Erik Loomis Is Wrong About Sanders and Politics

Erik LoomisI really like Erik Loomis. He’s a brilliant academic and I’ve learned a whole lot about the labor movement from him. But he really annoyed me yesterday with this article, So What Would Happen if Bernie Sanders Won? For one thing, it is part of the genre that I’ve come to despise: “I love Bernie Sanders but…” Give it a rest. If you want to support Clinton or Martin O’Malley, support them! They are both fine candidates. The Democratic Party is truly blessed to have such fine candidates. And out of a dozen and a half Republicans, they can barely find someone who isn’t a bigot.

Erik Loomis begins by noting that the most important thing the president does is make appointments. And Sanders’ grand rhetoric has made Loomis believe that this means that Sanders is as clueless about this as Barack Obama was. Well, maybe. What I think is what I’ve been saying for months: from a practical standpoint, there wouldn’t be much difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years! He does know the system a lot better than Obama did when he came into office. It is presumptuous of Erik Loomis to simply assume (and that’s all he’s doing) that Sanders is going to be lackadaisical about this like Obama was.

Now if Loomis wants to say that the whole Democratic base will be disappointed with Sanders, fine. That’s kind of like saying that after a storm, the sun will come out.

But this isn’t Erik Loomis’ big complaint about Sanders. No, the big problem will be that “his base would almost certainly abandon him within a year.” You see, “The left has learned nothing since 2008.” Really?! Was the left all excited about Obama? I don’t remember that. I remember the left thinking that he was a standard variety centrist Democrat — just like Clinton, although mildly more liberal. Actual leftists thought his “hope and change” rhetoric was a joke. They didn’t think or expect much of him and they were fully satisfied.

Now if Loomis wants to say that the whole Democratic base will be disappointed with Sanders, fine. That’s kind of like saying that after a storm, the sun will come out. Everyone is always disappointed with their politicians, because that’s what politics is like. But you will notice that even all those Obama true believers from 2008 still showed up to vote for him in 2012. So liberals will be disappointed with Sanders within a year? And that matters why? Liberals will be disappointed in Clinton on the same time scale. Who cares? This is not an argument for Sanders or Clinton or Donald Trump for that matter.

The truth is that by election day, the Democratic base will be very happy about their candidate — whomever it happens to be. So it is going to take a little time for the base to become discourage. Is it supposed to go something like this? Clinton steps into office, and makes a middle of the road budget deal with the Republics. The entire Democratic base, having such low expectations of her (but still managing to drag themselves out to have elected her) will rise up and cheer, “She’s living up to our low expectations! Hooray!”

As for the almost daily articles that liberals write complaining about Democratic politicians? Well, this is called content creation. It’s an industry. Things that people would have just groused about in private now show up on Huffington Post because God knows nothing more 12 hours old is ever worth reading.

I’m a Sanders supporter. But I have real concerns about him. His association with socialism scares me a bit. His age scares me even more. Yet I will almost certainly vote for him because I think he is the best candidate for the things that I care about. I have no problem with people disagreeing. But the fact that if elected, Sanders will disappoint the Democratic base — just like every other president ever — is stupid.

Do you know what Erik Loomis’ article reminds me of? Something he would just grouse about in private if he didn’t feel that he has to keep the content flowing at Lawyers, Guns, & Money.

Global Warming and How Trends Work

Global WarmingNot that facts matters, but The New York Times reported, 2015 Was Hottest Year in Historical Record, Scientists Say. Of course, as any actual scientist will tell you — even a lowly one like me who scrapes out a living filling the internet with crap — one year don’t mean a thing. Of course, in context, it’s in “Oh my God, we’re all going to die!” territory.

It reminds me back to last year, Seth Meyers Fails on Global Warming. You may remember that Ted Cruz was on Late Night With Seth Meyers. He claimed that there had been no global warming for the last 17 years. It’s a little strange, right? I mean, 17 years? Not 15 years or 20 years or even a dozen years. It’s too precise. And all it meant was that 17 years ago, we had a really hot year. Here’s the graph:

Yearly Average Surface Temperatures

Of course, this is not how trends are calculated for temperatures or anything else. You don’t look at the first year and then the last year and then divide them by the numbers in between. That gives the first and last years all the weighting and absolutely nothing for all the years in between. It’s not valid scientifically. And Ted Cruz and everyone else who uses this trick knows it isn’t true. Look at the graph: is there any question but that there is an increasing trend?

