Adam Kredo writes: The State Department on Monday would not rule out giving Iran up to $50 billion as a so-called “signing bonus” for agreeing to a nuclear deal later this year, according to comments made to journalists following reports that the Obama administration had formulated a plan to release tens of billions of frozen Iranian funds.
“This could be the largest cash infusion to a state sponsor of terrorism in modern history.”
— Jonathan Schanzer, a top terrorism-funding expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Experts have said this multi-billion dollar “signing bonus” option, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could be the largest cash infusion to a terror-backing regime in recent memory.
“They’re getting access to money throughout this period as well. Throughout the extension they’re now getting some sanctions relief, which will continue through June 30.”
— State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf
A cash release of $30 to $50 billion upon reaching a final nuclear agreement would come in addition to the more than $11 billion in unfrozen assets that Iran will already have received under an interim nuclear accord reached in 2013.
When asked to address these reports on Monday, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf attempted to dodge the issue and then accused reporters of getting “spun up” on the issue.
Asked whether Iran could receive $50 billion “on day one after signing” or verbally agreeing to a nuclear deal, Harf told reporters that she would “look into it.”
When pressed to provide an answer about the Journal’s initial report, Harf declined “to go line by line in the story.”
Harf said sanctions relief to Iran will continue through June 30.
“They’re getting access to money throughout this period as well,” she said. “Throughout the extension they’re now getting some sanctions relief, which will continue through June 30.”
Jonathan Schanzer, a top terrorism-funding expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said such a cash release to Iran would enable the regime to continue backing various terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Hillary Surprised ‘Turns Out We Are Not Producing As Many Small Businesses As We Used To’Posted: April 20, 2015
Hillary Clinton admitted today that she was “surprised” to learn that the people who told her small businesses have struggled in recent years were actually correct.
“I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it. Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”
— Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire
Clinton noted that small business creation has “stalled out,” to her chagrin. “I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it,” she said while campaigning in New Hampshire. “Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”
“Small businesses lack the confidence they need to expand and hire new workers, and the President’s looming tax hikes are threatening to destroy another 700,000 jobs.”
— Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul
The struggles of small businesses during President Obama’s administration are hardly a new subject on the campaign trail. Mitt Romney raised the issue throughout the 2012 presidential election.
”At every turn, Hillary Clinton has supported top-down Washington-driven policies that have stacked the deck against small businesses. Hillary Clinton can’t possibly be a champion for everyday Americans when she doesn’t understand their most basic economic concerns and was ‘surprised’ to learn that small businesses are struggling.”
— Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus
“Small businesses lack the confidence they need to expand and hire new workers, and the President’s looming tax hikes are threatening to destroy another 700,000 jobs,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in September of 2012, for instance. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s On: ‘Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich’Posted: April 19, 2015
‘Clinton Cash’ Questions Foreign Donations to Foundation
Amy Chozick reports: The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
[Order Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” from Amazon.com]
The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.
“There is a robust market for books critical of the Clintons. The thinly sourced ‘Blood Feud,’ by Mr. Klein, at one point overtook Mrs. Clinton’s memoir ‘Hard Choices’ on the best-seller list.”
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.
“But whether Mr. Schweizer’s book can deliver the same sales is not clear. He writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources, including tax records and government documents, while leaving little doubt about his view of the Clintons.”
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book. Read the rest of this entry »
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: Godzilla is playing a leading role again — this time as a tourist attraction in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, where the monster is working to resurrect the area’s reputation as a film hub.
“The 12-meter-high Godzilla head is a centerpiece of the building. The sculpture is installed 52 meters above ground level — matching the height of the original monster that appeared in the first film in 1954.”
The 30-story Shinjuku Toho building opened Friday in Kabukicho on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater. Thanks to the installation of a colossal sculpture of Godzilla’s head, the monster himself appears to be hovering over a terrace on the eighth floor. The new building houses a fancy movie theater and a hotel with rooms from which Godzilla can be observed close-up.
Kabukicho shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new building to help reinvigorate the district as a center for cinema lovers. “We’ll do our best to make Kabukicho a safe, secure place,” said Mototsugu Katagiri, the 66-year-old head of the district’s commerce association, at a dedication ceremony Thursday.
