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Westlake Legal Group > Sanctions

British navy to Iran: Back the hell off

Westlake Legal Group british-frigate British navy to Iran: Back the hell off United States United Kingdom The Blog Sanctions nuclear deal Iran European Union

Do the Iranians want a war? They nearly got one overnight, not with the US but with the United Kingdom. The British navy aimed its guns on several Iranian ships attempting to block passage through the Strait of Hormuz of a British oil tanker, which caused the smaller ships to retreat:

Three Iranian vessels attempted to stop a British tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, Britain said Thursday, in the latest escalation between Iran and Western powers in recent weeks.

A British navy ship, the HMS Montrose, “was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and [the tanker] British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the British government said in a statement.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” the statement said.

Last month, the Iranians shot down a US drone operating in international airspace, which nearly prompted a military strike in retaliation. The Iranians have now apparently either shifted their focus or broadened it, also in retaliation. The UK seized a Panamanian oil tanker carrying Iranian crude off the coast of Gibraltar, accusing Tehran of violating EU sanctions by selling oil to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Iran called it “an act of piracy” and threatened “consequences” for the seizure.

This seems to be the UK’s reminder that even consequences have further consequences. For the moment, anyway, the Iranians got the message. However, they clearly want to start a fight in the Strait of Hormuz with someone, even though it’s becoming clearer that the US and the UK are willing to shoot back now after the attacks on other shipping in the Hormuz area.

Iran may not have much choice. Their economy is collapsing again under the weight of US sanctions, and their population is growing restive. The Trump administration announced yesterday that more sanctions are coming now that Iran has openly admitted breaking past the restrictions on uranium enrichment:

The United States on Wednesday accused Iran of “nuclear extortion” and threatened further sanctions against Tehran, which has begun stockpiling and enriching uranium beyond the limits set in the 2015 accord that President Trump has abandoned.

The United States called an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Wednesday in response to the Iranian moves, while a senior French envoy was in Tehran exploring ways to reopen negotiations on compliance with the deal.

Iran called this “warfare“:

Iran says it’s prepared to return to “full implementation” of its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but only when matched by the full compliance of “all participants.” …

Iran’s representative to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Gharib Abadi, told a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency Wednesday U.S. actions were “neither legitimate nor legal” and should not be accepted by the international community.

He says that the “costly” consequences of American sanctions mean “they should be seen as weapons of warfare.”

Iran had better be careful before they find out what warfare actually would look like against the US and UK. They’ve been testing Western responses in the Hormuz area for some time, and the British navy gave the Iranians something to think about. If the mullahs are getting nervous about the misery of their population, then they should rethink their nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as their support for Iranian proxy terror networks in the region.

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Iran: We’re “permanently closing diplomacy with the US”

Westlake Legal Group Zarif Iran: We’re “permanently closing diplomacy with the US” The Blog Sanctions Mohammad Javad Zarif Israel Iran foreign relations

Well, it seems that President Trump has really ticked off Iran now. Following the announcement of new sanctions on some of that nation’s leaders, their Foreign Ministry has declared that there will be a “permanent closure of the path of diplomacy” between our two nations. I’m sure this comes as a huge disappointment to all of the people waiting for vacation getaways to Tehran, but what are we supposed to do? If they’re shutting the door, I guess they’re shutting the door. (NY Post)

Iran responded to President Trump’s decision to impose tough sanctions on Tehran by declaring a “permanent closure” of a path of diplomacy between the two nations.

The statement from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the latest rhetorical volley between the two nations after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard downed an unmanned US aircraft.

“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted.

Not for nothing, but it’s not as if we’ve exactly had an official “path of diplomacy” with Iran for many years now. I mean, we generally have to go through somebody like Qatar to even get a postcard delivered to anyone in their government. And as a side note, I remain unconvinced how upset anyone would be at a permanent closure of diplomacy when their people still gather in the streets to chant “Death to America” and “Drive Israel into the Sea” on a regular basis.

