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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jim Geraghty makes a good catch of how far the Obama administration, specifically Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, has gone beyond its earlier claims. Despite very clear statements back in April that we would require any agreement with Iran to have "anytime, anywhere access" to Iran's nuclear facilities, now Ben Rhodes is claiming that "we never sought anytime/anywhere inspections." I guess that Ben Rhodes would reply that "Dude, this was three years ago!" in order dismiss any interest in his previous statements just as he responded to questions about what happened in Benghazi as "Dude, this was two years ago!"

Geraghty has been keeping a running list of Obama lies.
Think about this. The assurance that they kept pointing to, again and again, to quell critics never really mattered to them.

One of the most insufferable complaints from this president and his fans is the assertion that he’s the target of more hostility and opposition than any previous president -- indicating they have short memories -- and that this is somehow unjust or unfair. When you lie to people, they tend to turn hostile. This happens when you assure people many times, loudly and clearly, that they can keep their plan, and then they can’t. Or that the Benghazi attack was caused by a video. Or that illegal immigrants released have only minor criminal records. Or that Bowe Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”

The modus operandi of this presidency is say whatever you need to say to get what you want, and then forget about it.

Or as I wrote a long time ago, “All Barack Obama Statements Come With an Expiration Date. All of Them.”

Frederick Kagan notes how far Obama was willing to bend over to accommodate the Iranians while simultaneously cutting the U.S. Congress out of the deal with Iran. He reports that "Adoption Day" will come after the approval of a UN Security Council resolution and after the Iranian parliament approves the deal.
At that point Iran commits to apply the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which governs enhanced international inspections. But this commitment is provisional, “pending ratification by the Majlis”—the Iranian parliament. It is again noteworthy that no mention is made of any action to be taken by the U.S. Congress, despite the nod to Iran’s legislature.
Does that really surprise anyone that this administration would show more deference to the Iranian parliament than to the U.S. Congress? Presumably, that is because he knows that the Iranian parliament will rubber stamp any agreement that the leaders approve, but has no such assurance about the American Congress. So better to just ignore them.




So Barack Obama got all huffy with CBS's Major Garrett about how Garrett phrased his question about why the Americans held in Iran weren't part of the deal. Obama's biting response sure made Garrett much more well known than he would have been otherwise. Obama objected to the word "content" in Garrett's question, but Garrett points out that the administration has said previously that they would never be "content" with Americans being held in Iran. Obama had a reasonable response that any attempt to connect those Americans to negotiations would just lead the Iranians to seize more hostages. My objection to that is that, from the very beginning, Obama should have said that we would not negotiate about anything with Iran until those Americans were released. But Obama was so eager for negotiations that he wouldn't let anything stand in their way. Perhaps Iran will now release those Americans just to help Obama out in selling the deal, but don't count on it.

If you weren't depressed enough already, Victor Davis Hanson writes about the four dangerous foreign policy threats facing us today: Putin's Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS. For none of these threats do we seem to have anything near an answer.
If this administration is not careful, by next year it may find ISIS at the gates of Baghdad, Russian forces massing on the border of Estonia, Japan and China shooting at each other over disputed air and sea space, and Iran stockpiling its growing enriched-uranium supplies for a not too distant multi-bomb nuclear rollout. We think the world is growing tense; in fact, it is only the calm before the storm.

David French explains why the Iran deal is worse than just plain stupid; it is dishonorable.
The American people need to clearly understand what their president has done. He’s granting billions of dollars in sanctions relief to a nation that put bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Iran isn’t ending its war against America. It’s still working — every day — to kill Americans, including the Americans Barack Obama leads as commander-in-chief of our armed forces. There is no honor in this agreement. Moreover, there is no honor in leaving innocent Americans behind — to rot in Iranian prisons — so that President Obama can declare peace in his time. Compared to rewarding killers and turning its back on innocent American prisoners, the Obama administration’s lies about the negotiations are a small thing indeed. After all, dishonorable people do dishonorable things.

