Will Congress Authorize?

McCain at Syria Senate hearingWill Congress authorize a military strike against Syria? The political maneuvering engendered by President Obama’s newfound interest in having the legislative branch be part of the equation is turning into quite the campaign. The latest developments present anything but a clear cut picture of the expected outcome.

On the Senate side of the equation, the Foreign Relations Committee came to a tentative agreement on the wording of a resolution that would authorize the use of force. It would permit 60 days of military engagement against Assad’s regime, with the option for an additional 30 days, conditioned on the president’s notification of Congress. It bars putting U.S. troops on the ground, save for the deployment of a small rescue force for emergency purposes. Within 30 days of the resolution’s enactment, Obama would be required to send Congress a plan outlining a diplomatic solution for ending the violence in Syria.

If this nonsense has a familiar ring, that’s because it sounds remarkably like Obama’s rationale for the use of force in Libya, a military engagement he conducted with no input whatsoever from Congress. “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors,” stated a 32-page report that justified Obama’s intervention there, absent the congressional approval required by the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973.

Ironically, the Senate’s plan cost Obama support from one of his main cheerleaders, the reliably clueless John McCain (R-AZ). McCain insisted the resolution didn’t go far enough. “There’s no reference to changing the momentum on the battlefield, there’s no reference to arming the Free Syrian Army,” he said. That would be the same Syrian Free Army that routinely conducts operations with al Qaeda and other Islamist-dominated rebel forces, a reality calculatingly ignored by the Arizona Senator. Equally ignored is the reality that “changing the momentum” is virtually impossible to accomplish without American boots on the ground.

In the House, leaders of both parties declared their support on Monday for military intervention in Syria. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), said he would “support the president’s call to action.” Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) insisted America “has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the alleged use of chemical weapons “cannot be ignored.” “Humanity drew the red line, not President Obama,” she added.

If that talking point sounds familiar, that’s because it was recited almost verbatim by the president himself a day later. “I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” Obama contended at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden. “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility’s on the line.”

The president continued. “The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing,” said Obama. “I do have to ask people if in fact you’re outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it?”

That’s a question the president has had more than 30 months to ponder, while the death toll in Syria steadily climbed to the point where it now tops 100,000 deaths–and while any hope of finding legitimately pro-American forces in Syria has dwindled to nothing.

Furthermore, even as the president announced his intention last Saturday to involve Congress in any decision, he did not call them into emergency session. Since Congress officially reconvenes September 9, Obama has given Assad plenty of time to prepare for any strike. Assad is using that time to hide military hardware in residential areas, and shift troops from military bases to civilian locations.

On the other side of the equation, politicians in both chambers expressed their doubts about the current plan of action. House, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) remains noncommittal, as does Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Both men remained that way despite a meeting at the White House. McConnell voiced a sentiment that ought to resonate with the public. “While we are learning more about his plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is [the president] thinks needs to be done,” he said in a statement.

Other critics of military action were far more succinct. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) also wondered why we were intent on serving in that capacity. As for the arming of Syrian rebels, Cruz clearly explained the folly of such an idea. “I’ll give you one of the simplest principles of foreign policy that we ought to be following: Don’t give weapons to people who hate you,” he said. “Don’t give weapons to people who want to kill you.”

Yet it was Rand Paul (R-KY) who cut right through the political posturing and got down to the essential reason behind Obama’s desire to get Congress involved. After conceding that some kind of resolution authorizing force is likely to be passed, Paul pounced on Secretary of State Kerry during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday. Paul was incensed by Kerry’s contention that, irrespective of how Congress votes, President Obama retains the right to authorize a military strike. “Madison was very explicit when he wrote the Federalist Papers,” Paul explained. “He wrote that…the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates. That the executive is the branch most likely to go to war and therefore the Constitution vested that power on the Congress.”

Paul then cut to the chase. “If we do not say that the Constitution applies, if we do not say explicitly that we will abide by this vote, you’re making a joke of us,” he contended. “You’re making us into theater. And so we play Constitutional theater for the president. If this is real, you will abide by the verdict of Congress.”

The theater aspect of this debacle, as well as the scope of the mission itself, was amplified by Kerry at a congressional hearing yesterday, when he revealed that Arab countries were willing to pick up the tab for a full invasion that would topple Assad. “In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said.

Remarkably, Kerry is apparently undaunted by the thought of Arab nations using the American military as hired help — boots on the ground, in harm’s way.

As for a congressional verdict, despite Paul’s contention, the outcome remains very much in doubt. The totals for those who have already weighed in publicly are as follows:

Six Senators, (all Republican) oppose military action, while 14 Senators, (9 Republicans, 4 Democrats, 1 Independent) lean in that direction. Seventeen Senators, (11 Democrats, 6 Republicans) favor military action. The remaining 63 Senators, (37 Democrats, 26 Republicans) are undecided. In the House, 56 Representatives, (38 Republicans, 18 Democrats) are opposed to action, while 86 Representatives (62 Republicans, 24 Democrats) lean no. Seventeen Representatives favor military action (10 Democrats, 7 Republicans), while 99 Representatives (58 Democrats, 41 Republicans) remain undecided.

