Republicans Want to Turn Back the Clock on the Constitution

Tehran Tom Cotton has done it again.

After embarrassing himself, his party, and his country last week by sending a totally unprecedented letter to the government of Iran, the Arkansas Senator then went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday and said that, “Oh, my God, the Iranians have already secured Tehran.”

That’s right -- Tom Cotton is freaking out about the fact that the government of Iran controls Tehran, which IS THE FREAKING CAPITAL OF IRAN!

I think it’s safe to say that Senator Cotton might want to skim through a Rand McNally World Atlas before his next Sunday show appearance. In fact, while he’s at it, Senator Cotton should also retake high school civics because his letter to the government of Iran didn’t just violate diplomatic protocol, it also turned back the clock to one of the most chaotic periods in American history.

You see in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, America was governed by a collection of documents known as the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were, for lack of a better word, a mess. They didn’t provide for any real central authority and gave no clear guidelines as to who had what kind of power, which was a big problem when it came to things like foreign policy.

As historian Kathleen DuVal pointed out in excellent piece for The New York Times this weekend, the result was a total vacuum where anyone who wanted to could negotiate with foreign governments.

Things got so bad that at one point in 1786, North Carolina Congressman James White actually tried to work out a deal with Spain that would have seen the western part of his state secede from the U.S. and join the Spanish Empire.

This obviously never happened, but it’s still a great example why when they scrapped the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers gave the president and only the president the sole power to make and ratify treaties. The Founders had seen the kind of chaos that came about when citizens negotiated directly with foreign governments, and they wanted to make sure that that chaos never reared its ugly head again.

And, for the most part, they succeeded.

Except for a few hiccups in the early 1800s - like when former Vice President Aaron Burr tried to establish his own empire in the west and Thomas Jefferson called him out as a traitor - pretty much every other consequential politician has, for the past two centuries, accepted the President’s dominant role in foreign affairs. Everyone that is, except for today’s Republicans and their geographically-challenged pied piper, Tom Cotton.

These guys are so committed to the Caucus Room Conspiracy that was hatched the night Obama was inaugurated that they will do whatever it takes to stop our nation’s first black president from achieving any sort of meaningful success.

They’ve already shut down the government, brought the nation to brink of fiscal crisis, and filibustered countless pieces of legislation. Now they’re dragging us back to the dark days before we even had a Constitution, which essentially means they’re willing to turn back the clock on the entire American democratic experiment just so they can sabotage President Obama.

The Republican Party now officially belongs in the dustbin of history. It’s time to dissolve it with a RICO complaint, and bring back the Federalists or the Whigs.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 14 weeks ago

When people don't vote (whether from anti-voting policies or just plain laziness), this is what we get: a bunch of empty suits in Congress. I'm not surprised by any of this; it's exactly what I expected, given the outcome of the last election. Oh well... on the bright side, at least I haven't been disappointed!

eatraum 9 years 14 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland.....there are no words to improve upon your description of the situation. As the United States of Billionaires descends into fascism we can only blame those who don't vote or write their representatives. For those of us who least we're not disappointed. We've seen it coming for decades.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 14 weeks ago

You must be referring to Tom "The Bird Head Of Arkansas" Cotton. Of course he doesn't care about the Constitution of the U.S. In fact, Republicans hate the United States. It's the mythical "America", i.e. the Confederacy that they love.

You see, Republicans are afflicted with Arrested Development, which causes them to never mature past adolescence. They, in fact, have the minds of teenagers, hence, the lying, arrogance, never being able to admit that they could ever be wrong and thinking that they know everything.

It's time for voters to grow up and quit putting these clowns in office.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 9 years 14 weeks ago

Democracy... really?

We the people are all getting screwed by whatever process or system because the establishment remain in control

The buggers are still there and certain of their control

The only way you get rid of despotic rule is by means of revolution

Bottom up!!!

The Chinese approach appears to be attractive now

At least they don't hide behind the pretence of "democracy"

It looks like they will eventually pee upon the west whilst watching our combined western water going down the drain

grandpa_Dave's picture
grandpa_Dave 9 years 14 weeks ago

Thom is right -- many of the congressional Republicans have obstructed and undermined legislature ever since Obama took office, apparently with the primary goal of making his leadership ineffectual and creating intergovernmental crises where none existed. Given that this has been going on 6 years now, the puzzling thing to me is why the American voting public has favored the Republican party in the last two elections. I search for explanations but can't decide if it is due to voter stupidity, right-wing baloney "news" media, lack of voter turnout in the Democratic party, or a genuine desire for the "conservatives" to return America to the good ole days.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 14 weeks ago

grandpa_Dave -- Do not forget that the democrats in the House received 5 million more votes than the repugs in the last election (2014). Also, the senate democrats received 20 million more votes over the last 3 election cycles. -- great-grandpa_Chuck

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 14 weeks ago

Hephaestus -- In 1932 we had even worse despotic rule than now, which we overcame without the means of a violent revolution.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 9 years 14 weeks ago

Cotton is an arrogant upstart with delusions of dictatorhood...he needs to slapped down hard. He has the IQ of a marble, and I'm probably insulting the marble.

