Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/9/2018: Iran Deal Exit Edition

Gooooooooooood Morning Tehran!

1  Goodbye to an illegal—hence unethical— treaty. To get the pure ethics issue out of the way at the start, the argument from critics of President Trump’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal that, as MSNBC partisan-hack-disguised-but-none-too–well-as an-objective-journalist Andrea Mitchell wrote,

“So no matter what happens now, what they have basically said to the rest of the world is that we are not obeying an agreement that we signed. Now the United States of American under one administration can sign a deal, but it may not be accepted by future presidents.”

What was always the most undebatable objection to Obama’s deal was that it was a treaty that bypassed the Constitutional requirements for treaties. Such a significant agreement with such major risks and implications should have been submitted to the Senate as the Constitutional process demands. Thus it was illegal, as with so much of what the weak previous President foisted on the nation, the theory was that wrong and illegal or not, once “the deal” was in place it was a fait accompli. Note the irony of Obama’s worshipful congregation expressing fears that Trump is autocratic. All Trump could do was to submit the already established deal to Congress to un-do, and despite a majority in favor of doing just that, a filibuster by Democrats blocked it.

Verdict: This time President Trump has the Constitution on his side, and when the Constitution doesn’t suit Democrats, they ignore it.

2. An Ethics Hero for candor: Blogger Ann Althouse concluded her comments about the big news yesterday by saying, “I’m just looking at the public theater, of course. I have no idea what is really going on.”

Brava! And neither do I. And neither do you. Moreover, whether President Trump’s gambit turns out to be regarded as a brilliant masterstroke or a tragic blunder is entirely moral luck, just as his apparent success with North Korea is. All sorts of consequences, good, bad, and currently unimaginable, are possible.

3. Bias makes you CNN. This morning both CNN and CNN’s HLN were fearmongering with viewers, flogging the likelihood that Trump’s rejection of the Iran deal would raise gas prices, and also lose jobs because U.S. airline sales of passenger jets to Iran cannot be completed. Think about the ethical nature of that argument for keeping the deal in place. Lifting sanctions on Iran has allowed the nation to fund terrorism across the region, but its all worth it to Americans if gas prices stay low. Nice.

Then there was CNN’s openly partisan White House correspondent Jim Accosta, who tweeted this:

“Obama policies dumped by Trump: Iran deal, Paris Climate Agreement, Trans-Pacific Trade Deal, DACA, Obamacare Individual Mandate.”

Accosta apparently really thinks that this is res ipsa loquitur for how bad Trump is. A journalist so isolated by his political biases from reality can’t be a competent political reporter. I’m not a Trump supporter, but with the possible exception of the trade deal, I view all of the rest as positive developments, or at least arguably so, especially since most of them were examples of Obama skirting the Constitution or governing by edict.

4. Psychic News Update. Axios and AOL, among others, have announced that “President Donald Trump is reportedly feeling good about his decision to withdraw the US from the Iran deal on Tuesday — because experts are freaking out about it on CNN.” I’m sure glad objective journalists are on the job telling me what anonymous sources know what the President “feels.”

How can anyone trust or respect an institution that publishes crap like that as “news”?

5. Boy, is Trump lucky or what? (He couldn’t possibly be smart, could he?) It is especially hard for the President’s critics to declare his exit from Obama’s Iran deal as doomsday when his newly confirmed Secretary of State is returning from North Korea with three freed hostages. It is also hard to get too misty-eyed about the end of a dubious deal with a nation that reacts by its legislature chanting “Death to America!”

I don’t trust nations that feel that way about us. I think it is foolish, indeed nuts, to trust such nations. I’m funny that way.

6. How did the New York Times let THIS get to press? Bret Stephens, the unpredictable pseudo-conservative op-ed columnist who advocates the repeal of the Second Amendment, may have prepped himself for a reader lynching or paid leave with today’s column titled, A Courageous Trump Call on a Lousy Iran Deal.

Nothing is in it that wasn’t argued back when Obama unveiled the thing, but the piece is an excellent brief for Trump’s decision, for those who  have an open mind.

I was more fascinated by the comments, which seem  little substantive  support the average Times reader, generally well-educated, generally Democrat, has for Obama’s “legacy foreign policy achievement.” Let’s see:

…John Reynolds says that Trump’s action is just like Bush and Cheney starting a bogus war with Iraq.

….D.J. Long says that Stephens is choosing Israel over the U.S.

….Richard says that Stephens is a Trump sycophant.

…Turgid writes, “I’m sure Bret Stephens will be on the front lines when war breaks out between Israel and Iran. Go get ’em Bret.”

….About 19 out of 20 of the rest boil down to “Trump is an idiot/fool/asshole/creep and anything he does must be wrong” and the exact same  fearfulness that greeted Trump’s hard line approach to North Korea.

See #2 above.

 

 

 

186 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

186 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/9/2018: Iran Deal Exit Edition

  1. “What was always the most undebatable objection to Obama’s deal was that it was a treaty that bypassed the Constitutional requirements for treaties.”

    Then by definition is was not a treaty at all, but an informal personal agreement between President Obama and the Iran regime.

  2. valkygrrl

    Jack, what do you think of this suggestion to sanction Iran and anybody who does business with them.

    Can you think of anybody who should be sanctioned for doing business with Iran?

    • 1. I pay no attention to the new President of the NRA.
      2. Well, if sanctions on Iran include bars on doing business with Iran, then companies defying those sanctions can be prosecuted.

    • Is Oliver North doing business with Iran?

      • valkygrrl

        I did once hear it claimed that he exported some goods to Iran.

        • Oh, ok, so he’s not doing business with Iran.

          • valkygrrl

            I suppose it would depend on the veracity of those claims.

            • Verb tense matters.

              #VTM

              • Chris

                valky’s point was that North is a giant hypocrite, as you know.

                • Didn’t read this.

                  As long as you’re in a mood to walk back from hot headed red lines about leaving the blog, then you can also walk back from your comment about me being mealy-mouthed.

                  Until then, don’t expect interaction from me.

                • Chris wrote, “valky’s point was that North is a giant hypocrite”

                  All this innuendo is bull shit!

                  Why don’t you or valkygrrl prove that North is being a hypocrite about this.

                  • Oh wait, are you all talking about the Iran-Contra affair?

                    • Chris

                      Of course. How is that even a question?

                    • North was punished for the Iran Contra affair.

                      How does this make him a hypocrite today?

                    • Chris

                      Has he expressed regret for his actions?

                    • Chris wrote, “Has he expressed regret for his actions?”

                      1. That didn’t answer the question I asked.

                      2. Maybe in your after dinner stoned California numbness that means something significant to you, now can you explain what the heck it is supposed to mean to the rest of us straight people in relation to this conversation or my question.

                    • Chris

                      Some day you’ll learn how to make an inference.

                      We’ll resume this conversation on that day.

                    • Chris,
                      Does your wife-to-be know that you’re drinking whiskey and smoking crack at the same time?

                    • Chris,
                      After you reread your answer it must have caused you a major *kernongdefluggle, you can’t even explain what you wrote. Be honest with yourself Chris, you’re just too ignorant to answer the question that was asked so you attack the messenger.

                      *Kernongdefluggle (kərˈnông’di’fləɡəl) is that feeling you get when you interject a statement in a conversation that even you don’t fucking understand.

                    • Chris

                      Chris,
                      Does your wife-to-be know that you’re drinking whiskey and smoking crack at the same time?

                      Gross. I like beer and wine, period. She likes weed.

                      Any more invasive questions about my personal life, or have you figured out why North’s contrition or lack thereof is relevant to the charge of hypocrisy against him for criticizing deals with Iran?

                    • Chris wrote, “Gross. I like beer and wine, period. She likes weed.

                      Any more invasive questions about my personal life, or have you figured out why North’s contrition or lack thereof is relevant to the charge of hypocrisy against him for criticizing deals with Iran?”

                      Okay so now you’re telling the world that your fiancé is a California pot-head? Does she know that you are sharing personal information about her to the world? You really don’t know when to keep your mouth shut.

                      But wait, hold on a minute, I thought we weren’t going to resume this conversation until the day I “learned how to make an inference”, basically conforming to your way of thinking. I’m really impressed at how you choose to show us that you’re a man of your word.

                    • So Chris, do you think we’ve danced around the floor enough on this or do you want to continue?

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      Don’t tempt me.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “Don’t tempt me.”

                      Consider yourself “unleashed”.

                    • Chris

                      There’s nothing wrong with smoking pot once in a while, and you’re a judgmental, uptight, disrespectful asshole who is, as Spartan said the other day, impossible to have a conversation with.

                    • Chris you really want to dance some more? Really?

                      Chris wrote, “There’s nothing wrong with smoking pot once in a while, and you’re a judgmental, uptight, disrespectful asshole who is, as Spartan said the other day, impossible to have a conversation with.”

                      Your opinion of me is personally devastating. 😉

                      Chris wrote, “Also, your obsession with making needless references to my fiancé—which came immediately after Steve expressed happiness that she had a medical condition rendering her infertile, comments which you did not condemn—is gross and weird.”

                      It’s interesting that I’m expected to follow your moral code of condemning comments from others but you don;t seem to think that you should be req

                    • Stupid WordPress posted before I was done typing…

                      It’s interesting that I’m expected to follow your moral code of condemning comments from others but you don’t seem to think that you should be required to follow mine. Typical Progressive double standard.

                    • I’m through with this little sub thread, it’s nothing but tit-for-tat sniping anyway.

                    • Depends where you bought it. If it’s illegal, it’s wrong. The government said so. Civics 101.

                    • Chris

                      Also, your obsession with making needless references to my fiancé—which came immediately after Steve expressed happiness that she had a medical condition rendering her infertile, comments which you did not condemn—is gross and weird.

                      I’m beginning to think maybe you aren’t such ethical people.

                    • Chris

                      Completely legal.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      Jesus Christ, these long threads are the worst to plow through, and no one except Energizer Bunny Chris keeps them going and going and going long after everything that could possibly matter has been said and he’s doing nothing but trying to one-up and insult the other members of this forum. Even Valky knows when she’s wasting her time and walks away. Dysentery of the mouth.

                      I thought I had figured Chris out as the mouthy little jerk who never learned or was never taught when to sit down and put a sock in it. Then again, he was going to school when I was already a practicing attorney and a public school teacher couldn’t “take you out in the hall for a little talk” or deliver you a well deserved smack, and the private schoolteachers were reining that in a lot. Gone were the days when the Irish Christian Brothers could level you with a right cross-face and if you complained at home your dad would take you down with a left cross-face for starting trouble. Gone are also the days when your peers would band together to either beat you senseless or humiliate you for being annoying and not shutting up. Frankly I think he is a candidate for being lowered down the pit toilet at summer camp and left waist-deep in human you-know-what, something we were going to do to another mouthy jerk but didn’t because we couldn’t acquire a long enough rope and because the counselors started keeping a closer eye on things when it was obvious there was trouble brewing.

                      Still, this didn’t explain everything. But I think I know now. Chris is pussywhipped. He probably can’t get a word in edgewise with his pothead wife-to-be about what to have for dinner, leave alone anything of real substance. Not to mention he’s probably powerless at work where the parents and the principal run the show. So he comes here, where no one can smack him or banish him to the couch for the night or withhold his increment, and butts heads with others who he’s learned to hate and despise, so he can feel powerful, or like he “schooled” or “owned” someone. Pathetic.

                    • At the risk of getting smacked myself, I believe everyone would be better served if “outsiders” irrelevant to the discussion (significant others/family members, etc.) were kept off the mat & out of the fray.

                    • I will admit that exchanges between Chris, Zoltar, et al usually leave me fogged over. I consider them to eventually be like astrology – fun to read but not to take seriously. I must have missed the exchange where an innocent bystander was brought into the mix. That is wrong on so many levels.

                    • It was some conversation a while back where Steve-O brought Chris’s fiance into a deeply personal attack. I never investigated the context…if I recall that comment thread had well over 100 comments before I was even read Jack’s original post.

                      Though Chris did choose to besmirch my integrity when on a separate post I elucidated on an abstract ethical principle that touched on Steve-O’s comment in a larger context of Jack’s obligation to evaluate and address personal attacks.

                    • Damit, I didn’t want to participate any more in this Chris inspired side show; but here I am having to climb back in the damn hole to explain what is right there in everyone’s face.

                      Let’s clear this up right here and now.

                      Rick M. “I must have missed the exchange where an innocent bystander was brought into the mix.”

                      In this conversation it was terrible, terrible me by asking this question “Does your wife-to-be know that you’re drinking whiskey and smoking crack at the same time?” which in my opinion was NOT bring an innocent bystander into the conversation, it was obviously a snide remark meant as a bit of a funny. The question really wasn’t about her at all, it was another one of those “when did you stop beating your wife” lose-lose questions and clearly not about the “innocent bystander” as it’s being implied.

                      Chris is the imbecile choosing to share personal information about his fiancé and I’ve asked if she knows he’s doing that, I haven’t attacked his fiancé. Chris can bite me.

                      Everyone, please read the exchange.

                      This deflection rat hole needs to end, I think the troll Chris is full of himself by now.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      Not a chance, especially not with Chris, who deserves to be attacked by any and all means available.

                    • This cannot be overlooked; back in this sub-thread for a moment.

                      Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “Not a chance, especially not with Chris, who deserves to be attacked by any and all means available.”

                      Question for everyone: who can identify all the rationalizations that are indirectly or directly implied in that comment?

                      Back out of this sub-thread.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      If there is to be a policy that we can’t go after one another’s families, significant others, or whatever, then I will abide by it. Otherwise, tell Chris’s mom to change her lipstick, my dick is getting a rainbow. 😀

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    P.S. Yeah, I know, that’s taking it a little personally, but at this point I don’t care.

  3. Ben Sasse’s summation is on point:

    “The Iran deal has always been terrible. Today is a reminder that if you live by the Presidency, you die by the Presidency. We ought to be clear about this: Donald Trump isn’t ripping up a treaty; he’s walking away from Barack Obama’s personal pledge. Two and a half years ago, President Obama made a bad deal with Iran without support from Congress, and today President Trump is pulling out of President Obama’s personal commitment, and he doesn’t need Congress’s support to do so. American foreign policy makes lasting progress when it is led by the President, approved by Congress, and presented honestly to the American people.”

    • And Ben Sasse is hardly a Trump acolyte. I want supporters of the deal who have called Trump autocratic to reconcile that slur with their support for Obama’s Congress-ignoring deal with Iran. They can’t, other than “Trump bad, Obama good.”

    • I’m rolling in so much “I told you so” right now, and I’m loving it. I said that we should be concerned about Obama taking executive actions on things left best for congress because if all it took was a “pen and a phone” to enact these policies, when a Republican eventually won, and it was going to happen sometime, then all it would take to reverse those policies is their pen and phone, and then all of a sudden, the power of the presidency is expanded to whatever that president wants it to be, at least until the next guy steps up.

      When you create rules or precedents, you have to do so assuming that at some point in the future, you will be asked to abide by them

      And let’s be real here… Trump has actually been restrained with his pen-phonery… He hasn’t done anything except reverse what Obama should never have done in the first place. The moment he does something that bypasses congress that he shouldn’t, I’ll be right there saying he shouldn’t do that, that it’s dumb, and he’s dumb for doing it, but until that happens: I have no, literally zero, sympathy for the perpetually petulant peanut gallery pissing their pants over this when they were cheering Obama on four years ago.

      • pen-phonery?

        Keeper, HT!

        You dip into your “Passion Bucket” for inspiration?

        https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=passion%20bucket

        • Naw, I just wrapped myself in schadenfreude and am thoroughly enjoying myself..

          *To the Tune of Pen Pinepple Apple Pen*

          I have a peeeeeen
          I have a phooooone
          Uh
          Pen and phone!

          I have a peeeen
          I have a phooooone
          Uh
          Pen and phone!

          Pen and phone and phone and pen.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        Well-said, HT – I second Paul’s keepery of “pen-phonery.”

      • Chris

        The travel ban bypassed Congress in a way that violated the law.

        • Chris wrote, “The travel ban bypassed Congress in a way that violated the law.”

          DEFLECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Plus my current understanding is that, no it didn’t “bypassed Congress in a way that violated the law”.