The resolution authorizing the use of force will fail if 217 House members vote against it, or 40 Senators agree to filibuster it.

If the public matters at all, polls show substantial bipartisan opposition to both a unilateral missile strike and arming Syrian rebels. They remain opposed by a smaller margins if allies become such as France and Britain become involved, but opposed nonetheless. The British parliament has already rejected the idea of getting involved, and France will be engaging in two debates in their Senate and their second chamber, known as Congress National, in coming days. Like Obama, French President Francois Hollande favors a strike, but won’t go it alone if the U.S. Congress votes against it.

In the meantime, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee brushed aside Senate rules and rushed through a vote on the aforementioned resolution late Wednesday afternoon. It passed 10-7 with one abstention. A senior GOP senate aide characterized the vote as a “rush to war behind closed doors,” because it would allow the Democratically-controlled Senate to bring the measure to the floor as early as Friday and to a full vote Monday, before the House could craft and vote on a resolution of its own. “We were told there was a need to have a thoughtful and public debate about how this nation goes to war, but this seems to be about simply getting a resolution done to cover the president,” the aide added.

Despite everything the American public will be told in the coming days, getting Congress involved was never about anything else.

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  • truebearing

    Once again, the Republicans have a chance to hand Obama a deservedly humiliating defeat by simply voting as a bloc, but the same fools are threatening to give Obama political cover for this insanely stupid scheme. The biggest fool in the bunch is McCain.

    • BS77

      Who made MC Cain the “Spokesperson” for the Republicans? This man is lost in delusion. Also interesting that while hundreds of thousands were being killed systematically in Sudan, the US did nothing. We did nothing about the terrible violence in Egypt, in Libya…we did nothing about the terrible oppression and murder in Iran…but now, all of a sudden, the US must “do something”. The Assad regime and the rebels are both terrible. Why are we taking sides? The red line was crossed a year ago….over 100 000 dead and two million refugees….but we did nothing then.

  • Juan Viche

    gee whiz disque is so fun. here, good enough for free speech in the USA?: Say NO to war
    in Syria – Sign this petition / Contact your representatives


  • http://alakhtal.wordpress.com/ Obaid Karki

    McCain were caught playing poker on Smartphone during the derange Teeebaagerzz Boooring arguments. 7/10 smashing. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) turncoat voting present is treason. Egyptian military Coup d’état was boon for McCain Germs and Graham Bugs in Syria to get DC’s attention. Whitehouse, Pentagon and Congress will do what the Warring Industrial Complex command them do: Dog & Pony Show at the Capitol Hill to load the headlines with War News. Kerry & McCain are Vietnam War heroes. They know very well what they are doing. Chuck Hagel is Godsend. Boehner got to support Obama. Consulting Congress is ploy to buy time for the US Arm Forces to stockpile around Syria; they need minimum six months to do that, especially if it is Boot-on-the-Ground. Sending Code Pink and Pot Hippies to the street to protest against Syria strike is thrill. We’re getting used to it. It’s good for sympathy& sentiments. Oh by the way..Obama to send Qaboos of Oman back again to Tehran to beg Khamenei to return Potus calls asking to stop lynching Levinson the conquistador paparazzi, Hekmati the Spy and Abedini the Evangelizer in Khamenei custody and show their copse on PressTV.. Back to Rando; Rand Paul ain’t Paulite libertarian, he’s a traitor. He can be purchased. Just Call 1-800-KOCHBROTHERS for Bargain Price. He’s spoiler driving the Teeebaagerzz to their Death..

    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Deja Vu!!

    • viney

      Some one escaped from a mental institution, or a village has lost their idiot. Such mindless drivel!

    • Biff Henderson

      I would like to preface this post by stating that Little Slave (Obaid), a champion of offensive comedy, invited me in an earlier exchange of words to partake in a little light-hearted banter. Having accepted his kind invitation the following is a response to a mutually agreed upon repartee.

      Little Slave, you’ve been absent from frontpagmag. Is your lack of flexibility and abject terror over being shamed tying your hand? What happened to the Lion of Allah “comn’ after you”? You’re a Dandelion of Allah, a noxious little weed.

      Your given name, Obaid, doesn’t suite you. Might I suggest Wahsh? When it comes to satirical comedy everyone recognizes Little Slave as the wild beast, the monster to be feared least he unleash his pointy barbs upon some unsuspecting dullard unfamiliar with its sting.

      At first glance I thought you might have a go at self-deprecating humor. When you refer to your nose you said and I quote, “I take a little bit from Aretha Franklin and Boy George…” On a YouTube video in a display of blatant racism (Not to be confused with “racist” Islamophobia) you referred to those of the Negro race as “they’re just n*ggers.” So your proud, Arabic lineage consists of an adulterous, bullsh*tting, Jewish hook-nose and a mother that looks like Groucho Marx that produced a mealy-mouthed clown with a sodomite n*gger nose. Little Slave, your name proudly trumpets you are one of Allah’s bootlickers, a.k.a. the Best of People. I know you think yourself handsome with that well-oiled, clean-shaven face, mocking the Sunna while you compare your honker
      to the kuffir’s? Tsk, tsk, how the Best of People have fallen. Other than the irrefutable Marxian countenance I merely contextualized words from your own mouth. You’re making this all too easy.

