Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cruising the Web

Philip Klein lists six notable U.S. concessions in the Iran deal. Any one of them would be appalling. The contrast between what the administration was saying just a couple of years ago and what was finally concluded is stark. The administration used to say that Iran would have to completely suspend uranium enrichment. Not so much today.
Obama, in touting Tuesday's deal, boasted "Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges." But two-thirds of centrifuges is equivalent to 6,000 — or roughly four times more than what was just months ago seen as the ceiling. Furthermore, the "removed" centrifuges won't be dismantled, they will merely be stored.
Iran gets to preserve their underground fortified nuclear bunker. They get to buy arms in five years and ballistic missiles in eight years. They will have access to their frozen assets so that they will be even better able to fund terrorists.
Within six months to a year, Iran will have access to $100 billion to $150 billion in unfrozen assets due to the unwinding of sanctions, a total that doesn't include the economic windfall to come once international firms begin doing business in Iran. As a leading sponsor of terrorism according to the State Department, Iran would thus have more money available to distribute to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.

Initially, the Obama administration argued that all of the sanctions being lifted would exclusively have to do with the nuclear program – this was their way of justifying why they didn't make Iranian sponsorship of terrorism or human rights violations a part of any deal. On Apr. 2, the White House press release outlining the parameters of the deal said, "U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal." But the final deal provides much broader sanctions relief to Iranian financial institutions and individuals. The deal even unwinds sanctions against Qasem Soleiman, commander of the Quds Force, which has provided aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, and killed American soldiers in Iraq.
And don't believe the President's claims that the sanctions can be snapped back if Iran violates the deal. As if China and Russia will sign on ever again to such sanctions.

And the claim that the world will be able to inspect Iran's facilities is bogus.
Though inspectors would have access to Iranian facilities, they would not have "anytime, anywhere" inspections. Instead, the inspections must be done in consultation with Iran, and the agreement provides various ways for Iran to delay inspections for up to 24 days – meaning they'd have plenty of time to hide any nuclear work.

Another terrible aspect of the Iran deal is that Kerry and Obama failed to do enough to achieve freedom for Americans being held prisoner in Iran. Kerry says that he pressed for their release and will continue to do so. Really? Kerry's leverage was so weak with Iran that he couldn't even get them to give up the four Americans they're holding?

David French reminds us about our partners in peace.
I wanted to highlight this report, by Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp and Major (ret.) Chris Driver-Williams, that comprehensively outlines Iran’s acts of war against the United States. Some lowlights:
Iranian military action, often working through proxies using terrorist tactics, has led to the deaths of well over a thousand American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade and a half.

Throughout the course of the Iraq campaign, a variety of weapons flowed into the country through direct purchases by the government of Iran. These included Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs), a shaped charge designed to penetrate armor. These weapons – often camouflaged as rocks – were identical to those employed by Hizbullah against Israeli forces. In 2006, the British Telegraph revealed that three Iranian factories were “mass producing” the roadside EFP bombs used to kill soldiers in Iraq . . .

Iran paid Taliban fighters $1,000 for each U.S. soldier they killed in Afghanistan. The Sunday Times reported that a Taliban operative received $18,000 from an Iranian firm in Kabul as reward for an attack in 2010 that killed several Afghan government troops and destroyed an American armored vehicle.
This is why David French calls this deal a stimulus package for jihadists.
Make no mistake, the current Iranian regime has been waging a nearly continual, low-intensity military conflict with the United States since 1979, when it seized the American embassy in Tehran and held more than 50 Americans hostage for 444 days. Since then it has engineered terror attacks in Beirut and Saudi Arabia that killed hundreds of Americans, engaged in open hostilities against American warships in the Persian Gulf, and planned and directed deadly attacks on American troops in Iraq. Its unstinting support for the Afghan Taliban continues unabated to this very day.

By every conventional concept of international law, these aggressive, deadly acts have created a state of war between the United States and Iran, a war in which the American response has been minimal and ineffectual. So Iran just keeps pushing the envelope. It currently holds a number of American citizens as de-facto hostages, including an American pastor — Saeed Abedini — held only because of his Christian faith. Abedini has reportedly suffered severe abuse in prison, including beatings so harsh they caused him chronic internal bleeding.

Against this backdrop, the Obama administration has reached a deal that will directly enrich Iran with billions of dollars in new economic activity, and, worse still, will gradually ease the international arms embargo the country faces. All in exchange for a series of promises that even if kept will only slow — as opposed to stopping — Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The world’s most prolific terror-exporting nation keeps its nuclear program, maintains its support for anti-American jihadists, receives the mother of all economic-stimulus packages, and gains access to the international arms market. What’s not to love?

And somehow Obama is so deluded that he thinks that this deal will lead to a true friendship between Iran and the United States. Yeah, that's going to happen.

So what are Democrats saying about the deal? They're lying about what is in it.
We now know how the Obama administration and its friends will sell the deal with Iran: lie.

Here’s Represenative Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia, telling MSNBC why he’ll vote for the Iran deal: “Thanks to the Obama administration’s negotiations, Iran’s nuclear program will be under lock, key and camera 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The eyes of the international community are on every centrifuge, every ounce of uranium, in all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Completely false: “UN inspectors can demand access to nuclear facilities on Iran military sites, but they aren’t immediate or even guaranteed. Any inspections at those sites would need to be approved by a joint commission composed of one member from each of the negotiating parties. The process for approving those inspections could take as many as 24 days.”

There have been a lot of depressing lies from this administration and its friends — “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” “I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team“; “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” – but the fact that the administration and its allies will lie to the public about an issue as important as Iran’s nuclear program is thoroughly dispiriting.

It’s almost as dispiriting as the administration’s blind faith that this deal, which allows Iranian nuclear research to continue, won’t set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and make a future nuclear conflict much, much more likely.

For those who think that Donald Trump is honestly speaking his mind on illegal immigration should pay attention to what else he's said. He's just as much a flip-flopper as Hillary Clinton.
Thus it is worth noting that, after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, Donald Trump told the website Newsmax that Republicans would continue to lose elections if they came across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming to people of color. Democrats were kind toward illegal immigrants, Trump said, whereas Romney “had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal. It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote. He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.” He added that the GOP needs a comprehensive solution to “this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful, productive citizens of this country.”

These discordant statements praising and savaging immigrants are not entirely unlike one another—they’re both framed as bold efforts to tell it like it is. Donald Trump is a master at that affectation. He seems as if he is fearlessly stating his core convictions, consequences be damned, even when he is being a shameless poseur.
Trump is willing to exacerbate feelings against immigrants, legal or otherwise, in this country just so he can get more publicity and perhaps climb in the polls. That is atrocious.

I'm with Mona Charen on Trump.
While I like a good brawl as much as the next person, it seems that Trump is the answer only if the question is: Why can’t we get more oafish egomaniacs into politics? Just when the Republican party needs finesse and sensitivity when discussing immigration; just when it needs to focus on issues that unite all sectors of the electorate, including Hispanic and Asian voters; it gets a blowhard with all the nuance of a grenade.

Trump’s smear about Mexican immigrants was about as far away as you can get from Ronald Reagan’s “Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it.” He tarred most Mexican immigrants as drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, allowing only as an afterthought that some may be good people. He claimed to have discussed the matter with border guards. (Would those officers please step forward?) In any case, crude and vulgar people always preen that they are brave truth tellers.

Trump has achieved his objective — making himself the center of attention — but he has subtracted from our sum total of knowledge about the immigration issue. According to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Immigration Policy Center, only 1.6 percent of immigrant males between the ages of 18 and 39 are incarcerated, compared with 3.3 percent of the native-born. There are terrible stories of immigrants committing crimes, and it’s certainly fair to demand that criminal aliens be deported with dispatch. Sanctuary cities are a disgrace. But just as Dylann Roof doesn’t represent white people, Mexican rapists don’t represent anyone other than themselves either.

