Democrats & Liberals Archives

Power Grab? Republicans Grabbed First.

Well, you know what he he did by now, and I’m sure many of you are furious he did it. I write, of course, to the Republicans and Right Wingers in the audience here. Well, I got just one question to ask.

What did you expect him to do? Cede a Presidential power written in the Constitution?

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Let's ask ourselves a simple question here: what was the purpose of that last paragraph?

The simple truth is that when the framers wrote the Constitution, two things were true, for much the same reason: word only traveled so fast, and so did people. Even so, people still needed to make decisions about policy, so the President couldn't necessarily wait for Congress to return to make up their minds.

Things have obviously changed in that department since then, with jet aircraft able to traverse the whole breadth of our territory in one day, from the furthest point west or north, to the most extreme point east or south. Our messages can move even faster.

There still remains a reason, though. One thing that the framers intended to undo as much of as possible, was gridlock. In fact, that was the entire point of the convention that created our charter, more so than many higher ideals we cite. Simply put, regardless of their differences, the citizens of our fledgling nation needed a government that worked.

Congress would not always see eye to eye with the President, so the advice and consent of the Senate would not always be possible. Ah, but what if the President simply didn't want to agree? Well, then you could just recess appoint once, and be done with it for good! Not so fast, the framers said, It'll just be for one year.

There is power in being able to do a thing, and power in being able to keep a thing from being done. Those who don't acknowledge that power can be exercised both through positive empowerment and negative obstruction, and that both must be moderated, are apt to take policy and whatever discontent there may be with it to excessive extremes.

Let's ask ourselves another question, along those lines: where does it say that appointments require anything else than a majority vote on the Senate's part?

Nowhere.

How many appointments would the President have successfully made, if the votes to end debate had been votes to confirm or deny a given appointee? Quite a few. Which raises an interesting question: what is the GOP doing obstructing the appointment of officials, which by the standards of the constitution have met the threshold for confirmation?

Whether they like it or not, Americans elected the President and the Senators in question. They have that authority. An occasional procedural impediment in protest is in one thing, but to make it as consistent and everlasting as it has become takes it from the realm of protest to that of rebellion against the will of the people. Presumably, when the Democrats were elected to the majority in 2006, most people wanted them to vote as Democrats. They wanted a change in policy, a change in the attitude that guides policy. However, if what we're looking at is a scorched earth campaign of obstruction, that change is going nowhere, especially when the numbers aren't enough to get over the procedural obstacles (majority votes notwithstanding.)

I know some Republicans might like it. It allows their Senators to be uncompromising, not having to sully their hands by cooperating or horsetrading with the hated Democrats in order to effect their influence on Senate business. But such lack of compromise was not built into the model of the Senate, any more than it was built into the framer's structure for the House.

For the last three years, the GOP has been engaged in a constitutional overreach of epic proportions, trying to leverage what membership they had left in those bodies into an inappropriately powerful influence on legislation in the House and Senate. They have used filibusters and secret holds, which under Senate rules required 60 vote super-majorities to break, to prevent a Democratic senate delegation voted in by Americans in 2006, confirmed heavily in 2008, and sustained even in 2010 from being able to approve legislation by a simple majority, which they possess.

Hundreds of judicial and executive branch appointments are held up, and the operation of our government, as previous Congresses approved it, has been hindered. It is one thing to prefer less government, but if one doesn't have the power to reduce government by legitimate means, one should at least allow it to operate as well as it can. Anything less than that is deliberate sabotage, which should bring up questions for folks being asked to believe that government is messing up all on its own.

It's like a person who gives you a flat tire to show how helpful they are at fixing your flat. It's the behavior of a con artist, who creates a need where there wasn't one before. The American people rejected the policies of the right, on account of the dark consequences that followed from those policies. They did not elect Democrats to the majority simply to see their verdict nullified. You can talk about the Republicans needing to have a voice, but does their having that voice mean they get to shout everybody else down on every matter?

I mean, the Republicans get their way when they're in the majority, and when they're out of it? That's not fair to the folks who didn't vote Republican, who wanted a real change from them.

But it gets even worse.

Republicans have been, recently, staging thirty second sessions every two or three days with the express idea of preventing the Senate from going into an unquestionable recess. Gaveling in, doing the bare minimum, and then gaveling out, not even allowing anybody to speak or do anything that remotely resembles actual, substantive Senate or House business.

In other words, faking being in session to deliberately obstruct the President from appointing the officials the President would otherwise be able to appoint.

It would have no meaning, though, if we were doing things in Congress as the Framers first set it up. The Filibuster, whose prerogative the Republicans are protecting, is an accident of Senate rules, and supported by nothing so substantial as the authority the Senate has to write its own rules. If the Democrats keep the Senate and strike down filibusters next year, there's nothing in the Constitution to demand that it be brought back in.

But there was, from the beginning, a recognition in the constitution that the President needed to be able to appoint advisors and other officials, if only on a temporary basis, so that our government can actually function, and carry out the laws Congress put in place.

That includes laws the current Congress dislikes, but which it doesn't have the numbers to override.

See, Richard Cordray was being held up for no better reason than as a hostage to a Republican attempt to water down the Dodd-Frank Law that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Republicans knew that Senate Democrats and the President would not willingly undo what they had signed into law, so instead of waiting for an election result to give them the added political power to do this, and other things, the Republicans decided, once more, to abuse their power in order to extract concessions.