Is it just me, or is another round of sanctions after openly claiming to shoot down our drone sort of a soft response compared to the massive missile attack that was heading their way until the President pulled the plug on it? Speaking of which, if they want to respond to the sanctions with more attacks in the Strait of Hormuz, those missile strikes are still almost undoubtedly on the table.

At this point, diplomacy with Iran almost seems like a lost cause. They have plenty of friends in the EU who would like to undermine America’s position in all of this (and have been doing so) and they aren’t really seeming all that eager to come to a mutually acceptable deal. I still don’t see it going to open warfare, but strongarm diplomacy with the Iranians likely isn’t going to be as productive as it’s been with some of our more local and reliable trading partners. There are too many authoritarian governments who are more than willing to play footsie with Iran, including the Russians, the Chinese and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Iran is supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah, the Syrian regime and even Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. How are we supposed to reach any sort of meaningful accommodation with them? If they move forward with their development of nuclear weapons, military action may still eventually be required. If not, the only other recourse is isolation and the hope that moderate Iranians will take out their leadership for us. But sadly, that’s a pipe dream we’ve been waiting a long time for and it shows no signs of happening any time soon.

The post Iran: We’re “permanently closing diplomacy with the US” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House “afflicted by mental retardation”

Westlake Legal Group r-5 Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House “afflicted by mental retardation” Trump The Blog Sanctions rouhani obliteration nuclear khamenei Iran deal

Listen, I don’t know how they do it in Iran, buddy, but in America we don’t use ugly, archaic terms like “mental retardation.”

The proper term for our White House is “developmentally disabled.”

In the post-Trump world, high-stakes international diplomacy is basically indistinguishable from a Twitter flame war.

“The useless sanctioning of Islamic Revolution Supreme Leader (Khamenei) and the commander of Iranian diplomacy means closing the doors of diplomacy by the U.S.′ desperate administration,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted. “Trump’s government is annihilating all the established international mechanisms for keeping peace and security in the world.”…

“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” an exasperated Rouhani said, calling the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic.”

“The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” he added.

No one’s going to call POTUS a retard on the playground and get away with it:

He thought his show of magnanimity in declining to hit back after Iran downed our drone might produce a diplomatic breakthrough. He spared dozens of Iranian lives and took care to emphasize that those lives were on his mind when he gave the order to stand down. That was an olive branch. When Iran didn’t accept it, he tightened the screws with a few new sanctions. Now here’s Iran warning that those sanctions have closed the doors on diplomacy.

In other words, this has turned into a game of chicken to see which side wants talks more badly. Trump’s gambling that the economic pain from sanctions will cause Iran to capitulate and beg him for negotiations. Iran’s betting that Trump will agree to relax sanctions as a precondition — a new olive branch — to talks. The regime doesn’t want to lose face by transparently succumbing to America’s pressure campaign; they need Trump to give them a way to agree to talks that doesn’t look like a surrender. That means America needs to move first in suspending sanctions.

Is he willing to do that? If not, if he insists on an Iranian surrender under pressure, then the threat of an Iranian provocation that results in war will grow. Either they’ll attack Americans in the region or they’ll try to resume their nuclear program and Trump will feel compelled to act militarily. Which is a bad outcome for him: Because he’s not a hawk, because he got elected in 2016 on a platform of reducing America’s entanglements in the Middle East, he’s at least as wary of war as Iran is. He’s risking his presidency potentially by refusing to back off from sanctions if that’s Iran price for a summit. Bolton and Pompeo will urge him to stand firm and keep the pressure on, but Trump will want to be conciliatory. What does he do?

Here’s Bolton earlier today at a press conference in his surreal new role as America’s olive-branch-extender, urging Iran to walk through the open door of diplomacy that Trump has provided for them. Every media account of last week’s White House deliberations that I’ve read had Bolton in favor of attacking Iran over the downed U.S. drone. Now this. Speaking of which, according to Morning Consult, the public strongly approves of Trump’s decision to hold off on bombing Iran. Fully 65 percent agreed that calling off the strikes was the right thing to do, a level of bipartisan support rarely seen during Trump’s presidency.

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Trump Announces New Sanctions on Iran

President Trump signed an Executive Order Monday morning containing what he described as “hard-hitting” sanctions against the Iranian regime, intended to cut off the flow of money to the Supreme Leader and his close allies.

