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Friday, March 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

Sorry for the delay in posting, but it's Spring Break and I get to sleep extra late instead of my usual 5:30 AM wake-up call. And one must have priorities and with three Triangle teams in the Sweet Sixteen, I am spending a lot of my free time reading NCAA analysis and watching videos. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for NC State and Duke tonight well enjoying UNC's loss last night as well as a somewhat forlorn hope that the Irish can down Kentucky tomorrow night.

Well, good riddance. Harry Reid will not run for reelection next year. He was probably going to have a lot of trouble winning the election and leading the minority is not that fun anymore. Reid's legacy is a dirty one. He has tarnished the Senate and left it worse than he found it.
His strategy of “filling the amendment tree” blocked Republican senators from offering their own amendments to force Democrats into politically embarrassing debates and votes. When frustrated Republicans attempted to force Reid to consider their amendments by voting against his motions to close debate, Reid accused the GOP of “filibustering” the important work of the Senate.

Prompted by the liberal wing of the conference, Reid changed the Senate’s longstanding filibuster rules in 2013 to further weaken the minority party. Young progressives had had the filibuster in their sights for years, even though some Democrats were skeptical that getting rid of the tool was a good idea long-term—Democrats like Harry Reid, once. “If some had their way, and overruled the Senate parliamentarian, and the rules of the Senate were illegally changed so that the majority ruled tyrannically, then the Senate​—​billed to all as the world’s greatest deliberative body​—​would cease to exist,” he said in 2008.

Reid’s slash-and-burn strategy was effective at getting major liberal policy goals passed. While Democrats’ Senate ranks dropped in both the 2010 and 2012 elections because of these policy gains, Reid held on just long enough to stop Republicans from being a fully effective check on Obama. But his iron-fisted control over the process also hurt red-state Democrats’ abilities to distinguish themselves from their party when political winds shifted toward the GOP. Former senators Blanche Lincoln, Russ Feingold, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall, and Mark Begich can partially thank Reid for their current titles. The Democratic conference Reid will leave behind is smaller and more liberal than the one he took over in 2005.

Charles C. W. Cooke writes about Reid's so-called "service" to the U.S. Senate.
Today we will hear a lot about Reid’s “service” to the Senate and to the American people. Ha! “Service” indeed. The truth of the matter is that Harry Reid is a stone-cold killer who has damaged Washington considerably, who has elevated his own political preferences above the institution he was elected to protect, and who has made worse the partisan rancor that our self-described enlightened class claims to abhor. The greatest service he can do America is to go away.

From a purely Machiavellian perspective, there is a strong case to be made that Reid has been the most effective federal politician in the United States over the last decade or so. In order to protect the president and to advance his movements’ goals, Reid has been willing to diminish the influence, power, and effectiveness of his own institution; in order to thwart his opponents, he has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to play dirty — a capacity that sets him apart even from other harsh players such as Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz, and Dick Durbin; and, in order to satisfy his own need to feel powerful, he has perfected the scorched earth approach that has kept Obama’s presidency on life support since November of 2010 (in my estimation, the Democratic party’s success during the 2013 shutdown was the product of Reid’s obstinacy and resolve, not Obama’s).
Cooke links to this reminder from Ed Morrissey.
By any objective measure, Reid has been a blight on the Senate and on Congress. He declared the Iraq war “lost” while Americans were still fighting there, and he derailed a budget process that had worked well before his ascent into leadership. He stripped the Senate of one of its debate functions after sabotaging the amendment process, and nearly destroyed regular order. On top of that, Reid used his post to commit McCarthyite character assassination of Mitt Romney, claiming to have inside knowledge that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years, a smear that turned out to be utterly false. He has been a malevolent force for years in American politics, and nothing he did in Washington will improve the place as much as his leaving it.




Even Vox.com is disgusted with the administration's attempt to pretend that their policy in Yemen has not been an absolute failure.
If this sounds like a disaster, that's because it is. The Obama administration, which just earlier this week was touting its "Yemen model" as a success in counterterrorism strategy, has not been eager to own up to the country's disintegration. And that has come out in a series of muddled, highly cringe-worthy statements given to the press to explain how the US is handling the crisis. It will not leave you feeling confident in the administration's grasp of what to do about Yemen's chaos.
Read some of those quotes. You will cringe and be totally disgusted.

Even our European allies dislike the deal that Obama is negotiating with Iran. So that means that the administration has take out their anger on....our allies. But of course.
Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The disagreement over France’s cautious position in regard to Iran threatens to erode U.S. relations with Paris, sources said.

Tension between Washington and Paris comes amid frustration by other U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The White House responded to this criticism by engaging in public campaigns analysts worry will endanger American interests.

Western policy analysts who spoke to the Free Beacon, including some with close ties to the French political establishment, were dismayed over what they saw as the White House’s willingness to sacrifice its relationship with Paris as talks with Iran reach their final stages.







Watch White House spokesman decline to answer whether the President views Netanyahu in "the same light" he views Vladimir Putin.

As Peter Wehner points out, Obama has been obsessive about two goals regardless of the consequences: weakening Israel and emptying out Gitmo.
But what made this particular case even more problematic is that Bergdahl was freed in exchange for five high-value Taliban figures who had been held captive in Guantanamo Bay. As several outlets and individuals have pointed out, getting back a soldier who was almost certainly a deserter was simply a pretext. The main goal of President Obama is to empty Guantanamo Bay. It is something the president declared he wanted to do during his first day in office and it’s something he is committed to doing before his last day in office. Swapping Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders–several of whom are trying to return to the battlefield so they can kill more Americans–was the convenient (if explosively contentious) excuse. The Wall Street Journal reminds us that Mr. Obama told NBC that emptying Gitmo “is going to involve, on occasion, releasing folks who we may not trust but we can’t convict.”

So we have a president with at least two obsessions: One of them is attacking the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and weakening the Jewish State of Israel; the second is to empty Guantanamo Bay and release terrorists committed to killing as many Americans as possible.

We’ve never seen anything quite like this president.



Josh Kraushaar notes that the Democrats have set up problems for their 2016 Senate races as they try to figure out what their party stands for.
And already, there are several primaries that would pit the Democratic Party's pragmatic liberal wing against the true-blue progressives. Democrats may not end up with significantly more contested primaries than in the past, but the ideological stakes will be higher. The battles are shaping up to be over core issues splitting the party: entitlements, support for Israel, national security, and others. The intraparty divisions that President Obama has suppressed and Hillary Clinton has avoided will be litigated down the ballot, and the stakes won't be for control of the Senate, but for control of the party's future....

The prospect of a few competitive Democratic primaries normally wouldn't be worth noting. They pale in comparison to the messy, consequential fights that have divided the GOP over the last several election cycles. But what makes these looming battles relevant now is that they're a sign of the creeping demand for ideological purity among Democrats, as well as of the declining role of leadership in being able to shape the races to their liking. These are the same factors that led to the recent Republican skirmishes.

In case you have heard a lot of liberal outrage over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Mike Pence just signed, here is an explanation of what the law really says and can do. It's amusing how a law modeled on a federal law that passed unanimously in 1993 and was signed by Bill Clinton is now seen as so very outrageous.



Tom Gross explains what a "shocking breach" it was for how the Pentagon declassified its analysis of Israel's nuclear program last month.
In the declassified document, the Pentagon reveals supposed details about Israel’s deterrence capabilities, but it kept sections on France, Germany, and Italy classified. Those sections are blacked out in the document.

The two main exceptions in the international media that wrote about the declassification at the time were the state-funded Iranian regime station Press TV and the state-funded Russian station RT.

Both these media were rumored to have been tipped off about this obscure report at the time by persons in Washington. (Both the RT and PressTV stories falsely claim that the U.S. gave Israel help in building a hydrogen bomb. This is incorrect.)

Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons. To do so might spark a regional nuclear arms race, and eventual nuclear confrontation.

The declassification is a serious breach of decades’ old understandings concerning this issue between Israel and its north American and certain European allies.
Does anyone think it was a coincidence that they declassified the Pentagon analysis of Israel's program, but not that on France, Germany, and Italy? And that it would take place right at the time of controversy over Netanyahu's speech before Congress.


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As Bowe Bergdahl is cited for desertion, it isn't irrelevant to note all the Democrats who praised the swap of Taliban prisoners for Berghdahl.
Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state, defended the deal in the days following. Clinton dismissed claims at the time that Bergdahl had deserted as "irrelevant." "We bring our people home," she said. Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl had served with "honor and distinction."

Congressional leaders were effusive in their praise as well.

“Today is a joyful day for our nation," said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi in a May 31 statement. "As Sgt. Bergdahl returns home, we join in celebrating his safe return, and in expressing our gratitude for the relentless dedication of all the service members, intelligence officers, and diplomats who worked so hard to make this day a reality."

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, then the majority leader, took to the Senate floor on June 4 to castigate Republicans criticizing the exchange. "As the president said, this is not a victory for him. It is a victory for the United States military and our country," said Reid.

For another side of Mitt Romney, enjoy his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week. It's a shame that we didn't see more of that man in 2012.

With all that an elementary school principal has to be concerned about, why take the time and effort to force a seven-year-old student shave his head because he had gotten a military-style haircut to honor his stepbrother who is in the army? Sometimes, I just don't understand what some public-school administrators are thinking.

In the spirit of March Madness, Casey Breznick has set up bracketology for Obama administration scandals. Picking the worst one is a tough job. Filling out the NCAA bracket is a breeze in comparison.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cruising the Web

So just about everything that Obama administration tried to tell us about his trade of Gitmo prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl was false. Tom Bevan writes,
So, far from the fairy tale of a hero’s homecoming that President Obama tried to spin for the American people that Saturday morning 10 months ago, this story doesn’t have a happy ending for America. In his effort to empty the Gitmo detainee facility, the president traded five hard-core terrorists for a man who now stands officially accused of abandoning his fellow soldiers. He very may well be court-martialed and spend a good deal of his life behind bars. It’s the Taliban 5 who, beginning in just a few short weeks, get to live happily ever after.
But then fairy tales are exactly what most actions on national security by this administration have been.

As the WSJ writes,
At the time of the release, Mr. Obama said he had a sacred obligation as Commander in Chief to do everything possible to bring the sergeant home. Maybe so, but the President made his real motives clear when he noted that the transfer was part of “the transition process of ending a war” and that he wanted to “whittle away” the number of Gitmo detainees. That, he told NBC, “is going to involve, on occasion, releasing folks who we may not trust but we can’t convict.”

This is the language of a President more concerned with pursuing his ideological fixations, and fulfilling a misbegotten campaign pledge, than winning a war or securing the country....

Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan shows no sign of ending, while an emboldened Taliban can look forward to getting their old commanders back after their obligatory year in Qatar ends in June. Sgt. Bergdahl will now face a court martial, but we already know that the White House is guilty of deserting its obligations to U.S. security.

For example, do you remember when Yemen was being held up by the administration as an example of this administration's successful approach to fighting terrorism? Yeah, how has that turned out?





A. B. Stoddard, writing for The Hill, explains hw Israel has become a trap for Hillary.
As Hillary Clinton prepares to sell herself as the next leader of the free world, she will want to balance herself somewhere between the Obama administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Congress on a nuclear arms deal with Iran, and between President Obama and Bibi in the spat that threatens the bipartisan nature of American-Israeli bond.

On the issue of Israel, there will be no sweet spot for the former secretary of State. Democrats can only hope she pulls off a safe landing.

When Clinton finally comes out from behind Twitter as a candidate for president, all questions are fair game: what the terms of a nuclear arms deal with Iran should be, whether Netanyahu should have spoken before Congress without the blessing of the White House, what should be done about those politically expedient comments Netanyahu made before his reelection. Is a peace deal possible under Netanyahu? Where does she stand on a Senate bill that would give Congress more input over the Iran talks? How should the U.S. tackle rising anti-Semitism in Europe, and how can the trust that has been lost between the United States and Israel since 2009 be restored? What say you, Madam Secretary?
Political opponents are always searching for wedge issues to split the other party's base. Israel will be just such an issue. She's going to have to defend her actions in the Middle East as Secretary of State and decide whether or not to separate herself from Obama's clearly anti-Israel stance.




Oh, good news. Joe Biden is playing the long game for 2016. He's still picturing himself in the Oval Office behind the big desk. And even if he doesn't run, he's going to be working to make sure the Democrats don't bash Obama in their efforts to win in 2016.
Even if Biden continues to stay on the sidelines of the presidential contest, advisers say he feels he has an important role to play in 2016 in shoring up the Obama administration’s legacy. By traveling to early states to tout the White House’s record on the economy, health care and the environment, Biden is planting a rhetorical marker for any candidates who might try to stray too far from Obama.

“I know that we’ve been a political heavy load to carry,” Biden told House Democrats at their retreat in Philadelphia in late January, before calling on those lawmakers to “double down” on Obama’s success. “Let’s not make any apologies for what we did. Explain why what we did worked … Stick with it. Own it.”
You got that, Hillary? Own it.

Mary Katharine Ham sums up a story from Reason about how all sorts of unauthorized people at the IRS can have access to your tax information with the headline: "IRS has less identity theft security than your average Etsy shop."



George Will looks at the arguments by John Tammy in his new book, Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics, concerning how wealthy entrepreneurs are a sign of economic health for a country instead of the terrible problem that liberals want to make it. Though, of course, they don't disdain liberal billionaires, just the conservative ones.
When John D. Rockefeller began selling kerosene in 1870, he had approximately 4% of the market. By 1890, he had 85%. Did he use this market dominance to gouge consumers?

Kerosene prices fell from 30 cents a gallon in 1869 to 6 cents in 1897. And in the process of being branded a menacing monopoly, Rockefeller's Standard Oil made gasoline so cheap that Ford found a mass market for Model T's.

Monopoly profits are social blessings when they "signal to the ambitious the wealth they can earn by entering previously unknown markets." So "when the wealth gap widens, the lifestyle gap shrinks."

Hence, "income inequality in a capitalist system is truly beautiful" because "it provides the incentive for creative people to gamble on new ideas, and it turns luxuries into common goods." Since 2000, the price of a 50-inch plasma TV has fallen from $20,000 to $550.
Henry Ford doubled employees' basic wage in 1914, supposedly to enable them to buy Fords.
Actually, he did it because in 1913 annual worker turnover was 370%. He lowered labor costs by reducing turnover and the expense of constantly training new hires.

