February 4, 2017

"Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills."

A WaPo headline.

What the government paid for was Secret Service protection.

Were there equivalent headlines for what taxpayers paid when members of Obama's family traveled to do things that were not the work of government — vacations, career-boosting internships, political fundraisers and rallies?

WaPo wafts the notion that traveling for business is different because one makes money doing business. The wafting is done through a quote from a law professor:
“This is an example of the blurring of the line between the personal interest in the family business and the government,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on government ethics and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis....

“There is a public benefit to providing Secret Service protection,” Clark said. “But what was the public benefit from State Department personnel* participating in this private business trip to the coastal town? It raises the specter of the use of public resources for private gain.”
As an erstwhile law professor, I'm fascinated by the use of law professors to give heft to wafting theories. There's no way to know how many law professors WaPo queried before getting this quote from Clark. A cynically educated guess would be 17.** And I'm fascinated by the ability of law professors to seem to say something useful to the theory being wafted without really saying much of anything at all. Note the phrases "blurring of the line" — no line is crossed or even located — and "raises the specter" — which doesn't even acknowledge that there's an issue. A "specter" is a ghost.

In other Secret Service news, "Malia Obama parties into the early morning in NYC":
The former first daughter attended a starry HBO “Girls” premiere, then went dancing into the early hours of the morning....

We were told that “Secret Service agents were all over the place” at the party, but they managed to blend into the crowd of more than 600 guests.
_______________________

* The Secret Service is not located in the State Department — it's in the Department of Homeland Security — but the money for the Secret Service's hotel rooms was paid through the State Department. The State Department and the Secret Service refused to talk to WaPo about why the money came from the State Department. Is it the usual source of funding when the trip is outside of the homeland? WaPo doesn't explain. It just leaves us with the lawprof's wafting, which blends the spectral problem of the State Department source of funding with the question how it benefits the public to protect members of the President's family. Is that really something we wonder about?

** [ADDED at 8:33] I'm less cynical now, because I just happened to be researching a completely different government ethics question — whether Bill and Hillary Clinton stole furniture from the White House — and the government ethics expert quoted in the fact-checking article I found was Kathleen Clark:
[O]ne Steve Mittman from New York gave [Bill Clinton] two sofas, an easy chair and ottoman worth $19,900... [Mittman said he thought he was] donating to the White House itself as part a major remodeling project in 1993....

[T]he White House had retained an interior decorator who, according to the report, coordinated 43 of the 45 furniture gifts received over the Clintons’ eight years. 
Kathleen Clark focuses on government ethics law at Washington University in St. Louis. For her, that interior decorator raised a flag. "I don’t know how you coordinate gifts without soliciting them," Clark said....
There's a ban on soliciting gifts, so the solicitation would be evidence that the furniture was not a personal gift to the Clintons.
"Calling the Clintons’ actions ‘stealing’ or ‘theft’ is hyperbolic," Clark said. "It’s hard to take that language seriously in this context."  
I didn't find it hard! Clark is the one who made me see that the furniture must have been a gift to the White House and not personally to the Clintons. She said it must have been solicited. The only way it's "hyperbolic" to call it stealing is if you expect us to modify language to coddle and insulate politicians. It's not hyperbole to defeat that expectation. It's clear speech — my #1 cause on this blog.

70 comments:

Michael K said...

No doubt this is only the first of thousands of such stories. How many days in 8 years ?

Laslo Spatula said...

Blurred lines. Specters.

The Politics of Penumbras.

Appropriate, from Gatsby:

"Sometimes a shadow moved against a dressing-room blind above, gave way to another shadow, an indefinite procession of shadows, that rouged and powdered in an invisible glass."

I am Laslo.

tcrosse said...

How many law professors can dance on the head of a pin ? Are retired law professors less substantial, so more of them could fit on the pin ?

AprilApple said...

No.

I submit no other president in US history cost tax payers more than Obama.

Good thing he gave Iran, state sponsors of terror, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars.

Molly said...

I had the same reaction. And I have always felt -- through R and D administrations -- that the first family should be off limits. I do wonder if secret service protection for adult children has been expanded. GHW Bush had active adult children (Jeb, W, and others) (and I think Carter Ford Nixon etc. did as well). Did those adult children get SS protection? If not, Was it offered and declined? or never offered? Has Trump made exceptional requests for SS protection of adult children?

