Monday, January 15, 2007

Can Bush Do Whatever He Wants? Jane Doesn't Know

As today's article in the LA Times "Bush insists Congress can't halt Iraq buildup"demonstrates, Bush is not going to sit on his hands while Congress considers whether it's going to do anything to prevent him from escalating the Iraq occupation without its authority. The strategy is pretty clear that they are getting the troops in place in Iraq without approval and then will dare Congress to de-fund real live troops who are "on the ground". They may even drop the bogus claim that Congress hasn't the authority to stop the president because they won't need it anymore.

They're just aiming to achieve a fait accompli to make it an "anti-troops" decision not to fund the escalation.

Time is of the essence to head the administration off at the pass. No time to waste.

Enter Jane Harman -- this is from her interview with Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday last week (Jan 10). (I've transcribed it myself).

Mitchell: What's the point of a symbolic vote against [the increase of the troops in Iraq] - either you are going to cut off money for the troops or - shouldn't you just go along with what the President wants?

Harman: Well, um, you know, I think there are constitutional issues about what he can do in his capacity as Commander in Chief, but we write the checks and it is high time for Congress to do the oversight necessary to do the oversight necessary and have the materials to do the oversight necessary and I believe we are going to do that. One of the ideas I've been floating is to put all the additional war costs on budget - no more supplemental spending [...] this is no longer an emergency under the definition of an emergency.


OK, that wasn't exactly an answer to the question put to her. If she's going to have any impact, she's got to cut off the funding - is she willing to do that, Mitchell asks. In her answer, she raises the issue of Bush's constitutional powers as commander in chief. That is not a good sign! As she should have known, it is well within the powers of the Congress to prevent funding from going for an increase of troops - and there's multiple precedents of past Congresses doing exactly that.

Mitchell tried again --
Mitchell: Congresswoman, you've talked about more oversight, but Joe Biden said on Meet the Press that constitutionally, Congress doesn't have the power to do what Ted Kennedy and Ed Markey and others are suggesting - cutting off the funds. Do you agree with that or not?

Harman: Well, I think we have to look at that. Uh, I think there are constitutional issues. He is the Commander in Chief. Ah, Congress did vote for a resolution to authorize the action in Iraq. I supported it at the time based on what turned out to be wrong intelligence, and I was wrong. But there have to be levers now, four yearas into this, to gain - to regain - Congress' traction as an independent branch of government and I believe we will find out what these levers are.


An ignorant or disingenuous Democrat asserts the fallacy that Bush has the right to make war however he wants and Congress must fund it, something that is pretty clearly wrong, and Jane Harman - definitely not a newbie to Congress - has no idea that that's false!? And she has no clue what "levers of traction" Congress has to check the president's power? With a president who's been asserting unchecked power going on five plus years, it's pretty pathetic she's only now getting around to figuring out what power congress has to check his power.

Pretty soon, Bush will get what he wants because he'll "change the reality" while unprepared and unsure congressmen and women like Jane Harman dither, and by that time the threat of anti-troop/anti-American demagoguery will make it all but certain congress won't act - even if, by that time, they've realized they do have the authority to deny Bush's escalation.

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