So, in essence, Republicans are engaged in a power struggle here, trying to do what their numbers in Senate and absence in the White House would otherwise not allow them to do. And, in a lesser form, this is what they did ever since 2006, with their constant filibustering and killing of Democratic legislation through procedural means, rather than straight votes.

We need a government that works, that also represents a compromise between the various political factions that govern our country together. We don't need one side or another privileged with a special license to undermine any political change they don't like. That's what the Soviets and the Maoists had, that's what tinpot dictators and the like do, because they don't want to give up power, even when folks want them to.

Our nation's political system, to hold parties and political factions accountable, counts on a set of checks and balances, meant to provide consequences for the failure to come to agreement. The Congress was never meant to be a place where the appointments of a President would be dammed up, leaving them with no people to help him do their job. The recess appointment clause was meant to provide the President with a way out of this dilemma, and to make sure that Congress would only have influence over his choice, not complete say so.

The Republicans have taken too much power to themselves, gummed up the works too much for the good of the nation. We can feel fortunate that our Constitution provides us with a means to resolve this dispute. We should feel sorrow for our nation that we have such a hard-headed, unreasoning, and selfish party that we would have to do this to achieve balance in our nation's government, and greater fidelity to the will of the voters.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 8, 2012 8:55 AM
Comments
Comment #334197

When Mitt Romney is president and Republicans control the Senate by a few votes (both high probability events) will you advocate that the Democrats in the minority just confirm all presidential appointments?


Or if Barack Obama remains president and Republicans control the Senate, will you be enthusiastic when they vote his programs or nominees down with a simple majority?

You know that given the character and numbers of who is running for Senate this year, Republican control of the Senate is a very high probability.

I will be sure to keep a note of this post so that we can quote it back to you next year.

Posted by: C&J at January 8, 2012 10:54 AM
Comment #334198

The party out of power isn’t ever going to confirm all appointments of the party in power in the White House. But the GOP has taken obstructing nominees to a new level.

If I were deciding policy for the GOP I’d be careful in how much alarm I raise over Obama’s so-called non-recess recess appointments. The more light shining on this subject the more light shines on how ridiculous the GOP has been over Obama appointments. The public is once again going to see them for the clowns they are.

What is it you say, C&J, about adults being back in charge?

Posted by: Adam Ducker at January 8, 2012 11:11 AM
Comment #334202

Just when exactly did it become constitutional for this president to ignore constitutional provisions?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 1:33 PM
Comment #334203

The president has legal advisers to advise on what is in their authority as POTUS. If this falls outside of that then let’s see Congress do something about it. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out the Obama administration made such a bold move simply to shine light on the obstructions of the GOP.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at January 8, 2012 1:39 PM
Comment #334204

Really Adam, I wouldn’t be shocked to find out the obama administration made such a bold move simply because it believes the constitution to be a worthless document.

You write as though you are proud of a president who willingly violates the very document he swore to uphold to accomplish some objective.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 1:46 PM
Comment #334205

C&J-
The question you should ask yourself what your response would be if you had the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, but Democrats decide to do the same thing you’ve done for the last six years.

You can take your notes, I’ve got mine, and I’ll quote to you at length your defenses of your party’s obstruction.

I’m willing to honor the spirit of Democracy, and be motivated to win back seats and the White House in order to more effectively see my party’s political influence spread. Sure, it will be policy hell, but your party has never undone its stranglehold, so what have I got to lose at this point? Your leaders are so tin-eared at this point concerning public opinion, that I would likely see my party back in a few years, and more powerful than every before.

I can be patient. I can stand aside this time as I simply say, you know, I once defended filibusters, but as a tool of protest and a means of gaining concessions. But since it seems like it’s going to be a way to nullify the authority of the president to appoint, and the Legislative majorities to legislate, we need some sort of reform here now, and I’m willing to see the filibuster gone, if it means that the government once again does the people’s business.

I have the stronger position, in the long term. Why should I abandon it? What have I got to gain by allowing the Republicans years more to nullify my party’s majorities and Presidential victors?

If you want to play the game of political hypocrisy, don’t fail to realize that your party’s taken a far different out of power than it did in power, and that by taking it’s route, it’s endangered its future ability to legislate.

I warned you what might come to pass, but you were more concerned with the fake dangers your leaders have been scaring you with than you were about the systematic results of your party’s policies and political tactics.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 8, 2012 1:54 PM
Comment #334206

Royal Flush-
What, he ignored the Republicans pretending to come back into session every two days, without doing any actual business to do what the framers intended him to do when Congress wasn’t willing or able to appoint officials?

I’d like to see you defend the validity of a session where no debates are held, no committee meetings or hearings are had, the legislative equivalent of the groundhog seeing it’s shadow and going back in its burrow, as being a real session. And if it wasn’t a session, then it was a recess, and the President did exactly what he should be able to do!

You also miss the part where the filibuster and all those secret holds aren’t actually part of the constitution.

You also miss the part where this can be used by Democrats, whenever we have one part of the legislature under our control or another, to deny Romney and others their due under the Constitution.

That is, if we do things your way.

That’s what you fail to realize. Push the Democrats or their constituents hard enough, and you’ll be facing the same obstruction you inflicted on us. You set the precedent, after all. I wonder, though, if you’ll be hollering about how unconstitutional it this obstruction is when somebody turns around and does it to you. It would seem typical, I think.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 8, 2012 2:07 PM
Comment #334207

It is very simple SD, either congress was or wasn’t in session. All your excuses, what-ifs, perhaps’s, and defence of this would be dictator don’t mean crap. Only congress gets to decide if it is in session or not, not this tinpot wanna-be ruler.

obama swore to uphold the constitution, he defiled it, he should be gone.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 2:45 PM
Comment #334208

Stephen

Feel free to quote what I write. It will serve to prove what I am trying to point out to you. Both parties commit politics. Good leaders, like Reagan and Clinton can find ways to work with the opposition, despite some really messy fights.

