Hugh Dugan writes: With his surprise, 180-degree decision to avenge innocents in Syria, President Donald Trump entered the particle accelerator that is foreign affairs.
The barrage of urgencies—inhumanity, chemical weapons, Syrian civil war, North Korean missiles, Russian warships, truck bombings, ISIS—has streamed his focus into a statesmanship that impresses even his detractors. This reminds us of Trump’s speech to Congress in February where he grew visibly into his presidential shoes.
Taking decisive action in Syria indeed was in the U.S. national interest, not only an understandable human response to a human atrocity. How is it in the national interest? Chemical weapons cannot be tolerated a bit. No excuse exists. Any shadow of their acceptability would quickly become a black cloud over a world cowed into suspicion and fear. Our national interest depends upon a world open to itself and to the future. Read the rest of this entry »
When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, it was done so with the approval of the United Nations. But today, Israel’s enemies routinely challenge the legitimacy of its very existence. So, under international law, who’s right? Israel? Or its enemies?
The Middle East conflict is framed as one of the most complex problems in the world. But, in reality, it’s very simple. Israelis want to live in peace and are willing to accept a neighboring Palestinian state. And most Palestinians do not want Israel to exist. As Dennis Prager explains, this is really all you need to know. In 5 minutes, understand how Israel was founded, and how, since that auspicious day in 1948, its neighbors have tried to destroy it, again and again.
“Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings.”
This claim comes from French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as he banged his gavel at the close of the Paris climate summit. To the cheers of bureaucrats and cronies the world over, Fabius announced the deal that the press has been crowing about for days, the one in which “humanity” has united to stop increases in global temperature through the transfer of trillions of dollars from the rich to the poor, combined with the eventual (coercive) elimination of fossil fuels.
“The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”
And thus did he bang his gavel. To his way of thinking, and that of the thousands gathered, that’s all you have to do to control the global climate, cause the world to stop relying on fossil fuels, and dramatically change the structure of all global industry, and do so with absolute conviction that benefits will outweigh the costs.
One bang of a gavel to dismantle industrial civilization by force, replace it with a vague and imagined new way of doing things, and have taxpayers pay for it.
Interestingly, the news on the Paris agreement had no notable impact on global markets at all. No prices rose or fell, no stocks soared or collapsed, and no futures responded with confidence that governments would win this one. The climate deal didn’t even make the business pages.
Investors and speculators are perhaps acculturated to ignoring such grand pronouncements. “The Paris climate conference delivered more of the same — lots of promises and lots of issues still left unresolved,” the US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. And maybe that’s the right way to think, given that the world is ever less controlled by pieces of paper issued by government.
“Historians have challenged the point of the story. The only account we have of this incident, if it occurred at all, is from Henry of Huntingdon. He reports that after the sea rose despite his command, the King declared: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’”
Still, breathless journalists wrote about the “historic agreement” and government officials paraded around as planet savers. Meanwhile, the oil price continues to fall even as demand rises, and the Energy Information Administration announced the discovery of more reserves than anyone believed possible. As for alternatives to fossil fuels, they are coming about through private sector innovation, not through government programs, and successful only when adopted voluntarily by consumers.
“He did and said this, say modern experts, to demonstrate to his courtiers and flatterers that he is not as wonderful and powerful as they were proclaiming him to be. Instead of subservience to his own person, he was urging all citizens to save their adoration for God.”
It’s a heck of a time to announce a new global central plan affecting the way 7 billion people use energy for the next century. Anyone schooled in the liberal tradition, or even slightly familiar with Hayek’s warning against the pretensions of the “scientific” government elites, shakes his or her head in knowing despair.
“His point was that power — even the absolute power of kings — has limits. During his rule, King Canute was enormously popular and evidently benefitted from the common tendency of people to credit authority for the achievements of the spontaneous evolution of the social order itself. His sea trick, if it happened at all, was designed to show people that he is not the man they thought he was.”
The entire scene looks like the apotheosis of the planning mentally — complete with five-year plans to monitor how well governments are doing in controlling the climate for the whole world and do so in a way that affects temperature 10-100 years from now.