How the hell did he get elected to the Senate???

PaulHosse's picture
PaulHosse 9 years 14 weeks ago

The Republicans want a government whereby the Constitution is once again the law of the land. I say that with a bit of a smirk since we are, afterall, now an oligarcy and no longer the democratic republic are Founding Fathers created (sorry Ben, we were unable to keep the republic you all bequeathed to us. We were to busy playing video games, wathcing sports and "reality" television to notice what was going on)

Secondly, neither the GOP nor the Democrats seriously want the kind of government established like the likes of Jefferson and Adams even if they could restore it; If they did, both groups would be out of business and besides none of the Founding Fathers wanted political parties. I think too that our urbanization, technology, and population growth would make it untendable. We have move far from a "nation of shopkeepers and farmers"

The Republicans use the Constitution as a rallying cry for their conservative minions and to gain the support of the Tea Party. The Democrats too like to cherry pick what parts of the Constitution supports their positions and discretely obsecure the rest. What we must do is somehow wrestle control of the government from the oligarchs--the one percent--who control it and return it to the People.

walcol's picture
walcol 9 years 14 weeks ago

I'm trying to understand the outrage over the open letter Iranian leaders, published at Senator Cotton's senate website and never actually delivered to anyone in Iran.

I would think Ted Kennedy's outreach to Yuri Andropov to help defeat Reagan in 1984 is a more egregious act than an open letter on a website. Or, Jimmy Carter secretly writing to other world leaders of the UN Security Council to undermine George Bush's case to oust Iraq from Kuwait.

johnbest's picture
johnbest 9 years 14 weeks ago

Walcol - I am sick of these damn republican talking points. The fact is that Saint Raygun committed treason by conspiring with Iran to hold the hostages until after the election of 1980. In turn Saint Raygun sent them weapons parts for the American weapons they were given by the U.S. during the Tricky Dicky misadministration. Quit trying to make excuses (lies) for these traitors. Saint Raygun and King George Bush the First should have been sent to the Hague, tried for treason and hanged. I would even throw in King Bush the Second and Dicless cheney for good measure for their two illegal wars and the busting of our national budget.

Furthermore, all the Repukes in the Congress should be sent to prison (Guantanimo) and then turn it over to Cuba with the promise that they keep their asses in prison for life. They are all a bunch of ignorant, dimwitted dweebs.

johnbest's picture
johnbest 9 years 14 weeks ago

Stecoop01 - This guys eyes are too close together and his head looks like it comes to a point which most likely indicates the lack of a brain.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 14 weeks ago

1786 was also a year of class warfare....the real kind! It was the one percent, "wealthy merchants and bankers vs ordinary citizens with debt, farmers etc., and the debtors held majorities in most state legislatures at the time.

The Rev War had left the country in an economic depression with little gold and silver coinage in circulation, which would have been mostly Spanish minted in Mexico anyway.... we didn't have a mint yet. This lead to paper money being issued which the one percent refused to accept. It finally turned into a convenient excuse for the banksters to start foreclosures on everyone including Rev War vets. One by the name of Daniel Shays organized farmers into a debtors army.....thus Shay's Rebellion. It didn't take long for the movement to be put down just like "Occupy." Big money won out as usual.

Silver lining: The uprising did show that the Articles of Confederation had become obsolete and that a "stonger central government was needed, and as Thom pointed out, "one with clear guidelines as to who had what kind of power." The uprising lead directly to the Constitutional Convention of 1787... and eventually things like a government mint... all good.

I'm willing to bet Mr. Cotton has never heard of Shay's Rebellion either, nor does he probably care. WTH, Arkansas voters????

keenanone's picture
keenanone 9 years 14 weeks ago

Cotton's "Open Letter" was in fact signed by all of the 47 Republican Congressmen and was addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The fact it was published online rather than mailed to Iran I find irrelevant and an argument that that fact renders it somehow less objectionable and traitorous also find disingenuous. Retired Presidents are not exactly junior senators with 60 odd days on the job and comparing the two is ludicrous. Carter has engaged in peace diplomacy on behalf of the planet and this country for forty years. He did not go behind Bush One's back to sabotage foreign diplomacy being negotiated by a sitting president. The only basis for the idea that Carter somehow undermined GB the First's runup to his Gulf War are the opinion of right wing screeds. Needless to say the Ayatollah Khomeini is hardly the UN Security Council. The purported facts put forth by Walcol exist only in RRW medialand.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 14 weeks ago
Quote Walcol:I'm trying to understand the outrage over the open letter Iranian leaders, published at Senator Cotton's senate website and never actually delivered to anyone in Iran.