Kabukicho was formerly home to more than a dozen movie theaters, but that number has dwindled as fewer people have been going to the cinema. Shinjuku Milano Theater was shuttered at the end of last year, leaving the district without a single movie house.
The Shinjuku Toho building was constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater, which closed in 2008. The new facility features a hotel and a movie complex.
With 12 screens and 2,347 seats, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku occupies the third to sixth floors. The theater features deluxe seats equipped with marble tray tables and power recliners. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer, Special Report, 4-16-2015
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Watch Hillary Clinton Nod and Sip Water While Maintaining Eye Contact with an Everyday Iowa VoterPosted: April 15, 2015
Journeyman presidential candidate Hillary Clinton interacted with some everyday Iowa students in a garage on Tuesday, and taught all of us a lesson in the art of relatable politicking.
On several occasions during the roundtable event, Clinton revealed herself as a true “triple threat” by demonstrating an array of crucial skills that, when deployed correctly, can make even the most out-of-touch politicians appear somewhat human.
- Eye Contact — One of the easiest ways to make an everyday person feel that you really care about what they are saying, even if you are secretly counting the seconds until you can return to the plush leather “safe space” in your luxury van. This is particularly useful for a extremely wealthy person who is forced to interact with a commoner on the commoner’s home turf.
- Head Nod — A critical tool of everyday human interaction, especially when paired with meaningful eye contact. It makes the commoner feel as though you agree with them, and can empathize with their everyday concerns even if you can’t. Keep in mind that most people who have never met a sultan, much less shared a Gulfstream jet with one, usually don’t have anything interesting to say, and certainly won’t be able to write a six-figure check to your Super PAC. Alas, they are still allowed to vote.
- Hydration — The human body needs water, but simply taking a sip every now and then won’t increase your favorability rating. Everybody drinks; that’s boring. Some may argue that hydrating while engaged in nodding eye contact is just showing off. Read the rest of this entry »
Coffee Shop Visit Staged from Beginning to End
David Martosko reports from Des Moines, Iowa: Hillary Clinton’s astroturf candidacy is in full swing in Iowa.
Her Tuesday morning visit to a coffee shop in LeClaire, Iowa was staged from beginning to end, according to Austin Bird, one of the men pictured sitting at the table with Mrs. Clinton.
Bird told Daily Mail Online that campaign staffer Troy Price called and asked him and two other young people to meet him Tuesday morning at a restaurant in Davenport, a nearby city.
Price then drove them to the coffee house to meet Clinton after vetting them for about a half-hour.
- Austin Bird sat for coffee on Tuesday morning in the town of LeClaire, Iowa, chatting with Hillary Clinton as photographers snapped pictures
- News reports called him a ‘student’ and her campaign called it an unscripted event
- But Clinton’s Iowa political director Troy Price drove Bird and two other people to the coffee house
- Bird is a hospital government relations official who interned with Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign
- The Iowa Democratic Party, which Price ran until a month ago, tasked him to be Joe Biden’s driver during an October Senate campaign trip in Davenport
The three got the lion’s share of Mrs. Clinton’s time and participated in what breathless news reports described as a ’roundtable’– the first of many in her brief Iowa campaign swing.
Bird himself is a frequent participant in Iowa Democratic Party events. He interned with President Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign, and was tapped to chauffeur Vice President Joe Biden in October 2014 when he visited Davenport. Read the rest of this entry »
John Hayward writes: The 2016 presidential race has only just begun, and we already have an unforgettable image for the history books: a pack of salivating reporters racing after Hillary Clinton’s taxpayer-funded “Mystery Machine” van, like a flock of pigeons chasing after scattered birdseed.
“This is going to be tough for you, Media, because everyone knows 80 to 90 percent of you vote Democrat. Heck, a lot of you are former operatives of Democrat political machines.”
Conservative humorist Iowahawk dubbed it “the stampede of the majestic North American Throne-Sniffers.” The Washington Free Beacon spliced in the theme music from the old Benny Hill comedy show to create the perfect viewing experience.
There’s another image I would submit for the history books: Hillary’s campaign gearing up to use an old publicity still of then-SecState Clinton using a Blackberry.