The scene prompted many commentators to compare these people celebrating in Paris to King Canute, who ruled Denmark, England, and Norway a millennium ago. According to popular legend, as a way of demonstrating his awesome power, he rolled his throne up to the sea and commanded it to stop rising.
It didn’t work. Still, the image appears in many works of art. Even Lego offers a King Canute scene from its historical set.
Historians have challenged the point of the story. The only account we have of this incident, if it occurred at all, is from Henry of Huntingdon. He reports that after the sea rose despite his command, the King declared: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”
He did and said this, say modern experts, to demonstrate to his courtiers and flatterers that he is not as wonderful and powerful as they were proclaiming him to be. Instead of subservience to his own person, he was urging all citizens to save their adoration for God.
His point was that power — even the absolute power of kings — has limits. During his rule, King Canute was enormously popular and evidently benefitted from the common tendency of people to credit authority for the achievements of the spontaneous evolution of the social order itself. His sea trick, if it happened at all, was designed to show people that he is not the man they thought he was.
The Pretensions of the Planners
Lacking a Canute to give us a wake-up call, we might revisit the extraordinary speech F.A. Hayek gave when he received his Nobel Prize. He was speaking before scientists of the world, having been awarded one of the most prestigious awards on the planet. Read the rest of this entry »
David French writes: The world just got more dangerous. A gunman shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey and then stood over his body, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” and began ranting about Syria and Aleppo. I won’t embed video of the shooting, but you can see the entire thing here. Warning, the footage is extremely disturbing.
Early reports are often wrong, but it appears the shooter was a Turkish police officer:
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) December 19, 2016
We can’t forget that this incident comes just a little more than a year after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet, and it comes after Erodgan has comprehensively purged Turkish security forces to allegedly leave only his loyalists on staff. Read the rest of this entry »
LIMA (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. President Barack Obama bid farewell to the world stage Sunday, pondering his legacy and offering advice to his successor at the end of his final foreign tour.
Spot the difference pic.twitter.com/BOvu2JinQq
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) November 18, 2016
His historic presidency and charisma have made Obama a rock star on the international scene, even at times when the daily grind of politics dimmed the glow around his election as the United States’ first black president in 2008.
Obama spoke to both the American people and the world as he gave his final foreign press conference in Lima. Read the rest of this entry »
I ran Obama’s 2008 campaign. Should I have known better this time?
David Plouffe writes: Like many people around the world, I expected a comfortable Hillary Clinton victory on Tuesday. But I’m not a random pundit when it comes to understanding presidential races and the electorate — I managed one Obama presidential campaign and oversaw another from the White House. So of all the forecasts that got it wrong, my prediction that Mrs. Clinton was a 100 percent favorite was a glaring miss.
“It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them.”
My confidence was not partisan spin. It was based on public data, voting history and some sense of the Clinton campaign’s own models. I played with various state scenarios, and even in the most generous outcomes, could not get Donald J. Trump to 270 electoral votes.
“It really was a change election. The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate.”
But he ended up winning 306 electoral votes and, most important, did it by breaking into the Upper Midwest, leaving the blue Big Ten firewall in ruins.
What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.
DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT WAS VERY WEAK Overall turnout was as well, as Donald J. Trump received fewer votes in winning than Mitt Romney did when he lost decisively in 2012.
“What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.”
Still, the nagging worry about a lack of broad-based enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton, which I noted often as someone familiar with the Obama coalition, proved to be justified. She had passionate supporters and volunteers, for sure. But for sporadic and potential first-time voters, the spark was not there.
In Detroit, Mrs. Clinton received roughly 70,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did in 2012; she lost Michigan by just 12,000 votes. In Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, she received roughly 40,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did, and she lost the state by just 27,000. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, turnout in majority African-American precincts was down 11 percent from four years ago.
It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them. Read the rest of this entry »
As we survey the toxic environment in which we are soon to elect the forty-fifth president of the United States, many of us wonder: Why? Why is it this way?
