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Friday, January 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — In September 2002, three Democratic congressmen visited Iraq in an effort to prevent a war they thought was a terrible idea.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) said very little there, explaining afterward that his sole purpose was to tell Iraqi officials that “if they want to prevent a war, they need to prevail upon Saddam Hussein to provide unrestricted, unfettered access to the weapons inspectors.”

On the other hand, former Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) and especially Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) were quite outspoken while on Iraqi soil. McDermott urged Americans to take Saddam’s promises on weapons inspections at “face value” and charged that President Bush was willing to “mislead the American people.”

Needless to say, supporters of Bush and his policies did not deal kindly with McDermott and Bonior. Writing at the time in the pro-war Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes called them “The Baghdad Democrats” and said: “What apparently didn’t concern the congressmen was the damage their trip might do abroad to any U.S.-led effort to deal with Saddam.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Republicans are now reminding everyone of the trio’s journey. To defend the 47 Republican senators who signed a letter to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” they invoke the everybody-does-it argument: that interfering with a president conducting a negotiation is as American as apple pie.

The letter itself, written in strangely condescending language that a good civics teacher would never use, instructs the Iranians about our Constitution. Any deal reached by President Obama without congressional approval would be nothing more than an “executive agreement,” the senators said. It could be voided “with the stroke of a pen” by a future president, and “future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.” It was a blatant effort to blow up the negotiations.

In fact, it is utterly baffling that champions of this letter would even bring up McDermott and his colleagues. For one thing, many of the very same people who denounced the Democratic trio are now praising the letter. Hayes, for example, in an article posted last week headlined “A Contrived Controversy,” said the letter, offered by “patriotic senators,” was “a fact-based, substantive argument, in public, about a matter of critical importance to the national security of the United States.”

Let’s see: It’s patriotic if members of Congress contact a foreign leader to interfere with a president whose policies you don’t like, but outrageous for politicians to do a similar thing to undermine a president whose policies you support.

Which goes to the larger point: The three members of Congress went to Iraq on their own, without any support from their party’s leaders, and were actively taken to task even by opponents of Bush’s policies. At the time, I wrote a column highly critical of the visit that I didn’t enjoy writing because I respect the three men. I also noted that, in light of all the pressures to fall into line behind Bush, “anyone with the gumption to dissent these days deserves some kudos for courage.”

Nonetheless, I argued that just as the Vietnam anti-war movement was damaged by “the open identification of some in its ranks with America’s enemies,” so did the congressional visit set back the cause of those who, at the time, were trying to get Congress to pass a far more restrained war resolution.

By contrast, the 47 Republicans undercutting Obama included the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and clearly speak for most of their party. Only seven Senate Republicans, to their credit, refused to sign, including Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Two stipulations: While I support Obama’s effort to reach an agreement with Iran, I also believe in a strong congressional role in setting foreign policy and embrace the freedom to dissent from a president’s choices on war, peace and diplomacy. And, yes, most of us have had moments of inconsistency when our beliefs about a substantive matter distorted our views on process issues.

But tossing off a letter to leaders of a foreign state plainly designed to sandbag a president in the middle of negotiations goes far beyond normal procedural disagreements. It makes Congress and the United States look foolish to the world. It weakens our standing with allies and adversaries alike. And, yes, many Republicans seem to believe anything is permissible as long as it’s designed to foil Obama.

This is far more damaging to us than what those three congressmen did in Baghdad.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected] Twitter: @EJDionne.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

136 Responses to The Senate’s 47 Percent

  1. The most glaring difference between what the three Democratic Congressmen did when they traveled to Iraq while we were building a case, and a coalition, to invade Iraq, and what 47 Republican congressmen just did, is that Iraq had been one of our closest allies in the region, that Saddam’s WMDs were given to him by the Reagan administration during the Iran-Iraq war, and that IAEA inspectors had confirmed that all the WMDs had been destroyed. Most importantly, Iraq was not considered a terrorist nation. Nevertheless, those three Congressmen were criticized publicly by their peers and their political careers were irreparably damaged.
    The 47 Senators that wrote a letter to the Iranian leadership, after declaring Iran a hub of terrorist and an enemy of the United States, encouraging them not to trust an incumbent U.S. President, and informing them that if our President signed a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with them Congress would not ratify it, and the next President would repeal it, was an act of treason. It undermined the the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (usa patriot act) (Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 277) enacted by Congress after 9/11, which is designed to strengthen the ability of the United States to protect itself from terrorist activities. The USA Patriot Act later amended and expanded the existing statutory provisions, giving authority to the President to respond to unusual and extraordinary threats against the United States.
    If the claim that Iran is a terrorist nation, and a promoter of terrorism, is taken at face value, we must conclude that advising, aiding and abetting the enemy is an act of treason, and the perpetrators must be dealt with accordingly.

    • There’s a reason beyond the political, the GOP has never admitted the obvious about the biggest military blunder, and foreign policy boondoggle in the history of the Country, Iraq. And they can be found within the confines of this mutinous letter to the leaders of their next target of invasion, Iran. As the nuclear arms talks become an obstacle to be overcome, just as in the same light as continuing the weapons inspections were an obstacle for the Bush Administration, in their run up to the Iraqi War. The fact is, it’s obvious we’ve got a huge problem. For there will be no peace for America or the World, if Republicans come to power. So we Americans have one of the most important decision a democratic people will ever have to make. Will it be war, or peace? Will we stand on the side of peace, or support the extremist Republican Party? Will we wreck our economy, and eventually set the World ablaze, with the Right’s never ending regimen of ever more war? Where there will always be yet another Country that must be invaded. Invaded, because they have oil, and know about nuclear technology? That in the interests of National Security, or fighting terrorism, or just projecting the idea of American Exceptionalism. Or it serves some other interest they dare not mention. So, there’s no other option then, but war? Or will we find sanity, and common sense in the notion that dialog, extended dialog, even dialog with governments that we don’t like, that dislike us, is preferable to the failure of all other possible options, war? For me this letter is much more than just a letter. It is the signal many have been predicting. The surrender of the moderate Right.

