The Tom Cotton letter usefully highlights Leftist stupidity

1364477366-tom-cottonI side with the people who think that Tom Cotton and the 46 senators who joined with him in an open letter to apprise the Iranians about the way our Constitutional system works did the world a great service.  As I’ll discuss at greater length below, the letter is a simple, beautifully written exposition about the American Constitution and its effects.  In addition, it’s a wonderful honey pot for calling stupid Progressives out of their dark caves and exposing their ignorance to bright sunlight.

The Cotton letter is really nothing more than an elegant primer about the balance of powers and the way in which Congress, which more closely represents the American people than does the president, gets to have a say in foreign policy.  For those of you who haven’t yet read the letter, or for those who would enjoy re-reading it, here’s the text:

It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices—which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.

There are a few things you need to notice about the letter to appreciate just how terribly Leftists are beclowning themselves. First, its tone is extremely respectful. It says nothing derogatory about anyone. Second, its content makes no reference whatsoever to the terms of Obama’s negotiations with the Mullahs. The only thing it does is offer information readily available to anyone who bothers to read the United States Constitution. (Reading the Constitution, of course, is as easy as plugging the words “United States Constitution” into Bing.)

This lucid, respectfully-stated summation of publicly available information has started a hysterical firestorm on the Left. The first cries were directed to all 47 Senators — Traitors! Logan Act violators! Both these insults were the products of stupid minds.

With regard to the treason claim, the letter certainly didn’t give aid and comfort to an enemy, which is the definition of treason. We’re not at war with Iran and the Mullahs do not appear to have received either aid or comfort ftom learning that Obama was over-promising. Indeed, they seemed angered and disappointed, which is how we like it when we’re dealing with people who, even though we’re not at war with them, have been at war with us since 1979.

The hysterics do not fare any better with the Logan Act claim. The Logan Act forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S. An example of the type of conduct contemplated under the Logan Act occurs when a member of the armed forces travels to a foreign capital to engage in peace talks with an enemy that is facing off against our troops in a hot war on the battlefield. That’s a Logan Act violation.

The Logan Act, however, does not apply to United States Senators who send an open letter summarizing the Constitutional balance of powers. There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents Senators from visiting with, talking to, or trading information with foreign powers. Senators do it all the time, whether to gather useful information or to make nice with dictators. As long as they’re not entering into negotiations for international agreements, it’s all good — and if the Senator in question who does that is a Democrat, it’s still all good.

The Leftists seem to have figured out that, despite getting almost 300,000 signatures on their petition seeking Logan Act charges against the Republican Senators, that petition isn’t going anywhere — except that it will force the White House, when it responds to the petition, to concede that the Republican Senators had the perfect right to act as they did.

Balked in their quest for a collective spill of Republican blood, the Lefties have a new tactic. They’re now pointing to members of the armed forces and accusing them of having violated the military code.

Ground central for loony Leftist lies is the Daily Kos, which is suddenly extremely solicitous about the whole military code of conduct.  (Keep in mind these are the same people who still think John Kerry is a hero for having thrown someone else’s military medals over the White House fence and who include in their Big Tent  the whole cohort of screamers who spent the entire Iraq war calling our troops “baby killers.”)

The Daily Kos’s particular target is Jodi Ernst. I really can’t do justice to its fulminations, so let me quote. (Since I don’t feel like honoring the Daily Kos with a hyperlink, here’s a non-hyperlinked URL if you want to see the original: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/12/1370336/-Lt-Col-Joni-Ernst-should-be-court-martialed-for-signing-the-seditious-letter-to-Iran.)

It is a privilege to serve in the US military.  With that privilege comes obligations.  Following military law is one of them. When Lt. Col. Joni Ernst signed the seditious letter to Iran, she broke a serious law.

Lt. Col. Joni Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa, serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. As such, she is bound by the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.  Her signing of the seditious letter to Iran is a clear and direct violation of Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.

29B.85  CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS.
Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

This is very serious infraction.  We are a nation governed by civilians.  Our Commander-in-Chief is a civilian.  The government officials that hold ultimate authority over our military are civilians.  This is true at the federal level and the state level.  This has always been the case since George Washington was president.  He resigned his military commission to accept the position of president.   We have never in our history had a military ruler.  Military obedience to civilian authority is critical and essential if we are to maintain the democracy we inherited.   That is why “contempt towards officials” is such a serious matter. Lincoln enforced that discipline during the Civil War. Even with the imposition of martial law, Lincoln remained a civilian commander. Truman enforced the same discipline after WWII when he relieved Gen. MacArthur of his command. Obama enforced the same discipline recently when Gen. McChrystal was relieved of his command. There is nothing anachronistic about this fundamental principle.

Let me say this very slowly because we’re clearly dealing with teeny-weeny brains here:  There. Are. No. Contemptuous. Words. Against. Obama. In. The. Tom. Cotton. Letter.  The letter’s only specific references to President Obama are as follows (emphasis added):

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

The first reference notes with complete factual accuracy, and no disrespect, when Obama’s term of office expires.  The second reference notes with complete factual accuracy, and no disrespect, that without three-fifths of Congress approving any agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei, there is no treaty, there is only an executive agreement.

Now, if the Cotton letter had gone on to add that President Obama, despite his status as a constitutional law teacher, is an ignoramus when it comes to the Constitution; or that Obama is obviously engaged in a serious fraud against Iran and others in the world to the extent they rely on him to deliver a treaty; or that Obama seems to have abandoned the limitations of the U.S. Constitution in favor of the power of a tyrant — well, any one of those statements might be deemed “contemptuous.”

That, of course, is not what our reservist Senators did.  Indeed, one could argue that reciting manifest facts about the Constitution’s language is the most respectful act a military person can perform.  It’s heartening to know that the men and women who put themselves in the front line know what they’re fight for — and it’s not the United Nations, which Obama is now trying to bring into the loop in order to bypass Congress.

Joni Ernst isn’t the only target.  Over at the Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart is just thrilled to write that a retired GENERAL also thinks Cotton was disrespectful:

I turned to retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton for perspective. He wouldn’t say Cotton and Co. were “traitors,” either. He had a better word.

“I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, whose long career includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to VoteVets.org. “I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.” Eaton certainly had stern words for Cotton.

“What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better,” Eaton told me. “I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.” The consequences of Cotton’s missive were plainly apparent to Eaton. “The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran,” he said.

Somewhere along the line, Major Gen. Eaton (clearly the very model of a modern major general who sounds erudite but actually knows nothing), has lost sight of the fact that Cotton is not an active duty military man but is, instead, an active duty American Senator.  Cotton’s obligations lie with the American people, not with the President — especially when the President is not acting in his role as commander-in-chief but is, instead, acting in his role as sell-out and appeaser-in-chief.

Incidentally, if it wasn’t immediately obvious from Eaton’s remarkably uninformed remarks, he’s also a hard core Lefty.  Considering that Eaton is not only a moron, but also a sufficiently adept political animal to have held a high position during Operation Iraqi Freedom’s lowest ebb , before General Petraeus turned it around, I can only say that I, for one, am profoundly grateful that Eaton retired and is now reduced to making little clucking noises on Leftist media rather than having direct responsibility for American troops.  As a civilian, he’s just one of a herd of similarly-situated Leftist lickspittles.  Were he still in the military, he could do real damage.

The cries of “traitor” ring out

obama gives us the finger_thumb[41]My legal workload has left somewhat unaware of the latest news cycle.  I was therefore surprised yesterday to see that one of my reliably Leftist friends on Facebook was saying that all of the Republicans in the Senate should be taken out and shot as traitors.

Working backwards, I discovered that the Republicans’ alleged treachery consisted of signing on to Sen. Tom Cotton’s letter educating the Iranian mullahs about our constitutional system: namely, that the president can make deals, but that the United States is bound by a treaty only if the three-fifths of the Senate ratifies it. Without that ratification, Obama’s “deal” lasts only until another president changes his (or her) mind.

Cotton, of course, is absolutely correct. The mullahs’ outraged reaction, in which they invoke international law as if that has the power to override a country’s internal rules for what it takes to create a binding treaty, tells us that they were woefully misinformed about the nature of the deal that they were planning on executing with President Obama. Could it be that our constitutional law professor/chief executive failed to inform them about the limitations on his power or, worse, misinformed them?

In any event, the Republicans’ temerity in making sure that the mullahs fully understood just how time-limited their deal is sent the reliably Leftist American media into a frenzy: “Traitor!” they cried. And my Progressive friend, being a good foot soldier, echoed that cry.

It’s worth looking at what constitutes “treason” as a matter of law:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

To the extent that Iran is still not our friend (not having signed on yet to Obama’s friendly deal), one could reasonably describe Iran — you know, the “death to America” and “let’s fund world terrorism” nation — as an enemy. The question one ask to ask, then, is who, precisely, is giving “aid and comfort” to that enemy?

When Tom Cotton authored and fellow Republicans signed a letter informing Iran that a mere “deal” with an American president will not give them a ten-year long nuclear free ride, the mullahs felt neither aided nor comforted. They were, instead, enraged. Moreover, their anger seemed to stem from their sense that the letter snatched aid and comfort away from them.

But what am I saying? Our august president, the one who, from Day 1 has allied himself practically and emotionally with Islam’s most extreme elements across the globe, while simultaneously doing everything within his power to undermine the world’s lone Jewish nation, would never offer “aid and comfort” to an American enemy, would he?

Open Thread: Unconfirmed rumor that Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is dead *UPDATED — NOT DEAD*

UPDATE: Sadly, the reports of Khamenei’s death appear to be premature.

ayatollah-khameneiIt appears that Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, may be dead. What will this mean for Obama’s planned grand bargain?

I am insufficiently knowledgeable about the inner workings of Iran’s government to know whether the transition to a new “Supreme Leader” will be seamless, or whether we’ll see a resumption of the Green Revolution that our own Dear Leader Obama so assiduously ignored (and we know why now, don’t we?).

No matter how seamless the transition could be, the death of a high political official has a nasty habit of throwing the wrench into somebody’s works. This death is also a reminder that Iran is ruled by old men.

Do any of you know what the next generation is like? I’ve heard, although I couldn’t point to any authorities right now, that Iran’s up and coming generation is cynical, jaded, and irreligious. I find that easy to believe. Thirty-five years of religious dictatorship will do that to people. In England, when Cromwell died, the same English people who had embraced his revolution turned with relief to Charles II, the Merry Monarch.

Dream scenario:  Those jaded, oppressed citizens use the opportunity of Khamenei’s death, assuming it’s real, to rise up and — to Hell with Obama — they throw the bastards out.  With luck, the transition will be sufficiently chaotic to preclude either Grand Bargains with Obama or, even better, the new leadership will be uninterested in or unable to develop nuclear weapons.

I know.  I know.  My dreams are about as likely as seeing the Niners win the Super Bowl next year — but a girl can dream.

The Bookworm Beat 3-5-15 — “I’m still standing” edition and open thread

Woman writingLast year I had virtually no work; this year, if the pace keeps up, I’ll be working almost full time. Frankly, I preferred no work.

Fortunately — and the lawyers amongst you will appreciate this — I’m getting access to Westlaw again, and won’t be trapped in Lexis hell. When it comes to Westlaw, it’s a brilliant interface and I feel like a brilliant practitioner when I use it.

I’m not going to stop blogging, though, just because of a little legal work.  I’ve been collecting interesting information, and now I get to share it with you:

Obama’s misguided (or evil) efforts to spin his Middle Eastern failures as successes

I’ve been trying to have a more optimistic view of things in my life lately, along the lines of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Traffic tickets are an opportunity to be a better driver. Joint problems are a reminder to repair my body before old-age makes doing so impossible. Things like that — seeing problems as opportunities for improvement.

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#BibiSpeech #NetanyahuSpeech — Open Thread

Netanyahu's 2015 speech to CongressHave you listened to Netanyahu’s speech yet?  It was a masterful speech (and I wish American conservatives would listen and learn from it). In clear, elegant, often clever English, Bibi explained precisely why Obama’s proposed deal with Iran is an awful deal, one that paves the way for Iran to have a nuclear weapon system on the sly in the near future or completely legally in a decade. Bibi reminded his audience that Iran isn’t just any state — it is now, and has been for 36 years — the largest single terrorism sponsor in the world.

If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the video:

Or, if you prefer reading to listening, here’s the transcript.

Bibi made a point that every sane person understands: Rewarding a bad actor does not make him less bad, it makes him more bad.

