s in­struc­tions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. By con­trast, the leg­al au­thor­ity put for­ward by the ad­min­is­tra­tion last Feb­ru­ary wouldn’t au­thor­ize 'en­dur­ing of­fens­ive ground com­bat op­er­a­tions' and would have ended three years after en­act­ment, un­less reau­thor­ized." This one authorizes endless war, anywhere-- and not just for Obama. This authorization could go right to a dangerous neocon president like Rubio, Hillary or Christie or to one of the unpredictable crazy people like Cruz or Herr Trumpf.

McConnell's resolution was instantly co-sponsored by 4 of the worst warmongers in the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and the retiring Dan Coats (R-IN).
Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Bob Cork­er said that there is still a “wide di­versity” of opin­ions on the is­sue. Some Demo­crats were crit­ic­al of even the pres­id­ent’s own draft AUMF, warn­ing that they’d need ad­di­tion­al re­stric­tions from the ad­min­is­tra­tion on troop levels and geo­graph­ic bound­ar­ies be­fore they could sup­port any au­thor­iz­a­tion. Re­pub­lic­ans, mean­while, wor­ried deeply about re­strict­ing the pres­id­ent as this ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the next one, work to com­bat IS­IS.

Cork­er’s com­mit­tee-- and the Sen­ate at large-- was so deeply di­vided over the pres­id­ent’s AUMF pro­pos­al in Feb­ru­ary that the pan­el ul­ti­mately dropped the is­sue, with Cork­er ar­guing with the ad­min­is­tra­tion that no new au­thor­iz­a­tion was needed. “I don’t think it changes any­thing,” he said, of the new res­ol­u­tion.

“I’m in the same place that I’ve been-- and that is I be­lieve the ad­min­is­tra­tion has the au­thor­ity to do what they’re do­ing,” he ad­ded. “They be­lieve they have the au­thor­ity to do what they’re do­ing. If a con­sensus de­vel­ops and I be­lieve that something con­struct­ive re­l­at­ive to us deal­ing with IS­IS might come out of it then cer­tainly I’d be glad to con­sider it.”

...[S]ev­er­al long-time ad­voc­ates for passing a new meas­ure au­thor­iz­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s war against IS­IS were pleased to see an AUMF mov­ing, however slightly, for­ward.

“This is the right thing,” said Gra­ham, a co­spon­sor on the new AUMF res­ol­u­tion. “This is the right in­fra­struc­ture to have.”

“If our Demo­crat­ic friends don’t want to give this pres­id­ent and oth­er pres­id­ents the abil­ity to go after IS­IS without lim­it­a­tion to geo­graphy, time and means-- be on the re­cord,” he ad­ded.

Kaine, a Demo­crat who has ag­gress­ively ad­voc­ated for an AUMF, was thrilled Thursday that the Sen­ate could soon take up de­bate, though he ad­ded that he hasn’t yet seen the de­tails. “After 18 months, I feel like the in­sti­tu­tion might be fi­nally wak­ing up that this is a threat,” Kaine said. “So we’ll see what the plan is on it, but the no­tion that we may be fi­nally tak­ing our job ser­i­ously on it is something I’m hope­ful about.”

Kaine said that al­though he and the vast ma­jor­ity of Con­gress sup­port com­batting IS­IS, he dis­agrees with the ad­min­is­tra­tion that the pres­id­ent is with­in his au­thor­ity to do so. “I be­lieve the war is il­leg­al,” Kaine said Thursday. “I don’t think there’s a leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for it. And I think the greatest danger we end up do­ing is al­low­ing the pres­id­ent to wage a war without Con­gress weigh­ing in.”

Kaine ad­ded that the pres­id­ent ac­ted ini­tially “to pro­tect Amer­ic­an lives” and cred­ited the White House for send­ing over an AUMF last year. “We haven’t done any­thing. So just the no­tion that maybe fi­nally there’s some in­terest in this, I find grat­i­fy­ing. But we’ll have to work through the de­tails,” he said.
In the current politically-charged, fear-dominated environment, it would not be difficult to see the Senate stampeded into backing this kind of proposal. This is a time when we need men and women with wisdom and backbone in the Senate. There aren't many. I know we can count on Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul... but is there anyone else? Anyone? I guess we'll be finding out pretty soon. By the way, one Senate Democrat told me this morning, in confidence, that "The Republicans regard it as an excellent issue for them for November, and like the TPP, it drives a wedge between Obama and the Democrats." One Republican senator who will need no prompting to vote for war is Ohio's Rob Portman. And the Schumercrat opposing him would be likely to go right along for the ride as well, as he always has. But Ohio Democrats have an alternative, P.G. Sittenfeld, who is not a war-mongering fool. "While I believe every President needs authorization from Congress before committing the nation to long-term hostilities, I'm suspicious of Mitch McConnell's sudden change of heart about bringing one to the Senate floor for a vote," he just told us. "An open-ended authorization which in reality is a blank check for endless escalation is dangerous, especially since we don't yet know who the next president will be. I would not support any resolution that could lead America into another quagmire like we had in Viet Nam or Iraq." [You can support Sittenfeld's campaign here.]

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