Reagan reformed Social Security and revamped the Federal pension system. The SS fix lasted a generation and the Fed pension reform is still working. Who’d have thought this arch conservative could get this done.

Clinton reformed welfare, something that had defied presidents for decades. Who’d believed this Democrat could do that?

If you notice the pattern, the better leaders are able to take something the opposition wants and remake it into something both sides can embrace. They find the middle.

Obama was unable to do this because he doesn’t understand how to engage the opposition. Engage doesn’t mean you send messages or even offer compromises. It means you are able to change and be changed by your work with others.

Obama just doesn’t understand. He never talks to the opposition in an informal way. He doesn’t even much talk to his allies in Congress. He is no Ronald Reagan and no Bill Clinton. He is a poor president, which is why he had raised such a strong opposition in such a short time. It really is mostly his fault.

Posted by: C&J at January 8, 2012 2:52 PM
Comment #334210
You write as though you are proud of a president who willingly violates the very document he swore to uphold to accomplish some objective.

If getting an appointee to the point where he/she can do the job violates the constitution then quit obstructing the process with silly games and such. Those that think our founding fathers designed rules and procedures that were meant to keep those appointed to positions by the president from doing so are wrong. Going to recess yet staying in session! What playground do you guys come from. You are either at recess or you are not, quit acting like spoiled school children whining about the president violating the constitution when you are doing the same thing.

The administration has been more than patient with these guys to no avail. Allowing thugs like Boehner to hide behind the constitution as if it were their mothers dress and they were at the playground is ludicrous. I am proud that Obama did what was necessary. It shows patience and leadership.


To think that the leaders in the HOR using such dishonorable methods to violate the procedures of the Congress is considered good by conservatives shows exactly what kind of character they really have.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 8, 2012 3:48 PM
Comment #334211

Obama can make a legal argument for his appointments. He can make a good argument that he has acted within the frame of the Constitution. Republicans in Congress have attempted to prevent the implementation of valid laws by refusing to perform their mandated role, provide the advice and consent necessary to run those agencies, and so put those laws into action, as required. Obama used his constitutional powers to make recess appointments because he can claim the Congress is, for all practical purposes, in recess.

Congressional Republicans can claim that that they define what is and is not a recess, and that a pro forma session counts as a regular session. In addition, they can claim that advice and consent can take as long as they want it to take.

Normally, the Supreme Court would stay out of a shouting match between the other two branches.

I’m not a lawyer, but should this issue actually go before the SCOTUS, I think Congress would win, and I think Obama knows that. He is willing to go that route because the publicity would be worth the cost.

The Congressional GOP has depended upon a ‘do-nothing’ strategy to an extreme degree. Now they will be caught in the spotlight. They are preventing consumer protection because the GOP favors the special interests of the financial industry over the interests of the voters.

It’s a brilliant move by Obama, and he comes out a winner regardless of whether the appointments stand up in court. Well done.

The Republicans face an election year humiliation if they contest these appointments. I suspect they will ignore the constitutional issues rather than risk the scorn. It’s a battle they simply cannot afford to win.

Posted by: phx8 at January 8, 2012 4:01 PM
Comment #334212

The republicans got caught in their own trap here. All they had to do was come up with some problem with Cordray, some reason to justify them blocking the nomination. Anything. Then the people might have given them a pass. But they’ve pretty much admitted this is being done simply out of spite. Everybody knows this now and everybody knows that congress isn’t really in session. The American Public has already weighed the evidence on both sides and found the Republicans the bad guys here.

Yes, I know Democrats can be obstructionist when a Rep is President, but at least they try to come up with some reasons. Hint to Republicans: The “Because we don’t like the President” excuse isn’t enough to justify blocking a consent vote. The problem is supposed to be with the nominee.

Royal Flush:
Just when exactly did it become constitutional for this president to ignore constitutional provisions?

What provisions?
You’re not going to tell us he’s violating A&C are you? It’s the Republicans who are violating the “advise and consent” clause by not allowing a vote. As for the recess appointment itself… The Republicans are using fake-ass 45-second “sessions” of the house to force the Senate to remain open, even though the Senators don’t want that. Both houses are adjourned and have been for some time. These Republican political tricks will not hold up as an excuse in court if the Republicans decide to go after Obama through the legal system. And like I said, they’ve already lost in the Court of Public Opinion.

It is very simple SD, either congress was or wasn’t in session. All your excuses, what-ifs, perhaps’s, and defence of this would be dictator don’t mean crap. Only congress gets to decide if it is in session or not, not this tinpot wanna-be ruler.

What “what-if’s and perhaps’s?” It’s the Republicans that have been playing hard and loose with the constitution through their political games and making up excuses for it.
Obama did nothing wrong.
Just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant, Congress can’t be a little bit in session. You know as well as I do that Congress isn’t in session now. But you can pretend otherwise and keep playing the aforementioned political games that the Reps have already been lost.

Now.. How about answering my questions in the other thread? I still want to hear more about your hypothetical WWIII.

Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012 4:51 PM
Comment #334213

phx writes; “I’m not a lawyer, but should this issue actually go before the SCOTUS, I think Congress would win, and I think Obama knows that. He is willing to go that route because the publicity would be worth the cost.”

Do you really mean that? The president should knowingly violate the constitution for publicity? Can you, or anyone defend that? Would it not be proper to impeach a president who knowingly violates his oath of office?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 4:51 PM
Comment #334214

Now.. How about answering my questions in the other thread? I still want to hear more about your hypothetical WWIII.
Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012

There are many scenarios for just such an occurrence that are considered by our defense department and many think tanks. That you are to lazy to take a look means nothing. Keep slumbering and stay in the dark.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 4:59 PM
Comment #334215

Royal Flush-
Oh yes, Congress either was, or wasn’t in session. And I would advise you to re-read the constitution before you make the claim that only Congress has the power to call itself into session.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.[emphasis mine]

You folks cite the Constitution all the time, but all too often it’s your ideosyncratic interpretation of it, often applied before any court case has resolved the question in your favor. You also tend to cite it this way, because you seek to take open questions of what’s appropriate to legislate, and justify your point of view in a way that’s meant to pre-empt dissent.

Take your constant insistence on the limits of the interstate commerce clause’s applicability. It doesn’t really match the case law, but even though this is nothing but your opinion, you constantly use this interpretation as if it had such authority.

You don’t like disagreement. I’ll bet you something, though: most likely, when Obama did his appointments, they were between those sessions. If so, that complicates your argument further. Although that never stops you.

C&J-
I’d like to draw something to your notice: When’s the last time the Republicans triangulated on something here? Take the case of the official in question. The guy had enough votes, and enough respect from both sides to get through, but the main hold up was that Republicans wanted the law authorizing the agency to be rewritten. On the other side of things, the Republicans, faced with a potential shutdown of the NLRB, instead opted to let the the board be hobbled, rather than consider compromise candidates. So what are the results?

The NLRB will now be operating with essentially Obama’s first picks, the CFPB as well, the CFPB law will remain unchanged.

You know, you’d have a lot better of a position if the pro-forma sessions actually had a quorum of some kind show up. It would mean that a whole bunch of Republicans would have to bother to show up, something they do a lot less than Democrats did, but at least they could claim they had better than a glorified recess.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 8, 2012 5:03 PM
Comment #334216

Royal Flush,
Obama might lose the case before the SCOTUS, but then again, he might win. It’s easy to provide a valid interpretation of the Constitution that supports his argument, so he is certainly NOT violating his oath. Also, remember Obama TAUGHT Constitutional Law, and graduated from Harvard with honors.

I’d LOVE to see him go in person in front of the Supreme Court and make his case. It would be FANTASTIC political theater.

Do you really want to see your party go there? Think about it. Obama picked a smart fight. Congressional Republicans would be wise to concede the matter. To a great extent, they successfully stalled financial reforms in order to serve the one percent and Wall Street. Now they’ve been called on it, and painted into a corner. Call it good enough, and move on.

Posted by: phx8 at January 8, 2012 5:13 PM
Comment #334217

C&J,
Obama was unable to do this because he doesn’t understand how to engage the opposition. Engage doesn’t mean you send messages or even offer compromises. It means you are able to change and be changed by your work with others.

Obama’s not the best politician, but you wrote this about him during THIS Republican Congress while THIS issue is being discussed???!!! There’s no way you typed that with a straight face…

Obama just doesn’t understand. He never talks to the opposition in an informal way. He doesn’t even much talk to his allies in Congress. He is no Ronald Reagan and no Bill Clinton.

I can agree with this, but…

He is a poor president, which is why he had raised such a strong opposition in such a short time. It really is mostly his fault.

His opposition hasn’t increased, it’s just that the republicans are louder. Even if he’s lost a small portion of his ‘08 base (which he has), they only represent the far left. Now that it’s down to Romney and Santorum, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll carry more independents this year. No one who didn’t vote Republican in ‘08 will vote for one of these guys.
No, Obama’s not a great President. And at this point, it doesn’t matter.

Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012 5:14 PM
Comment #334218

Royal Flush,

There are many scenarios for just such an occurrence that are considered by our defense department and many think tanks. That you are to lazy to take a look means nothing. Keep slumbering and stay in the dark.

Wow, you quit faster than Sarah Palin on speed. You are a cop-out and no fun. Since you refuse to debate me on either topic, I’m just going to assume you concede all my points and go on to someone else. Maybe C&J actually want to discuss things on a discussion site…

Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012 5:31 PM
Comment #334219

ROseSTem

President Obama came into office with one of the highest approval ratings of any president. His party had greater control of the government than any Republican president had enjoyed in the last eighty years. He seemed to have the wind at his back. Less than a year later, he was in trouble and now three years into his presidency it is hard to believe that he every enjoyed such commanding positions.

Of course, he had opponents, but many fewer than Reagan had in 1981. Obama managed to empower his opposition, so that only two years later the hope and change mantra had transferred to his opponents. It was truly remarkable.

You can attribute all this to the cunning of Republicans, but if you do you must attribute to them a sudden jump in their intelligence and competence. They would have not only have to be many times smarter than Democrats, but they would have had to acquire that edge between 2008, when they clearly didn’t have it, and 2010 when they shellacked the President’s party.

I think it much more likely that Obama overreached AND as people got to know him, they found that he was not the man they imagined.

Posted by: C&J at January 8, 2012 5:55 PM
Comment #334222

SD wrote; “Royal Flush-
Oh yes, Congress either was, or wasn’t in session. And I would advise you to re-read the constitution before you make the claim that only Congress has the power to call itself into session.”

I know you have said you have a reading problem. I did not say that. Place an “F” on your argument.

