A blue-ribbon panel of former American government officials, politicians, military commanders and academics has come up with a proposal for a new mechanism by which the United States could go to war, aimed largely at applying a veneer of ‘national unity’ to the process.
The National War Powers Commission, co-chaired by former secretaries of state James A. Baker, who served under George H. W. Bush, and Warren Christopher (in the Clinton administration), issued its study Tuesday, urging the passage in 2009 of a new “War Powers Consultation Act.”
The commission takes as its starting point the failure of the existing procedure, embodied in the War Powers Resolution of 1973, passed over President Richard Nixon’s veto in the midst of mass opposition to the Vietnam War.
The 1973 statute says that the president may exercise his powers as commander in chief “only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States.” The authors of the panel’s report note that “Since the enactment of the Resolution, Presidents have sent troops into conflict on several occasions when none of these circumstances were present: including Grenada, Yugoslavia, and Haiti.”
The US Constitution is quite clear. Article 1, Section 8 provides that “Congress shall have the power … to declare war.” The report’s authors observe that proponents of congressional authority “say that by vesting Congress with the power to declare war, the framers [of the Constitution] stripped the Executive of the powers the English king enjoyed. They say the framers placed the powers to decide to go to war in the hands of Congress because it is the branch most deliberate by design, most in touch with the American people, and thus least inclined to commit soldiers to the battlefield.”
The act largely removes congressional authority granted by the 1973 resolution and merely calls for the president to consult with a congressional super-committee when he or she is contemplating a “significant armed conflict.”
The president, however, is not obligated to consult with Congress in the event of “minor hostilities, emergency defensive actions, or law enforcement activities”; nor in regard to actions taken by the president “to repel attacks, or to prevent imminent attacks”; nor “limited acts of reprisal against terrorism or states that sponsor terrorism,” “humanitarian missions,” “investigations or acts to prevent criminal activity abroad,” “covert operations,” “training exercises” or “missions to protect or rescue American citizens or military or diplomatic personnel abroad.
The central thrust of their concern is evident. They see a serious danger that the bitter internecine disputes that opened up within the political establishment over Bush’s “war of choice” and subsequent debacle in Iraq could become even more fractious in a future conflict. Under those conditions, the disputes within the ruling elite could create a political crisis into which masses of working people opposed to war could intervene decisively. The attempt to create a fig leaf of legality and national unity for American militarism is a desperate attempt to stave off such a threat.
If you believe that, I have property in Florida I will sell by the gallon.
The bill is tailored to marginally reduce the flood of home loan defaults and foreclosures, at a minimal cost to the government, so as to stabilize the housing market and stem the losses suffered by banks and financial institutions from the collapse of subprime mortgage-backed securities. Home owners with subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages, who demonstrated their ability to pay off a refinanced loan, would have the debt converted to a thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgage, resulting in lower monthly payments.
The plan is entirely voluntary. No bank or mortgage lender would be required to participate, and the financial firms would decide which, if any, loans they refinanced in return for a government guarantee against losses. As a result, mortgage companies and banks that decide to participate will “cherry pick” the loans they refinance, choosing from among the loans which qualify under the terms of the bill only those they believe most likely to default.
The moves to further subsidize the banks coincide with the Fed’s announced policy of halting interest rate cuts and preparing to raise rates later this year. As Bernanke has made clear, the major consideration behind this policy shift is a desire to stem “inflationary expectations”—a euphemism for wage increases. The aim is to utilize the economic contraction to drive up unemployment and undercut any struggle by workers for wage hikes to compensate for soaring prices and ruinous levels of household and personal debt.
We have yet another politico make a statement through his ass. This time it is Phil Gramm and his statement on Americans being whiners.
‘We have sort of become a nation of whiners,’ he said. ‘You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness,
Remember there will be a post at the end of the year of the most anal statements and all get to choose the winner.
The Pentagon not only told the world yesterday that it would keep on using cluster bombs — it called the controversial weapons life-savers, too.
The Defense Department unveiled its new policy on cluster munitions. In it, the weapons, which scatter tiny bomblets over huge swaths of territory, are described as “legitimate weapons with clear military utility.” Not only do “they provide distinct advantages against a range of targets,” a Defense Department press release notes, but “their use reduces risks to U.S. forces and can save U.S. lives.” The Pentagon says the munitions will continue to be used, “in a manner consistent with the law of armed conflict.”
But the law is changing. In May, just about every country on the planet signed a treaty banning cluster bombs. The U.S. was one of four holdouts.
Can anyone say that a bomb, any bomb, saves lives?
If you send anytime at all in front of the boob tube, you hve heard all the down side to the price of gas at the pump. But is there an up side?
The authors of a new study say high gasoline prices are causing declines in driving that could result in a third fewer auto deaths annually, with the most dramatic drop likely to be among teenage drivers. Professors Michael Morrisey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School said they found that for every 10 percent increase in gas prices, there was a 2.3 percent decline in auto deaths. For drivers ages 15 to 17, the decline was 6 percent, and for ages 18 to 21, it was 3.2 percent. Their study looked at fatalities from 1985 to 2006, when gas prices reached about $2.50 a gallon.
Bisbee, Ariz. deports Wobblies(IWW); 1,186 miners sent into desert – 1917
Another lean day for labor history….sorry
The U.S. Senate, after weeks of wrangling, completed work on Friday on its plan to save hundreds of thousands of American homeowners and their families from foreclosure and sent it to the House of Representatives.
The legislation is opposed by the White House. Differences with the House, which approved a similar measure of its own, must be resolved before a final bill can be sent to President George W. Bush in the hope he will sign it into law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, also was upbeat following the Senate’s action, saying she thought a House-Senate deal would be reached soon. “Recent record foreclosures and continued instability in the housing market underscore the urgency of completing a comprehensive bill … which I hope President Bush will sign,” Pelosi said.
At the heart of the bill is a multibillion-dollar fund to help an estimated 400,000 financially strapped homeowners swap their shaky loans for fixed-rate, 30-year mortgages.
It would also overhaul regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s largest mortgage finance companies, while sending federal money to states and communities to buy and renovate foreclosed properties.
The legislation was drafted to ease failing loans that have swept across the country, driving down housing prices, pushing people out of their homes and sending financial markets into a tailspin.
Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, which he has called too costly and exceedingly helpful to lenders who have been largely blamed for the problem. But he has said he wants to work with lawmakers to find common ground.
The home owners need help, but I am sorry a bailout a bank is not acceptable.