What’s more, look at 1973. It was a hot year for that time. Let’s compare it to 1985 — the middle of three very cool years. Oh my God! Global cooling! Of course during that period there really wasn’t a trend either way. Let’s look out to 1992 — it’s basically the same temperature as 1973. No global warming! But you can see very clearly that there was a 0.5°F increase in global temperatures over that two decade period. And what about going from 1970 to 2015 — a 45 year period. Clearly, there is an enormous increase in temperature.

Scientists could use this kind of nonsense too. They could say that temperatures were increasing much faster from 1992 to 1998 by starting with a very cold year and ending with a very hot year. Of course, they don’t. This is because scientists aren’t in the business of deceiving people. They aren’t in the business of coming up with any old theory that will justify the Saudi royal family continuing to cling onto power and that the Koch brothers continuing to give political donations.

But now we have the hottest year on record. I can assure you that there will be years a decade or two out that will be colder than last year. And Ted Cruz and George Will and Charles Krauthammer (or their replacements) will make the same argument. “There has been no global warming since 2015 because last year was an unusually cold year.” This really annoys me because it means that there is literally no data that will change their minds. Now they will say that just one hot year doesn’t mean a thing. And they’ll be right! But then they’ll wait for one cold year and suddenly one year will be all that it will take to prove that global warming is a hoax.

Afterword: Global Warming Ignorance

My father is almost fanatical about global warming. But many years ago, after my mother had died, he was involved with this woman who was a Fox News addict and something of a conspiracy theorist. And I was having dinner with them and global warming came up. And they said, “You don’t believe in that, do you?!” And then something was said about Al Gore and I did not push the point. I’m not one to think much of my (or anyone else’s) PhD. But I was shocked that I could spend a decade of my life doing nothing but studying this stuff, and these two old farts thought they knew more than I did because someone on television told them it was so. Here’s a rule of thumb: a bunch of smart people can be totally wrong about something. But it’s a good idea to know why they think something and not just assume they are as ignorant as you are.

Morning Music: Tupelo

The Firstborn Is DeadWe move on to “Tupelo” off the second Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album, The Firstborn Is Dead. It’s quite a good album. It’s even kind of a blues album, including a very odd song called, “Blind Lemon Jefferson,” but it’s not really a song I quite get, so we are going to skip it. But the whole thing sounds quite a lot like Tom Waits. This may explain why I have such a strangely ambivalent opinion of Cave. I love his music yet I don’t get that excited about it. It probably doesn’t help that I really have to work at understanding the lyrics.

The perfect example of this album is Train Long-Suffering. It’s got a real old folk feel to it. But as usual, with that distinct Nick Cave sound. That’s the thing about him. He’s so him. But as is often the case, I find myself gravitating toward the work that Cave himself didn’t write.

“Tupelo” is a song by Barry Adamson and Mick Harvey. Nick Cave wrote the lyrics, but they don’t much matter. It just sounds so damned cool. Tupelo:

Anniversary Post: Unions and the United Mine Workers

Coal MinersOn this day in 1890, the United Mine Workers was formed when the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union merged. These were in the days when unions were quire literally illegal. And this is, to some extent why people always associate unions with violence. Labor organizers and members were commonly murdered. So you might wonder why it is that people don’t get more behind unions today. After all, they are legal — just largely legally neutered.

One reason that does not explain why people don’t get behind unions is that things are so great now. They aren’t. Income inequality is as bad as it ever was. The reason that I find most compelling is that people are used to the way it is now. For one thing, the power elite are a whole lot better at getting their message out. But more important: things have gotten worse inch by inch where most people today don’t know that it was ever different.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, people still remembered what it was like to have an agrarian lifestyle. Now that’s not to say that it was great. People were still poor. But I’ve felt that the big issue has never been wealth; the issue is control. And if you look at happiness, what you find is that people get happier the more wealthy they are — but only up to a certain point. And I think this is just because when you are in the upper middle class, you feel like you are in control of our life. (Although as Barbara Ehrenreich documents in Bait and Switch, that’s mostly an illusion.)

Unions have never been primarily about money. They too have been about control. Why did unions push for the minimum wage? It didn’t affect them. They didn’t earn the minimum wage. But it was about providing a sense of control for all workers. It was also about providing a sense of solidarity. And this, above all else, is what the power elite cannot abide. Because the power elite know that if working people band together, the power elite are powerless. And this is why unions must be destroyed.

