PG145: US Strike on Syria, Ryan Out, Zuckerberg Testifies, Cohen Raid, IG McCabe Report

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Mike and Jay open the show with a discussion of the US-led missile strike on Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure, in response to Syria’s alleged chemical attack on Syrian insurgents. Both Mike and Jay agree that the international community can’t stand by and allow anyone to use chemical weapons, and they feel the strike was justified. Mike takes issue with the way the strike happened, arguing that President Trump doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to carry out such attacks without Congressional authorization.

After that, they discuss House Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement that he would not seek reelection. Mike points out that Ryan is the 27th Republican in Congress to either resign or not seek reelection, compared to only 11 Democrats, which suggests to him that many Republicans know a ‘blue wave’ is coming. Jay doesn’t entirely buy this, arguing that many Republicans may simply be tiring of working with President Trump. Both Mike and Jay feel that Ryan has been unfairly portrayed by many in the left-wing media as an ‘evil guy who hates the poor’, though Mike points out that the right engages in this sort of thing all the time too, when they say that liberals ‘hate America’.

Next is a look at Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s nearly 10 hours of testimony before Congress. They both thing he did a good job, and that it’s unlikely any government regulation of Facebook is coming, at least not in the short term. Jay doubts whether the attempt by Russia to use Facebook to help defeat Hillary Clinton was very important. Mike agrees, but argues that the fact that a hostile foreign power was making any attempt is reason for serious concern.

Following that is discussion of the FBI raid of Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s office, including the seizure of attorney-client communications. Jay says that this is very serious, and suggests that there may be a double standard at work, with officials being more willing to authorize actions targeted at President Trump than they would be against others. Mike disputes this, saying that he’s more inclined to trust in the integrity of top FBI and Justice Department officials than he is to trust in the integrity of President Trump.

In a semi-related story, Mike and Jay talk about the Department of Justice’s Inspector General report on former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, which concluded that McCabe lied to investigators as well as to former FBI Director James Comey about a story leaked to the Wall Street Journal. They discuss President Trump’s reaction to the finding – that McCabe was under Comey’s control – and point out that that’s the exact opposite of what the report concludes. Mike point out that this IG finding puts something of a hole in the narrative of some on the left that McCabe was unfairly forced out of the FBI.

What Jay’s Reading
Guys and Dolls: The Stories of Damon Runyon.

What Mike’s Listening To
Ezra Klein talks to Sam Harris about Charles Murray.

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2 thoughts on “PG145: US Strike on Syria, Ryan Out, Zuckerberg Testifies, Cohen Raid, IG McCabe Report”

  1. Mike, I wanted to drop you a note about the discussion you had with Jay in reference to the legality of President Trump’s recent strike on Syria. I agree with you that Congress has abrogated their responsibility to act as a check and balance on the power of the executive to make war. Where I disagree is in your belief that the president must receive authorization before using force. Indeed, the power to declare war was reserved for Congress. The practical check on the power of the executive to wage war was that only Congress could authorize a military, and I believe only for two years, pending a Congressional renewal. However, once that military is authorized, the Constitution is clear: the executive is the commander in chief. This was addressed at some level by the War Powers Resolution, but even that gives the president 60 days to make war before seeking Congressional approval. Simply, the standing military, which was one of the Founders real fears, is all the authorization a president needs to command troops and send them into combat. After having read many dissenting opinions to mine, and hearing yours, and considering the differences in the need for a military force in 1789 and today, I honestly wonder if an amendment may not be necessary to return the nation to the Founder’s intent. Minimally, a national discussion should be had about whether Congress should have the sole authority to authorize foreign military actions or whether that power ought to be exercised by the executive. This is not a simple topic, and I would be interested to know your thoughts!

    1. Thanks for commenting. I understand your position on the commander-in-chief power, and plenty of experts agree with you. But there are also plenty who argue that the presidential power to initiate military action absent a congressional declaration of war is only constitutionally legitimate when it’s in response to an imminent threat. Based on what I understand of the Framer’s view of this, I find this view to be more compelling. I think what we need isn’t an amendment, but rather Congress to become a more responsible branch of government – I’m not holding my breath. ☹ -Mike

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