      • Well said. It appears when we elect people to send to Washington, they abandon the people and join the circus and become performing clowns. I’m convinced the American people don’t want war but that doesn’t seem to matter.

        • Of course it does not matter. What does matter is the agenda formulated by the plutocrats who expect their trained seals in the Plutocratic Party congressional majority to perform as directed.

          • I realize that. So why do we still vote? They abandon us. I think we should do the same to them. They can’t fight wars and win without the people. We are at fault as much as they are. I agree with what you said but the joke is on us. I’m not laughing.

        • The sad part is, these clowns performing these tricks, were elected into office by some of the American people, (not me of course).

          • Of course. Stupid people electing stupid people making everyone look stupid. I don’t know if the system is broke but it sure as hell isn’t working.

        • Listening to these clowns, one would think nothing matters but pandering to that ignorant base they, and Fox News have created. While the rest of the Country must wonder what the hell is going on? Of course war is the last thing any sane American wants. The vast majority just want to live their lives, raise their kids, and hope they have a little nest egg left over at the end. I do believe most Americans if asked, want a deal that keeps Iran from getting the bomb. But, I also believe they see this letter as anything but helpful towards accomplishing that. The way most look at this is, the President, along with his Secretary of State, heading up the Department of State, is the way we have always negotiate such things. And Obama is the President now, so what’s the problem with the Republicans this time? Are they going to shut down the government again? Threaten to crash the economy, if Obama doesn’t bow to the T-Party? Vote to invade another Middle Eastern Country? I also think most people want Republicans, now that they are in charge of Congress. To settle down, quit obsessing over Obama, and get some work done for the Country. I think the average person in this Country is sick of the 24/7 Republican drama. First it was Netanyahu, and now this latest passion play, doesn’t help them with that at all.

      • Unfortunately, I fear you speak the truth. The GOP today is an extreme terrorist organization, incapable of governing. What they have done to President Obama is a continuation of the war they conducted against President Clinton, and a preview of the war they will conduct against Hillary Clinton should she run and be elected president. They are deranged, infected with religious fanaticism, and extremely dangerous. They are convinced they deserve to be totally in charge of our governmnet, and to hold the presidencey, forever, presumably by some devine right. If there are moderate and sane people left in that party they are condoning this behavior by remaining silent and allowing these fanatics to run wild. I WAS a lifelong Republican until events of recent years drove me away.

    • Dominick, I can’t understand republicans claiming Iran is a terrorist nation. Where is the evidence? I have also read somewhere “W” and Cheney are on terrorist list in Venezuela.

      • There is no evidence, other than us and Israel claiming that they are sponsors of terrorism. There are warrants for W’s arrest in some European countries, such as Switzerland. Cheney had to change his plan to head Halliburton from the Persian Gulf because of fears that he would be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity.

        • Thanks for the explanation Dominick. I know “W” and Cheney are at the moment prisoners in their own country, though they are not on hand cuffs and behind the bars at the moment. The way republicans are treating Hillary at the moment, their “W” and Cheney might end up in handcuffs if not be sent to The Hague, if at all Hillary occupies the White House come 2016, This I can foresee coming in a very low speed.

    • Dominick, I can’t understand republicans claiming Iran is a terrorist nation. Where is the evidence? I have also read somewhere “W” and Cheney are on terrorist list in Venezuela.

  2. When a bunch of bullies in a political party believe winning a majority grants them autonomous power to ignore the responsibilities and duties of the President and Executive branch, they first of all, override the votes of those who elected the president. Such arrogance and disrespect must never be tolerated in this democracy.

    Men like Boehner, McConnell, Gowdy, Issa, Inhofe, Ryan, Walker, Cruz, Cotton, Rubio and the rest of the Confederacy are drunk with power. Drunks generally always are incapable of rational decisions.

    What can be done? What “Should” be done is for elder statesmen to take a hard line position as Teddy Kennedy and Patrick Moynihan would have. It’s time to sober up these power drunks and fast. Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez have already spoken up. Now, what’s needed is for the rest of the Dems to stand arm in arm and create a political stance that refuses to tolerate any more political power freaks from doing the unthinkable.

    Every country of the world now views the US as some bizarre democracy experiment gone horribly wrong.

    The reality is that Americans realize that the day George W. Bush managed to squeak his way into the White House, nothing has gone well since. Not one thing.

    Gowdy’s only job is to remove Hillary Clinton from the 2016 Dem lineup. How is that NOT hijacking an election using the same preeminent strategy Bush used to get the US into Iraq?

      • gunslinger…A guy who uses “gunslinger” for an ID proves who and what you really are: A lawless moron who refuses to respect MY vote. Why then should I respect you or your opinions?

        President Obama IS the president. Those 47 GOP bulls will rue the day they dared to interfere in ongoing talks with Iran.

        As for you, donate your sick brain to science. You’d make a great science experiment.

    • Ummm. You are forgetting the Senate is the body that approves treaties. Nott the House. You need a lesson in civics before screaming hypocrisy.

      • The agreement with Iran is not a treaty. The US has many agreements with other countries that are not treaties.
        Furthermore, the Senate advises and consents. It does not ratify a treaty
        But in this case it is moot. The role for congress is to remove the sanctions if they agree that he deal with Iran is a good one.

      • If an agreement is reached, not only will it not be a treat, it will also not be between the US and Iran. All of the members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are in on the negotiations. If an agreement is reached, it will have the force of international law, not US.

        • I think it is also worth pointing out that France has been the most demanding in negotiating with Iran. I doubt our beloved Senators are too concerned about the damage they have caused to our allies when they decided to undermine, not only our efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons problem, but those of all the other countries participating in the negotiations. I doubt they know how to spell patriotism or statesmanship.

  3. While the letter was grandstanding, the real question is not partisan. Do we trust Iran? What happens in the Middle East with a nuclear Iran, even 10 years in the future? Will the Saudis, Iran’s competition for influence in the region feel the need to be nuclear? Is this unstable region one where we can ever stand nuclear proliferation?