Terry Pratchett’s The Truth

Terry Pratchett's The TruthI’ve read a handful of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. And The Truth is by far the best of them. Admittedly, I haven’t read a wide selection: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Making Money, and Raising Steam. So the first two and and then the Moist von Lipwig ones. The Truth sits in what must be considered the central section of the series. It is book 25 out of a total of 41. And if it is indicative of this period, it’s a very good sign.

The Truth tells the story of the creation of the newspaper industry — and The Ankh-Morpork Times in particular. William de Worde is a young man from a rich family, who wants nothing to do with it. So he scrapes by as a writer of newsletters about the goings on in Ankh-Morpork for rich clients in other cities. But everything changes when the dwarfs bring movable type to the city. Once dependent upon engravers, who took a long time to produce his newsletter, he is now able to print on a daily basis and he finds that there is more than enough content to justify it — even if some of it has to do with vegetables that grow in obscene shapes.

The other major characters include Sacharissa Cripslock, the granddaughter of William’s old engraver. She comes to complain about William putter her grandfather out of a job, and William ends up giving her a job. They are soon joined by Otto Chriek — a temperate vampire photographer who is in love with light — and Gunilla Goodmountain — an entrepreneurial dwarf who brings movable type to the town. Together, they fight the engravers’ guild and eventually even hired assassins who have been brought to town to take Lord Vetinari out of power. The novel ends with William and Sacharissa trying to go on a date, but the news just never stops.

What sets The Truth apart from the other novels is that William de Worde actually grows as a character. For all of Pratchett’s cleverness, he is not usually that interested in the development of his characters. Moist von Lipwig is still very much the same man in Raising Steam as he was in Going Postal. But William, being the black sheep of his family very much comes to terms with that fact — taking what’s good and leaving what’s bad of the nature of his father, Lord de Worde. And it is very nice to watch the transition, because at the start of the book, he seems very much like he’s hiding from the world.

Maybe I liked it so much because I feel rather like William: hiding out. And, of course, I like the newspaper business. But especially in Raising Steam, there isn’t much happening at a human level. In fact, the Moist von Lipwig stories seem more like television shows where Moist is forced to do something he doesn’t want to do and ends up having some adventures. That’s true of the Rincewind novels as well. And certainly, William gets dragged through some adventures. But he’s self-actualized — and he becomes more so the further we get into the novel. I know many people around here are much bigger Discworld readers than I am. So if you have any recommendations, I’d be glad to hear them.

Afterword

It’s also true that there is a certain His Girl Friday aspect to The Truth. And that is one of my very favorite films.

Does ‘Moderate Republican’ Have Any Meaning?

Jon HuntsmanI must admit to being somewhat out of it. I’m not that interested in horse race politics anyway and I don’t know what’s going on. Last year, I did write, Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Real Liberal. That was about people going around talking about how Clinton was really a conservative. But it probably speaks to an unfortunate narcissism on my part that once I write about something, I consider the issue settled. But that ain’t reality. And I guess people still make that claim to such a degree that yesterday, Scott Lemieux felt the need to write, Can the “Hillary Clinton Is Really A Moderate Republican” Argument Be Salvaged? (SPOILER! No.)

I’m not really interested in the issue, because as I’ve noted: I have spoken! But Lemieux brought up Jon Huntsman. You can forget the likes of Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or Chris Christie. Huntsman is a guy that almost everyone in the establishment media thinks is a moderate. After all, he worked for the Obama administration! But Lemieux does a good job of summing up what Huntsman actually stands for, and it ain’t pretty. There is no moderation that I can see:

He favors a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first degree murder in all 50 states. He wants to massively slash the top income tax rate and eliminate capital gains and estate taxes entirely. He wants to repeal the ACA and he’s smart enough to know that it would be replaced with nothing. He wants Dodd-Frank repealed. He has denounced the EPA’s “regulatory reign of terror.” He opposes any form of gun control.

Let me add to this that Huntsman was also one of the guys who said that he so cared about the budget deficit that he would not take a 10-to-1 spending cut to tax increase deal from the Democrats. And then after he was no longer running for president, he went back on it and said that he would take it. He never said what he would require though. 7-to-1? 5-to-1? I’m damned sure he wouldn’t take 3-to-1, and there is no way he would ever take the actually fair 1-to-1 deal.

What makes both men moderates in the eyes of the press is that they don’t scream; they don’t push a lot of conspiracy theories; and they don’t insult each other’s spouses (although they do insult the spouses of Democrats).

