The General versus Congress

September 14, 2007


The eagerly awaited opening statement and progress report to Congress by Four-Star General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the status of the military and political situation in Iraq is history. The two of them briefed the members of the House of Representatives Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees on Monday, September 10 and on the following day the members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. Read the rest of this entry »


Would You Let Your Kids Behave Like This?

July 27, 2007


Congress has now been under ‘new’ leadership for about seven months and it’s not a pretty picture to say the least. But then, one should not look for pretty pictures when it comes to politics in this country. Whether it is responding to their constituents or following their true beliefs, the Democrats are focusing on ending the war in Iraq and so, it did not come as a surprise that two weeks ago, the United States Senate was once again concentrating on passing a so called Levin/Reed amendment to commence troop withdrawal from Iraq within 120 days and completing it by April 30, 2008. Levin and Reed are Democrat Senators from Michigan and Rhode Island respectively. This amendment also allowed for some as yet undetermined number of troops to remain there in Iraq, further clouding its true meaning (Political Posturing at its best).  Read the rest of this entry »

How do switch-voting Moderates feel now

May 11, 2007


On November 26 of last year, we posted two articles here entitled: ‘Election Results and Analysis’ and ‘The People have spoken’. Based on the closeness of the various races in the House as well as the Senate, we concluded that the results reflected a shift among moderate voters, the consistent 15 percent of the American voters who determine the outcome of elections more times than not. They are individuals, who have no political party allegiance, nor do they appear to have Read the rest of this entry »

Questionable leadership of the Democrats: Confusing to say the least

May 4, 2007


It is very interesting watching members of the Democratic Party in American on television. There are twists and turns on a daily basis that make it very hard to understand their positions. Until they took over both houses in Congress as the ‘Majority’ party, they were unified and focused: They consistently opposed everything Republicans and President Bush in particular proposed, suggested, recommended and acted upon. And they, the Democrats voted accordingly. And they were proud of it, they called themselves the loyal opposition and they considered it virtuous. Read the rest of this entry »

Shameful Politics

March 6, 2007

The United States Senate has been trying unsuccessfully so far to pass a non-binding resolution on the troop deployment increase of about 21,500 soldiers to Iraq for several weeks now. The House of Representatives passed such a ‘measure’ on February 16 of this year. But things are deadlocked in the Senate primarily due to procedural reasons. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) from Nevada tried to force a vote on cloture on Saturday, February 17, a day where the Senate would have been closed for business due to the weeklong break for President’s Day. He tried to bring this issue to a close but did not succeed. There were 56 votes cast in favor of cloture where 60 were required and so, this attempt died and everybody went home, the Democrats very unhappy and the Republicans voting against cloture somewhat happy.

On closer review, it is truly baffling when one begins to look into the matter deeper and attempts to find out what is behind this, and so, we begin with a recollection of facts:

ever since the war in Iraq started, the Democrats have criticized President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for not having enough “boots on the ground in Iraq”, that the deployment level of between 125 and 160 thousand soldiers was far too low and that that was the obvious reason why things did not move forward in Iraq. A former Army General Eric Shinseki had advocated a much larger troop deployment and he was referred to constantly by every Democrat as having been correct on this matter.

Second, the President and his Defense Secretary conferred frequently with the Generals who were conducting the war and he stayed steadfast that “conditions on the ground” would determine the troop levels. Based on such conditions, the troop levels were adjusted and this number varied between 125 and 160 thousand troops. For his decisions, the President was consistently criticized by the Democrats and other war critiques.

Third, when conditions in Iraq turned seriously bad late last year by sectarian violence and other infighting especially in Baghdad, the President reviewed the strategies in place and came up with a new plan that he also conferred on with the current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. It was agreed that a new strategy should involve American and Iraqi troops should be fighting side by side to clear the capitol of the violence it suffered. The new plan also included the replacement of General Casey who had been in charge in the country by General David Petraeus together with an additional deployment of 21,500 troops to achieve this mission. These additional troops would bring the total troop level to about 160 thousand and was not exceeding previous highs in this regard.

Fourth, the President’s plan was instantaneously critiqued by all Democrats as wrong and that it would be ineffective and could only lead to more death of American service men and women. They indicated also that they would do everything in their power, having just taken control of Congress, to stop this additional deployment.

Fifth, the choice of General Petraeus was praised during the confirmation hearings and he was confirmed by the Senate in early February by a vote of 81:0, every Senator at the hearing wished him ‘luck and God speed’ in his new assignment. We should also mention that General Petraeus strongly indicated to the Senators that his mission would require the deployment of the additional troops.