    • We all know what the problems are but many would seam to advocate force to stop The Iranians. The choices are clear: negotiate with Iran to curtail their nuclear program or go to war with them.
      The last thing the US needs if another war so negotiating appears to be the better choice.

    • That chimera is nothing but an excuse for war. When the fact is clear, the nuclear genie is out of bottle, and we as the human race are going to have to deal with it. Indeed, how do we know the Saudis don’t already have nuclear capabilities? How do we know the Pakistanis haven’t shared the technology with them? Why is it, if we insist the Mid-East be a nuke free zone, did we give Israel the 250 warheads? What we do know, what we can trust, is invading a Country of 60 million people, with a well equipped military will take 300,000 troops at a minimum, and north of 4 trillion dollars. And after Bush, we’ll taking on the job mostly alone. That we do know. Including the rebuilding, the standing up of another Army, and Police force. And then trying to install our own ‘friendly government.’ That will be opposed by the entirety of the population of Iranians. A real Country, with a National identity, with strong collective memories of the last ‘friendly leader’ the U.S. imposed on the sovereign people of Iran. Along with thousands of insurgents that will be flowing into the fight from the Shea Government the Bush Administration brought to power in Iraq. This all will of course empower the terrorist group ISSL, by knocking down their strongest enemy. And they too, will be joining the Civil War, and chaos, to get their piece of the weakened Country. The Country that we once said we couldn’t trust, And so didn’t make the effort to set verifications in place. The Country after the invasion, we won’t even recognize. We’ll now be expected to occupy for the next 1000 years!

      • The only Senators that have mentioned war are Feinstein and Sanders, then it is repeated in memes. Maintaining or increasing sanctions until they cut back their enrichment program is a more viable and reasonable option. Russia has offered to handle their uranium fuel production, and China is building refineries in Iran, in exchange for oil, so they can use what they produce. They have energy solutions without needing to expand their enrichment capabilities. If you aren’t concerned about anything but blame, you need to go back to the insane creation of the national borders after the fall of the Ottoman empire.

        • What do you think they are talking about here? If were as easy as Russia handling their spent rods, and China pitching in and building a refinery, it would have been settled a long time ago. These Senators are talking about tougher sanctions that the other 5 Countries will not go along with. And they are talking about war, if the sanction fail.

          • The reason I brought up Russia and China (China is building the refineries), is to indicate that the energy need could be met without the additional enrichment capacity. What do you think they want the enrichment capacity for? Who besides Feinstein and Sanders are talking about war? What are the sanctions that are objectionable?

          • Iran’s position is, they have as much a Right to produce nuclear energy as any other sovereign Nation. That is a very popular position among the Iranians, by the way. In other words, there are politics in Iran. It’s not just the contention of the Supreme Council. We have to understand, Iran is a modern sophisticated Country, with a well educated populous. It’s no Afghanistan, or Iraq. And I shudder to think if foreign government warned this Country about acquiring some technology, for fear we might weaponize it. As to war, there’s too many on the Right talking in very bellicose terms about tougher sanctions, and not formalizing the deal, even if it’s struck, because it’s not tough enough. Netanyahu coming to Congress, talking war, as the
            same bunch that were wild about attacking Iraq, were wild about Bibi. What do you think Bibi was talking about Sanctions, right? The thing about sanctions that are objectionable, is while they hurt the economy of the sanctioned, They also hurt the economies of those doing the sanctioning, as all economies are
            interconnected. If you look at the Countries in the negotiations, all are big exporters, and none of their economies are doing all that well. And Iran could be a huge boost, if it were to get back online. China needs the oil, and the 60 million Iranian market. Japan..very tough economy right now. Russian? The Russian economy is flatlining. Germany is the largest exporter in Europe. That leaves us, and Britain. And that doesn’t work. So what are they really talking about?

          • No arms deal is ever based on the honor system. Example with respect to verification in Iraq. When many of the same factions that are driving the debate against the talks on Iran, were then calling the weapons inspections in Iraq into question. Even as the inspectors themselves were vouching for the validity, and comprehensiveness of their work. Then Secretary of State C. Powell in his briefing to the UN Security Council, alleged the Iraqis were moving biological weapons around in trucks, while stating there was evidence of Iraq procuring aluminum tubes in order to build centrifuges to enrich uranium. All provided as proof that the Iraqis were reconstituting their WMD program. The Bush Administration, some 3 trillion dollars, 4500 American lives, and perhaps 500,000 Iraqi lives later, were found to be tragically wrong, and the weapons inspectors, right. That, 100% of Secretary Powell’s information had been made up by an ex- Iraqi National, code named, “Curve Ball.” Who was telling the Bush Administration what he thought they wanted to hear in order to receive permission to stay in the U.S. and settle in CO. Which is exactly where he lives today. For me, this is central to my premise. That these Wingers, advocating, and lobbying for war, are at least as untrustworthy as the Iranians. And have proven themselves as such. They are ideologues, where the ends, i.e.. misleading our Country into war, justifies the cherry picking, and mischaracterizations about all they are claiming. And as a person who loves, and cares about this Country, as I’m sure you do as well. We should be very concerned about listening, and putting a great deal of trust into people who have clearly, and intentionally lied to us before on this very same subject.


            I don’t think is was a question of whether they were there or not, it was that nobody wanted to answer the question on WHO sent them there. You do remember the 10 year Iran-Iraq war, and which side we armed? My guess is that some ex-CIA Director/VP/President told his son to STFU about those weapons before people started asking the wrong questions. You are distrusting the “wingers” for the wrong reason.

            There are ample indications of Iran’s intentions in the region, both from their current statements and past activities. Their designs on Saudi Arabia would be strongly enhanced by having a nuclear weapon, something the Russian proposal would have eliminated while allowing peaceful uses of atomic power. At least the British didn’t have history when they trusted Hitler.

            Before we work on the assumption that this is about Iran wanting to Westernize, we should have more evidence of that behavior beyond the Supreme Leader’s statement about nuclear weapons. Within Iran there is not consensus on a desire to Westernize, and you know the Koran allows misleading infidels.