In his comments, Trump said the sanctions had been in the works for quite some time, but that they could also be taken as a response to “aggressive behaviors.”

“Today’s actions follow a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of US drones…and many other things. We know of other things that were done also which were not good and not appropriate.

“The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Sanctions imposed by the executive order that I’m about to sign will deny the Supreme Leader, the Supreme Leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khameini and his office will not be spared from the sanctions.

“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions. We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement in and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts, and belligerent acts directed at the United States and its allies.

“The agreement that was signed was a disaster. It was not doing what it was supposed to do. Many bad things were taking place. And most importantly, it was so short-term that within a very short number of years they would be able to make nuclear weapons, and that’s unacceptable.

“Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.

“Also included in this is, we want the stoppage immediately of their sponsoring of terrorism. They sponsor terrorism at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, and that’s been over the last number of years. And they’ve taken all of that money that was given to them by the past administration and much of that was given out to terrorist organizations.

“America is a peace-loving nation. We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I look forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous, and productive nation.

“We cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon, and it won’t happen. Secondly, and very importantly, we don’t want money going out to sponsor terror, and they are the number one sponsor of terror anywhere in the world.

“I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us…but that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future.”

Shortly after the Executive Order was signed, the office of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a statement announcing five Iranian military commanders who had been designated pursuant to the Executive Order and whose “property and interests in property [in the United States]…must be blocked and reported to OFAC.”

Jennifer Van Laar is Deputy Managing Editor of RedState. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

some of this was in the works, some of this was a result of recent activities. I’m not going to identify which is which.”

The post Trump Announces New Sanctions on Iran appeared first on RedState.

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Nancy Pelosi: the President Has No Power to Strike Iran at All – Unless Approved by Congress

Westlake Legal Group nancy-pelosi-iran-SCREENSHOT-620x345 Nancy Pelosi: the President Has No Power to Strike Iran at All – Unless Approved by Congress white house washington D.C. War Powers Act War Uncategorized Strait of Hormuz Sanctions Nancy Pelosi military Middle East Iran Government Front Page Stories Featured Story Elizabeth Warren donald trump democrats Congress Chuck Schumer Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from Twitter, https://twitter.com/CNNPolitics/status/1142123514981314560?]

 

Headed into the weekend, an Iran strike was at the forefront of the news.

Following the Middle Eastern country’s destruction of a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz Thursday — and amid an already-tense relationship (here and here) — President Trump had noted the U.S. was “cocked and loaded” (here).

The Commander-in-Chief tweeted that he’d stopped a retaliatory strike “10 minutes before,” due to the fact that it would’ve cost 150 lives:

But Friday, Nancy Pelosi emphasized the President has no ability to order a strike at all without congressional approval.

Pelosi said any attack on Iran “must not be initiated” otherwise.

Speaking with reporters after a meeting with White House officials, she made clear she was unaware of any precise military plan:

“We left with the idea that the President was going to consider some options. I did not receive any heads-up that there was a strike that was in the works. … Maybe the other leaders did on the Republican side, but I did not receive any of that.”

As reported by The Hill, during a Situation Room meeting Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the President he had no power to physically hit back at Iran outside of Congress.

Elizabethe Warren posted the same:

In addition to her comments to the media, Pelosi released the following statement Friday:

We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran.  We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.

“During our meeting with the President at the White House, Congressional Leaders stressed the necessity that we work with our allies and not strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners.

“Democratic Leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.

“We have no illusions about the dangerous conduct of the Iranian regime.  This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic approach.”

So what’s the reality? Here’s The Daily Caller:

Although [1973’s War Powers Act] requires the President to consult with Congress “in every possible instance” before deploying troops into war, it grants the Commander-in-Chief 48 hours before telling Congress that the United State military has been sent “into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances.”

For an easy view of politics at work, one may compare the three Democrats’ claims to top Dems’ castigation of George W. Bush’s Iraq War — which they continually blamed on him after the fact, even though many of them voted for it. Now they’re saying nothing happens without their approval; back then, they were distancing themselves from a congressionally-declared war like it was going out of style.