Every member of Congress should be made to answer this question: Do you believe in rewarding regimes that place bounties on the heads of American soldiers? If so, then tell the American people. But don’t tell them that this agreement brings peace, because no reasonable definition of the term includes Iran’s deadly, 36-year-long terror campaign against America and its allies.
Even more horrifying is that this deal has freed up hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran to use to fund its terrorist activities throughout the Middle East and especially targeted at Israel. But it is more than Israel which will be suffer. Our Arab allies are also targets of Iranian-backed terrorism. How many more people will die because Iran, freed of sanctions, will have so much money at its disposal to kill those it deems enemies. And that includes Americans. Yet Obama persists in believing that this deal can turn Iran into a peaceful member of the world community. It is terrifyingly depressing.

Hey. If it is okay for Iran to now export oil, shouldn't the U.S. have the same freedom?
Under the terms of the agreement reached by the U.S., five world powers and Iran, Iranian oil is likely to be exported within months once sanctions are lifted. Republicans coalesced around the idea that allowing Iran to export crude was unfair when the U.S. won't permit its own producers to do the same.

"If what I understand the lifting of the sanctions will allow for, again, you allow Iran an opportunity in the global oil market that you're denying your U.S. oil producers. I don't think that's right," Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters.

"We will then be the only country that we sanction against oil exports. ... I think it could build some momentum around the fact that we should look at our oil in a very different way," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters.



David Harsanyi notes a NYT article in which Mrs. Clinton tells her advisers that the economy requires "toppling" the top 1%. Think of that verb and what it implies.
It’s established media practice to talk about the GOP as the party that’s lurched to the far right, an ideologically intractable group on a disturbing trajectory that leads to 2008-era tax rates and other forms of fanaticism. But I would love for someone to point out the last time a Democratic-party candidate suggested that government should topple an entire class of Americans for the good of everyone else. Has anyone, including Barack Obama, ever gone that far? Remember that this isn’t just some slip of the tongue; this is Hillary’s camp laying out a fantastical story to an accommodating media outlet — going out of its way to make sure the word “topple” would be specifically mentioned in quotation marks. Also, I’d love to know which economists nodded their heads in agreement as Hillary embraced this harebrained Robert Reich zero-sum economic “toppling” theory.

And shouldn’t the public know more? Seeing as it’s imperative for the political press to find out exactly how a Marco Rubio or Rick Perry — and, no doubt, all prospective Republican presidential candidates — would deal with a theoretical invitation to a gay wedding or what the Republican candidates’ thoughts are on macroevolutionary theory, I imagine the press will be scurrying to find out exactly what Hillary meant by her “toppling” comment.
Just in case you are a devoted follower of the Elizabeth Warren school of economic thought, this is why it would not be a good idea to "topple" the top 1%.
It’s established media practice to talk about the GOP as the party that’s lurched to the far right, an ideologically intractable group on a disturbing trajectory that leads to 2008-era tax rates and other forms of fanaticism. But I would love for someone to point out the last time a Democratic-party candidate suggested that government should topple an entire class of Americans for the good of everyone else. Has anyone, including Barack Obama, ever gone that far? Remember that this isn’t just some slip of the tongue; this is Hillary’s camp laying out a fantastical story to an accommodating media outlet — going out of its way to make sure the word “topple” would be specifically mentioned in quotation marks. Also, I’d love to know which economists nodded their heads in agreement as Hillary embraced this harebrained Robert Reich zero-sum economic “toppling” theory.



Anna Mussmann makes an interesting comparison. She argues that helicopter parents today treat their children as the Victorian age treated women - poor, helpless creatures easily damaged by exposure to the external world.

Aaron Renn in City Journal details the dire economic crisis that Chicago is facing in trying to pay their pensions for city workers and teachers. Was this really what Rahm Emanuel was signing up for when he ran for mayor?
Add it up and Chicago residents face another five to six years of pain just to get into a position where they might begin climbing out of the hole. This surely isn’t where Rahm Emanuel envisioned himself back in 2011. One wonders whether he fully understood the true financial condition of Chicago when he decided to pursue the mayor’s office—or grasped the lack of power even the most autocratic mayors have compared with the president or a governor.