Along the way, Bibi addressed a point that has troubled some conservatives: Israel is much more worried about Iran than it is about ISIS, while the American people are more worried about ISIS than Iran. I really think that part of the speech gets to the heart of what should be every civilized person’s concern about what’s happening in the Middle East and around the world:

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The Bookworm Beat 2-26-15 — the evening edition and open thread

Woman writing

Alan Dershowitz challenges the talk about boycotting Netanyahu’s speech

Read and enjoy Alan Dershowitz’s fiery denunciation of the Obama administration’s efforts to get Democrats — especially black ones — to boycott Netanyahu’s speech about the existential threat Obama’s policies pose to Israel.

I won’t comment on the article — it speaks for itself — but I will comment on a couple of peripheral things. Dershowitz is a Democrat, but he’s also an ardent Israel supporter. I therefore can’t help but think that, as Obama prepares to break with Israel and ally America with Iran, it’s not a coincidence that Dershowitz suddenly found himself swept up in the pedophile sex scandal involving Jeffrey Epstein.

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The Bookworm Beat 2-23-15 — Post-Vegas edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI do like Vegas. I love its manic energy, crazed corporate imagination, over-the-top shows, brilliant colors, and flashing lights. And then, after three days, I’m desperate to get away from the noise and smoke and, often, the desperation floating above the casino floors. In other words, I had a great trip there and then was glad to come home again. This time, coming home also meant going through about 800 backed-up emails (a lot of people got heartfelt apologies from me for delaying so long before responding to them), and finding some awesome things to share with you.

A glowing French eye-view of American troops

When we think of the French, we tend to think of hyper-critical people who look down upon Americans. That stereotype might be true on the Île-de-France, but it turns out to be untrue in the theater of war, at least as to one French soldier who served with American troops (Echo Company) in Afghanistan. If this doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute, I truly don’t know what will:

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The Israelis are waking up to Obama’s anti-Israel agenda

Back in 2010, in a prescient interview for the New English Review, Richard Rubenstein, PhD, predicted with quite amazing accuracy the approach that Obama would take to the Middle East in the coming years. You and I suspected this all along but what makes this prescient video quite fascinating is that it’s starting to make the rounds amongst Israelis. I received it from an Israeli cousin who has gone from a lifetime of being a Leftist (his mother was a Communist to the day she died) to fearing Obama and, for that reason, supporting Netanyahu.

If you read just one article today about ISIS, read Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants”

Why is militant Islam Like EbolaI can’t imagine that you’ve traveled anywhere across the conservative internet today without coming across a link to Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants.” It’s a long article, but so informative and important that it would be a good thing if everybody took a few minutes out of their day to read it.  Indeed, I’d make everyone in Obama’s administration read it often enough to have it memorized.

A lot of what Wood has to say is familiar to all of us who haven’t been pretending that ISIS is just a JV Team of malcontents taking the name of Allah in vain. Wood destroys any claim that ISIS isn’t Islamic:

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Getting Obama to the right place in dealing with Israel

Obama in IsraelJust a random thought, but could Obama be persuaded to stop Iran from developing the bomb by convincing him that the mere possibility of a nuclear accident or intentional detonation is bad for the environment and would, in fact, worsen climate change?

Or perhaps we could convince huge numbers of LGBTQs to immigrate to Israel (the only country in the Middle East that welcomes them, rather than kills them) so that he’d have a reason he could live with to justify Israel’s continued existence?

Or maybe we could convince Obama that, if the land really does belong to the Palestinians, all the Jews there are illegal immigrants and therefore entitled to amnesty (not to mention lots of American money).

Come on, folks!  Work with me here.  We need to spin this so that Obama feels ideologically and emotionally comfortable supporting Israel.

The Bookworm Beat 2-6-15 — the “Fearless Friday” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingObama’s adversarial relationship with Christianity

What did we expect already from yesterday’s Prayer Breakfast? Obama long ago put the world on notice that he’s going full Bulworth (i.e., after six years in office, he intends, finally, to stop lying and speak the truth).

While before Obama just let out peevish little trickles of animosity, anyone paying attention could tell that:

(a) he’s profoundly ignorant about history — not just American history, but any history, including Muslim and Christian history;

(b) he hates Christians and Christianity;

(c) he hates America, no matter that this nation twice elected him as president (with a little help from the IRS, of course); and

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