For the moment, The Donald intends “major sanctions” against Iran beginning Monday (here). But military aggression is “always on the table until we get this solved. We have a tremendously powerful military force in that area.”

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: herehere, and here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

Snide Illinois Senator Tells Her Concerned Gun-Owning Constituent: Maybe I’ll Just Confiscate Your Guns

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The post Nancy Pelosi: the President Has No Power to Strike Iran at All – Unless Approved by Congress appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group nancy-pelosi-iran-SCREENSHOT-300x167 Nancy Pelosi: the President Has No Power to Strike Iran at All – Unless Approved by Congress white house washington D.C. War Powers Act War Uncategorized Strait of Hormuz Sanctions Nancy Pelosi military Middle East Iran Government Front Page Stories Featured Story Elizabeth Warren donald trump democrats Congress Chuck Schumer Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump: U.S. Will Sanction Iran in Major Ways Starting Monday

Westlake Legal Group donald-trump-iran-sanctions-color-adjust-SCREENSHOT-620x332 Trump: U.S. Will Sanction Iran in Major Ways Starting Monday Uncategorized Sanctions military Middle East Iran International Affairs Government Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump camp david Bill Maher Barack Obama Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from CBS News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CymSjk9hCVs]

 

On Saturday, President Trump announced that the White House is preparing an additional set of “major’ sanctions against Iran.

He tweeted:

“Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again – The sooner the better!”

As he was leaving for Camp David earlier in the day, the President told reporters sanctions will come fast and slow:

“They’re going on slowly and in some cases pretty rapidly.”



And what’s he gonna be doin’ at Camp David? More Iran:

As covered by RedState’s Elizabeth Vaughn, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz Thursday. A dispute arose over whether the spy plane was in Iranian airspace.

The incident heightened tensions (see here and here), of course, and The Donald tweeted that the U.S. was “cocked & loaded.”

He changed his mind, though, noting that 150 people would have died.

Bill Maher decided to correct POTUS:

Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-cocked-and-loaded-sharpened-tweet-SCREENSHOT-620x170 Trump: U.S. Will Sanction Iran in Major Ways Starting Monday Uncategorized Sanctions military Middle East Iran International Affairs Government Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump camp david Bill Maher Barack Obama Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from Twitter, https://twitter.com/billmaher/status/1142317798057631750]

Bill’s wrong, though — you can absolutely simultaneously be loaded and cocked.

Back to Trump: He affirmed Saturday, “We want to be proportionate.”

But military action is still an option:

“It’s always on the table until we get this solved. We have a tremendously powerful military force in that area.”

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: here and here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

GRAPHIC VIDEO: Auburn University Gymnast Instantly Ends Her Career With A Jaw-Dropping Injury

Waffle House Customer Started Handing Out $20 Bills. Moments Later, A Man Lay Dead With A Message For Us

‘The View’: Buh-Bye To Kirstjen, & The Border’s Fine. What We’ve Gotta Watch Out For Is White People

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The post Trump: U.S. Will Sanction Iran in Major Ways Starting Monday appeared first on RedState.

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US Seizes A North Korean Ship For Sanctions Violation

Westlake Legal Group north-korean-ship-wise-honest-620x360 US Seizes A North Korean Ship For Sanctions Violation wise honest southern district of new york Sanctions republicans North Korea Korea Songi General Trading Corporation John C. Demers International Affairs Geoffrey S. Berman Front Page Stories Foreign Policy Featured Story donald trump Allow Media Exception

Screengrab from https://twitter.com/SCMPNews/status/1126559975093035008

The story is a) significant and b) less dramatic that the headline would indicate.

The North Korean freighter Wise Honest (a helluva misnomer) was named as a violator of UN sanctions by the United States in 2016. It’s owner, Korea Songi General Trading Corporation, was designated as a sanctions violator in 2017. (A note here, notice how the Obama administration sanctioned the ship but let the owning company continue to operate.) On April 2, Wise Honest was detained by Indonesia:

Bulk carrier Wise Honest (IMO 8905490) has been detained by the Indonesian authorities in the Makassar Strait near Balikpapan, Eastern Kalimantan. On April 2nd the ship was seen by authorities to be acting erratically, leaving shipping lanes and straying into Indonesian waters. Upon inspection the authorities found several detainable deficiencies, mostly regarding ship documents either missing or unsatisfactory. The ship had a crew of 25, all North Koreans, and was loaded with coal from Vladivostok, which was to be transferred onto another ship. The AIS signal of the bulk carrier appeared not to have been functioning since August 2017. 1989-built, North Korea flagged, 17.061 gt Wise Honest is owned by Korea Songi Shipping Co of Pyongyang, North Korea.

Now, in a first ever action, the US government has carried out the maritime equivalent of civil asset forfeiture.

“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “North Korea, and the companies that help it evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions, should know that we will use all tools at our disposal — including a civil forfeiture action such as this one or criminal charges — to enforce the sanctions enacted by the U.S. and the global community. We are deeply committed to the role the Justice Department plays in applying maximum pressure to the North Korean regime to cease its belligerence.”

“Today’s civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “Our Office uncovered North Korea’s scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest. This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea’s capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion. With this seizure, we have significantly disrupted that cycle. We are willing and able to deploy the full array of law enforcement tools to detect, deter, and prosecute North Korea’s deceptive attempts to evade sanctions.”

“Although barred from doing business in this country, North Korea continues to violate U.S. and international sanctions while simultaneously taking advantage of unwitting U.S. companies,” said Assistant Director Brown. “The FBI is committed to ensuring that North Korea be held responsible for their blatant disregard for U.S. law. I am proud of the work done by the many men and women of the FBI who pursued this case.”

“Working with our law enforcement and intelligence partners around the world gives the FBI the ability to interdict illicit activity globally,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “Our counterintelligence efforts are squarely focused on protecting the American people. This seizure should serve as a clear signal that we will not allow foreign adversaries to use our financial systems to fund weapons programs which will be used to threaten our nation.”

And now the Wise Honest is nearly in US waters.

All of this takes place in an atmosphere of uncertainty. There was a failed summit in Hanoi. The North Korean military liaison team has snubbed its ROK counterparts for several months. The US military suspended casualty recovery operations in North Korea because of lack of communication. North Korea has launched two short range missiles in the past week. Taking a step to not only seize a North Korean ship but to turn it into a media event is simply part of the ongoing negotiations between the US and North Korea. It is an escalation in US sanctions enforcement. It represents a real loss to North Korea. It is a retaliation and shaming activity in response to North Korea’s acting out in recent months. There will be more like it in the future.

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The post US Seizes A North Korean Ship For Sanctions Violation appeared first on RedState.

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Ilhan Omar: Blame America for Venezuela’s devastation

Westlake Legal Group io Ilhan Omar: Blame America for Venezuela’s devastation Venezuela The Blog Sanctions policies maduro Ilhan Omar guaido bullying american

If, like me, you’re far too young to have experienced American leftists reflexively apologizing for the USSR during Stalin’s reign, watching Ilhan Omar shill for Nicolas Maduro on Democracy Now is probably as close as we’ll get to the magic.

This isn’t her first public comment as a member of Congress on Venezuela. Here’s one from late January describing socialist opposition leader Juan Guaido as “far right,” a claim so glaringly false that it practically comes with a neon “propaganda” sign attached.

Omar’s been known to retweet anti-Trump musings from a host on Venezuela’s state-run TeleSur network. She’s not just producing her own handmade Maduro propaganda, in other words, she’s selling the genuine article. A person inclined to question Americans’ loyalty to the United States based on their support for a foreign state’s policies might wonder at this point how she prioritizes her own national loyalties.

One of the amusing things about Omar and other progressives like Bernie Sanders looking for ways not to criticize Maduro is that the left normally bristles when the right cites Venezuela as the logical end result of socialism. We’re not socialists like Maduro’s a socialist, many will say, we’re socialists like the Swedes are socialist. One easy way for them to hammer that point to voters would be to turn harshly against Maduro rhetorically — not to the point of endorsing U.S. intervention, necessarily, but certainly to the point of not sounding like you’re reading from a regime script on Democracy Now. (Bernie at least is willing to concede that Maduro’s is a “failed regime.”) But many can’t bring themselves to do it. Whether that’s because they’ve invested too much emotionally in Chavismo over the years to abandon it now or because “socialism” carries a talismanic appeal to them even in a case as malignant as Caracas, I don’t know. Whatever the explanation, this clip is more helpful to the right than the left.

Here’s where I remind you of a few things you already know. It wasn’t the U.S. who named Guaido as the rightful interim president of Venezuela, it was the country’s own legislature reacting to electoral fraud by Maduro. He’s been recognized as the lawful president by dozens of nations, not just the United States. Venezuela *is* being subjected to a military invasion as we speak, although not by forces allied with the U.S.: Russia has hundreds of troops there and Cuba has thousands, all over the objections of the lawful president. And Ilhan Omar has zero problem with sanctions in principle despite her handwringing about it here. She supports the BDS movement against Israel, after all. Like Stalin’s apologists, she’s not against getting tough with “the enemy,” she just has very different ideas about who the enemy is.

She’s saying this, by the way, ostensibly as an advocate of human rights on a network ostensibly dedicated to human rights a day after forces loyal to Maduro ran down protesters in the streets on international television. It’s perfection.

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Rashida Tlaib: Supporters of the new pro-Israel Senate bill “forgot what country they represent”

Westlake Legal Group rt-1 Rashida Tlaib: Supporters of the new pro-Israel Senate bill “forgot what country they represent” tlaib The Blog Sanctions palestinian Marco Rubio Israel boycott bds

Marco Rubio’s pushing a bill with bipartisan support — or at least, it used to have bipartisan support (more on that in a minute) — that would, among other things, allow state and local governments to boycott private entities who are boycotting Israel. You have every constitutional right to join the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, a.k.a. BDS, against the Jewish state; Rubio’s bill would clarify that U.S. state governments can take that into account when deciding whom they’ll enter into contracts with.

I’ll defer to my legal betters on whether that’ll hold up in court. No one has a right to a government contract, but the discrimination involved in ruling someone ineligible to compete for a contract based on their viewpoint is clear. Two courts have already held that similar state laws violate the First Amendment. If I had to bet, I’d bet Rubio’s bill would go down in flames too if it ended up passing Congress.

Either way, the obvious play for opponents of the bill is to emphasize that they dislike it for its attempt to punish free expression, not because it seeks to protect Israel specifically. That’s the Bernie Sanders approach:

The Rashida Tlaib approach is … more complicated:

“They forgot what country they represent” is an interesting comment for all sorts of reasons, starting with the fact that Tlaib ended up being draped with the Palestinian flag rather than the Stars and Stripes by her mother on the night she won her House primary. (She’s of Palestinian ancestry.) Philip Klein is familiar with it:

The idea of Jews as having divided loyalty, and of using their influence to convince others to act against the interests and principles of their own country, is an age-old anti-Semitic trope.

Tlaib supports anti-Israel boycotts. She also defended former CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill after he was fired for calling for the elimination of Israel and endorsing violence against Jews.

The Democratic Party has a festering anti-Semitism problem within its own ranks, and so far it seems content to look the other way and excuse the deployment of stereotypical attacks on Jews as long as they are thinly masked as mere criticism of Israel.

There’s a ready-made reply to her critics she could use if she likes: “When I said supporters of the Rubio bill forgot what country they represent, I merely meant that the bill is un-American.” But she hasn’t said that as I write this despite the fact that she’s taken flak from the right for the past 16 hours for her tweet. Maybe she feels it’d be untrue to her brand to back down when conservatives are attacking her, or maybe … she really did intend the “forgot” line to imply dual loyalty. Notes Alex Griswold, “Oddly, many of those who hear dog whistles for a living aren’t exactly perking up at Tlaib accusing her critics of dual loyalty.” It’s loud enough that I’d say it’s more of a duck call than a dog whistle. Sweaty centrist Democrats implore you to please just ignore the quacking.

Rubio’s bill was on track to pass the Senate, the rare Trump-era measure that could attract enough support from both parties to beat a filibuster. But then momentum slowed down and now not just far-left Bernie Sanders but more moderate Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin oppose it. How come? It could be that Democrats simply dislike the free-speech implications of the bill or the optics of the Senate carrying on as usual with other legislative business when there’s a shutdown to resolve. But that’s not what Rubio’s hearing:

Are congressional Dems finally catching up to their base in turning against Israel? Or is Rubio distorting a dispute that actually centered on whether the bill violates the First Amendment? The fight over the party platform’s views on Israel in 2020 will be fascinating if Democrats end up with a far-left nominee and if radicals like Tlaib continue to raise their national profiles. It’s high time they had that fight too. It’s been brewing for years, replete with skirmishes at the convention, but always ends up being papered over by party leaders in the name of keeping their coalition together. Let ’em show their cards. If there’s a significant faction that believes Israel usurped rightful Palestinian dominion over the territory and that nothing short of a one-state solution — which Tlaib supports, quack quack — will undo the injustice, make that clear. Let pro-Israel Democrats vote accordingly.

Fear of their coalition unraveling is why Van Hollen and Cardin switched to no on Rubio’s bill, I assume. If it passes the Senate, Pelosi will be under heavy pressure to put it on the floor of the House. How would that vote go? How much camera time would it generate for radicals like Tlaib? Today is her third business day on the job and she’s already sucker-punched her leadership not one but twice with “unhelpful” soundbites suggesting that Democratic intentions towards major initiatives like impeachment or Rubio’s bill are less noble than the party wants people to believe. The dirty little secret about all of the media attention to Pelosi’s freshmen radicals like Tlaib and AOC is that they’re far more of a hindrance to her than they’ll be to the right for years to come. Enjoy solving this problem, Nancy.

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Pro-Israel bill torpedoed by the usual list of suspects

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There’s been a bit of turbulence in America’s relationship with Israel since the President announced his intentions to pull U.S. forces out of Syria in the near future. (Whether that’s actually going to happen remains an open question this week.) Seemingly in response to jittery allies in Israel, GOP leaders in the Senate put together a “mega package” of legislation designed to address those concerns and help out our Israeli allies. The bills would address attempts to boycott Israel and shore up security for both Israel and Jordan.

No sooner had the legislative package been announced than Democrats “pounced” to say they would block consideration of the measures. That’s going to set the stage for the new members to put their cards on the table in terms of support for Israel. (Free Beacon)

With Congress open, top GOP Senate leaders had scheduled a vote Tuesday to move forward on what congressional insiders describe as a “mega” pro-Israel bill, including measures addressing Israel and Jordan’s security and addressing boycotts of Israel, amid uncertainty generated by the Trump administration’s new policy to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Top Democrats signaled Sunday they would not allow consideration of the legislation. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) all came out against a vote on the pro-Israel legislation.

The opposition comes amid a new class of Democrats in Congress fiercely opposed to Israel and the Jewish people.

This may prove to be a good test of precisely how much influence the new crop of “Democratic superstar freshmen” actually have. That will be particularly true if the legislation shows up for a vote in the House. You may recall that Ilhan Omar, who replaced Keith Ellison, lied about her support for the BDS movement on the campaign trail and then immediately showed her true colors after winning her election. She’s far from the only one. This new crop of socialists has been very down on Israel and Jews in general. I’m sure the last thing the Democratic leadership wants is to have them all pinned down with a vote on this topic right out of the gate.

This should also serve as a test of Chuck Schumer’s leadership. Keep in mind that Schumer came out and bluntly described the BDS movement as antisemitism when he addressed the AIPAC Conference last year. Does he really want to kick off 2019 with his own caucus shooting down a legislative package specifically designed to support the Jewish people and one of our closest allies? Far from it, I’m sure.

You can be sure that Israel will be watching the results of this fiasco closely. And if the Democrats manage to sink the proposal, or even if it passes and some of their new “superstars” are put on record as voting against it, that’s an albatross the Democrats will have hanging around their necks for some time to come.

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