With regard to the Interstate Commerce clause, we will find out this year if it is broad enough to cover mandating that our citizens purchase health insurance or face penalties.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 6:01 PM
Comment #334223

The dems and libs on WB are running scared and already making excuses for their partys failures. When all else fails, blame the other guy.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 6:07 PM
Comment #334224

By the way SD, this power you claim for presidents regarding recessing congress, can you tell us when obama performed this “right”? Did he announce that he was officially recessing congress or did he just dream it? Was congress told by the president that he had recessed them? Was there something in writing with his signature on it? That certainly would have been the honorable thing to do…lol, oh wait, that’s expecting a lot from this lawless dunce.

Perhaps obama can also recess the Supreme Court and really solve all his constitutional problems. With both the court and congress in permanent recess he can truly don the dictator’s hat…you know, the pointy one.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 6:20 PM
Comment #334225

ROseStem,

The response of Royal Flush to your request for clarification on his deep and alarming concern about the heightened possibility of WWIII is typical. Just throw out any bizarre allegation and assert that it is self evident without any rational justification.

Posted by: Rich at January 8, 2012 6:29 PM
Comment #334227

Rich’s comment indicates he believes that a heightened possibility of WWIII is bizarre. I have read many scenarios being considered by the defense department and others whose job it is to ponder just such things. Info is easily found on the net if one cares to look.

Those that I have read involve many pages to explain and a desire to delve deeply into complicated subjects. It is not suited for the casual reader and certainly something which I could not attempt to condense for inclusion on this blog.

Few could believe in the mid 1930’s that Germany would once again be involved in starting another world war. Who among us could have believed the attack on 911 the day before it occurred? Despite all the evidence available that both events were likely, neither were prevented or even believed possible.

Do your own research and I will do mine.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 6:53 PM
Comment #334228

“With regard to the Interstate Commerce clause, we will find out this year if it is broad enough to cover mandating that our citizens purchase health insurance or face penalties.”

Royal Flush,

This Constitutional health financing debate only illustrates the deep hypocrisy of the right.

The mandatory purchase of health insurance was a great idea when the Heritage Foundation advocated it and when Governor Romney implemented it in Mass. It was an example of a society taking personal responsibility for their health care and avoiding the “free rider” and government hand out approach. Now, its a violation of individual rights and the Constitution.

Its interesting to see how Romney and conservatives attempt to wiggle out of RomneyCare. It was only an experiment in the laboratory of states, as though that argument has anything to do with their current concern about violation of personal liberty.

Quite frankly, I think that Obama-Romneycare is an overly complicated and expensive approach to achieving universal health care.

At some point we will realize that a Medicare for all program, similar to Canada’s, is the simplest and least costly of the alternatives. Thankfully, there will not be a Constitutional debate. Medicare and the taxation system to support it, is a settled Constitutional question.

Posted by: Rich at January 8, 2012 6:55 PM
Comment #334229

C&J,
President Obama came into office with one of the highest approval ratings of any president. His party had greater control of the government than any Republican president had enjoyed in the last eighty years. He seemed to have the wind at his back. Less than a year later, he was in trouble and now three years into his presidency it is hard to believe that he every enjoyed such commanding positions.
gr
Of course, he had opponents, but many fewer than Reagan had in 1981. Obama managed to empower his opposition, so that only two years later the hope and change mantra had transferred to his opponents. It was truly remarkable.

You can attribute all this to the cunning of Republicans, but if you do you must attribute to them a sudden jump in their intelligence and competence. They would have not only have to be many times smarter than Democrats, but they would have had to acquire that edge between 2008, when they clearly didn’t have it, and 2010 when they shellacked the President’s party.

I think it much more likely that Obama overreached AND as people got to know him, they found that he was not the man they imagined.

None of this makes any sense at all.
How do you think Obama is “in trouble?” Romney is lucky when people within his party vote for him and Santorum is a theocrat supported by only the most fundamentalist religious nuts. The President’s party did not get “shellacked,” as you put it, in 2010. The republicans gained a slim majority in the house and shot themselves in the foot in the Senate. They are now the most unpopular Congress in history. The people do not want to put their hand back on the Republican burner. So when you say Obama is in trouble, who are you trying to convince. Me? or you?

People think Republicans represent hope and change? Who?

No Obama isn’t who we imagined. We thought he was liberal. Whodathunk he’d turn out to be to the right of Ronald Regan on many issues (like taxes)? Still, he hasn’t done anything to turn off the majority of voters. In fact, he’s had several victories (ended Iraq war, ended DADT, had Bin Laden found and killed, etc.). The economy, while not great, is most likely better than it would be in a Republican administration (see: Bush, George W.). The debt is less than it would be under Republicans, if only because Obama ended Iraq and is scaling back the Afghanistan war. All he’s lost are the far left (because of his conservative health care law), and they’ll still come out to vote against Santorum. Romney would pose a bigger challenge, but even though he’s to the left of most Republicans, independents don’t like him. He’s the Republican John Kerry. And Obama is more popular than Bush was when he was reelected.

So what’s with all this “in trouble” talk? And… Wait… Where has Obama overreached? Oh yeah… He made an appointment while the republicans were PRETENDING to hold a session of Congress. Yawn.

Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012 7:04 PM
Comment #334230

Royal Flush,

It was you who wrote “Frankly, the smell of world wide war is in the air. I hate the thought and yet realize that many problems can only be resolved in that fashion.”

So, what specifically are you talking about? What are the current problems that you think can only be resolved by world war?