I see the answer hidden on the inside part of the story (p A-5 in the print edition). "Immediate family members have for decades been guaranteed tax-payer funded safe guards...."

Then, what does this mean: "Presidents GWBush and Bill Clinton even authorized SS protection for their adult daughters .. after the presidents left office." Do Presidents retain the authority to authorize SS protection even after they leave office? What other authorities are retained? Perhaps the reporter meant "requested and received". But none of this should be the object of condemnation.

Laslo Spatula said...

Wafting from our very own Shadow Government.

I am Laslo.

Jason said...

Speaking as a former reporter, I knew my beat pretty well after a while. If I called an expert source for some insight or quote, I pretty much already had a good idea what they were going to say. I made a real effort to include a variety of perspectives and write a balanced story, regardless of how I felt about any given issue. But was rarely surprised by what anyone I called for a quote told me.

CR said...

Erstwhile is an interesting word. I would appreciate an OED exploration into erstwhile.

Danno said...

We were told that “Secret Service agents were all over the place” at the party, but they managed to blend into the crowd of more than 600 guests.

This sounds pretty hard to believe.

Mark said...

All the people complaining endlessly about Obama playing golf and vacationing are now OUTRAGED! that anyone is looking at Trump through the same lens.

Sad!

Bob Ellison said...

Man, this is like Althouse unleashed. The looking-back book would be good, but the looking-forward book will be better!

Gahrie said...

and "raises the specter" — which doesn't even acknowledge that there's an issue. A "specter" is a ghost.

Wow! That sounds almost as bad as an emanation (abstraction) from a penumbra (the dark, outer regions of a shadow)........

tcrosse said...

All the people complaining endlessly about Obama playing golf and vacationing are now OUTRAGED! that anyone is looking at Trump through the same lens.

Not the same lens. Here the implication is of something illegal, rather than just unseemly.

Birkel said...

Mark:
Newspapers complaining =/= blog commenters complaining

That you pretend to believe they are equivalent: Sad!

Hagar said...

Wafting is such an excellent word when discussing MSM reporting.

The Secret Service is a bureaucracy, and a bureaucracy is a bureaucracy. I doubt Trump has to request SS protection for his family; the SS will insist on it.

In today's world it is not unreasonable with quite high profile individuals publicly calling for exterminating the President and his family - and they are not even Moslems.

rehajm said...

Danno said...
We were told that “Secret Service agents were all over the place” at the party, but they managed to blend into the crowd of more than 600 guests.

This sounds pretty hard to believe.


I thought this at first. Then I recalled the single largest demographic for HBO's Girls is white dudes over 50.

rehajm said...

Trump has taught lefties to worry about money. Still winning!

Breezy said...

So how much did Malia's SS detail cost that evening? Are we going to get that detail for each current or previous family member?

Curious George said...

"AprilApple said...
No.

I submit no other president in US history cost tax payers more than Obama.

Good thing he gave Iran, state sponsors of terror, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars."

it was actually $1.3 billion.

Original Mike said...

"a penumbra (the dark, outer regions of a shadow)........"

Actually, a "penumbra" is the less dark region at the edge of the shadow. "Umbra" is the central, darker region.

With the eclipse coming up, just thought it would be helpful to brush up on our imaging physics.

David said...

I doubt they went through professors at the top 17 law schools before settling on one at #18 Washington. They have a list of reliables who can provide the quotes they want in the form they want.

In this terroristic world the offspring of presidents are lifetime targets. It is one of the many sacrifices that individuals make (and cause their families to make) when they assume the Presidency. The protection afforded these families is very expensive, and completely appropriate.

Laslo Spatula said...

“Edison Daniels, the Reporters’ Favorite Lawyer”

“Mr. Daniels, this is Jay Roberts from the Washington Post.”

“I’ve been expecting your call.”

“You’ve been expecting me to call?”

“Of course. All the reporters call me. I give good quote.”

“Well, I just have a few questions…”

“You need something disparaging Trump? I have a prepared list all ready. Just let me know the subject: Unconstitutional, Mentally Incompetent, Narcissistic, Emanations — just name it.”

