Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cruising the Web

The NYT has this entertaining interactive look at which of the GOP candidates would be in or out of the August 6 debate. While a lot of people have complained about the idea of taking only the top 10 in the polls for the Fox debate, but it's added a bit of interest for what might otherwise be a nothingburger of an event. What Kevin Quealy and Amanda Cox point out in their NYT story is that, given the problems with political polling these days, there is quite a deal of chance involved in determining who gets in and who doesn't. What about the margin of error? What about rounding? Their interactive allows us to check out who might not make it if the mragin of error went the other way.

Bret Stephens explains how the rationale for the Iran deal has already collapsed.
The Iran deal is supposed to prevent a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East. So what better way to get that ball of hopefulness rolling than by arming our regional allies to the teeth?

“The U.S. is specifically looking at ways to expedite arms transfers to Arab states in the Persian Gulf and is accelerating plans for them to develop an integrated regional ballistic missile defense capability,” the Journal’s Carol Lee and Gordon Lubold reported Monday. The goal, they add, is to prevent the Saudis “from trying to match Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.”

Let’s follow this logic. If the Iran deal is as fail-safe as President Obama claims, why not prove it by giving the Saudis exactly the same nuclear rights that Iran is now to enjoy? Why race to prevent an ally from developing a capability we have just ceded to an enemy? What’s the point of providing the Saudis with defense capabilities they presumably don’t need?

A hypochondriac convinced he has cancer isn’t usually offered a course of chemotherapy. What we have here is ObamaCare for Arabia.

The deal is also supposed to preserve the options of a future U.S. president in the event that Iran should go for a bomb. On this point, the president is explicit. “If, in a worst-case scenario, Iran violates the deal,” he said last week, “the same options that are available to me today will be available to any U.S. president in the future.”

Here the claim is false by the president’s own admission. The promise of the deal is that it is supposed to give the world at least a year’s notice that Iran is seeking a bomb. But once the terms of the deal expire, so does the notice period. “At that point,” Mr. Obama acknowledged to NPR’s Steve Inskeep, “the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.” That’s not true today.

On Thursday, Moscow confirmed that it will proceed with the sale to Iran of its state-of-the-art S-300 surface-to-air missile system, notwithstanding the deal’s supposed five-year arms embargo on Iran and over no objections from the White House. The sale means that a future president ordering airstrikes against Iran would do so against an adversary that can shoot American planes out of the skies. That’s also not true today.

Eli Lake outlines the parts of the Iran deal where the U.S. caved in to Iran.
But if you compare the deal today with what was described in a White House fact sheet on the "framework" reached in April it shows that the West ceded a lot of ground to Iran in those final days in Vienna....

For example, in April the White House touted that, "Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel." Yet the new pact will allow Iran to reprocess such fuel after 15 years. The final agreement says Iran can begin production of efficient advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium in eight years. The April fact sheet strongly implied research into advanced centrifuges would be delayed for 10 years.

Senior administration officials in April said the nuclear agreement would allow inspectors "anytime, anywhere" access to suspected nuclear sites, but the new deal will give Iran 24 days' notice of any inspections, as well as a say in whether inspectors will be able to visit certain sites at all. The U.S. also agreed in the final days of talks to lift a U.N. conventional weapons embargo on Iran in five years, and to end sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program in eight, both issues on which the framework deal is silent.

More concerns arise from the "road map" that the International Atomic Energy Agency released Tuesday, on how it will resolve longstanding questions about the history of Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon. First, the description of how it plans to do so is dangerously vague. Equally important: Until May, the U.S. position was that Iran had to come clean about that history before there would be any sanctions relief. Now that issue has been shunted aside in terms of lifting sanctions.

While it's true that the April deal was only a framework, and that some changes should have been expected, all these concessions taken together represent a retreat by the U.S. team since the spring. "The fact sheet allowed just enough wiggle room to give the impression that nothing had been conceded in Lausanne," Valerie Lincy, the executive director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, told me. "But when I read the agreement, it's clear there are things that have been conceded in terms of the details on advanced centrifuges, reprocessing of plutonium and the inspections."
And the list goes on and on.

And of course, our partner in peace, Iran asserts that they will continue to support their terrorist allies. Why should they stop? There clearly will be no penalty for doing so. And Obama and his European counterparts have just insured that they'll have over $100 billion to spread among their terrorist pals.

And Khamenei isn't showing the U.S. any love.
According to reports, the podium where Khamenei spoke on Friday featured the Persian-language message reading, “We will trample upon America,” with the English phrase “We Defeat the United States” below it.

“Our policy toward the arrogant U.S. government won’t change at all,” Khamenei said in the speech, which marked the end of the Ramadan holiday. “We have no negotiations with America about various global and regional issues. We have no negotiations on bilateral issues.”
John Kerry finds this "disturbing," and doesn't "know how to interpret it at this point in time," but he's hoping that this was just red meat for public consumption. What Kerry misses, apparently, is that there is no incentive for Khamenei to change his

Fred Barnes looks to successful 2014 GOP Senate campaigns to look for hints how Republicans can do better among Hispanics.
When Cory Gardner was persuaded by national Republican leaders to run for the Senate in Colorado against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, he was a latecomer to the race. Mr. Gardner was a one-term House member and the 2014 midterm election was eight months away. And it was soon discovered from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll that Mr. Gardner had a problem: Colorado’s population is 22% Hispanic and the poll found that Mr. Gardner was supported by only 11% of Hispanic voters, a dismal showing.