Your response that think tanks have numerous hypothetical scenarios begs the question. What raised your olfactory senses to sniff the smell of world war?

Posted by: Rich at January 8, 2012 7:08 PM
Comment #334231

Royal Flush:
The dems and libs on WB are running scared and already making excuses for their partys failures. When all else fails, blame the other guy.

Says the guy who posts stuff like this so as not to engage in actual debate.

Rich:
The response of Royal Flush to your request for clarification on his deep and alarming concern about the heightened possibility of WWIII is typical. Just throw out any bizarre allegation and assert that it is self evident without any rational justification.

No surprise there.
At least C&J responded to me in a rational manner and, although I disagreed with them so far, I’m looking forward to their response to my latest post.

Posted by: ROseSTem at January 8, 2012 7:20 PM
Comment #334233

I will give you just one part of the mix Rich…world wide financial trouble, growing unrest in the Middle East, China and many other important countries around the world, easy availability of nuclear weapons, increased threats against Israel, dwindling supply of world energy resources, increasing numbers of starving people in the world, reassertion of nationalism in Europe…

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 8, 2012 7:31 PM
Comment #334235

ROseSTem

Re Obama in trouble - we disagree. Let’s see what happens in November. Maybe Democrats feel more confident than they let on.

Re Iraq - Obama generally followed the Bush plan in reducing our presence. Where he rolled the dice is pulling out so completely. We did a really good job with the surge, mostly wiped out AQI and calmed the place down, so I think he will probably win this bet, but it is risky. BTW - Obama is my president too, so I am hoping he wins his Iraq bet. I would not have made the move he did, however. Iacta alea est, in any case.

Re the weak recovery - I wrote about that here http://www.watchblog.com/democrats/archives/007828.html#334193

Posted by: C&J at January 8, 2012 7:55 PM
Comment #334236

Royal Flush-
The Pentagon plans for everything. I haven’t been able to confirm this independently, but I hear they actually have a military plan about how to engage the Girl Scouts.

It’s their job to prepare.

Wars are not magic video game things. We have to ask:

1) Do they have the political will to get into a fight with us, or are they going to go “Shut up, before you get us all killed” to their leaders?

2) Do they have little enough to lose by making war against us? Whoever does loses imports and exports from this country almost immediately, and faces NATO, the UN, and other treaty organizations in the process.

3) Do they have the economic and military werewithal to wage a war. As Republicans who actually pay attention to the budget as a whole would know, War is expensive. Trillions of our current and future national debt is the bill for the wars, the expanded DoD, and the costs of servicing that debt. Others would have to field an army capable of delivering force, and taking objectives.

Really, do you have any real candidates, or is this all just the usual paranoia? You can say one nation or another might do something stupid, but are these countries in a position to do that much stupid, and not get obliterated?

What we have to worry about are small wars, in which we will often have limited involvement.

C&J-
Obama followed your fellow’s timeline. December 2011 was the time we were supposed to leave under Bush’s timetable. Just thought you should know.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 9, 2012 1:18 AM
Comment #334260
I will give you just one part of the mix Rich

Say Royal any chance biblical prophecy is also part of the mix?
http://www.escapeallthesethings.com/planet-x-nibiru-wormwood.htm

Or a conspiracy theory?
http://intelwars.com/2011/06/12/rothschilds-illuminati-creating-the-groundwork-for-wwiii/

Enlighten us. Time to post on it Royal.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 9, 2012 9:46 AM
Comment #334261

One question for all you skeptics to R.F.’s post. Were we prepared for 9/11, and the garage bombing before that of the towers? We have China building up it’s military, a nut case in charge of N.Korea, Iran has Nuclear ambitions and building up it’s missle inventory. Or are these and other countries just prepareing themselves in case?

Posted by: KAP at January 9, 2012 10:52 AM
Comment #334262

KAP,
We are as prepared for terrorist attacks as we will ever be. China spends 1/10 of what the US spends of ‘defense,’ and it is very, very far behind in terms of technology. North Korea is contained. Iran is not talking about bombing the US. American conservatives are talking about bombing Iran. And by the way, at the end of the Reagan administration, when the US positioned the Navy off the Iranian shore, we shot down a civilian airliner, Flight 655, killing 290 innocent men, women, and children.

If another country positioned its navy off our coast and shot down an airliner, how do you think we would take it?

Posted by: phx8 at January 9, 2012 11:23 AM
Comment #334263

KAP, & RF,

“Were we prepared for 9/11, and the garage bombing before that of the towers?”

So tell us, what country put the bomb in the garage? What country brought down the WTC?

We can play whack-a-mole all over the planet, but at what cost?

After WW1, which, theoretically, was the “war to end all wars” there have only been 2 decades where America hasn’t been involved in some sort of armed conflict, from full out war to “police actions”.

At what point do the “cooler heads” prevail?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 9, 2012 12:41 PM
Comment #334265

But they are talking about wiping Israel off the map one of our allies phx8. At what point do cooler heads prevail Rocky, how much talking and negotiating is enough? How much preparation is enough? Do we need another 9/11 or Pearl Harbor? As the saying goes the best offence is a good defence, and even with that crap will happen.

Posted by: KAP at January 9, 2012 1:10 PM
Comment #334266

KAP,

“As the saying goes the best offence is a good defence, and even with that crap will happen.”

But we already have a great defence, and offence. We are capable of turning virtually the entire planet into a sheet of glass.

