Nel's New Day

March 16, 2015

Cotton’s Letter to Iran Disgusts Both Left, Right

Filed under: Foreign policy,War — trp2011 @ 9:50 PM
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Talking points for the GOP for decades have been “compassionate conservativism” and  trickle-down economics as they claim that the rising tide will lift all boats. Neither conservative economic philosophy nor analogy has proven successful. The real GOP philosophy is corporate rule, low wages, and war, that adds money to the coffers of the wealthy. The 114th Congress has launched its boat onto the waters to drown any policies such as repairing the infrastructure, educating people, helping workers in a crisis, addressing climate change—anything that would contribute to the welfare of the people in the United States.

The current goal of the new GOP Senate is war, as evidenced by Tom Cotton (R-AK), architect of the letter to Iran, that awkwardly tells its leaders that Congress, not the president, is in control of foreign policy. In a speech to the Heritage Foundation, Cotton demanded a halt to any negotiations with Iran explaining that this is the intended consequence of congressional action. In short, “We want war.”

Cotton is riding a bit lower after his appearance yesterday on CBS’ Face the Nation. Other senators have demonstrated their abysmal background in foreign policy, but Cotton may have topped them when he said that Iran’s occupation of Tehran shows the country’s quest for regional domination. In fact, Tehran is the capital of Iran. He also said that he would agree to a deal with Iran only if they immediately dismantled their nuclear weapons—which they don’t have. Cotton wants to duplicate the start of war with Iraq in 2003 with a much worse consequence. Host Bob Schieffer also asked Cotton a very pointed question which made him slightly uncomfortable:

Cotton: “The fact that President Obama doesn’t see this letter as way to get more leverage at the negotiating table just underscores that he is not negotiating for the hardest deal possible.”

Schieffer: “Are you planning to contact any other of our adversaries? Do you plan to check with the North Koreans to make sure they know any deal has to be approved by the Congress?”

Cotton (smiling nervously): “Right now I and most every other senator is focused on stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Soon after the letter became public, a few people tried to defend Cotton with his military record in the Gulf. That failed after others pointed out that negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry has a much more distinguished military record.

cotton cartoon

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said the letter warning that any nuclear deal could be scrapped by a new president was “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” […]

“All countries, according to the international norms, remain faithful to their commitments even after their governments change, but the American senators are officially announcing that at the end of the term of their current government, their commitments will be considered null and void.”

People on the political right have been as critical as those on the left.


Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and an aide in both Bush administrations, said partisan overtures such as the GOP letter make the world more uncertain, dangerous, and disorderly.


George Pataki, a former Republican governor of New York, said: “Just imagine if, come 2017, there’s a Republican president and a Democratic Congress. … Would Republican senators want a Democratic Senate sending a letter to a country when the president is engaged in negotiations? I don’t think so.”


Fox host Greta Van Susteran said during an appearance on ABC: “I think that letter was horrific. It end runs the president, which I think is terrible. I think they could have achieved the same goal without sending a letter becoming pen pals with the leadership of Iran.”

A major concern from the GOP leadership is that the letter, signed by 47 senators, will hurt its party. One Republican called the letter “a disaster” because “the Democrats have totally framed and owned the debate, and our GOP senators are getting pummeled.” This position is accurate, with conservative newspapers that endorsed Republican senatorial candidates in the last election are now chastising their choices for signing the letters.


The Ohio Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cincinnati Enquirer that endorsed Rob Portman in 2010: “The magnitude of this disgraceful decision,” a Plain Dealer editorial said, “shows the degree to which partisanship has gobbled up rationality on foreign policy.” (Plain Dealer) The letter “diminishes the dignity of the Senate by disparaging the president and presenting an amateur lesson on U.S. governance.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)


The Nashua’s (NH) Telegraph which endorsed Kelly Ayotte in 2010: “One wonders how loud and angry the Republican response would have been if a petty clan of Democratic senators had written an open letter to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev [during nuclear arms talks with Washington].”


The Peoria (IL) Journal Star which endorsed Mark Kirk in 2010: “Our expectations were higher of Kirk.”


The Salt Lake Tribune (UT) which endorsed Orrin Hatch in 2012: “The senators seem determined to build tensions in the Middle East, endanger Israel and greatly increase the chances that the United States will wind up taking military action against Iran.” Headline reads, “Lee, Hatch join a foolish campaign.” [It is to be noted that this newspaper, in the heart of Mormon country, endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2012.]


The Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal which endorsed Dean Heller in 2012: “The ones who may not fully understand how the U.S. government works are Heller and the other signatories…. Imagine if during George W. Bush’s presidency, the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate had written to the leaders of Iraq or Afghanistan that they should not take seriously any agreements hammered out with the White House and our allies because Democrats will try at the earliest opportunity to undo them.”


A huge irony surrounding Cotton’s letter is congressional members’ failure to even discuss—let alone debate or vote on—the war against the self-described Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It’s been going on for over seven months with more than 2,600 airstrikes and the deployment of about 3,000 troops. As GOP members of Congress wail about the president extending his powers, they have taken no action to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allowing for continued expansion of war powers for the executive branch. The GOP will subvert the president by secretly inviting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress and send a subversive letter to Iran, but they won’t take any action in Congress to take over the powers for themselves.


Raised by Democratic parents, Cotton’s “my-way-or-the-highway” philosophy was honed at Harvard where he wrote a thesis agreeing with his perception of the Founder’s opposition to democracy because people are inherently selfish, narrow-minded, and impulsive. According to Cotton, the United States must be led by a class of intellectually superior officeholders whose ambition sets them above other men. In other words, men like him.


Cotton voted against $300 million in federal funding for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock although he tried to convince voters that he had supported the hospital. In the House he was the only Arkansas Republican to vote twice against the farm bill and five times against disaster-aid funding, two areas important to rural Southerners. He was also the only Arkansan to vote for a budget that slashed spending, voucherized Medicare, and raised the Social Security age to 70. He wants food stamps cut because too many recipients live “high on the hog,” and he voted against equal pay legislation and the Violence Against Women Act. He opposed the relief bill for Hurricane Sandy was that it was rushed through, exactly like the letter to Iran as senators were leaving town. Cotton has shown “a harsh, unyielding, judgmental political philosophy, one that makes little allowance for compassion or human weakness,” according to journalist Molly Ball in The Atlantic.


This is the man who is leading 47 senators and at least five wannabe senators around by their noses.

October 21, 2012

Ain’t Some Religions Grand!

Less than a year ago, prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress condemned Romney’s faith, calling it a “cult.” Now he’s “made peace” with Romney’s Mormonism because he opposes President Obama more. Jeffress told Janet Mefferd on her radio show that it is still better to vote for Romney, even though he is a member of a “cult” and “false religion” that believes in a “multiplicity of god,” than President Obama because of his stances on marriage equality and abortion rights.

Another religious leader scrubbed away the cult, this time on the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Other religious groups haven’t caved yet: the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult, and the Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.

In another church-based sex scandal, 30-year-old Sovereign Grace Ministries with 80 congregations is being sued for sexual abuse against, failing to report these, and discouraging members from law enforcement cooperation. The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy of than two decades while church representatives permitted suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplied them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution, and forced victims to meet with and “forgive” their molesters.

After Dinesh D’Souza accused President Obama of “attacking the traditional values agenda” and “traditional morality” in his best-selling “documentary,” 2016: Obama’s America, the president of an evangelical Christian college in New York, resigned from his position after it was reported that he shared a hotel room with his mistress at a religious conference. D’Souza is still married although separated from his wife. As for the film, the New York Daily News judges the material in the film as having “no evidence” and wrote that many of D’Souza’s opinions “don’t hold water.”

Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan’s atheist and anti-charity mentor, would be proud of the Catholic vice-presidential candidate. First he fights a safety net for disadvantaged people, saying that this will make them “victims,” and then almost single-handedly cuts donations to a non-profit, nonpartisan soup kitchen for the poor. Ryan went to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society (Youngstown, OH) soup kitchen last week without permission after people had finished most of the cleanup and washed a few “dirty” dishes that volunteers had saved for him.

Brian J. Antal, president of the facility, told the Washington Post that he feared Ryan’s political theater would jeopardize donations to the foodbank that annually serves over 100,000. Antel was right. Donations to the all-volunteer charity are down, but Ryan got his photo-op.  Donations to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501 or online. Donors should specify that their donations are for the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.

In trying to explain away his disregard for women’s rights, Ryan has compared them to “left-handed Irishmen.” (Yes, he did say that the war on women was as fictional as war on left-handed Irishmen. But he still used the comparison!)

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has had to apologize—again!—after he accused his opponent, Elizabeth Warren of using paid actors in her advertisements defending the legal work she did on asbestos-related lawsuits. At least three people in the ads have complained about Brown’s offensive statements. Ginny Jackson, whose husband died of mesothelioma after working at a Quincy shipyard that was filled with asbestos, said, “What Scott Brown said today is so offensive to me and my family after what we went through. He’s sunk to a new low.” John F. English was more direct than Jackson. “Let Scott Brown tell me to my face that I am nothing but a paid actor, and I’ll set him straight on what it was like to watch my father suffocate to death,” English said. Nate Silver gives Warren a 89.1 percent chance of winning.

Also sinking to a new low is Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). After his debate with opponentTammy Duckworth, Walsh said that women never die from childbirth. He claimed that pro-choice advocates use the possibility of maternal death “to make us look unreasonable.” In fact, pregnancy-related deaths have increased  in the US, climbing to a rate of 15.1 deaths for every 100,00 live births . For black women the rate is 34.8 percent.

One poll has Duckworth leading by 54 percent to Walsh’s 39 percent. The super PAC Now or Never, which has already put $2 million behind Walsh plans another $2.5 million to “bury Duckworth” (the PAC’s words). Duckworth is a veteran who had both her legs amputated after a helicopter crash in Iraq.   

First Paul Ryan has yet to bring home his own state for the Republican presidential ticket, and now the Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper, endorsed President Obama and attacked Romney. I’ve provided a few quotes, but the entire editorial is well worth reading.

“Who is this guy [Romney], really, and what in the world does he truly believe? The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

“And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office. In the first months of his presidency, Obama acted decisively to stimulate the economy. His leadership was essential to passage of the badly needed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though Republicans criticize the stimulus for failing to create jobs, it clearly helped stop the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. The Utah Legislature used hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to plug holes in the state’s budget.

“In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

“Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.”

The last presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow. The subject is foreign policy, and the format the same as the first one although the participants will be seated at a table. Moderator Bob Schieffer, like his close friend Jim Lehrer, has a reputation for being fair and balanced, but also non-confrontational. Lehrer described dealing with the candidates’ aggressiveness as a “form of hell.” He said, “That aggressiveness is new, that sense of, ‘I’ve got more to say, and to hell with the rules. I was surprised by that. I didn’t expect it. No pair of candidates have ever done that before,” added Lehrer who has moderated more presidential debates than anyone else.

The 90-minute debate divided into six segments seems to concentrate on the Middle East and thus terrorism: America’s role in the world; the war in Afghanistan; Israel and Iran; the changing Middle East; terrorism; and China’s rise. Once again, Romney will lie. He will accuse the president of single-handedly reducing the military budget a year ago because the bipartisan sequester will force this issue if Republicans remain intransigent—which they are sure to do.

Romney will lie about his position on China, failing to remember (because of his Romesia) that three years ago he protested Obama’s decision to slap tariffs on cheap Chinese tires flooding the United States:

“Long story short, the wrong answer for America’s workers and for the wealth of every citizen of this nation is to try and put up barriers to stop competition, either domestic competition or competition from abroad. The right answer is always to see competition as an opportunity and a necessity for investment, innovation, technology and becoming more productive.”

Later in his book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.”

By the primary debates in 2011, Romney had reversed his position: “The actions a president can take are, No. 1, to declare China a currency manipulator. And under our law, that allows the president to apply tariffs in places where the president believes that China’s practices are killing American jobs.” When asked if this would harm jobs in this country, Romney said that you just had to forge ahead and do it and everything would be okay.

As for Libya and the death of four people there over a month ago, Rahm Emanuel declared Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) “reckless” for releasing Libya documents, thus endangering the lives of people still there. Romney will attack President Obama on the basis of veracity and competence, but he has to be very careful to not let his ignorance show as he did in the last debate. Instead he may concentrate on other areas such as Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia. This debate is a toss-up depending on how hard Romney hits, how people react to the hits, and how many missteps he has.


Today’s Good News: District Court Judge Neil Wake has blocked Arizona from applying a new law preventing Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state to provide medical care. Wake was a George W. Bush appointee based on the 2004 recommendations of both Arizona Republican senators John McCain and Jon Kyle. Can’t you just hear Fox news damning those liberal judges?!

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