      About that nose Little Slave, why are you pulling and swatting at it all the time? Do you faithfully rinse thrice or are you neglecting your ablutions? Sloppy about reciting ayat al-kursi before nighty-nite? Because Allah’s
      Apostle said so it’s a known fact that Shaitan likes to wedge his filthy little behind in the upper part of the nose throughout the night. Is that why you always seem to appear sleep deprived? Those that have embraced the Salvation of the Cross are free of Islam’s twisted, mental gymnastics the blind-faith donkeys of Allah have to contend with. Since you have devoted your life to understanding Islam I have a few questions concerning the nose gremlin.

      Does Shaitan stay in the right nostril or the left, straddle both with his rump tucked into your brain pan?

      How can Shaitan be in so many noses without being omnipresent?

      If he is omnipresent then wouldn’t this mean that he is divine?

      If he is actually divine then wouldn’t this imply that he shares in Allah’s divine attributes?

      And if he isn’t divine then wouldn’t this suggest that Prophet Muhammad is guilty of committing shirk for ascribing to Shaitan, a finite creature, one of Allah’s divine qualities?

      Finally, how can water, which is a material substance, flush out a being that is not made out of the same material stuff from which the earth is made? Does this even make sense? Let’s not forget Shaitan
      farting and urinating in believer’s ears, snacking on dung and bones.

      from http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/badawi/satan_in_nose.html

      Keep that on the backburner. Get back to me when you can. In your case a good flushing with a fire hose may be in order. Put that sucker on high and flush out your cranial cavity while you’re at it. When I see the look on your face as you boorishly search for words, your thought processes a torturous experience for presenter and onlooker alike, loosening the garbage that clogs your synapse is a start. For the Prophet said, “Satan circulates in the human being as blood circulates in the body…” In other words, you’re full of it. If beatings you received as a child left you mentally disenfranchised ignore the aforementioned. It’s the least of your worries.

      The silliness of Islam. Boy, is it offensive…and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

      Little Slave, or can I call you Wahsh? Your cut and paste repertoire of banter is limited so I’ll get you started with one of your favorites –

      From a guy that dresses up in a spermatozoa costume that’s in a race with all-that-jizz circumambulating to couple with the iron maiden vulva at the Ka’ba (What is that? A thobe, gilbab, bed sheet? Looks like a dress) Little Slave loves the girls slur.

      Get ready girls…

  • Elizabeth Jenan-Dickman

    I don’t understand the need to cover Obama’s credibility by going to war in Syria. The entire world knows already that Obama is a fool. Every time he opens his mouth he adds to his lack of credibility. This entire debate, and the public airing of statement from lunatics like McCain is so embarrassing. Let our pompous, arrogant, incompetent president take the hits for a change. Even Putin makes more sense.

    • myrna652

      My Uncle Matthew recently got Cadillac ATS-V Sedan just by some part time working online with a macbook air… useful reference w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • sendtheclunkerbacktochicago

    Obama is our biggest national security risk. It has been proven that he has been using frauduent documents to attain his powerful position. Lt. Mike Zullo, the lead investigator in the 23 month long criminal investigation of Obama has been briefing Congresspersons for three weeks now. They are shocked at what he and his team have discovered. Obama is a fraud, always was a fraud and was able to get away with it because folks refused to vet him. When the left wing nut jobs vetted John McCain as to his “natural born ctizen” status they failed to do the same for Obama. They would have discovered that he didnt have an American birth certificate. He was later force to create a computer generated 9 layered PDF file that has been proven to be a forgery. Before they take a vote they need to investigate this criminal activity.

  • phillyfanatic

    To support our lying Quisling Putin on the Potomac, the Dems will twist any morality they have left in their distorted brains. I pray that the House will indeed defeat this war resolution by 20 votes. As to McCain. Oh Lord, please influence him to just retire so a good guv could appt. a real Pub conserv.

  • Biff Henderson

    Maybe they should rename Congress America’s Idle. Some folks are bound to flip on CSPAN to see who’s singing for his supper.

  • Leland64

    Obama is a narcissist and a fool. In over his head, with a straight face he now tells us he did not create a red line regarding Assad & chemical warfare. Unfortunately the memory hole is not working. We have him on tape stating CW was a red line Assad best not cross. Assad’s forces are winning. Presto Assad is accused of using CW on his enemies. 100,000 killed with bullets and bombs but 1,000 gassed “allegedly” by Assad and Obama is ready to “fire a shot across the bow.” It is by no means certain Assad used poison gas. There are reports the Muslim Brotherhood/al Quida used CW to implicate Assad and force Obama to respond by helping topple Assad. BTW, so what if Assad did use poison gas. Bad guys killing bad guys is not a bad thing. Let them kill each other. IMO Assad (like the Shah and Mubarak) is the lesser of the evils.