Commentary

Who is skipping Bibi's speech?

Latest Update: March 3 12:30 AM

If your rep is undeclared or on the fence, give them a call at 1-202-224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:

I urge Rep./Sen. ___________ to join 60 other Democrats in skipping Netanyahu's March 3 speech. Please stand with Democrats who support President Obama's Iran diplomacy, not with Republicans who want to tear President Obama down.

Find out where your reps stand below.

Skipping (61—Includes 1 Republican)

House

Bass, Karen (CA-37) — “My support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship has been consistent during my entire time in elected office, and that support will only continue in the years to come. Support for Israel has traditionally been a non-partisan issue, and I want it to remain so,” she said. "Unfortunately, Speaker Boehner mishandled inviting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech is now marred with controversy. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been provided with other options to talk with members of Congress, but he has turned them down to do the public speech. It is truly sad that Speaker Boehner and Prime Minister Netanyahu have chosen to play partisan and divisive politics.”

Blumenauer, Earl (OR-03): Wrote a Jan. 29 column in The Huffington Post explaining his decision, saying the Constitution “vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president.”

Brown, Corrine (FL-05)

Butterfield, G.K. (NC-01): The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) focused on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement and emphasized he's not urging a boycott.

Capps, Lois (CA-24)

Carson, Andre (IN-07)

Castro, Joaquin (TX-20)

Clark, Katherine (MA-05): http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/02/massachusetts_democra...

Clay, William Lacy (MO-01)

Profiles in Courage: 38 Dems Publicly Break With Netanyahu's War Polemic

A recent CNN poll found that four out of five Democratic voters oppose the Israeli Prime Minister's planned March 3 tirade to Congress against diplomacy. Thursday morning, twenty-three House Democrats did something about it.

Rep. Hank Johnson: It's Not Just About Bibi Dissing Our Black President

When the 1% were plotting to overthrow the Roman republic, the great democratic orator Cicero gave a series of speeches in the Roman Senate, exposing the conspiracy. These speeches came to be known as the "Catilinarians" or the "Catiline Orations," after the principal target of the speeches, Lucius Sergius Catilina. For two thousand years, these speeches have been pored over by students of Latin and rhetoric as a canonical example of Roman oratory.


One of Cicero's rhetorical techniques that made a big impression on my high school Latin class was "praeteritio," "I will pass over." The orator mentions "in passing" some really damning thing done by the accused. "Quod ego praetermitto," "which [crime] I will pass over." By such "passing over" of the crime, the speaker calls attention to the crime.

I had the opportunity to interact at some length with Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson not so long ago. I'm going to hazard a guess that at some point in his life, Rep. Hank Johnson had the opportunity to study Cicero.

In 2015, Let’s Not Punish the Palestinians for Joining the ICC

A proposed New Year's Resolution: in 2015, let's not punish the Palestinians for joining the International Criminal Court. No doubt some Members of Congress - presumably, the ones who aren't busy resigning for felony tax evasion or defending themselves for schmoozing with white supremacists - will try to gin up an outrage festival and demand sanctions on the Palestinians for exercising their rights.

Can Congress End the Cuba Embargo? Many Republicans Want the Embargo to Fall

 A left-right coalition, supported by the president and public opinion, could successfully push Congress to end the Cuba embargo.

Can Republicans nostalgic for the Cold War block President Obama from taking executive actions to improve US diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba? Could a Republican-led Congress vote to end the US embargo? Some Republican leaders were quick to denounce President Obama's announcement that the United States was restoring ties with Cuba. But how many divisions do these Cold War dead-enders control?

On whether Republicans can follow through on threats to block the president, Associated Press is skeptical:

This Week, Senate Democrats Can Limit the ISIS War

At long last, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote this week on an authorization for the use of force for the war against ISIS that started in early August. There is little doubt that a majority of the committee supports the use of force against ISIS. What will be revealed this week is what limits the committee will support in authorizing the use of force.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has proposed to prohibit the use of U.S. ground troops in combat except for rescue missions and "limited operations against high-value targets" -- that is, against terrorist leaders who directly threaten the United States. Kaine's proposed authorization would expire in one year unless renewed by Congress and would require the White House to give legislators a list of groups that might be covered by the authorization because they are associated with the Islamic State.

Warren and Sanders: Missing Voices for Iran Diplomacy?

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are increasingly seen as leaders of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, largely as a result of being the most talked-about alternatives among progressives to Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

Progressives who are most enthusiastic about Warren and Sanders tend to be those most engaged on the issues of challenging Wall Street and corporate power and making the economy work for the majority of working families. It's obvious why those issues are at the top of the marquee as people fight about 2016.

But if you're going to be an alternative to Hillary, you have to be an alternative to Hillary all the way around, not just on corporate power and the economy. That doesn't mean, of course, that you have to have the most progressive position on any issue that anyone can imagine -- that's obviously not how it goes. But if most Democrats have a progressive position on an issue, you should not be far away from majority Democratic opinion.

Torture Report: Mark Udall's World-Historical Moment to Rescue CIA Oversight

 "Time Is Running Out on the CIA Torture Report," the National Journal reports:

Concerned About ISIS, But Also About Endless War? Back Limits on the Use of Force

In response to the U.S. bombing of Islamic State ["ISIS"] fighters in Iraq and Syria, which Congress has never explicitly approved, Members of Congress long concerned about presidents and Congresses skirting the Constitutional role of Congress in deciding when the U.S. will use military force have introduced H. Con. Res. 114, "Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria."

On Israeli land grab, State Dept calls for reversal but lays out no consequences

In response to Israel's recent announcement declaring nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank "state land" with the intention of expanding settlements in the Etzion bloc, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued the following statement:

We are deeply concerned about the declaration of a large area as 'state land' to be used for expanded settlement building. We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity. We call on the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Psaki was asked whether the US was planning any consequences if Israel fails to heed the US's call to reverse its decision. Here's the exchange:

QUESTION: [Y]ou said that if the appropriation in the West Bank and if these rumored or reported new announcements go ahead, it would send a very troubling message – it would send a very troubling message if they proceed.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any consequence to that --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- if they proceed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any consequences to lay out for you, Matt. I think it’s important for us – not just the United States but there are a range of countries in the international community that have been clear about not only their opposition but their own intentions. I’m not going to speak to those. I speak for the United States.

The issue came up again during Wednesday's press briefing:

MS. PSAKI: I think there’s no secret about our position and our view on the legitimacy of settlements.

QUESTION: No, no. But I mean specific – but specifically, do you know --