Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Yes on 3" Free concert featuring David Nail, Sept 17

This is tonight, Sept. 17th 

Map Link:

Address is  4225 Whites Creek Pike

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(update) What happened in the Metro Council 9-16-14: The another-Million- for-'Nashville' meeting.

This is a short meeting at only 40 minutes long. If you want to link to the staff analysis, agenda and my commentary follow this link.

After the Pledge and prayer, the first order of business is a recognition given to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates.  The presentation is made by Councilman Westerholm. CASA trains volunteers to speak for abused and neglected children caught in the court system and helps them find safe and permanent homes. I am a little familiar with the program. I once had a volunteer working with me at my place of employment, trying to start a support group for single mothers seeking to get child support. Unfortunately, this effort never was successful.  This same volunteer was also active in CASA and I learned from her some of the heart breaking cases in which she was involved. CASA does important work. This is a well-deserved honor.  If someone is looking for meaningful volunteer work, I think working with CASA would be very rewarding.

Confirmation of appointments to boards and commissions are all approved. All resolution on the consent agenda pass. Three resolutions listed below were not on consent:

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1215 appropriates $2,573,300 to various departments and includes $1 million to fund an economic incentive grant for the TV show Nashville. Supplemental appropriations are how equipment and repairs are paid for and how departments with cost overruns get more money. Included in this resolution is $250,000 to host the League of Cities Convention in 2015. This is the first I had heard of this.  I think this is money well spend.  It brings thousands of locally elected officials from all over the country to Nashville and lots of exhibitors that do business with cities. Nashville shows them a good time and showcases what we are doing right in our city. They will spend a lot of money while here but it also raised the profile of Nashville. 

The controversial part of this is the $1 million for Nashville. As it turns out it apparently is not controversial, at least not in the council. It passes unanimously. Nashville has been good advertising for Nashville, no doubt, but things like that are hard to measure.  Also, having the program filmed in Nashville has helped develop the film industry in this city.  However, I do not support another million to subsidize the program. Nashville has been renewed for a third season. If at this point they were to film the program elsewhere, the skylines and scene footage would still be Nashville and the title would still be Nashville. We would get the advertising benefit even it was filmed in Atlanta or Hollywood. The staff analysis says the filming of Nashville adds $40 million to the economy in spending on salaries, good, and services. In a way, this is not much different than when we pay a company to stay in Nashville or to locate to Nashville, but I don't much like that either. I think it is time to pull the plug on subsidizing 'Nashville' but the Council passes this bill without discussion.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1216  appropriates $3,959,500.00 to various other departments and it passes unanimously.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1217  authorizing the execution and delivery of an economic development incentive grant agreement between The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Music City Productions, Inc. which is the paperwork for the $1 appropriated in 1215 above and it passes unanimously.
Bills on First reading pass unanimous as is the custom. Everything on Second and Third reading pass and none of the bills are of much interest.  Almost all are rezoning bills or bills concerning acquiring or abandoning easements or letting signs protrude over a sidewalk.

Below is the meeting of the Budget and Finance committee. This provides a more detailed explanation of the bills and resolutions that spend money and councilmen ask questions. To really understand the operation of the Metro Council and how the city is spending money, one needs to watch the meetings of B&F.

Below is the Tennessean's report on this Council meeting. 

'Nashville' gets $1 million from Metro, double last year's grant
The Tennessean ‎-The Metro Council voted unanimously and without debate Tuesday for a $1 million economic development grant to the local production of ABC's “Nashville,” ..

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Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, September 18, 2014,

Liberty on the Rocks meets Thursday, September 18, 2014, 5:30-9PM,  at Mafioza's, located at 2400 8th Ave. South.

