The Iran Deal Matters

This one will be somewhat wonky, but it needs to get out there…

Obama Iran DealPolitics is the art of compromise. We know this is true because it’s the key reason Republicans can’t govern worth a crap, as well as a key reason Democrats have gotten such great things done. If you look at the greatest things this country has been able to do, the Democratic Party’s stamp is all over them. Meanwhile, because the GOP has largely been taken over by an ideology that sees any sort of compromise as weakness. It seems to be more of a product of extremism than ideology, though, because many on the far left seem to believe the same sort of nonsense. Consider how many times they’ve admonished President Obama to “fight,” even though he’s been fighting hard for seven years.

Likewise, there seems to be a belief on the part of many people that the best way to negotiate an agreement is from a position of “strength.” That’s true, of course, but most of these people have almost no idea what the concept of “strength” encompasses. For example, it takes absolutely no actual strength or fortitude to not negotiate with someone, and it often takes tremendous strength to place someone you can’t stand on an even plane with you and to negotiate in good faith.

It took a hell of a lot of guts to negotiate nuclear arms limits with the Soviet Union back in the day, even when Ronald Reagan did it. It took absolutely zero guts for George W. Bush to label Iran as part of the “Axis of Evil” and to attack a neighboring country and threaten them with something akin to “You’re next.” On the other hand, it took a lot of strength to sit down with Iran and bang out an agreement that will reduce their ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Unlike most people who have a strong opinion about the Iran nuclear deal, I have read it. It’s called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and it’s not as hard to read as you may think. (Source) Because I’m not an expert, I have also read what experts say about it and checked into the assertions they make about it, and the fact of the matter is, the JCPOA is a remarkable document, for a number of reasons.

Kerry Iran DealThe biggest reason, of course, is that it doesn’t rely on trust. There is absolutely no trust in this agreement at all. Remember the admonition, “Trust but verify” that accompanied agreements negotiated by Republicans? That’s not present this time; this agreement is all about the lack of trust earned by Iranian leaders over the years. The deal gives IAEA officials access to nuclear and potentially nuclear facilities that is not only unprecedented but was unimaginable before now.

According to a number of experts in the field, the length and breadth of the inspection process that Iran is allowing is practically a dream come true; some describe things as exactly the way they dreamed them up when they were studying this stuff. One, Aaron Stein, told Vox that the final deal was “excellent” and that “It makes the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon in the next 25 years extremely remote.” (Source) This, despite the fact that he and many other experts doubted the possibility that such a comprehensive deal could ever be worked out.

Make no mistake; Iran is giving up most of its nuclear program and will only have enough to provide some electric power. Here are some of the highlights of the agreement:

  • Iran will have to give up 75% of its current 20,000 centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. Not only that, but the only centrifuges they will be able to use for at least a decade are extremely outdated ones that are essentially copies of those built 40 years ago in Europe.
  • Also, they will only be allowed to operate the 5,000 or so centrifuges at Natanz, and will be forbidden from enrich uranium or storing any fissile material at Fordow for a minimum of 15 years.
  • Iran will also dismantle the core of their plutonium plant at Arak and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium.
  • Iran must dismantle every bit of pipework that currently connects these centrifuges and allows them to enrich uranium.
  • In addition, the pipework will be dismantled, removed, and kept under continuous surveillance by the IAEA.
  • Of its current stockpile of 10,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, Iran will be able to hold onto 300 kilos, which is a 97 percent reduction. That means they will go from having enough for ten nuclear bombs to having too little to make even one. That is not just a cut, it’s a cap, and that cap will be in place for 15 years.
  • As part of the deal, Iran has agreed to engage in no activity, including research and development, that could potentially lead to the development of a nuclear explosive device.
  • Under the agreement, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have full access to every inch of Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from mines and mills to manufacturing, processing and storage, for at least 25 years.
  • Iran and the IAEA will establish a dedicated procurement channel to monitor and approve various materials related to nuclear development, including dual-use materials and technology.

