Just read Not Fit to Lead: The Iran hearings have shown how the Republican Party can no longer be trusted with the presidency by William Saletan. Yeah, I know, it’s William Saletan. But read it anyway.
In all three hearings, Kerry explained how the inspection and verification measures in the Iran deal are designed to rectify flaws that led to the failure of the North Korean nuclear agreement. He spent much of his opening statement outlining these differences. This made no impression. When the Senate held its next hearing a week later, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presiding Republican, dismissed the Iran agreement with a quip: â€œHow did that North Korean deal work out for you?â€
The concept of negotiation seems to elude them:
At the Tuesday hearing, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania told Kerry we should demand a better deal, â€œand if the ayatollah doesnâ€™t like it and doesnâ€™t want to negotiate it, oh, â€˜boo-hoo.â€™ Weâ€™re here for America.â€ Weber, speaking for others in his party, ridiculed Kerryâ€™s concerns about Iranian distrust of the U.S.: â€œMe and my colleagues were up here thinking, â€˜Who cares?â€™ â€ When Kerry replied that the Iranians wouldnâ€™t have negotiated on Weberâ€™s terms, the congressman scoffed, â€œOh, my heart pains for them.â€ These lawmakers donâ€™t seem to understand that much of a negotiatorâ€™s job consists of understanding, caring about, and accommodating the other sideâ€™s concerns.
The call of the chickenhawk is heard through the land:
Graham is running for president as a foreign-policy expert. But three hours of testimony on Wednesday about the difficulties of using military force to stop Iranâ€™s nuclear program taught him nothing. Wrapping up the hearing, Graham demanded that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter answer a simple question: â€œWho wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?â€ When he didnâ€™t get the prompt answer he wanted, Graham thunderously answered the question himself: â€œWe win!â€ He sounded like a football coach delivering a pep talk. The differences between football and warâ€”what â€œwinningâ€ means, and what it costsâ€”didnâ€™t enter into his equation.
Miz Lindsey used to call himself a Gulf War veteran. He did serve in the Air National Guard during the Persian Gulf War, but his service didn’t take him outside of South Carolina.
Other highlights: Ted Cruz, who never served a day in uniform, exchanged these words with John Kerry:
Cruz: Gen. Soleimani, the head of the al-Quds forces, has more blood of American service members on his hands than any living terrorist. Under this agreement, the sanctions under Gen. Soleimani are lifted. Now, Secretary Kerry said to the families of those men and women who gave their lives, who were killed by Gen. Soleimani, we should apologize. â€¦
Kerry: Sir, I never said the word apology. I never mentioned apologize. I said we should thank them for their extraordinary service. I never said the word apologize. Please, donâ€™t distort my words.
Cruz: Secretary Kerry, it is duly noted you donâ€™t apologize to the family members of the service members who were murdered by the Iranian military.
Kerry: Thatâ€™s not what I said, senator. [I said] I thank them for their extraordinary service and I would remind them that the United States of America will never take the sanctions off Qasem Soleimani.
Cruz: Sir, I just want to clarify. Do you apologize or not?
This truly is Joe McCarthy territory. Cruz also distinguished himself in an exchange with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who has a PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford and who was once the head of the physics department at MIT. Moniz testified that he had not read a specific report about EMPs, or electromagnetic pulses. However, â€œif you look at our Quadrennial Energy Review published in April, we do identify EMP as a risk to transformers, and we are beginning to try to work up a response to that.â€ Here is what Cruz did with that bit of data:
Cruz: You told the United States Senate you hadnâ€™t read the congressionally mandated commission on EMPs and that you didnâ€™t know what an EMP was.
Moniz: That is incorrect. I said I did not know this 2008 report recommendations. I said I was quite familiar with the issue, and we all know about EMPs from airburst nuclear weapons.
Cruz: Secretary, let me read the testimony verbatim so that I donâ€™t mischaracterize you. â€¦ â€œSenator Johnson: â€˜Are you familiar with the EMPs commission 2008 report?â€™ â€˜No, I am not, sir.â€™ â€˜Youâ€™re not? Do you knowâ€”do you know what an EMP is?â€™ â€˜Youâ€™ll have to explain it to me, please.â€™ â€ I find that stunning. â€¦
Moniz: That was about the report. If you read further in the testimony, you will see my explicit statement. Of course I know about the issue.
Cruz: Do you agree that an EMP detonated by Iran in the atmosphere could kill tens of millions of Americans? â€¦
Moniz: It depends upon the specifics. These are highly variableâ€”
Cruz: Does that mean, yes, it could?
Moniz: I said it is highly variable in itsâ€”
Cruz: OK. Youâ€™re refusing to answer the question.
I don’t hate people easily, but Cruz is testing me.
I want to add to yesterday’s post that events in Ferguson appear to be following a standard trajectory. The immediate impetus after such an apparent act of brutality is for the Powers That Be to go into “nothing to see here, move along” mode. When the community and many others rallied and asked for justice, and the PTB realized they weren’t going to get away with burying the incident, they went into their standard alternate modes of (1) demonizing the victim by trying to claim he had just robbed a convenience store, for example, although I don’t believe he did, and I understand the owner of the store didn’t file a police report, and there is no way Officer Wilson would have known about the convenience store, and anyway the convenience store episode may not have happened on the same day; many things are not clear.
And then there’s (2) making excuses for the cop. By now it has been thoroughly proven that the eye socket injury didn’t happen. Now we see white supporters of Officer Wilson claiming the shooting was a “good kill.” WTF? Based on what evidence we actually have — no, it was not.
I fully support the opinion that we should not declare Officer Wilson guilty of anything before he has had his day in court. There may be evidence that hasn’t come into public view that will shed a different light on things. But based on everything even partly substantiated has been made public, this was an utterly unnecessary slaughter of an unarmed young man who hadn’t been found guilty of anything, either.
This trajectory of events is so standard it’s nearly become ritual. Next time we could appoint Kabuki actors to play it out for us.