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I spend a lot of time confused about things that are happening in the world today. I mostly write about the economy at my sucky little blog and stay away from foreign policy issues but occasionally there are days like today that just leave me scratching my head and looking around for a scorecard.
The last couple of weeks, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner and President Obama have been going back and forth a bit on whether the President is operating within his authority in LIbya. Today, we had Senators Lindsey Graham (via Politico) and John McCain (via ABC News) seemingly telling their colleagues to sit down and STFU. Graham especially seems to offer a novel “Constitutional” argument:
“I would take the course that conservatives have been taking for the last 30 years — The War Powers Act is unconstitutional, not worth the paper its written on,” Graham declared. “It’s an infringement on the power of the commander in chief.”
So much for the Congressional power to declare war and control the purse strings.
McCain didn’t go quite as far as Graham:
Former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took aim at his party for what he called its growing movement towards isolationism, chastising the current GOP presidential field for not supporting U.S. military intervention in Libya and calling for speedy troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
President Obama has come under fire recently for the U.S. involvement in Libya, which is taking place without congressional approval. Although McCain criticized Obama for “leading from behind” by having NATO take charge of the operation, he encouraged Congress to pass his co-sponsored resolution with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) giving congressional authorization for U.S. military involvement in Libya, which reached the 90-day mark today.
If Rep Mike Rogers, chair of the House intelligence Committee appearing on CBS Face the Nation today is any indication, McCain won’t have to worry too much about the isolationist strain in the Republican Party. Via Politico:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers warned on Sunday that the United States opening up talks with the Taliban reflects a “disaster” in the American campaign in Afghanistan.
The CBS News article on Rep Rogers’ statements aren’t much better:
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned on Sunday against political calculations weighing into the decision over how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.
President Obama is soon expected to announce a withdrawal of some troops from that country, in keeping with his pledge to do so in July of this year, following the surge he announced in December 2009. But how many troops to withdraw has been an open question that has drawn debate both inside the administration and within Congress, particularly since the death of Osama bin Laden last month.
Rogers responded to comments made by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., earlier on “Face the Nation” in which he said military successes, such as the death of bin Laden, mean the U.S. can have significantly fewer troops in the country going forward.
While neither Politico nor CBS News mention it, McClatchy on Saturday had an article with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai saying that the US was in talks with the Taliban:
KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the U.S. is holding direct talks with the Taliban, the first public confirmation of the secret effort to end the nearly decade-long war.
Karzai’s comments, made in a speech filled with criticism of the U.S., came hours before a suicide attack on a police station in central Kabul that killed at least nine people and injured 10 others just a few hundred yards from Karzai’s heavily fortified palace.
The New York Times this afternoon has an article up with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirming at least preliminary talks even while the Pentagon is “asking to maintain the troop surge.”
Local governments shed 28,000 jobs last month, the Department of Labor reported, and have lost 446,000 jobs since employment peaked in September 2008.
So when downturn-weary mayors from around the country gathered here on Friday for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, they decided to make a statement: they introduced a resolution calling for the speedy end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and calling on Congress to use the $126 billion a year the wars cost for urgent domestic needs.
The resolution, which will be decided Monday, seems likely to pass. “There are so many better uses for the money,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore. Mayor R. T. Rybak of Minneapolis lamented that cities across the nation were being forced to make “deeply painful cuts to the most core services while the defense budget continued to escape scrutiny.” And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles said that the idea “that we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City absolutely boggles the mind.”
Hooray for the Mayors!
And because I can: