Is Anything Left of the Iran Deal (JCPOA)?

The Story:

Iran this week announced that it has enriched more than 300 kilograms ((660 bs) of uranium. This indicates that it no longer considers itself bound by an agreement it reached with several industrial powers in Vienna, Austria in July 2015. Its breakout move comes at a time of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States (which was also part of the 2015 accord but withdrew from it last year.)

All Hands but One:

During the first night of the two-night Democratic debate last week, when ten candidates for that party’s nomination for President stood together on stage,  a moderator asked for a show of hands on who would support a return of the US to the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Nine of the ten candidates on stage raised their hands. Representative Cory Booker was the only exception.

But when they were in a position to be more specific and less binary, the candidates did not indicate a willingness to return to the JCPOA in its precise condition when President Trump pulled the US out of it.

At the heart of the JCPOA lies a simple trade: the other signatories allowed Iran access to the world’s banking systems and oil export markets; in return, Iran agreed to keep a tight lid on the development of its nuclear facilities, keeping them well short of weapons-production potential, and it granted outside agencies the access necessary to verify the lid.

That lid is now off. What happens next is uncertain.

The Thing to Know:

During last week’s debate, Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate who is also an Iraq War veteran, expressed a broad US political consensus about the defunct deal thus: “We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement, and we need to negotiate how we can improve it.” But one must now doubt that there is any agreement left to improve.



Trump, Media Assaults on Omar a New Low for American Politics

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent, @StacyBrownMedia

American politics appears to have hit a new low.

According to reports, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has beefed up security following the vicious attacks she’s received and even news reports that paint her as un-American.

What’s worse, the attacks stem from tweets made against her by President Donald Trump.

Representative, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaking at a Hillary for MN event at the U of MN, October 2018. (Photo: Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons)

“The criticisms of Congresswoman Omar, what Trump has been saying about her, is reprehensible,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate.

“It is trafficking in Islamophobia, and should be condemned by everyone,” Booker said.

One of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, Omar has come under repeated attack from the president and others, including Fox News as a result of her questioning America’s relationship with Israel.

“We will never forget,” Trump tweeted in all-capital letters recently, attaching a video that spliced together comments Omar made with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Some media favorable to the president have also attacked Omar and despite death threats made against her, Trump has continued his assault by calling her –without any supporting evidence and against her denials – “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-Israel.”

Booker noted that Trump has also attacked other African American women leaders like California Rep. Maxine Waters.

“The kind of language this president uses, especially about Black women in power, is toxic,” Booker said.

That Trump claims he’s not racist isn’t satisfactory, Booker said.

“It’s not enough to say, I’m not a racist. We must all be anti-racist,” he said.

The rhetoric by Trump and his allies against Omar have resulted…

How The New Movements, Not The Old Media, Are Driving Politics

If you covered American politics between 1976 and 2012, you developed a sense of the rhythm of a party primary: A big field of candidates would rise and fall for months, as voters — guided by the media — would light upon one, appreciate their strengths, and then discover their weaknesses and move onto the next one. You’d hear talk about the “flavor of the month” and who was “hot” this week. For a manic stretch of 2012, we all believed seriatim that Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain were the likeliest Republican nominee.

And if you were honest about it, you’d admit that the media itself drove much of this process. We got interested in a candidate and inflated their prominence; then challenged them more aggressively and dug hard into their record; then moved on to the next one. We, and the voters who cared what we thought, would sort of sip a candidacy, swirl it around our mouths, and spit it out. The candidate who got our collective attention in March 2003, almost by definition, would not be the nominee — at least, not without a dramatic collapse and rebirth. The candidate who won would be the one who built grassroots support in Iowa and New Hampshire, ignited it in December, and rode a triumphant narrative into quickly locking up the nomination. Those were the 10 presidential campaigns, give or take, dominated by what that era called the mainstream media.

And one of the reasons the political press got Trump so wrong is that his campaign didn’t work like that….

Warren unveils $640 billion college debt forgiveness plan

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democrat Elizabeth Warren is proposing the elimination of existing student loan debt for millions of Americans, part of a sweeping set of education funding proposals announced as she and other presidential candidates seek to differentiate themselves in a sprawling field.

The Massachusetts senator says the proposal unveiled Monday would eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans, canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000. According to Warren’s description of the plan in a piece to be posted on Medium, the debt cancellation proposal would create a one-time cost to the federal government of $640 billion.

Many in the growing field of Democratic candidates have proposed reforming the nation’s student loan programs, including dramatic restructuring of existing refinancing structures, but Warren appears to be the first to propose flat-out debt…

To Defend Ilhan Omar, Democrats Use Identity Politics as a Shield

Representative Ilhan Omar (D, Minn.) during the introduction of the Equality Act at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., March 13, 2019.

Over the weekend, American political discourse reached another one of its low moments — a moment of nearly record-level hypocrisy and absurdity. And once again, a low moment centered around one of the Democrats’ celebrity House freshmen, Ilhan Omar.

The cycle went like this. First, Twitter discovered an excerpt of a speech Omar delivered last month at a Council on American–Islamic Relations banquet. Here were her controversial words:

For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. Frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.

As The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf notes, the charitable reading of her statement is relatively clear — don’t hold the many responsible for the actions of the few. At the same time, however, the language was both wrong and undeniably flip. CAIR was not founded after 9/11, and her comment about 9/11 minimized the gravity of the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil ever — and the most damaging at least since the British Army burned Washington in the War of 1812. In other words, Americans were alarmed after 9/11 for a very good reason.

Moreover, it was coming from someone with a record of blatantly anti-Semitic comments, including a reference to Israel as “hypnotizing the world,” a claim that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” and repeated claims that supporters of Israel had “allegiance” to a foreign country. While charitable readings of statements should be our default, there are public voices who’ve forfeited the benefit of the doubt. Like Iowa’s racist congressman Steve King, Omar is one of those people. It’s her responsibility to be clear about what she means.

When Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeted that her comments were “unbelievable,” the criticism was certainly in-bounds. Other critiques, however, were over-the-top, including — of course — the president’s. He tweeted out a video montage of scenes from 9/11 cut back and forth with Omar’s statement that “some people did something.”

Then Trump’s tweet was met with an avalanche of hysteria and hypocrisy.

Bernie Sanders called Trump racist:

Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 13, 2019

Elizabeth Warren said he was “trying to incite violence”:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Trump’s tweet about Ilhan Omar: “Donald Trump is trying to incite violence and to divide us and every political leader should speak out against this. The Republican leadership in Congress cannot take a pass on this.”

— The Hill (@thehill) April 13, 2019

Beto O’Rourke…

Cory Booker promises to ‘bring a fight to the NRA’ at launch of national campaign tour

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., talks to the crowd during a hometown kickoff for his national presidential campaign tour at Military Park in downtown Newark on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., talks to the crowd during a hometown kickoff for his national presidential campaign tour at Military Park in downtown Newark on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Democratic presidential contender Cory Booker promised on Saturday to “bring a fight” to the National Rifle Association (NRA), calling for a range of gun control reforms as part of a hometown launch for a national campaign tour.

“We won’t wait for more thoughts and prayers for communities that have been shattered by gun violence from Pittsburgh to Parkland to Charleston,” he told the crowd in Newark, where he served as mayor for seven years before becoming a senator. “We will pass universal background checks, we will ban assault weapons and close loopholes that allow people who never should have a gun to get one.”


“And folks, we will bring a fight to the NRA like they have never, ever seen before — and we will win,” he said.

Booker’s remarks mark the start of a two-week tour across America for the 2020 hopeful, who has at times struggled to distinguish himself from the large pack of Democrats seeking the party’s nod and has languished in…

Workers’ rights are a 2020 campaign focus this weekend

Workers' rights are a 2020 campaign focus this weekend
Booker seeks campaign momentum, readies for national swing

DENMARK, S.C. (AP) — The issue of workers’ rights is a focus this weekend for some of the Democrats running for president.

Bernie Sanders has campaign stops in the Midwest, including a community meeting in Indiana and an event with members of a plumbers and pipefitters’ union in Michigan. A rally by the Vermont senator is planned for Warren, Michigan, where General Motors is closing a plant.

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, emphasized workers’ rights and civil rights when he visited the Medical University of South Carolina for the 50th anniversary of a strike led by black workers protesting poor treatment.

Other highlights from the campaigns:


Beto O’Rourke is campaigning in rural South Carolina, saying he wants to show up for communities that are often overlooked by politicians or “left for last.”

O’Rourke spoke to about 50 people at Voorhees College, a historically black college in Denmark, a city of 3,000 people. Addressing the infrastructure needs of rural areas, he said politicians need to demonstrate that every community, no matter how big or small, “is worthy of investment.”