Here’s the thing, Media – it’s your job to remind Americans that Hillary’s under a thick cloud of scandal, and may end up under indictment, for running the off-the-books email server she was plugged into with that BlackBerry. It’s your job to remind American voters, over and over again, that Clinton jeopardized national security and deliberately violated transparency laws by doing this, and when she got caught, she looked the American people right in the eye and lied extravagantly and demonstrably about setting up her shadow server because she didn’t want to carry two portable electronic devices to check her mail.
“Here’s the thing, Media – it’s your job to remind Americans that Hillary’s under a thick cloud of scandal, and may end up under indictment, for running the off-the-books email server she was plugged into with that BlackBerry…”
That’s not a Republican “talking point” – it’s crucial to who Hillary Clinton is, and how she views herself in relation to the Little People. It says more about her arrogant view of the proletariat and disdain for accountability than a hundred speeches. She hasn’t “addressed” or “dealt with” the email scandal, and it’s not “old news.” In fact, we’re just learning today that Clinton was directly asked if she was running a private mail server by Congress in 2012, and both she and her Department blew off the question.
” …She hasn’t ‘addressed’ or ‘dealt with’ the email scandal, and it’s not ‘old news.’…That’s not a Republican ‘talking point’ – it’s crucial to who Hillary Clinton is, and how she views herself in relation to the Little People.”
That’s not okay, no matter which party the Secretary of State belongs to, and which party is running either or both houses of Congress. And it’s highly relevant to the question of whether such an individual can be trusted with any important government job, let alone the presidency.
This is going to be tough for you, Media, because everyone knows 80 to 90 percent of you vote Democrat. Heck, a lot of you are former operatives of Democrat political machines, or you’re dreaming about getting a job in the next Democrat Administration. You love Barack Obama with romantic passion, and you know his “legacy” cannot be cemented – either as media myth, or policy fact – if he’s succeeded by a Republican. Read the rest of this entry »
“In its current state, Cuba can barely sponsor a roll of toilet paper, or replace a broken headlight on a 1957 Chevy, much less sponsor actual terrorism. It’s time our foreign policy recognizes this.”
— President Barack Obama
“The last thing I sponsored was a medianoche sandwich, on a paper plate, and a bottle of Fanta. That was in 1989. We’re broke. Sponsoring terrorism is just not an option.”
— Raul Castro
“I have tried to get a volunteer terror projects going on Twitter, and Facebook, but they keep deleting my accounts. I can ‘suggest’ terror, I just can’t finance it.”
— Raul Castro
“Even if I did have a few thousand pesos for a car bomb, or some black market Korean bio-weapons, I’d probably save it for a dentist appointment, or just buy some new sandals, and a pack of gum.”
— Raul Castro, lamenting Cuba’s economic misfortunes
“America is a strong and prosperous nation. It’s our obligation to help restore Cuba’s economic vitality, so that the modest resources required to be a credible sponsor of terrorism can once again be an achievable goal for the Castro regime.”
— President Barack Obama
“Obama has always viewed this as a tragic error, out of sync with the sympathies of the modern left, leaving a stain on the Democratic party’s post-war trajectory.” Now that he’s president, the insider concluded, “Obama is finally in a position to promote Marxist ideology, both rhetorically, and materially”.
“Getting off this ‘terror sponsor’ list may piss off a bunch of elderly Cuban-Americans in Florida, but who cares? We can still torture their friends and relatives left behind in Cuba. A pair of pliers, a blow torch, a car battery. It doesn’t cost much to have a few laughs, and keep our opponents in line. Obama understand this.”
“In its current state, Cuba can barely sponsor a roll of toilet paper, or replace a broken headlight on a 1957 Chevy, much less sponsor actual terrorism. It’s time our foreign policy recognizes this. It’s our obligation to help restore Cuba’s economic vitality, so that the modest resources required to be a credible sponsor terrorism can once again be an achievable goal for the Castro regime,” the president said this morning from the rose garden, in a brief statement to the press.
“Obama always hated the Truman and Kennedy tradition of pro-American, anticommunist rhetoric. Obama has always viewed this as a tragic error, out of sync with the sympathies of the modern left, leaving a stain on the Democratic party’s post-war trajectory.”
