The Morning Jolt


Apparently, Iran Deal Defenders Already Knew Iran Wasn’t to Be Trusted

Making the click-through worthwhile: Iran deal defenders insist they always knew Tehran was lying all along; some overheated arguments about masculinity and books for kids; how most of the people making the loudest arguments in public discourse didn’t bother to do the homework; and a really strange and implausible accusation against Mitch McConnell.

Wait, Why Did We Ever Trust the Iranians Again?

Fans of the Iran deal scoff at Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu’s presentation about the long and sordid history of Iran’s secret nuclear program: “There was nothing we didn’t already know.” “Everything he said was already known.” “There is nothing new in Bibi’s presentation.”

I don’t quite get how “hey, everybody always knew the Iranian regime lies all the time” is such a sterling defense of the Iran deal. I mean, is that we’re so confident in the limited inspections that we don’t think Iran would cheat by doing things at military sites? You can’t argue, “Oh, we never trusted their word” and “That’s why we have to keep trusting them” in the same breath.

Our new secretary of State:

“I know there are people talking about these documents not being authentic,” Pompeo added. “I can confirm for you that these documents are real; they’re authentic.”

Pompeo said that the files “spell out the scope and scale of the program that they undertook there, and I think makes – I think makes very clear that, at the very least, the Iranians have continued to lie to their own people. So while you say everyone knew, the Iranians have consistently taken the position that they’ve never had a program like this. This will – this will belie any notion that there wasn’t a program like this.”

He added that the administration would “leave that to lawyers,” when asked if there was there anything in there that suggests there’s an actual violation of the 2016 agreement.”

I’m reminded of a past warning about Iran’s treachery and ambitions by an American leader known for launching military strikes in Middle Eastern countries:

This is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program.  Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people.  But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.  Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow — endangering the global non-proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.

That was President Barack Obama on September 25, 2009.

Deep Thoughts About Mischievous Boys in Children’s Literature

Ah, Twitter, where grown men scoff at alleged “capitalizing on insecure masculinity” on the part of . . . Jocko Willink, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who received the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War and who commanded SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi.

The comment was spurred by a Fox News segment touting Willink’s Warrior Kid books — excellent, by the way, my older son called it “inspiring” — and poo-pooing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The grown man in question refused Willink’s offer of free copies so he could “not judge them by the cover — or their news coverage?”(I think it’s quite revealing when a person’s refuses invitations to more closely examine what  he’s denouncing.)

With both my boys devouring the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I can generally concur with the growing assessment that the title character is less of a wimp than a narcissist. Author Jeff Kinney wrote, “He represents the worst of me. Some people have called him a young Larry David. I’m not sure if he’s a sociopath. He does and says the things the rest of us only wish we could do and say, which is what makes him funny. But I do think Greg needs to mature.”

But that’s okay. What makes the Wimpy Kid books hilarious is that in any given situation, Greg will do a ton of work to avoid doing work, and just about all of his schemes to avoid homework, chores or other responsibilities blow up in his face. And kids usually relate to Greg’s problems — long family car rides, gathering with distant relatives they barely remember and find kind of weird, wishing they could spend the whole summer playing video games. I doubt many kids reading the Wimpy Kid books wished they could be more like Greg, or want to emulate him by the end of the story. He’s an age-appropriate cautionary tale.

Sometimes we tell stories to children explicitly about what not to do. I think one of the reasons kids love Mo Willems’ Pigeon books is that they recognize the pigeon using all of their tricks that they use when they want to stay up late, have a cookie, avoid taking a bath, etcetera.

Heck, half of the comics pages are about kids who can’t avoid trouble: Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, Big Nate, Dennis the Menace. Stephan Pastis’ utterly hilarious Timmy Failure series is about a kid who clearly wants to be a modern-day Encyclopedia Brown-style kid detective but who is oblivious to his own incompetence.

This is all part of how children develop the ability to distinguish fantasy and reality.

Most of the Loudest Voices in Public Life Haven’t Done the Homework

The rote denunciation of a decorated Navy SEAL for being insecure in his masculinity is another example of one of the sadder lessons of life: a lot of people you see and hear haven’t done the homework.

By that I mean they haven’t done more than a cursory examination of whatever they’re discussing, and sometimes not even that much.  For example, the Washington Post wrote a whole article about the Parkland survivors howling about alleged “hypocrisy” for the firearms ban in effect for the president’s and vice president’s speeches at this week’s NRA Convention.

If you do a minute of Googling, you will see where the policy comes from and that headlines like “the NRA banned guns from its own convention” are not accurate. But that was too much to ask from the Associated Press. (Or, you know, they’re corrupt hacks who will lie in order to promote a particular message.) They were perfectly happy to make sweeping statements without doing the homework.

As I and many other folks pointed out, this reflects longstanding U.S. Secret Service policy, and yes, their authority has held up in court. For the National Rifle Association, the choice is simple: If you want the president or vice president to speak, you must accept a ban on firearms in the building while they’re speaking. Unsurprisingly, the NRA concurs with this, and with all local and state laws on firearms during their annual meetings.

Why would the U.S. Secret Service want no firearms in the audience of a presidential speech? I can think of five reasons off the top of my head: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy, and Reagan.

This isn’t a policy in place for a particular menace stemming from NRA meeting attendees; this is a blanket rule for all presidential visits to all buildings.

(As for the alleged hypocrisy, how many gun owners argue that privately owned firearms should be everywhere at all times? I don’t see many gun owners objecting to gun bans on planes, courthouses, prisons, the U.S. Capitol Building, or federal office buildings. The gun-control crowd is gleefully mowing down straw men, this nonsensical notion that American gun owners believe everyone should be armed at all times. Neither “Less guns make us more safe!” nor “More guns make us more safe!” are inherently correct; it all depends upon who has the guns and what they do with them.)

Once you start listening for “didn’t do the homework,” you hear it everywhere. Yesterday, I was listening to the local D.C. sports radio, and the midday host said something like, “I don’t think Sam Darnold is going to work out, he’s a USC quarterback,” and then he went on to discuss the other drafted quarterbacks.

If you’ve seen my Twitter avatar, you can guess that I’ve got a strong opinion about Darnold! But it wasn’t the criticism that bothered me so much as the lack of effort or analysis that went into it. Valid criticisms of Darnold exist: He didn’t improve as much from 2016 to 2017 as some hoped or expected, he turned the ball over a lot last year, some scouts wonder about his throwing motion. But those are all assessments of Darnold and how he played, not the school he attended. You might as well argue that quarterbacks who wear red uniforms are always disappointments.

Not every viewpoint has to be defended like a Ph.D. dissertation, but dude, you’ve got a sports radio show! I’m just a fan, you’re supposed to know more than I do. I expect you to have thought about this some more than just, “oh, he went to that school.” It’s lazy, it’s shallow, it suggests you’ve done no actual research or thinking about the sweeping conclusion you’re offering. (And if you want to scoff about USC quarterbacks and bring up Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart, fine, but Carson Palmer was a USC quarterback, too.)

ADDENDA: Fresh off calling Chinese American James Chao, father of the secretary of Labor and father-in-law to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a “wealthy Chinaperson,” West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship calls McConnell “cocaine Mitch” in a campaign ad unveiled today, a week away from the primary.

Does . . . Mitch McConnell strike you as a cocaine kind of guy? Has he ever seemed wild-eyed, speaking quickly, jittery, on edge, twitchy, full of nervous energy?

Quaaludes, maybe, but not cocaine.


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