Jeff Greenfield reminds us that we can't extrapolate from polls today what will happen when primary and caucus voters actually get to vote. He gives several historical as well as more recent examples that should serve as cautionary tales.

Just a reminder of what the polls were at similar points in previous elections.
A mid-July 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found Congresswoman Bachmann leading the Republican field with 21 percent support. She would go on to win the August 13 Iowa Straw Poll before her campaign imploded. Bachmann withdrew from the race on Jan. 4, 2012, after placing 6th in the Iowa caucuses.

According to a June 2007 Rasmussen poll, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson held a small lead among Republican presidential aspirants with 28 percent support. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was in second place with 27 percent. A Gallup poll also had Thompson and Giuliani in the top two spots (though in reverse order) in a nomination contest eventually won by Sen. John McCain. The most serious rivals to McCain, by the time of the primaries, were neither of those men, but rather Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

In June 2003, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman outpolled the pack of Democratic hopefuls. Twenty percent of Democrats supported the Connecticut senator and former vice presidential nominee for their party's 2004 presidential nomination. Fifteen percent supported Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt. The eventual nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, garnered 13 percent of the vote.

In August 1991, polls showed that the two top Democratic presidential candidates were New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who would eventually win his party's nomination, was polling at only 5 percent.

In June 1987, Jesse Jackson sat in first place with 18 percent support among Democrats, 7 points ahead of eventual winner Michael Dukakis.
At this point, polls are mostly a combination of name recognition along with the temporary choices of those most passionate about the election. That explains the temporary bumps for candidates such as Michelle Bachmann or Fred Thompson. Then the campaign gets more serious and voters get more serious about their choices.




Jonah Goldberg notes a strange anomaly. We are now at a state in our country where there is zero tolerance for symbols and monuments to the Confederacy, but we're supposed to be all sensitive and understanding about Islamic terrorists.
It would be an improvement if the left could stick to either of its double standards. Personally, I think fellow Americans — even ones who wear Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts — deserve some of the nuance and understanding so many reserve for Islam extremism. But if you're going to take your zero tolerance for symbols of 19th century slavery so seriously, maybe you should show the same myopic zealotry with regard to the forces who are enslaving people right now.
Add in how Islamists treat women and gays. Certainly, this is much more of a pressing problem than Southerners who still treasure symbols of the Confederacy.

Thomas Sowell writes about how ludicrous all these increasing demands to rid our nation of any monument to the Confederacy and its heros are.
Now there are rumblings of demands that statues of Robert E. Lee and other southern leaders be destroyed — and if that is done, it will only lead to new demands, perhaps to destroy the Jefferson Memorial because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. And if that is done, no doubt there will be demands that the city of Washington be renamed, for the same reason.

In short, there is no stopping point, only unending strife as far as the eye can see. And just what will that accomplish? It could ultimately accomplish the killer’s dream of racial polarization and violence.

Neither blacks nor whites will be better off if that happens. With all the very real problems in this society, can we really spare the time and the wasted energy of trying to refight a civil war that ended before our great-grandparents were born?

The past is irrevocable. We cannot change the smallest detail of what some people did to other people after both have gone to their graves.

Meanwhile, the old South has already changed. There is no way that the South of the mid 20th century would have elected a woman of Indian ancestry to be governor of South Carolina or a man of Indian ancestry to be governor of Louisiana, much less have southern states that voted for a black president of the United States.

Perhaps the strongest evidence of the changes is that the black migrations out of the South 100 years ago have now reversed — with younger and better-educated blacks leading the new migrations from the North to the South. When people vote with their feet, that tells us a lot more than any polls.

If the past is out of our hands, what is in our hands today are the present and the future — and both have big challenges. Whatever policies or practices we consider need to be judged by their actual consequences, not by their rhetoric.

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