— White House insider
“Sponsor terrorism, are you kidding? The last thing I sponsored was a medianoche sandwich, on a paper plate, and a bottle of Fanta. That was in 1989. Sponsor terrorism? I wish! Even if I did have a few thousand pesos for a car bomb, or some black market Korean bio-weapons, I’d probably save it for a dentist appointment, or just buy some new sandals”, said Raul Castro. Read the rest of this entry »
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Grassley is calling for a zero-tolerance policy on soliciting prostitutes.
Congress is finally using protection after several embarrassing stories about very sexually active federal law enforcement agencies.
“The majority of federal law enforcement agents serve our nation honorably and bravely. However, in recent years there have been some episodes of agents gone wild, which raise serious concerns about the culture at federal law enforcement agencies, most notably at the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration.”
— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
The Department of Justice issued a memo Friday to all justice department employees telling them not to solicit prostitutes even if they are in a country where it is legal, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is saying it isn’t enough.
Grassley is calling for a zero-tolerance policy on soliciting prostitutes.
“There is no place in the federal government for employees who purchase sex,” Grassley said in a statement Monday. “This memo itself says that such activity ‘creates a greater demand for human trafficking,’ but fails to impose a sufficiently serious policy that would deter employees from engaging in this practice. The memo is a good first step, but more needs to be done.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled “Analyzing Misconduct in Federal Law Enforcement” to get to the bottom of all the problems surrounding the Justice Department, particularly it’s employees high libido. Read the rest of this entry »
- Start The Countdown For Hillarycons
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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK/DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton, under pressure from the left wing of her Democratic Party to aggressively campaign against income inequality, voiced concern about the hefty paychecks of some corporate executives in an email to supporters.
“I definitely see the push from the left wing, which I think is great.”
— Jared Milrad, a Clinton supporter who appeared in a video launching her campaign
Striking a populist note, Clinton, who announced on Sunday she was running for president in 2016, said American families were still facing financial hardship at a time “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.”
In a tightly scripted campaign launch in which there were few surprises, the comments were unexpected, at least by progressives, who saw them as an early sign she may shift away from the centrist economic policies pursued by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“So far we don’t know very much. I hope Clinton clarifies where she stands on these issues.”
— Zephyr Teachout, a one-time New York gubernatorial candidate.
“I definitely see the push from the left wing, which I think is great,” said Jared Milrad, a Clinton supporter who appeared in a video launching her campaign for the presidency.
Milrad said he saw the populist rhetoric as a sign that Clinton “has been listening” to backers such as himself who want her to embrace some of the economic policies pushed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, a hero of liberal Democrats. Warren favors tighter regulation of big banks and a bolstering of the social safety net.
The enthusiasm of some progressives was tempered by the fact that they have yet to see the details of Clinton’s policy proposals. Read the rest of this entry »
From The Corner:
“This goes back not just to Clinton in ’92 or Obama in ’08; this is to Kennedy in 1960.”
Krauthammer observed on Monday evening, following Rubio’s speech in Miami. “Remember, in his inaugural address he said the torch has been passed to a new generation…
“Basically he’s saying, ‘Do you want old or do you want new?’ And he’s also implying, versus Jeb Bush, ‘Do you want privileged or unprivileged?’ And, ‘I’m the one.’ I mean that’s his attractiveness.”
“His issue is, he’s unknown,” said Krauthammer, “but that gives him a very high upside…(read more)
Robert W. Merry reviews Grover Norquist’s new book
Congress would never allow sequestration to take effect, according to the media wisdom of the day, and hence Republicans would have to accept tax increases as part of the alternative fiscal bargain. That would mean the GOP would have to repudiate the famous Tax Pledge devised by Norquist and signed by nearly every congressional Republican. That, in turn, would destroy the force and power of that nettlesome Tax Pledge—and dislodge Norquist from his prominent place as Horatio at the bridge of tax policy.
[Order Grover Norquist’s book “End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America“, Center Street, 352 pp., $20.25 at Amazon.com]
This particular episode took place around the luncheon table of the Center for the National Interest (publisher of this website and its allied magazine), and the media hounds went after Norquist with the glee of those who know they are about to witness a political comeuppance of serious magnitude. Through it all, the imperturbable Norquist confidently and quietly held his ground—never ruffled, never riled, never lacking in magnanimity, seemingly sure of his aces. “This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said, and laid out a lucid political explanation for why his Pledge would hold, even in the face of such tectonic pressures.