All these thoughts are from John Tamny, a one-man antidote to economic obfuscation and mystification.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), who called economics "the dismal science," never read Tamny, a Forbes editor, editor of RealClearMarkets, and now author of the cheerful, mind-opening book, "Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics."

In the early 1970s, when the Rolling Stones were coining money and Britain's top tax rate was 83%, Keith Richards, lead guitarist and social philosopher, said: "That's the same as being told to leave the country."

The Stones decamped to France, leaving Britain, Tamny notes, to collect 83% of nothing....

Is it regrettable that Americans are not doing the assembly jobs for which Chinese are paid the "latte wage"?

Actually, Americans incessantly "outsource" here at home by, for example, having Iowans grow their corn and dentists take care of their teeth, jobs at which Iowans and dentists excel and the rest of us do not.

LeBron James could be an adequate NFL tight end, but why subtract time from being a superb basketball player? The lesson, says Tamny, is that individuals — and nations — should do what they do better than others, and let others do other things.

Millions of jobs, he says, would be created if we banned computers, ATMs and tractors. The mechanization of agriculture destroyed millions of jobs performed with hoes and scythes. Was Cyrus McCormick a curse?

The best way to (in Barack Obama's 2008 words to Joe the Plumber) "spread the wealth around," is, Tamny argues, "to leave it in the hands of the wealthy." Personal consumption absorbs a small portion of their money and the remainder is not idle. It is invested by them, using the skill that earned it. Will it be more beneficially employed by the political class of a confiscatory government?
Ah, if only such common sense lessons were taught to students rather than all the whining and moaning about income inequality.


Max Boot describes the Obama efforts to realign the Middle East to his desired specifications.
Data point No. 1: President Obama withdrew U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011 and is preparing to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016, even while keeping a few more troops there this year and next than originally planned.

Point No. 2: The Obama administration keeps largely silent about Iran’s power grab in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, even going so far now as to assist Iranian forces in Tikrit, while attempting to negotiate a nuclear deal with Tehran that would allow it to maintain thousands of centrifuges.

Point No. 3: Mr. Obama berates Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly “racist” campaign rhetoric, refuses to accept his apologies, and says the U.S. may now “re-assess options,” code words for allowing the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state over Israeli objections.

Taken together, these facts suggest that Mr. Obama is attempting to pull off the most fundamental realignment of U.S. foreign policy in a generation. The president is pulling America back from the leading military role it has played in the Middle East since 1979, the year the Iranian hostage crisis began and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. He is trying to transform Iran from an enemy to a friend. He is diminishing the alliance with Israel, to lows not seen since the 1960s.

Call it the Obama Doctrine: The U.S. puts down the burden, and Iran picks up the slack.
Imagine if Obama had campaigned honestly on that platform.



Thomas Pyle outlines how the renewable-fuel standards mandating ethanol is "one of the worst examples of corporate welfare in America."
When Congress enacted the RFS in 2005, its backers argued it would combat America’s dependence on foreign oil. Today, thanks to huge increases in domestic oil production, the U.S. is significantly more energy independent. In 2005, domestic oil accounted for 40% of total U.S. oil consumption. Now it constitutes three-quarters.

Unfortunately, the mandate has created a number of new problems thanks to its exceptionally poor design. The standard requires refiners to blend volumes—rather than percentages—of biofuels into gasoline based on fuel supplies and the EPA’s annual targets. So when gasoline consumption drops, refiners must increase the percentage of biofuels in the blend.

This is happening now: Gasoline consumption peaked in 2007 and has since dropped 6%. At today’s reduced consumption levels, complying with the renewable-fuel standard would require blending gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol. That is higher than most cars are certified to use, according to AAA, and it would wreck lawn mowers, weed eaters, boats and motorcycles. The only reprieve has been bureaucratic ineptness at the EPA, which has failed to enforce the mandate and set thresholds for two years in a row.

At the same time, the RFS increases fuel prices. According to a 2014 report by the Congressional Budget Office, the mandate could raise gasoline prices by up to 27 cents between now and 2017. Moreover, ethanol is less energy dense than gasoline, which means that fuel economy drops—and drivers must fill up the tank more often—as ethanol content rises.

The renewable-fuel standard also makes it harder for families to put food on the table. Thanks to the mandate, a large and growing percentage of corn, soybeans and other crops is now used in biofuels production rather than for human consumption. Consider corn: In 2005, 15% of the nation’s corn harvest was used for fuel; today it is 40%. This makes corn more expensive. A 2012 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the RFS raises costs for chain restaurants by $3.2 billion a year. Those costs are passed on to families in higher prices.

Even the national environmental lobby is now expressing concerns. The World Resources Institute recently found that a gallon of ethanol—throughout its journey from stalk to pipe—emits more carbon dioxide than oil, which “undercuts efforts to combat climate change.”
So it doesn't achieve its stated purpose and has all sorts of pernicious unintended consequences. Rather like Obamacare.

