The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: On the Warpath

Posted on: August 29, 2013

Good Thursday, Widdershins.

Most of this week was devoted to the memory of Martin Luther King. the prophet of non-violence.  Now that we have dutifully paid homage to The Dream, we can turn our attention to the other American pastime – war.

The drums have been beating for some time, lead by Senatorial percussionists Graham and McCain.   The Senators issued a joint statement, reported here by The Washington Times:

“Using stand-off weapons, without boots on the ground, and at minimal risk to our men and women in uniform, we can significantly degrade Assad’s air power and ballistic missile capabilities and help to establish and defend safe areas on the ground,” Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham said in a joint statement. “In addition, we must begin a large-scale effort to train and equip moderate, vetted elements of the Syrian opposition with the game-changing weapons they need to shift the military balance against Assad’s forces.”

“Vetted elements of the Syrian opposition”?  So who vets them?  I seem to remember not so very long ago, a President Reagan decided that the very best way to stifle the Soviet Union was to arm some dude named Bin Laden to the teeth and turn him loose.  How did that work out?  The good news is that the Soviets went home, the bad news is that we ended up in Afghanistan cleaning up the mess.  That’s the ticket, “vet” the Syrian rebels.  What could go wrong?

Thirty-five years ago, I considered Damascus to be a one-stop shopping center.  We were living in Saudi Arabia, and the souks in Damascus were a whole lot better than the local equivalent, so whenever we could wrangle the time off and an exit visa simultaneously we were off.  Syria was edgy back then as well, but not really dangerous.  The people were gracious, and in customs lay somewhere between the ultra-religious Saudis and the much more secular Jordanians.  Watching what has happened to them of late is almost painful.  As a nurse, I am on board with the notion that some form of neurotoxin was deployed against these people.  The only thing that stops me just short of full commitment is that their caretakers are not wearing any sort of protective gear, yet exhibit none of the symptoms.  Neurotoxic agents, particularly ricin, linger on skin, hair and clothing, and are acquired by anyone who touches the victims.

The UN has investigated the matter, and plans to release a report any day now.  In the meantime, naval vessels are positioning themselves off the Syrian coast.  The President must now figure out his next step.  The “chemical weapons” line in the sand has likely been crossed, and the time for leadership is here.  There is really no point in approaching the UN, as Russia and China would gleefully veto anything more punitive than sending Assad a birthday card, so that’s out.

Congressional Republicans are now in full swing.   Speaker John Boehner is loudly demanding “answers” from the President.  The Sunday talk shows were laden with Repubs discussing the War Powers Act of 1976, and whether or not this gives the Prez carte blanche to go clean some Middle Eastern clocks.  Some say yes, some say no, and I’ll post the salient portion of the aforementioned Act  so that you might decide for yourself.  Here it is:

(a) Congressional declaration

It is the purpose of this chapter to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.

(b) Congressional legislative power under necessary and proper clause

Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer hereof/
The ultra salient portion is here:

(c) Presidential executive power as Commander-in-Chief; limitation

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces
Past practice dictates that the President may take direct action and seek authorization retroactively, but only under section (c) (3), as I see it.  Try as I might, I see no portion of the act that gives the American President unlimited powers to wage any sort of war without Congressional approbation, despite the fact that the terms have been almost universally ignored/misinterpreted.  I submit that it is time for this particular President tp stick to the letter of the act itself.
Make Congress vote on this.  The British PM has called Parliament back for an emergency session, and I think that Obama should follow suit,  Especially since it’s Labor Day weekend, and this particular group of Congressmen are some of the most anti-labor yet,  Oh, they will come kicking and screaming, because they likely don;t want to be on the record when it’s much more politically expedient (and a hell of a lot more fun) to simply stand on the sidelines and snipe.  Further, I believe that this will magnify and possible crater the growing division in the Republican party, with the hawks belting out their full-throated war cries and the libertarians screaming to the contrary.  Also, Congress needs to specifically authorize the expenditures for this excursion, less they forget that they have done so and attempt to blame everything on the blood-sucking 47% again.  Congress should be vested up to their eyeballs in the “Arab Spring” that they appear to have clean forgotten about.  So, bring them back, and bring it on.
This is an open thread.
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31 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: On the Warpath"

Now I’ve heard everything. Donald freakin’ Rumsfeld, chief architect of the Iraq debacle, calls the Syrian strategy :mindless”:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/08/29/rumsfeld-criticizes-obama-syria-strategy/2726147/

Rumsfeld? Rumsfeld calls it crazy?

The gods have a vicious sense of humor.

Indeed they do.

