So Iranians are supposedly savvy enough to build a nuke and keep it secret, but not to have Schoolhouse Rock-level understanding of US gov?
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) March 9, 2015
Low bar, admittedly — there are house plants could spot the average GOP Senator IQ points. Since I first heard about Tom Cotton’s band of would-be saboteurs via Professor Drezner’s twitter feed, it seems only fair I should share his long-form thoughts from the Washington Post. “Congress tries to go beyond trolling on foreign policy. It won’t work.”
… Now, on the one hand, I get what Senate Republicans are trying to do here. They don’t like the contours of the deal that’s being negotiated, and they really don’t like Barack Obama’s enthusiasm for bypassing a truculent Congress via executive actions on Iran. So if the Senate GOP can signal to Iranians that an executive agreement isn’t that much of a credible commitment device, maybe they can scuttle a deal they dislike with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns. It’s certainly a better gambit than, say, this ad.
That said, there are still a few confusing aspects about this. First, there’s the question of the law. I don’t think an open letter from members of the legislative branch quite rises to Logan Act violations, but if there’s ever a trolling amendment to the Logan Act, this would qualify…
Second, the optics of what the senators are doing doesn’t look good. Essentially, GOP hardliners in the Senate are asking their counterpart hardliners in Tehran to scuttle a deal that neither of them like very much. Which leads one to wonder: how exactly would the GOP caucus in the Senate react if the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listened to them?…
But here’s the thing — path dependence is a powerful force in foreign policy. If — still a big if — Obama successfully negotiates a deal in the spring, that deal will have until January 2017 to marinate before the next president has the opportunity to scuttle the executive agreement. If Iran acts in a dodgy fashion, that’s one thing. If, however, they honor the terms as well as they’ve honored the interim deal, then the next president will be trying to sabotage an agreement that tamped down a major stressor in the region…
Given that a deal with Iran is politically popular now, a successful deal will be even more politically popular two years from now. It’s certainly possible that a GOP president in 2017 could scuttle such a deal — but I’m dubious that it would actually happen…
On the other hand, while they may not have the capability to (further) fvck up foreign policy, this publicity stunt doesn’t speak well of the modern Republican party:
.@jfpgaffney @48thAve It's telling to compare Reagan & GOP's covert efforts to influence Iran hostage talks with this overt, public move.
— Billmon (@billmon1) March 9, 2015
.@jfpgaffney @48thAve These guys WANT to be seen undercutting Obama in sensitive diplomatic negotiations. They expect to be rewarded for it.
— Billmon (@billmon1) March 9, 2015
” The Iranians are smarter than the Republicans…”
…as are my phone, my car, my rice cooker, my spider plant, and the fly in my bedroom.
Most molluscs are smarter. Except for whelks – those fuckers are D.U.M.B.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg to appear in new Legos movie.
oy. what is it about the left that they can’t seem to get a grip on the pathological liar aspect of virtually every member of today’s republican party – it IS who they are! Obviously their fantasy republican POTUS of 2016 will lie his ass off to manufacture a pretext for scuttling any deal signed by obama.
I just thought of something about the Oklahoma scandal. Were those guys ( and I saw at least one girl) dumb enough to record themselves or was there surveillance video on the bus? If the latter, is that common these days?
The difference between diplomatic strategy with an eye on the long-term versus cowboy knee-jerkism with an eye on the next news cycle has rarely been made more stark.
@Little Boots: One can’t be angry with the whelks. They just aren’t all that bright.
Something has to make the abalone look sage in comparison.
@Little Boots: @NotMax: Fine. If provoked, I bite.
@efgoldman: And you are just a bastard, but it was funny.
fine, I was classier, but that is not horrible.
love the omnes, always love the omnes.
he can be so annoying, but damn, he can be so fun.
@Little Boots: Not a fan of Manny Pacquiao
Posted on last thread, but fits better here.
Welp…VP BIden is PISSED!!
Biden issued a statement on the 47 GOP Senators who wrote the letters to Iran.
fine, what are you are a fan of?
Look who’s supporting Tom Cotton’s effort to sabotage peace.
I’m Shocked! I’m Shocked!
The most bullcrap per square inch I ever was forced to pack onto a page occurred when assigned by an ad agency to write a short presentation for the sponsor as to why Sanka should continue advertising on the Lawrence Welk program once it switched to all rerun syndication.
Steer clear of seafood from dirty water.
@Little Boots: Here. Happy now?