Is too much never enough?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 9, 2012 1:24 PM
Comment #334267

KAP,
No one is going to wipe Israel off the map with a nuclear attack. Israel has its own nuclear arsenal and would retaliate. And if someone really wanted to wipe Israel off the map, they would not need to use something as dramatic as nuclear weapons to kill most of the people in that country. There are other ways.

Posted by: phx8 at January 9, 2012 1:33 PM
Comment #334268

But if we keep cutting back on that great defence we won’t have much of an offence, Rocky. In todays world we need to be vigilant and stay ahead.

Posted by: KAP at January 9, 2012 1:40 PM
Comment #334269

Some deny that there are tinder boxes, capable of being inflamed, in many places. Small events have in the past lead to a world at war when the conditions were right.

I see many areas of the world today that can easily be inflamed and which, under certain conditions, could draw major countries into their conflicts.

911, an act of terrorism committed not by a country, drew us into conflict and prolonged war. It was to the advantage of the other powerful nations not to be drawn directly into these conflicts. And yet, under other circumstances the results could draw such countries into armed conflict inflaming the entire world.

Conditions are such today that a small conflict could indeed draw the world’s powers into armed war. I have not said that WWIII is imminent, but conditions are ripe for such an event if care is not taken and cool heads do not prevail.

America with a strong military, and good civilian guidance, is a deterrence to world violence. Should nations come to believe that we are unprepared or unwilling to intervene and act on their behalf if threatened, other measures by them will be employed which can easily spiral into world wide armed conflict.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 9, 2012 1:53 PM
Comment #334272

RF,

“911, an act of terrorism committed not by a country, drew us into conflict and prolonged war.”

We aggressively chose to go to Iraq, taking the focus off of Afghanistan.
We were not “drawn into” Iraq.


KAP,

The defence cuts put forth by Panetta are 8% over the next decade. They are less than the cuts that happened after the end of the Cold War and Vietnam.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 9, 2012 2:47 PM
Comment #334273

Rocky, one can argue your point, however, the fact is war ensued.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 9, 2012 3:10 PM
Comment #334274

Royal Flush-
I look at what you and KAP write, and it’s like you’re letting your imaginations run away from you. I mean, your fears practically coincide with the “Axis of Evil”, which was itself a poorly judged reference to the orginal axis. The main difference is, One member of your list of belligerents is a politically unstable theocracy with an economy weighed down by sanctions. The other member is one of the last bastions of Stalinist Communism in the world, again impoverished and weighed down by sanctions

As for China? It’s rich, building up a big army, and utterly dependent on us to fuel the growth of its economy.

I don’t think, foreign policy-wise, that this was unintentional on our part. Say what you will about China policy, but maintaining them as an economic trading partner keeps them from being so strong of a military rival.

Part of what made WWII possible was the colonial system, the fact that the territories conquered or reclaimed formed part of the economic support for the great powers like France, Germany, Great Britain, and even America to a certain extent (many battle grounds in the Pacific Theatre were American possessions). America, in a real sense, is the last of these great powers. The postwar order of things did a lot to short-circuit this, as colonies became nations themselves.

Europe’s power is diminished, and the threats you name are threats merely for the possibility that they might develop certain kinds of weapons. Even if they did develop those weapons, though, they would face an overwhelming response from us if they ever used them.

The greatest threat is that somebody will be an idiot enough to do it once. But the military spending spree sponsored in the wake of 9/11 has hardly resolved things in that regard. A lot of what we got would have made sense in the age when the Soviet Union still posed a comprehensive and competitive military threat, but the nearest equivalent in our day and age to them is China, and China’s more interested in maintaining a certain sphere of influence.

I think how much we spend needs to be reviewed. We have to be serious about this. This can’t be like when we resolve to clean our desk, and we’re clinging to every odd and end out of the fear that throwing it away might come back to haunt us. America can’t end up like some hoarder, it’s military’s strategic value buried amidst piles of orphan vehicles and technologies that have no foe to face.

We need to be lean and mean. Yes, that brings up the potential that we could make a misjudgment on what we need to have to face our needs. Then again, though, we did the same thing in the Iraq war despite the embarrassment of military riches we had. History is littered with nations that burdened themselves with great, difficult to maintain weapons systems and defenses, only to have their enemies evolve beyond the ability of those things to defend them, or to be brought down by strategy the arrogant strategists considered themselves too invincible to be bothered with.

I mean, we need no greater example of this than the 9/11 attack. They didn’t have to buy a nuke to get us, they just hijacked commercial airliners. They didn’t have to defeat our nuclear defense to strike at a city, destroy an aircraft carrier fleet, or whatever. They just had to take aim at a vulnerability in our system, and exploit it.

This was something, to a certain extent, that neither Democrats or Republicans considered, and the Republican response to it was to get into two long term conventional wars that will cost us trillions when all is said and done. That from an operation that probably cost tens of thousands times less to pull off.

We don’t need to be military shopaholics in order to face this kind of threat, we need to be smarter, wiser, and more creative. Technology can help, but people have to come up with the solutions. Overwhelming force can only successfully defend us when it’s applied to the right place.

If we keep on indulging fears like yours, we’ll continue to pay for it with peace and prosperity elsewhere. We already started one war that was far too expensive, just to take care of one dictator, one rogue nation. How many times must we repeat this pattern, and to what cost?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 9, 2012 5:05 PM
Comment #334278

Stephen, the only fear I have is that we get to comfortable in our security and let our guard down much like we did prior to Pearl Harbor and 9/11/2001. As far as taking your advice on military stratigy I’d rather take the advice of someone in the know taking your advice is like taking Bozo the clowns.