The Sunday talk shows were laden with Repubs discussing the War Powers Act of 1976,

The funny thing about that act is the Repubs want to say it’s a good idea when they want it used, but not when it’s used for purposes they don’t believe in.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/daily/june99/dismiss09.htm

http://www.fas.org/man/crs/IB81050.html

Interesting:

It appears that, in order to make sure everybody still knows we’re the biggest swinging dick on the planet, we’re going to send some Tomahawks down Syria way. Nobody’s really sure what good this will do, but the elite consensus is that we have to Do Something, so off we go. Each Tomahawk costs about $1.5 million so, let’s just say we shoot off about 20 of those suckers so that John McCain can complain that we didn’t shoot off 50 of them. We’re dropping $30 million on some Syrians to prove how tough we are.

Read the rest here along with the link to a very interesting article tied to something Prolix has discussed.

All I can say, Rumsfeld knows from mindless — I’d listen to him for sure.

McCain and Lady Lindsey and their vetting strategy — give me a fainting couch and an Ecstasy prescription.

There’s at least a dozen different sectarian groups currently operating and fighting in Syria. One, only one, that’s right — ONE — is pro-American and just happens to be the group that hosted McCrabby and the Lady.

So, let’s see — not much vetting necessary so I nominate the same guy who vetted Sarah Palin — what could go wrong?

Prolix said: so I nominate the same guy who vetted Sarah Palin — what could go wrong?

😆

@5: Precisely why I maintain that Congress must vote and own this forthcoming escapade.

chat@8: Agreed wholeheartedly.

Wow! Parliament says “no!”. Even worse than deja vu all over again – now they won;t even start.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/british-parliament-syria-vote_n_3839067.html

chat: Is the game tonight Sants/Fins on NFL or where?

It;s on CBS. ESPN is college tonight – NC vs SC, then Ole Miss vs Vandy/

Okay thanks. Let me check local guide to see if they are showing it.

*%^$^%&^!#%#% 👿

They are showing Jags/Falcons here on an indy station. CBS here has the regular lineup. 😦

Hi, Chat, Fredster, and everyone. I am indeed incensed and scared about Syria. That said, I feel a need to vent and maybe ask for some guidance as I seem to have been put out on the ice floe. I’ve been off the blog for a while because both computers broke at once.

Yes, I have reached the ripe old age of 65 and am now on medicare. If anybody can figure out the gobbledygook in the handbook and tell me WTF the Part B deductible is, I’d appreciate it. Oh, and I am literally lying on an ice pack because my back sprain has acted up. But even that is not the real problem.

Since my marriage thirty years ago, and my husband’s death twenty years ago, I’ve been covered by Massachusetts Blue Cross, which is about as good as you can get for a health insurance company. The coverage is through a major corporation which I will leave nameless at the moment. So when I called last spring to ask about transitioning to medicare, and the human resources person said they’d send out a packet in May and it was the same deductible, I didn’t think to ask much more.

The packet arrived in mid May and I should have been suspicious but I was just going through a family death and so I just filled out the forms and sent it back. Then I dragged myself over to social security to sign up for Medicare. Done, i thought. Not so bad.

In July the tidal wave hit. I sent in a bunch of prescriptions to Medco. Good thing I looked at my online balance because there was nearly $300. deducted from my checking account a week later. That’s when I started making phone calls.

That’s when I discovered I had been put out on the ice floe. This wonder corporation, which loves to run family friendly tv ads, had dropped Blue Cross for its pensioners and gone shopping through a wholesale insurance broker for a minimal supplemental medicare policy from a cut rate underwriter nobody in this state even recognizes. It’s not even on the medicare list of suggested supplemental policies in the handbook.

They had enrolled us in Part D with no donut hole coverage. And they had bundled the Part D enrollment with the Medicare Supplemental Coverage, and raised the prescription deductible from $50 to $250.

Many phone calls later and conversations with friends and Elder Services, I’ve found out that this is the new world order for corporations:

Dump the pensioners into the cheapest policy you can get. Let the buyer beware. The nice lady from elder services told me today this is a particularly common tactic used against surviving spouses. If that’s the case, I’m pretty sure it’s discrimination, so I’m not naming the company. Their legal department will be hearing from me soon.

I’m in the cohort which doesn’t get social security until age 66, and I am self employed so this is not a good thing because I am hesitant to take on a supplemental policy which has a monthly payment in addition to the monthly payment to medicare. Oh, and I just heard of another case where this happened to a person in a different company who retired.

Warn all your friends. If you are approaching medicare and have been covered by a corporate policy, be very careful and question them aggressively. Question them like a hostile witness if you are a surviving spouse.
Apologies for the bad typing from lying down here. I will probably be better off with even the cheapest Blue Cross policy than what this Fortune 1000 corporation is offering. Welcome to the New Old Age.

@10 Well, at least Parliament convened and voted. More than we can say for our congresscritters. You can bet your sweet bippy they’d show up on Labor Day weekend for an antiabortion bill.