Problem is, they will get rewarded for their jackass behavior. By their constituents. Bleah.
yeah, oh damn I love you.
he’s a judge?
well that’s handy.
@Little Boots: I left a law school course on Corporate Finance early (damned evening courses) to see the band on this tour.
I was expecting you to put up the quote from the Iranian foreign minister (which I included in the last thread):
@Little Boots: My job will never save you from jail. Unless I go back to crim. def.
true, you’re no cher:
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@David Koch: GG is a twisted crank
@Belafon: I just read Zarif has a PhD in international relations from the University of Denver, just like Condi
@David Koch: Twitter is so authoritative. And your lack of actual links helps you so much. If you have Greenwald nailed, then nail him.
you are back, and that is enough.
@Pogonip: Leave the rice cooker out. They are smarter than 80% of the population.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Interesting. Once again, a few people in our country really are making it hard for the US and Iran to, if not be friends, at least view each other as countries that might occasionally have common interests.
I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m still kind of shocked by this latest. They not only sought to undermine negotiations, they did it publicly, and as Billmon said, expect to be rewarded for it. And maybe they will be. Perhaps the people who would be shocked by this aren’t voting Republican anymore anyway.
@catclub: Well, mine is. It’s a Zojirushi. It’ll be changing its name to Skynet one of these days.
has this been posted? Biden’s statement – probably written by Obama.
@Omnes Omnibus: if you don’t know how to easily look up a quote using twitter-search then I can’t help you. just skip the comment and move on to something remedial.
and for omnes, dammit.
who is so damn moody.
Gin & Tonic
@David Koch: Take a look at tomorrow’s front page of the NY Daily News, subtle as always.
I just noticed John McCain signed the letter. I’m not surprised.
@David Koch: So you have nothing? If you want to say something and provide the links to establish it, do so. Or piss off.
@Gin & Tonic: You beat me to it..
or let’s have this:
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@David Koch: The Google doodle for International Women’s Day had The Notorious RBG as one of the things women can do now. She was a judge and you knew it was her because of the glasses and her signature ruffled cravat. (I know cravat is the wrong word but I can’t think of the correct one right now, bleh.)
@Rick Taylor: Guess Grandpa Walnuts has been singing his favorite Beach Boys song again, “Bomb, Bomb, Iran”.
@David Koch: I wonder if he’s got a serious personal animosity towards Obama. There literally doesn’t seem to any bridge too far for him to cross if that side was seeking to attack Obama.
and where have you been? and where has your music been?
@Pogonip: They were probably dumb enough to record themselves… dontcha know they needed to watch/hear it later to remember the moment. Yes, dumbasses, taking selfie video.
@Little Boots: I’ve been out on 2 walks today, one with the wifey and one by myself. My music has been with me all the time(it’s on my cell phone).
It’s always “amusing” to imagine how the media would cover an act like this if it were a Republican president. Outrage, I’m sure.
and good for the wifey.
fine, I’ll start:
and by the way, that is not snark about the wife.
I’m happy for you.
Reminds me of this bit of history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Surprise_conspiracy_theory
I’m not big on conspiracies, but this one smelled to high heaven, especially in 1987 when Iran/Contra (an actual proven conspiracy!) came to light.
@SiubhanDuinne: Jabot. Right, that’s it. TY.
My ass is smarter than republicans. It knows when it’s OK to make noise and when it’s appropriate to shut up and not stink up the place.
@Little Boots: Training her for a climb up Mt. Hollywood with the kid during the kid’s spring break.
@catclub: Rice cookers are also smarter than 42% of the United States population. http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx
@Ruckus: You, sir, have a well trained ass.
Also, here’s the link to the GG tweet. Not faked. https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/575046178150154240
what billin should post:
@PurpleGirl: Well, if it turns out to be surveillance video, there will be a sudden drop in nose-picking on public conveyances.
Less we forget, everybody talking about the “newbie” Senator Cotton, but 46 other Senators also signed that letter and they ain’t all “newbies”…cough…cough…McCain, Graham, McConnell…cough cough..
@Little Boots: No music right now, doing something that any audio would mess up.
GOP couldn’t win over President Obama on domestic issues – so now they try to bring him down on foreign issues – setting themselves up for yet another fail – viewed across the world.
@ruemara: That’s what I was thinking! If his ass only sounds off when convenient, rather than, say, in an elevator with the person who turns out to be the interviewer for the job you really want, he should sell training manuals! Not to mention the issue of martial farts, that occur when bouncing about in a dojo.