“Uh, perfect. What do you think about Trump’s business affairs while being President?”

“Ahh, let me scroll to the ‘Conflicts of Interest’ page. Hah yes — how about this one: “Trump’s obvious conflict of interest between his positions of President and Capitalist Business Leader will harmfully impact Social Justice, affecting Minorities the most in an Unconstitutional manner. The Conflict is a shadow of a lever he will employ to disenfranchise those who are already oppressed.”

“I like it.”

“How about I email it to you? Then you can just cut-and-paste?”

“Wow — you know how to make a reporter’s job simple.”

“You need anything on Gay Rights? I have a lot of quotes for that. Emanations galore.”

“Maybe I’ll get back to you for another article: our Editors are saving that subject for a more opportunistic moment.”

“You know, I had prepared an entire list supporting Hillary’s positions, whatever they might be. All for naught, it seemed.”

“That IS too bad…”

“Then I realized I just needed to change the Hillary references to Elizabeth Warren: worked like a charm.”

“I’ll keep that in mind…”

“Sorry to cut this short, but I am expecting phone call from a reporter from the Washington Post. Don’t worry, though: I’ll give him different quote.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

“You’re welcome. We’re all part of the same team, after all…”

I am Laslo.

David Begley said...

Suppose Eric Trump was kidnapped by a South American drug lord and held for ransom? How much would that cost?

dbp said...

Eric Trump has not been elected to anything and is a private US citizen. Are critics of this cost (for protection) suggesting that he just stay inside his home for the next 4-8 years? No. Okay then, like David above suggests, shall we risk the president's son getting kidnapped?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

When Germany declared War on the USA in December, 1941, FDR ordered removal of the wealthy New York society tycoons then owning and using Jekyll Island, Georgia as their private domain for their families to stay in mansions over the Winter months.

The Commander-in Chief's Order was mandatory. It was done so the Nazis U Boats could not come ashore kidnap their families. Jeckyll Island had no bridge to it from the Mainland. Ships came and went directly from New York. Theodore Roosevelt's family for one had a big Mansion there at the time. You could say FDR interned them too.

Kevin said...

"But was rarely surprised by what anyone I called for a quote told me."

Which is why the lazier reporters just started making up "fake but accurate" quotes and sources to save time.

They have lives, you know.

MathMom said...

Only $97,000? Sounds like a bargain compared to what we just ushered out the door.

Michael said...

Obama and family reportedly cost us $85 million in vacation expenses.

Roger Sweeny said...

clear speech — my #1 cause on this blog.

Which is why I like it so much, and why it stands out on the Web. Well, that and your thinking and writing skill.

Amadeus 48 said...

Think of all the public dough wasted on eight years of Obama and Biden non-stop partisan political fund raising. These WAPO types really do think their readers are stupid.

David Begley said...

Glad to know that clear speech is the number one cause of the Althouse blog. I guess I knew that but it is good to see it stated as such.

khesanh0802 said...

@AnnAlthouse Clearly not every law professor is as committed to "cruel neutrality" as you are. Most of them seem to be bought and sold quite easily.

Fritz said...

I get the Post daily, but it's almost impossible to read anymore. It's just one anti-Trump screed after another.

wildswan said...

Like the way you nailed the different quotes from the same law professor on the same situation. It's like "Real News - True but Accurate".

Also like the term "wafting". The Wafty Post. The New York Time to Waft.

Ray said...

Did't Obama fly the dog, to join the family once? How about when Michelle and the kids took a different plane to Hawaii, on the same day?

readering said...

I thought the children of ex presidents lost secret service protection at 16. And doubt adult children of presidents had protection before 9-11. But it would certainly be a national headache if Eric Trump got offed in South America or Malia Obama got kidnapped in NYC. So prudent.

HT said...

“The phrase fake news is like a loaded gun that kelly ann plucked out of reporters hands and pointed at their heads and she was doing it beautifully until a poorly coiffed water buffalo blundered in and fucked up her game. Jesus Donald, have you learned nothing from kelly ann: smile, take the question, don’t answer it, complain about Hillary Clinton, it’s not a difficult formula!”

steve uhr said...

If President Trump had put his assets in a blind trust to remove actual and potential conflicts of interest, then Eric and Don Jr. would not be traveling all over the world re the family hotel/resort businesses. So these costs are directly attributable to President Trump's unethical conduct.

