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A Law to Make Congress Follow the Constitution

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Senator Kaine Public Square 52 photo 141021SenatorKaine_zps8b320dca.jpgGoing to war is serious business. Senator Kaine (D-VA) believes that those in whom that power is vested should follow a deliberate process and that the executive should be bound by the decision. The Constitution is not vague about the responsibilities but the world presents circumstances that are.

In an attempt to clear up any misunderstanding about the authority to commit forces to war, Senator Kaine has joined with Senator McCain (R-AZ) to offer legislation that will establish a process to ensure the judicious application of military force. Yesterday's participation in the Richmond Times Dispatch Public Square series was part of Senator Kaine's effort to gather "comments, suggestions, criticisms..." in a strategy to shape and craft the bill.

Tacitly, President Bush followed the requirements of the War Powers Act, a law passed in 1973 following the frustration over the prosecution of the Viet Nam War. That was designed to rein in the initiative of any President using military force but written with both Johnson and Nixon in mind. Johnson had the support of a Congress that never imagined the scope of involvement that would precipitate. Then Nixon attacked two countries, Laos and Cambodia, without consulting Congress. To be honest, no President went as far as Bush to conform to the letter of the War Powers Act. The others managed to avoid anything more than consulting with Congressional leadership and always went on their merry way. However, the fact that George Bush appealed for authority may be more revealing about how thin he knew his justification was and that he needed cover rather than indicating sincere regard for the law. Plus the timing of the request appears suspiciously politically motivated.

Further, the authorization that Congress gave President Bush has no sunset or clearly defined achievable objective. As long as it remains in effect, Presidents can and will chase any remnant or offshoot of al Qaida's ghost, real or imagined, while waving the authorization as justification for centuries to come. So, even if you argue that he and his successor have acted under the authority of the War Powers Act, you observe the same result that arose before the Act, different day: war(s) with a scope never imagined when authorized, being fought in second, third (fourth, fifth...) party countries. Senator Kaine's obsession with the subject is more than justified.

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Eight, Swing Voters

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Welcome to this twelve-part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. If you've missed past diaries, follow these links: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. For today's poll, I'm asking about your early support for Governor in 2017.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

Swing voters, that crucial demographic of people who voted Romney-Kaine, or Cuccinelli-Northam-Obenshain, or even were crazy enough to go for Sarvis!

In the last half-decade, Virginia Democrats have seen a range of elections that allow us to roughly identify geographic areas of ticket-splitters. I'm talking about folks who came out and voted for Mitt Romney and Tim Kaine. Or switched back and forth in 2013 between Sarvis, Northam, and Obenshain. Or even McDonnell-Wagner-Shannon! It's all possible.

Warmonger McCain and “Mushroom Cloud Condi” Rice Are the GOP Case...

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As Think Progress points out, polls show that Americans trust Obama more than Romney on international affairs. So along come the best two on foreign policy the GOP has left: Warmonger John McCain and his dazed and confused grasp on reality; AND Condi Rice, who so assertively deceived us on weapons of mass destruction.  Yeh, they've got the cred (snark).  

Who doesn't remember her trying to scare the hell out of everyone with worries about a "mushroom cloud."  When she did that, she essentially proved they had no real evidence of mass destruction. They had to rely instead on fear, not evidence. McCain's supposed cred is permanently tarnished by his failing to find a potential war he could not support. And Condi's obsolete Cold War model of the world is every bit as bad.  

I almost feel sorry for the poor, pathetic Republicans if this is what they've got.  (Don't worry, I said almost.  And were I to, I wouldn't feel very sorry for them.)

To make matters worse, as the video above shows, on CBS this morning, Condi could not say anything President Obama has done "wrong" in foreign policy.  That's the best they've got.  So, there you have it.  They GOP has no real case, except made up stuff. They should shut down the convention and go home.  

Why Does Anyone Interview John McCain?

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Saturday, Senator McCain boarded a 777 in Frankfurt almost without notice. Debarking at Dulles International, only two people in arrivals had any idea who he was. He stumbled throughout his campaign for the Presidency, his Veep pick was disasterous, and now few even recognize him. He has marginalized himself.

So why ask him his opinion on broadcast television? Easy, the pearls that issue forth. Yesterday, Senator McCain actually uttered these words in response to a question about advice to Mitt Romney on picking a VP:

"The absolute, most important aspect is, if something happened to him, would that person be well qualified to take that place? I happen to believe that was the primary factor in my decision in 2008. And I know it will be Mitt's. And I'm very happy to say we've got a very deep bench" - John McCain on ABC This Week, May 6, 2012 (segment begins at 11:15)
Really? "I happen to believe?" He doesn't know what his primary consideration was? The facts are not within his grasp? Well, after all, more and more that is not a surprise.

Money, Power, and Wall Street: The Financial Collapse

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By March 2008, the prospect of a meltdown was looming. Bear Stearns fell first. It started with rumors about investment in sub-prime mortgages, tagged as toxic assets. Bear Stearns bought hundreds of thousands of sub-prime mortgages and bundled them. Little then did candidate Obama know the role he would play.

This continuation of the Frontline documentary takes up with the events of 2008, a Presidential election year. In this installment, the very foundation of the financial world trembles while we meet the major players: Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Tim Geithner distinguished himself from the moment he received the first panicked call. Instead of acting without intelligence, he dispatched a team to survey the situation at Bear Stearns. They and teams from the SEC and JP Morgan discovered a drowning pool of toxic assets. Bear had made credit default swap deals worth trillions of dollars that had infected all of Wall Street and the financial world. Geither recognized the systemic risk to the world economy. This was the moment of realization that Bear Stearns was too big to fail. This took Federal regulators by surprise.