The deal will extend the country’s so-called “breakout timeline,” which is the total amount of time it would take Iran to acquire enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon should they decide to violate the agreement, from the current 2-3 months to at least a year during the first decade. That’s in addition to another “breakout timeline” for building a nuclear warhead capable of delivering a payload, which is also extended to more than a year.

The only way Iran could get around all of this would be to set up a completely covert supply chain and create a covert nuclear program, which they haven’t been able to do to date and , in any case, there are safeguards against that, as well, as Iran has given IAEA inspectors unlimited, unfettered access to any location that seems suspicious. What that means is, if the IAEA has any concerns whatsoever, Iran can’t mark any site off limits; they have to allow access.

Not only is this a comprehensive deal that essentially kills Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it doesn’t rely on trust at all, which should actually put everyone at ease; we don’t have to trust the Iranian leadership; if they violate any portion of this agreement, all sanctions that are currently in place will be returned, Iran will have demonstrated its militaristic tendencies and any action that will have to be taken at that point will be justified.

As I said, the JCPOA has been praised by people far more intelligent than I as being incredibly comprehensive than anyone thought possible. Just this past weekend, 29 prominent scientists in the nuclear field sent a letter to President Obama, praising the agreement as both innovative and more stringent than they would have imagined possible. (Source)

Despite having an agreement that is far more comprehensive than any such agreement that came before, there is a significant vein of binary black-and-white thinking out there, claiming that Israel is in mortal danger under this agreement, which couldn’t be further from the truth. What you are hearing are right wing warmongers in both this country and Israel, who want to bomb the hell out of Iran no matter what. We all agree that Iran having a nuclear weapon would be a very bad thing, but this agreement makes that possible, while not implementing this agreement virtually guarantees a nuclear Iran. And sure; you could bomb their nuclear facilities and hope you hit the right ones, but in reality, while there would be a momentary victory there, the fear such an action engendered in their population would make them more determined than ever to build a nuclear program, and it would justify their support of terrorists and terrorism throughout the region.

There is another aspect of this to think about. Iran is actually really close to revolution; the Iranian people want their country back and they want to create a democracy; they want to take it back from the crazy mullahs to seized the reins of power in 1979, but the West keeps making that impossible; nothing brings a country together like an outside threat. This agreement and the lifting of sanctions will go a long way toward easing the tension and making Iran a nicer place to live, which will in turn, make Iran less likely to lash out against other nations. While Israel feels threatened by Iran, the opposite is true, as well; Iran feels threatened by Israel. This should ease the tensions there. Also, with Western inspectors constantly monitoring the country, it will be more difficult for Iran to do anything militarily without detection, which should go a long way toward easing tensions.

Our approach to Iran is not as black-and-white as many would like us to think. We’ve treated them like enemies publicly for almost 40 years, but then, when it was expedient, we allowed them to help us. I wonder how many people know that Iranian troops fought alongside our troops in the early days of the Afghanistan conflict, when we took out the Taliban and were ostensibly trying to shut down al Qaeda terrorist camps. They are also there with us in trying to get rid of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Iran wants to be seen as a legitimate nation, and we should welcome that at some point. The Iranian people have done nothing wrong; it’s their leadership that’s corrupt. That’s why I like the fact that the JCPOA doesn’t rely on trust. It assumes they’ll try to cheat, and there are safeguards in the agreement to prevent that.

This agreement is a great thing for the United States and the entire world. It wasn’t negotiated by the Obama Administration; China, Russia, the UK, France, Germany and the EU were all part of the negotiations, so this isn’t another case of the United States “policing” the world. It is everyone making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, which is good for everyone.

Schumer Iran dealAnd one last thing; this agreement is great for peace and stability in a region of the world that could use some; it is NOT about Chuck Schumer. Once it was announced that Schumer had decided not to support the deal, Progressive ADD set in, and that become the “Outrage of the Week.™” How DARE they even consider Schumer for the leadership of the Democratic Senator? What is wrong with him?