          • Actually I think I’m distrusting the Neocons for the right reason. Namely that they were willing to lie, and mislead the Country into a war it would have never agreed to otherwise. It wasn’t a Hitler vs. Chamberlin situation. Hitler was provably breaking the Treaty of Versailles, building a huge military, and invading surrounding countries. The Neocons accused, and then attacked a sovereign country for doing something the evidence has clearly shown they weren’t. So look, Iran acquiring the bomb would be a very bad thing. But, Iraq should tell us there are better ways of stopping nuclear proliferation, than sending 200,000 troops and preemptively invading countries because they might be developing WMDs. This deal is not based on the premises of what the Supreme Leader says. If agreed to, it will be based on verifiable restrictions the Iranians will abide by because it’s in theirs, and the other signatories best long term interests.

          • Apparently you didn’t read the US News link, or have seen this information elsewhere. There WERE WMDs, but this information was hidden from the public until recently. Maybe W, in his infinite wisdom, felt your distrust of him on the wrong basis was better than our distrust of the whole MIC when it was found that these chemical weapons originated in the West. The British peace treaty was before any German invasions. The treaty was in 1938, the first armed conflict was the invasion of Poland in 1939. By the end of 1940, Germany was bombing Britain. It was Hitler’s military buildup that put him in a bargaining position before he used his military power. Then he used it anyway. Do you think a nuclear Iran would give up its goal of ME dominance any more than Hitler gave up his goal of European dominance? You also assume the misconception that war is the only alternative to a nuclear Iran. Iran can stop growing their enrichment capacity, have nuclear power with international control of the uranium, and then have the sanctions lifted. What this will do is limit Iran’s military influence in the Middle East, which is in the world’s best interest.

          • Hidden from the public? By who? Fox News? The Bush Administration? Look, if you’re going to foolishly believe these
            people again, there’s nothing I say to lessen your gullibility. That’s on you. But if it it takes an incredible conspiracy like that. That a Party’s political credibility would be sacrificed by that same Party that’s spent the last 6 years claiming the Federal Gov, is evil incarnate, to withhold the finding of the WMDs to protect the reputation of military contractors? Really, I don’t know what else I can say here. Except you might brush up on your WWII history. As Hitler at the time of his promise to stop invading his neighbors, had already invaded Austria, and most of what was Czechoslovakia. Where he reasoned he was only reuniting the Germanic Peoples under what had been their historic lands. Which he claimed he had accomplished, and had no further plans of invasion. Then, after signing a nonaggression pact with Russia, Hitler invaded Poland. Thereby settling the case for a treaty bound Great Britain to declare war on the German Republic.

          • You don’t have to say anything, just read. The WMDs in Iraq is a fact, not a conjecture.I should hope that you don’t put US News and World Report and Deutsche Welle in the same light as Fox News! I am the wrong person to be asked to explain what W was “thinking”, if indeed he did, so you owe it to yourself to look at facts, not conjecture about conspiracy theories. As far as brushing up on WWII history, Germany did not engage in a military invasion of Austria or the Sudetenland (the part of Czechoslovakia to which I assume you were referring). Austria ceded control to Germany as a result of political unrest caused by Nazi sympathizers, and a contrived agreement with the Austrian Government. The Sudetenland was ceded to Germany through the Munich Agreement, a piece of diplomatic work between Germany, Italy, France and England in 1938 that was to guarantee peace. These “diplomatic” wins were made possible by having, not using military strength. No Invasions! In your attempt to dismiss me, you have made my point about the danger of a nuclear Iran, either now or in 10 years.

      • Good points. Does anyone actually believe that the uber-rich petroleum kingpins of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, do not have some nukes on hand that they bought from us???
        One of their princes… the one with the fat check book… was even re-named, christened “Bandar Bush!” Why would an Arab be called Bandar Bush if he didn’t have some special kind of relationship at the highest level of our government??? After looking back on the Iraq War fiasco, and the unprecedented waste of American treasure, all on the basis of some lies… Why would anyone believe that the Bush administration did not sell nukes to Saudi Arabia??? As long as we keep them supplied they don’t need a “break-out” capacity… They are ready.
        We need to learn how to get along with people who are different from us. Just because a guy has a different culture, language, religion, etc., doesn’t make him an enemy. If you give him a chance he may prove to be a friend.
        Lastly… those traitors in the senate sent a letter to the Ayatollah. Don’t those assh*les know that the Ayatollah refers to them as “SATAN?” Why would a letter from them carry any weight with him? He is going to do according to his program regardless. What they did was to hand him a justification for pulling out of the negotiations altogether. It is “we” who wanted a settlement through negotiation… for the past 36 years. Now we hand him a justification for his “alleged” nuclear ambitions. We also frustrated our European allies, who most likely will not support us in continued sanctions… Without their support, the sanctions aren’t worth the paper they are typed on. Iran will easily circumvent them with the aid of the Russians and the Chinese, who seemingly don’t care whether Iran has the bomb or not. In fact, it may be to their advantage to take sides with Iran as a counter-measure to US hegemony in the region. We have fools in the senate who have allowed hatred for a Black President to cloud their judgment. This is what will destroy America… not some imagined Iranian bomb.

        • Exactly! These 47 Senators need a reality check, if they believe they intimidate the Iranian Leadership. They’ve seen one fool of an American President strut, and chest thump his way into an unmitigated disaster. And they benefited from it a dozen different ways. Europe lost, America lost, and their sphere of influence,and power in the region against the Saudis, increased exponentially. As did China’s case for assuming the World Leadership role, as the calmer, more level headed, and reliable Nation to peacefully guide the World past an era of inevitable nuclear proliferation. This is not to say Europe will fall head long into the arms of the Communist Chinese. However, they might be forgiven if they began to hedge their bets. What China has been angling for, is the chance to hold the World’s Reserve Currency. And the hard Right faction in Congress has already provided them fodder. With the EU and Britain’s economies hit hard with the collateralized debt debacle. Born of reckless U.S. deregulation, and untrustworthy guarantees of U.S. ratings companies. Along
          with the prospect of NATO being led by the same Right Wing fabricators, into a simultaneous disaster in Iraq. Add to that, a crisis being created every time Congress must approve the funds to pay our debts. Their respective publics are about fed up. And who could blame them? As our Capitalists move on their debt ridden economies, buying up their assets for pennies on the dollars, and demanding harsh austerity in lieu of bridge loans to tide them over. And now the Americans it seems are spoiling for another war? Our cash starved businesses must forgo more trade, while their Senate undermines any chance for peace? And to all this they might honestly ask, is America a Country we can still trust? Or put another way, how much more trust in America can we still afford?

  4. While I think the letter was a poor choice, it did nothing more than explain some of the legal issues that Obama must consider under these negotiations (Why we are negotiating with sponsors of terrorism, I don’t know). What many have failed to remember, sanctions against Iran are LAW, passed by Congress and signed by a President. Obama has zero authority to change law, although he seems to think he is. You folks should be more concerned with why Obama is throwing Hillary under the bus. Valery Jarrett leaked the Email story, imagine that.

    • Godzilla, are you all that clueless? Are sanctions same as laws? Please consult your dictionary and get the meaning of these two words. I can’t do it for you as you need to take own initiative to educate yourself.

      • It is you who needs the education:

        The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA) was a 1996 act of Congress that imposed economic sanctions on firms doing business with Iran and Libya. On September 30, 2006, the act was renamed to the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), as it no longer applied to Libya, and extended until December 31, 2011. As of March 2008, ISA sanctions had not been enforced against any non-US company; the act allows the president to waive sanctions on a case-by-case basis, though this waiver is subject to renewal every six months. Despite the restrictions on American investment in Iran, FIPPA provisions apply to all foreign investors, and many Iranian expatriates based in the US continue to make substantial investments in Iran.[1]

        This is commonly referred to as a LAW, to those of us who have educated ourselves on the subject. You would be wise to get your facts straight before making a fool of yourself.

        • You don’t get it. Congress vote on an Act, which is sent to the President who turns it to sanction. If the President doesn’t agree with it he vetoes right away. On the other hand when you called a Law equivalent to Sanction. This is quite wrong. Anyone who breaks any Law is taken to Court, if found guilty ends up in prison. BUT any country who breaks sanctions, is never taken to court neither sent to prison. And remember sanctions are put between countries and countries . Sanctions are never applied within the people of the same country BUT laws do.

    • Try the letter was a stupid choice. And if these 47 felt the need to remind a Harvard law professor of their interpretation of the law. Then they should have addressed it to the President, and allowed the Senate Majority Leader McConnell to deliver it to Obama’s Chief of Staff. And then they would have avoided making such total asses of themselves. But, evidently they can’t control themselves, or their Junior Senator from Arkansas. But they want to run the Country?

      • I don’t even think the US should be in Iran’s business to begin with, much less the rest of this silly stuff. I read the letter, didn’t seem much more than reminding Iran that the Senate has a say in the matter. I know Obama thinks he is the King, but, until we stop having elections, he is subject to the Constitution and the laws of our country. We have a law concerning Iran and the current sanctions, which few even understand. Obama CAN’T legally just change the law, period. It must go through Congress. I have posted a link to it. As we have had cordial discussion in the past, this is a non-issue to me. Just political games that get played all the time. Can’t let the Left Wing get too worried about Hillary possibly violating Federal law now, can we?

        • So you don’t really care. And you don’t know a whole lot.
          And you’re pretty sure the President thinks he’s a king. Thanks.

        • So can Congress sell (or give) Alaska back to Russia? After all, it’s just treaty that Congress can modify at any time, according to Cotton.

          How about Texas? How about California? Can Congress give them back to Mexico? I don’t find anything in the Constitution that gives Congress the ability to demand property from a foreign government to settle a war, do you? Let’s have Congress undo this unconstitutional action.

          How about the Louisiana purchase? There’s nothing in the Constitution regarding expanding the US by buying more land. So, can an unconstitutional act by President Jefferson by undone by Congressional action?

  5. Sand bagging Obama is a very apt description. These Senators are more about let’s hurt the black guy, than about supporting this country. Their effort to do an end run around the President’s foreign policy is reprehensible. Each of them should be voted from office at their next election, which for some, will be in 2016. Let’s make sure that happens.

    • They will never recover from the fact that a black man beat them twice in elections for the Presidency and, worse, that he has proven himself to be intelligent, educated, thoughtful in deliberations, respected in the civilized world, and loved by the majority of people at home. They see that as an insult to them, that he has shown himself to be better than they are so, instead of trying to meet the standard he sets, they fall even lower. They are at their nadir as far as I am concerned.

      There comes a time when their personal woes need to be checked at the local saloon or with their therapists on their off time and that they show up for work and try to do what is best for their country, what they get paid to do, if for no other reason.

      • You nailed it right after word “twice.” Everything else is a given….
        And there simply is no bottom in sight…

  6. In whatever manner these 47 Senators did unthinkable thing. They better come out and apologise and admit the mistake as Sen. McCain has shown so far. People in the rest of the world are laughing a lot. They can’t understand where wise Senators they used to see have gone? They don’t understand how can all these Senators pull down the dignity of America at such a level. It is really a shame and at the same time painful. Why should a country which always had sharp, thoughtful people , of whom others depended on them to solve difficult problems, now are playing like kids in a playing ground who sometimes don’t notice what they are doing, just playing for the sake of playing.

  7. Putin read the letter from the 47 senators to Iran that the next Congress and President can make any agreement null and void.
    Putin wants Alaska back.

      • And a certain Alaskan Cougar politician, too! She’d be a big hit on the Russian shows Beat the Press, or Saturday Night Not Live for Long. Or she could read the news naked (yes, they do that on TV) and thus get better ratings than she could get on Fix Nooz (pesky American censors).

        Just kidding; we need Alaska if for nothing else but the radar stations to detect when our “buddy” Putin decides to shoot some missiles at us. We were really fortunate to have bought it 75 years earlier when the Cold War began!