Mr. Gardner says he was “unknown to the Hispanic community” yet determined to increase his visibility. He appeared at Hispanic events. He was respectful of Hispanic values and sympathetic with difficulties facing Hispanic families. He advertised on Spanish-language radio and TV. Jeb Bush cut a TV spot for him in Spanish, Marco Rubio one in English. Mr. Gardner advocated immigration reform that included beefed-up border security and a guest-worker program.

There were important things Mr. Gardner didn’t do. He didn’t call for a special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Nor did he identify himself with liberal positions, such as broader spending and welfare policies, that Hispanics supposedly favor.

His support soared among Hispanics. Exit poll data for Hispanics on election day is not available, but in an Oct. 26 NBC/Marist Poll, he was favored by 44% of Hispanics to Mr. Udall’s 48%. In an Oct. 30 Denver Post/SurveyUSA poll, Mr. Gardner trailed Mr. Udall among Hispanics by only three points, 43% to 46%. And he did well in two of Colorado’s most heavily Hispanic counties, with 45% of the overall vote in Pueblo and 44% in Adams. By any reckoning, this was a remarkable achievement by Mr. Gardner and a shock to Democrats.
Well, of course Udall was an exceptionally bad candidate who spent his time concentrating on women's issues. And the electorate during a presidential year is going to be quite different from the electorate during a midterm election. But Barnes is right that there are models out there that Republicans can follow to appeal to Hispanics without sacrificing conservative ideals.

Michael Mohnihan writes in Politico how the sensitivities of today's tender flowers in universities is slowing eating away at the western canon of literature as these moral weaklings demand trigger warnings before they can read something that may remind them of something unpleasant.
So what exactly is a trigger warning? Precisely that: a label on a work of literature, history, and memoir, designed to forewarn students that what they are about to read might upset them or “trigger” an episode of PTSD. The warning allows psychologically damaged readers to opt out of an assignment, or at least steady a nervous hand while turning pages of a triggering book. One particularly silly American college gave an example of how professors might warn readers that Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s celebrated postcolonial novel “Things Fall Apart” could send them into spirals of despair, explaining that “it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.”...

Last year, multiple Columbia students objected to the inclusion of Ovid’s 1st century lyric poem “Metamorphoses” in a class devoted to classic Western literature, with one tallying that it contains “roughly 80 instances of assault.” All of them triggering. Indeed, even this tally is an underestimate, she explained, having “treated many of the instances of mass rape on the syllabus as a single data point for simplicity.”

Lest you think this is something promoted by silly students but resisted by clever professors, Columbia University last week conceded the point: “Metamorphoses,” that classic of Western literature, has been purged. No trigger warnings, sure, but no more Ovid.

In its place, Columbia has selected Toni Morrison’s 1977 novel “Song Of Solomon,” which has frequently been the target of bans in the United States by prissy, anti-intellectual religious types, adding a touch of diversity to the Great Books canon. But Morrison’s more famous novel “Beloved” was not chosen, probably because it’s full of vivid scenes of rape and racism that could be “problematic” for some students.
I'm glad that 10th graders at my school can read "Things Fall Apart" without having to have a trigger warning. But somehow the adults in college are too sensitive to read such literature. There is hardly a work of great literature that doesn't have something controversial or disturbing about it. That's what literature explores. My background is in studying Russian literature and I can't think of any work that doesn't include something disturbing. Murder, patricide, suicide, serfdom, adultery, epilepsy, terrorism, nihilism. The list goes on and on. Are university professors truly going to allow these idiot students have the power to censor their syllabi?

Jonah Goldberg muses about Hillary Clinton's talent for lying.
But Mr. [Carl] Bernstein is right about one thing: Hillary is a specialist at lying. And that's a problem for her. Her husband was — and is — a prodigy at deceit, a renaissance man of lying. If football were a game of lies, he could play every position on offense and defense.

Mrs. Clinton, alas, is more like a veteran coach — she's adept at telling others how to lie on her behalf. But she's not a natural liar herself, and it shows. At a time when the Democratic base craves authenticity (hence the mobs at Bernie Sanders rallies), Ms. Clinton seems utterly fabricated (hence her inability to get a capacity crowd at her announcement speech last month in New York City). Her best hope now would be to stop pandering to Mr. Sanders' fans and instead explain where she and Mr. Sanders differ on policy. But that would require a level of political authenticity she's forgotten how to fake convincingly.

Byron York has some words to buck up Republicans fed up with their party.

I wasn't thrilled to have John Kasich in the race anyway, but this can't help him.
For the second segment of his July 22 Hardball program, MSNBC's Chris Matthews took a brief break from his priority on Trump-bashing to effusively praise the latest GOP presidential primary entrant, Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), whom he once fantasized on air as accepting a vice presidential nomination from Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"He's got a good story to tell, and he could give Jeb Bush a real fight, believe it or not. Watch this guy, he's for real," Matthews effused in a tease to the segment about Kasich's announcement speech.

"This is a great moment," Matthews gushed to correspondent Kasie Hunt, who appeared via satellite from Columbus, Ohio. "I think it was a very positive speech at a time when there's a lot of negativity out there."

Moments later, Matthews added that he loved how Kasich failed to "give them red meat" nor "blast Obama" in his campaign kick-off but instead spoke a lot about his "personal story" and his extended family:

It was great story time. It sounds like my family, to some extent, but, it was so to me American and positive. That's what I liked about it.

But Matthews doesn't simply like Kasich because of his speaking style, his aw-shucks attitude, nor his penchant for storytelling. In a brief follow-up segment, Matthews laid it out pretty plainly in a comment to former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

"People like me tend to like this guy. That's probably why people like you don't,"