Liberty on the Rocks is a great place to meet other people, have a beer and some great food. We promote thoughtful and rational discussion on a wide range of topics.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tennessee Libertarians Sue To Change Party Recognition Laws

This video has been removed because it is one of those that start automatically, and I find those very annoying. You can follow the link to view the video. I wish the Libertarian Party well in this effort to secure ballot access. Rod

 By Todd Walker.  Sep 15, 2014 NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive ballot access rules in the country. In a lawsuit filed last month, the party claims Tennessee laws violate its members' constitutional rights to free speech, association and equal protection. (link)

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Education Summit could offer taste of Common Core fight, Sept 18

Education Summit could offer taste of Common Core fight

Gov. Bill Haslam has billed a special-called Education Summit next week as a wide-ranging review of the “past, present and future” of Tennessee’s public schools.
Some, though, are looking squarely at Common Core....Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell are co-hosts for the summit, set for Sept. 18 at Nashville's downtown Sheraton Hotel.... “Let’s give them all an ear full,” reads a flier from a group that calls itself Tennessee Against Common Core, which plans to stage the rally.

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TNGOP Chairman: Gordon Ball Will Be One More Vote for Barack Obama's Agenda

State Republican Party launches new web ad and new site,, to expose Gordon Ball's support for Barack Obama's liberal agenda

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—President Barack Obama has his sights set on Tennessee this fall.
While Tennessee has increasingly become a Republican stronghold, Washington Democrats believe they have an opening to gain a foothold in the Volunteer State with the November 4th election. In the last few months, news reports have surfaced that reveal a secretive liberal agenda targeting Tennessee. Whether it is with a former OFA staffer running for Congress or the funding of a liberal strategist for a pro-abortion campaign against Amendment One, it’s clear Democrats believe Tennessee can be turned into a battleground.
And, at the top of the ticket, will be a man who would be one more vote for Barack Obama's harmful agenda -- Gordon Ball. Mr. Ball, a liberal personal injury lawyer from Knoxville, will only serve to empower Obama and strengthen Washington’s stranglehold on our economy.
"Ball's thin record and slick plan to fool voters should be alarming to Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Like many Democrats in Tennessee—and every personal injury lawyer I’ve come across—Ball will try to cloak himself with conservative rhetoric in order to win. But the reality is: He'll be one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda. His commitment to ObamaCare and the fact he would help President Obama impose more job-destroying taxes and regulations, all while eroding our Second Amendment rights and the rights of the unborn, proves he wouldn’t be a bluedog—he’d be Obama’s lapdog in the Senate.”
To counter the efforts of the Tennessee Democratic Party and Gordon Ball’s own self-financed public image campaign, the Tennessee Republican Party today announces the creation of a new website designed to be a strategic resource center for voters and journalists alike. The site,, will reveal the truth about Gordon Ball’s record and explore his support for the liberal Obama agenda.
Additionally, the TNGOP released a :30 web advertisement that can be seen by clicking here, that highlights Gordon Ball's campaign to be one more reliable vote for Barack Obama's reckless agenda in Washington.
Devaney added, “Tennessee has been at the forefront in the conservative movement. We’ve had--and continue to have--outstanding leaders who look for solutions and reflect the values of our citizens. This fall, we have the chance to return one of those leaders, Senator Lamar Alexander, back to the Senate to defend us from President Obama. The last thing voters should do is be tricked by Gordon Ball’s campaign--an effort that promises to be as slick and contrived as the candidate himself.”

The liberal agenda in Tennessee will take several forms this fall, including:
• The Tennessee Democratic Party is spending a significant amount of money to bring in a consultant to fight against Amendment One, a pro-life constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall, and advise Democratic candidates.
• In the Fourth Congressional District, Democrats are backing a candidate who has "worn the Obama stripes as...regional field organizer for Organizing for Action" and has nearly $100,000 cash on hand.

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Mark Winslow tells me, the election is over ...Find something else to bitch about.

Mark Winslow
To Me 
Sep 4 

Actually it's now Judge Blackburn. 
The election is over and the people of my district said clearly they are satisfied with my work on their behalf. Find something else to bitch about. 

