An open letter signed by 47 Republican Senators “to the Leaders of the Islamic republic of Iran” helped to harden partisan attitudes over world powers’ negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Freshman Senator Tom Cotton and his colleagues – including potential GOP Presidential candidates Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – “warned that any nuclear deal with President Barack Obama could last only as long as he remains in office.”
The Detroit Free Press wrote that the letter “disgraces America” and said:
At minimum, signing such a letter should disqualify each man [Sens Paul, Rubio and Cruz] from holding the high office they seek to degrade.
At worst? Well, it’s unlikely that, as some have suggested, this letter rises to the level of treason or violates the Logan Act, which bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign powers. But it certainly betrays a deep misunderstanding of our governmental structure, and a profound and dismaying disrespect for the office of the presidency, as well as its incumbent occupant.
Sen Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said the letter “is the kind of pettiness that diminishes us as a country.” But not every Republican Senator signed up, and some thought the move ill-advised.
Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg was “in two minds” about the “botched” letter.
The senators’ “open letter” would have been appropriate if it had taken a different form — say, as a less provocatively worded op-ed that laid out the legal limitations of such executive agreements as part of an argument for an alternative approach.
Instead, their approach simply illustrates their lack of an alternative plan (other than a full-scale invasion of Iran, which follows from the logic of their position but which most opponents of Obama’s strategy aren’t willing to support flat out).
Vice President Joe Biden “went ballistic” calling the letter an unprecedented intervention in foreign policy and “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.” He said:
“If talks collapse because of Congressional intervention, the United States will be blamed, leaving us with the worst of all worlds. Iran’s nuclear program, currently frozen, would race forward again. We would lack the international unity necessary just to enforce existing sanctions, let alone put in place new ones.”
But, after Sen Cotton’s somewhat patronizing “translation” Tweet, maybe the only response that was ultimately necessary came from Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif:
The next round of nuclear talks is set to take place in Switzerland beginning on March 15.
* WORLD * Venezuela recalled its highest-ranking diplomat in Washington as tensions escalated between the countries, after the US declared the country a national security threat and ordered sanctions against senior officials from the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Ukraine’s President said pro-Russian forces in the East of the country had withdrawn “significant” numbers of heavy weapons.
In a bizarre effort to convince creditors to extend its bailout payments, Greek ministers warned that the country would unleash a “wave of millions of economic migrants” and jihadists on Europe” unless the Eurozone gave it what it wanted.
Meanwhile, there is a widening gulf between Turkey and the west when it comes to addressing the jihadi threat and the movement of potential foreign fighters, the New York Times reports.
* POLITICS * With Hillary Clinton staffing up in Iowa ahead of a possible campaign announcement next month, the row over her personal email rumbles on, with reports that she will address the issue at a press conference in New York “in the next few days.”
At least we won’t have to go through this if Lindsey Graham runs for President.
In Wisconsin, another potential Presidential candidate, GOP Governor Scott Walker – whom Conservative activists think has the best chance of beating Secretary Clinton – signed into law so-called right-to-work legislation, banning the requirement for private-sector workers to pay union fees.
* MEDIA * Iconic tech blog GigaOm is closing down, Kara Swisher at Re/code reports. Founder Om Malik made this statement:
Every founder starts on a path — hopeful and optimistic, full of desire to build something that helps change the world for the better, reshape an industry and hopefully become independent, both metaphorically and financially. Business, much like life, is not a movie and not everyone gets to have a story book ending.
Three months after asking “What’s the BuzzFeed?”, British Prime Minister David Cameron will be interviewed next Monday in a livestream on the site’s Facebook page.
Did the New York Times intentionally crop former President George W Bush out of its front page photo from Selma at the weekend? Its Public Editor says no.
A new Quinnipiac University study looks at the trustworthiness of TV news networks – and the results are probably as polarized as you’d expect.
Lebanese news anchor Rima Karaki was a trending topic on Monday for this clip of how she dealt with a troublesome guest.
* BUSINESS * The long-awaited Apple Watch was unveiled and will go on sale next month. Wired writes that “the point of the watch is actions not apps.” Time explains why “nobody has any idea if the Apple Watch will win.”
HBO, meanwhile, announced that its standalone streaming service HBO Now would launch exclusively with Apple on April 1st.
Elsewhere, with Nokia shifting its production to Vietnam, Peter Ford at the Christian Science Monitor wonders how indicative this is of a bigger trend, and whether China’s “golden age” of foreign investment may be over.
* SPORTS * The Los Angeles Times reports that after “investing five years and at least $50 million in an attempt to return the NFL to Los Angeles, AEG is abandoning plans for a downtown stadium.”
This year’s NFL off-season is different from previous ones. Kevin Clark at the Wall Street Journal explains why.
A mixture of factors—the NFL’s salary spending floor, creative number-crunching and a few free agents who foresaw the economics of the game changing—have brought about a new type of NFL off-season. And it is totally crazy.
Simply put, coaches and general managers who have successfully built teams in the past by ignoring free agency will have to adjust in a big way.
Tuesday is the opening of the Cheltenham Festival. To say it’s much-anticipated is an understatement. Greg Wood at The Guardian says there’s “no major sporting event in the British calendar with an anticipation-to-action ratio quite as low as that of the Cheltenham Festival.”
(image: Racing Post / Tomorrow’s Papers Today)
* CULTURE * Analysts say Disney’s new “Avengers” movie “could have the biggest feature-film debut of all time when it is released on May 1,” Bloomberg reports.
Finally, Sam Simon, Emmy-winning co-creator of The Simpsons, died aged 59. As well as what became the longest-running scripted prime-time series, Simon also worked on the classic comedy shows “Taxi” and “Cheers” in his 20s. In recent years he had turned his life to philanthropy. Simpsons’ show runner Al Jean tweeted: