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Democrat Introduces ISIS War Authorization Bill

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced legislation Wednesday to authorize military force against Islamic State militants -- a step aimed at forcing Congress to take responsibility for a war it's been funding for nearly six months with almost no debate on its duration, costs or potential toll.

Lawmakers have put no parameters on the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, since it began in August. Since then, the U.S. has spent more than $1 billion, participated in more than 1,700 airstrikes, and authorized sending roughly 3,000 U.S. troops to Iraq. All of this has happened without new war authorization.

Schiff's proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force would do three things: limit military action against ISIS to three years; prohibit the use of U.S. ground troops; and immediately terminate a still-active 2002 AUMF tied to the Iraq War. It also would end, in three years, a sweeping 2001 AUMF that President Barack Obama says gives him the authority to go after ISIS without new war authorization. Some in Congress disagree that Obama has that authority and insist he needs new authorization, which the president says he would welcome.

"There is no doubt that our current offensive amounts to war," said Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "Congress should take action both to authorize its prosecution and to set limits on that authorization so it may not be used by any future administration in a manner contrary to our intent."

Schiff's AUMF would expire after three years...

read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/28/adam-schiff-aumf-isis_n_6559066.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

...my take:

Although the Obama administration has signaled their willingness to consider an new AUMF to 'authorize' their new terror war, this bill isn't what the WH wants - at least it isn't what Sec. Kerry said he wanted in an authorization to war.

Almost completely absent is any reservation from the WH about the autocratic manner in which George Bush waged his warring in Iraq, with President Obama (and Democratic leaders like Rep. Pelosi) already on record claiming Bush's 2001 authorization passed after the 9-11 attacks (or, is it the 2002 Iraq resolution?) gives him authority to do whatever he wants in Iraq to battle the Islamic State fighters - even insisting that his commander-in-chief powers cover almost any other impetus to war in Iraq, at least in the short term, without congressional approval, given his unilateral interpretation of a 'threat' to U.S. national security and his conflation of the Islamic State with our al-Qaeda nemesis.

Anyway, Pres. Obama has already made the legal notifications to Congress and they've already approved funding for troops deployed to Iraq - so, this is all just a formality for the president...or, is it?

A proposed bill to restrict boots on the ground was rejected in Dec. by the administration. In mid-December, the Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, approved an AUMF for the Islamic State fight. That process included a lengthy hearing, during which Secretary of State John Kerry said the White House opposed provisions supported by his former Democratic colleagues, and which were included in the Menendez bill, that would have restricted actions by US ground troops in Iraq and Syria. Essentially, that version would have prohibited them from offensive combat operations.

from Stars and Stripes, Dec. 9 2014:

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the Senate should not “bind the hands” of the president with a new war authorization that bars ground troops.

Kerry delivered the message to lawmakers as part of the Obama administration’s first detailed request for legislation setting the scope of military force used against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He also asked that lawmakers allow targeting groups “associated” with the extremists and not limit operations geographically to those two countries...

Kerry told the committee that President Barack Obama is open to language in an authorization that clarifies how combat forces may be used and still does not plan to deploy ground troops.

“It does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander-in-chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee,” Kerry said.

I see where he says the President 'has no plans' to order the use of ground forces, but that's a weak thread for those of us who oppose the use of ground troops in offensive actions in Iraq or Syria. I think any trust-based' approach to military policy in Iraq is an invitation for the President to employ ground forces - all of his military commanders have openly advocated their use and are itching to find reason to deploy them to offensive positions.

With that admonition out there, un-refuted by Pres. Obama, it appears that any bill like Rep. Schiff's is DOA; shot down before it even gets started. besides, I believe once Democrats begin openly advocating military actions in Iraq with actual legislation, it just opens the door for more expansive approvals of force from this republican Congress.

On the other hand, what were have now is a president mostly content to employ a nebulous and revolving set of authorities to use military force which demands a response from Congress, if only to require them to live up to their obligations under the War Powers Act and assume responsibility for the money they throw at this mostly unilateral, creeping terror war being waged, this time, by a Democratic White House.

President Obama Highlights Early Head Start w/Visit to Children’s Center

Doug Mills ‏@dougmillsnyt 2h2 hours ago Kansas, USA
Pres. Obama jokes w/ a little girl during surprise visit to the Community Children’s Center in Lawrence, Kansas. #headstart

Doug Mills @dougmillsnyt · 1h 1 hour ago
It's Akira Cooper w/ @BarackObama at the Community Children’s Center in Lawrence, KA #POTUSatKU. Learning her numbers

pool report:

10:10 a.m. — Obama visited the Community Children's Center, a Head Start preschool at Plymouth Congregational Church. It was one of first Head Start programs in country, established in 1965. Obama greeted about 16 children who had been reading a book called "Sneetches."