Mark Winslow 
Tennessee Republican Party 
State Executive Committee District 19 

To Mark Winslow 
Today at 10:33 AM 

Mark, I just now found your email. 
The election may be over and you won but that still does not make what you did right. I do not see how in good conscience you could work to elect a Democrat and defeat a Republican and still serve on the Republican Party Executive Committee. Please do the honorable thing and resign your position with the Party. 

Rod Williams 
A Disgruntled Republican 
home 292-8900, cell 509-3900, work 850-3453 
Please visit my blog:

In case you do not know what this is about, see below.

Mark Winslow, member of the Republican Party SEC, is still working for Democrat Judge-elect Melissa Blackburn.

Mark Winslow, the  member of the Republican
Party State Executive Committee who works
to defeat Republicans and elect Democrats.
Remember Mark Winslow?  He is the member of the Republican Party State Executive Committee who worked to defeat a Republican candidate and elect a Democrat to the office of judge in Davidson County. He first worked to help Melissa Blackburn win her Democrat nomination.  When he came under criticism for working for a Democrat, he claimed that he was only working for her during the primary and would not be doing so in the General Election.  He claimed he was doing so only because it was required by his employer, SmithWaterhouse Strategies.  We know that Winslow continued working for Blackburn because he was still seen at events with her and putting up yard signs on her behalf during the General Election.  He helped Blackburn beat our Republican candidate, Marian Cheadle Fordice for that office. Our candidate had much more experience in the field of mental health law and had a real heart for the job.

Winslow's candidacy to run again for a seat on the State Executive Committee was challenged on the basis that he was campaigning for a Democrat. Unfortunately, Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Party and a person up until that point that I had always respected, failed to rule Winslow as ineligible to run for that seat. Winslow ran and was reelected.

Serving on the Republican Executive Committee gives one access to Republican strategy and data and puts one in the position to vote on how much, if any, funds will be given to Republican candidates.  I do not see how anyone cannot see that having a member of the Republican SEC campaigning to elect a Democrat and defeat a Republican, is not a conflict of interest.

I do not see how Mark Winslow in good conscience could work to defeat a Republican and elect a Democrat and still serve on the SEC.  A person of character would have resigned his position with his employer or would have resigned his position on the Republican State Executive Committee. One cannot serve two masters.

I had heard a few weeks ago that Winslow was working for Judge-elect Melissa Blackburn, but wanted to wait until it was confirmed to bring it up. Below is a news paper story that confirms he is still working for Blackburn.
Two fired from Davidson Mental Health Court 
by Brian Haas, The Tennessean, September 3, 2014- Newly elected General Sessions Judge Melissa Blackburn is quickly making her mark as the head of Davidson County’s Mental Health Court.
Two weeks ago, she forced all five court employees to resign and reapply for their jobs. On Tuesday, she told two of them they would not be re-hired. .....
Blackburn’s transition into office included an Aug. 14 email sent to all Mental Health Court employees forcing them to resign by the following day, with a resignation date of Sept. 1. (link)
“All employees, if you wish, shall be eligible to reapply for positions with the court as part of Judge-Elect Blackburn’s evaluation of performance, efficiency and staff cohesion,” read the note, penned by Mark Winslow of SmithWaterhouse Strategies, a political consulting firm. (link)
I am so disgusted by this whole episode that I am at a loss for words. One thing I am not going to do; I am not going to give any money to the Tennessee Republican Party as long as Winslow is serving on the State Executive Committee.  I will not be attending the Statesman's Dinner or responding to party solicitations for contribution. I think only real Republicans should be sitting on the Executive Committee, not phoney Republicans who are working to defeat Republicans and elect Democrats. I don't know, but I would suspect that there is a way the Executive Committee could refuse to seat a member or remove one. They should.  If this is the kind of Republican Party we have, that can allow a political mercenary-for-hire to have a seat on the Executive Committee, then I want no part of that Party.

I guess there is no point in beating a dead horse, but one more piece of evidence that Mark Wislow is a Democrat in Republican clothing, he picked up a qualifying petition for Gary Blackburn to run for the male seat for District 21 of the Democrat Party. Why would a State Executive Committee member of the Republican Party pick up the qualifying petition for someone seeking a seat on the Executive Committee of the other party?  See the below record.
To learn much more about Mark Winslow, follow this link.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Herbert Slatery III, Haslam’s chief of staff, picked as AG

Herbert Slatery III, Haslam’s chief of staff, picked as AG
 Slatery, 62, is set to become the first Republican attorney general in Tennessee since Reconstruction when he takes over for Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr., who sought to keep his job.

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Ashley Judd says she was a victim of Sexual Harassment in Hollywood

Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd, the Hollywood actress and liberal activist who last year was threatening to move from Kentucky to Tennessee to run against Lamar Alexander and who then considered running against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and who occasionally makes forays into Tennessee to support liberals such she did when she attended a fund raiser for Jeff Yarbro, recently sounded off about being a victim of sexual harassment and the misogyny she's encountered in Hollywood.

According to the Huffington Post: "She also recounted numerous times she received "sexually charged" comments from producers and fell victim to "egregious sexual harassment" from a "famous movie mogul." Judd told Virtel that, despite being a well-versed women's studies minor, it wasn't until years later when her and other actors traded similar stories of this man's inappropriate behavior that she realized it was sexual harassment."

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What's on the Council Agenda for Sept. 16th: Another $1 million for the Nashville soap opera.

Council meetings are less boring if you know what the Council is voting on. To get your own copy of the agenda and analysis follow the links.

There are four appointments to boards and commissions, but none are to the controversial and troubled commissions.

There are 14 resolutions on the agenda. At this time all, of them are on the consent agenda, which means if they pass the committee to which they are assigned unanimously and no one object they stay on consent and will all be taken together and passed by a single vote instead of being considered individually.

 Below are the ones of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1215 appropriates $2,573,300 to various departments and includes $1 million to fund an economic incentive grant for the TV show Nashville. Supplemental appropriations are not unusual. That is how equipment and repairs are paid for and how departments with cost overruns get more money. There is a system in place to justify the request to the Department of Finance before the request ever gets to Metro Council. This is where it is important to have good people on the Budget and Finance Committee who can question expenditures if something looks out of line or unusual.

The controversial part of this is the $1 million for Nashville. Nashville has been good advertising for Nashville, no doubt, but things like that are hard to measure.  Also, having the program filmed in Nashville has helped develop the film industry in this city.  However, I do not support another million to subsidize the program. Nashville has been renewed for a third season. If at this point they were to film the program elsewhere, the skylines and scene footage would still be Nashville and the title would still be Nashville. We would get the advertising benefit even it was filmed in Atlanta or Hollywood. The staff analysis says the filming of Nashville adds $40 million to the economy in spending on salaries, good, and services. In a way, this is not much different than when we pay a company to stay in Nashville or to locate in Nashville, but I don't much like that either. I think it is time to pull the plug.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1216  appropriates $3,959,500.00 to various other departments. There is nothing unusual about this. I hope someone in B&F however takes a hard look at it.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1217  authorizing the execution and delivery of an economic development incentive grant agreement between The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Music City Productions, Inc. I assume this is the paperwork for the $1 appropriated in 1215 above.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1221 appropriates $7000 to match $7000 in a State arts grant to fund 12 big band dances in Centennial Park. I use to attend these dances with my wife Louella before she became too ill and I enjoyed them a lot.  I wonder however, why should they be subsidized? Other music events are sponsored by advertisers or they charge admission. However, we subsidize golf and public art and other recreation and $7000 is not a lot of money. I would not vote against it but do wonder what is the logic in funding some music and not other. 
There are only two bills on First Reading.

There are eleven bills on Second Reading and 17 bills on Third Reading and none of them are of interest. Most of them are zoning bills or bills accepting easements or abandoning easements and they would interest no one but the property owners or nearby neighbors. 

There are two non-controversial memorializing resolutions.

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Davidson County Young Republicans to meet Thursday 9-18

The Davidson County Young Republicans are having their monthly meeting at Jonathan's in Green Hills at 6 p.m. this Thursday (9/18). 

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In Nashville, taxpayers pay for ‘art’ few people want to look at

By Chris Butler, Tennessee Watchdog, NASHVILLE — Let’s try making sense of this, shall we? Nashville officials offer subsidized housing to local artists on the pretense it’s the only way to keep artisans in the city. They live in the Ryman Lofts, in one of Nashville’s most expensive areas downtown. These same city officials have given away nearly $1.5 million in taxpayer money so out-of-state artists can create abstract art that only hard-core art connoisseurs may appreciate.

Attention Nashville City Hall: We have local resources for this kind of thing.

And why is it the taxpayers’ job to fund any of this, especially art?

Photo by Chris Butler
Photo by Chris Butler
GHOST BALLET: This structure, in front of Nashville’s LP Field,
 reportedly cost taxpayers $340,600.
Never mind government officials only fund this art because, when regular people have a choice, they would never in their right minds pay to look at such things.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported, Nashville’s Metro Art Commission has forced taxpayers to pay all this money for the following abstract sculptures:
Let’s face it, folks, only a few consider this “art.” While the rest of us go to Titans games, Comic Con and the latest blockbuster movies, these “connoisseurs” hold their noses, sneer at the rest of us and believe it’s their job to force their art down our throats.

They do this because they think they know what’s best for us common folk. And the only way they can make that happen is with taxpayer money.

Let’s address another problem. You’re on vacation in Savannah, Ga., or perhaps New Orleans.
You want to sample the local culture and absorb it before you head home. Obviously, local culture includes art. Wouldn’t you rather take in art that came from a local as opposed to someone on the other end of the continent?

Photo courtesy Nashville Metro Arts Commission
Photo courtesy Nashville Metro Arts Commission
STUCK WITH THE STICKS?: An artists’ rendering of the sticks that will be placed in downtown Nashville, at taxpayer expense, at a cost of $750,000. While it doesn’t address the problem of government paying for art in the first place, here’s a pragmatic approach Nashville officials probably never considered. The only public art Nashville officials pay for would come from the residents of the Ryman Lofts. They only live there as long as they create that art for free.
Granted, from the free market point of view it’s still an undesirable option — Government has no place whatsoever subsidizing art.  Why does the city of Nashville even have a Metro Arts Commission?  But this option would save Nashville taxpayers some money and at least give them, as well as tourists, locally produced art.  We’re taxpayers, and our views merit respect. It’s nothing personal, we just want to save some money.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

(Update) Register calls for school shake-up, advocates choice at School Board meeting of 9/9/14.

The School Board produces great agendas including most of the handouts that the Board gets. To view your own copy of this 35-page agenda follow this link. This meeting is a little less than 2 hours long.

The first order of business is electing the new chair and vice chair. Dr. Gentry is elected Chair, the other candidate being Jill Speering. Elissa Kim is elected Vice Chair in an uncontested election.

The Director's Report where Dr. Register presents his bold plan for improving Nashville's "priority Schools" starts at time stamp 59:31 in the video. Priority Schools are failing schools that are under threat of being taken over by the State if they do not improve. Priority Schools are schools that rank in the bottom 5% of all Tennessee public schools. Register analyzes the state report pointing out the good and the bad in the report. He calls for a goal of eliminating all priority schools in Nashville within the next three years. There is a period of Q and A with the board. The discussion ends at time stamp 1:46:09.

He says we must have three strategies to turn around failing schools: Great leaders, great teachers, and innovation and collaboration. He says to get great teachers in priority schools we need to consider incentives to attract teachers to the those schools.  He calls for developing transition and conversion strategies and an East Nashville Corridor Strategy which would make the East Nashville corridor an all-choice zone where parents could sent their child to any school of their choice and where some schools are closed or consolidated. We cannot continue business as usual, he says.

One of the highlights of this meeting is comments by Elissa Kim. She is so enthusiastic and animated that it is contagious. She says that one school had an incredible 33 points of academic growth this year and that this should chance one's conception of what is possible. She says Cameron went from a failing school to an award school. See 1:26:13 - 1:30:02.

Resistance to the plan is voiced by Amy Fogge and Will Pinkston.

In my view, the plan laid out by Register is exactly the right course of action. Unfortunately it appears some on the board would rather provide excuses for why schools fail rather than change the way we do things.

To read the Tennessean article reporting on this meeting see: Jesse Register calls for swift shake-up at struggling schoolsThe schools most vocal supporter of School Choice, Elissa Kim, praised the plan while anti-choice zealot Amy Frogge and her two allies, Will Pinkston and Jill Speering, were critical.

Since this meeting, Dr. Register's plan has created a lot of discussion. Below are other recent news articles and editorials generated by Register's proposal.

Metro Schools Director Jesse Register answers questions from The Tennessean

Register Calls for Closing, Chartering, Mandating Choice for East Nashville schools

An editorial by Mayor Karl Dean: 'All hands on deck' only way to transform schools

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Senator Corker: I think it's incredibly poor judgment by the administration...not to seek aggressively and explicitly an authorization for the use of military force.

Bob Corker
Senator Bob Corker who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement following President Obama’s address to the nation regarding the U.S. strategy against the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS):
While much of the wording in the president’s speech was good, the substance of how we accomplish what he laid out is what matters. I believe the president is exercising poor judgment by not explicitly seeking an authorization from Congress where consensus can be reached around a substantive plan of action and support can be built for an operation that he has described will take several years.
I agree with Senator Corker. I basically liked what President Obama had to say. I wish he would have had a little more fire in the belly.  I liked VP Biden's "Gates of Hell" speech better.  I wish Obama would have said we are at war with ISIS and those who share the philosophy of radical Islam.  I did not like that he said ISIS was neither Islamic or a state.  ISIS may be a perversion of Islam, but obviously it is Islamic. While most of the worlds 1.6 million Muslims do not advocate a violent take over of the world and killing apostates and imposing Sharia law, a significant minority do.  Saying ISIS is not Islamic is on the same par as are those who claim Islam is not even a religion.

So, while I quibble with some of Obama's delivery and wording, I don't basically disagree with what he had to say.  I just wish I could believe him.  Remember the redline?  Also, a couple days before his speech he said we had no strategy. Even if that is true, why would he say it?  That does not inspire confidence. And, he refuses to use the word "war," but at least he has overcome his reluctance to use the word "terrorism." Obama is just not a believable leader. He appears detached, weak, unreliable, and indecisive.  He is not someone you would want to follow into battle.  I don't think he can rally allies or the American people.

Will his plan work?  I don't know. What should we do. I don't know that either?  I have read a lot about the situation since the speech and have watched numerous talk shows, shows with shouting, interrupting loud mouths and shows on CSPAN with academics from think tanks, and I don't think anyone knows what we should do. Any coalition of opponents of ISIS contains elements that might be as bad as ISIS if they had the chance. Some of those who want to defeat ISIS are loyal to Iran. I wonder if there are any "good guys" in that conflict. It looks like the best bet is to support the Free Syrian Army, but they contain elements that are radical.  If they are defeated, any armament we give them would fall into the hands of ISIS or some other radical group.

I agree with those who are war weary and do not want to see large number of boots on the ground. On the other hand, I disagree with those isolationist of the left and the right who say we should withdraw and mind our own affairs.  This is our war.  ISIS has said they are at war with us.  We have been fortunate that we have not had another major terrorist attack since 9-11 but if we give the radicals Islamist a safe haven to plan and launch their next attack we may be hit even harder next time.  Also, if the radical Islamist are not defeated their movement may grow and other countries may fall victim to the same ideology, if not a group flying the ISIS flag. We cannot withdraw to fortress America. If we do go in and defeat ISIS however, then what? Are we going to hang around and nation-build for the next 20 years? And if we do not, will another conflict break out with a new radical Islamic group threatening to take over as  soon as we leave? I don't know, but I don't think anyone knows.