On second thought, never mind the training manual. Give that man a front-page slot!
a little walking dead:
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Funky. My daughter’s school.
can we not love tom petty?
Bring ’em out, bring ’em out!
It’s getting close to being over, they must get a “win” while he’s still in office. But we all know how it’s likely to go instead, consequences be damned. SMH
the hell happened to billin.
@David Koch: I’m done with him. Seriously.
I’m beginning to doubt he was right about Cheney.
pseudonymous in nc
The Iranian foreign minister not only has a better grasp of US civics: he also has to deal with reactionary arseholes on an even more regular basis.
Villago Delenda Est
Billmon is right…the GOP asswipes are expecting to be rewarded by the semi-sentient slime that constitutes their base. Because anything that thwarts uppity blah sheriff feller is just fine by the base, no matter what the consequences for the country and the world.
It’s all the most obtuse short term thinking possible with these assholes. Instant gratification of their monomaniacal hatred.
@Little Boots: I be here.
My ass isn’t that smart, just smarter than your average conservative. My dog’s ass was smarter than the lunatic fringe conservative.
RobertDSC (Quad Intel Mac)
@Villago Delenda Est:
The only reward they deserve is the business end of a Hellfire missile.
Just knowledge gained by experience, you know, actual learning.
@Ruckus: As long as it’s not from books, that’s OK. Books as we all know have a liberal bias, except the Good Book.
Iran’s presidential cabinet has more members with PhDs from American universities than the U.S. cabinet itself, according to The Economist. President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet starkly contrasts with that of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who preferred advisers with Iranian academic backgrounds. In the years following the 1979 revolution, Iran’s new political elite viewed Western educations with suspicion. But as of late 2013, Rouhani’s cabinet had more American PhD holders than the cabinets of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and Spain combined, according to The Atlantic. President Hassan Rouhani himself earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.
I used to read lots of good books. Some better than others. I particularly liked non-fiction. There is truth in non-fiction. Of course fiction has it’s place, it can be enjoying, scary, funny, thought provoking, tragic. I’m sure I’m leaving something out but one thing about fiction, there is no truth in it. There may be segments, plot lines and morals that ring true, but there is no truth. If there was truth in it, it wouldn’t be fiction. You can believe a work of fiction but that is a faulty action on your part. Sort of like thinking an acid trip is reality.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@David Koch: That’s not necessarily support for the attempts to sabotage the negotiations. It could just be an accurate observation without any opinion as to the desirability of the Republican action, because he’s right: this is absolutely legal on the part of the Republican senators. Monumentally stupid, but perfectly legal. Beyond that, these idiots are actually correct: there’s nothing stopping the next administration, whoever it is, from tossing this agreement aside.
It’s not a treaty and, as such, won’t be submitted to Congress for ratification. Absent ratification, it doesn’t actually bind the U.S. government in any way. It’s not a part of American law and it isn’t a part of international law. Barack Obama can make all of the personal promises he wants but that isn’t the United States giving its word. That’s very basic American law.
The Iranian foreign minister’s comments are completely wrong in that regard. I suspect that he knows perfectly well that they are wrong and we’re just watching everyone involved sling propagandistic bullshit. Biden’s statement is correct that this is a huge breach of protocol, but that doesn’t mean that the statements the Republicans made aren’t perfectly correct.
If there is an agreement signed, none of the parties to it will put their names to paper thinking that the next Republican president is in any way legally bound by them. What they’ll be counting on is that by the time that president takes his oath of office in 2017, 2021, or whenever, the cost of reneging will be too high even for them to do more than bluster. If the U.S. unilaterally backs out of a signed deal, there’s no way that anyone else who counts will back reinstalling sanctions. So there won’t be anything at all standing in the way of an Iranian enrichment program.
Sometimes I wish all movie music sounded like this.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
In that case the Logan Act clearly is a dead letter, because if it isn’t applicable here there’s no conceivable action that could violate it. We might as well repeal it so future generations don’t have to waste time considering this toothless statute.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@jomike: The Logan Act largely is a dead letter. It’s quite possibly unconstitutional to begin with and no one has been indicted under it since 1803. That includes private citizens who have traveled to foreign countries with which America is engaged in active hostilities and proclaimed support for that country’s government. In 1975 the State Department concluded that nothing in the act was intended to apply to congresspersons engaged in carrying out their duties.
