Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Why the Constitution Matters in Military Affairs                                    

Week after week it’s easy for me to blog with compelling arguments that most things Congress does is unconstitutional.  But, up until about two years ago with the advent of Ron Paul’s Freedom Revolution and last year’s birth of the Tea Partiers, most Americans would have said, so what if something is unconstitutional?  That document is outdated and irrelevant.  These are modern times with issues unimaginable to the Founders.  Nonsense, the eternal truths contained in the U.S. Constitution are as relevant today as they were in the 1700s.

Take making war for instance.  Article 1 Section 8 gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.  In that same section, Congress has the power to finance the endeavor.  Since the end of World War II, the clause pertaining to declaring war in the Constitution, like many others, has been almost totally ignored by both the Congress and president.  Additionally, Congress has rarely if ever invoked its power to restrain presidential power by controlling the purse strings of the military during times of war.  The consequences have been horrendous. 

In the 1960s and 1970s it led to an 11 year war in Southeast Asia.  Instead of a declaration of war the military action was justified on the basis of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed in 1964.  The resolution gave President Johnson the authorization to do whatever was necessary in order to assist “any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty.”   This vague and open ended wording led to much criticism of the president and his Secretary of Defense over how they conducted the war.  Specifically, President Nixon’s expanding of it to include the bombing of Cambodia made an already unpopular war almost an event that tore the country in two.  It also led to over 50,000 American and countless Southeast Asian lives being lost.  The conflict ended in defeat for the U.S. and spending for the war caused high inflation which hurt American households, facilitated our manufacturing base to move overseas, and eventually brought on problems like the Savings and Loan crisis.

In current times we find ourselves mired in two conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  To be sure, Congress did not declare war in either circumstance.  For Afghanistan, it passed a resolution authorizing the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.  For Iraq, the resolution authorized the president to use the Armed Forces of the United States “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in order to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.”

It seems like Washington never learns from its mistakes.  Again, loosely worded resolutions instead of firm declarations with a narrow objective allowed President Bush to abuse his powers by spying on Americans, holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, and expand the bombing to include other countries other than Afghanistan and Iraq, namely Pakistan.  In addition to over 1 million Iraqi and Afghani deaths from the main theaters of war, 1 in 3 people killed in the expanded bombings of Pakistan have been civilians. 

Because Washington has not followed the eternal truth that war should be entered into and conducted carefully, our government is primarily responsible for the destabilization of the Middle East.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that because of the threats of invasion that came from the previous administration and with American military might all around it Iran is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.  Even though Saddam was a vile and ruthless tyrant his Iraq acted as a counterweight to Iran.  Today, Iraq is in chaos and if U.S. forces do ever leave it will be ripe for a takeover by Islamic extremists.

A Republican Congress unfortunately did not deny George W. Bush the ability to launch an unjust war on Iraq based on lies, misinformation and his desire to avenge Saddam Hussein for allegedly sending a hit squad to assassinate his father.  One man made the decision to start the war in which Americans would die and hundreds of billions of dollars would be spent.  This was not the intent of the Founders who were wise enough to give the powers of declaring wars and financing them to the Congress.  The Founders gave them to Congress because it is a deliberative body that represents the many viewpoints of Americans.  These viewpoints, like in the enactment of laws, place a check and balance on the solitary power of the president.  Congress has abdicated this constitutional power and consequently has propped up an imperial presidency – something the Founders, other than Hamilton and Adams, would have vehemently rebelled against.

In 2006 the Democrats took back control of Congress with a pledge to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  For a time there was hope that they would restore the constitutional balance of power in war making. They simply could have done this by cutting funding for the wars.  But instead, Congress continues to finance the wars and in fact has gone along with President Obama’s wishes to continue funding bombings in Pakistan and to escalate the war in Afghanistan – so much for the hope that Congress would exert control over the powers granted to it and rein in the powers usurped by the president.

Wars are costly both in terms of human life and monetary expense.  Unless an attack on U.S. soil is imminent, Congress must retain its constitutional power to declare war and use its authority over funding it to limit the president’s actions.  By not following these constitutional mandates we have become a militaristic society almost constantly at war in adventures far beyond what the Founders envisioned.  This has caused a drain on our families, our finances, and our country’s reputation in the world.  Fortunately, many Americans are finally waking up to this reality.      