One has to wonder what in the world is going on in Washington? Based on the above, the Democrats who were proposing for over three years more troops in Iraq are now against it because the President is for it. The Democrats in the Senate confirm the General who is now in charge, wish him well but deny him an important element in his mission, the additional troops. The Democrats will continue to attempt to pass a so-called “Non-binding resolution” in the Senate to indicate to the country and the world that they (the Democrats) are against the additional deployment of American troops while they at the same time claim to “support the troops” (and apparently also General Petraeus). If this should fail, they, the Democrats even have indicated that they will try to rescind and re-write (based on a new criteria) the October 2002 War Resolution (giving the President the authority to invade Iraq etc) and write a new one that will restrict the affairs of the military in Iraq. In other words, they want to take over the management of the war in Iraq which could also be called playing “Commander-In-Chief”, a role that belongs constitutionally to the President of America.

As reason for their action they claim that it represents the will of the people who voted them into power last November! Even if one forgets the narrow margin of victory in the Senate where the Democrats have to count on two Independents to have this ‘majority’ (there are 49 each Democrat and Republican Senators), the American people did NOT vote for the Democrats to trample the United States Constitution. By rescinding past resolutions and wanting to interfere with the day-to-day managing of the War, they are doing exactly this!

This is nothing more than shameful politics on the part of the Democrats! The only thing Congress, i.e., the Democrats can constitutionally do is cut off funding for the war (as they did by the way thirty-some years ago to end the war in Vietnam). But they will not do that because that would take a great deal of courage! They would have to tell the American people their reasons for ending the war in Iraq by leaving an unfinished job. And they know full well that the American people would not necessarily be convinced and buy their arguments. Besides, it could backfire when the next round of elections rolls around in late 2008 and they, the politicians, fear nothing more than not getting re-elected.

Americans have always admired courage on the part of individuals and groups and it is in this spirit that we here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ challenge the leadership in Congress to show us the courage of their convictions. You want to end this war, cut off its funds as you are empowered to do by the constitution of this country. Put your money and political careers where your mouths are and show us your convictions and the courage to do it!

Otherwise, shut up and work on matters that are less critical in this day and age, whatever that may be. How cynical are you that you wish General Petraeus well in his new assignment during his confirmation hearing but then you turn around and do not support what it takes for him to do his job: an increase in troop levels? Who are you to tell him how to do his job? He was not sent there to do the best he could, instead he was sent there to win this war and bring peace, stability and strength to a struggling democracy in the face of multiple enemies.

The more you keep this up, you Democrats in Congress, the more you look like a bunch of yapping Chihuahuas in the proximity of true American Heroes. The current Congress better be aware that it could go down in history as the “Two-Year House of Barking Dogs”.

This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation.   It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material.  We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.

War on Terror

January 19, 2007


Should we change the Constitution?


     The recent days have brought us a plan by President George W. Bush for an increase in mobilizing more military in Iraq in order to get control of the grim situation on the ground there, especially in Baghdad. The President had not even given the speech when the political opposition already criticized his plan. Since his speech on January 10, everybody has now come out and has given us his or her personal opinions and the American people have been polled and they are by a margin of more than two to one against the deployment of additional troops to Iraq. And of course, the media and most politicians in Washington are equally opposed to the President’s plan. Their criticism ranges from “It cannot work” and “It will never work” to Bush does not listen to them or take their advise, is stubborn and incompetent. But then, as one sarcastic man once said: “Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one!”

Who is in Charge? 

     This article will not address nor analyze the Pro’s and Con’s of the new Bush plan and the deployment of additional troops. Instead, we would like to remind everybody that in situations like the current one, there is still a Constitution in this country. This constitution is the foundation of our country as its spells out how we are to govern ourselves. According to this document and its many amendments, every four years, the voters of America elect a President to a four-year term by a specifically designed method, i.e., the Electoral College voting system. This has worked for well over two hundred years and we should not try to change it now. The President is also the Commander-In-Chief and that means, he is in charge of the military forces in this country. The constitution also states that only Congress can declare war on another country and that it is up to the Commander in Chief to conduct the war as he sees fit.

     Now then, let’s review what has happened in recent years. On October 2, 2002, the members of Congress voted to authorize the President to go to war, i.e. use military force if the President thought it was necessary. The President then pursued through the United Nations Security Council by means of another resolution to compel Saddam Hussein to comply with previous U.N. resolutions. Failure to do so could result in drastic measures including the use of military force. This then resulted in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the overthrow of the Hussein regime.