O’Rourke spoke specifically about using federal infrastructure spending to address issues like the water crisis in Denmark, where residents have been dealing with brown-tinted drinking water that smells foul and is filled with sediment. The city for years used a pool disinfectant not approved by the EPA in a drinking water well, which was taken offline last summer.



Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the United States is a world leader on the climate issue. It’s just that the nation is leading in the wrong…

Can Cory Booker become the 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee?

Can Cory Booker become the 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee?

Democratic strategists Antjuan Seawright and Blake Rutherford weigh in on New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker’s chances on winning the 2020 presidential nomination.

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‘Medicare for All’ keeps defining 2020 political landscape

The “Medicare for All” bill that presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday is more likely to be litigated on the campaign trail than in the halls of Congress. And it highlights a rare political divide among Democrats on one of their marquee issues even as the party seeks to appear unified.

Supporters of the Vermont independent are vying with Democrats who prefer to expand and protect the 2010 health care law. Those differences have recently been overshadowed by larger fights between the two parties after the Trump administration broadened its position in a high-profile lawsuit by calling to strike down the entire 2010 law.

But the Sanders bill may become a point of contention in 2020 primaries. It is likely to be the most progressive and one of the most talked-about health care plans on the campaign trail.

Flanked by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 rival, Sanders compared the movement for Medicare for All to the civil rights and women’s movements, vowing that it would end the health care industry’s for-profit motives that he says some people pay for with their lives.

“What we are involved in is not just health care legislation. We are involved in a great struggle,” he said. “This is a struggle for the heart and soul of who we are as American people.”

From the archives: Single Payer vs. Medicare for All

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Sanders acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that the bill does not have enough support to pass even through reconciliation, a budget procedure that allows the Senate to pass legislation with 51 votes. But he said elected officials and candidates “should do what grass-roots Democrats want them to do.”

He called for a return to the “talking filibuster,” and noted that the vice president can overrule the Senate parliamentarian to determine what can be passed through reconciliation.

“Once we have — and I believe it will be sooner than later — a Democratic majority who are prepared to vote for Medicare for All in the House and Senate, we will pass it,” he said. “I can tell you that a vice president in a Bernie Sanders administration will determine that Medicare for All can pass through the Senate under reconciliation.”

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Republicans jumped on Sanders’ proposal, warning that it would cause millions of people to lose their employer-sponsored insurance and would raise taxes, possibilities that polling shows are unpopular among voters.

“Self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing a total government takeover of healthcare that would actually hurt seniors, eliminate private health insurance for 180 million Americans, and cripple our economy and future generations with unprecedented debt,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “The Trump Administration is working on realistic solutions to provide Americans with the options and control they want, the affordability they need, the ease they expect, and the quality they deserve, rather than forcing a government takeover of the healthcare system.”

Republicans are eager to try to frame the 2020 health care conversation in terms of the Sanders proposal and tie candidates on all levels to positions that the GOP calls too liberal.

“Democrat Senate candidates can try to hide, but we will make certain voters…

Here’s why Chris Evans was meeting with Ed Markey and other members of Congress on Capitol Hill

US actor Chris Evans poses on the red carpet arriving for the European Premiere of the film Captain America: Civil War in London on April 26, 2016 / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Chris Evans poses on the red carpet arriving for the European Premiere of the film “Captain America: Civil War” in London in 2016.

Chris Evans didn’t meet with Ed Markey earlier this year solely to celebrate the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win.

The “Captain America” actor and Sudbury native is working with the Massachusetts senator and other members of Congress on A Starting Point, a new website that aims to “demystify politics” by directly showcasing both Democratic and Republican lawmakers succinctly giving their position on “dozens” of different political issues.

“This should be just a one-stop shop for simple, digestible information from people who know best,” Evans says in a video released Saturday by Evans’ partners, media entrepreneur Joe Kiani and filmmaker Mark Kassen, through their media company Like Minded Entertainment.

According to CNN, the video was sent to members of Congress from both parties late Friday night, asking them to participate in interviews for the venture, which is intended to address a political climate of partisanship and distrust.

“Guess the cat’s outta the bag,” Evans tweeted Saturday morning, after CNN first reported on the video’s release.

Guess the cat’s outta the bag 🙂

Thank you to…