Lemieux noted that being seen as a moderate Republican “can be purchased on the cheap by taking a standard-issue conservative Republican and appending a few things like ‘maybe we shouldn’t crash the world economy’ and ‘now that I’m not running for office same-sex marriage seems OK’.” But I would say it is much worse than this. What defines being a “moderate Republican” is the same thing that defines being an establishment Republican: style. Huntsman hardly qualifies as a moderate Republican; he’s more in the Josh Barro realm where the press hardly think of him as a Republican at all.

Marco Rubio is the prototypical “moderate Republican.” And it basically just means that he is polite. The same thing can be said of Jeb Bush. Remember Terri Schiavo and all of Jeb’s abuses of power regarding that? What makes both men moderates in the eyes of the press is that they don’t scream; they don’t push a lot of conspiracy theories; and they don’t insult each other’s spouses (although they do insult the spouses of Democrats).

What all this means is that there is no such thing as a “moderate Republican.” It’s not just that any kind of moderation would make someone not a Republican. It is that the Overton window within the Republican Party is so small that to talk about a conservative or moderate Republican is meaningless. And the whole party is so bunched to the right that no one even uses the term “liberal Republican.” So, of course, Hillary Clinton is not a moderate Republican. But the more important point is that no one is a moderate Republican. They simply don’t exist.

Morning Music: Cabin Fever!

From Her to EternityBy 1983, there were great tensions in The Birthday Party between Nick Cave and Rowland S Howard. So Mick Harvey left the band and that was the end. As a result, Cave and Harvey formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the band that everyone knows. Really: it’s Nick Cave’s band. Harvey was always a powerful musical influence, but I don’t think he was ever the artistic equal of Cave the way that Howard was.

The first album (which only lists “Nick Cave” on the cover) was From Her to Eternity. The music certainly turned in a darker direction. It is also a lot more portentous. It is, in other words, what we’ve all come to think of as Nick Cave. So we’ll listen to “Cabin Fever!” which is a good indication of just how different the band sounded. It’s also so clear now how influential the band has been. In 1984, I don’t remember anything at all like it.

Anniversary Post: Karl Wallenda

Karl WallendaOn this day in 1905, the amazing high wire artist Karl Wallenda was born. He is best known as the founder of the The Flying Wallendas. Whatever. I hate this kind of stuff. I admire it, but I do wish people wouldn’t do it. Isn’t there enough to worry about? People die just walking down the street, or getting out of bed, or because someone left a loaded gun in a sock. Life doesn’t need to be made more dangerous! Just the same, how can I not admire people who are so foreign to me?

Wallenda was born into the business. He began performing with his family at the age of six. The act appears to have always been pretty much the same: they create human pyramids on the tightrope. And they’ve only made the act more and more dangerous and ridiculous over the years. You can see a video of them doing a seven person pyramid. It’s amazing stuff, but I want to scream, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to open up a nice hot dog stand?!”

Probably the only reason I’m writing about Karl Wallenda today is because of his death. At the age of 73, he performed on a wire stretched between two ten story buildings in Puerto Rico. There were high winds as is often the case when these stunts are performed. And he lost his balance and fell. You can watch it on YouTube if you want, but I’m not going to provide a link because it is extremely upsetting. Instead, watch him four years earlier, doing a head stand on a wire — also with high winds and rain:

Corporate Income Tax & the Double Taxation Myth

Dean BakerThere is something that rich people and their apologists talk about a lot. It is the idea that the corporate income tax is wrong because the owners of those corporations have to pay income tax twice: once for the company and once for the individual. Dean Baker provided the standard response to this nonsense, The Myth of the Corporate Income Tax as Double Taxation. Basically, it comes down to this: no one is forcing people to set up their businesses as corporations. People do it knowing that they will have to pay corporate income taxes. And they do it anyway, because they get a great deal of benefit — most especially protection against liability.

But there are several other things that I don’t understand about this whining point of the rich. The first is, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Corporations have First Amendment rights. Why shouldn’t such an entity have to pay income taxes? Really, I don’t get it. This whole discussion seems to be the usual thing where the rich want all the advantages of whatever they have, but none of the responsibilities. And since they only talk to each other, they get the idea that somehow it makes sense their corporate status should give them all kinds of benefits that other business people don’t get, but that they shouldn’t have to pay anything for it.

The rich and their apologists know that it makes no sense to complain about the corporate income tax. In fact, as Dean Baker noted, “The corporate income tax is a 100% voluntary tax…”

Let’s consider a little thought experiment. Let’s suppose that I hire you as a maid. I don’t pay you with my pre-tax salary; I pay you with my post-tax salary. I get paid and I pay my taxes. With the money left over, I pay you, and you too have to pay income taxes. How is this any different? The reason that corporations have these special rights is that they are a special kind of person. From the profits of the corporations, shareholders are paid. The fact that they don’t do any work (unlike the maid) doesn’t change things; they are being paid because they put money into the company. So yeah, this is double income tax — just like it is when anyone hires someone else.