Well, kiddies, first of all…

The JCPOA is happening NOW. The agreement is important, and it will probably be voted on within the next few months. Replacing Harry Reid is a good 17-18 months away. Also, WE have no say in who the Senate chooses as their leader, and the Senate caucus leader has little to no real power, anyway. But most importantly, the tunnel vision shown in by this silliness shows the problem with some progressives. Schumer is undoubtedly under more pressure than most; he’s up for reelection next year in New York, which has a significant right-wing presence upstate and a significant pro-Israel Jewish presence in New York City; he has to listen to his constituents. It’s also possible that a whip count was done, and it was determined that his vote wouldn’t kill the agreement. Not that such a thing would matter. Both halves of Congress will need two-thirds to override the certain veto if Republicans insist on voting it down in the first place, and it’s hard to imagine that many Democratic votes going against the President.

As progressives, our efforts should be all about getting support for the agreement, not once again focusing on an individual politician who may not do every single thing we want him to.

Why Black People Don’t Like White Liberals

I’m hoping to make this short and sweet…

BLM11

This is what #BLM is about.

Once again, I’m going to stand up for Bernie Sanders. He’s a good man and he might make a good president, IF we can get him 70 Democratic seats in the Senate and 300-320 in the House. With the current makeup of Congress, he’s not doing anything he says he wants to do; he needs a whole bunch of Democrats to get any of his wish list to happen.

Note: I said he needs DEMOCRATS.

Let me say that even louder:

DEMOCRATS!

Got that, Bernie supporters? No matter how much you love the guy, he’s not getting anything done without a strong Democratic majority. A HUGE Democratic majority. I mean, how is he going to eliminate “income inequality” on his own, without legislation? And we know Republicans won’t do anything to make him look good.

Do you understand what that means? It MEANS, geniuses, that every attack you make on Democrats or Democratic constituencies makes it less likely that Democrats will be elected en masse, which means, even if you get your dream and Sanders is elected, he’ll be able to do exactly jack. Got that?

Now, Bernie screwed up this weekend. #BlackLivesMatter protesters showed up at a Sanders rally and interrupted. Ironically, Sanders got a lot of press for his reaction, which was to walk away and give up and that is the last thing he needs right now. I mean, they didn’t throw him off the stage or assault him; they simply showed up and staged a protest; something that white liberals do whenever they get a bug up their asses. I know, because I’ve been to many. Continue reading

We Have a Lot to Fix… Donate for a Return of Liberal Common Sense

Sad UnicornYou can really tell who the professional left are these days. The problem is, the PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and pro lefties are poisoning the debate. They trash Democrats constantly and push the meme that both parties are the same, and it creeps into the electorate and makes people stay home, which in turn gives us a government full of GOP reprobates.

Look, I get it; you would love to be able to vote for an independent, and there are times when you don’t want to HAVE to vote for a Democrat. I agree with you! But the more progressives trash Democrats, the more likely it is that the Klown Kar will keep doing better than they should. They make up about 24% of the electorate, folks; they shouldn’t be winning anything. We don’t want to vote for Democrats all the time, but for a while, we have no choice, and it was pro lefties and PUBs who put us in that position

That’s why the new and improved PCTC Podcast will be back and better than ever within the next two weeks.

I also want to get more writers on board here and to create a few other blogs and podcasts that we can network, and perhaps change the debate.

Go here to help us create a new, unicorn-free liberal network.

Continue reading

Progressive ADD

Liberal ADD. It’s a problem…

DC and Protest Sept 15 2007 049One reason I’ve been quiet the last few days is, I’m trying to develop some articles about promoting a liberal message and getting it out there in time for the election (Which, by the way, is still FIFTEEN MONTHS OFF, so relax a little!) and, in doing so, I was reminded of the biggest problem liberals and progressives face these days; our collective Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. I say this not as a clinician, because I’m not that, of course, but as an observer of our political ineptitude over many years. It’s funny; we take such great pride in all of the accomplishments we’ve made over the years, but we seem to forget that every one of the accomplishments over the past 40 years or so has been the hard way.

Yes, we’ve made strides, but it’s been like pulling teeth; it’s required us to rely on the Supreme Court (Making Anthony Kennedy, quite literally, the most powerful human in the country) or some lower court to keep the country from sinking into the abyss.