And here is another effort by the Obama administration to undermine Israel.
n a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel's nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu's March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran's nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.

Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel's sensitive nuclear program, it kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document.
So is it a coincidence that one of the few FOIA requests on foreign affairs that the administration has respected was about Israel and came out just before the Israeli election?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cruising the Web

This is really one of the funnier efforts by the administration to demonize Israel. The WSj reported yesterday that Israel had spied on the nuclear talks between Iran and the U.S. And the administration is just so very angry. Not that Israel might have been spying since we all know that countries spy on each other. If we hadn't known that, Edward Snowden surely made it clear that the U.S. spies on our allies. And Israel denies that they spied on either the U.S. or its allies. As the story states, they say they got their information through other means.
Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.
And how did the U.S. find out about this operation? Well, the U.S. was spying on Israel.
The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.

No, it isn't any intelligence efforts by the Israelis that have angered the administration.
The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
Oh, no! How despicable of Israel to share with the U.S. Congress details that the Obama administration is desperately trying to keep from them.

So how did the WSJ get this story? It's rather clear that it was leaked to them by U.S. officials since those are the people attributed throughout with the information. Why would they leak this story to the media? It sounds rather like the administration wanted to put out there another reason for why they so despise Netanyahu's government.

But why shouldn't the Israeli government want to know what was going on in negotiations that so directly impact their country? And isn't it quite telling that the Obama administration tried to keep them out of the loop?
Americans shouldn’t be surprised, said a person familiar with the Israeli practice, since U.S. intelligence agencies helped the Israelis build a system to listen in on high-level Iranian communications.

As secret talks with Iran progressed into 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored Israel’s communications to see if the country knew of the negotiations. Mr. Obama didn’t tell Mr. Netanyahu until September 2013.

Israeli officials, who said they had already learned about the talks through their own channels, told their U.S. counterparts they were upset about being excluded. “ ‘Did the administration really believe we wouldn’t find out?’ ” Israeli officials said, according to a former U.S. official.
Maybe if the Obama administration hadn't been so determined to keep Congress out of the loop, Israel wouldn't have had to take care of letting legislators know what Obama is up to. I understand that, during delicate negotiations, U.S. diplomats don't want to share information with 535 members of Congress. But a president who cared at all about getting Congressional leaders on board for a controversial agreement would keep at least the leaders of both parties and heads of the Foreign Relations committees informed. Woodrow Wilson arrogantly thought he didn't need to talk to Republicans at all about his negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference. That mistake resulted in the Senate refusing to ratify the Treaty of Versailles which resulted from those negotiations. If he'd brought some Republicans along with him, he might have experienced a different outcome. If Congress does manage to block this terrible deal, Obama can look to his own arrogance in trying to conclude a deal while keeping Congress out of the picture. And that is why the administration is so offended at Netanyahu's temerity.




And here is yet another sign of the fatuousness of this administration's approach to Iran. Guy Benson summarizes,
If you ask the White House, any effort to hold Iran accountable for its actions poses an unacceptable threat to the current, fragile nuclear negotiations. The regime violates the interim agreement? It was just an accident, move along. Congress asserts its authority by demanding a role in the process? Outrageous meddling. Increased sanctions are threatened if Tehran walks away from the table? A veto-worthy provocation. France warns against giving away the store? "Not constructive." Brand new demands from the mullahs? We'll deal with it. Will the Obama administration also chastise UN inspectors for attempting to do their jobs? Iran's evil, illegitimate, brutal regime is playing hardball because they know whom they're dealing with across the table. That's why they're evidently quite confident that they'll also get away with this:
An Iranian official on Tuesday rebuked the chief of the U.N. atomic agency for demanding snap inspections of Iran's nuclear sites, saying the request hindered efforts to reach an agreement with world powers, state TV reported.
Oh, of course we should trust the mullahs not to lie about any of their nuclear program. It's not as if they haven't lied to the IAEA before. Bret Stephens wrote about this in November.
Does it matter what sort of deal—or further extension, or non-deal—ultimately emerges from the endless parleys over Iran’s nuclear program? Probably not. Iran came to the table cheating on its nuclear commitments. It continued to cheat on them throughout the interim agreement it agreed to last year. And it will cheat on any undertakings it signs.

We knew this, know it and will come to know it all over again. But what’s at stake in these negotiations isn’t their outcome, assuming there ever is an outcome. It’s the extent to which the outcome facilitates, or obstructs, our willingness to continue to fool ourselves about the consequences of an Iran with a nuclear weapon.

The latest confirmation of the obvious comes to us courtesy of a Nov. 17 report from David Albright and his team at the scrupulously nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security. The ISIS study, based on findings from the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded that Iran was stonewalling U.N. inspectors on the military dimensions of its program. It noted that Tehran had tested a model for an advanced centrifuge, in violation of the 2013 interim agreement. And it cited Iran for trying to conceal evidence of nuclear-weapons development at a military facility called Parchin.