When you hear members of the Obama administration saying that they're determined to provide the best health care for our nation's veterans, remember this.
According to a leaked internal document from the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly one-third of veterans awaiting healthcare coverage at the VA have already died.

The April 2015 report, leaked to the Huffington Post by VA whistleblower Scott Davis, indicates that 238,657 of the 847,882 veterans waiting to be enrolled in VA healthcare are already dead, suggesting that over 28 percent of veterans applying for health coverage perished while waiting for it.

Stephen Moore analyzes how the weak economies of European states prove that socialism has been a failure. Keynesianism has not worked.
But the last decade could be described as the comeback of socialism. In response to the financial crisis, nations foolheartedly turned to central governments to steer them out of crisis. Government debt, spending and regulatory activity soared all across Europe and in the United States. The Keynesian model that government welfare spending as a "stimulus" came storming back in vogue — nowhere more so than in the United States.

Many countries, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France — as well as the United States — experimented with quasi-socialist governments. Now the bitter price is being paid.

This more than anything else explains why the world is twisting in financial turmoil in recent weeks. Not just Greece, but at least a half a dozen nations appear to be on the verge of bankruptcy because they can't afford the social welfare states they have, and the bills are coming due. The socialists are getting hammered.

Meanwhile, China's government is responding to a manufactured stock market bubble with more promises of Keynesian monetary and fiscal stimulus — interventions that will work there as well as they have in Japan and the United States.

Wall Street is acting as though more government intervention will calm financial markets, when it is excessive intervention of government that created the crisis in the first place. Greece is socialism on steroids — a place where the government gives a lot of things away for free, few people work, and millions receive government pensions, paychecks or welfare benefits. Fifty percent of young people don't have a job and over half of Greeks retire before age 60. The wagon is full and no one is left to pull it. Now Greece thinks that the Germans or the, EU, the IMF or the United States is going to pay for it all. The crash is coming very soon and the standard of living in Greece will surely plummet. Thank you, socialism.

But there are so many more dominoes that could come crashing down. Almost all of Europe is a financial sink hole. The debts as a share of gross domestic product are 100 percent or more and the public spending as a share of GDP is now just shy of 50 percent.

Pundits on the left such as Paul Krugman can only lamely respond to the European meltdown by arguing that there is "too much austerity" even as debt loads keeps rising every year. The one nation in Europe that didn't use massive Keynesian stimulus, Germany, is the one place where the economy is still functioning.
But somehow that evidence of failure totally eludes liberals who are advocating more of the same.

Such policies that these leftists advocate would only deepen the problems that states are facing with their public pensions of which Chicago is the worst example.
The results are startling. Today, Chicago’s public sector unions are underfunded, according to the City itself, by $26.8 billion. This is just the City of Chicago. When the state debt is added, the total amount of debt owed by each Chicago household to the city and state rise, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, to $61,000. SEC Commissioner Gallagher stated the number is $88,000.

Pension payments to Chicago public union employees have become so high that today all the property taxes paid by the households of Chicago go exclusively to pensions. The operating expenses are paid by additional taxes on things from packs of cigarettes, to gasoline, sales tax, and cable TV bills. Given these facts about how Chicago’s property taxes are used, it’s not surprising that its new Republican governor wants to freeze property taxes to rescue the middle class’s paychecks from Democrats.

Only those who know nothing about economics would be surprised by this conclusion.
Increases in federal student aid appear to lead to higher college tuition costs, according to a new study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Here is an image to rile a delicate stomach: "Hillary Clinton is Bernie Sanders in a pantsuit"

Josh Kraushaar analyzes the election results from Scott Walker's three elections in order to explain why GOP voters shouldn't be so sure that Walker has the appeal he thinks he has in blue states. Kraushaar points out that all of the elections in which Walker won the governorship were off-year elections when the electorate was less Democratic than it might be in a presidential election year.