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina.

Read Full Post »

Carmen Kontur-GronquistVoters in Arlington, Oregon, are very, very angry. That’s not unusual, since there are very angry voters everywhere these days.

What is unusual is the reason why they are angry.

Apparently their Mayor, Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, had some photos taken to send in for a fitness magazine, and in them she was dressed in her bra and panties. This all happened before she became Mayor, incidentally. A relative posted the photos on MySpace, hoping to find the single mother a date.

I didn’t see a thing in the world wrong with the photos; the most controversial of them is posted at top left. Basically, she’s showing off her rock-hard abs, and if I had abs like hers, I’d be showing mine off too. So what. Those photos are no different from any other photos for a woman’s fitness magazine, because I used to read some of those periodicals myself, back when I was into bodybuilding and fitness. In fact, her photos actually showed a lot less than they usually show in those magazines. Those types of photos are not at all sexual in nature, though, because they are intended only for other women to see, as inspiration in their fitness routines.

The people of Arlington, however, are absolutely outraged over those photos, and they actually threw her out of office for it.

When I first heard this story back when it first broke I thought, no way would a town actually recall their Mayor for posing for a fitness magazine. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his living as a bodybuilder, and even posed fully nude multiple times, and he’s the Governor of California.

I was wrong, because they did recall her. The vote was 142-139 in favor of throwing her out of office.

If we are still so backward in this country that we’d throw a woman out of elected office merely for posing for a fitness magazine, covering more than the average bathing suit covers, are we really ready for a female president? Or would Congress impeach her the first time they see a picture of her in a bathing suit?

What do you think? Is it just that one town, or is most of American that narrow-minded? Given this, are we ready for a female president?

______________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

Read Full Post »

The Moderate Voice, “None of the Above”

March 5, 2008 by Pete Abel

—————————————————————————————————–

“As I grow older, I regret to say that a detestable habit of thinking seems to be getting a hold of me.” – H. Rider Haggard

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.” – William James

—————————————————————————————————–

So which is it? Am I an aging addict of the detestable habit of thinking, or am I merely rearranging my prejudices? Honestly, I’m not sure, but I do know this much: The libertarian impulses of my youth and the stoic conservatism of my early adult years are gradually giving way to the doubts of middle-age – doubts that are centered on two questions:

(1) Do I really believe smaller government and lower taxes are the cures to what ails us?

(2) When people are hurting and in need, is it appropriate for their government to turn away, claiming, “That’s not our issue; it should be resolved by individuals and the free market”?

Libertarian conservatives don’t doubt the answers to these questions. They respond “yes,” to both, without hesitation, without equivocation.

Twenty years ago, I would have been similarly clear-headed. I’m no longer so sure and, apparently, neither is 13-year Republican Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio. According to a Feb. 19 article at Politico:

… Chabot has earned a 97.5 percent lifetime rating from The American Conservative Union and has largely stuck to the Republican ranks, except to oppose some pork-laden spending bills.

But when foreclosures in his hometown of Cincinnati skyrocketed, Chabot found himself aligned with Democrats — and against his party’s leaders, his conservative colleagues and the White House.

Chabot’s bipartisan dalliance illustrates how tough economic times could erode the Republican conference that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is counting on to blunt Democratic victories running up to the November elections.

So, let me get this straight: When rock-solid conservatives learn that their constituents are suffering, they suddenly decide government should do something about it?

Read the rest of this thought-provoking post by Pete Abel on The Moderate Voice.

Read Full Post »

From the Galveston County Daily News (letters to the Editor):

District Needs A Better Man To Represent Us

Are we really getting the most effective representation with Ron Paul as our congressman?

The presidential debates have exposed stubbornness and inability to compromise that is at odds with the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

Democracy requires negotiation and compromise to reach a consensus.

We negotiate and compromise in our daily life, at work and at home. Paul’s inability to reach consensus on vital issues makes him ineffective as our congressman.

He is a self-described Libertarian; if he is so enamored with Libertarian philosophy, why is he running in the Republican primary for Congress?

I welcome his participation in the political process and respect the views of his supporters as honest and sincere.

