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“Choosing A Better Path”: Iran’s Moderate Reformists Performing Well in Elections, Validating Success Of Iran Deal

Good news out of Iran today: moderate reformists are performing well in early election results:

Early election results in Iran show reformists who favor expanding democratic freedoms and improving relations with the West are expanding their presence in parliament and a clerical body responsible for selecting the country’s next supreme leader.

Reports in the semi-official Fars and Mehr news agencies showed hard-liners losing ground in the 290-seat legislature. None of Iran’s three main political camps — reformist, conservative and hard-line — was expected to capture a majority, but the reformist camp is on track for its best showing in more than a decade.

It’s not just a victory for reform. It’s also a functional and political victory for the Iran deal. Contrary to the hyperventilating of the Republican message machine, it was not hardliners in Iran who pushed for the deal but rather moderates. Removing sanctions not only brings Iran closer to the West in exchange for nuclear concessions which is a great idea on its own merits, but the success of the deal itself politically empowers moderates over the strict Islamists:

A victory for reformists would be a boost for moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who championed the newly implemented Iranian nuclear deal with world powers in the face of hard-line opposition.

This is also, of course, a victory for the Obama Administration and for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who helped lay the groundwork for the eventual deal. In the fury of the presidential primaries it’s easy to overlook, but Democrats can and should hold the entire Republican Party accountable for its wrongheaded and frankly dangerous statements about the Iran deal. Everyone who supported the deal (and Clinton in particular) should do a victory lap and use the success of the deal as a political cudgel against every Republican candidate. It’s just another example of how liberal foreign policy creates better outcomes that improve the well-being of the world and make America safer as a result.

If anyone cares to make the case, it’s also another example in which American christian conservatives and Middle Eastern Islamist conservatives–despite claiming to be fierce enemies–yet again found themselves on the same side. They’re already quiet allies on issues like guns, gay rights, women’s sexual freedom, “political correctness,” religion in schools and the intervention of federal government in the affairs of local good old boys. In this case, neither side wanted a political rapprochement with the other: both American and Iranian conservatives benefit politically from treating their respective people not as fellow human beings but as agents of Satan, increasing the likelihood of a bloody war that would help strengthen radical conservative power in both countries.

Thankfully, both America and Iran chose a better path, and the success of more liberal forces in both nations is paying dividends.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 27, 2016

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cheapening The Legacy Of 9/11 On 9/11”: Grossly Inappropriate Joy Over Hatred And Destruction

I try not to dip my brain too much into the toxic waste of anti-Islamic bigotry. But occasionally its purveyors profane the very memories they claim inspire them, as in this nasty piece of work from Carol Brown of The American Thinker, who manages to cheapen the legacy of 9/11 on 9/11:

It is now official. On Thursday the Senate let the Iran deal go through – a deal that will forever change the landscape of the world in terrifying and unthinkable ways. I need not enumerate how this collaboration with Iran (and it is a collaboration) will affect Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and indeed the entire world.

Readers know all too well.

And yet, you’d hardly know how our fate was sealed on Thursday. America’s alignment with the Nazis of the 21st century hardly made a dent in media coverage. Headlines appeared as they do on any other day.

Imagine that.

[O]n Thursday, after Republican leaders spent months colluding with the Democrats, the Washington cartel ensured that our children and grandchildren will live in a world with a nuclear Iran.

In between profound sorrow, incredible dread, and blind rage, I find myself asking: Why?

Perhaps many elected officials don’t care about America, their oath of office, or our children. Apparently their allegiance to party and power trump concern for even their own children.

If reading this annoys you, be glad I left out the long, long quote from Mark Levin. But here’s the coda:

And so we now not only have a 9/11, but a 9/10 – when our leaders sold us down the river. Yet again. But this time the stakes are as high as they get.

People like Brown and Levin want, welcome, demand constant global war with Islam, and will accept nothing less (Brown has been singled out by the Anti-Defamation League for her “ugly rhetoric” about Musims). They should stay the hell away from the memorials to 9/11, since their joy over hatred and destruction is grossly inappropriate to the commemoration of innocents and those who died to in an effort to save them.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 11, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | 911, Conservatives, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump’s Fans Only Hear What They Want To Hear”: They Don’t Hear The Policy Nuance, They Hear The Bluster

In a sea of signs protesting President Obama’s nuclear deal on Wednesday, there was one that literally towered above the rest: It loomed 12 feet over the crowd, with TRUMP in huge letters blazoned across a red background. The biggest. The best. An instant media sensation.

“He will confront these people,” said Ed Hunter, a 50-year-old contractor from Maryland who was holding one end of the giant sign, which he ordered off the Internet for $100. “He will not back down. He will not enable little special interest groups. He’s not afraid of anybody.” It was a popular sentiment among the several hundred who’d amassed for the Capitol Hill protest organized by Sen. Ted Cruz to protest the Iran deal. Trump may have staked out one of the most liberal positions on the Iran deal within the 2016 GOP field, and he may even have inadvertently helped the deal happen, but his fans don’t hear the policy nuance—they hear the bluster.

As the rally kicked off, cameramen and photographers and reporters kept coming up to Hunter and his sign-holding partner, Jim McDonald, a 70-year-old retired lawyer from Fairfax. Young men and women posed for photos under the giant sign, grinning broadly despite the sweltering heat. At first, Hunter and McDonald had their backs to the stage, so the Capitol dome would frame the backdrop of supporters’ photos. But before Trump followed Cruz to the stage, they turned it around so that The Donald could see his own name hoisted above the crowd. “I’ve been making lots of wonderful deals, great deals, that’s what I do. Never, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran,” Trump told the cheering crowd, standing in front of a Capitol dome that he described as full of “very, very stupid people.”

Cruz, who has promised to “rip up and rescind” the Iran deal, could easily have attacked Trump for being soft on the issue. In August, Trump said that he would enforce the Iran deal if it’s in place when he takes office. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘We’re going to rip up the deal,’” the real-estate mogul told NBC News. “It’s very tough to do when you say, ‘Rip up a deal.'” Instead, Trump said he’d take a hardline approach to enforcing it. “I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance. As bad as that contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.” The only other GOP candidate who’s been as moderate on the issue is Jeb Bush.

But rather than go after Trump, Cruz—who’s only polling around 7 percent nationally—is trying to ride his coattails instead, making him a special guest on Wednesday. Trump, meanwhile, reaped the rewards of Republican outrage over the deal by sharing a stage with the likes of Cruz, who riled up the crowd by accusing Democrats of financing murderous jihad: “You bear direct responsibility for the murders carried out with the dollars you have given them. You cannot wash your hands of that blood.” When Trump took the stage, he didn’t need to mention blood. He could just talk about #winning. “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning,” he told the cheering crowd.

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s rally, Trump had been moving right on the issue, writing in USA Today that he “will renegotiate with Iran” when he’s elected president. While that’s extraordinarily unlikely, it’s still completely in character for Trump: Somehow, by the sheer force of his personality, Trump will Get Things Done to Make America Great Again. At the rally, Trump promised that he will get things done with Iran before he assumes the presidency. “If I win the presidency, I guarantee you that those four prisoners are back in our country before I ever take office,” he told the crowd, referring to Americans currently detained in Iran.

Since Trump’s entire campaign is based on braggadacio—the swaggering response to anger, frustration, and resentment—his fans don’t tend to parse his policy positions very closely. In fact, gathering from those I spoke with, they tend not to even believe that Trump means it when he sounds a more moderate note. Howard Glickman, a 52-year-old Trump supporter from Philadelphia, waved away the idea that his man would be soft on Iran deal. “He’d enforce it in his way. No bull. Go in and check. Go in and do things,” he told me, echoing Trump’s own blunt vernacular. Glickman’s 26-year-old son Josh believes that Trump would go to even greater lengths to push back against Iran. “He would either write a new deal, or go to war,” said Josh Glickman, wearing a Trump shirt and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat, with an Israeli flag draped over his shoulders.

The truth is that Trump has arguably made it easier for Obama’s deal to move forward, as The Atlantic‘s Peter Beinart writes. His candidacy has thrust issues like illegal immigration to the forefront of the debate, taking conservatives’ focus off the Iran deal at the very moment that the White House was working to convince wavering Democrats to support it. Inside the Capitol, while Cruz was imploring protesters to “Stop this deal!”, Obama had already secured the 41 Democratic votes necessary to assure its passage.

Despite Republican promises, there’s little room for the next president to come up with an alternative agreement: While Congress could vote to reimpose sanctions on Iran, they would have minimal impact without the cooperation of China, Russia, and Europe, who would be extremely unlikely to go along once Obama’s deal is already in place. So Trump’s new vow to make an alternative deal magically appear isn’t any more implausible than the promises made by the rest of the Republican field on Iran.

Jay Smith, an 80-year-old from Baltimore who has a party supplies business, isn’t particularly concerned about all that. When I recounted Trump’s moderate remarks from August to him, Smith said he simply doesn’t believe that Trump would ever enforce the president’s deal. “I don’t accept what you’re saying,” said Smith, a fan of Trump who’s undecided about the 2016 race. “Every time he speaks, he says it’s the worst deal in the world.”


Suzy Khimm, Senior Editor, The New Republic, September 10, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Wrong Then, Wrong Now”: What Cheney Left Out Of Iran Speech: His Own Record

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Obama administration of giving Iran everything it needs to wage a nuclear war on the U.S.

What Cheney left out was that Iran made significant advances with its nuclear program while he was in office.

With a nuclear accord with Iran all but guaranteed to survive a challenge from congressional Republicans, Cheney escalated the blame game between President Barack Obama’s White House and some former members of President George W. Bush administration over responsibility for spiraling turmoil in the Middle East.

“This deal gives Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” Cheney said. “It is madness.”

Cheney, one of the chief architects of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, said the agreement negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers with Iran would “accelerate nuclear proliferation” in the Mideast and enable the Islamic Republic to attack the U.S. or its allies.

While criticizing Obama’s handling of Iran, Cheney has struggled to explain the advancement of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program during the Bush administration. Iran had about 6,000 uranium centrifuges installed at its Natanz nuclear research facility at the start of the Obama administration in 2009, up from zero eight years earlier, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran’s Centrifuges

“I think we did a lot to deal with the arms control problem in the Middle East,” Cheney said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” without specifically responding to a question from host Chris Wallace about Iran’s centrifuges.

Before Cheney began speaking Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, the White House sought to preempt his argument with a video, distributed via social media, of Cheney’s past statements about the Iraq war titled: “Wrong Then, Wrong Now.”

Cheney’s warnings before the invasion that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction were wrong, and since leaving office he has frequently predicted devastating attacks on the U.S. by hostile nations or terrorist groups that have never materialized.

Iraq Justification

He again defended the Iraq war on Tuesday: “To argue that we should not have gone after Saddam Hussein is to argue that he still should be in place today,” he said.

He also said the Iraq invasion led to Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, offering to surrender his own nuclear program.

Cheney’s speech was interrupted by a protester from Codepink, an anti-war group that protested the Iraq invasion and is planning a series of events this week in support of the Iran deal.

“Dick Cheney’s a war criminal!” a young woman shouted before she was forcibly removed from the event. “Try diplomacy not war.”

Cheney did not address the woman, only saying “thank you,” after she was escorted out by security.

Cheney’s speech on Tuesday came 13 years to the day after the New York Times reported that Iraq was trying to obtain thousands of “aluminum tubes” to construct uranium centrifuges. Cheney confirmed the report — initially attributed to anonymous Bush administration sources — later that day in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

Ten days later, Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly labeling Iraq “a grave and gathering danger” and citing the tubes as one piece of evidence for a nuclear program.

Aluminum Tubes

The Iraq Survey Group, which investigated Hussein’s alleged weapons programs after the invasion, determined that the tubes were most likely intended to build conventional rockets. No evidence ever emerged that Iraq tried to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

Obama has argued that opposition to the Iran accord has been drummed up by many of the same people who supported the ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

“VP Cheney was wrong on Iraq, and now he’s making false claims about the #IranDeal,” Eric Schultz, the White House’s deputy press secretary, said on Twitter as Cheney spoke.

Cheney’s speech comes as several presidential candidates prepare to make public statements about the Iran deal. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to join Donald Trump at a rally for opponents of the agreement on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak on the deal Wednesday.

Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday after a five-week recess and lawmakers have until Sept. 17 to act on the agreement. As of Tuesday, 41 Democrats in the Senate have announced they will support the deal when Republicans, who have majorities in the House and Senate, attempt to advance a resolution of disapproval.

The Democratic support means that if the disapproval passes, Republicans won’t have enough votes to override a promised veto by Obama. Democrats also may have sufficient votes to filibuster such a resolution in the Senate, preventing it from ever reaching the president’s desk.

It isn’t clear if all 41 senators who have said they support the deal would also support blocking a vote on the disapproval resolution.


By: Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg Politics, September 8, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Iraq War | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Screwing Up A One-Car Funeral”: House Republicans Three-Headed Monster Of A legislative Vehicle For Its Views On Iran

One of the few things we all thought we could count on when Congress returned from its August recess was a quick vote in the House on a resolution of disapproval for the Iran Nuclear Deal. After all, (1) it’s an issue on which all congressional Republicans seem to agree, (2) there’s a mandated timetable for dealing with the resolution that everybody agreed on months ago, and (3) it’s all kinda Kabuki Theater right now because Democrats have the votes to filibuster the resolution in the Senate.

But sometimes with these birds even the simplest things come unglued. Suddenly today a “revolt of House conservatives”–by no means the first or last–occurred, and now pending a meeting of House GOPers that’s currently underway, the Party of Responsible Government looks likely to produce some sort of three-headed monster of a legislative vehicle for its views on Iran, per Politico‘s Jake Sherman:

They are moving toward voting on a measure asserting Obama did not submit all elements of the agreement with Iran, a concept first raised by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a former member of GOP leadership. Second, Republicans are working on a bill to try to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran. Third, the House would vote on a resolution to approve of the Iran pact. The original plan was to vote on a disapproval resolution.

This first gambit is based on the growing right-wing furor over “side agreements” between the Iranians and international nuclear monitors, plus alleged other “secret” deals, which conservatives claim cancels the procedural timetable for any votes and also makes the administration vulnerable to lawsuits. Boil it all down, and it’s an effort to add the Iran Nuclear Deal to the long list of things on which the Tyrant Obama supposedly broke the law and violated the Constitution.

In other words, House GOPers are talking to themselves, and to the almighty base.

The third gambit supposedly makes the treasonous nature of Democrats more obvious by requiring them to vote for the deal, not just against a resolution of disapproval.

Trouble with that one, and with the whole package, is that it’s not being coordinated with the Senate, where it’s totally not welcome (guess Ted Cruz is too busy in Kentucky trying to get into photos with Kim Davis to serve as the liaison between House and Senate wingnuts). So what should have been the easiest of maneuvers in a very crowded and complicated schedule has become a fiasco (Greg Sargent calls it “snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat.”), and congressional GOPers have become the people who could screw up a one-car funeral. Just amazing.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Senate | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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