While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging George W. Bush's war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by attacking Iran.
Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region - and for a propaganda blitz to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.
The propaganda blitz is well under way. Hope and pray it doesn't work. Iraq was wrong, but this is far worse.
The immediate question, however, is what, if anything, can Congress and the American people do to head off Bush's expanded war strategy.
But Bush and his neoconservative legal advisers have made clear that they see virtually no limits to Bush's "plenary" powers as Commander in Chief at a time of war. In their view, Bush is free to take military actions abroad and to waive legal and constitutional constraints at home because the United States has been deemed part of the "battlefield."
Nothing short of a direct congressional prohibition on war with Iran and a serious threat of impeachment would seem likely to give Bush more than a moment's pause. But congressional Republicans would surely obstruct such measures and Bush might well veto any law that was passed.
Still, unless Congress escalates the confrontation with the President - and does so quickly - it may be too late to stop what could become a very dangerous escalation.
To Congress, the American people, military commanders, God (a regular reader of the Brain, according to his IP), and to anybody and everybody anywhere: STOP THIS MADMAN SONOFABITCH, WHATEVER IT TAKES.