No one offers donut hole coverage. I turn 65 in November but have been n Medicare since 2002. The part B deductible is something like $190, plus 20% of the UCR. I plan to acquire the AARP plan F which picks up all part D deductibles and copays for about $250/month. I will have to do some major cutbacks to swing it, but it’s the best that I have found. Thus far I habe not needed Er or hospital care, but its a matter of time. Part D, AARP has a decent plan for $41 per month, and when I hit the donut hole I buy my meds from Canada. All of my generics I buy at Sam’s, for no more than $12/month so there’s no point going through the D plan.

A couple of things Mary Luke: you may want to look at some of the medicare advantage plans that are offered up there. They are like an HMO. One word of caution: Had a friend whose mother was in the hospital and they wanted to discharge her to a rehab n.h. and they found out her Viva plan covered less time there than traditional medicare.

I have an issue with the PCIP plan prescription coverage because due to a mixup by my doc they don’t cover Nexium or omeprazole for me for daily use. So like Chat, I order that from Canada and then get my limited amount also from Medco/Express Scripts.

This also may help:

http://tinyurl.com/onhcx9j

@18 Aaahhh, Chat, I knew you’d know. It sounds like the AARP plan is pretty similar to our BlueCross MA. Lordy, I hate to give Mittens any credit, but they did do a pretty good job on our health care in MA. Probably because big medical centers are so much a part of our economy here. I suspect that’s why the corporations began doing this craziness of going to out of state brokers and wholesalers. Probably an attempt to elude the demands of the Massachusetts Healthcare statute. I’m not even sure if it’s legal.

I really cannot take the concept of national health care in this country seriously anymore. Obama is already a lameduck president. The only thing that’s going to change the status quo is enough people going out of the country for meds and care, and enough people boycotting insurers or finding a way around it.

@19 Thank you Fredster. Yup, that’s how they screwed me on the Nexium. I’d probably have been better off buying OTC prilosec.

We do have advantage plans here. There are several levels of Blue Cross, so I will have to spend a day in the library and run all the numbers and figure out what I can afford and what I really need. I already considered buying meds from Canada. I’m just not sure who is reliable.

The problem with the Advantage plans is that you still have the same part B copays, they just put a $4500 ceiling on them which would be easy enough to rack up in any given hospitalization. The AARP gap insurance will cost $3000 per year and is tax deductible with other medical expenses.
It’s a crapshoot.

I’d probably have been better off buying OTC prilosec.

Before I got the PCIP insurance I was buying the OTC prilosec and that’s what I told my doc the 1st time I saw him. What he didn’t ask nor I volunteer was that I was taking *two* of the 20mg caps. The pharmacist told me if one wasn’t helping it to take two because that was the prescription dose. When we had to request the coverage review, the ins. zoomed in on that and said “nope you don’t need it because you said your symptoms were relieved with the OTC stuff. Grrr…

I’ll probably never get past that statement in my “permanent record” until I start with a new doctor when I move. So, the doc wrote me out a script for nexium and put substitution allowed and I get generic Nexium from Canada since the patent is off of it up there. Can’t use my insurance benefits but what the heck.

Mary Luke, this company is straight up. I;ve used them for years and sent Fredster to them as well. Check their prices for generc Nexium: http://www.candrugstore.com/Prescription.aspx

@chat: i wasn’t endorsing those Advantage plans at all, but was just putting it out there.

Mary Luke: http://www.candrugstore.com/

Hahaha! We both did that at about the same time. Yep, they are legit.

“McCain and Lady Lindsey and their vetting strategy — give me a fainting couch and an Ecstasy prescription.”

I know nobody here is likely a homophobe–but as a person with a gay within the intimate family circle, to me the phrase ‘Lady Lindsey’ smacks a bit of using ‘gayness’ as humor. ‘T’aint funny, McGee (Fibber, that was). And, yes, out of date, too.

Sorry, Fredster, I did not mean ti imply that. I did a lot of research prior to agreeing to reach way down in my jeans and come up with that $254, and the ADvantage plans that I found had all the same copays as B, and drugs with a $15 copay that I can buy at Sam’s or Costco for $4.

chat@28: I didn’t take it any particular way, but like I said, I just wanted to point it out.

Molly, I’ve referred to Graham as “Lady Lindsey” myself and I am a gay man. I really have no respect for him.

Fredster, I could not help but be aware of that–but do you not think, just maybe, that using that terminology may imply ‘no respect for’ gays In general? It may be the equivalent of a black man calling a friend a ‘n****,’ but either usage sounds a bit off to me.

molly@30: your comment went into spam because of one word you used. I had to edit it to let the comment out.

While i respect your opinion and I can’t speak for anyone else, I don’t see it that way. Prolix did not use the terms fag or queer in his post and I have used terms or phrases like “miss thing” to refer to some gay men I’ve known. And Lordy knows I’ve used the fainting couch and “the vapors” in a description of myself at times.

i apologize for not seeing earlier that your comment got caught in spam.

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