     From the beginning of that war, the critics warned that the President had not sent enough troops to Iraq and that he had turned a deaf ear to those Generals who advocated this. This criticism has been consistent throughout the past years. The sectarian strife in Iraq has had a devastating effect on the situation there and the relatively young government, elected in a free election by the people of Iraq, is having severe difficulties to get a hold of and uniting the country and its religious divided populace. The Iraqi military and police forces are not strong enough to do the job by themselves and U.S. forces find themselves in the middle of what seems to be a near civil war, it is a truly bad situation.

What is President Bush Doing? 

     The President has now decided that the previous strategies have not worked out and he has decided, after lengthy discussions with his advisors in the military and his Administration to deploy another 20,000+ troops to Iraq. This is in his judgment a new attempt to counter the continuing insurgency and the sectarian violence by using different rules of engagement in a new strategy requiring more troops. The next several months will tell if his new plan will work since it also relies heavily on stronger participation by Iraqi forces and cooperation by the Iraqi government.

     In summary, President Bush is not yet ready to accept defeat but thinks instead there is still a good change of winning this war. As President he also represents this country and has contact with foreign leaders and hears their opinions and we are not privy to that until some time in the future. As Commander in Chief, he had to console many families of falling soldiers and he told everyone he met on such somber occasions that “their son or daughter, brother or sister or father had not died in vain but for a good cause while defending the freedom of America.” Can we really fault him for thinking this? Would not every President console the loved ones of falling soldiers this way? Would not every President try every possible way to win this war instead of just accepting defeat as inevitable? What if President Frank D. Roosevelt in June 1944 upon hearing of the thousands of casualties the American forces had suffered on D-Day in France had decided that they could not win that war and just pull out?

     Regardless of which side any individual stands on the war in Iraq, there are three choices for everybody: One can agree, one can disagree or one can openly critique and oppose the President. Those are our constitutional rights. But we should also remind ourselves that we only have one President at a time and cannot change that unless we revise the constitution. We cannot remember a time in American history when a President had to ask Congress for approval and support for an increase in American troop deployment. This has never happened. Congress has the power to stop funding a war but a President does not have to ask for approval of military application.

     It is ironic in all this that all those earlier Iraq war critics proposed a larger deployment of troops to Iraq and constantly criticized the President for ‘under deployment.’ Now these same folks and self-anointed experts cry wolf that the President does exactly that. This smacks of raw political action by the President’s opponents for whom he could never do anything right. We have to also recognize that the additional troops will not exceed the maximum troop levels in previous years in Iraq when up to 160,000 troops where there to fight this war. The current deployment increase would not exceed this number.

Should we replace our President with a Prime Minister? 

     If this is to be the norm from now on in that politics and polling by the American people will determine the course of actions any President can take, then we should seriously consider changing the Constitution. Maybe instead of electing a President, we should just leave it up to Congress to appoint a Prime Minister as they see appropriate. This could happen at any time by giving the appointed person either a vote of confidence or kick him/her out of office by giving him/her a vote of ‘No confidence’. Italy, for instance, has done this since World War II and they have had about fifty Prime Ministers since then. If we were to follow suit in our country, we could change Prime Ministers every couple of weeks, months or years depending on how Congress evaluates his/her performance in office.

     We here at Back to Common Sense do not believe this will ever happen in America. Our constitutional system has worked well for us and it is not broken, therefore there is nothing to fix. The more than a dozen or so members of Congress who are declared or yet undeclared candidates for the Presidency in 2008 should just state their positions but refrain from this constant drumbeat of severe criticism of the President. Besides, do they not realize that this is certainly undermining the morale of our fighting men and women in uniform?

     Unless something unforeseen happens to him, George W. Bush will be the only President this country will have between now and January 2009. There cannot be a Presidency by consensus or committee unless we ignore (and therefore violate) or change our Constitution. Is anybody ready and compelled enough to take on this task? We do not see anybody in the current crop of politicians who is willing to go there. Therefore, we think that the presidential hopefuls and wannabees should concentrate on presenting themselves to the American electorate in a positive way with ideas of what they would do if elected President. All other Bush critics should just bide their time, hold their fire, keep their powder dry as the saying goes and see what happens with this new plan for Iraq. If it fails, you will have even more to criticize by stressing that you had it right all along. If it works, you will have something to apologize for. Only time will tell.

     This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation.   It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material.  We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.