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Republicans violate constitutional protection against abuse of power with coercive tactics that shutdown the government.

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 10-10-2013 | in Political, Government, Democracy, Critical Thinking, Freedom,

America's founders wrote a Constitution the set out the power and authority of representative government for the Republic. Currently rogue members of Congress violate those principles with a coup or pursuit for power that shut down the federal government. From ignorance and media framing, the people fail to recognize this loss of liberty and try to control government by coercion. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says, "All legislative powers granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives."

The two-chamber Congress provides a balance of power between the House of Representatives with members based on state population serving two-year terms and the Senate with two members from each state serving six-year terms. This balance helps provide fresh ideas from frequent turnover in the House and institutional stability from longer-termed Senators. Otherwise, America could have a new Congress and different legislative philosophy every two years with a resulting unstableness of government.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists many powers of Congress. Some powers are to lay and collect taxes, pay debts, provide for the defense and general welfare of the United States, borrow money on the credit of the United States and pass laws to execute those duties.

Undoubtedly, passing a budget and setting a debt ceiling are within the equal authority and duty of both the House and Senate. This Congress agreed to pass a Continuing Resolution and delay discussion of complex budget issues. A Continuing Resolution is, "Legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress, when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun, to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted." The Continuing Resolution fulfills Congress primary duty to guarantee a continuously operating federal government that provides for the general welfare of the Republic.

The House did not forward a simple Continuing Resolution for the Senate to agree with as a legislative body of equal power and authority. Instead, the House Republican majority one-sidedly added an amendment to the resolution that changed an existing law, Affordable Care Act. It sent this amended resolution as legislation the Senate must concede to or face federal government shutdown from lack of funding. Clearly, this one-sided action by House Republicans was a strategy to seize an unequal share of power and authority over government spending and legislation from the Senate not granted by the Constitution. This House Republican action supported by the threat not to agree with simple Resolution and to shut down government was an unconstitutional seizure of power.

So far, Republicans managed to justify their attack on the Republic as a strategy to defund the Affordable Care Act and prevent high health insurance and healthcare costs. However, the United States ranks seventh highest in national wealth although unevenly divided. Americans have poor reasoning ability that decide possible Affordable Care Act costs threaten their liberty and the welfare more than Republicans' threats to shut down government.

History shows the movement in a society to unify power in one group or person increase rather than decrease. Other groups with goals to control government power beyond constitutional limits will copy House Republican Party members' extortion methods if they succeed using threats to extend power over legislation.

Congress also has the duty to set a debt limit, use of credit, to pay for spending during this fiscal year or a shorter period. Using their strategy of coercion, Republican House members refused to agree with a debt limit unless Senate Democrats conceded to a reduction of entitlements like social security. Once again, Republicans argue deceitfully that they resist raising the debt ceiling to limit spending by the Democrat Party and President Obama.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) July 23, 2012 study about debt reduction policy disputes Republican claims about the purpose of the debt limit. It concluded, "The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay bills incurred." In other words, it limits the Treasury Departments ability to borrow money to finance the debt created by decisions already enacted by Congress. This conclusion is true given that tax revenue supports most government spending that can continue regardless of credit limits.

This same GAO study reported the federal government incurred more costs of billions of dollars when Congress delayed approving the debt limit until near its expiration date. This GAO description of debt management shows the insincerity of Republican Party members' reasoning for withholding approval of the debt limit.

The motives for Republicans' threats against the Republic are obvious if one ignores their rhetoric and decide them from the results they seek. They shut down the government to prevent the Affordable Care Act extending health insurances to lower-income families and Americans with existing health problems. They threaten to withhold approval of the debt limit and allow the Republic to default on debts to win concussions from Democrats to reduce social security benefits and Medicare coverage. Legislation to increase the federal minimum wage level or to provide for fair wages is objectionable to them.