          Please prove the claim made in your deflection.

          • Chris

            No, it was a direct response to Humble Talent’s statement here:

            . The moment he does something that bypasses congress that he shouldn’t, I’ll be right there saying he shouldn’t do that, that it’s dumb, and he’s dumb for doing it, but until that happens: I have no, literally zero, sympathy for the perpetually petulant peanut gallery pissing their pants over this when they were cheering Obama on four years ago.

            Maybe next time check your facts before using all caps, bold font, and twelve apostrophes.

            I’ve proven my claim dozens of times on this website by citing the portion of the INA that explicitly forbids discrimination based on country of origin in the issuance of an immigrant visa.

            • Chris wrote, “I’m done with you.”

              Zoltar Speaks! wrote, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re done with me; I’ve heard it all before and you’re obviously a man of your word.”

              See what happens when you’re not a man of your word Chris, your own words come back to haunt you.

              Chris wrote, “I’ve proven my claim dozens of times on this website by citing the portion of the INA that explicitly forbids discrimination based on country of origin in the issuance of an immigrant visa.”

              Really Chris, so where are just a couple of these “dozens of times” you stated something along the lines of ” the INA that explicitly forbids discrimination based on country of origin in the issuance of an immigrant visa”

              Additionally; even if what you say is factually accurate it doesn’t prove that “The travel ban bypassed Congress in a way that violated the law.” How did the travel ban violate some law about bypassing Congress; that IS what you wrote.

              • Chris

                “The travel ban bypassed Congress in a way that violated the law.” How did the travel ban violate some law about bypassing Congress; that IS what you wrote

                Bias makes you illiterate.

                • Chris wrote, “Bias makes you illiterate.”

                  I read what you wrote one way and asked you to prove it and your response is to say that how I interrupted it proves that I’m both biased and illiterate? With the comprehension skills you’ve shown around here this comes as no surprise.

                  Suggestion: How about you write what you really mean to say instead of writing things that can be directly interrupted multiple ways.

        • Wrong. The President has broad powers in this area, and Congressional approval is not required.

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            It was a F*&%ING Executive Order – wasn’t it?

          • Jack Marshall wrote, “Wrong. The President has broad powers in this area, and Congressional approval is not required.”

            Awwwww, dang it, I wanted Chris to try explaining it to show off his Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome.

          • Chris

            Those powers are constrained by the text of the INA. The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether or not the president can overrule this portion of the INA (though several lower courts have), so until they do, you can’t call my interpretation of the law “wrong.” You simply disagree with it.

            • You made a direct assertion. You are not a judge. Absent a definitive holding, you simply cannot say that an executive order violates the law. And none of those opinions said that the President was bypassing Congress. (And based on the oral argument at SCOTUS, they aren’t going to hold up anyway.)

              And your point was just lame whatboutism.

              • Chris

                Fine. It violates the text of a law; that much isn’t up for debate. Whether that is actually illegal or the president can ignore the text of that law is up to the courts.

                I used the phrase “bypassing Congress” to mean that he violated the text of a law passed by Congress. Obviously you’re using the term differently.

                And no, directly responding to Humble’s assertion that Trump hasn’t done something that bypassed Congress in a way that he shouldn’t by pointing out something I think Trump has done that he shouldn’t and that bypassed Congress isn’t whataboutism.

            • Chris,
              As usual, you are conflating two separate issues into one making it seem as if you are claiming that Trump broke the law by not going through Congress with his travel ban. The fact remains that Trump did not break the law in that regard, period.

              The issue whether the Executive Travel Ban Order was legal under United States law is still up in the air right now and you claiming that it’s illegal is based upon rulings that are currently being challenged in court. I think you better wait until this makes it through the courts before you make your intellectually dishonest absolute claims if legality.

        • The legality of the act is still in limbo, but all indication is that the courts are going to find it legal, sooner or later, depending on how much filibustering the Democrats are able to drum up.

          Now, you could say “But there are all these AG’s and circuit courts fighting and ruling against the ban!”

          That’s true… But the Supreme court has already ruled favorably towards the ban once, and that was before Gorsuch was confirmed. When this eventually gets back to them, and it will, then all the other noise becomes an irrelevant speed bump in history. It’s telling though, that even the lawyers fighting the ban aren’t asserting that the ban is unconstitutional because Trump needs congressional authority. they’re saying it’s unconstitutional because it’s discriminatory, or because it breaks the INA… They’re making those arguments, weak as they are, because the alternative you asserted is patently absurd, and even activist judges wouldn’t soil themselves with it.

  4. #5)

    What’s telling in this mess is just how many people are readily siding with an enemy of our nation while trashing our allies and indeed our own people.

    • valkygrrl

      I know right. The Russians are bad hombres.

      • Someone is rabidly siding with the Russians?

        • valkygrrl

          Someone denies their hostile actions, covers for them, tires to excuse their actions by trying to create moral equivalency with his own country, passes classified information on to them and shows a great deal of admiration for Vladimir Putin.

          There’s even an investigation into having possibly coordinated with them while seeking high office.

          Some might call that rabidly siding with the Russians.

          • “Some might call that rabidly siding with the Russians.”

            But those people would be very very stupid people because they would be ignoring the overall actions and administration of the “someone” in question, let alone relying on an investigation that has producing nothing…

            but there are indeed many very very stupid people around these days.

            • valkygrrl

              As stupid as calling 23 inducements and 5 guilty pleas nothing?

              Asking for a friend.

              • Tangential (at best).

                But no need rehashing that here. Jack has done a thorough job of it over the past year and a half.

              • None. Literally zero of those pleas relate in any way to Russia, they are all, 100% procedural. You aren’t dumb enough to make those arguments, you know better… Just stop, get some help.

                • Chris

                  Literally zero of those pleas relate in any way to Russia,

                  How can you be both this misinformed and this confident? Off the top of my head, both Papadapoulos and Flynn plead guilty to lying to investigators about their contacts with Russia. So obviously, those pleas relate in some way to Russia.

                  And with yesterday’s news about mysterious payments to Cohen from Russian oligarchs, now is not the time for Russia skeptics to get cocky. Read the room.

                  • Chris

                    Oh, and Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were both indicted for being unregistered agents of the Ukraine (where they promoted pro-Russia interests).

                    • They were indicted for tax fraud and money laundering, which I grant you, isn’t good, but it doesn’t get you to where you need to be to not be ridiculous here.

                      If your assertion was “Trump has surrounded himself with a lot of shitty corrupt people” My answer would be… “Yeah, and the sky is blue.” But you’re trying to tie this into the crackpot conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, and you’re acting like every time a Trump staffer ate borscht it’s proof that happened. It isn’t, it’s proof they ate borscht.

                    • Chris

                      HT,

                      Your claim was “Literally zero of those pleas relate in any way to Russia.” Your claim was wrong. Do you acknowledge this?

                      The collusion theory isn’t a “crackpot conspiracy theory,” because nothing that is being seriously investigated by the FBI can rationally be called that.

                      I have never argued that there is “proof” that Trump committed collusion, as you know. You are once again being hyperbolic while at the same time accusing others of hyperbole. That doesn’t work.

                    • Chris wrote, “The collusion theory isn’t a “crackpot conspiracy theory,” because nothing that is being seriously investigated by the FBI can rationally be called that.”

                      WOW! Nothing that is being seriously investigated by the FBI can rationally be called a crackpot conspiracy theory? That’s quite a claim Chris.

                      Do you understand what an investigation is Chris? It seems to me that your statement derived from a thought process where you’re thinking that an investigation is only to confirm the beliefs that someone has committed a crime. In other words, guilty if accused.

                      I have some pretty close friends that work for the FBI, state, and municipal law enforcement and let me tell you that sometimes the they fall into things that turn out to be crackpot conspiracy theories. Nearly all investigators fall into cases like this once in a while when looking to see if a crime has actually been committed. It’s part of the job of investigators to weed out the cases that drag investigation man hours down an endless conspiracy rat hole.

                    • Yeah, I was going to point out the circular logic there, which suggests that an FBI investigation is automatically legitimate because the FBI is doing it. This boot-strapping theory hasn’t proven correct with any other prosecutorial entities, and doesn’t here. It’s the ultimate self-anointing virtue argument…and pretty funny when one looks back at the FBI’s fishing expeditions under Hoover.

                    • “Your claim was “Literally zero of those pleas relate in any way to Russia.” Your claim was wrong. Do you acknowledge this?”

                      The charges the pleas relate to do not involve Russia, or Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is not illegal to talk to Russians, it is illegal to lie to the FBI. It would be illegal to lie to the FBI whether or not the utterance was about Russia. The Russian connection, if you even want to count it as such, is so tenuous that all it show, paraphrasing your own admittance above, is that it shows that the Trump campaign was attempting to distance themselves from Russia, and weren’t worried about honesty while they were doing it.

                      “The collusion theory isn’t a “crackpot conspiracy theory,” because nothing that is being seriously investigated by the FBI can rationally be called that.”

                      I’m not convinced the FBI is actually investigating Russian collusion anymore, two different directors have said that Trump isn’t the focus of the investigation anymore, and they’ve moved on to porn stars.

                      “I have never argued that there is “proof” that Trump committed collusion, as you know. You are once again being hyperbolic while at the same time accusing others of hyperbole. That doesn’t work.”

                      I’m not accusing you of hyperbole… I’m accusing you of delusion. Do you ever step back from the wall in your house covered in thumbtacks, string and pictures to think that maybe you’re way out over your skis and way too invested?

                    • Chris is very valuable as a test of when and whether the anti-Trump hysterics finally give it up and admit that there was nothing there, or transform into true tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists, like the Truthers. After a year, there is literally no hint of any evidence of Trump collusion in the Russian mischief with the election. More evidence has surfaced about dubious Democratic activity. The FBI, Justice and the news media have been exposed as partisan, corrupt and untrustworthy; Comey at al. may yet have to face a legal reckoning. From the beginning, this was a transparent effort to undermine Trump’s Presidency and cripple it—Trump has earned my admiration for his ability to keep plugging along—while saving face for Hillary and the Democrats, and Obama, for losing when losing should have been impossible. I am fascinated to see how the news media gets themselves out of this.

                      From Victor Davis Hanson:

                      If a federal judge should end up throwing out most of the indictments of Paul Manafort on the rationale that they have nothing much to do with the original mandate of the special counsel’s office, or if Michael Flynn’s confession to giving false statements is withdrawn successfully because the FBI politicized its investigation and FISA courts were misled in approving the surveillance of Flynn, then the Mueller investigation will implode.

                      Indeed, the Mueller investigation would likely lose so much public support that the Department of Justice could probably dismiss it with impunity. So, in an ironic sense, Mueller’s overreach might well end once and for all the absurdities of the special counsel/prosecutor law that for nearly half a century has plagued the nation.

                      “Until recently, deep-state apparatchiks such as John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe seemed immune from accountability after lying either to Congress or to federal authorities. In a perverse sort of way, the more Robert Mueller plays the role of the obsessed but impotent Inspector Javert, the more he demonstrates that there is no Russian-Trump collusion. Meanwhile, he is establishing precedents that those whom he exempts from his own zeal will inevitably have to account for their own lawbreaking. One cannot justifiably hound Michael Flynn for supposedly misleading FBI agents, when agency investigators were told by Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills that they had known nothing about Hillary Clinton’s private server during her tenure as secretary of state — despite evidence that they themselves had communicated over it (as had the former president of the United States).”

                      I don’t see anything incorrect with this analysis.

                    • Chris

                      “Your claim was “Literally zero of those pleas relate in any way to Russia.” Your claim was wrong. Do you acknowledge this?”

                      The charges the pleas relate to do not involve Russia, or Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is not illegal to talk to Russians, it is illegal to lie to the FBI. It would be illegal to lie to the FBI whether or not the utterance was about Russia. The Russian connection, if you even want to count it as such, is so tenuous that all it show, paraphrasing your own admittance above, is that it shows that the Trump campaign was attempting to distance themselves from Russia, and weren’t worried about honesty while they were doing it.

                      This is idiotic. If someone pleas guilty to lying to the FBI about being present at the scene of a murder, it would be very misleading for someone to say “the plea does not relate in any way to the murder.” And you can be damn sure the FBI is going to try and figure out why that person lied about being present at the scene of the murder.

                      Yes, a possible explanation for the lies is that they were trying to distance themselves from Russia after the collusion theory had already began circulating…but another explanation is that the collusion theory is true. We don’t know which explanation is true. You don’t care which explanation is true; I do, as does the FBI.

                      I’m not accusing you of hyperbole… I’m accusing you of delusion. Do you ever step back from the wall in your house covered in thumbtacks, string and pictures to think that maybe you’re way out over your skis and way too invested?

                      This is non-substantive and dishonest. It is not “delusion” to think that it’s possible that an allegation made by a respected intelligence source, with dozens of different data points supporting the possibility of the allegation, against a campaign that we know jumped at the opportunity to participate in exactly the sort of the activity at the heart of the allegation, might be true.

                      It is actually delusion to call that delusion.

                    • Chris

                      The moment you started taking the phrase “deep state” seriously was the moment you lost the ability to fairly call others tin-foil hatters, Jack.

                      And you still have not addressed the Russian payments to Cohen that were revealed yesterday.

                    • Everyone is Washington DC knows exactly what the “deep state” is, and of course it is no delusion. It is in the same category as mainstream media bias: the Left denies it, because it benefits them. Either you are naive, or part of the mass denial.

                      As for what you seem to think has something to do with Russian Collusion, here is the Trump-averse Post:

                      “President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was hired last year by the U.S.-based affiliate of a Russian business magnate who attended Trump’s inauguration and was recently subjected to sanctions by the U.S. government, the company said Tuesday. The New York investment firm Columbus Nova said it retained Cohen as a consultant “regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures.” Though Columbus Nova has been described in federal regulatory filings as an affiliate of the Renova Group, founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, the company said Vekselberg was not involved with hiring or paying Cohen.”

                      None of this is evidence of or even raises suspicion of “collusion.” But keep hoping….

                    • By the way, my son is Russian. If he paid Michael Cohen, that doesn’t mean that Russia was trying to fix the election as a quid pro quo with Trump. But I gess he, and I, are “linked” to Russia.

                      Oh-oh!

                    • “This is idiotic. If someone pleas guilty to lying to the FBI about being present at the scene of a murder, it would be very misleading for someone to say “the plea does not relate in any way to the murder.” And you can be damn sure the FBI is going to try and figure out why that person lied about being present at the scene of the murder.”

                      Your lack of comprehension as to how the pleas to “lying to the FBI” are not connected to Russia doesn’t make the pleas connected to Russia. You can think whatever you want about me because of this, but I view this as a failing on your part.

                      As to the second half… The FBI is going to try to figure out why Papadapoulos and Flynn lied about their meetings? Bull. The FBI got what they wanted in the procedural convictions: leverage. If they spent 5 minutes after the pleas looking at either Papadapoulos or Flynn I’ll eat Klik.

                      “We don’t know which explanation is true. You don’t care which explanation is true; I do, as does the FBI.”

                      I’m willing to take the information as it comes to me, I filter it through my past experiences, I connect dots, and I discard garbage. Through that process, I produce an opinion on what is most likely. At some point… the information coalesces into something that at least appears true, it is based on the best information I have at that time, and I’m going to run with it. As more information comes forward, it’ll go through the same process, and one day I might have to say I was wrong on this.

                      I just don’t think it’s likely.

                      What that means, Chris, is that after two years of processing information on this topic, I’m not going to pretend I’m a rube. “I don’t know, it could be, who knows, nobody knows, I’m not in the room, I didn’t see the things!” Weaponized ignorance only goes so far. You AREN’T taking the position of an impartial bystander, waiting for more information, you’re waiting for the tidbit of information that finally reinforces the conclusion that you’re desperately hoping for.

                    • Chris

                      As for what you seem to think has something to do with Russian Collusion, here is the Trump-averse Post:

                      “President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was hired last year by the U.S.-based affiliate of a Russian business magnate who attended Trump’s inauguration and was recently subjected to sanctions by the U.S. government, the company said Tuesday. The New York investment firm Columbus Nova said it retained Cohen as a consultant “regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures.” Though Columbus Nova has been described in federal regulatory filings as an affiliate of the Renova Group, founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, the company said Vekselberg was not involved with hiring or paying Cohen.”

                      None of this is evidence of or even raises suspicion of “collusion.” But keep hoping….

                      So you didn’t even read the rest of that WaPo article, which detailed exactly what the payments could have to do with Russian collusion.

                      Hopeless.

                    • “What they COULD” have to do is more media anti-Trump priming. They also could have nothing to do with it, and almost certainly don’t. “Could have” is what we call “circumstantial evidence,” and weak at that.

                    • Chris

                      We’re all biased here, HT. I am biased against Trump. You and Jack and the rest of the conservatives here are so biased against the media and the *gag, hiss* “deep state” that it is functionally equivalent to a pro-Trump bias, though it’s better called anti-anti-Trump bias. I just happen to think my bias is more well-founded. And I’m not the one drawing firm conclusions here; I think collusion is highly likely, though I’ve accepted it will probably never be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I also think it’s possible that a lot of if not all the red flags I’ve seen are explicable through other theories (like you said: the lies could have been part of an attempt to distance themselves from Russia).

                      You think collusion definitely didn’t happen and it’s stupid to even consider the possibility.

                    • Chris

                      I don’t know why you seem to think I’ve ever said that anything has been more than circumstantial evidence for the collusion theory. It’s all circumstantial. That doesn’t make it not worth reporting; breaking down what certain news stories could mean is part of the job of the news media. The fact remains that there is a TON of circumstantial evidence for the collusion theory, and the sheer volume of it has been overwhelming for over a year now, during which time there has turned up more and more. That’s worth knowing.

                    • Chris

                      By the way, my son is Russian. If he paid Michael Cohen, that doesn’t mean that Russia was trying to fix the election as a quid pro quo with Trump. But I gess he, and I, are “linked” to Russia.

                      Is your son a Russian oligarch who is friends with Putin and would personally benefit from relaxed sanctions?

                      Because if so, then no, that isn’t proof of Russian collusion. But it does raise questions.

                  • Right, but the charge is “lying to the FBI”, not some covert heavy-breathing, piss-porn, Russian fanfiction. The underlying acts, having contacts in Russia, is not illegal. Had the idiots merely said; “yeah, I talked to some Russians” like they should have, this would not be an issue.

                    Because, really, Chris… Tell us…. What is it *exactly* that you think these pleas prove? Please… Line it out very clearly so the stupid among us, among which I count myself, can understand: What exactly is the tie to Russian interference in the 2016 election?

                    • Chris

                      They prove that members of the Trump team really like to hide their conversations and/or work with the Russian government from federal investigators. Nothing more, nothing less. Why that is has not been proven. Why do you pretend that I have ever asserted anything else?

                      That said, the theory that they are trying to hide collusion is well-founded and based on numerous available facts:

                      1) Russia made attempts to boost Trump and hurt Hillary during the election.
                      2) Trump and members of his campaign were receptive to this assistance; Trump signaled his support of Russian hacking even while casting doubt on it, and his son willingly attended a meeting that purported to be about assistance from the Russian government. (We have still never been given a credible account of what really occurred at that meeting.)
                      3) Trump has a pattern of vocally boosting Russia and Putin and opposing sanctions on their activities.

                      None of this is proof that any specific allegation in the Steele dossier is true. However, to pretend that none of it even requires investigation and that those who find the collusion theory credible are idiots is willful denial of reality.

                    • Oh for the love of… “We Need To Investigate”…. Chris… The FBI is and has been investigating events from before September of 2016. It’s May of 2018. The left has been milking this controversy like a steer (furiously, but not getting much) for almost two years. Comey has said the FBI didn’t have anything on Trump before he was fired, which was in May of 2017 (That’s a year ago). I’m all for investigations, but how long does this horse get beat?

                    • Chris

                      How long did Watergate take to investigate?

                      The length of the investigation so far can’t be used as evidence that it has been frivolous or that it needs to end, especially given the slow and steady pace of revelations that have emanated from the investigation so far. We found out about secret Russian payments to Cohen yesterday for God’s sake. The notion that the investigation isn’t producing anything, or that there’s nothing to see here, simply isn’t tenable.

                    • Watergate?

                      The FBI just raided the offices of the President’s counsel looking for information related to Trump’s Porn Star Payoff budget from 11 years ago as a “direct consequence” of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s administration in the 2016 election.

                      And you want to compare it to Watergate?

                    • Chris

                      Watergate?

                      The FBI just raided the offices of the President’s counsel looking for information related to Trump’s Porn Star Payoff budget from 11 years ago as a “direct consequence” of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s administration in the 2016 election.

                      And you want to compare it to Watergate?

                      I am begging you to keep up with the news and connect some dots. Again, it was revealed yesterday that a Russian oligarch who has already been questioned by Mueller’s team and was sanctioned in response to Russia’s meddling funneled money to Michael Cohen after the election. Now, we don’t know why he did this yet. Yes or no question: Do you care?

                      If that money was a “quid” for easing Russian sanctions (which is exactly what the Steele dossier says Russia hoped to gain from Trump, and then… exactly what Trump did) and is somehow connected to the same fund Cohen used to pay off Stormy Daniels, that would explain perfectly why the Daniels payment was ever even on the FBI’s radar.

                    • Uh, no, that’s not what was revealed yesterday. That was the hopeful extrapolation of some incompetent journalists, crippled by bias.

                      Meanwhile, CNN reports:

                      “The generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, with the Democrats’ edge over Republicans within the poll’s margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle. About six months out from Election Day, 47% of registered voters say they back the Democratic candidate in their district, 44% back the Republican. Voters also are divided almost evenly over whether the country would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress (31%) or with the GOP in charge (30%). A sizable 34% — including nearly half of independent voters (48%) — say it doesn’t matter which party controls Congress.”

                      In other words, the Blue Wave is getting more and more unlikely. Guess why!

                    • Chris

                      Uh, no, that’s not what was revealed yesterday. That was the hopeful extrapolation of some incompetent journalists, crippled by bias.

                      You are wrong on the facts.

                      I Googled the story and could find no source that contradicted my claim that “it was revealed yesterday that a Russian oligarch who has already been questioned by Mueller’s team and was sanctioned in response to Russia’s meddling funneled money to Michael Cohen after the election.”

                      Every news source I found backs up this claim.

                      You may be thinking of reports that show that Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, was wrong about two of the alleged payments, which were made to different Michael Cohens.

                      However, in its report even the Daily Caller admits that the payment from the Russian oligarch to Cohen did occur:

                      Other transfers tied to Michael Cohen, the Trump lawyer, actually did occur. Several companies, including AT&T, Novartis and Columbus Nova, a firm linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, acknowledged paying Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants.

                      Cohen used that firm to route a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016. Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, is suing Cohen and the president to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed in exchange for the money.

                      http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/09/avenatti-michael-cohen-israel/

                      Is that what you’re talking about? Because that confirms my claim.

                      It’s possible you misread or misunderstood this report due to your own bias.

                    • Chris

                      Ah, I found the part I was wrong about:

                      “it was revealed yesterday that a Russian oligarch who has already been questioned by Mueller’s team and was sanctioned in response to Russia’s meddling funneled money to Michael Cohen after the election.”

                      He wasn’t sanctioned in response to the meddling, he was sanctioned in response to the poisoning in England. And while those sanctions were implemented by the Trump team, remember that these are the same sanctions that infuriated Trump because he didn’t actually know what was in them until they were passed. This resulted in the humiliating of Nikki Haley.

                      http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-wanted-to-expel-fewer-russian-diplomats-2018-4

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                This is the pen and the phone in reverse. The disadvantage to Obama leaving the presidency at the relatively young age of 55 is that he is going to see everything he did dismantled before his eyes and the thoughts underlying the lousy choice to elect him repudiated. Is that a fairly harsh thing for me to say? Yes, but the other side said, not so very long ago, that it would see Bush and Cheney marched to the Hague to stand trial and be hung (the other side is enlightened, so they don’t believe in execution, dontcha know, but those two are so odious they’ll make an exception) and that is saying it will see Trump facing impeachment and then prison.

                The other side fears something more than death, you see – it fears being proven wrong, and it fears being made irrelevant. When you’ve spent your life scrabbling to claim the moral high ground, perhaps cutting corners and bending rules to get it, and deny it to everyone else, even perhaps stealing credit for others’ achievements, you jealously guard your legacy on that moral high ground. However, even you know darn well that gilded head you hold up so proudly is supported by feet of clay standing on a house of cards. Move those feet even a little, or pull out one of those cards, then everything comes tumbling down, and where does that leave you?

                This whole agreement was a terrible idea from the get-go, and it isn’t as though the Democratic Party didn’t know it. It was Bill Clinton who struck a terrible, lopsided deal with North Korea to kick the can down the road, only to have it end up an issue again now, and it was Clinton whose State Department looked the other way on Libya and Syria’s nefarious doings, and Iraq acquiring and in some cases using destabilizing weapons, not to mention looking the other way on bin Laden. It was also Bill Clinton who kept pressuring Israel to normalize dealings with Palestinian Arabs who wanted the place gone, and later blamed everyone but himself for the failure for peace to materialize.

                The left may cloak all this in the desire to keep the peace, but in the end, the fact is that the Democratic Party has no stomach for real conflict that will actually change things that need changing or eliminate real menaces, but would involve cost and risk. Yes, Clinton bombed the Balkans, but the Croatian Army did the heavy lifting on the ground. Yes, George Mitchell oversaw the Good Friday Agreement, in large part due to decades of bravery by the British Army and the RUC and UK prime ministers who wouldn’t fold. Yes, Obama sort of led from behind in Libya, but once Gadaffi was gone, the situation went from tyranny to chaos.

                It should come as no surprise that a party made up in large part of anti-war people since the days of Vietnam would be both fearful of the use of force, and not very good at its application or the judicious threat of its application to get results. We find ourselves in this jam precisely because the mullahs saw Obama’s squishy handling of Libya, non-handling of Syria, and attempts just to kick the can down the road in North Korea and knew they had nothing to fear from him and could pump him for whatever they wanted just to give the appearance of a peace.

                Sometimes the free nations of this world have to make the best deals they can with repulsive nations or regimes – the US and UK allying with Stalin to defeat Hitler, the allies selling the ethnic Greeks and Armenians down the river to prevent the remains of the Ottoman Empire from exploding into another war so soon after WWI, NATO welcoming (ugh) Franco’s Spain into the fold to bolster the ranks in the Cold War, the UK propping up the nationalist Greeks to prevent the Communists from taking over, and so forth. In each of those cases the free nations came away with something for the deal. In this case we came away with an illusion that was going to evaporate soon enough, but I don’t think Obama cared much, he was leaving soon, this would be someone else’s issue, and the black community in the US would cover him against criticism with accusations of racism. There is a duty, I think, when one is leaving a position, not to leave things a mess for the next person to clean up, and not to leave problems that can be solved on your watch for the next guy. Obama wanted to take his bows and go, and he particularly didn’t care what kind of mess he left for Trump. He failed there, and this is the house of cards and feet of clay he built coming down.

                • “to kick the can down the road”

                  And this purpose behind policy is friggin stupid and sickening. It places a bigger mess in the hands of our children.

                  The Civil War could have been fought and decided in the 1820s or 1830s with *fewer* lives lost, likely more final results, and a start on reconstruction earlier. But no, a series of cynical political strategies to gain White House control as well as legislative schemes to perpetuate slavery kicked the can down the road to the mess of the 1860s.

                  • luckyesteeyoreman

                    At least one history book I read called that prolonged, can-kicking pre-war period of decades – not just the few years immediately after the War of 1812 – the “Era of Good Feeling.”

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                Inducements to what, please?

          • Rich in CT

            You realize that Iran is an ally of Russia?? This narrative that Trump is a undulate of Putin is getting pretty ridiculous.

  5. 6) My real concern is that the damage that was done by Obama’s absolutely awful agreement…which was the release of countless billions of Iranian dollars…cannot now be undone by tossing the agreement (which still needed to be tossed).

  6. Ah…Jack. What about John Kerry? Seems we have a shadow Sec. of State.

    • Rusty Rebar

      Yeah, where are all the democrats screaming about the Logan Act now?

      • A.M. Golden

        Like the Constitution, the Logan Act doesn’t count if can be used to hold back the Democratic Party.

    • Noted his Logan Act act in an earlier post. Of course, Kerry is so inept at everything he does that it’s what lawyers call de minimus.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        There once was a young man named Rex,
        Whose “thing” was too small for his sex.
        He went in for exposure,
        The court said on disclosure,
        De minimus non curat lex. 😀

        • Another version, courtesy of my contract prof:

          There once was a lawyer named Rex
          Who had negligible organs of sex.
          Arraigned for exposure,
          He maintained with composure,
          “De minimis non curat lex.”

          I wonder if law professors still are able to use that limerick, or if the women in the class feel “unsafe.”

          • ”or if the women in the class feel ‘unsafe.’ ”

            They, and some of the Y-Chromosomal Units, might were they to hear about that chap from Nantucket…

            • luckyesteeyoreman

              Or about the lady from Thrace, who had trouble when tying her lace…back in the days when there weren’t even back alleys…

        • Rich in CT

          I thought this was going to be about another inept secstate…..

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Kerry has an official title now; it just is kept secret, like terms of the Iran deal were secret for so long. Kerry is Secretary of the Deep State. Obama remains the shadow POTUS. Those wascally, sneaky Democwats!

  7. Rusty Rebar

    Two things came to mind when reading your prose today:

    What was always the most undebatable objection to Obama’s deal was that it was a treaty that bypassed the Constitutional requirements for treaties.

    This seems to be the theme of the Obama presidency. Country was rather divided resulting in a difficult time achieving congressional action, so he decided, repeatedly, to just flout the constitution and do things by fiat. Problem is that when you do things by fiat, the next guy can come and undo them, they have no force of law beyond the president backing them, and presidents do not always agree from one to the next. This was entirely predictable from the time that Obama did this until the next president undid them. There was Paris Accord, Libya, Syria, Individual mandate that was not a tax until it was a tax, Iran deal, Fast & Furious… it jut goes on and on.

    The second thing:

    Think about the ethical nature of that argument for keeping the deal in place. Lifting sanctions on Iran has allowed the nation to fund terrorism across the region, but its all worth it to Americans if gas prices stay low. Nice.

    I would like to draw your attention back to this moment, where Wolf bemoans the potential loss of jobs and revenue from not selling bombs for Saudi Arabia to kill civilians with

    “Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”

  8. Rich in CT

    The Iran deal coverage made my head explode this morning. Firstly, the only consequence to withdrawal is rising gas prices, apparently, given how incessant this coverage was.

  9. Rich in CT

    The Iran deal coverage made my head explode this morning:

    * Firstly, the only consequence to withdrawal is rising gas prices, apparently, given how incessant this was mentioned.

    * Secondly, Europe apparently agreed with the United States that it would reimpose sanctions if Iran got within “12 months” of developing a bomb.

    * Tehran has promised to restart full development of uranium immediately

    * Unnamed experts critical of the administration say that Iran could have a bomb within 12 months if full development resumed.

    * Europe is criticizing the United States for withdrawing, despite Iran being plausibly near that 12 month window that they agreed was unacceptable

    * WHY AFTER 3 YEARS – 3 YEARS – IS IRAN STILL WITHIN 12 MONTHS OF DEVELOPING A BOMB?????

    Fortunately for everyone nearby, my head explosion was of the conventional variety

  10. A.M. Golden

    “Lifting sanctions on Iran has allowed the nation to fund terrorism across the region, but its all worth it to Americans if gas prices stay low. Nice.”

    So now they’re worried about high gas prices? Weren’t these the same people complaining that the Gulf War was about oil? Weren’t they telling us that the American public had to reduce its dependency on foreign oil?

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Touche’, A.M. But of course, we are both wrong, because the REAL reasons why gas prices will rise because of this latest presidential act (which is ALWAYS wrong, no matter what he does) are because now, Iran will have to use more of its oil production within its own country in order to finish building its nukes. And because now, there will be a fresh flurry of additional international jet flights in order for diplomats and activists to travel all around the world to make sure Iran finishes building its nukes, so, higher demand for jet fuel will raise fuel prices…

      • Texas and North Dakota may get higher gas prices, but we will also have an economic boom, since we allow energy companies to “drill, baby, drill.”

        Texas alone has reserves that make Saudi Arabia look puny. We could support the projected energy need for the entire country for the next century on already identified reserves alone.

  11. I saw a headline earlier today that Tehran’s legislators question Trump’s intelligence. First thought: why should ANYONE care what a foreign enemy state thinks? Like they were all gung ho on the treaty when it was proposed.

  12. Something about this has, in some ways, lifted the veil of uncertainty and/or insecurity about Trump’s foreign policy decision making process.

    If I remember correctly, Trump vowed during the campaign to get out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal. Trump could have walked into office in January 2017 and gotten out of the Iran deal immediately but he didn’t, he waited over 15 months; why?

    The why he didn’t immediately get out of the Iran nuclear deal is, I believe, because he wanted to make his decision based on all available information (Top Secret too) that he hadn’t seen before and NOT base the decision on just what he had heard from the media which is pretty much what he had based his campaign rhetoric on. This extended evaluation of the Iran nuclear deal before getting out of it makes me “feel” more secure that when Trump is making major foreign policy decisions, they are well thought out.

    It appears that Trump is not going to repeat the same foreign policy mistakes by repeating the same failed processes of making decisions that his predecessors have made. Trump is coming into his own and building a legacy.

  13. Jeff

    Regarding Acosta’s tweet: aren’t all those things that Trump promised he’d do during the campaign? Have we internalized lying, deceptive politicians so much that we’re shocked – SHOCKED! – when one keeps his campaign pledges?

    You can agree or disagree whether Trump’s actions are good or bad, but they aren’t surprising. The voters who elected him did so precisely because he promised to do these things.

  14. This sure got hijacked by Trump-Russia with a quickness…

    Thought this was about Trump pulling out of Obama’s personal agreement with Iran?

    • When in trouble, change the subject.

      • Chris

        As a reminder, here’s how the conversation turned:

        Michael: What’s telling in this mess is just how many people are readily siding with an enemy of our nation while trashing our allies and indeed our own people.

        Valky: I know right. The Russians are bad hombres.

        Valky’s comment was a fair response, and it takes a massive amount of playing dumb to deny it; Trashing our allies and our own people to side with an enemy is exactly what Trump did by casting doubt on the intelligence community’s conclusions on Russian hacking.

        And we’re not “in trouble” at all. No court ever ruled Obama’s Iran deal illegal, and according to you, you therefore can’t call it illegal. But I guess that only applies to Republican presidents.

        • Of course, we have found out that the intel agencies were lying, so we have that going for us. Russia ran a Facebook campaign on both sides of the issue.

          Hacking implies they changed votes… which did not happen.

          • Chris

            Lying about what, exactly?

            “Hacking” refers to the hacking of the DNC, not to vote-changing.

          • Chris

            Also, while there is still no evidence Russia changed votes, it came out the other day that Russian hackers did have access to voter registration data and could have altered that information:

            http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-hackers-had-access-to-delete-or-alter-voter-data-before-2016-election-2018-5

          • Not proven they had access, and even if we stipulate they did, even less that anything was changed (these things have logs, and not in places the Russkies could get to them, either).

            And nothing to do with Trump, either, as an aside.

            The lies are stacked high and deep:

            The claim that all ’17 Intel Agencies’ concluded the Russian government targeted the US election is untrue. First, there are not 17 such agencies gathering such data.. There are 6: The CIA, DIA, State Dept, NGIA, NRO, and NSA.

            There are 11 other agencies that are consumers of these 6, as passive recipients: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy Intel, DOE, Homeland Security, Treasury, ODNI, FBI and DEA.

            Look at those names. What would the Coast Guard be doing to conclude anything about the Russians not related to their ships? How about the DOE? The Marines? In fact, these entities would never see anything related to hacking, so how could they conclude it was the Russians?

            Then the actual Community Assessment (CA) presented by James Clapper did not include any coordination or input from the DIA and State Department. They were not even ASKED. Note they were somewhat ‘put out’ at his lie, but this was little reported at the time, not being in line with ‘get Trump.’

            This CA did not use wording that implied proof had been found:

            The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

            “The USIC (United States Intelligence Community) is confident…”

            “We believe…”

            There was no proof that this was ordered by Putin, or the Russian Government. The nature of a CA is that such proof would have been included, as it always had been in the past. Any human source intel, signal intercepts, documentary or forensic evidence would have been noted in the CA, if it existed.

            We could go further, looking at the “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” report, which only included analyst opinion from three agencies: the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. Such a move is highly unusual because the GRU is identified as one of the perpetrators of the cyber attack. The DIA are experts on the GRU as is the State Department.

            The Intelligence Community was used as a tool to lie to the public and persuade them Russia was guilty of something they did not do.

            *Much of the above is sourced from ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ in March 2018, as well as other sources and my direct knowledge of the field.

            • Chris

              Good comment, slick.

              My understanding about the “17 intelligence agencies” thing is that the ODNI speaks on behalf of all of them; that was the conclusion of this Politifact piece. However it is true that it is more accurate to say that four intelligence agencies came to the conclusion that Russia meddled and that none of the others have presented a dissenting opinion.

              http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jul/06/17-intelligence-organizations-or-four-either-way-r/

              While I agree that the “17 intelligence agencies” talking point is misleading, is that a talking point that was put out by the intelligence community itself, or by Democrats and the media? If the latter, I can understand accusing them of lying (though most news outlets have clarified this talking point since), but not the intelligence community itself.

              I’ll have to look further into your other claims.

      • Iran has been mentioned about 20-25 times outside your main post.

        Russia has been mentioned about 75-80 times outside your main post…

        The diversion was successful.

        • Only if one is paying attention. Outside of the fact that poking Iran has the subsidiary advantage of annoying Russia, the Bear is irrelevant to the topic.

          • Chris

            Long-term, Russia benefits from anything that makes the United States less of a world leader and less connected to and respected by our allies.

            Pulling out of the Iran deal absolutely does that.

            • Black is white, up is down. The rejection is a show of strength, as Obama’s deal was typical weakness and negotiation out of fear. Yup, giving a completely hostile power billions of dollars to create death and havoc in the hope that it will wait 10 years before blowing up Israel is strength.

              • Chris

                I’m telling you what 90% of foreign policy experts, including many of Trump’s own advisers, not to mention the rest of the world are saying. You are, in your words, out of your lane here.

                • You mean, like with North Korea? Like how 90% said Reagan was nuts not to say nice things about the USSR? Yup, a majority of foreign policy “experts” are left-leaning, conflict averse, and can be rolled, which is what Iran did and what NK was doing. I know my history: strong US positions are out of fashion, but weakness has usually gotten the US, and the world, in trouble.

                  There are plenty of respected experts who agree that the Iran deal was a mistake. I’m pretty sure almost all of the experts in Israel do. It’s not a poll, you know. Churchill’s experts thought he should make a deal with Hitler. You probably would have been in their camp.

                  • Whatever a foreign policy “expert” even is…

                    • Chris

                      Tom Nichols, a conservative-leaning writer, just came out with a great book called “The Death of Expertise.” It’s all about the disturbing right-wing anti-intellectual trend that has made many conservatives distrust people with experience and knowledge; it’s part of why these people elected Trump. You should read it.

                    • Didn’t read this.

                      As long as you’re in a mood to walk back from hot headed red lines about leaving the blog, then you can also walk back from your comment about me being mealy-mouthed.

                      Until then, don’t expect interaction from me.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      Career bureaucrats with one eye on the day they can take their pensions and the other on making sure their workload doesn’t get too heavy in the meantime and academics who spend semester after semester hearing teens and twentysomethings give them their own words back are not the type of folks I’d listen to, no matter how many sheepskins they have on their walls or how many positions they have held. Intellectualism is distrusted for a reason: because it’s given us overeducated pedants like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Susan Sontag, who tried to set themselves three or four cuts above everyone else and acted like if the world would only listen to them, there wouldn’t be any problems. The next generation of overeducated pedants is also insufferable because they don’t have to actually write an article or a book and wait to get it published before they can inflict their almighty opinions on us, and they don’t have to do much quality control – all they need to do is tweet a sneer or jeer and their followers cheer.