Posted by: KAP at January 9, 2012 7:52 PM
Comment #334287

Royal Flush,

There are certainly threats of war. Some are serious with the potential for a nuclear exchange or a rogue use of nuclear weapons.

However, it seems equally clear that the existence of nuclear weapons has made the potential for a world wide war vastly less probable. Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is not a theory, it is a reality. Nobody can win a modern war fought with advanced weapons with nuclear capability. All major and minor powers understand that.

The consequence is that modern “warfare” has been reduced to limited and low level conventional conflicts. They may have some geo-political significance, but they are not the type of all out war as experienced in WWI or WWII. The US walked away from Vietnam. The USSR walked away from Afghanistan.

The consequence is that advanced military power as an instrument of political and economic power has been, ironically, neutered.

The consequence is that modern “warfare” is essentially a struggle of economic power. No nation or alignment of nations can ultimately impose its will on another by sheer military force.

China is a formidable adversary not because of its military might but because of its economic might. It is not spending its resources on a massive military buildup but rather on infrastructure and economic development.

Sure, we need to maintain our military capability. We need to keep our military presence in key geo-political areas and keep our strategic alliances. However, more importantly, we need to recognize that we are not going to win the fight with more F-22 Raptor fighters but with more more modern factories and improved infrastructure.

We are at “war.” Unfortunately, we are fighting it with useless and outdated weapons. We need to remember that Admiral Yamamoto, architect of the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack in WWII, was not concerned about the US fleet. He was concerned about the US industrial might.

Posted by: Rich at January 9, 2012 9:18 PM
Comment #334300

KAP-
We can obsess about preventing the nasty surprises from ever happening again, but it doesn’t help. There are many options for preventing future terrorist attacks, many for preventing future surprise military attacks.

None, though, are absolute, and when folks become fixated on preventing all harm from coming to themselves and their own, that’s when folks get so rigid in their thinking that their ideas become brittle.

When that happens, things get worse, because people stop thinking, and just get themselves twisted into a long series of reactions instead. You, unfortunately, are carrying on that tradition by treating any absolute reduction in the defense budget, or the reduction of growth (which is what this actually is) as tantamount to the opening of a vulnerability.

Let me let you in on a little secret: no matter what we do, we are vulnerable, and always will be. Nothing human is without its weakness, and people, additionally, are clever creatures always looking for ways to turn things to their own advantage. Now, we can strangle our economy and our society trying to render ourselves impossible to surprise or defeat, but in the end, we’ll fail.

Which is why I advocate we work towards the dual goals of efficiency: reducing outlays of money for our defense, and making that same dollar do more good. Fight smarter, not harder, cost-effectively, not cost-excessively. We most definitely outspent our opponents, but that didn’t help us win in this last decade. I think we should take another look at what we we’ve been doing.

If you are anxious about us making mistakes? Well, sorry, but it will happen. If you let the fear of making mistakes, the fear of existential destruction dictate your choices, then your ultimate destiny will be one of paranoid exhaustion, because nobody can live a full, happy life thinking that every misstep could be the end of the world.

We can only try our best to do things right. In the meantime, America has other things it needs to be doing, and I think we’d make these choices better if we made them from calm contemplation rather than desperate need.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 10, 2012 3:08 PM
Comment #334301

NO S__T STEPHEN Like I said I worry more about this country falling asleep like it did in the past with a false sence of security.

Posted by: KAP at January 10, 2012 3:14 PM
Comment #334321


Letting our guard down is a separate issue that is not really related to our massive military overkill and our bloated military industrial complex.

From a Biblical context, having a military that can wage war on the entire world seems more Satanic than Godly.

As far as a massive die off, possibly a human extinction event, happening by means of a human or natural occurrence, that is probably inevitable.

Although globalization seeks to prevent war by making countries interdependent on one another, the competition for dwindling resources is going to be very problematic.

Posted by: jlw at January 11, 2012 12:46 AM
Comment #334387

KAP-
Right after 9/11 I had the thought that if we just did something of some kind or another, something like this would never happen. Over time I’ve come to the conclusion that people are too clever and the complexity of our society too high to ever be completely secure in that fashion. The best you can do is make such attacks more difficult, more unlikely, and you have to weigh all that against all the other things you want and need to do as a nation.

Do we give up a future in space, the ability to feed our hungry, the strength of our economy, or what, in order to maintain what we only think will be a perfect defense? At what point are all the sacrifices we make in order not to be hurt so great, that their harm outweighs the evil they were designed to prevent?

More Americans died, and probably will die because of how we responded to 9/11, in Iraq and Afghanistan, than otherwise would have. Where the recovery from the attack probably will cost hundreds of billions, the war we fought unnecessarily may end up costing us several trillion, as will the fact that the other war ended up an overextended orphan of the second.

Now, the cost of a future terrorist attack justifies some expensive preventative measures, but at some point, we’re just inflicting more cost, more death, and more anxiety and paranoia on ourselves that the terrorists could have inflicted by themselves. And then, to quote the old cliche, the terrorists have won, because their tactics are meant to do more psychological harm than actual.

For my part, I will not let fear of them derange my rationality. I will respond to them with a cool head, and a colder sense of economy in my actions. These people don’t deserve to have us waste trillions of dollars on them. That, ultimately, will just hurt us worse than them. They can keep the fight up for a few million, so that only makes keeping us on edge permanently easy for them. No, we got to deal with them on a sustainable basis, and not let them provoke us into wasteful, tragically complicated debacles like Iraq.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 12, 2012 8:06 AM
Post a comment