Walcol ~ According to the Constitution...

Quote Wikipedia:Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, includes the Treaty Clause, which empowers the President of the United States to propose and chiefly negotiate agreements, which must be confirmed by the Senate, between the United States and other countries, which become treaties between the United States and other countries after the advice and consent of a supermajority of the United States Senate.

These 47 Senators, in one letter, attempted to make it clear to a foreign entity BEFORE a treaty has been written, agreed upon, and signed, that the Senate would not support it. In effect, they nullified Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the constitution. Congress may only change the Constitution by the Amendment process and not at the whim of 47 rouge members. Exactly, how is that action Constitutional? Now, if they just waited until the negotiation was over--and a treaty signed--they can do and say anything they want.

Of course, even then, 47 Senators out of 100, hardly constitute a majority; let alone, a supermajority. It could easily be perceived that these individuals are trying to nip in the bud anything the President might accomplish diplomatically before it happens; and, that, is outrageous! In the field of vital foreign relations, it is treasonous.

PFNELKAK 9 years 14 weeks ago

I'll sign you up for FOX's debate panel, but I doubt they'll here one word you'll say.

RFord's picture
RFord 9 years 14 weeks ago

I doubt Fox News will call out Tom Cotton on his stupidity in refering that Iran being in control of their own capitol, Theran, is a bad thing. Maybe he meant some other city that is in Iraq or Serria but he said Tehran and that makes you go ???????? and wonder, where does he think Tehran is? And this idiot is trying to interfere with our President's peace negotiations? The people who voted him into the senate must be as stupid as he is. The smart people of Arkansas need to get out and vote in some smart people to represent them. Stupid people voting in stupid people to represent them is no way to run a government. Tom Cotton and his co-conspirators remind me of the movie "Idiocracy". If more people like Tom Cotton were running this country we would no longer have a democratic republic, we would have a true "Idiocracy". With all of the right wing nut-jobs in office all across the country, it's already starting to look that way

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 9 years 14 weeks ago

Stupid, intelligent, I don't get it--nothing has been signed yet, so what's the big deal. For the time being there is nothing to approve or disapprove. Everybody is posturing and it's mostly blah blah. Frankly, I have this feeling that the Military Industrial Complex has it's hand in all of this, but it's using the pols so keep the public from knowing what is really happening.

As the they said in Irma La Douce, "It's grand how the money passes hands!"

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 14 weeks ago

Cotton was probably trying to say that the leadership of Iran shouldn't even have control of Iran, because the country should have a better government, but given that, they should be happy to stop there. He probably would have punctuated his quote differently, but when people talk, they often screw up where to pause and which word to emphasize.

I like giving people the benefit of the doubt. I keeps me from having to clean foam off my mouth very often.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 9 years 14 weeks ago

Barking mad!!!

Antifascist's picture
Antifascist 9 years 1 week ago

Interesting audio interview about the Federalist Society and their power.

We talk to Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Professor of Politics at Pomona College and author of the book Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.

About the book:

There are few intellectual movements in modern American political history more successful than the Federalist Society. Created in 1982 to counterbalance what its founders considered a liberal legal establishment, the organization gradually evolved into the conservative legal establishment, and membership is all but required for any conservative lawyer who hopes to enter politics or the judiciary. It claims 40,000 members, including four Supreme Court Justices, dozens of federal judges, and every Republican attorney general since its inception. But its power goes even deeper.

In Ideas with Consequences, Amanda Hollis-Brusky provides the first comprehensive account of how the Federalist Society exerts its influence. Drawing from a huge trove of documents, transcripts, and interviews, she explains how the Federalist Society managed to revolutionize the jurisprudence for a wide variety of important legal issues. Many of these issues-including the extent of federal government power, the scope of the right to bear arms, and the parameters of corporate political speech-had long been considered settled. But the Federalist Society was able to upend the existing conventional wisdom, promoting constitutional theories that had previously been dismissed as ludicrously radical. As Hollis-Brusky shows, the Federalist Society provided several of the crucial ingredients needed to accomplish this constitutional revolution. It serves as a credentialing institution for conservative lawyers and judges and legitimizes novel interpretations of the constitution that employ a conservative framework. It also provides a judicial audience of like-minded peers, which prevents the well-documented phenomenon of conservative judges turning moderate after years on the bench. As a consequence, it is able to exercise enormous influence on important cases at every level.

A far-reaching analysis of some of the most controversial political and legal issues of our time, Ideas with Consequences is the essential guide to the Federalist Society at a time when its power has broader implications than ever.

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