James Rosen writes: As we survey the toxic environment in which we are soon to elect the forty-fifth president of the United States, many of us wonder: Why? Why is it this way?
The partisan among us will cite one of the two major-party nominees and blame him, or her, for overtaxing the system with his, or her, singularly odious baggage.
Economists and political scientists, less interested in the specific than the general, will point, perhaps more accurately, to a confluence of developments over time – the corrosion of public trust after Vietnam and Watergate, Supreme Court rulings on election laws, the twin apocalypti of globalization and the digital revolution – as the decisive factors shaping our modern political culture, with its unbearably heavy traffic of nasty primary challenges, leadership upheavals, scandals, hacks, leaks, attacks, and – gridlock.
To these explanations, I propose adding another, imparted to me by an unlikely source: Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Making conversation at one point, I asked Kerry if he had ever met one of my literary heroes. ‘Mr. Secretary, did you know William F. Buckley?’ The answer – and its forcefulness – surprised me: ‘I loved Bill Buckley.'”
We were on his first foreign trip as America’s top diplomat, in February 2013, with the traveling press corps enjoying an off-the-record wine-and-cheese event with the secretary in Cairo (to disclose this story on-the-record, I later sought and received permission from the State Department). Making conversation at one point, I asked Kerry if he had ever met one of my literary heroes. “Mr. Secretary, did you know William F. Buckley?”
The answer – and its forcefulness – surprised me: “I loved Bill Buckley.” Who knew that for the founder of National Review, the godfather of the modern conservative movement, a legendary liberal from Massachusetts harbored “love”? Why was that? I asked. Kerry resorted to Socratic Method. “Do you know who his best friend was?”
Now for those well versed in the Buckley canon, in whose ranks Kerry seemed to count himself, this amounts to a trick question.
The Buckley family and some outside observers – including this one – would cite Evan (“Van”) Galbraith, Buckley’s Yale classmate, sailing crewmate, and longest-standing friend.
A graduate, also, of Harvard Law School, Galbraith would go on to serve as a Wall Street banker, chairman of the National Review board of trustees, President Reagan’s ambassador to France, and president of Moët & Chandon.
“Buckley’s maintenance of “trans-ideological friendships” in his life reflected what some have called a genius for friendship.”
The last eulogy ever published by WFB, a supremely talented eulogist, was for Van, his friend of sixty years. Indeed, when WFB marked his eighty-second, and final, birthday, Van was one of two friends on hand, having just completed his thirtieth radiation treatment for cancer, with only months left for both men to live.
In the public imagination, however, the distinction is usually reserved for John Kenneth Galbraith (no relation), the Keynesian Harvard economist who served as President Kennedy’s ambassador to India, and who coined some enduring terms in the American political lexicon (e.g., “the affluent society,” “conventional wisdom”).
“WFB and Galbraith had met on an elevator ride in New York’s Plaza Hotel, escorting their wives to Truman Capote’s famous masked ball, the ‘Party of the Century,’ in November 1966. Buckley confronted Galbraith, right there in the elevator, about why he had tried to discourage a Harvard colleague from writing for National Review. ‘I regret that’ said Galbraith.”
This Galbraith, a skiing buddy of Buckley’s during annual retreats with their wives to winter homes in Gstaad, Switzerland, conducted the more public friendship with the era’s leading conservative. With unmatched wit and erudition, and equal instinct for the rhetorical jugular, they debated on college campuses, on the set of NBC’s “Today Show,” and of course on Buckley’s own show “Firing Line,” where Galbraith made eleven lively appearances. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Obama Administration ‘Laundered’ U.S. Cash to Iran Via New York Federal Reserve, European BanksPosted: September 19, 2016
These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.
Adam Kredo reports: A member of the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of laundering some $1.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Iran through a complicated network that included the New York Federal Reserve and several European banks, according to conversations with sources and new information obtained by the lawmaker and viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
New disclosures made by the Treasury Department to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a House Intelligence Committee member, show that an initial $400 million cash payment to Iran was wired to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) and then converted from U.S. dollars into Swiss francs and moved to an account at the Swiss National Bank, according to a copy of communication obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.