Charlie Eklund said...

AprilApple said...

I submit no other president in US history cost tax payers more than Obama.

Good thing he gave Iran, state sponsors of terror, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars.


Or maybe it was $1.3 billion, as Curious George notes. Whatever the total, it was delivered to the state sponsors of terror in cash.



In CASH.

Fascinating.

Jum said...

Ah, those watchdogs at the WaPo! This article is sure to bring the paper additional laurels for its historic interest in the costs of first-family travel. True, ordinarily the WaPo hasn't touched the cost of Secret Service protection, as it does in this story about Eric Trump. But we think this signals a new get-tough attitude at The Post.

Indeed, this story about the cost of Secret Service protection for a Trump family member is reminiscent of the recent series of blockbuster reports the WaPo did on the grotesque exorbitance of the Obama family vacations, whiuch cost us over $85 million in 8 years. The Post was particularly rigorous in holding the Obamas up to the light regarding their last Hawaiian Roman orgy, which cost taxpayers some $4.8 Million, or right at 50 times what Eric Trump's trip cost. 50x. Wow. There's surely a Pulitzer coming for that expose', boys and girls of WaPO!

Yes, we owe the WaPo a great deal of thanks for being such watchdogs of the treasury, as well as for being so even-handed, so objecti...what?......Huh?.......What do you mean "didn't"?........Nothing?!......They didn't do one story on the costs of the Obama family?......Not even the vacations?.......But.....but......how can they even pretend to be objective and unbiased to Trump if they pull this kind of stuff?......Don't they even care that this kind of naked partisanship will make the public simply detest them even more?......Well?.......Hello?.........

Amadeus 48 said...

Charlie Ecklund- it's called "walking around money". The Dems have doing it in the inner cities on election day for years. Obama just thought that the way you buy co-operation is to hand out some cash--in this case, to the Iranians.
To quote a great American "They (the Iranians) are not behaving."

Phunctor said...

"These WAPO types really do think their readers are stupid."

Well, they are WAPO readers...


Freder Frederson said...

Good thing he gave Iran, state sponsors of terror, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars.

Talk about fake news. The money belonged to Iran. It had been frozen since the Revolution. It was an upfront payments for U.S. goods (mostly weapons) that were never delivered.

Mike Sylwester said...

Were there equivalent headlines for what taxpayers paid when members of Obama's family traveled to do things that were not the work of government — vacations, career-boosting internships, political fundraisers and rallies?

Everyone who read the article -- even Democrats -- asked themselves the same question.

Trumpit said...

Sickening American socialism for billionaires. Rich people like the Trumps can afford to pay for their own protection, and should. They should not need a change in the law to do the right thing. These Trumps have been living off the public trough for far too long. I'm tired of paying with my tax dollars for Bush's wars & lies about WMD, or Trump's upcoming tax cuts for the wealthy.

Eric, write the government a check for $97,830 right away!

P.S. Trump's cabinet picks are the worst in U.S. history. Bad hombres and a few bad mujeres (women). The H is Spanish is silent, and the J is pronounced like an H.

hombre said...

The morons at the post imply that this is illegitimate because Eric was on a trip for Trump businesses. Evidently, they think the bill would have been less if he was traveling for, say, the Clinton Foundation or a Hawaiian vacation.

Chuck said...

Yes, of course there were equivalent headlines for the Obama years. Google a likely Obama headline, and you will find hundreds of stories, from all the usual right wing suspects. The Washington Times, Laura Ingraham's "Lifezette", Judicial Watch, etc., etc.

How much it cost for the Obamas' Hawaii trips, money spent on Air Force One when Obama did personal or fundraising, special focus on a ski trip to Aspen taken by Michelle Obama and their two girls.

You get the idea. Is anybody's memory that short? We've just finished years of these stories.

Is the question about whether it is "equivalent" if the Washtington Times does the anti-Obama expense stories, and the Washington Post does the anti-Trump expense stories? Maybe that is a discussion worth having.

Then there was this:

AprilApple said...
No.
I submit no other president in US history cost tax payers more than Obama.
Good thing he gave Iran, state sponsors of terror, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars.