  8. Years ago, I registered republican because I thought that overall, the Republican Party had a better grasp of what is good for my local government and America than did the Democrats.

    Now, I think that the Republican Party’s leadership is populated by a bunch of jackasses, ironically the symbol of the Democratic Party. That is true nationally and of my local government, except that my local government is Republican and so patently corrupt that it cannot be saved. I believe that the national government should step in, arrest the local corrupt politicians and reform the government.

    • Great idea!!! I too was a registered republican for 20 years… Thank God I came to my senses. A government divided is a weak government and cannot stand… says so in the Bible that the T-baggers claim to believe. Any official who willfullly undermines his own countrymen is a traitor!

  9. I would also add that each and everyone of these Quisling repubs got elected with a HATE Obama campaign. One of them dedicated himself to making sure Obama was a one term president.

    And now they are going on TV saying that this traitors letter was written to “help” Obama?

    You would have to be t-bagger stupid to believe that crock of $hit.

  10. Whatever the party, republican or democrat, it should be noted that if we elected a president to represent of nation we should be patriotic enough to support the position of our leader. We can still make our voices heard and voice our opinions without making fools of ourselves by being hypocrits; it’s not okay for us to undermine ourselves. Let us all be grownups not angry little children trying to make each other look bad.

  11. Senator Cottonmouth looks to me like a kid. Is he really old enough to be a Senator? Can we see his birth certificate? Where was he born, by the way? Ordinarily, I’d make some snarky remark about where Senator Cottonmouth was hatched, but I’m just not up for humor today. Besides, it’s unclear whether the Cottonmouth is technically born alive, or hatched just before “birth.” One fact is clear, however. You can’t trust ’em any further than you can reach with a hoe, to cut off their heads. As for SENATOR Cottonmouth, it appears he’s already cut off his own political head.

  12. This entire discussion is a joke! Sorry to all you low information voters, but the Logan Act does NOT apply. Europe is NOT laughing at these Senators, who had the right and duty to remind an egotistiacal Obama that another exectuve order will not be tolerated.

      • No one is ready to go to war. Unless and until they volunteer themselves to go first and die there. Before they die first, no one will show their face first to die for them.

        • Well then, they are kinda full of it, and hopefully they didn’t give
          Iran a good excuse to walk away. Because, I’ll guarantee, after this letter, the other sanctions from the other participants could come off Iran very quickly. What credibility would we have to insist otherwise?

    • You’re correct. Europe is NOT laughing at those Senators or at the Republican Party. Europe has found out, in clear and no uncertain terms, that American Republicans are not trustworthy, not responsible, not cooperative, and are as much extremists as any other. Europeans are NOT laughing because they have high stakes in an American government that is not what Republicans have exposed themselves to be. Europe is taking this very seriously. They are probably preparing themselves for a potential future without the leadership of the US, should a Republican President be the reality again, especially an unknown. After their last experience with one, and with this current debauchery, they have more at stake in our elections than ever before.

      • Your response shows clearly that you are a low information person. Europe is fed up with Obama and afraid that he will allow his ISIL friends to arm Iran and cause a war. Obama has been a foreign policy disaster! Take the years 2010-2014 and look at the cost in lives and dollars and you will see they are larger than the years 2002-2009 combined! (2009 was before Obama could implement many of his and Mrs. Clinton’s terrible policies.) Europe is laughing at the US for being so low information that they not only elected an unqualified person and an incompetent person, one time but twice.

        • “Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget? And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?” -POTUS 44-

          Mislead Voter or just a plain ‘Hawk’ who likes the term ‘collateral Damage. What would be accomplished by going into combat?

        • Foreign Policy disasters? How did we get into Iraq again? And Afghanistan? Was it that catchy little War on Terror or the War on Drugs that got you shorts into a knot? The Iraq War is the single largest disaster in U.S. Foreign Policy history and will no doubt exceed $3T….. Unless you retained considerable holdings in Military Industrial complex stocks and or contracts, I don’t see how it served anyone unless possibly Dick Cheney’s children….No-bid contracts? No problem! The GAO was watching though right up until they were warned about losing thier $440M budget . The stink of it all is still nauseating…..My all time fav was when Halliburton wanted to drill for oil on Mars at the U.S. taxpayers expense..

    • Dear InformedVoter: You seem rather disinformed about the subject of the article, and about the discussion you are wading into. EJ Dionne did not mention the Logan Act and does not accuse the #47wankers of violating it. Did you receive instructions to bring up the Logan Act? Or did you just wake up with the desire to tell us all how informed you are?

      • I read through many of the posts and several used the Logan Act as grounds for action against the 47 brave Senators. In fact, The National Memo sent out a “support this” message to its followers asking for their signatures to use the Logan Act to get back at the Senators. Most legal experts have indicated that the Logan Act does not apply. “Receive instructions” … from whom? You again show that only low information voters follow the instructions received from the Dems instead of checking information to see if it’s even correct or viable.

    • Not so fast.

      While it’s not entirely clear whether the Logan Act would apply in this case, it’s not clear that it doesn’t, either (legal experts are divided on the issue), and putting the
      negative in capital letters doesn’t make it any more justified. If this were to be brought to the courts (it almost certainly won’t be), things could get interesting.

    • No problem with St. Ronnie’s 381 though, George W’s 291, HW was a piker at 166 and everyone’s fav crook, Nixon was at 346 but Obama at 203 as of 2/15/15 is apparently not to be “tolerated.” It’s embarrassing and yes, Europe is laughing at us. Have you been there lately? No, the discussion is not a joke if you care to delve into the facts and spare yourself the subjective tripe…

      • You are fogetting to count all the directives Obama issued like the ones to pass his failed ACA or the Aliens directive that the courts are striking down. Why am I not surprised at the lack of understanding you show. You fit the image of the low information voter the Dems target. FYI, I “live” in Europe about a month each year to visit relatives. Thus, I’m well aware of how little they think of Obama. The same dislike is true in Canada and many islands in the Caribbean.

        • Interesting, I have several relatives that live all over Europe, Australia, and New Zealand…..they all think this letter and the Senators that signed it was ridiculous and they think the U.S. should take them to court for their illegal (remember the Logan Act) actions.

          • You made 3 posts, with each showing you are a very low information person. I just returned from 8 days in Spain and 6 days in Denmark – I spend almost 5 months a year outside the USA – and I can verify that the biggest question is “why hasn’t Obama been impeached yet?!” The imaginary “relatives you clalim to know are just that – imaginary. I never claimed that Obama issued more Execitive Orders – I said Presidential Directives – like his PD on Immigration. If you count his Pds, then he has issued more than any president in 50 years. Also, the Logan Act does not apply to these 47 patriotic Senators. The only reason Obama and the Dems survive is because of low information (lack of brains) folks like you. Factcheck is owned by rich liberals and has been found to be correct only 64% of the time! Try expanding your sources. You may learn something (but I doubt you’re smart enough)!

          • First of all, it’s interesting that you know me SO well that you can “claim” that my relatives are “imaginary.” Trust me, they are NOT! Secondly, the Logan Act DOES apply to the 47 treasonous Senators (see below)

            Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

            This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

            I assume that since you have relatives in Europe….they probably think like you, so their opinions are subject to their individual biases. I speak with all my relatives AND have visited them and their friends…..some are conservative; others are more liberal or moderate…..but they ALL agree that the letter was totally uncalled for and treasonous.

            As for being “low information,” the GOP thrives on keeping its base uninformed by using lies and scare tactics. It’s a known fact. And, about Factcheck, I don’t only use them as my reference, I do quite a bit of reference checking before I make comments, unlike some people on this thread.
            In your comment about my “being smart enough, I hold 6 college degrees, including a dual MBA. My GPA for all my degrees was over 3.5. I also have 23 years of military service as an officer (LTC). I worked my way from a lowly PFC up to a direct commission by educating myself, both in the military AND in civilian life. I am also a member of Mensa (and if you aren’t aware of what Mensa is….it’s a group of people with high IQ’s). So, I guess you’re wrong about that one too.

          • Normal low information response – state the law from 1799, even if it does NOT apply. Both sides, and the DOJ have already agreed on this. ALL treaties must be approved by the Senate – thus they are approved to speak with “the enemy”. Looks like you’re coming to party late – again.
            Having a hi IQ does not mean you’re smart. I have a PhD, M.S., double B.S. and taught graduate level courses for many years at a major university. The Dems live off low information folks like you. Polls in Europe show the majority are upset with Obama’s lack of expertise in foreign affairs. Your “real” friends are in the minority then.

          • Wow, for someone so bright, it’s amazing that you can watch what the GOP is doing to our nation and STILL think they are the best!!! Interesting! Unfortunately, it’s the GOP that lives off of low information people, that’s why they are so down on education, especially in the southern states!! You believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe, okay? You’ll never change your mind, and neither will I. When the manure hits the rotating blade because of what the GOP is trying to do, and when it hits you…..then I can say “I told you so.”
            I’d also be interested in understanding why you don’t think the Logan Act doesn’t apply… most certainly does in ALL instances. It doesn’t matter when it was enacted or what the situation was, it still applies today.

    • I can only assume your name is meant to be ironic.
      Also stating that Members of the Senate have a “right and duty to remind an egotistical Obama that another executive order will not be tolerated” (I’ve corrected your spelling) implies that you don’t understand:
      – The Constitution
      – The branches of government and their roles.
      – The crazed screaming from the right when Dems tried something much less offensive in the past.
      – The meaning of the word “right”
      – The meaning of the word “duty”
      – The meaning of the word “egotistical”
      – The history and number of executive orders made by past presidents.
      …Or some combination of the above.

      I give you a 9/10 for entertainment and a 0/10 for usefulness.

      • What a uselss reply! If you count presidental directives, Obama has almost doubled the past 6 presidents’ totals. How many directives did he use to push his failed ACA through? Or his most recent illegals directive that the courts are beginning to strike down. The “Dems” actually went to the enemy’s country, and this is “something less offensive”? You are either brainwashed or really dumb.

        • You are incorrect….has signed fewer Executive Orders than any previous president. You may want to factcheck your babbling before you publish it.

      • Sure, let’s introduce race into the discussion. That’s what low information liberals do all the time when someone does not agree with them. You brain-dead souls don’t have one shred of proof that these justified actions were baed upon race – do you!?

    • Boy, are YOU misinformed….this negotiation with Iran has NOTHING to do with an executive order!! It’s being done by the U.N. and 5 other nations. It is a UN negotiation and the U.S. Government has nothing to do with it except to allow our president to act on our behalf, which he has the legal right to do.

  13. Clearly what we have here is a Fifth Column.

    A clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal.

    The rightwing wing nuts are not only insane, but they are very dangerous and too stupid to know it.

    How long is American going to put up with this crap. Enough is Enough!

  14. Only arrogance and ignorance would allow 47 Senators to do the very same thing they have accused other of being traitors for doing. Only extreme self-righteousness would give them the courage to say others have done it. Two wrongs never make a right and when there is reams of digital footage showing GOP Congress people negatively reacting those “others who have done it,” it is plain stupid to use that as an excuse. Those Senators should be ashamed of themselves and so should the people who voted for them. I cannot honestly say if they should go to prison or be fined for what they have done, but I can honestly say that none of them are suited to be serving in the Senate, they do have the ethics, intelligence, humanity or ability to properly serve.

  15. What we can do, is send letters to each one of the senators to let them know how disgusted we think they are with their actions, which I have done. That is of course, if they can read. The letter was short without a lot of big words because I didn’t want to overwhelm them but at least I feel I have done something but fume.

  16. If a President had a Congress with a history other than hystrionic obstruction, who had proven itself capable of responsible advise and consent on other issues, who were not sworn to obstruct for the sake of obstruction, they may have been involved in these negotiations of a deal in the critical first stages of talk.

