The False Narrative of Joni Ernst and the Senate Iran Letter

The following meme is being circulated among liberals regarding Senator Joni Ernst, who also is a Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officer of the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard:

Joni_Ernst_meme.

The actual text of the statute is as follows:

29B.85  CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS.
         Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

The phrase “contemptuous words” is the key here.  Here is a definition of the word “contemptuous”

contemptuous

adjective

full of contempt; scornful; disdainful

 Now, here is the text of the letter in graphic form.  All contemptuous words as defined above, directed towards the President, are highlighted:

open_letter_to_iran

Liberals would have you believe the above letter contains “contemptuous words” against the President by simply sending a letter to an adversary explaining the Constitutional process of our nation.

Again, this isn’t about the truth, it’s about the narrative.  Liberals intend to use lies, just like their belief this letter also  violated the Logan Act, and even rose to the legal standard of treason.  The wild hyperbole continues to circulate despite the fact that liberal pundits have dismissed all this legal nonsense.

Libs, it should tell you something if the President pretty much ignores your demands for fake charges.

14 thoughts on “The False Narrative of Joni Ernst and the Senate Iran Letter

  1. At the federal level, an officer is in violation of this law (Article 88) if their behavior meets the following tests:

    (1) That the accused was a commissioned officer of the United States armed forces;

    (2) That the accused used certain words against an official or legislature named in the article;

    (3) That by an act of the accused these words came to the knowledge of a person other than the accused; and

    (4) That the words used were contemptuous, either in themselves or by virtue of the circumstances under which they were used.

    This brings us to the case of Lt. Col. Joni Ernst. I assume the same elements, or similar elements, are used to determine compliance at the state level for Section 85 as they are at the federal level for Article 88.

    In this case,
    1) Lt. Col. Joni Ernst is a commissioned officer.
    2) She did use words against the president.
    3) These words were published to MANY people besides the president.
    4) The circumstances of these words are contemptuous of the president and his authority.

    There is nothing in the law or the tests applied to the law that say anything about the duty status of the officer in question. I understand the political considerations and latitude that may be granted to enable “citizen soldiers” to serve our nation in a variety of ways. But that is not a license to abuse the privilege as Ernst has. When you look at the elements, she has hit all four. That’s four strikes, and one of 47 reasons over 250,000 people are saying the seditious senators need to be prosecuted.

    You may think that the lack of profanity allows one to sidestep the issue, but you are wrong. As you note in your definition of contemptuous, synonyms include “disdainful.” When you write a letter to a foreign government in your capacity as a US senator and deride the president’s unique authority to speak for the United States in diplomatic matters, that is not a policy dispute. You are disdaining his constitutional authority.

    dis·dain

    noun

    1. the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.
    “her upper lip curled in disdain”

    synonyms: contempt, scorn, scornfulness, contemptuousness, derision,

    Whether the local National Guard chooses to prosecute Lt. Col. Sen. Ernst or not, she is clearly violating all four of the tests normally applied in cases like this. If she were not an officer and had not made that fact a central theme in all her public appearances (e.g., her response to the SOTU), her duty status would be more relevant. However, she has actively contributed to the confusion by presenting herself as “serving in the Iowa Army National Guard” (CPAC speech), and “a soldier” (GOP response to SOTU). These claims were all made without qualification. Allowing her to pick and choose which rules she has to follows as the situation suits her undermines the institutions she claims to respect.

    What makes Joni Ernst more notable than most of her colleagues is that she has done more than show disdain for the president by deriding his authority to conduct diplomacy. She has also disgraced her commission and tarnished the reputation of the Iowa National Guard. Her behavior reflects poorly on her. Enabling this behavior reflects poorly on her chain of command. It also provides a poor example of leadership to those men and women entrusted to her command.

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  2. And you would be incorrect because nothing in any of her speeches meets the threshold for even the definitions you provided, not to mention you have shown no specific phrases which meets the legal definitions as such..

    She is a member of the US Senate, an office for which she was elected. Unless you can demonstrate as a matter of law that these positions are incompatible, then your statement is meaningless.. Just because you chose to use the words seditious and disdainful (both subject to interpretation, with no legal backing by judicial opinion for similar circumstances) and believe that the Senate has no authority to negotiate foreign agreements (which I have demonstrated exists in a previous article) then all you have at this point is just mere handwaving and bluster.

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    • I said nothing about her speeches, although others have (notably Vietnam Veteran who took issue with several of her comments, most relevant to this discussion, her calling the president “a dictator” who is “running amok”) (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2014/10/30/joni-ernst-military-protocol/18208453/).

