Shortly after that video surfaced yesterday showing the beheading of American journalist Steve Sotloff in Syria taken hostage by the Islamic militant group ISIS, Bill Nelson announced that he would be introducing a bill giving President Obama authority to to order airstrikes in Syria.
"This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” the Florida Democratic Senator said in a statement. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away, because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
That seems to be the growing sentiment, I think, amongst the establishment in Washington D.C., with Sotloff's sickening murder following James Foley's similar execution by the Islamic terrorist group last month. But is it in the best interests of the U.S. to go attacking this group in Syria and Iraq? Might we overreact, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes that ISIS wants the U.S. to do, and as we did when we ultimately invaded Iraq after the 9/11 attacks?
Let's be clear about Nelson's legislation. All it does is allow the President to go ahead and bomb Syria if he desires, without waiting or needing Congressional approval. That actually works for many members of Congress, who aren't exactly sure what we should be doing to stop this new terrorist threat, taking the responsibility out of their hands. Of course, the argument against bombing ISIS in Syria is that Obama would be aiding Bashar al-Assad, who has been implicated in war crimes. And Obama has said that repeatedly that he doesn't believe that the rebels there are capable of defeating Assad or ISIS, as Steve Coll reports in The New Yorker. Then again, some argue that you just can't attack Iraq, since ISIS is in both Iraq and Syria.
It's hard finding a consensus about what to do about this ISIS group. But one thing the mainstream media is in tune with is that President Obama isn't doing enough at this time. The Tampa Tribune's lead editorial writes this morning "Granted, it’s an incredibly complex situation," before later concluding that "we elect our presidents to make difficult decisions." Though they don't say what that decision should be.
In other news..
PInellas County Democrat Dwight Dudley is in a serious re-election contest against Republican Bill Young in his HD 68 seat. Charlie Crist is in a serious race against Rick Scott (and trailing him according to today's Times). . So the Florida Democratic Party got a two-fer yesterday, having Dudley and a St. Pete resident bash Duke Energy Florida for their various misdeeds, along with piling on Scott for getting the lion's share of the campaign cash that Duke, FP&L, TECO and other power companies are dispensing of during this campaign cycle.
Tomorrow fast food workers in Tampa will join their brethren around the country in another strike, as they push for a living wage of $15 an hour.
Most of the pundits don't think he can do it, but George Sheldon is serious in his bid to knock out Pam Bondi from her perch at the Attorney General's office. Yesterday he announced a new political action committee, to be chaired by former AG Bob Butterworth and former Department of Corrections head Walt McNeil.