Tom Cotton

Something About Satire, Something About Etiquette

Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker.

Is it sad I wish this was real?

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khameni.  (Photo: Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”

He said that his nation was the “logical choice” to jumpstart negotiations between Obama and the Republicans because “it has become clear that both sides currently talk more to Iran than to each other.”

(Borowitz)

I mean, come on, that would be … yeah.

Oh, hey, an etiquette question: If you happen to witness a Facebook discussion in which at least one of the participants seems to think it’s real, and nobody else is making the point, what is your obligation to speak up or not?

Never mind.

____________________

Image notes: Top―Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker. Right―Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in undated photo. (Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)

Borwitz, Andy. “Iran Offers to Mediate Talks Between Republicans and Obama”. The New Yorker. 10 March 2015.

Sabotage, or, How Republicans Love America

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR4) is running for the United States Senate in 2014.

We have reached the point where Senate Republicans are actively working to subvert American foreign policy.

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

(Rogin)

Is this really a precedent Republicans want to set? Are they really prepared for the consequences of trying to usurp foreign policy from its Constitutionally-assigned executive purview? How might they react, in some future presidency, if Congressional Democrats tell the world that they do not intend to allow a Republican president to negotiate in good faith?

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Arkansas? (Really?)

Arkansas

What the hell is wrong with Tom Cotton?

It would seem the Congressman from Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District is so desperate for a U.S. Senate seat that he will aid and abet terrorism in order to do so.

Does that sound a little strange? Well enough; it ought to. Andrew Kaczynski brings the underlying lede:

An ad from Republican Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton about his military experience and national security issues uses footage from an ISIS propaganda video as B-roll.

And Steve Benen brings the blistering critique:

In recent months, most of the Republicans incorporating ISIS propaganda into their commercials have relied on the ISIS video in which James Foley was murdered. Foley’s family has pleaded not to even watch the footage, but in a few cases, politicians on the right have ignored those wishes ....

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR4), candidate for United States Senate, is willing to help Daa'ish in order to win..... I honestly never thought I’d see the day. Far-right politicians, eager to seem “tough” on terror, are deliberately putting terrorists’ propaganda on the air, on purpose, to advance their personal ambitions.

Keep in mind, there’s no shortage of available footage that the Republican campaign could have included in the commercial. There’s plenty of background video of combat in the Middle East, for example, which Cotton could have used to make the same point.

But, no. Cotton instead used ISIS propaganda, putting the same footage on the air that the terrorists want to see on the air.

And while Benen might wonder about who on the campaign thought this was a good idea, there is perhaps a more important question.

Really, Arkansas? This is okay with you?

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Why Chuck Todd Should Resign or Be Fired

Chuck Todd, host of NBC News' Meet the Press

“Chuck Todd does not get it. Once he becomes the news in this manner he has failed as a journalist.”

Egberto Willies

Maybe it is difficult for some to recall the days when journalism as an industry was raised on a pedestal as the Fourth Estate, the Guardians of the People against Tyranny.

Really. Was a time. Technically, it’s why we have a constitutional provision guaranteeing free press.

Journalism has, of course, changed. One would hope the industry has evolved, but the question remains whether the Fourth Estate has evolved with it, or “evolved to extinction”. While it is easy enough to pick on, say, FOX News in this manner, NBC’s Meet the Press has long been viewed as a fixture of the Fourth Estate.

And whatever we might think of David Gregory’s embarrassing watch, Chuck Todd seems determined to use the helm to run Meet the Press into the rocks. Or, as Egberto Willies explains for Daily Kos:

Daily KosChuck Todd does not get it. Once he becomes the news in this manner he has failed as a journalist. A few days ago Alison Lundergan Grimes was interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board. They asked her whether she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. She justifiably refused to answer.

The talking heads and pundits claimed she was not prepared for the question. The lack of sophistication of the traditional media is astounding. It was evident that she was prepared for the question and she intended not to answer it. It was evident that her team likely thought the downside was worse if she answered.

Chuck Todd in another case of irrational verbal diarrhea said that her answer “borders on disqualification.” One wonders how not answering an inconsequential and silly question borders on disqualification yet he never said such on the various substantive lies and misstatements by Mitch McConnell (e.g, implying that Kynect is not Obamacare, etc.).

It is a fair point, indeed even a necessary question. Observing that employers cannot ask job applicants who they voted for as a prerequisite of hiring, we can at least consider the principle in the question of politics. Willies notes that Grimes’ refusal to answer “denied Mitch McConnell’s team a sound bite that would have been replayed ad naseum in a state where President Obama is less popular than dog meat”. Tactically speaking, he has a point that, “In a low-information, sound-bite driven society, denying that sound bite was likely the better move”.

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Ptomaine Word Salad

"It'd be a permanent downward economic spiral — like Gaza, basically," Kirk Sowell, a risk analyst and Iraq expert, says. An ISIS mini-state is just not sustainable. (Zack Beauchamp/Vox)

One would expect, then, to die when Daa’ish, (a.k.a. Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, and IS, at the very least) secretly invades the United States across the Mexican border in order to pose as migrant workers and infect our lettuce with ebola.

Oh, right. Reality. Er … ah … sorry.

So, you might have heard some murmuring of late about those bad guys from Iraq and Syria getting caught while crossing the border. It’s … something of a campfire election-season scary story.

Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind call horsepucky for Vox:

One might think that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is primarily of concern for people in and around Iraq and Syria, but some politicians beg to differ. Over the past couple months, a number of House members (and a Senator and governor here or there) have made increasingly specific statements about the perceived danger of ISIS members coming to the US, particularly by way of the Mexican border.

On one end of the spectrum, there are vague hypotheticals like the ones Texas governor and likely 2016 GOP contender Rick Perry has been posing. While noting he had “no clear evidence” this was happening, he expressed an “obvious, great concern that — because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across — that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be.” Or fellow 2016 possibility Sen. Mario Rubio (R-FL), who when asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if ISIS could cross the border, answered, “Sure, potentially.”

Statements like these are basically un-factcheckable, since it’s obviously conceptually possible that people with terrorist affiliations could, at some point, sneak across the border. Some tweets from people claiming to be affiliated with ISIS have threatened attacks within the US, but there’s no indication that the group’s actual leadership is at all interested in that. Perry and Rubio’s statements aren’t outright wrong so much as they give excessive credence to a possibility for which there’s little real evidence.

But others have made statements that are more falsifiable. For those cases, we reached out to the relevant Congressional offices in search of supporting evidence. In most cases, we came up short.

Don’t let that idea of “most cases” scare you. The short answer is no, Daa’ish is not invading the United States, nor crossing the border and getting arrested in twos and fours. Yet within any myth is a grain of truth.

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