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The Republic of Tom Cotton, et al

March 10th, 2015

There is a at which the political antics of Republicans go beyond mere idiocy and becomes dangerously close to sedition and treason. And regarding words like “treason,” I do not mean them in the sense that such words are used by Republicans, as in, “Obama just sneezed, let’s accuse him of treason”; I use them in the actual, legal sense.

Republicans have always used their bully pulpit to make the most sensational of charges against Obama, making wild accusations based upon the tamest of actions. After Obama used his authority to issue executive orders even less than pretty much all other modern presidents, he was widely accused by conservatives of being “menacing” in his threat to rule in a corrupt manner that could “deliver us to tyranny,” abusing his powers to the point where impeachment was a just and proper response.

But for all of the hysterical dramatics displayed, this is all just empty posturing; a quick review clearly demonstrates that every right-wing claim is absurdly childish in both the near-berserk levels of alarm as well as the farcical exaggeration of legal claims. Obama has played within his constitutional authority, and certainly well within the boundaries set by his predecessors.

However, Republicans have now begun to take steps which are—in actual fact—both unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional. They came perilously close to that line last week by bringing a foreign leader to their chambers, without the consent of the president, to make a distinctly partisan speech on the behalf not just of Congress, but on behalf of one party of Congress, in what was effectively a foreign-backed political attack on the president of the United States. That comes perilously close to being brazenly illegal, and is without any doubt a breaking of long-held national standards of patriotic fair play.

But now? Now, as the president carries out his constitutionally mandated powers (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution) to negotiate treaties with foreign powers, Congress has stepped in and sent a direct message to Iran, both specifically and willfully disrupting that process.

This goes beyond mere political interplay. This even goes beyond the now-well-trodden line of intentionally harming the nation for political purposes. This is a deliberate act to undermine the power of the president of the United States as he negotiates with a foreign enemy. Can you imagine what would have happened if, while Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev in Iceland, the Democrats in the Senate sent a message to the Soviet leadership that Reagan had no ability to deliver on any agreement he made? Would Republicans have accepted that?

Of course not, because it would have been tantamount to treason. And no less here, wether you agree with the Republicans’ point of view on Iran or not. They have the power to advise and consent only, not to directly negotiate on matters of foreign affairs, and especially not to work against the president of their own country in foreign negotiations. Though the pundits now seem to be saying that it only comes close to violating the Logan Act (not to mention the constitution itself), they say that the language of the act is vague enough that a good lawyer could wriggle out of a conviction. That does not in any way mean that the Republicans clearly violated the intent of the Logan Act, and are clearly not just in the wrong on this, but have strayed well into the waters called treason.

It is as if Republicans have effectively established their own independent sovereign nation within the bounds of GOP headquarters, and are now acting as a hostile power against the president of the United States.

And, sadly, when it comes to Obama, he is the classic weak-kneed Democrat when it comes to decisive, strong action to slap down the other side when it clearly oversteps its bounds.

The only real question is, what will the Republicans do next? Because, when—not if—they do get away with this, they will surely see the way clear to go one and then many steps further.

  1. Troy
    March 11th, 2015 at 07:30 | #1

    The GOP play here is obvious.


    shows how there are 8 typologies here.

    12% of the population are hard conservatives

    10% are soft “main street” conservatives, the traditional GOP.

    13% are cynical / skeptical conservatives

    That’s their 35% base, and they punch higher than their weight at 45% of the actual electorate.

    The left is 15% liberal left and 12% of the youth that are moderate-left, plus 15% center-left (socially conservative but economically liberal), for 42% of the population and 45% of the electorate.

    That leaves 10% of the population up for grabs, but as long as their 45% outvotes our 45%, they win, and to outvote us they have to demoralize us by ceaselessly attacking, never defending.

  2. Troy
    March 11th, 2015 at 11:34 | #2

    Re: 3 years ago and the economy:


    Krugman in his blog now has some good analysis about how Republicans have really put the screws on the economy (by getting the sequester deal out of Obama) since they took over in 2011. One thing he doesn’t mention is that they’ve been around this block before — they know every dollar the gov’t doesn’t spend during Obama’s turn is a dollar plus interest available to the GOP should they retake all 4 branches of gov’t next year, just how they conveniently lost their deficit-control religion once GWB won office in 2000.

    Win-win, as they can pin the subpar economy on Obama, and people are too stupid to see through the bullshit.

    Interestingly, 3 years ago, 2012, was halfway between the start of the recovery (March 2009) and now.

    Overall I was much too pessimistic in 2012 I guess, but:


    is an important graph, comparing jobs (blue) to the long-term population trend calibrated at 1999’s peak.

    This graph shows how the 80s and especially 90s booms outpaced demographic growth, while the bush boom was just barely keeping up with demographics, and the current growth phase is slow-ly closing the gap — we’re still 10M jobs short, actually!


    does the same analysis for full-time employees, showing how we lost 10M in the Bush recession and we haven’t gotten that gap back.

    In Oct 09 we were 16M jobs short, so by around 2020 we’ll be back to the employment level of 2007.

    If the GOP does win next year I expect a colossal ‘regime change’ in economics. They’ll go for the ring with massive tax cuts covered by massive deficit spending.

    Abe had the strange idea of raising taxes and that turned out about as well as people expected, or not. No reason for the GOP to make that mistake.

  3. Tim
    March 11th, 2015 at 23:45 | #3

    One wonders what would happen if they got a hold of the White House while they still have control of the Senate and Congress. I’m thinking a suicidal maniac at the controls of an airplane at 20,000 feet pointing the thing into the ground and heading towards it at high speed.

    Not just a wrecking crew: more like pyromaniacs in pursuit of the biggest spectacle of destruction that they can arrange.

    And to think, once upon a time, not very long ago, they were viewed as the grown ups in the room.

    In regard to treason, there is moral treason and there is treason according to traditional law and treason according to positive law. The republicans have been seditious and treasonous for quite some time on the moral front. They’ve now moved into the traditional law form of treason and may very well be guilty of treason based on positive law. The constitution insist on two citation of two witnesses to treason. Anyone who has read the letter these guys wrote can stand as a witness to their treason.

    It remains for skilled Democratic politicians to fight to protect our democracy. Unfortunately, I don’t see too many around willing and capable of putting up a good fight to defend what so many have fought and died for. Perhaps the country will not survive the baby boom generation.

  4. Troy
    March 12th, 2015 at 02:38 | #4

    “The republicans have been seditious and treasonous for quite some time”

    yeah, that whole Fort Sumter thing, LOL (they’ve changed parties but the assholes remain)

    More recently (and the man who initiated the southern conservatives’ switch from (D) to (R):

    “Sachs, chief economist for Lehman Corporation, informed Johnson that he had learned from Wall Street colleagues “closely involved with Nixon” that the Republican nominee “was trying to frustrate the president, by inciting Saigon to step up its demands, and by letting Hanoi know that when he took office ‘he could accept anything and blame it on his predecessor.’”


    “A furious president telephoned the highest elected Republican in the land, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois, and declared, “This is treason.” He wasn’t exaggerating. The Logan Act of 1799 prohibits private citizens (including presidential candidates) from interfering with negotiations between the U.S. and foreign governments.”


    Though I don’t see what the Republicans are doing as treason here (nor was Nixon’s contact with Thieu prior to the election).

    The very disclosure of these acts should be enough to permanent discredit and censure of the participants. That it doesn’t is a much bigger issue we have going!

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