Obama worked each of the two tables of children, kneeling beside the kids. He asked just about each of them their names. One was named Michelle. “I know a Michelle. One of my favorite people’s named Michelle.”

The kids were reading a Dr. Seuss story, a parable about discrimination.

“Are these the Sneetches? The star-belly Sneetches? The Sneetches with no stars on theirs? That is one of my favorite stories … In fact most of the things I deal with as president would be solved if everybody read about the Sneetches. Because there are some people who think they’re special cause they’ve got stars, and some who feel bad cause they don’t.”

One child asked what Obama wanted to do when he grew up.

“When I was really young I wanted to be an architect. You know what an architect is? … We build buildings. We design buildings. We make buildings like schools, libraries, and office buildings. I really wanted to do that when I was young.”

read more: http://www2.ljworld.com/site/rules/#rss

Nick Krug

FACT SHEET: Helping All Working Families with Young Children Afford Child Care

In addition to the historic investment in helping every low-income and middle-class family afford child care, the President’s FY16 budget will make critical investments to expand access to high-quality early education, including:

Providing Preschool for All: In his 2013 State of the Union, the Obama Administration announced a proposal to provide high-quality preschool to every American child and the FY 2016 Budget will continue to support this historic public investment in early education and in the future of America’s children. This $75 billion partnership with states would extend federal funds to expand high-quality preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds from families at or below 200% of poverty. The proposal, financed through an increase in tobacco taxes which will discourage youth smoking and save lives, also encourages states to broaden participation to reach additional middle-income families and to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten. In December 2014, the President and Vice President hosted the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, highlighting over $1 billion in investments dedicated to early childhood education and development, including new efforts to expand preschool across 18 states and in over 200 high-need communities, reaching an additional 33,000 children.

Supporting Infants and Toddlers through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: This Administration has more than doubled the number of infants and toddlers in Early Head Start and, in 2014, created the new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships program – an effort to provide quality care to tens of thousands of additional infants and toddlers through a partnership between Early Head Start and child care providers that meet the highest standards of quality to serve children from birth through age three. The Obama Administration has invested $500 million to support communities and proposes additional funding as they improve and expand comprehensive early care and education through the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships program, reaching over 30,000 infants and toddlers this year.

Increasing the duration of Head Start to a full school day and year. Head Start is a key element of the Administration’s efforts to help all children meet their full potential. The Obama Administration has already taken dramatic steps to raise the bar on Head Start quality, including requiring low-performing programs to compete for continued funding, and is revising performance standards to reflect the best available science on early learning and development. The President’s Budget includes a new proposal to further increase the impact of Head Start – while also helping the working parents of Head Start children – by providing enough resources to make sure all children in Head Start benefit from a full school day and full school year (at least six hours a day, 170 days a year), which research shows leads to better outcomes for young children.

read more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/21/fact-sheet-helping-all-working-families-young-children-afford-child-care


President Obama Speaks at the University of Kansas

Righteousness of our 'American Snipers'

I read some reviews of the new Clint Eastwood film, 'American Sniper,' which immediately meshed in my mind with a conversation I had this week with a veteran of the Iraq invasion and occupation under Bush. I had steered my veteran conversationalist into a revealing discussion of the roots of his own visible anger and antipathy he expressed often toward the people of the nation where he was deployed and tasked with defending his own troops, along with American interests, against whoever resisted our military's strident advance. In his view, admittedly grossly simplified in my interpretation, American forces represented all that was right and good; and Iraqis, resisting or not, were despicable enemies who deserved whatever retribution our nation's defenders imposed on them.

Lindy West, in The Guardian, describes the real-life individual in the new film who is portrayed by actor Bradley Cooper:

"Chris Kyle, a US navy Seal from Texas, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and claimed to have killed more than 255 people during his six-year military career. In his memoir, Kyle reportedly described killing as “fun”, something he “loved”; he was unwavering in his belief that everyone he shot was a “bad guy”. “I hate the damn savages,” he wrote. “I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.” He bragged about murdering looters during Hurricane Katrina, though that was never substantiated..."

My young veteran discussant is remarkably in agreement with me about the foolishness and folly of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, yet, even as he expresses agreement that Americans have no business committing soldiers to fight and die in that country, he's just as adamantly convinced in a remarkable and appalling dehumanization of the Iraqi people that they all deserve to die; in his estimation, at the point of a U.S. nuclear attack which would 'wipe them all out.'