About twice a year or so, I pore through old pieces I wrote over the years, and last night I came upon one about a protest march I went on about eight years ago, to protest our involvement in Iraq. One of the key people there was Cindy Sheehan. We all gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, which actually epitomized our problem; of the parks on either side of the White House, Lafayette Park was the smallest, which meant that, either organizers didn’t expect a crowd, or they expected that the smaller park would make the crowd look bigger. Either way, that event pinpointed for me the problem with the left, and why we simply don’t appeal to most voters, despite the fact that, if you were to bother to listen to them, they pretty much agree with us on everything. Collectively, we may have to have the worst case of ADD in history. Continue reading

Why We Have to Keep God Out of Government

The Founding Fathers were geniuses.

They knew enough to put religion into the Constitution at the very beginning of this republic and told the government to keep its hands off. They were absolutely prophetic; it’s as if they knew the current version of the Republican Party would come along and try to force everyone into accepting a certain version of “god” in the public square, so they banned the practice outright.

JeffersonYou do realize Republicans aren’t really religious, right? I mean, they invoke God every chance they get and pretend to piety, but it’s just a device they use to assert their view and attempt to shut down the opposition. We all know, when someone brings up God in an argument, you can’t counter them, because they’re entitled to their beliefs. You’ve heard that argument; you heard it when the state of Oregon shut down the bigoted owners of a bakery for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple who were holding a commitment ceremony. I still hear plaintive cries from “Christians,” claiming that the bakery’s owners’ rights were violated in the process. You know, because it’s a common “religious practice” to discriminate against gay people in your public business. Isn’t it?

The separation of church and state are embedded in the Constitution, which is our founding document, but we seem to have largely forgotten about it in recent years. Our money is emblazoned with “In God We Trust” and Republicans added “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance, neither of which should ever have been allowed to happen, but those are relics of the Cold War, in which we were trying to make sure the atheistic Soviet Union knew that we had “god” on our side, goddammit, as we were gonna win. Continue reading

The Only Way to Fight With Right Wingers… Don’t.

No BSEvery once in a while, I get the itch to just dive into a right-wing hornet’s nest and poke them mercilessly. It’s admittedly little more than an ego boost after a tough week; these people are not only ignorant, they’re proud of their ignorance and disdainful of anyone who actually has knowledge of something. But what you should know about them is, they are here to distract you. They are here for one purpose; to make sure they become the message, and a real progressive message, such as there is, will be lost in a cacophony of shouting and negativity.

Yes, I get it; sometimes it’s fun and you just want to let loose and scream at a moron. That’s fine, but you can’t afford to dwell on it; we have to let go and focus on our agenda.

There are two major reasons for the swarm of right wingers we see. One is easy to spot; the entire Republican Party has been taken over by a psychotic fringe, and they can only win elections by depressing turnout, so they say stupid shit because they know regular people will be disgusted by it and they’ll be less likely to show up at the polls. They also know that people from our side will fall all over themselves to point out how stupid they are, and even more regular people will be dissuaded from voting. Continue reading

The Insanity of the GOP Approach to Deficits and Debt

The average American has a lot of debt these days, including a mortgage, a car loan, a few credit cards, perhaps some hospital bills; who knows? Debt has been a part of life for decades.

Evil GOPImagine you’re working and making $50,000 a year, and you’re suddenly hit with a debt of about $50,000. Too many of those who lived under the old health insurance system know exactly what I mean. You have two choices; you can eitherfile for bankruptcy or you can pay the debt. Because of the stigma bankruptcy carries to this day, most people will opt to pay the debt, but how would you do it, assuming you’re rational?

Of course, in the short term, you’ll cut back on food a little, and maybe lower the thermostat, buy fewer clothes; maybe cut off the cable and watch a lot of Netflix, but at that rate, you can imagine how long it would take you to pay off $50,000. Even if you could manage to save $500 a month, which would be extremely difficult for most people, with an interest rate of five percent, it would probably take 15-20 years to pay that off. More realistically, you’d probably save $200 a month, and the debt would hang on for far longer.  So, what do you do? Continue reading

The One Thing That Will Stop Bernie Sanders… His Supporters.