Obama didn't give Iran "millions of our tax dollars." The Iran deal allowed Iran to access billions, not millions, of its own money that was held in U.S. accounts and which had been embargoed by the U.S. government. It was Iran's own money. Held by us under the sanctions regime. Not U.S. taxpayer money.

I'm reminded of Trump's statement about the Iran nuclear deal, to the effect of "We gave them $150 billion and got nothing in return." One expert said of that Trump pronouncement, "He got the name of the country right. After that, everything he said was wrong."


SDN said...

"If President Trump had put his assets in a blind trust to remove actual and potential conflicts of interest, then Eric and Don Jr. would not be traveling all over the world re the family hotel/resort businesses. So these costs are directly attributable to President Trump's unethical conduct."

So they wouldn't be his children? And targets for domestic enemies like you as well as your foreign AQ buds?

ESAD.

Owen said...

Freder: "Talk about fake news. The money belonged to Iran. It had been frozen since the Revolution. It was an upfront payments for U.S. goods (mostly weapons) that were never delivered." Yes, the money "belonged" to "Iran." But it "belonged" subject to senior claims for far, far more in damages and reparations and offsets by any number of litigants and victims. So it "belonged" to them in the same way that a terminal bankrupt can claim that it still owns something.

Further, "Iran" is no longer the entity that paid that money and could legitimately seek its return. That was the Shah's Iran, violently supplanted by a violent theocracy that has sworn undying enmity to us and our interests, has killed our people, continues to sponsor terror, is working hard to create WMD, and is generally not a model citizen in your Brave New World.

So, a little more complicated than your comment might suggest.

steve uhr said...

SDN -- You are accusing me of plotting to kill Trump's kids? A typical comment from the fascist commentators on this site. Sad.

Michael said...

Chuck

There is a difference between reporting a vacation in Aspen and reporting a vacation in Aspen that costs $2M in air, hotel, security and other costs.

See?

Chuck said...

Michael said...
Chuck
There is a difference between reporting a vacation in Aspen and reporting a vacation in Aspen that costs $2M in air, hotel, security and other costs.
See?

No, I don't "see."

What I was talking about, was the right-wing press doing critical reporting about Obama family travel expenses.

http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-new-obama-travel-costs-bring-eight-year-total-96-million/

Charlie Martin said...

erstwhile law professor

Erstwhile? When did that happen?

Michael K said...

Steve, you are getting a bit hysterical. Your argument about a "blind trust," as impossible as that would be, made no sense.

steve uhr said...

Micheal K -- A blind trust would be impossible -- care to explain? Assets are sold, proceeds go into trust and Trump doesn't know how they are invested. Oh but he may lose some $ if that happens ... sucks when you are President.

I'm sure you were apoplectic about conflicts re the Clinton Foundation. How about a little consistency?

Ann Althouse said...

"Speaking as a former reporter, I knew my beat pretty well after a while. If I called an expert source for some insight or quote, I pretty much already had a good idea what they were going to say. I made a real effort to include a variety of perspectives and write a balanced story, regardless of how I felt about any given issue. But was rarely surprised by what anyone I called for a quote told me."

Speaking as a lawprof who used to take calls from reporters, I eventually figured out that the reporter always had the idea of what I was going to say and would keep talking one way or another at me to try to get me to say it. When I realized that all my effort explaining things in a service-oriented way was wasted and the only quote that was used was the thing I could see, in retrospect, the reporter was taking up my time trying to get me to say, I stopped taking calls — to save time and to protect myself from distortion and exploitation.

cubanbob said...

Chuck what are you bitching about? At least for now the Trump kids are far more economical to the taxpayers than the Obama kids.

Steve while you rant about about Trumps finances, maybe you can explain how a guy like Obama who never earned $400,000 before he was president can somehow afford to acquire a vacation home in Hawaii, a multimillion dollar home in CA and rent a $5.mm home in DC, making these deals while president?

cubanbob said...

steve uhr said...
Micheal K -- A blind trust would be impossible -- care to explain? Assets are sold, proceeds go into trust and Trump doesn't know how they are invested. Oh but he may lose some $ if that happens ... sucks when you are President.

I'm sure you were apoplectic about conflicts re the Clinton Foundation. How about a little consistency?"

