GOSNELL FALLOUT? Obama backs out of Planned Parenthood keynote address. Instead, he’s suddenly planning to visit the scene of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion.
Congress’s approval rating continues to hover just above all-time lows, an abysmal 15% in the most recent Gallup poll. Americans are clearly frustrated by the apparent inability of elected representatives in Washington to address critical issues like government overspending. Yet even when Congress does act, it is often acting unconstitutionally—because it lacks a quorum.
The Constitution imposes a straightforward quorum requirement on both houses of the legislative branch. Article I, Section 5 states that “a majority of each [house] shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number of them may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members . . .”
The plain meaning is that a majority of the membership must be in attendance to conduct legislative business. When any group smaller than a majority is present, it can do only two things: adjourn and compel the attendance of absent members.
Yet Congress—particularly the Senate—too often proceeds without a quorum. The Senate conducts much of its business by “unanimous consent.” This is a procedural device that allows virtually any action to be taken so long as no senator actively objects.
Anne pointed out, and responded to, a repellent column in Foreign Policy Journal by a man named Richard Falk, titled “A Commentary on the Marathon Murders.” You almost have to read it to believe it, but here are a few excerpts:
[T]he neocon presidency of George W. Bush was in 2001, prior to the attacks, openly seeking a pretext to launch a regime-changing war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the 9/11 events, as interpreted and spun, provided just the supportive domestic climate needed for launching an aggressive war against the Baghdad regime. The Iraq War was undertaken despite the UN Security Council failure to lend its authority to such an American deadly geopolitical venture and in the face of the largest anti-war global demonstrations in human history. In 2001, the preferred American grand strategy, as blueprinted by the ideologues of the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution, was given a green light by the Bush/Cheney White House even in the face of the red lights posted both at the UN and in the streets of 600 or more cities around the world.
Every word of this is false, but what it has to do with the terrorist attack in Boston is anyone’s guess.
Obama came to Washington as outspoken opponent of torture and of the Iraq War. He also arrived after the failed wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, which had devastated two countries, seemingly beyond foreseeable recovery, while adding nothing to American security, however measured. These unlawful wars wasted trillions expended over the several years during which many Americans were enduring the hardships and pain of the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. In other words, temporarily at least, the Beltway think tanks and the government are doing their best to manage global crises without embarking on further wars in a spirit of geopolitical intoxication that was hallmark of the unipolar moment that was invoked by Republicans to chide the Clinton presidency for its wimpish failure to pursue American strategic interests in the Middle East.
Huh? Besides being a lousy writer, this guy is starting to come across as insane. But wait; there is more.
At least it seems that for the present irresponsible and unlawful warfare are no longer the centerpiece of America’s foreign policy, as had become the case in the first decade of the 21st century, although this is far from a certainty. The war drums are beating at this moment in relation to both North Korea and Iran, and as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.
Tel Aviv? Huh? We are evidently in the presence of one of those obsessives who cause you to start edging toward the door. Falk goes on to argue that Boston had it coming:
Unlike the aftermath of 9/11, there are a few hopeful signs of awakening to this one-eyed vision on the part of the citizenry. Listening to a PBS program hours after the Boston event, I was struck by the critical attitudes of several callers to the radio station: “It is horrible, but we in this country should not be too surprised, given our drone attacks that have killed women and children attending weddings and funerals in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Another caller asked, “Is this not a kind of retribution for torture inflicted by American security forces acting under the authority of the government, and verified for the world by pictures of the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib?” And another asked, “In light of the authoritative reports of officially sanctioned torture as detailed in the 577 page report of a task force chaired by two former senators, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, and containing senior military and security officials, has not the time come to apply the law to the wrongdoers during the Bush presidency?” … Should we not all be meditating on W.H. Auden’s haunting line: “Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return”?
I think all of this is a fabrication. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist bombing, PBS callers were generally convinced that the terrorists were Tea Partiers, not Muslims seeking revenge for Abu Ghraib.
Vladamir Putin lectured Obama this weekend on Islamist extremism during their phone conversation on the Boston Marathon bombings. Russia warned the US back in 2011 that bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam. CSM via Yahoo reported:
The revelation that the main suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were two Russian citizens of half-Chechen, half-Avar (Dagestani) ethnicity, has prompted Kremlin leaders to dust off a longstanding argument that the US should listen to Moscow’s warnings about extreme Islamist terrorists, whether they hail from Chechnya, or Syria, or anywhere else.
The Russians say the US should turn away from its current path of criticizing Russia on human rights issues and embrace greater anti-terrorist cooperation in the name of common civilizational values.
That pitch was made explicitly by President Vladimir Putin in a Saturday telephone conversation with Barack Obama. A brief statement posted on the Kremlin website noted that “both sides emphasized their interest in increasing coordination between Russian and American intelligence services in the fight against international terrorism.”
It’s not the first time Vlad Putin was forced to lecture Obama on current issues.
RAND PAUL TO HARRY REID: Suspend Immigration Bill Until National Security Considerations Studied. “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sent a lengthy letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today asking to table the immigration reform bill until the Boston attacks are better understood and national security considerations are addressed in the legislation.”
The government will not treat suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney addresses whether suspected Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be treated as an enemy combatant.
The White House came out against the demands of some hawkish Republicans to declare Tsarnaev an "enemy combatant," which would give them more leeway in questioning the alleged bomber for the purposes of gaining intelligence about the Boston attack.
"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant," Carney said at Monday's press briefing. "We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice."
While many Republicans have largely acknowledged that Tsarnaev would be tried eventually in criminal court, some urged the administration to assert the ability to treat Tsarnaev as an combatant. The Chechnya native is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and is being questioned in a hospital bed under a public safety exception to the Miranda rule.