War Powers

 Congress, Constitution, Featured, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on War Powers
Aug 272008

I am certain I have previously discussed the idea that the President of the United States does NOT have the power to take the United States to war. That authority was reserved expressly for the Congress by the founders of this country. The Constitution is quite clear on this point, but that authority has been usurped by several Presidents in their over-reach. I usually find it best to defer to the founders in these matters, and when checking we find that James Madison once observed, “In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department… [T]he temptation would be too great for any one man.”

Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs have an excellent article on the Christian Science Monitor about this very topic, and it should be required reading for every American. Edwards and Skaggs make the point:

Presidents of both parties have sought to arrogate the power to go to war into the executive branch. In one recent and notable example, senior advisers to President George W. Bush asserted that he had no constitutional obligation to seek authorization from Congress for use of force in Iraq.

It is easy to blame the president for this state of affairs. He has, after all, advanced a theory and practice of executive supremacy in national security matters that most constitutional scholars find contrary to the tenets of this republic’s very principles.

But they go on to point out how the Congress has allowed this incremental power grab to go unanswered over several administrations. I believe the reason a lack of backbone on the part of the Congress. They are afraid to be held accountable, so they allow the President to take action, and later either share in the glory…or more often, address the blame for failure on the President.

The authority to go to war is admittedly a heavy burden, but forming a commission to examine possible changes to war powers act is a useless exercise which, as pointed out by Edwards and Skaggs, stands the Constitution on its head. The division of power is already written into the Constitution. The Congress must take us to war, the President is then responsible for the execution of the war.

Please read the article.

Who should have the Power to take United States to War?

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Hunger In America

 Culture, Deep Thoughts, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Hunger In America
Dec 102007

I came across an article at the Christian Science Monitor on-line today about hunger in America. I spent some evenings working in the homeless shelter in Winston-Salem some years ago, and have, as a result of that experience, developed some perspective on the problems of poverty and homelessness in America. I wish I had some solutions, but I don’t…just a sense of what the world is really like.

The CS Monitor story talks about some 35.5 million Americans being “food insecure.” The problem is, there’s no real standard definition of of hunger and/or food insecurity, so the problem is most likely much bigger than this. Surveys among school nutritionists in Appalachia show that, in many districts, children return from Summer weighing 10% less than when school let out.

“Being hungry is a subtle, personal, chaotic, unpredictable, but often systematic experience,” where welfare policies may provide a meal but don’t go far enough to help poor Americans rise above welfare says Amy Glasmeier, director of Penn State’s Center for Policy Research on Energy, Environment and Community Well-being in University Park, Pa.

Things aren’t great in America, and I am afraid they are going to get worse before they get better, but we are still a land of plenty, and a land where the Krazy Kristian Kooks try daily to convince us that we are a nation founded on Christian principles. I hate to tell them, but in land still as wealthy as America, it should shame us all that there are people who go hungry in America. As Charles Darwin said, “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

My sisters have already asked what I’d like for Christmas. I really do believe I have too much stuff already. I think I will seriously ask them to make a donation in my name to a food bank. That would be a great gift this Christmas.

Related Story:
I’m Not Sure I Was Meant to Be Here

Sep 102007

This is a great article from The Christian Science Monitor:

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann was one of the highest-paid nonprofit leaders in 2005, with $675,000 in earnings, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s most recent survey.  That’s hardly a paltry sum. But compare her pay with the $60 million pocketed last year by Bob Simpson, the chief executive of XTO Energy. This company had lower revenues last year than UPenn and employs less than 2,000 workers. Ms. Gutmann, for her part, oversees an enterprise with nearly 5,000 faculty and 24,000 students.

Is running an oil company really 90 times more valuable than leading one of the top-ranked institutions of higher learning?

The article goes on to point out that the salaries of the 20 highest paid CEO’s of publically traded companies are 38 times higher than those of the 20 highest paid non-profit CEO’s, and 183 times the 20 highest paid public sector officials (This includes the salary of the President of the United States).