“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran. But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Once the money was transferred to the Swiss Bank, the “FRBNY withdrew the funds from its account as Swiss franc banknotes and the U.S. Government physically transported them to Geneva” before personally overseeing the handover to an agent of Iran’s central bank, according to the documents.
“Think about this timeline: the U.S. withdraws $400 million in cash from the Swiss National Bank and then physically transports it to another city to hand-off to Iranian officials—three days before Iran releases four American hostages. But it gets worse: less than a week after this, the U.S. again sends hordes of cash to Iran. As we speak, Iran is still holding three more Americans hostage and I fear what precedent this administration has set.”
These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.
“For the first settlement payment in January, Treasury assisted the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) in crafting a wire instruction to transfer the $400 million in principal from the Iran FMS [Foreign Military Sales program] account on January 14, 2016.”
— Rep. Mike Pompeo
The latest information is adding fuel to accusations the Obama administration arranged the payment in this fashion to skirt U.S. sanctions laws and give Iran the money for the release of U.S. hostages, in what many have called a ransom.
Congress has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the payment for months and said the administration is blocking certain requests for more detailed information about the cash transaction with Iran.
“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
As new details emerge, congressional critics such as Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) are beginning to suspect the U.S. government laundered the money in order to provide Tehran with immediate access. Read the rest of this entry »
The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.
Ethan Barton reports: More than $9 million of Department of State money has been funneled through the Peace Corps to a nonprofit foundation started and run by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.
The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.
Initially, the Peace Corps awarded Kerry’s group — now called Seed Global Health — with a three-year contract worth $2 million of State Department money on Sept. 10, 2012, documents show. Her father was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversees both the Department of State and the Peace Corps. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] Hands On With Susan Rice and John Kerry at a Paris Agreement Climate Change Event Ahead of the G20 Summit in HangzhouPosted: September 4, 2016
John R. Schindler writes: Back in October I told you that Hillary Clinton’s email troubles were anything but over, and that the scandal over her misuse of communications while she was Secretary of State was sure to get worse. Sure enough, EmailGate continues to be a thorn in the side of Hillary’s presidential campaign and may have just entered a new, potentially explosive phase with grave ramifications, both political and legal.
The latest court-ordered dump of her email, just placed online by the State Department, brings more troubles for Team Hillary. This release of over 3,000 pages includes 66 “Unclassified” messages that the State Department subsequently determined actually were classified; however, all but one of those 66 were deemed Confidential, the lowest classification level, while one was found to be Secret, bringing the total of Secret messages discovered so far to seven. In all, 1,340 Hillary emails at State have been reassessed as classified.
There are gems here. It’s hard to miss the irony of Hillary expressing surprise about a State Department staffer using personal email for work, which the Secretary of State noted in her own personal email. More consequential was Hillary’s ordering a staffer to send classified talking points for a coming meeting via a non-secure fax machine, stripped of their classification markings.
This appears to be a clear violation of Federal law and the sort of thing that is a career-ender, or worse, for normals. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee termed that July 2011 incident “disturbing,” and so it is to anyone acquainted with U.S. Government laws and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.
But the biggest problem may be in a just-released email that has gotten little attention here, but plenty on the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
A Russian jet has been shot down by Turkish warplanes this morning, near the border with Syria.
Russia’s defence ministry claims the aircraft at no point strayed into Turkish airspace, with authorities insisting it remained in Syria “at all times”, according to Interfax.
However, a Turkish military official told Reuters that the Nato member country’s F-16s had fired on the then-unidentified aircraft only after warning it was violating Turkey’s airspace.
The Right Scoop reports:
POLITICO – CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has been suspended for two weeks, a source at CNN confirmed to POLITICO.
Earlier on Thursday Labott had tweeted about the House voting on a bill that would make it harder for Syrian refugees to enter the United States.