There is a difference between investing one's personal money and bribery. Apparently you are unable to see the distinction.

Darrell said...

In December, some Canadian group said that the Obama family vacations cost the US taxpayers $1.5 billion. That amount was the fully burdened cost, including payments to local law enforcement. I can't find the at Google--it must have fallen down a memory hole, but this one uses the same figure.

http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/us-taxpayers-spent-1-4-billion-on-obamas-vacations-and-perks/

Owen said...

Professor A: great comment on how the press operates. I was burned that way: selective quotation. Those of us who want to explain thingsand share our understanding are probably particularly vulnerable to such manipulation: we rattle on unaware of how we are being steered into saying things that can be taken out of context. Reporters are generally not your friend...

Chuck said...

cubanbob said...
Chuck what are you bitching about? At least for now the Trump kids are far more economical to the taxpayers than the Obama kids.


I didn't think I was bitching about anything. I am in the non-bitching camp. I didn't bitch about the Obama family security expenses, and I am not bitching about the Trump family security expenses.

How do you know that "the Trump kids are far more economical to the taxpayers than the Obama kids"? It's not a metric that I am aware of, and it's not even one that I care about. Anyway, it's your assertion; you back it up. Prove to us which family is "more economical to the taxpayers." My guess it that the Trump family expenses far exceed the Obama family expenses. For obvious reasons. The Obama family didn't require a midtown Manhattan luxury apartment building to be secured. The Obama family consisted of five people. The Trump family is something like 17 people. It's not even a fair comparison on that level. I'm confident that the Trumps cost us a lot more. But again, this little dispute wasn't even my idea.

Swen said...

One wonders where the Secret Service was when that wanker harassed Ivanka and Jered on the plane...

Gojuplye said...

When was SS moved to DHS? They used to be in Treasury as a subset of FBI.

TTB said...

Please correct me if I'm off base here: If Steve Mittman from New York said he thought he was donating to the White House itself, Mr. Mittman likely took a $19,000+ tax deduction for it in 1993. If so, he may have a letter of thanks from the White House documenting that donation.

If he did take the tax deduction without any documentation, the IRS might have a chat with Mr. Mittman for taking a deduction for a personal gift, and if he does have such a document, the FBI should have a chat with the Clintons for appropriating government property. One way or another, it looks to me like someone may have broken a law. Surprising when considering the Clintons, of course, but possibly the case.

Mike said...

There were US citizens who had legitimate claims on that erstwhile Iranian bank account. That is one of the reasons Obama's shifty deal was so aggravating: once more he put kowtowing to the mullahs above his own country's citizens.

And for what? To make Valerie Jarrett's people happy?

Leave it to Chuck to defend "Iran's cash" when competing claims are on the line.

Captain Curt said...

readering: You say, "[I]doubt adult children of presidents had protection before 9-11."

It started well before that. Michael Reagan talked at length about the headache of having Secret Service protection when his father was president. He had a great story about going to a Mexican restaurant near my house in LA that only had valet parking. His Secret Service detachment could not get through to the valet staff that they needed to park the car themselves (there were weapons inside). Finally, they showed their badges, and the entire valet staff fled, yelling "Immigracion! Immigracion!"

Nate Whilk said...

Ann Althouse, 2/4/17, 12:11 PM

Oh, that's a keeper!

After realizing that, what was your opinion of quotes from experts in unrelated fields? Be careful. It's a trick question.

Craig Howard said...

All the people complaining endlessly about Obama playing golf and vacationing are now OUTRAGED! that anyone is looking at Trump through the same lens.

I don't remember many complaints about Secret Service protection for Obama's vacations. It was usually about the millions spent for jet fuel and Michelin-rated accommodations.

Chuck said...

Mike said...
...
...
Leave it to Chuck to defend "Iran's cash" when competing claims are on the line.


That's not what I wrote, and that's not my position.

I wrote, to correct the falsehood that Iran was taking millions of American "taxpayer" dollars. That's all.

I realize that U.S.-based plaintiffs have a claim on some of the money, and I offered no opinion on that. In fact, I think that the Obama Administration played fast and loose with how the money was released. China even has a claim on a large portion of the held/embargoed funds. Again, I understand that.

I was in no way defending Iran.

So there. Be more careful, if you want to critricize me.