                      Forgive those of us on the right, who aren’t all hunting-jacket-wearing, trucker-capped, pickup-truck-driving, beer-swilling rubes who never went further than high school, if we don’t put much stock in folks like that.

                    • luckyesteeyoreman

                      G_d, Steve-O, your comments just get better and better! That 10:48 am comment is PURE GOLD. Thank you.

                  • Chris

                    Can someone ask Michael how he knows I’m not retracting my statements regarding his reaction to Steve’s comments if he isn’t actually reading my comments?

                    • Chris has proven himself a smug hypocritical party hack, not interested in actual discussion, debate, or fair treatment. He is unethical, as as such I will not dignify his responses any further. Do not feed the trolls.

                    • …and we would tell him

                    • Chris

                      He’s replying too fast for me to believe that he’s waiting for people to tell him.

                    • Not what I said. And irrelevant to your original question. He would get it if we told him so, as he could then go read your post.

                      All of this is academic, as you have long ago proved that you will stand your ground, facts be damned, so why would you cave on this tiny irritation?

                    • Chris wrote, “Can someone ask Michael how he knows I’m not retracting my statements regarding his reaction to Steve’s comments if he isn’t actually reading my comments?”

                      That’s easy you’re making absolutely no effort whatsoever to retract or prove that you’ve retracted, if you were the rest of us would tell him you have and show him where you did. Your gotcha question is petty trolling bull shit.

                      You have obviously crossed the line with Michael and you obviously don’t care. Now it appears that you’re trolling his comments trying and incite him into conversing without you meeting his demand, that would be considered a win for an ignorant troll like you. Michael is no idiot, he knows exactly what you’re doing.

                      Personally I wouldn’t give a damn if everyone ignored you but I firmly believe that your trolling needs to be confronted head-on and sometimes that confrontation needs a cattle prod to your brain. Maybe all those shock treatments have diminished your ability to think rationally and logically, but only your therapist knows for sure.

                      Regardless of whether I agree with Michael or not, I hope and encourage him to stick with it.

                    • Heck Chris, you could just apologize after-all you’ve shown us that most of your apologies really don’t amount to much in the long run because you don’t seem to learn from them. You seem to repeat things that cause you to apologize. You don’t really seem to care much about your actions here can affect your character.

                    • Chris

                      Calling a particular statement “mealy-mouthed” isn’t “crossing the line” by any rational standard. Michael’s demand that I apologize for that comment and subsequent reposting of that same demand is petty, overly sensitive, whiny bullshit, and given the context of the conversation that prompted it—Steve telling me that he’s glad my fiancé had a medical problem and the majority of conservatives here, including you and Michael, pretty much shrugging their shoulders—the idea that such whining should be respected is ludicrous. If you’re more offended by my comments than Steve’s, you have no sense of proportion and your ethical analysis is useless.

                    • Chris wrote, “Calling a particular statement “mealy-mouthed” isn’t “crossing the line” by any rational standard.”

                      Now he’s being irrational?

                      You crossed his line, everyone’s line is in a different spot.

                      If I were Michael right now I’d be saying, bite me Chris.

                      Chris wrote, “”Michael’s demand that I apologize for that comment and subsequent reposting of that same demand is petty, overly sensitive, whiny bullshit, and given the context of the conversation that prompted it”

                      Now you’re blatantly whipping out 22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.” rationalization on this website??? You’re an idiot.

                      Chris wrote, “If you’re more offended by my comments than Steve’s, you have no sense of proportion and your ethical analysis is useless.”

                      Now you’ve jumped over to attacking me because I didn’t meet your moral standard about Steve O’s comment? BITE ME CHRIS!

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      If you get yourself to the place where you are roundly hated, it should come as no surprise that, even if you get legitimately wronged, no one, including the authorities, gives a damn. That’s why mouthy kids get crap and the teacher just tells them to ignore it, that’s why loudmouth activists get jumped on the way home and nobody saw nothin’, and that’s why bitchy gay guys get clobbered, and the police say well, we investigated, and we’re just hitting a dead end, so we’re closing this file.

    • It was also hijacked within 7 minutes of Jack posting the blog with that tried and true lefty go-to deflection of ignoring the message and attacking the messenger, see the deflection above about North, the man, while completely ignoring the message.

      • In fairness, Oliver North isn’t the best messenger to carry that particular message. Of course, the accusation of hypocrisy carrying the day relies very much on assuming most people don’t approach topics with even a modicum of nuance.

        There is very much a deep misunderstanding of the *nature* of Oliver North’s actions regarding Iran and the Contras. This misunderstanding is how valky’s memetic snark even passes muster.

        Unfortunately for the accusation, she relies on people not recognizing that North’s conduct was in no way of the same *nature* as the kind of conduct his recent comments address.

        See, North engaged in clandestine actions on behalf of Reagan’s administration with tacit approval of the administration. His conduct was governmental and operational in scope.

        His recent comments that valky glommed onto address market actions and commerce. Further adding nuance is that, in 30 years, clandestine actions taken on behalf of operational objectives of the US government will ALWAYS appear inconsistent with ever changing foreign policy.

        No, Ollie North is not a hypocrite on this, but he can be made to look like one as long as people don’t want to think too deeply about the topic.

        • Well written Michael. Be prepared for an onslaught of vitriol.

          Michael West wrote, “No, Ollie North is not a hypocrite on this, but he can be made to look like one as long as people don’t want to think too deeply about the topic.”

          I’ll say it.

          Progressives like valkygrrl and Chris are superficial thinkers or better yet shallow thinkers.

        • Michael West wrote, “See, North engaged in clandestine actions on behalf of Reagan’s administration with tacit approval of the administration. His conduct was governmental and operational in scope.”

          I’ve always thought that there was only a very thin layer of plausible deniability set up between North and President Reagan. It would have only taken one document to directly implicate the President and North witnessed that document being shredded. I believe that North was setup to be the fall guy and he likely knew it at some point in the operation, maybe even knew it up front.

    • Of the 175 comments as of my count:

      Around 23 are about the Iran Deal… and those are distributed among bursts of threads of about 2-3 comments in length.

      Around 6 are about Presidential powers and the fickleness of relying on extra-constitutional decision making.

      Around 5 are about the Logan Act and John Kerry.

      Around 23 are a discussion of supposed Ollie North hypocrisy.

      Around 37 are a diversion into Trump-Russia.
      Around 17 are a diversion into the Travel Ban.

      5 posts are concerns about the post being hijacked by Russia-centric Trump diversions.

      7 additional comments further diverted towards Trump-Russia on the comments observing the hijacking.

      So, something like 13% of the comments are about the topic.
      An additional 6% touch on matters tangentially related to the topic.
      The Ollie North side bar which either does or does not touch relevantly on the topic is an additional 13% of comments.

      So under a 1/3 of comments are on topic (if you count Ollie North sidebar…which is being generous). The brevity of those comments would technically reduce their percentage overall.

      35% are Trump-Russia and Travel Ban diversions.

      Which leaves us with about another 1/3 which consists of a small cluster of observations regarding the diversions and a huge swathe of internecine spats.

  15. To follow up on what Zoltar said at 8:46 am: Sergey Brin is “Russian-American.” He co-founded Google. Chris admitted to using Google. In this thread. Therefore, no question, Chris has colluded. HE COLLUDED!

  16. I will take a contrarian view of the subject Du Jour or is it every day? Chris! I really have no issue with Chris when he sticks to positions. I actually agree with some and others I reject. If I ever agreed with someone 100% then they need as much intervention as I do. I could be snarky and say that Chris’s responses save me the time of scanning Daily Kos or the latest missive from The Resistance. Frankly not having Chris around would be rather boring. He presents a delicious target and does not back off. I respect that. What is frustrating is the wandering off topic that happens frequently with Chris and others. I also raise my hand and plead guilty. The next issue is the playground tactics. Seems it is third-grade name calling with far more sophisticated language and that is directed at everyone.

    • Chris

      Thank you, Rick.

      I readily admit that I have trouble letting go of certain issues, and when I feel I am in the right I am very stubborn. Sometimes that has the effect of derailing a thread and for that I do apologize. I do think I am a great deal more moderate than your average Daily Kos writer, but I realize I am far to the left of most here.

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