“By failing to address the IAEA’s concerns, Iran is complicating, and even threatening, the achievement of a long term nuclear deal,” the report notes dryly.

These are only Iran’s most recent evasions, piled atop two decades of documented nuclear deception. Nothing new there. But what are we to make of an American administration that is intent on providing cover for Iran’s coverups? “The IAEA has verified that Iran has complied with its commitments,” Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. nuclear negotiator, testified in July to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It has done what it promised to do.” John Kerry went one better, telling reporters Monday that “Iran has lived up” to its commitments.

The statement is false: Yukiya Amano, the director general of the IAEA, complained last week that Iran had “not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures” related to suspected work on weaponization. Since when did trust but verify become whitewash and hornswoggle?
Was there ever a U.S. president so eager to exist in a fantasy world just so he could pretend to produce some landmark bit of policy that will be doomed to disaster?

And now the White House is shrugging off the Ayatollah Khamenei chanting this weekend "Death to America." Apparently, whatever Netanyahu may or may not have said about a Palestinian state is much more dismaying to this administration than what the Ayatollah says while supposedly negotiating in good faith.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to acknowledge that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had backtracked on his pre-election rhetoric against a two-state solution.

The administration appears to have found a talking point that can help it create further separation between the two countries and have not changed their stance since Netanyahu’s views changed.

While Netanyahu has expressed support for a two-state solution, so long as Palestine splits with Hamas, the White House has said they will “reassess” its position with Israel.

Jim Acosta questioned Josh Earnest on why the White House has not accepted Netanyahu’s redaction.

“The president has said things that he has reversed over the years,” Acosta said.

“Well, as I said before, words matter,” Earnest said.

Iran’s Ayatollah led thousands to chant “Death to America” just days ago while the countries continue to negotiate a nuclear deal Israel opposes.

“Do those comments give this White House any pause about moving forward with a nuclear deal with that country?” Acosta asked Earnest.

Earnest said the comments only underscore the need for a deal. When pressed to explain the Ayatollah’s comments, White House officials dismissed it as pandering to a base.
So if Netanyahu said something in the heat of a democratic election that may have been pandering to his base but the administration doesn't like, that leads them to reassess their policies toward Israel. But chanting "Death to America"is simply domestic pandering that the White House can ignore.

Allahpundit wonders if
they’re now so invested in a legacy-building detente with Iran that they’re willing to spin “death to America” rhetoric from the mullahs to get it done.
It would seem so. Doesn't that tell us all we need to know about this administration's approach to Iran?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tries to elucidate their approach to Iran in a typical for this administration incoherent fashion.
I would say, one, as a reminder, even if there is a deal with Iran, it doesn’t mean we let slide or forget, whether it’s the comments, the – or more importantly the actions, state sponsorship of terrorism, their human rights record, the fact that they’re holding American citizens – they remain – they continue to hold American citizens, including a Washington Post reporter in their jails. I mean, these are all issues that we remain very concerned about. Those concerns are not going to be soothed by a deal.

But we also feel that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is not only in our interests, it’s in the interests of the international community, and that’s why we’re pursuing it. It’s not about trust.
Got that? It's not as if we trust these terrorist-supporting, America-hating, American hostage-holding Iranians. We just want to make an agreement with this government we don't trust.




Given this administration's failures in foreign policy, Thomas Sowell wonders what accomplishments Hillary Clinton brings to her argument that she deserves to sit in the Oval Office.
Before Barack Obama entered the White House and appointed Mrs. Clinton Secretary of State, Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq had notified their higher ups, stationed in Pakistan, that their cause was lost in Iraq and that there was no point sending more men there.

Hosni Mubarak was in charge in Egypt. He posed no threat to American or Western interests in the Middle East or to Christians within Egypt or to Israel. But the Obama administration threw its weight behind the Muslim Brotherhood, which took over and began terrorizing Christians in Egypt and promoting hostility to Israel.

In Libya next door, the Qaddafi regime had already given up its weapons of mass destruction, after they saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But President Obama's foreign policy, carried out by Secretary of State Clinton, got Qaddafi removed, after which Libya became a terrorist haven where an American ambassador was killed, for the first time in decades.

The rationale for getting rid of Middle East leaders who posed no threat to American interests was that they were undemocratic and their people were restless. But there are no democracies in the Middle East, except for Israel. Moreover, the people were restless in Iran and Syria, and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy did nothing to support those who were trying to overthrow these regimes.

It would be only fair to balance this picture with foreign policy triumphs of the Obama-Clinton team. But there are none. Not in the Middle East, not in Europe, where the Russians have invaded the Crimea, and not in Asia, where both China and North Korea are building up threatening military forces, while the Obama administration has been cutting back on American military forces.