“House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees. Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish,” she wrote, linking to a CNN article on the vote….(read more)
Source: The Right Scoop
He could have acknowledged people’s qualms as legitimate and argued at greater length…But that would have meant not taking cheap shots against the political opposition at home — the people who really make him angry.
Michael Barone writes: Three days after the Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris, Americans were primed to hear their president express heartfelt anger, which he did in his press conference in Antalya, Turkey, at the end of the G-20 Conference. And they did hear him describe the Islamic State as “this barbaric terrorist organization” and acknowledge that “the terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback.”
“What really got him angry, as the transcript and videotape make clear, were reporters’ repeated questions about the minimal success of his strategy against the Islamic State and Republicans’ proposals for more active engagement in Syria and Iraq.”
But what really got him angry, as the transcript and videotape make clear, were reporters’ repeated questions about the minimal success of his strategy against the Islamic State and Republicans’ proposals for more active engagement in Syria and Iraq. As well as critics of his decision to allow 10,000 Syrians into the United States.
“The reporters did not seem this time to be absorbing his patient instruction.”
The reporters did not seem this time to be absorbing his patient instruction. The Islamic State “controls less territory than it did before,” he stated — but not much less, and is still holding Iraq’s second largest city and a huge swath of Iraqi and Syrian desert. Our bombs did pulverize the British-born Islamic State beheader. “We’ve been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities.
“Most Americans want people who behead Americans destroyed considerably sooner than that. They wonder why the world’s greatest military can’t do that.”
But in his self-described goal, “to degrade and ultimately destroy,” the word “ultimately” looms uncomfortable large. Most Americans want people who behead Americans destroyed considerably sooner than that. They wonder why the world’s greatest military can’t do that.
Such action, Obama suggested, might be bad public relations. The Islamic State has “a twisted ideology,” and we play into its “narrative” by treating it as a state and using “routine military tactics.” Read the rest of this entry »
Out of Touch: Obama Stubbornly Opposing American National Security Interests; House Passes Refugee Bill in Defiance of Veto ThreatPosted: November 19, 2015
Jack Martinez reports: “National security and public safety are not simply factors to be considered,” in policy decisions said Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina representative who heads the House Special Committee on Benghazi, during debate over a refugee bill in the House of Representatives. Instead, he argued, they are the main issues, the most important issues that should be considered in making every decision.
That appears to the be the rationale behind HR 4038, a bill authored by Republican Michael McCaul of Texas and backed by Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House. Debate raged on for hours over the bill, which ultimately passed with votes from all but three Republican representatives, and 48 Democrats.
The bill, if signed into law, would introduce new checks on refugee admission into the United States. Under current policy, defined mostly by the Refugee Act of 1980,the State Department has broad discretion to determine refugee admission and resettlement, in consultation with the FBI. Congressional Republicans want the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security to play a greater role; the law would require all three entities to approve each individual refugee admitted to the United States after conducting background checks.
The bill does not contain any specific provisions for what the new vetting would look like, nor how it would differ from current vetting, but it does emphasize that the new measures would apply to refugees from Syria and Iraq. One house Democrat characterized the vote as purely symbolic, a way of “patting ourselves on the back” without making any policy changes to ensure the safety of the American public. Others expressed concern about a growing anti-refugee sentiment on Capitol Hill, and the likelihood that the bill would effectively pause resettlement efforts, or otherwise severely hamper them. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama reportedly phoned home tonight to brief federal officials on the security protocols for resettling Syrian refugees in the United States and assured them that American citizens are safe; however, he took a moment to express his anger with those opposed to accepting refugees, calling them “scared of widows and 3-year-old orphans.”
John Nolte writes:
In Tuesday remarks to the staff and their families at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested there was a “rationale” for the January Islamic terror attacks against the journalists/cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, France, that resulted in the murder of 12 people.
“There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”
“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry told the group. “There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.” Read the rest of this entry »
“It is highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date.”
“It is highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date,” said Wang Qun, director-general of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in comments to the U.N. General Assembly.
“China, for its part, will continue to commit itself to establishing a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and pushing for an early international code of conduct acceptable to all.”
Wang’s comments were reported by China’s main state-owned press outlet, the Xinhua News Agency.
“China, for its part, will continue to commit itself to establishing a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and pushing for an early international code of conduct acceptable to all,” Wang added. Read the rest of this entry »
Inconveniently, Sanctions Relief Provision Conflicts with Federal Statutes that were Signed into Law by President Obama.
Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.
“What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.”
At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”
In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.
“Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.”
Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.
What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction. Read the rest of this entry »
NOVOSINKOVO, RUSSIA—Staring directly into the drooping eyes of the woozy, flushed henchman sitting across from him in the back room of a dimly lit tavern, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly downed another vodka shot Sunday night as the last of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s security detail passed out beside him. “Nostrovia!” said Kerry as he slammed down the upturned shot glass next to dozens of others…(read more)
Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday. They were almost all in western Syria. They did not fall on the Islamic State or the other terrorist groups raping and pillaging the Syrian countryside, creating the largest international refugee crisis in decades.
Rather, the Russian airstrikes fell on the moderate rebel groups that the U.S. has been notionally supporting against the country’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad.
President Obama seems surprised by this, but his surprise is inexcusably disingenuous or obtuse.
McCain: Putin’s Ambitions ‘Blindingly Obvious’
Assad is and has long been an ally of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Russia entered the Syrian civil war as any rational person would have expected, on the side of his ally and of the Iranian paramilitaries that support him.
Does anyone in the administration dare to say they were shocked — shocked — that Putin is indifferent to both the horror and the strategic threat posed by the Islamic State. Why, yes the Obama administration does dare to claim surprise. When Russian bombs began to fall on their predictable targets, American officials reacted by claiming they were “taken aback,” as if they were genuinely wounded and upset.
On Monday, Obama had addressed the United Nations with the ridiculous idea that Washington and Moscow might would work together in Syria. “The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” Obama said. Read the rest of this entry »
If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?
Dan Alexander reports: Since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001, they have earned more than $230 million. But in federal filings the Clintons claim they are worth somewhere between $11 million and $53 million. After layering years of disclosures on top of annual tax returns, Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $45 million. Where did all of the money go? No one seems to know, and the Clintons aren’t offering any answers.
“I don’t see how that would be possible…That’s quite a quite a mystery you have on your hands.”
— Jim Gilmore
From 2001 to 2014 the power couple spent $95 million on taxes. Hillary’s 2008 presidential run cost her $13 million. Their two homes cost a combined $5 million, and the Clintons have given away $22 million to charity. All of this is according to FEC filings, property records and years of tax returns. Add it up and you get $135 million. If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?
“That’s kind of strange,” says Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle. “You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”
“That’s kind of strange. You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”
— Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle.
It seems unlikely that the Clintons could have spent all of it. Over 14 years $50 million averages out to $3.6 million in extra expenses per year, or $9,800 per day.
WHERE COULD THAT much money have disappeared? The Clintons have been speaking around the world for years, and they count millions in travel expenses under their businesses. It is unclear whether they have paid for additional travel expenses out of their own pockets. It seems unlikely, but they could have given it away overseas: Donations to foreign charities are not deductible and would not be listed on tax returns. Billionaires like Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Lakshmi Mittal of India and Joseph Safra of Brazil have donated to their foundation. Maybe the Clintons are returning the favor?
Or maybe they have given millions to their daughter, Chelsea, although she has plenty of her own money, after working for years and marrying hedge fund manager Marc Mezvinsky in 2010. The problem with all of these ideas is they are merely guesses. The Clintons did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Others were just as perplexed as we were. Read the rest of this entry »
Has Joe Trippi Lost His Mind?
Source: LA Times
WASHINGTON — Russia is using an air corridor over Iraq and Iran to fly military equipment and personnel to a new air hub in Syria, openly defying American efforts to block the shipments and significantly increasing tensions with Washington.
“Since Maliki relinquished the premiership, power and authority in Iraq have become increasingly diffused with various players now exercising unilateral power over the use of force.”