But what I really don’t get is the Shakespeare aspect of this, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” What does it matter that we call these two taxes the corporate and individual income taxes? I’m being taxed all the time. I make money and I pay income and payroll taxes on it. Then I spend the money and I pay consumption taxes. The big issue here is that the rich are laser focused on the federal income tax.

I’ve talked about this a lot, most recently in, Why We Only Talk About the Income Tax. We have a system where property taxes are very slightly regressive (the poor pay more than the rich). Consumption taxes are quite regressive. And payroll taxes are ridiculously regressive. The income tax is the only part of the tax system that is even moderately progressive. So we talk talk talk about the income tax.

The rich and their apologists know that it makes no sense to complain about the corporate income tax. In fact, as Dean Baker noted, “The corporate income tax is a 100% voluntary tax…” It’s a tax they complain about paying, but they aren’t required to pay it. But it’s the usual whining point of the rich about everything: they don’t believe they should have to pay for anything they get. They want special privileges that other people and businesses don’t get, but they think it shouldn’t cost them anything.

I’ve long been in favor of eliminating the corporation — especially when I was a libertarian. So I say we give the rich what they want: repeal the corporate income tax — right along with the corporation as a legal entity. Do I have any takers?

The Middle Ground on Healthcare Reform

Hillary ClintonI’ve come to be pretty tired of the Clinton and Sanders camps sniping at each other — especially over healthcare reform. It’s hard for me to be objective, of course, because I am a Bernie Sanders supporter. But I do think more sniping comes from the Clinton camp. It isn’t a question of total sniping. But there is a whole lot more institutional sniping by Clinton supporters. And I understand it: she’s the establishment candidate for a reason: she’s the safe choice. And as a Sanders supporter, I have to admit: I don’t see much in the way of policy differences between the two once they are in office. We live in a democracy, not a autocracy. So I wish everyone would just cut it out.

But there are substantive differences between the candidates that are worth talking about. Healthcare reform is the big one: the “fix Obamacare” approach and the “replace Obamacare with single payer” approach. What I don’t understand is why these have to be different. As you all know, I’m very happy with Obamacare, Covered California: I Died and Woke Up in Canada. I certainly would prefer a universal, single-payer system. Obamacare is a complicated mess. And I don’t really see why I had to decide between the bronze and silver plans. Like I’m in any way qualified to know what is best for me! But that’s the way our neoliberal system works.

“Getting universal Medicare would require overcoming opposition not only from insurers and drug companies, but doctors and hospital administrators, both of whom are paid at levels two to three times higher than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.” —Dean Baker

Still, it seems to me that Obamacare is single-payer just waiting to happen. For this discussion, forget people who get their insurance through their employers. For one thing, it makes this all easier to think about. But more important, I think that now that we have Obamacare, employer provided health insurance will (Quite rightly!) become a thing of the past. It will probably take twenty years, but eventually, healthcare just won’t be provided in that way. It’s existence is a fluke of history anyway.

So we have a system now in three parts: Medicaid for the poor, Medicare for the old, and the Exchanges for everyone else. Currently, Medicaid provides free healthcare to those making up to 133% of the poverty level. (Because of John Roberts, this isn’t true in most red states, but that will change over time.) What I want to know is why we can’t change the Medicaid level. Why not increase it to 150%? Or 400% (the level where government subsidies end on the exchanges)? Or why can’t we lower the age for Medicare? How about 60 years old as a cutoff? For people like me who want “Medicare for all,” this seems obvious. Whenever the Democrats get control of the government, they can increase the number of people who qualify for Medicare and Medicare. And eventually, you end up with a universal, single-payer healthcare system.

Bernie SandersAs far as I can tell, there is only one objection to this healthcare reform plan: it isn’t realistic. But it is more realistic than simply jumping to a full out single-payer healthcare system. And it has the advantages of being a gradual process — one where the insurance companies can gradually move into other areas. But even more than that, our healthcare problems are a lot bigger than our fragmented private insurance market.

Dean Baker recently wrote, Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders, and Medicare for All. He noted, “Getting universal Medicare would require overcoming opposition not only from insurers and drug companies, but doctors and hospital administrators, both of whom are paid at levels two to three times higher than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.” And that’s important. The country needs to get used to the fact that our idiosyncrasies have distorted our system such that healthcare reform is complicated. And it is going to take time on a lot of fronts to deal with this. There is no quick fix.