Let me start off by saying I love Bernie Sanders. He’s a good man, with a good political sense in many ways, although he is in no way perfect. He’s a really good Senator for the state of Vermont, and he’d also make a great candidate for president, except for two things…

Bernie buttonThe first one he can fix. He has a low profile, and most people don’t know who he is. I know this comes as a shock to his supporters, who drool over him as if he was a supermodel at a frat party, but most people really don’t know who he is. That can be addressed, but it would mean that he start with him and his supporters introducing himself to voters, to increase his name recognition and profile, rather than giving stump speeches. No one can only give stump speeches for 8-9 months and expect to do well in primaries; it doesn’t work that way. To win in the primaries, you have to build to a crescendo, and the way you do that is by getting your name out there first and listening to people and finding out what matters most to them and honing your campaign to meet that.

See, here’s the thing people need to realize about primaries; they’re not actually elections. You’re not choosing the president; you’re choosing the Democrat best able to beat whichever Republican emerges from that Klown Kar. It doesn’t matter what your ideals are or what a candidate says on the issues, it’s about who can win. Even if Sanders was to win, he’d still have the party create the platform. Passion doesn’t sell during primary season; voters are looked to competence and confidence. Having big crowds is great for the image to an extent, but when the candidate seems shocked by every huge crowd he sees, the positive effect is blunted. Consider Howard Dean in 2004; there was lots of enthusiasm for Dean, and he was looking to be a shoo-in as an upset winner of the Democratic nomination, until he screamed. Continue reading

Trump’s Candidacy Means GOP Death Knell, But…

I don’t think many people understand just how screwed the Republican Party is with Donald Trump in the race.

Trump obnoxious 2His mouth means there is absolutely no way he can ever be elected, and there’s little chance he’ll ever get the nomination. However, the GOP leadership find themselves between a rock and a hard place right now, and it’s beautiful to watch.

This isn’t a new development, either; it’s what happens when a political party pins its entire political hopes on an ever-shrinking group of voters that is extremely loyal, but completely batshit.

If it seems as if Republicans are afraid of Trump, they are, and there are a lot of reasons for it. For one thing, every vote that he gets makes it just a little harder for the party to put up a potentially strong candidate. Even though he’s not likely to get the nomination, he could end up as a potential “king maker” at the convention, so no one wants to get on his bad side. Plus, if they piss him off, he may be able to run a credible independent campaign that could make the 2016 election look like 1964 for the GOP.

The GOP has screwed itself royally by ceding more and more control of the party to an ever crazier right wing, and what’s happening with Trump has everything to do with the Party’s dependence on the Tea Party loons. Continue reading

Capitalism is not a Religion

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw

GOP VisionOne of the more childish and irritating concepts propagated by the current incarnation of the Republican Party is the notion that all regulations are so restrictive and confining that they inhibit freedom. This is demonstrably false, of course; most regulations actually enhance the freedom of businesses to do what they want. For example, rules against predatory commercial activity, if enforced, will keep a huge company – say, Walmart – from charging prices designed to put everyone else out of business. Keeping the prospect of doing business open to everyone is a good thing, is it not? Having a big box store displace 20 other small businesses actually strangles commerce; it doesn’t enhance it.

Like everything in life, regulations should occur  in moderation, and there have been times governments have gone overboard with regulations, but used properly, they keep people honest and create a level playing field in the markets. When that happens, capitalism can breed strong innovation and create markets for products and services to make life better. The United States became an economic superpower because we learned to use the capitalist economic system to its greatest effect, and the world economy is growing and expanding largely by following our lead.

Unfortunately, what other countries learned from us, we seem to have forgotten during the Republican neocon era. Contrary to the modern Republican attitude, capitalism is not a religion, in which “the market” serves as its godhead. Republicans believe that players in a market will always accede to the wishes of their customers because that’s how they make money. Spare me that tripe. Continue reading