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Economic Morality: EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under law & social memes — EQUITABILITY of economic and social rewards & outcomes. We're responsible for the decisions we make, but we are not responsible for the options given. Thus, we should create that society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.
[In response to] the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that, “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.” It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that, “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law.” The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
The Iranian Foreign Minister added that, “Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”
He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments, “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim,” and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.
He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements” that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.
Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”
Just when you thought congressional Republicans couldn’t look any more like a troupe of treacherous and sophomoric hooligans hellbent on undermining the United States, they pull out another bag of high-school level tricks.
On Monday, 47 Republican senators signed an open letter addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” on U.S. Senate letterhead. The correspondence advises that Iran’s ongoing negotiations on its nuclear program with the Obama administration are a futile endeavor that will be overturned by the next President or modified by Congress.
Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran is a direct violation of the Logan Act and should lead to prosecution as Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other signatories letter to the Iranian Government is an attempt to influence and interfere with the President’s current negotiations.
The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.
While the letter’s signatories are U.S. senators, they do not have the “authority of the United States” as required by law since, in conducting foreign policy, the executive branch is the United States’ only authorized authority, taking into consideration the occasional “Advice and Consent of the Senate” as prescribed by the Constitution. It’s directly addressed to leaders of a foreign government presently involved in talks with the U.S., and it is designed to thwart those talks. Unless the senators were authorized by the President to address Iran’s leaders in this letter, the 47 U.S. senators violated a federal law that carries a prison term of up to three years.
§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
1 Stat. 613, January 30, 1799, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004).
The Constitution expressly provides sole authority to the President or his designated representative to negotiate with other countries. The Congress only has that authority if the President extends it to them. They only authority they have is after the negotiations are over…and then only if it’s a treaty.
Moreover, the action may be considered sedition: “sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order.” This Republican action is clearly designed to undermine the authority of the legally elected executive while negotiating with a hostile foreign power—it is formal, declared in writing, printed and signed on official Senatorial letterhead, and was not voted on by Congress before the act of sedition took place. As such, it is prosecutable under 18 US Code Chapter 115.
They are aiding and comforting the Iranians by presenting the United States as irrevocably divided and utterly undisciplined nation. The Republican Senators clearly have no interest other than their own aggrandizement and the sabotage of effort to make the world a safer place for all.
Republican party members have demonstrated themselves on numerous contemporary occasions to be unfit to govern.
“In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous.
“The decision to undercut our President and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine.”
—Vice President Biden in a statement released by the White House
Once upon a time, Republicans negotiated nuclear agreements with archenemies, and they actually signed them—Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Reagan’s approach was simple and has guided President Obama’s tact: “Trust, but verify.” Thirty years later, it’s a shame Republicans refuse example.
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Eighteen nations legally allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg and Finland)
Two very large nations have regional or court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry (Mexico and the United States [soon to be nationwide]). In Slovenia, Parliament approved a marriage bill in March 2015, and it awaits signature by the President.
Fourteen other countries provide legal protections for same-sex couples through “unions.”
As more and more countries—and hopefully soon in the United States with a Supreme Court decision—win the freedom to marry, families are supported and communities and countries strengthened by protecting all loving committed couples. The world can become stronger while growing kinder and more respecting of freedoms.
Once reserved for the disaffected upper-middle-class millennial, the hipster trend has experienced widespread adoption in design, decorating, eating, dressing, marketing, and huge sales for associated products over the last decade. Fortunately, for some of us, “Brooklyn, where the hipster trend originated, has moved on from the term and the ethos,” and so, hopefully, will the rest of the country—Fortune Magazine is guessing soon in a recent article on investments that maintained valuations of hipster-modulated firms is peaking. Couldn’t happen quickly enough for me.
Hipsters have characterized the intellectuals and the underemployed who embrace a seemingly (but not) low-cost, retro style—ruining the lifestyle of restaurants, pubs, and fashion that I enjoyed before the steampunk absurdities of hipsters. Hipsters have a pretension to an “authentic culture” even while it is a borrowed observation from their daddy’s or granddad’s era. But, unless you’re Actually Frank Sinatra—and you’re not—everyone else looks utterly ridiculous in a fedora. I roll my eyes at you. Without authenticity there is no message or reaction to the widespread society that had in the past stimulated a rebellion of creative energies.
The originators of subcultural authenticity were truly reacting and carrying forward a message and viewpoint. The beatniks and hippies were reacting to society-level characteristics (conformity, political and cultural conservatism), and the punk and grunge folks (Slackers? Generation X?) developed a cultural rebellion, reacting against a perceived stultifying corporate culture (especially through music, though not exclusively). Hipsters today, on the other hand, form around preferences more than broad ideologies.
Hipsters are a more general taste culture, embodying a number of differing critiques of modern society in a more encompassing but less articulated way, perhaps because of the interwebs and Instagram. Rather than a subculture, they are more accurately a “consumer taste culture.” For, although hipster is a trend nominally based upon anti-consumerism, it is more accurately a movement driven by consumerism with a shellack of “anti-,” the exact opposite of authentic subcultures. Hipsters fit perfectly within the values of a large part of the mainstream, the so-called “Bobos” or Bourgeois Bohemians who believe they “self-curate.” Rebellion and societal change come not by activism and agitation but, for the hipster, through the style of things bought.
Don’t misunderstand, my axe-to-grind is not with hipsters’ inauthentic anti-consumerist consumerism. We are all consumers operating under a set of consumerist assumptions validating a chosen lifestyle. So, I, too, am a consumer and a consumerist. I simply don’t like or appreciate the chosen style of the hipsters. And I don’t like it’s spillover effects that have destroyed my preferred lifestyle in most public settings. Hippies weren’t my thing either, though I had older friends that were hippies, but their “style” didn’t bleed over into good restaurants and mass merchandisers.
My preference is for a more future-oriented and more sophisticated and cosmopolitan taste and culture, a sense of luxury and upscale affinity (you don’t need to be rich to do this). I cringe at a hipsterism that tries to eschew modernity with: craft food and spirits, rustic plank flooring and thick wood tables, fedoras, thick-rimmed glasses, Paul Bunyan beards and mustaches, plaid shirts and skinny jeans with cuffs rolled up, converse sneakers, fashionably unkempt hair—everything that has no air of authenticity and implies a fake sensibility of rustic individualism with eyes fixated on past superficial styles to comfort a present that seems to offer no future.
And the restaurants! Can we get our restaurant groups back from this muck? How about some textiles, padding, sound-deadening and color—the Pantone color chart goes beyond browns. And, please, can we fire all the “Mixologists” and rehire those who admit they’re all bartenders? I love a great bartender, but I despise “Mixologists.” I have a lot of “-ists,” and they all went to school forever and busy themselves saving lives, and they charge me a fortune—well, so do the “Mixologists.”
Ah, but one thing that both hipsters and I like is PBR, a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. My go-to beer had always been micro-brewed beers. Then that became so passée as every city in every state had every Millennial and GenXer and Late Bloomer who came to despise the corporate world in which they succeeded turn to the generically hip path of supposedly cool entrepreneurship. Micro-brew became “craft beer,” or rather generic-brew with pseudo-vintage stylings and absurd flavoring. So, for me, it came to be PBR on a hot summer day or, otherwise, a good traditional european pilsner.
Moreover, craft beer/craft drinks became a culture or hobby that anoints the drinker with the credibility of “a foodie,” or the food hipster. They’re part of a faux-agrarian utopia of semi-ethical nonsense, bought by people who enjoy feeling part of an elite community through the products they buy, like fried pig’s ear…locally sourced, of course. I’m so tired of paying high prices for proteins that were previously considered low-grade and fatty or tough. I’m fine with farm-to-table, but I’d like to get more than three baby carrots, twelve kernels of corn, and three halves of brussels sprouts on my plate…you can skip the faux-artistic smear of whatever sauce took three days to make and cost me six dollars (there’s so little, I can’t taste it anyway).
If it’s true it’s all on its way out, then smiles and better living (and eating out in the city) are to follow…I hope.
As for the investor class in hipster-centric stocks, Fortune has one bit of advise that gives hope to a more thriving future-oriented culture: “Get out while you can. And ditch the beard.”