      I am specifically and explicitly limiting my comments to her signing a letter that says, in part:

      “[W]e will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.” That is disdainful. The president, as the sole diplomatic voice of the United States, does not enter into personal agreements with individuals from other countries. The agreements are binding. To then compound the insult by stating “future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time” clearly disdains the unique role of the chief executive to negotiate on behalf of the United States.

      This is a blatant attempt to undermine what has been a bedrock principle of Executive authority since Washington [1793] was president. Adams, no friend of Washington, signed this in to law [1799]. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reaffirmed this [1816] and the Supreme Court agreed [1938]. It’s no surprise that Cheney used this point to defend Reagan’s negotiations with Iran [1987] and that Biden, no friend of Cheney, agreed [2015]. This has never been disputed by any serious party — until now.

      One can argue that Cotton, a veteran, is not bound by either the laws governing conduct of our military personnel, or the oath he took when he accepted his commission. One may find fault with his accepting money (from the Emergency Committee for Israel) that appears to be coming from foreign sources. But that is a different matter than someone who has repeatedly identified themselves as “serving” and “a soldier” when appearing at public functions, making no distinction whatsoever regarding her status of duty.

      We’re not talking about powers derived from an amendment to the constitution. Article 2, Section 2 was not tacked on later to ensure the acceptance of Southern states the way the 2nd Amendment was. It was not tacked on to ensure Federalist or Anti-Federalist approval. It was embedded in the framework of the constitution by the framers. We are talking about something fundamental that has served us well for over 200 years. That is not an anachronism, that is stability.

      I have no qualms with a politician opposing a sitting president. I have no reservations about extending legislative immunity to those who speak forcefully against administration policies. I have no problem with citizens serving this nation in multiple, simultaneous, capacities — provided there is no conflict of interest.

      However, undermining the authority of the president to act within his constitutionally mandated role is the sine qua non of sedition. Doing it in a public way that leaves no doubt you think he is to be disregarded, is the definition of contempt. If the Iowa National Guard wants to turn a blind eye to this, that is their choice. But it is silly to pretend that enabling such reckless behavior is acceptable.

      You may be happy to sacrifice bedrock principles for partisan gain. But how much of the foundation are you willing to destroy in service of expediency? Do that enough, you won’t need terrorists to blow up anything. We’ll be too busy destroying ourselves and the legacy we were given.

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      • The only people who are saying that the letter undermines the President are those taking an extreme reading of Article 2 Section 2 and assuming that Congress has no authority in negotiating foreign agreements, much less being only a rubber stamp for such agreements. Otherwise, you can talk to Representative Pelosi, Sen’s Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Tom Harkin – all of whom have undermined foreign policy negotiations far more egregious than an “open letter”. I’m sure they would have a different take on your point of view.

        The Iowa National Guard, and the US Military will not have to turn a blind eye to Sen/Lt Col Ernst; in fact, they won’t even give it a passing thought. You failed to demonstrate that her position in the Senate while serving in the National Guard is a conflict, and that such a conflict restricts her free speech. One veteran who feigned outrage, as well as took a far reaching reading of the statute, makes no difference. He is entitled to his hyperbole, the same as you.

        Bottom line, your interpretation of the President being undermined is merely a talking point which has no basis in law or fact. Historically, Senators have been involved in the process of negotiations and there is no language that says they can’t insert themselves in the process in any way they deem prudent. “Advice and Consent” has broad meaning that entails cooperation in agreements and the courts have recognized that issues such as what is displayed here, is nothing more than political positioning. To suggest that such actions with respect to Sen Ernst rises to violation of the law is laughable, and more correctly, desperate defense of this President and not of a trespass of the Constitution or existing law.

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    • You assert, without any evidence, that congress has the authority to enter in to diplomatic negotiations on behalf of the United States. That is false. Congress often (but not always) has input. On the other hand, a review of the historic record shows the Executive signs off on EVERY international agreement. What the letter clearly states is “President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.” and “future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time. ”

      The present GOP controlled congress has already shown
      1) it is willing shut down the government in a temper tantrum
      2) it is willing to damage the creditworthiness of the government
      3) it apparently considers itself authorized to negotiate with foreign sovereigns

      History shows the last assertion is without precedent. I can understand why the Emergency Committee on Israel and AIPAC may have no problem tarnishing the credibility and reliability of the United States, but I’m surprised you are so cavalier about throwing away the credibility of the United States for dubious political gains.