Delving deeper into his reasoning this week, he makes clear to me where the seeds of his revulsion for Iraqis lies. It appears that he lost quite a few of his close comrades in arms during the Iraq deployments in nearly 10-year enlistment in the Army; many of those under his command while serving as a Staff Sgt. in the infantry. That's enough said from him, to me. I'm not going to make broad judgments about the righteousness or banality of his personal view. I wasn't there and I can't put myself anywhere near his own experiences to make those judgments for him. I can only express my own revulsion toward any killing; justified, rationalized, or not; certainly opposed with all of my heart and mind to any suggestion that the entire country of Iraqis deserve to die to assuage American fears or any perceived defense of our nation or interests.

Yet, it is precisely those same kinds of vengeful and defensive sentiments expressed by this young veteran which compel many Americans to support continued military attacks against Iraqis and others in the region where our troops are deployed which are faceless, even nameless, to the vast majority of us. I would imagine its that same dichotomy between fearful Americans and our new Iraqi-based nemesis which inspires the similar storyline in this latest war film from Eastwood.

Lindy West writes in the The Guardian:

"...much of the US right wing appears to have seized upon 'American Sniper' with similarly shallow comprehension – treating it with the same unconsidered, rah-rah reverence that they would the national anthem or the flag itself. Only a few weeks into its release, the film has been flattened into a symbol to serve the interests of an ideology that, arguably, runs counter to the ethos of the film itself. How much, if at all, should Eastwood concern himself with fans who misunderstand and misuse his work? If he, intentionally or not, makes a hero out of Kyle – who, bare minimum, was a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people – is he responsible for validating racism, murder, and dehumanisation? Is he a propagandist if people use his work as propaganda?"

That same sentiment runs through the reasoning of my young vet who, despite anguishing about the time spent away from his family, even now, with his civilian job, expressed a desire this week to re-enlist; to go back to Iraq to 'kill more Iraqis.' Not surprisingly, he's also looking forward to viewing this new war film - enamored, no doubt, by the notion of an 'American hero' employed in decidedly righteous executions, in his mind, of the 'enemies' our government and military define and promote there.

More ominously, our Democratic president is said to be poised to ask the republican-led Congress for a new authorization to use military force in Iraq which includes actual and open 'boots-on-the-ground' which he's been opportunistically avoiding as a way of forestalling any judgment by legislators under the War Powers Act clock (right now, he's advantaging authorization of his military force in Iraq and Syria under the 9-11 AUMF which is supposed to be for the 'war' he's straining to portray as ending in Afghanistan).

I expressed my own objections to my young vet of viewing portrayals like the ones billed in 'American Sniper;' expressed my concern that these types of films romanticize war to the extent that convince many young Americans to join the cause, convinced within their own naive rationale that they would be able to overcome the odds that their own lives would be sacrificed; not to mention the loss of other innocent lives in the way of their military and government-sanction violence. I probably won't see the film.

I strongly urged this young veteran to reconsider his desire to join the military again; to try and find other ways (other than the alcoholism which he admits plagues him) to suppress and allay the anger he feels daily, even now, years after his deployments which have injured him both physically and mentally. I have genuine sympathy for this former soldier. He frequently laughs about and ridicules my 'bleeding heart;' I tell him that my heart 'bleeds' for him, as well.

Lindy West writes:

The patriots go on, and on and on. They cannot believe what they are reading. They are rushing to the defence of not just Kyle, but their country, what their country means. They call for the rape or death of anyone ungrateful enough to criticise American hero Chris Kyle. Because Chris Kyle is good, and brown people are bad, and America is in danger, and Chris Kyle saved us. The attitude echoes what Miller articulated about Kyle in her Salon piece: “his steadfast imperviousness to any nuance, subtlety or ambiguity, and his lack of imagination and curiosity, seem particularly notable”.

"There is no room for the idea that Kyle might have been a good soldier but a bad guy; or a mediocre guy doing a difficult job badly; or a complex guy in a bad war who convinced himself he loved killing to cope with an impossible situation; or a straight-up serial killer exploiting an oppressive system that, yes, also employs lots of well-meaning, often impoverished, non-serial-killer people to do oppressive things over which they have no control. Or that Iraqis might be fully realised human beings with complex inner lives who find joy in food and sunshine and family, and anguish in the murders of their children. Or that you can support your country while thinking critically about its actions and its citizenry. Or that many truths can be true at once."

I wholeheartedly agree with that. Even as I grieve and anguish for the victims of U.S. military aggression, I sincerely wish my young veteran discussant, and his fellow compatriots-in-arms, healing and success in their lives. I weep for their future, and for their past, as well.
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