So in a sense, I agree more with Hillary Clinton about healthcare reform. But I know a little bit about negotiation. And if Clinton is talking about the very reasonable idea of making Obamacare work better and having it cover more people, the most likely result will be that nothing will change. But Sanders’ unreasonable push for single-payer healthcare right now is much more likely to result in good changes to Obamacare. Let’s not forget that Obama ran in 2008 on the unreasonable idea that we didn’t need an individual mandate. We didn’t get his more liberal plan, but we did get a plan that is providing me with healthcare and dental insurance at negligible costs.

None of this means that Clinton is bad. But similarly, none of this means that Sanders is unrealistic. I’ll proudly support either of them.

Morning Music: Big Jesus Trash Can

Junkyard - The Birthday PartyWell, in our trip down Nick Cave’s career, we come to the last album of The Birthday Party, Junkyard. Like so often with great bands, this last album is when they really gel. Of course, in their case, that means they go totally crazy. It is amazing to listen to. Yesterday, I said that Prayers on Fire was post-punk. This album is… who knows?! Some of it sounds like free jazz. And then it’s straight rhythm and blues. And sometimes psychedelic — but taken by goths. Today we listen to “Big Jesus Trash Can.”

It’s a very consistent album. It has an emotional core of wry despondency. My favorite track is the most straightforward one, “Several Sins.” But it is by Rowland S Howard (maybe I’ll do a week of him sometime). “Big Jesus Trash Can” is a masterpiece of noise as music. I never much cared for noise bands, but that’s because they rarely managed to turn it into music. Here The Birthday Party does.

In “Big Jesus Trash Can,” it is hard to say what Cave is on about. There are various ways of interpreting it. It is hard for me not to see it in the context of the modern American Christian conception of Jesus as this Rambo sort of character. Certainly there seems to be some kind of statement about America being so Christian and yet so militaristic. But the main thing is the sound:

Anniversary Post: Iranian Hostages Released

Iranian Hostages ReleasedOn this day in 1981, the remaining 52 hostages were released by the Iranian government after 444 days. This was also the day that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated fortieth President of the United States. For years, this has been part of the Republican myth that Carter was weak and Reagan strong. Indeed, just last weekend, Marco Rubio was on Meet the Press, where he made the de rigueur Republican claim that the world only respects and fears America when a dry mouthed Eagle Scout brays and beats his chest. He said, “When I become president of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama, and it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took office the hostages were released from Iran.”

If you look at the timeline of the Iranian hostages crisis, you will see that the Carter administration was not sitting on its hands. The first attempts at negotiation were on 7 November 1979 — three days after the attack on the embassy. The Iranians would not meet with the US, so Carter froze their assets. Originally, there were 66 hostages taken. On 17 November 1979, Iran released all the female and African American hostages — reducing the number down to 53. On 11 July 1980, another hostage was released due to illness. That left the 52 who were released on 20 January 1981.

On 12 September 1980, Iran declared that they would release the hostages if the Shah’s assets were given to Iran and if Iran’s assets were released. The Iranians went to the Carter administration that month with the offer to negotiate. From then through January of 1981, Warren Christopher led the US delegation in negotiations with the Iranians. On 19 January, a deal was settled — the Iranian hostages were exchanged for roughly $10 billion in Iranian assets. And the next day, the hostages were released.

According to PolitiFact (which has debunked this claim before because Republicans so like it), there were a couple of reasons for the Iranian hostages release. First, the Iranians were tired of keeping the hostages. They had to take care of them and keep them from escaping — at the same time having to worry about an American attack, which would have been widely seen as justified. Second, they had been negotiating for months and they didn’t want to start all over with a new administration. And third, the Iranians wanted to insult Carter as the symbol of the United States.

It’s interesting how often Republicans align themselves with enemies of this country just to score cheap domestic political points. Remember Tom Cotton’s ridiculous letter to the Iranians that totally disrespected the office of the president just to make a grand statement? Remember what the letter actually communicated: you should not trust the United States of America.

As for the Iranian hostages deal, no one from Ronald Reagan’s administration took any part in the negotiations. The deal was finalized because of negotiations with the Carter administration. And it was all about money. Nothing else. Rubio is an idiot. But that’s what Republicans are. In 2012, Mitt Romney said the same thing. That’s because chest thumping is the extent to which Republicans think about foreign policy.