American officials disclosed Sunday that at least seven giant Russian Condor transport planes had taken off from a base in southern Russia during the past week to ferry equipment to Syria, all passing through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
“Neutrality is the best Washington can hope for in Baghdad. Iraq is not a dictatorial state like many of the U.S. allies in the Middle East. Iraq is still a fragile state whose leaders are exposed to politics.”
Their destination was an airfield south of Latakia, Syria, which could become the most significant new Russian military foothold in the Middle East in decades, American officials said.
“In the discourse of Iraqi politics, forcing Abadi to side with the U.S. against Assad is like realigning him with the Sunni axis against the Shia one.”
— Ramzy Mardini, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research group in Washington
The Obama administration initially hoped it had hampered the Russian effort to move military equipment and personnel into Syria when Bulgaria, a NATO member, announced it would close its airspace to the flights. But Russia quickly began channeling its flights over Iraq and Iran, which Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said on Sunday would continue despite American objections.
“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue,” Mr. Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”
“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue. They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”
— Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister
Moscow’s military buildup in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in a four-and-a-half-year civil war, adds a new friction point in its relations with the United States. The actions also lay bare another major policy challenge for the United States: how to encourage Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq, who came to power with the blessing of the United States but is still trying to establish his authority, to block the Russian flights. Read the rest of this entry »
…When Barack Obama demanded Assad step down in 2011, he took immediate ownership of any consequences to follow. Assad — not being much more than a photo-op for Nancy Pelosi or a dinner date for John Kerry, and owing us utterly nothing (unlike Mubarak or Khaddafi) — told Obama to get bent around a tree, and from that point onward the administration’s strategy has been one long assay into the question of how best to manage an Asshole Who May Still Be Preferable To Outright Anarchy. Obama hedged military action against Assad and against his (now obviously disastrous) decision to withdraw from Iraq and the impending nuclear deal with Iran. When his declaration that Assad Must Go went ignored (and thus became problematic), he simply crossed it off his list, told a nefarious Vladimir Putin to handle it, and went golfing. When his administration realized that any military intervention in Syria would complicate his Iran nuclear deal, he folded. Except the world didn’t fold with him.
“That’s always been this President’s problem: his complete inability to deal with the world at hand, as it exists right in front of his face. When the world forces Barack Obama off his script, he simply retreats to a golf course, ESPN, or most recently the remote wilds of Alaska.”
When reports emerged that Assad had utilized chlorine gas against both rebels and civilians, Obama was suddenly boxed into a world which preceded his ascension and more importantly, didn’t give a damn about what he thought. Obama and his famously anti-war Secretary of State John Kerry reaped the consequences of spending the prior five years demonizing the difficult decisions made by their predecessors, either unaware or unfazed by the idea that they might one day have to rally the country and the world around a “Red Line” they themselves had set, and as it turns out weren’t very good or very interested in necessitating either….
That’s always been this President’s problem: his complete inability to deal with the world at hand, as it exists right in front of his face. When the world forces Barack Obama off his script, he simply retreats to a golf course, ESPN, or most recently the remote wilds of Alaska.
“It wasn’t ‘the United States’ that let Obama get away with declaring ‘I didn’t set that red line, the world did’ only to have him to walk out the door like a dejected child needing an afternoon snack and media-induced nap.”
Nowhere was this more evident than when his habit of diplomatic detachment inconveniently washed up on the shores of the Greek island of Kos last week when a boat carrying Syrian refugees capsized. While President Jor-El embarked on a magical mystery end-of-summer climate cruise to call attention to Alaskan glacier-melt in summer, the world was suddenly captivated by the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi lying face down in front of rescue workers….
“No, that was our media: rather than hold him accountable for his own declarations of removing Assad and setting a “red line,” they simply shrugged, muttered a word or two about how war Totally Sucks Anyway, and went back to writing think pieces on the cultural impact of the President’s NCAA tournament bracket.”
…The New York Times, for instance, attributes responsibility to some mysterious governing entity known as “The United States” and scorches the country as whole for ignoring Syria and ISIS, yet manages somehow not to mention the names Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or the terms “JV” and “Red Line” once in about 1,500 words.