I do agree with those who have said we pulled out of Iraq too early and who say we should have left a much larger residual force in Iraq. I also agree with those who say we should never have invaded Iraq in the first place. Both of those things did happen however, and now we must move forward and deal with the situation at hand.  There are those who want a much larger commitment of troops now. I am not with them.  I say, let us see if this measured approach proposed by Obama works.  Maybe it will or maybe he will keep the lid on and kick the can down the road until the next President can deal with it.  Maybe, his plan will not be working and he will gradually increase advisors and trainers and intelligence officers until we are again drawn into a situation like Iraq was before we began withdrawing. I am not convinced this is the right strategy, but I don't see any alternative I like any better.

So, given the Presidents plan is the only plan on the table, does he need Congressional authority to act. Technically, probably not. I know there are some who believe the President does not have the authority to commit troops without a declaration of war. I don't think history bears that out. We fought the American Indian wars, the Barbary pirates and numerous conflicts since without a declaration of war. Since the founding of our nation we have had over 100 military conflicts and only five declarations of war. However, in many conflicts we have had Congressional authority to commit forces. As Commander in Chief, the President can commit troops without a declaration of war. The War Powers Act of 1973  requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. If that is not given, then the President has 30 days to withdraw the troops.

President Obama has said he will not request Congressional authority. He claims he already has it  based on the thirteen-year-old 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force act as authority for the military action. That act was to allow President George W. Bush to go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban who provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda. The act was written in broad language  to allow the executive branch to go after anyone associated with the 9/11 attack. That act was not only used to justify going to war in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime, but also to attack Al Qaeda and “associated groups” in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.  On the basis that ISIS is group that was formerly part of Al Qaeda, the President says that gives him the authority he needs. This is ironic.  President Obama has been critical of that 2001 AUAF act and as late as last year said he wanted the act repealed.

So, while the President does not necessarily require a new congressional authority, I think he would be wise to seek it. I guess mindful of the next election, he wants to avoid putting Democrat Senators on the line. Already having to defend Obamacare, their reelection may be more difficult if they have to defend an authorization of military force in Syria.  I don't think either Republican or Democrats want to have to take a stand. Voting for or against a Presidential request for authority to commit forces could hurt the election chances of incumbent Republicans or Democrats. It could cut both ways.  However, I think it is the right thing to do. I want a debate and I want members of Congress to take a stand. There needs to be some American buy-in to this course of action and the way we show that in our Representative democracy is for the Congress to speak. Before America commits forces, Congress should vote on it.

Senator Corker told CBS news on Thursday the President should request Congressional authority to use forces. "Triple underline -- I think it's incredibly poor judgment by the administration...not to seek aggressively and explicitly an authorization for the use of military force," in Iraq and Syria, he said. "Things are going to go wrong, let's face it. I mean, any time there's kinetic activity, problems occur. And I just think the administration would be so much wiser to get that authorization and buy-in from Congress on the front end, instead of having, over time, 535 Monday-morning quarterbacks."

I think Corker is exactly right. There is a lot of criticism now of the presidents plan. There are some who think we ought to do much more and some who think we should do nothing.  This engagement in a new war should not be up to the discretion of one man.  President Obama should ask for authority and Congress needs to debate the issue and either give the President the authority he ask for or not give him the authority and take the blame for doing nothing.

For more information and source of quotes, follow this link, and this link.
Follow this link to view Vice President Joe Biden's Gates of Hell speech.
Follow this link to view President Obama's speech to the Nation regarding ISIS.
Follow this link for more on President Obama's use of the 2001 AUAF act to justify action in Syria.

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