Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rex, Lex In D.C.

Calls by Donald Trump and other Republicans to see President Obama's birth certificate were ludicrous, almost comical, and nearly faded into obscurity once the White House released BHO's long-form birth certificate.

They should have been asking for confirmation of his law degree.  In the alternative, forensic scientists should be brought in to verify that the man occupying the White House is the individual who was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu to an American mother and an African father, lived in Indonesia from ages 6 to 10, attended Occidental College before graduating from Columbia University, and became a community organizer and civil rights attorney before a state senator, and a U.S. Senator for a week or so.

Between Columbia and the professional career, the man is purported to have earned a law degree from Harvard University, prompting the question:  What are they teaching at Harvard Law?  Last week, we learned from CBS News

President Obama on Wednesday met with congressional leaders at the White House (news report, below) to discuss the turmoil in Iraq and the administration's efforts to respond. According to one leader in the meeting, Mr. Obama said that any actions the administration may take in response to Iraq's deteriorating security situation won't require congressional authority.

"We had a good discussion," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "The president basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq. And indicated he didn't feel he had the need for authority from us for the steps that he might take and indicated he would keep us posted."

Apparently, no one at the meeting objected. This includes Nancy Pelosi, who at a news conferenceT after the gathering (video, below) advised that she had stated "I believe the President does not need any additional congressional authority to act upon measures to protect our national security."  "I didn't want," the House Minority Leader added, "that to be misunderstood as support for boots on the ground." That was helpful because, as we all know, advisers never, ever lead to combat operations.

Pelosi is placing her faith in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002," which authorized the President to use the Armed Forces to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Inconveniently, the Resolution authorized the President to act against a "threat posed by Iraq," whereas Tehran is now ostensibly an ally, with the President currently acting against the terrorists (ISIL) aiming to bring down the government.  Also inconveniently, the Resolution in the following section included "Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution."

Clearly, military action extending beyond two months would violate the War Powers Resolution, which  "requires the President to terminate the use of U.S. Armed Forces after 60 days unless Congress (1) has declared war or authorized the action; (2) has extended the period by law; or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack on the United States."

At least one Democrat isn't buying President Obama's bill of goods. Speaking on Morning Joe on Thursday, junior senator Tim Kaine of Virginia disagreed with Representative Pelosi, asserting

Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, I don't care what the politics are. The most sober power that we have in government and the mosti mportant power that Congress has is that power to determine whether we initiate military action or not...

I'm actually seeing colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate say, 'No, the president has all the authority he needs.' You know,the issue isn't what I'd like, the issue is what the law is. It's very, very plain that Congress is the body that gets to declare war. The president, once declared, the president manages it, but Congress has to get involved. 

Don't expect much disagreement with the President by congressional Democrats, who generally are loathe even to question their own.  And don't expect much disagreement by Repubs because they are intent on a future GOP president having all the power he or she can claim short of declaring martial law on a whim. Further, this is a matter not primarily of the Constitution, though the power to declare war is vested in Congress.  It is largely a matter of law- lex, rex- and with all the bleating and braying about impeaching President Obama, the law is not something of the highest priority among Republicans.

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