People screeching for a Logan Act prosecution here sound just as ridiculous as the Republicans who did the same when Nancy Pelosi visited Syria in 2007 while pretty clearly opposing the foreign policy of the Bush administration.
Right, plus two members of his cabinet have graduate degrees from MIT — and a third is a Permanent Resident of the United States.
@David Koch: Heh, he’s a scumbag through and through.
another Holocene human
@Pogonip: video on bus is very common but most states make you post notice of that, I think?
That’s public transit though, I don’t know if the coach industry has really gone for it. Maybe their lawyers make mincemeat of injury claims in a way the city bus shops can’t seem to figure out.
Charter used to be dominated by owner operators or family businesses until the Brits invaded in the late 90’s so less of a culture of war on employees as the public sector. That’s the subtext of why they buy all those cameras.
@PurpleGirl: it was probably a traitor in their midst. Which shows you how bad the problem is. They do not fear any white people around them doing this. They think everyone’s on board.
@Gex: Great album!
An appropriate quote from Blazing Saddles:
What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.
Hey maybe we can get a thread on what great people frat boys are?
@raven: We’ll leave that one to Cole.
In other news, THE APPLE WATCH IS COMING. There’s never been any kind of device like this. (Looks at my wrist and sees a month old smartwatch). Bleh.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Does it have an apple logo? Well then, hush.
Booman points out that supposed peacenik Rand Paul signed the letter.
Tech bling. Yawn and double yawn.
@Baud: Rand Paul and Glenn Greenwald taking similar positions on something? Well I’ll be.
@FlipYrWhig: Wonder who GG will endorse for President?
@Baud: (Hangs head in shame).
@BillinGlendaleCA: All presidents are fundamentally evil, don’t vote, he’ll say.
What did he do in 2012?
@Baud: Don’t know, but whatever it was: It was perfection.
1. Within the bubble that has become the American Conservative/Neo-Confederate movement, both the elites and the masses of this within this movement (sadly 40% of the electorate in Presidential elections and near 50% of the average mid-term electorate), will applaud these guys for standing up to the Kenyan Muslim Usurping Dictator and for laying the ground work for the great Armageddon their preachers are telling them United States must have with Muslim world. Not that they expect to get their hair mussed or actually smell the napalm, but they do look forward to a few hours of “shock and awe” on Faux News.
2. The current mainstream Village is pretty conservative, growing up post-Vietnam in the 1970s and 80s, and they take a a fairly bloody minded view that if the United States doesn’t devastate a middle eastern country every few years we are failing to show “leadership.” Ron Fournier is a prime example; he worships Republican destructiveness and take no prisoners style of politics, and sympathizes with their goal of smashing the middle class entitlements of the white republican masses on the sneak, and has nothing but contempt for most Democratic politicians such as Clinton and Obama. Fournier I expect will l say that the Republicans were “provoked” by Obama’s unilateralism to write this letter.
To each other?
Manhattan Institute of Technology? Montana? Manhasset (it’s community level)?
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
There’s nothing stopping the next administration from tossing anything aside. If a Republican wins in 2016, the situation will likely be such that that Republican also has a Republican Congress and a Republican-leaning Supreme Court, so, basically, anything goes, just like the situation during most of the George W. Bush administration.
Talking Points Memo just ran one of their screaming headlines about how a Republican President could gut Obamacare, and I read the thing wondering why they even bothered talking about it, because in that situation it’s most likely Congress would just repeal Obamacare in the conventional manner, no executive shenanigans necessary.
@FlipYrWhig: He’ll jump on anyone who claims he’s supporting Rand Paul while bashing anyone who says anything mean about Rand Paul.
As I recall, he made the following argument about a certain candidate: namely, without actually endorsing X’s candidacy, it’s still possible to appreciate X’s presence in the field of candidates because it improves the debate.
Haven’t they ever seen Shahs of Sunset?
Don’t be sleeping on those Persians.
Cause they got family in exile, with MONEY, and expertise in the West, just waiting to go back.
Iran is one of the most educated populations in that region. With a highly educated Middle Class – both inside and outside of Iran.
Iran ain’t Afghanistan, which is nothing but a landmass with tribes on it.