Hillary Clinton became an iconic figure by feeding the media and the left the kind of rhetoric they love. Barack Obama did the same and became president. Neither had any concrete accomplishments besides rhetoric beforehand, and both have had the opposite of accomplishments after taking office.

They have something else in common. They attract the votes of those people who vote for demographic symbolism -- "the first black president" to be followed by "the first woman president" -- and neither to be criticized, lest you be denounced for racism or sexism.



Does this surprise anyone?
Not long before he became governor of Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe received special treatment on behalf of his electric-car company from a top official at the Department of Homeland Security, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.

McAuliffe was among several politically powerful individuals from both parties, including Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), seeking special visas for foreign investors through a program administered by the department. But intervention on behalf of McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive company by Alejandro Mayorkas, now the department’s No. 2 official, “was unprecedented,” according to the report.

So much for the Obama budget.
President Obama’s budget suffered its latest ignominious defeat when the Senate rejected it on a 98-1 vote Tuesday evening, capping off the first votes of the budget season.

Democrats objected, saying the plan wasn’t really Mr. Obama’s, but Republicans said it had all the same numbers as the president’s blueprint, and so the vote counts as a rejection of his fiscal year 2016 plan.

“This is the president’s proposed budget,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who forced the vote by offering the amendment, complete with the tax hikes, spending increases and deficit targets Mr. Obama had projected in the document he sent to Congress last month.

Rejecting presidential budgets has become standard in recent years. The Senate defeated Mr. Obama’s fiscal year 2011 plan by a 97-0 vote and his 2012 plan by a 99-0 vote.
It has gotten harder and harder to teach the budget process to my students. There is the process as laid out by law of what should happen, but that hasn't happened for years. And when I discuss how the OMB director puts together a president's budget and works on that for months, I also have to tell them that it is usually DOA when it gets to Capitol Hill. Much like the whole legislative process, I have to teach my students the procedures as they should be and what actually goes on. Teaching AP Government is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.



Well, this makes you feel secure, doesn't it?
Could Lois Lerner still take a look at your tax returns on IRS computers? It sounds preposterous, but a new watchdog report says former IRS employees still have access to IRS computer systems long after they have no official business with the information. The report is by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. The GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. In the case of IRS security, the report says not well.

This report cites significant deficiencies in the security of IRS financial reporting systems. Millions of Americans who are legally required to file taxes are fearful about fraud. The report says the IRS needs to continue improving controls over financial and taxpayer data. In the case of former IRS workers with continuing access to IRS data systems, they need to be cut off.

One co-author of the report said the IRS horde of taxpayer data can be used by identity thieves. The timing couldn’t be worse for the IRS. The IRS is failing to secure its massive computer systems, leaving private taxpayer data vulnerable to fraudsters and hackers, the new report from the GAO reveals.

Lisa Schiffren explains why Hillary Clinton is not the future.
It’s hard to forget that story, told by the Arkansas state troopers, about Bill and Hillary fighting over her desire to put a pool in the Governor’s mansion, at taxpayer expense, in the nation’s second poorest state. Bill thought it unseemly. Ms. Clinton screamed, “Everyone else has one.”

Remember the fraudulent Whitewater real estate deals, and the famous commodities trade, in which Ms. Clinton “invested” $1000 with a friend who magically turned it into $100,000? And young Mrs. Clinton’s frugality in donating Bill’s used underwear to Goodwill—and taking a tax deduction of a dollar a pair?

Now, with a net worth around $100 million, the Clintons’ income comes through the Clinton Foundation. The ex-president collects hundreds of thousands of dollars speaking to shady businessmen and corrupt third world regimes, among others. The fact that the Secretary of State of the United States found it acceptable to go hat in hand to kings, despots and oligarchs to beg for her family operation boggles the moral sense. It is disgraceful. That it doesn’t generate universal disgust is a legacy of … the Clintons. We are inured to the way they have sold the American presidency by taking money that guarantees access and perhaps future favors. It’s a safe bet that emails on the private server confirm such deals.

America has known Hillary Clinton for 24 years. We met her in 1991. She dresses better these days, and has an air of command. But there are no hidden depths left. She is a political animal, through and through. Elevating her to higher office won’t unleash wisdom, original ideas, or more grace than we’ve seen this quarter century.

Finally, on the ‘first woman’ matter, HRC graduated from Wellesley College in 1969, 45 years ago, at the height of social revolution. She was ambitious and radical. But as a feminist she lacked the courage of her convictions, or she wouldn’t have pursued power through marriage, especially one so sexually humiliating.

Today’s world is peopled with women who graduated in those decades, and pursued serious careers. They have deep experience in the professions, business, and politics. We have female Senators and Governors, who built their own political operations, have measurable achievements, and honest bank balances. A few have wartime military experience. None has faced multiple hearings over legal and ethical lapses. One of them will be the first female president.