The next day, the Los Angeles Times offered an analysis entitled, “Grover Norquist the has-been.” It proclaimed that “even he can’t ignore the signs that his hold is slipping.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, after quoting Norquist’s insistence that congressional Republicans would adhere to their anti-tax heritage, even in the face of the looming sequestration decision, wrote with a smirk, “Also, the dog ate Norquist’s homework.” He added that Norquist’s confidence on the matter suggested he “had been on a long trip in a remote location.” The New York Times, in a front-page feature, suggested Norquist “finds himself in a tricky spot.”
What happened next? The sequestration deadline came and went, no grand fiscal compromise emerged, the austere spending cuts went into effect, and Norquist’s famous Pledge remained intact, as did the political standing and influence of Norquist himself. Dana Milbank never got around to revealing to his readers his own remote location whenthe dog was eating his prediction of Norquist’s political demise. Truly, Norquist is a Washington figure to be reckoned with.
Now he bundles up his anti-tax sentiments and political assessments into a sprightly volume entitled: End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America. It’s a book of many parts: primer on America’s tax history and growth in government; polemical expose of liberal legerdemain on the issue; policy recommendations for smaller government, strong economic growth and a streamlined tax system; and paean to the energy and efficiency of unfettered capitalism. He even provides an amusing narrative of the earnest efforts of his adversaries to obliterate his famous Pledge, all to no avail.
The reason they can’t obliterate it, writes Norquist, is that the American people are on to the ominous consequences of inexorable governmental expansion and fiscal incontinence. Currently, U.S. governmental spending—federal, state and local—amounts to 34 percent of the national economy, while taxes consume about 30 percent of annual GDP. And what’s going to happen to tax rates and the governmental share of GDP, he asks, when it comes time to pay down the $17 trillion in federal debt (nearly $8 trillion of it added on Obama’s watch) or the $123 trillion in “unfunded liabilities” accumulated through years of irresponsible government spending?
All this has generated civic angers that in turn spawned the Tea Party phenomenon of the early Obama years—the country’s first mass movement focused primarily on governmental spending. During the week of April 15, 2009, Americans gathered across the country in more than 600—perhaps as many as a thousand—anti-spending rallies with up to a million participants. As Norquist puts it, “A wall of opposition to government spending rose up.” At the next election, Republicans campaigning against government spending and Obama’s stimulus legislation captured the House by gaining sixty-three seats in that chamber; they also picked up a net gain of six Senate seats.
Two years later, though, the Tea Party movement seemed to have petered out. Republicans failed to oust Obama from the White House or to capture the four Senate seats needed for control of that chamber. What happened?
According to Norquist, the answer is simple. “The Tea Party didn’t fall down the stairs. It was pushed.” Read the rest of this entry »
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) April 11, 2015
‘More Objective Than They Get Credit For': State Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students, New Study SaysPosted: April 10, 2015
The judges, lawyers and law students were instructed to assess legal problems designed to gauge their political bias
Jacob Gershman reports: You often hear from liberals and conservatives that judges are too political, that, instead of calling balls and strikes, they allow their own ideological, political or religious views to steer legal opinions.
A new study says judges, at least ones sitting on state benches, are more objective than they get credit for. The report, forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, says judges by and large are able to exercise professional judgement and reach consensus on disputes that polarize the general public.
“The experimental results furnished evidence strongly at odds with the conclusion that judges are influenced by political predispositions when they engage in legal reasoning.”
The study, which took more than two years to conduct, included about 1,500 subjects: 253 judges, 225 lawyers, 250 law students (from five schools including Harvard and Yale), and 800 adults members of the general public.
“Judges of diverse cultural outlooks—ones polarized on their views of the risks of marijuana legalization, climate change, and other contested issues—converged on results in cases that strongly divided comparably diverse members of the public.”
The judges, lawyers and law students were instructed to assess legal problems designed to gauge their political bias.
One sample scenario involved a police officer accused of violating a disclosure law that makes it a crime for a government official to intentionally leak confidential investigatory information about a private citizen.
There were two versions of that scenario — “prochoice” and “prolife” — and subjects were randomly presented one of them.