@Villago Delenda Est: No small part of that is a total ignorance among the Reichwing that the rest of the world exists. The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns could have been fought on a Hollywood backlot for all the reality it has for them. Figure that relatively few US citizens have a passport; thatof the 60-odd million trips “abroad” half of them were to Mexico or Canada; the parts of the US with the fewest passport holders coincides eerily with GOTea strongholds; that of the US residents who have not traveled outside the US roughly half think that everything worth visiting is within the US; and that multiple-trip travelers skew all the foreign travel numbers upward, so the number of actual travelers is perhaps a quarter of the itineraries. With conditions like that it’s a reasonable assumption that the conservatists’ bubble excludes not only anyone not like them at home but anyone (at all) abroad, and that “threats” from foreign places are immediate not in their proximity but in their degree: ISIL’s graphic violence and a nuclear Iran are threatening simply because graphically violent acts against a body’s enemies is scary, and after half a century’s fearmongering about nuclear attacks any nuke is presumed dangerous.
Please unmoderate me at #128… BLEEPing links…
It’s rather bizarre that a guy who is running for President would sign this type of letter. So Paul has now endorsed a Democratic Congress sending letters left and right to foreign governments saying they should not work with Paul when Paul is President.
@Cervantes: Yes, that’s what he says, but it’s pretty clear to me that he distrusts the whole notion of executive power. All presidents by being presidential are anathema, so, if you must, elect the president with the narrowest view of executive power, then carp at him for using whatever executive power he uses. I think he’s basically an anti-federalist.
@FlipYrWhig: It’s occurred to me that with some variety of deontological reasoning, if you’re generally opposed to US foreign policy, you might argue that one has a moral obligation to support the non-incumbent in every presidential election. President X has done evil things, by virtue of being President, so you must oppose that side; Opponent Y may theoretically do worse, but hasn’t done it yet, so you are obligated to support that side regardless of what you might predict. I’m not sure it works in an election without an incumbent running, though.
Any truly intelligent Iranian negotiator would seize this as a chance to upend the sanctions regime. Here’s my thinking on how this would play out:
1. Iran agrees to the Obama deal, or a weaker version of it that they can manage to get.
2. Europeans, who were no fans of sanctions to begin with, begin relaxing theirs.
3. GOP president is elected, and scuttles deal as promised.
4. Europeans say “go fukc yourselves’ when asked to restart sanctions.
5. Iranians restart military grade enrichment, free of sanctions.
And of course, the only alternative at that point would be a military strike. The GOP president would have to go to war with Iran.
I can see the Democratic campaign commercial now: “If Republicans gain the White House, they promise to go to war with Iran. Do you want your children to go into a potential World War III? Vote Democrat.” Its’ the Daisy commercial all over again.
@Shantanu Saha: But any truly intelligent Iranian negotiator also wouldn’t actually want to go to war with the US, since, regardless of how badly it ends for the US (and it would), it would also devastate Iran. So there’s another dimension there.
I think it’s pretty clear that the religious leaders, regardless of their other faults, basically don’t want trouble. Whether the elected administration does depends on the administration; currently they’re in an “also don’t want trouble” phase.
Congress advises and consents.
How is this hard?
Oh. Silly me. I assumed competence.
Can we haz this ad campaign for every major office in 2016?
I thought International Jewish Conspiracies Against the United States Government were the things I could count on Republican Senators to warn us all about. Things change.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
That’s one opinion. However, just because many people suspect it’s unconsitutional doesn’t make it so. The fact that no one’s been charged under it in a couple hundred years means little in itself; never before have sitting members of Congress sent an open, signed letter to foreign leadership with the express intention of influencing their actions. (Which is why the comparison to Pelosi’s trip to Syria, like other weak examples now being trotted out, are inapt.)
There have been cases of congresscritters pushing the envelope, but none as clear cut as this, not even close. And there’ve been private citizens who appeared to have violated Logan, but those people clearly represented themselves. No reasonable person, here or abroad, could have mistaken Jesse Jackson for a U.S. government official.
Congressional visits with foreign leadership, even those hostile to U.S. interests, are long accepted and well established practice. A 2006 Congressional Research Service report to Congress notes that
Thus Pelosi, McCain, Graham, and many others weren’t charged. There’s a rockbound difference between legislators meeting with foreign government officials versus 47 sitting U.S. senators sending an open letter with the expressed intention of influencing a foreign government’s behavior. That’s why the comparison you and many others are making to the present situation is, well, silly.
As to Logan’s consitutionality, that’s for the courts to decide. There’s only one way to find out. If Justice believes the law was broken, let them file charges. The defense will challenge Logan’s constitutionality and the matter will be adjudicated in due course. If found to be unconstitutional, Logan will be thrown out. If not, the courts will decide on the merits.