Daily Kos diarist Lestatdelc says that the now-infamous letter from 47 GOP Senators to the government of Iran violates the Logan Act. Clearly the 47 Senators -- by voicing the strange argument, to the government of Iran, that the next President could simply overturn any agreement on nuclear non-proliferation the U.N.-backed negotiations produce -- have demonstrated, at the least, "intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof," though I suspect only the State Department has standing to sue these Senators under the Logan Act. Let's stop already with the "treason" talk, though, because that's a much higher bar.
The Department of Justice will charge Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with corruption this week. Sounds like pretty typical stuff, too -- Mr. Menendez allegedly got sizable gifts from an eye surgeon and then worked to change Medicare reimbursement policies that just so happened to benefit said eye surgeon -- though it's no less tolerable for being typical. Meanwhile, Republicans consistently block any attempt at campaign finance disclosure or reform, and President Obama still seems too timid to push for Executive branch action that would go a long way toward such reform.
Lawrence Summers tells us that "a good TPP" would benefit America. In other news, a winged horse would help you fight evil, an especially meaningful set of numbers would win you the lottery, and tax cuts for the wealthy would jump-start the economy. Seriously, saying we should get "free" trade agreements "right," and suggesting that the alternative would be to put America at the mercy of nations that negotiate other trade agreements -- these things sound like the desperate flailings of a man who knows he's lost the argument. And we're not "judging" the TPP against a "past in which U.S. workers did not face foreign competition" -- we're judging it by what we know from leaks is in the TPP. Would it be piling on to note that Mr. Summers's argument doesn't at all justify fast-tracking the agreement's passage? No, it would not be piling on.
The Pew National Trusts provides a handy graph characterizing how difficult it is to drill in the Arctic region. Thing I did not know but probably should have known: the nearest U.S. Coast Guard station from the Arctic is nearly a thousand miles away, and getting from that station to the Arctic by sea will be far worse than doing so by air, because Alaska is so, so huge -- people really don't understand how huge it is, though the second map certainly helps in that regard.
Robert Boston, writing in Salon, presents "The Ultimate Guide to Debunking Right-Wingers' Insane Persecution Fantasies." Terrific as this article is -- it excerpts Mr. Boston's book, called Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do, which I will seek out -- I wonder whether facts will ever convince right-wingers of anything. A better response to your right-wing uncle's religious persecution fever-dream might be: "do you hear how you sound when you whine like this?" I'm completely serious about that -- shame might reach them more quickly than facts do.
Finally, the architect of Tha Bush Mobb's tax cuts seems to be back in favor on Capitol Hill, still pushing tax theories thoroughly discredited by events in actual space-time. I had forgotten exactly how he'd managed to make Tha Bush Mobb tax cuts seem to cost less than they actually did, but I'm glad to be reminded -- and so is Scott Walker, I'm sure, who knows that, in the absence of Democrats who'd actually fight for working families, it's a lot easier to fool the people.