The US House, as authorized by the president, released the controversial memo by Rep. David Nunes (R-CA) today despite protests from our nation’s intelligence services claiming that omissions of fact render it as nothing but partisan propaganda. Nunes, the supposed author of the document, has NOT read the underlying investigative documents upon which he claims his memo is based. Sadly, Speaker Ryan, second in line to the presidency, believes it’s appropriate to promote Nunes’ propaganda to “the base.” The Democratic rebuttal may or may not be released dependent of the whims of the man occupying the oval office and whether he thinks it appropriate for the American People to have that information.
But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile wall? That’s another story. It just antagonizes your neighbor — and shows your own fear and weakness.
Yet this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ’em out!
Haven’t we already tried this?
In 2006, Congress mandated the construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall isn’t so simple after all.
First, it’s ridiculously expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance.
Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition: To erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against government overreach now favor using government muscle to grab private property?
Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border. Hundreds of miles of it lie along the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles cross the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.
Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters.
Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built. Because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here and another there, with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the United States can just go to one of the gaps and walk through.
But when they’re just trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what’s honesty have to do with it?
I awoke this morning to hear that 47 U.S. Senators had signed a letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran basically telling them (1) not to trust our nation’s President to negotiate an agreement as to Iran’s nuclear program, (2) that no matter what might be negotiated, and (3) come 2017 when a new President (presumably Republican) takes office, well, he’ll just scrap that agreement. Nevada’s Senator Dean Heller was on of those 47 signatures. News flash Senator Heller, the President of the United States is NOT the lone Emperor of the World!
Here’s Senator Heller’s tweet:
Here’s the letter from 47 imbecilic Senators who don’t understand the U.S. Constitution and the roles different parts of our government play, who have no rudimentary understanding of our obligations under international law and who appear to have colluded to commit seditious conspiracy to undermine the government the swore to faithfully serve:
Ah … but the story doesn’t end with the mere issuance of that letter. Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that to the letter signed by the 47 Senators, “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”
Zarif was astonished that 47 members of our US Senate, some of whom have held those positions for decades, believe it to be appropriate to write to leaders of another country expressing opposition their own president and administration. Zarif also challenged the lawmakers’ threats, dismissing the letter as a mere “propaganda ploy with no legal value.” He went further explaining, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”
Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”
Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with the 5+1 results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”
Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”
President Obama also condemned the action of the 47 Senators saying, “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”
As far as I’m concerned, I truly hope the Attorney General introduces each and every one of those 47 Senators with reality by charging them with blatant violation of the Logan Act, which ironically is a law passed by the US Congress and signed by President John Adams. The Logan Act is a U.S. federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with or interfering with negotiations with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with fines, as well as the possibility of imprisonment of up to three years. Clearly, the US Constitution does NOT delegate the responsibility for negotiation agreements or treaties to the US Congress. Foreign affairs is clearly the responsibility of the executive, the President of the United States of America.
This is the second incident the GOP has orchestrated to embarrass the President of the United States and undermine his authority. When is the President going to finally unleash the Attorney General of the United States to put an end to the seditious conspiracies being concocted against the better interests of these United States?
Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson.
The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC).
Yet there’s no knowing for sure about all of the “dark money” contributed by the Adelsons– so called because it doesn’t have to be reported. Like those high-rise, multi-million dollar apartments in New York City purchased by oligarchs whose identity is hidden within perfectly legal shell organizations, dark money lets our politicians conveniently erase fingerprints left by their ink-stained (from signing all those checks) billionaire benefactors.
But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate. Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls “uniquely pernicious” influence.
Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayom, a leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”
More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy. As Hebrew University economist Momi Dahan put it: “De facto, the existence of a newspaper like Israel Hayom egregiously violates the law, because [Adelson] actually is providing a candidate with nearly unlimited resources.”
Sheldon, meet Rupert.
In fact, as Israel’s March 17 election approaches, Adelson has increased the press run of Israel Hayom’s weekend edition by 70 percent. The paper says it’s to increase circulation and advertising, but rival newspaper Ha’aretz reports, “Political sources are convinced the extra copies are less part of a business plan and more one to help Netanyahu’s re-election bid.” Just like the timing of Netanyahu’s “State of the Union” address to Congress this week was merely a coincidence, right? “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” Netanyahu told Congress. “That was never my intention.” Of course.
In Gershom Gorenberg’s words, the prime minister “enjoys the advantage of having a major newspaper in his camp that portrays the world as seen from his office: a world in which Israel is surrounded by enemies, including the president of the United States; in which peace negotiations are aimed at destroying Israel; in which Israel’s left is aligned with all the hostile forces, and even rightists who oppose Netanyahu want to carry out a coup through the instrument of elections.”
So Netanyahu gets the best of both of Adelson’s worlds – his powerful propaganda machine in Israel and his campaign cash here in the United States. Combined, they allow Netanyahu to usurp American foreign policy as he manipulates an obliging US Congress enamored of Adelson’s millions, pushing it further to the right on Israel and the Middle East.
There you have it: Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.
Like a King Midas colossus, Sheldon Adelson bestrides the cause of war and peace in the most volatile region of the world. And this is the man who — at Yeshiva University in New York in 2013 — denounced President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran and proposed instead that the United States drop an atomic bomb in the Iranian desert and then declare: “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”
Everything you need to know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of that man. We are hostage to his fortune.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Journalist Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason.He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.
Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers’ Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.
— by David Pakman
Pakman discusses, with some incredulity, the latest “untruth” from Fox News. This one is about solar power.
The brain trust at Fox makes the claim that solar energy won’t work in the US because it isn’t sunny like in Germany, while the reality is that this is totally untrue:
Think California, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada—well, you get the picture.
They bring on an “expert” who spews a mouthful of “non-science”—Pakman offers charts of sun comparisons and more.
See video (starting at 1m 54s):
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