Readers React to Republicans’ Letter to Iran

The New York Times
By Nancy Wartik

An arcane, never-applied law, passed in 1799, was on many New York Times readers’ minds when they commented on a March 9 story about the 47 Republican senators who published an “open letter” addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

An article by the reporter Peter Baker described the letter, written by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as a “rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations.” The communiqué trumpeted to the leaders that any nuclear agreement reached with the Obama administration during the current negotiations could be undone “with the stroke of a pen” by the next president.

Among the more than 3,500 reader comments that came in (minus 1,000 that weren’t publishable), was this one…
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Opinion: War with Iran is probably our best option


The Washington Post
By Joshua Muravchik

Joshua Muravchik is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

The logical flaw in the indictment of a looming “very bad” nuclear deal with Iran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before Congress this month was his claim that we could secure a “good deal” by calling Iran’s bluff and imposing tougher sanctions. The Iranian regime that Netanyahu described so vividly — violent, rapacious, devious and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States — is bound to continue its quest for nuclear weapons by refusing any “good deal” or by cheating…
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U.S. Bypasses Texas Judge in Bid to Revive Immigration Plan
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration went over the head of a federal judge who ignored the government’s Monday deadline to lift his order blocking a controversial immigration program.

White House lawyers asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Thursday to lift the Texas judge’s Feb. 16 order blocking an initiative designed to give about 5 million undocumented immigrants the right to stay in the country and obtain work permits and other benefits…
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47 of 54 Republican Senators Issue Letter to Iran About Nuclear Deal Being Subject to Constitution and Change After 2016 Elections

Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican senators have issued an open letter to the leaders of Iran commenting about  “…two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices…”

The letter with the 47 names is here. (Also, with signatures. Was cursive handwriting taught back then? – Admin.)

Cotton was interviewed by Fox News this morning regarding the letter.

The following Republican senators did not sign the bill: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dan Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Other media reports:

Republican senators warn Iran in open letter (

Iran nuclear deadline likely to slip (

Obama, at Selma Memorial, Says, ‘We Know the March Is Not Yet Over’
By Peter Baker and Richard Fausset

SELMA, Ala. — As a new generation struggles over race and power in America, President Obama and a host of political figures from both parties came here on Saturday, to the site of one of the most searing days of the civil rights era, to reflect on how far the country has come and how far it still has to go.

Fifty years after peaceful protesters trying to cross a bridge were beaten by police officers with billy clubs, shocking the nation and leading to passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the nation’s first African-American president led a bipartisan, biracial testimonial to the pioneers whose courage helped pave the way for his own election to the highest office of the land…
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[Other resources: (1) Remarks by the President at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, (2) Selma to Montgomery: 50 Years Later – includes video of Obama’s remarks and several audio recordings of individuals and their experiences leading up to Selma, and (3) The March That Changed Us: Selma, Alabama, Then and Now]

Unable to Be Straight With Himself – Or the American People…

Unable to Be Straight With Himself – Or the American People
President Obama underplays American concessions and overplays Iranian commitments in the nuclear talks.

U.S. News and World Report
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

In the confrontation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, we are seeing the consequences of the long game Obama initiated right in his inauguration six years ago: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,” he declared, “know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” A regime might well be tyrannous and murderous, as Iran had been since the return of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, but the better angels of human nature might reassert themselves if embraced in a web of cooperation…
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Foreign Policy: Israel, Netanyahu, Iran, Nuclear Deal, Congress, Obama

The U.S. is in the midst of negotiating an Iran nuclear deal. In recent days there have been several related developments. Several snippets of information follow with links for more extensive reading.

*Israel remains the leading recipient of U.S. foreign military financing (FMF), receiving over $20.5 billion since 2009. The United States in Fiscal Year 2014 provided Israel with more security assistance funding than ever before. In Fiscal Year 2016, which marks the eighth year of a 10-year, $30 billion Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel, we have asked Congress for $3.1 billion in FMF funds for Israel. (Source: “5 Things You Need to Know About the U.S.-Israel Relationship Under President Obama,” National Security Council)

*Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday [February 25, 2015] declined to “get into” what negotiators are proposing to the Iranians in the nuclear talks, and defended the president’s authority to execute foreign policy, saying he did not believe a negotiated agreement should go through a “formal approval process” by Congress. (Source: “Kerry: Congress Has No Role in Approving Iran Nuclear Deal,”

*In an interview with Reuters on Monday [March 2, 2015], President Barack Obama said Iran should commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years in its nuclear activity as part of any final agreement. “If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist … if we’ve got that, and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” Obama said. (Source: “What’s in the Iran nuclear deal,”

*WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced bipartisan legislation requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 would mandate the president submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibit the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. (Source: “Corker, Menendez, Graham, Kaine Introduce Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015,” U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress Tuesday [March 3, 2015] about the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. Here is the full transcript: (Source: “Transcript: Netanyahu Speech to Congress,”

Obama’s Expected Keystone Pipeline Veto Is Likely to Be the First in a Wave

(Summary of Bills vetoed including brief description, 1789-present – Admin.)
By Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport

WASHINGTON — Wielding the weapon of his pen, President Obama this week is expected to formally reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency.

The expected Keystone veto, the third and most significant of Mr. Obama’s six years in office, would most likely be followed by presidential vetoes of bills that could emerge to make changes in the Affordable Care Act, impose new sanctions on Iran and roll back child nutrition standards, among others…

…If Mr. Obama takes the veto path in his last two years in office, he could easily surpass the 12 vetoes of his immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush. He will not come close to the 635 vetoes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued during his 12 years in office or the 414 by President Grover Cleveland during his first term. But Mr. Obama might match the 37 by President Bill Clinton or the 44 by the first President George Bush…
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President’s 2016 Budget in Pictures

National Priorities Project
By Jasmine Tucker

President Obama recently released his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. Budgets are about our nation’s priorities: What are we going to spend money on? How are we going to raise the money we want to spend?

Though the budget ultimately enacted by Congress may look very different from the budget request released by the president, the president’s budget is important. It’s the president’s vision for the country in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, and it reflects input and spending requests from every federal agency.

These pictures tell the story of the priorities found in the president’s budget.

President’s Proposed 2016 Budget: Total Spending

This chart shows how President Obama proposed allocating $4.1 trillion* in total federal spending in fiscal year 2016, an increase of more than 5 percent over the total 2015 spending level. This includes every type of federal spending, from funding for discretionary programs like infrastructure improvements and job training to mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, as well as interest payments on the federal debt. Social Security and labor, Medicare and health programs, and military spending will make up 76 percent of the total budget, leaving just 24 percent, or $957 billion of the $4.1 trillion total, to spend on all other programs.

* Spending on Government (administration) is less than zero and omitted in the total spending pie chart. Lower than zero spending can occur when segments of government have surpluses from previous years that they return to the federal government.

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