The question is, does he truly represent the values and priorities of the Republican voters in this district or is he using the Republican Party’s structure and established appeal just to get elected because he can’t get elected as a Libertarian?

If the latter is true, it is intellectually dishonest.

We need a Republican of conviction representing us in the U.S. Congress, not a Republican of convenience.

I urge readers to look at the sterling qualifications, impeccable character and genuine passion and sincerity of Chris Peden as our Republican candidate for Congress.

Peden is a pro-life, pro-family, conservative Christian who is a CPA and the mayor pro tem in Friendswood. He has a proven track record of not only fighting for our conservative principles, but of achieving conservative results. Paul is long on words, but a little short on results.

Just a few days ago, on the Michael Berry radio program, Paul said that being a congressman was his “plan B.” I don’t know about other readers but I don’t want to be anybody’s second choice.

The catchword for this year’s presidential election is “change.” It’s time for real change in congressional District 14 also. Paul is the past — Peden is the future. Let’s put someone in Congress who represents all of us, not just the Libertarians.

Letty Packard
La Marque

Read Full Post »

CNN:WASHINGTON (CNN) — Workers who are legally prescribed marijuana to treat illness can still be fired from their jobs, following a ruling Thursday from the California Supreme Court.

art.marijuana.gi.jpg

Medical marijuana user Angel Raich, 41, had her pot confiscated while her case was appealed.

The 5-2 decision upheld the job termination of Gary Ross, who flunked a company drug test shortly after being hired at a telecommunications firm.

A state referendum that allows people to use medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation are immune from some state criminal drug possession charges. But the state high court said such legal protection only goes so far.

“Nothing in the text or history of the Compassionate Use Act suggests the voters intended the measure to address the respective rights and duties of employers and employees,” wrote Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. “Under California law, an employer may require pre-employment drug tests, and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions.”

The court agreed with RagingWire Telecommunications’ contention it had a right to fire Ross because any marijuana use is illegal under separate U.S. law. The company said its work across state borders could put it in legal jeopardy from federal labor standards involving the conduct and production of its work force.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said the Bush administration can prohibit the backyard cultivation of pot for personal use, because such use has broader social and financial implications.

A federal appeals court last March said medical marijuana users can be subject to arrest and confiscation of the material, under federal anti-drug laws.

The issue is being closely watched because of the obvious conflict between state and federal laws over the use of medical marijuana. Various courts have said the federal Controlled Substances Act does not violate state autonomy.

The latest case involves Ross’ back problems stemming from injuries sustained when he served in the U.S. Air Force. He received a physician’s recommendation to use pot in 1999 and presented a card certifying his use of the narcotic when he took the employment drug test in 2001.

Ross said his condition does “not affect his ability to do the essential functions of the job” his former employer hired him to do, according to his original complaint.

The Sacramento-based company said its no-tolerance policy applies to all workers, since potential “abuse of drugs and alcohol” could lead to “increased absenteeism, diminished productivity, greater health costs, increased safety problems, and potential liability to third parties,” according to the company’s lawyers.

Ross’ job performance was not at issue in the case.

The state supreme court said the law allowing use of marijuana for some patients is “modest” in scope, limiting the rights of some patients.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005 for the Bush administration giving it broad authority to crack down on illegal drug use was criticized by patient rights groups and the movement to legalize marijuana.

“Congress’ power to regulate purely activities that are part of an economic ‘class of activities’ that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce is firmly established,” wrote Justice John Paul Stevens.

Under federal law, the Controlled Substances Act prevents the cultivation and possession of marijuana, even by people who claim personal “medicinal” use. The federal government has argued its overall anti-drug campaign would be undermined even by limited patient exceptions.

That high court case involved a separate lawsuit from a pot patient from Oakland, California, who has a variety of medical conditions, including a brain tumor. Angel Raich had her pot confiscated and was not allowed to use it while her case was appealed.

The Drug Enforcement Administration began raids in 2001 against patients using the drug and their caregivers in California.

Along with California, 11 other states have passed laws permitting marijuana use by patients with a doctor’s approval: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Arizona also has a similar law, but no formal program in place to administer prescription marijuana.

California’s Compassionate Use Act permits patients with a doctor’s approval to grow, smoke or acquire the drug for “medical needs.”

Users include television host Montel Williams, who has multiple sclerosis.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: