Congress needs to grow a backbone

It has ceded way too much power to the president.

Not just now, but over decades. Tim Kane has been trying to get Congress to rescind AUMF and he seems like the lone voice in the forest.

The last declaration of war by Congress was during WW2. If we add up the actual total cost in treasure and lives since then without formal declarations the figures would be astronomical.

The president is supposed to be the Commander in Chief and not the Decider in Chief when it come to war. Congress, i.e., the people, has the unenviable task whether to send it’s young citizens to die and how to pay for it.

Who is running this resistance to retrieving Congressional power? A cynic might say the Military/Industrial Complex. Perhaps not overtly, but through the subtle cultural pressures of having the biggest hammer. Jobs, profits, votes all favor a robust and, to me, a hugely excessive and extravagant military investment.

And face it, it is a lot easier and faster to commit our army through such euphemisms as “police actions” and, more currently, stretching the AUMF to the limits.

In fairness, even though Trump may have acted a impulsively and with little apparent guidance (and we are still in Syria and elsewhere), he should not have had to make that decision at all.

The opinion puts it best by reminding us that the president represents around half of the citizens, Congress represents all of them.


10 thoughts on “Congress needs to grow a backbone

  1. RE: “The opinion puts it best by reminding us that the president represents around half of the citizens, Congress represents all of them.”

    The opinion doesn’t seem to be aware of the Electoral College. Because of the EC, the president actually has a better claim of representing the people than does Congress.

    The opinion also doesn’t seem to comprehend that the president’s actions in Syria aim at ending our involvement in war there.

    I would stress that “oversight” doesn’t make Congress superior to the president. I view Time as attempting to undermine the constitutional order with this opinion.


    1. Black is white. Up is down. And The Electoral College represents the people. And sending MORE troops to defend oil fields in Syria and Saudi Arabia is how we end our involvement.

      Your view about Time undermining the constitutional order by advocating that Congress exercise its constitutional role with respect to war is laughable.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Actually, since about half of us vote, the president, any president in modern times, only represents the choice of about a quarter of the electorate if the election is moderately close. Less if the win is electoral but not popular. Then as a president, he and his party are not really representing the majority of citizens.

    Congress as a branch that must vote and legislate as a unit in order to pass bills on to the executive. So it does represent the will of the people in a majority, and for super majority vote on an ongoing procedure.

    Trump has said he wants to get out of “endless wars”. Unfortunately all he has done is shuffle the deck, which is kind of what Obama did. Bush couldn’t put the military toothpaste back in the tube, so he passed that on. That’s not really a slam against Trump. He seemed to act out of frustration and when he realized that he thought he had to go back in to protect the oil we may end up with more personnel in Syria than before.

    I wasn’t bemoaning oversight by Congress. That’s another ballgame that is playing out in the impeachment inquiry. I was pointing to the loss of the Constitutionally mandated authority by Congress to send our citizens into war.

    The “constitutional order” is for Congress to make those decisions, not the president. It is also the constitutional order” for Congress to impose tariffs. But over time it ceded that to the president also.

    In an effort to fast track trade deals, it also ceded more power to the president.

    Finally, Congress de facto ceded legislative authority by passing regulations with only broad goals, leaving the regulatory details up to the president’s cabinet. Then allowed leeway as to enforcement. Bush was notorious for not enforcing regs he or his industry lobbyists didn’t like. But all presidents do the same because they have the power.

    Again, the president’s powers have increased to the detriment of our nation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Actually, since about half of us vote, the president, any president in modern times, only represents the choice of about a quarter of the electorate if the election is moderately close.”

      The same is true of each member of Congress. But whereas each member of Congress represents only one state, the president represents all states. This, in fact, is why the EC exists.

      RE: “The ‘constitutional order’ is for Congress to make those decisions, not the president.”

      The president’s only decisions related to Syria have been about stopping war, not starting or expanding war. In this he operated entirely within the constitutional order and the authorities of his office.

      I actually agree with your essential observation about Congress giving away its authorities (shirking its responsibilities) to the bureaucracy, but your efforts to find an error on Trump’s part with respect to Syria are unfounded.


  3. Where did I try to find error in Trump’s decision? I said he may have acted out of frustration. And in fact, we have not left yet. And we have added troops to Saudi Arabia. He is stuck in the same quagmire as Obama. So far at least.

    But that was a minor point in my posting which was about shifting too much power to the presidency in war, trade, tariffs and regulation. You are talking about ceding power to the bureaucracy. That means the Executive Branch, which is the responsibility of the president. That’s what we hire him to run. And as Truman so famously said “the buck stops” at the president’s desk.

    BTW, I wrote the president only represents the CHOICE of a quarter of the electorate. He is supposed to represent all Americans in the execution of laws passed by Congress. As well as foreign policy delegated to him by the Constitution. And he does this via the Department of State and if authorized, the Department of Defense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The ‘disastrous decision’ regarding Syria is for us to be there in the first place, as a result of the even worse decision to overthrow Gahdafi and turn his huge cache of conventional weapons over to ISIS.

    Absent Obama’s unlawful decision to intervene in Libya, there would never have been a caliphate and Asaad and Russia would have kept order in Syria.

    Obama had no lawful authority to assist in the overthrow of Gahdafi, and Congress screwed the pooch when it failed to impeach him when it should have for abusing his authority and for war crimes.


  5. I know you keep blaming Obama. You might take heart in knowing that Obama agrees with you.

    Of course I am sure you agree we should have impeached and jailed Bush, Cheney and his neo-cons for lying about WMD’s and starting the whole Middle East debacle, including Libya and the rest of the Arab Spring disasters. Aside from Tunisia, the rest of the nations are a mess. And of course the rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq led to ISIS and worldwide Islamist terror.

    Thank you “W”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s a start, but Obama whines about failing to plan for AFTER getting Gahdafi out. His mistake was intervening in the first place.

      But there is a difference between Obama and Bush, Bush may have relied on faulty intelligence, or believed what he wanted to believe, but he did get authorization from Congress. Obama didn’t bother.


      1. @Tabor
        Authorization from Congress based on fabricated evidence. Yeah, that makes it alright.

        Your, let’s say, Louisiana-style bias against President Obama is palpable. You continue to attack him and everything he did while finding reasons to ignore the blatant illegality, dishonesty, corruption and incompetence of the Birther-in-chief.

        Sad, or more accurately, pitiful.

        Liked by 1 person

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