It wasn’t “the United States” that let Obama get away with declaring “I didn’t set that red line, the world did” only to have him to walk out the door like a dejected child needing an afternoon snack and media-induced nap. No, that was our media: rather than hold him accountable for his own declarations of removing Assad and setting a “red line,” they simply shrugged, muttered a word or two about how war Totally Sucks Anyway, and went back to writing think pieces on the cultural impact of the President’s NCAA tournament bracket.
Because of DC media’s nerd-prom infatuation at the thought of being a part, any part, of this socially cool West Wing Presidency, we have to turn to other sources in calling out this ridiculous clipboard hashtag foreign policy. Earlier this year in a brief appearance during Jon Stewart’s Night of Too Many Stars, and much to the horror of the crowd, stand up comedian Bill Burr tore into Michelle Obama over the White House’s penchant for doing nothing to stop these events except guilt-shaming us with puppydog eyes:
“She’s sitting there holding up those hashtags, Bring Back Our Girls. Remember that hashtag #BringBackOurGirls? That blew my mind, like, why are you showing me that? I’m a stand up comedian. Like what am I going to do to get back the girls? Why don’t you look across the dinner table — you see that guy? That is the Leader Of The Free World. Tell him to pick up a phone, call some Navy SEALs and solve it….what am I going to do? Show up with a sharpened mic stand? HEY EVERYONE MICHELLE TOLD ME TO BRING THEM BACK”
The whole routine is worth watching, if for no other reason than to see an overly-sensitive politically correct crowd, saturated with social media activism for the past seven years, pucker helplessly in their seats. And yet that’s where we’re at. Using Twitter to hold up signs — it’s exasperating precisely because the one “Red Line” that actually seems to still exist is the one forbidding the media from holding the one guy who can do anything about these foreign policy meltdowns and humanitarian crises responsible.
Our media collectively demands accountability for these conflicts from every single person…except the one person who has any real power to stop or mitigate it. This has always been the anecdote in Obama’s foreign policy: 1) show up 2) demand the world follow him 3) world leaders balk at his demands 4) he shrugs his shoulders and goes and plays with his selfie stick somewhere. If Obama really feels like going “all-out,” sometimes there will be an additional step 5 involving Twitter pictures of the State Department’s junior-hipster mall brigade flashing grins, thumbs-up, and razor-edged hashtags (fashioned by America’s sharpest military scientists working in the depths of DARPA to help win The Bloody War Of Memes).
Eastern Ukraine is still occupied by Putin and “our girls” have still not been returned and beyond hashtagvism, an administration far more interested in mobilizing mobs at home has all but failed to mobilize allies abroad. The repercussions of this President’s media-abetted lethargy and diplomatic ADHD will echo for generations and the same click-driven SEO Wizards of Trends that tell us now not to look away at the horrors flooding Europe will immediately torch the next Republican President for being boxed into intervening there. The Warmongering Neocon cliches will flood social media via progressive outlets like an undimmed tide, and passed off as the same interventionism nonsense by the Sunday morning peacock mafia.
It’s hard to quell the suspicion that this is why western leaders will not do what is necessary to rid the world of both ISIS and Assad. Legacy media demands we pay attention, but absolutely refuses to admit what in fact would be necessary for ending this: boots on the ground. Blood and treasure. War. Again, war. And war against whom? ISIS, yes, sure. But Assad? Do we risk all-out war with Assad in Syria, who is now backed now by Vladimir Putin, who has ramped up support with ground troops and armored divisions inside Syria? Better do a quick hit on ESPN Radio talking sports instead.
Responding to the tragedy unfolding in Syria right now means overwhelming and eliminating ISIS with uncompromising force, and returning to Iraq with a significant number of troops. ISIS can instantly erase 2,000 years of archaeological history overnight (A practice the Taliban employed as they rose to power in pre-9/11 Afghanistan) and the people charged with questioning the current administration about it refuse to address it beyond a few sad tweets…. Read the rest of this entry »