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/mar/12/joe-biden/joe-biden-says-vast-majority-international-commitm/

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      • Your first point about Congress entering diplomatic negotiations is thwarted by Nancy Pelosi meeting with Syria’s President in 2007.

        Your hyperbole about the GOP is just non-sequitur talking points.

        Yes, it’s unprecedented that the Senate sent an open letter to demonstrate the Senate’s role in the negotiations, which has never been disputed. The dispute is that if offends the supporters of Obama. The outrage is certainly unprecedented.

        The credibility of the United States has been damaged already by this President.

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    • Presidents complaining about something people in Congress are saying or doing?!! Oh, fetch me my salts. I do declare … I feel faint…. how will the Republic endure?!

      You want to dance around the point all you want, like kids on a campout pretending they are Indians — go ahead. Doesn’t change the fact.

      Pelosi is not in any military capacity anywhere so “contempt towards officials” is totally irrelevant (unlike Ernst where she needs commanders willing to turn a blind eye).

      Pelosi never represented herself in the meeting as speaking on behalf of the United States government.

      Pelosi never disputed the authority of the President to speak for the United States. That is why — if you watched the whole report — you learn that after delivering the Israeli letter to Syria, she met with Saudi ministers in Riyadh AT A DINNER HOSTED BY THE US EMBASSY. Clearly the administration wasn’t reaching for the fainting couch over this. They were facilitating it.

      But go ahead — cling to your baseless assertions. I am sure it comforts you.

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      • As far as Senator Ernst, you keep using that word “contemptuous” and that authorities have a case. And yet, for some reason you haven’t shown there is any legal precedent that her actions have risen to such charge, other than one veteran who wrote a letter to the editor who is not an expert in military law. Yes, I’m sure you can find others who share a similar opinion. As a former military member myself, I disagree with his ill-informed opinion and interpretation.

        For these other rabbit hole excursions of yours..

        Perhaps you should read this article instead of watching a video.

        Nancy Pelosi had entered into diplomatic negotiations with a country that we had no diplomatic relations as part of the Bush administration policy. This article shows it to be true and your video also proves this statement you made is incorrect:

        You assert, without any evidence, that congress has the authority to enter in to diplomatic negotiations on behalf of the United States. That is false.

        She offered the services of the United States to help facilitate diplomatic talks to, what she felt, would improve the situation in the region, against the policy of the administration. And yes, she represented herself on behalf of the US government and she had a delegation of Congressmen with her.

        And I’m sure she had a wonderful dinner at the US Embassy of Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States for which we have full diplomatic relations, a place Congressmen go to regularly.

        Your flair for the dramatic, no matter how irrelevant, is amusing. Indeed, the only thing you keep doing is running into rabbit holes that go nowhere.

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  3. To be clear — there is no question that Congress has a legitimate and important role as part of the “advice and consent” clause — which also appears in Article 2, Section 2. .

    The problematic with the recent seditious move is the attempt by 47 senators to cut the executive OUT of its constitutional role.

    I have also stated the behavior does not rise to the level of “treason” but more appropriately is characterized as sedition. Apparently, Maj. Gen. Eaton (Ret.) agrees. He characterized this behavior as “mutinous” — which is effectively the same as sedition.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/03/13/tom-cotton-picked-apart-by-army-general-over-mutinous-iran-letter/

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  4. You misrepresent Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria. There is no question she was there to discuss politics in the region. But she at no time undermined the president’s authority. At no time did she represent herself as speaking for the United States. In fact, she delivered a letter FROM Israel to Syria because the US (unlike Israel) had diplomatic relations. That is a far cry from “my way or the highway”.

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4283069/clip-speaker-pelosi-visit-syria

    I am surprised you discount Eaton’s comment. Corker clearly did not agree with the letter. He is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. At least he is acting responsibly. It’s too bad you are so blinded by hatred that you can’t see the damage you and your kind are doing. May God bless you with clear vision.

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  5. You should really listen to the clip you posted. It was an interview about an assassination attempt. There was no discussion of Syria or Pelosi. Try a little harder before posting links.

    And Corker neither endorsed nor declined the letter. Corker was working a different tact.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/13/gop-sen-corker-tries-to-forestall-un-role-in-iran-deal/

    As far as General Eaton, he swings politically to the left. Not surprised he accepts the Administration’s swill.

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  6. You should at least listen to the video. Bush objected to Pelosi’s visit as sending the wrong message and elaborated quite eloquently about the divisiveness such a visit looked to the outside world.

    Seems interesting the President would say that, and yet, Pelosi never was charged with treason, or a seditious act. And Bush iterating activities of the Syrian government sounds an awful like what Iran also does.

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