    But, I think, even if there were a responsible and adult, altruistic Congress, it would be counterproductive to add 250 or more voices to this effort at the stage of formulating a deal that first requires the input of those who must agree to something, P5+1 and Iran, which is difficult enough. That would insure the same kind of cacophony that is happening because they were not included. Does anyone think anything would be any different, had Congress been included? Methinks the appropriate person, Corker, has been kept apprised, but, I can certainly understand why having all those unruly kids at the table would have been a bad idea.

    I now suspect it would not be a good idea to bring the final agreed upon deal….if there even is one… this bunch of kids in the Majority Congress. I think, if there is another way to implement an agreed upon deal, that it would be the wisest path to follow. After all, the other Western countries could do it without us, can’t they? Would it not be better for us to be involved with the oversight of compliance, should a deal be made? Or, do Republicans want the US without any role whatsoever in world affairs?

    It just may be that Republicans understand their current crop of leaders have no ability to deal with foreign policy, as evidenced by the condescending letter for one thing, and so, their goal is to eliminate the need for foreign policy credentials altogether.

    Who knows how they think? Stranger things have happened. They cannot govern so they want to eliminate government….which begs the question, why have them sitting in government jobs then?

    • First of all, this negotiation is NOT between Iran and the U.S…’s a UN negotiation and includes 5+ nations. Our Senate or Congress have NOTHING to do with I and have no need to ratify it. They all need to go back to Civics 101 and read about negotiation with the U.N. Additionally, our president has the legal right to negotiate with foreign countries….these 47 idiots do not!

      • Yes, I know that. But what about Congress imposing sanctions on Iran, even with the UN agreement in place? I know the President can veto such a bill, but, only if it is “veto proof”, right? I would expect any UN mutually agreed upon deal would have consequences “built in” in the event the agreement was not honored by Iran. There would be no need for any individual country to act, right? But, this Congress might want to “do their own thing” just to prove their relevancy and mess it all up.

        • You can surely bet that if there’s some way for Congress to screw it up….they’ll give it a try. But, since the agreement is being brokered by the UN Security Council….there’s not a lot they can do, and President Obama will do what he does so well to stop them!!

  17. In all the discussion about this letter, has anyone discovered or talked about how many nuclear warheads Israel has? Cotton said on television yesterday that his aim is to make sure Iran does not get nuclear capability. Why wasn’t this idiot asked about Netanyahu getting America involved in another winless land war with Iran? If an agreement with Iran is reached, Congress would still be involved with its “advise and consent” part. I no longer support Netanyahu and Israel when they keep taking land from innocent Arab civilians, claiming it as their religious right to do so, and then putting settlers on these lands. Cotton (since he does not adhere to protocol, I will never address him with any title) and his cabal are guilty of a mutinous action againt President Obama.

  18. I am going to skip the diversion this article represents no matter how brave those three individuals were at the time. Instead, I am more concerned about the lack of bravery illustrated by the forty-seven Senators who would undercut the efforts of a seated U.S. President while mindlessly totting the water for American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This Lobby group and the foreign interests that they represent are not just in Israel but throughout the region. ” On all matters related to Israel, Iran, Egypt, Palestinians etc. AIPAC is essentially the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” AIPAC is directed lock-step and barrel by one Howard Kohr…

    They are the source of immense power in our nation’s Capitol and throughout our political system including elected officials. One need look no further than the sixty-day wonder , Sen. Tom Cotton (R) Arkansas who while claiming authorship of the treasonous text once again on “Face the Nation” yesterday sounded more like an AIPAC wind-up doll than any responsible elected U.S. Official. If it’s possible to out Netanyahu in terms of hyperbole this might very well be your guy..Of course this isn’t the Senator’s first foray into the literary or legislative writing world on behalf of Israel either….He once co-sponsored a failed- amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 that would penalize violators of the sanctions with not only a twenty-year minimum sentence but include family members down the line to include great-grand children.

    And if you don’t think that kind of fealty is appreciated by Israel consider the fact the good Senator accepted a $700,000.00 campaign assist from the Emergency Committee on Israel late in his 2014 Senate run.

    Now whether Sen. Cotton is writing letters or AIPAC is writing them for him, every American citizen should be more concerned when our elected Senate members are not so much negotiating with a foreign govt. on our behalf but rather trying to influence the outcome of negotiations in the interest of another foreign government…..that being Israel…Lobbying on steroids maybe? Treasonous? Despicable? All probably apt in this case but ” the snow-storm excuse” has to be all the all time low in U.S. Senate history for lack of considered dialogue on the matter.

    • So the three Dems’ escapades are nothing more than a diversion, and you think they are heroes, yet you state the GOP Senators are traitors.The word that comes to mind is hypocrite.

      • As an Independent, I would applaud any effort -yesterday, today or tomorrow that would diminish the drumbeat of war. The actions of the three as such were especially heroic during that war lust of that period. The directed actions of the forty-seven U.S. Senators on behalf of a foreign “power” without a single syllable of public deliberation were at the least -treasonous. 200,000 Americans think so too….

        • 200,000 Americans think so? My, thats a huge number. So the Dems were heroes, and the GOP Senators are traitors? The GOP Senators were not aiding and abetting Iran. Here’s a truth for you-the biggest traitor to this country is sitting in the Oval Office. And you may be assured that a great deal more than 200,000 Americans feel this way.

          • Actually I think the petition is up around 325K now…..When you have National Rags like the Daily News in NYC which is no Obama fan calling the forty-seven GOP Senators Traitors? Trust me you got yourselves a major messaging problem….
            The GOP is off to a great start with their new found plurality…

            “Aiding and abetting” is your phrase…..(Not even close)
            My contention is that these Senators are attempting to influence the negotiations on behalf of a foreign govt…….That would be Israel…

            Happy St. Patrick’s Day…..

  19. It is a very sad statement for modern America that our people will continue to elect these utter fools, no matter how badly they misbehave and bring world wide shame to our country. Just as the ISIL group brings shame and disgrace to all honorable Muslims. In the same way our extremists claim to be “Christians” while going against the spirit of everything that Jesus tried to teach.

  20. Plus, because this is a UN negotiation, the next president can’t do a darn thing about without going against the United Nations, but I guess these idiots failed Civics Class and ddn’t learn that.

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