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Sit back, relax"this won't take too long

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Amongst the many insults the airline industry has imposed on its customers, none is more annoying than the flight schedule. After considering actual flying time plus pull-back, take-off, landing and parking times the airlines add another 30 to 45 minute buffer. This distortion is supported and regulated by the FAA. A quarter (25%) of flights in April were late.  The Department of Transportation defines "late" by granting an additional 15 minutes of what is on the schedule that already has the additional 30 minutes in it.

Deadlines are an integral part of everyday life and commerce. Retail stores have perfected the deadline driven sale -- none more so than with time restricted online specials. My local supermarket runs specials for a few hours on Thursdays only. The infomercial's mantra "Call now"" built and entire industry.
 
As an executive who has expertise in finance, administration and operations, I find deadlines a vital tool in effective management. There's something equalizing about a deadline. Even when it's arbitrary, as long as it applies to everybody the same, it's hard to get upset about one. Who likes the April 15 deadline? At least it applies without discrimination.
 
Government establishes deadlines with ease but it seems to be less able to honor them.

"The California Constitution says flat-out that "The Legislature shall pass the budget bill by midnight on June 15.' Yet, the lawmakers haven't completed their budget work on time since 1986." - LATimes

Californians, annoyed with the deadline passing each year for 25 years, took matters into their own hands. An initiative passed that takes away legislator salary and per diem for every day that there isn't a budget. Next week's deadline hovers and the discussion in Sacramento has been about the fact that a budget was passed in March (albeit some $14 billion out of balance, another violation of the State's Constitution) so therefore some legislators don't think the penalty should kick in since they technically passed a budget. State Controller John Chiang said last week that he would dock their pay per the statute.

Congress, hardly the role model of punctuality, last week voted to rebuke President Obama for missing a deadline. The War Powers Resolution 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, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress in 1973, overriding President's Nixon's veto.

The Resolution provides the President flexibility in military matters. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the sole responsibility to declare war, so a Resolution that transfers that power to another branch of government on its face seems to be unconstitutional. Every President since has embraced it and relied on the Act which has never been tested with the Judicial branch.
 
March 19, 2011 U.S. armed forces engaged in "Operation Freedom Falcon in" Libya as part of a U.N. resolution. By May 20, 2011 the President should have asked Congress for an authorization of the use of force or a declaration of war. Instead, President Obama notified Congress that no authorization was needed since the US leadership was transferred to NATO. (I've never been great at geography, but Libya doesn't seem to be in the North Atlantic, so I'm not sure why NATO got this responsibility.) On June 3 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rebuke President Obama for maintaining an American presence in the NATO operations in Libya, which violates of the War Powers Resolution.

The founders intended for there to be a tension between the Legislative and Executive branches. Congress holds the purse strings and the President commands the troops. Any military action can't exist without the consent of both branches. The granting of Presidential authority to engage troops without Congressional approval breaks down the clear goal of the Founders.
 
If President Obama truly believes that American forces must be engaged in Libya -- why not simply get an authorization? Have our politics gotten to a point that even this isn't realizable? It's another sad example of former constitutional law professor Barack Obama unable (or unwilling) to follow the Rule of Law. More shamefully, Congress has a duty to call for a vote on the military action, or, barring that, cease funding an action that hasn't been authorized. I won't hold my breath.

The next major military deadline that the President has set is next month (July 2011) for troops to begin leaving Afghanistan. Outgoing Defense Secretary Gates has said that any reduction in force will be nominal. Republicans complain that setting a deadline gives "the enemy" strength as all they have to do is wait out the timeline. Democrats insist that troops must start coming home by a date certain. It appears that the President will wind up with a hybrid solution -- leaving most of the troops in place but pulling back a few thousand to meet his self-imposed goal. It's disingenuous at best.

Perhaps the time has come for government to do away with the charade of deadlines. So much effort goes into working around them -- whether they are budgetary or military. Governmental deadlines are really just airline flight schedules in disguise.
 
For more about author:  www.craigcoogan.com

 

Craig Coogan is a strategist, entrepreneur and commentator who examines issues with his unique perspective.
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