I admit that much Democrat legislation and economic policy is economically unsound. Nevertheless, they promote policy motivated to improve the welfare of the people without threats to disrupt government operation. Congress can improve deficiencies in the proposed policies that mostly support goals set out in the preamble of the Constitution.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I do not understand how anyone can believe that a political strategy that threatens to circumvent constitutional limits on government authority or that disrupt government services is in their best interest.

Congress must not agree to a military strike against Syria

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 09-03-2013 | in Political, Government, Democracy, Human Relations, Critical Thinking, Freedom,

President Barack Obama decided the United States must make a military strike against Syria, because President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his people. The conclusion displays poor reasoning about a complex international problem. Congress must vote against Obama misusing America’s Armed Forces for an international problem that is more properly within the domain of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction,” common called Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is an arms control agreement between the parties that ratified it. It outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. It set schedules for nations with chemical weapons to destroy them. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) administers the agreement.

President Obama said, “This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.”

Obama managed to fit many appeals to emotion in his statement and few of reason. He makes the slippery-slope type argument–if we allow this event without a reaction then a chain of evils will follow. Previous presidents used this argument to justify the Vietnam War, the War on drugs, and the invasion of Iraq. I agree that some enforcement authority must act against nations that stockpile and use chemical weapons. However, international organizations like the United Nations and OPCW should exercise that authority and not the President of the United States by an act of war.

Obama also said, “Make no mistake -- this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won't enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?”

Obama's statement about the chemical weapons crisis shows why he and the United States lack credibility in this crisis. Dishonestly, he refers to Israel as a nation threatened by the misuse of chemical weapons as if it were among the nations supporting the prohibition against chemical weapons. However, only 189 of 196 nations were party to the CWC on June 2013. Israel was not one of them. Israel and Myanmar are two nations that signed the agreement in 1993, but never ratified the convention. They remain outside the convention with Angola, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan, and Syria. The United States also signed the agreement in 1993 and ratified the convention in 1997. Therefore, President Obama misleads Americans when he fails to list all nations that provide themselves the alternative of using chemical weapons.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon more honestly sets out the status of nations in the chemical weapon’s crisis. Recently, he appealed to Israel, Syria and all nations outside the CWC to ratify their membership. Until they do, all of them preserve the equally loathsome alternative to create, store and use chemical weapons against their citizens or against people of other nations. Unlike President Obama, the Secretary-General held all nations accountability that refuse to support the international prohibitions of chemical weapons. Even some nations in the CWC have failed to meet their schedule to destroy all chemical weapons.

Obama’s statement suggests the world is the domain of the United States of America and the U.S. President is its emperor with authority and duty to hold other nations accountable for violating international rules. He said, “Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective.” Americans and Congress should pay close attention to those remarks that suggests an imperial presidency free of restrains of Congress or the people.

I read the Constitution many times. I have not found the place in Article II that gives the president authority as Commander in chief of American Armed Forces authority to attack another nation without the consent of Congress. It does not name the President the Commander of the International Police Force.

The fast developing imperial presidency the past forty years threatens freedom and the American republic more than foreign forces do. Commonsense should warn any free people the threat to freedom of concentrating power in the presidency during crisis or war. This is a critical period for American freedom. The president already has extraordinary powers bestowed on the Executive Branch by a panicked Congress after the 9/11 attacks on the homeland. Now, Obama asks Congress to grant him the authority to attack another nation based only on its loathsome domestic conduct and its violation of an international rule that does not directly threaten the United States. A “yes” vote by Congress will complete the imperial presidency with monarchical war-making powers.

This approval by Congress would be an abandonment of duty for no good reason given Obama's admission, “And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that's why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”

Paradoxically, Obama who plans a military strike against Syria for breaking an international rule fails to cite the international law that authorizes this unilateral action by the United States or by any nation. He appears to make the argument that power is its own authority for action. Congress must dispute this assertion by telling President Obama, “No, we do not agree to a military strike against Syria.”

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