In the first, the officer supplied information to a ‘family planning’ abortion facility about a job applicant who secretly belonged to an anti-abortion group. In the “prolife” version, the officer leaked information to an anti-abortion family planning center about a job applicant who secretly belonged to a prochoice group. Read the rest of this entry »
In which our resident scholar on all things Middle-East – and circus related, Andrew Klavan, explains Barack Obama’s policy for that troubled region. Think of it as Smart Diplomacy for Dummies…
Health care, Wall Street, the Internet—by the time President Obama leaves office, there may not be much of the economy left for his successor to take over. The better news is that his attempt to do the same to the energy industry is meeting heavy resistance in the states.
The Environmental Protection Agency is finishing a rule—expected in June or July—that requires the states to meet carbon-reduction targets by reorganizing their “production, distribution and use of electricity,” as the EPA puts it. This is an unprecedented federal usurpation of what has been a state responsibility since the invention of the modern steam turbine in the 1880s.
States are normally allowed as much as three years to comply with EPA mandates that are far less complex than this one. But the EPA will instruct them to submit implementation plans by summer 2016 and make interim progress as soon as 2020. The rule is intended to impress the greendees of the Paris climate conference this year, so Mr. Obama can announce a global climate deal.
The plan hangs on an obscure section of the 44-year-old Clean Air Act. That law’s section 111(d) was well understood but the EPA has published a new interpretation of these several hundred words that runs 1,200 pages. No less a dean of legal liberalism than Harvard’s Larry Tribe is stunned by this attempt to nationalize U.S. electric generation.
States will be told to meet the targets using four “building blocks.” The first is uncontroversial: improving the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants and installing pollution-control technology like smokestack scrubbers. But for the first time the EPA is also telling states to roam “outside the fence line” of power plants to force coal and eventually natural gas to shut down, mandate quotas for renewables like wind and solar, and impose energy conservation.
The problem is that the federal government has no legal power outside the fence line. Last year the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals slapped down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s bid to claim authority over “demand response” on the electric grid.
Thus the EPA is trying to coerce the states into doing what it can’t do itself. Read the rest of this entry »
“It is a mistake to suggest U.S. foreign policy is weak only because Barack Obama is running it. On the cusp of a presidential election, the more pertinent question is whether U.S. foreign policy is weak because a Democrat is running it.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine,” Mr. Obama said. “The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
— President Obama
In nine words, Mr. Obama explained what has been going on the past six years, culminating in what we now see is the nucleus of the Obama worldview, an accommodation with Iran.
“This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax. Set aside that ‘messes with Israel’ and ‘America will be there’ are phrases with no real operational meaning.”
The corollary of the Obama Doctrine, as the president explained, is that if engagement with a hostile power turns dangerous, everyone in the world knows that U.S. “military superiority” will emerge and prevail. In case of emergency, Uncle Sam will break glass.
“What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
— President Obama, bluffing.
Mr. Obama then offered an example of how this would work—U.S. support for Israel: “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
“To understand the bluff, look closely at the Democrats’ Doctrine on paper or in practice, and you’ll notice that it’s always prospective. It promises to act at some point in the future if circumstances become so dire that they oblige the U.S. to ‘overwhelm’ the problem with superior power. Never has there been a bigger ‘if.’”
This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax.
Set aside that “messes with Israel” and “America will be there” are phrases with no real operational meaning.
“Mr. Obama’s ‘doctrine’ is essentially that if something bad happens, he will send in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he won’t. No Democrat whose view of large-scale U.S. military power was formed by the Vietnam War or the Iraq War will do that.”
“America will be there” could mean that if someone set off a nuclear backpack bomb in Tel Aviv, where the Obama administration would be the next day is on New York’s east side, condemning the attack in a U.N. Security Council resolution. Read the rest of this entry »
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on its head
“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another.”
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.
Inspections and Enforcement
The president deserves respect for the commitment with which he has pursued the objective of reducing nuclear peril, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for the persistence, patience and ingenuity with which he has striven to impose significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
[Also see – Clouds of Grey Fuzz Hang Over Iran Deal]
Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.
“Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints…”
Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.
“…It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting.”
Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.
“Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?”
Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. Read the rest of this entry »