Hmmm. I wonder if this quote from Justice Kennedy's testimony before the House committee on the Supreme Court's budget may signify how he's leaning in King v. Burwell, in which one of the outcomes would have the Court leave it in the hands of Congress to fix the mistake in how the Affordable Care Act was written. The administration has urged them not to do that because of the difficulty this Congress would have in passing such legislation.
It is not novel or new for justices to be concerned that they are making so many decisions that affect a democracy. And we think a responsible, efficient, responsive legislative and executive branch in the political system will alleviate some of that pressure. We routinely decide cases involving federal statutes, and we say, “Well, if this is wrong, the Congress will fix it.” But then we hear that Congress can’t pass the bill one way or the other, that there’s gridlock. And some people say, “Well that should affect the way we interpret the statutes.” That seems to me a wrong proposition. We have to assume that we have three fully functioning branches of the government, that are committed to proceed in good faith and with good will toward one another to resolve the problems of this republic.
Might that be a hint as to what Justice Kennedy thinks of the administration's argument? As always, who can predict how Justice Kennedy might decide?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cruising the Web

On its fifth-year anniversary of the passage of Obamacare, IBD reminds us of the five biggest lies and exaggerations made by the Democrats about the bill.


Daniel Greenfield refutes the "myth of Bibi Netanyahu's racism." In the media's horror over Netanyahu's warning about arabs being bused in, they ignored all the arab communities that did vote for him.
The residents were uninterested in any of the accusations of racism being aimed at Netanyahu by the media. Instead they were interested in housing. As one resident put it, “I used to sleep in a cave with my goats. Now I ask my daughter what wallpaper she wants in her room.”

Netanyahu’s election comment about Arabs being bused in to vote has been seized on as a useful excuse to explain how the media’s poll numbers that showed Netanyahu losing align with the actual results by claiming that a rash of racist Israelis rushed to vote. But that fails to explain why the exit polls were still badly wrong. A more realistic explanation is that the media’s polling was biased against Netanyahu. But it’s easier for the media to accuse Netanyahu of racism than admit to its own biases.

When Netanyahu warned about Arabs being bused in, he obviously was not talking about his own Arab voters, but the Joint Arab List whose MKs include Ahmed Tibi, who claimed that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, Tibi’s brother-in-law, Osama Sa’adi, who represented Hamas terrorists, Haneen Zoabi, who met with Hamas officials and defended the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens and Jamal Zahalka, who attended a Hamas rally and claimed that Israel would be destroyed.

Also on the list is Masud Ghanim, a Muslim Brotherhood member who called for replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate and stated that he supports Hezbollah.

The Joint Arab List is composed of several parties. Hadash has its roots in the Israeli Communist Party. Despite the name, it rejects Israel and its only remaining Jewish MK is Boris ‘Dov’ Khenin, the son of David Khenin the party’s co-founder and General Secretary of the Communist Youth Union. Balad was founded by Azmi Bishara who fled Israel after being investigated as an enemy spy. Balad had already been suspended for calling for war against Israel. The United Arab List emerged out of the local Muslim Brotherhood franchise and is stacked with Muslim Brotherhood members.

The Muslim Brotherhood believes that the Islamic apocalypse requires exterminating the Jews.
A lovely group all around. The media are ignoring the variety of Arab voters in Israel and how a sizable group supported Likud.
Those Arabs that support Israel want to see a strong country and they don’t wring their hands when conservative Israeli politicians say politically incorrect things. The Joint Arab List wants to see it gone and those who vote for them are no more likely to spare the Jewish State no matter how softly it speaks.

Israel’s cultural conflict is a complex one. It doesn’t just pit Jews against Arabs or Muslims against Jews, it pits Arab Druze against European Jewish leftists and Aramean Christians against Arab Muslims. The left prefers cheap shots to actually understanding the complexities of a country that can’t be summed up with a keffiyah and a protest sign. After their election defeat, Obama and the media have decided to reduce Israel to Netanyahu and Netanyahu to the devil. It’s the easy way out, but it fails to take account of men like Ayoub Kara or Father Naddaf, of the Likud landslide in Arab-al-Naim and of Lieberman’s wins in Arab towns and villages. The Jews and Arabs are more complex than the left would like them to be.
Complexity is never of concern when there is demagoguing to be done.

An additional irony is how angry Obama is with Netanyahu for saying exactly what Obama's own Secretary of State has said.
According to the April 18, 2013 U.K. Telegraph: "Mr Kerry, the US secretary of state, told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the 'window' for a two state solution was 'shutting'.

'I think we have some period of time, a year, a year-and-a-half, or two years and it's over,' he said."

And what happened two years after Mr. Kerry's prophecy that at the maximum, after two years, the two-state solution is "over"? On March 16, 2015, Netanyahu asserted that there won't be a Palestinian state.

And then, a funny thing happened. Instead of rejoicing at his secretary of state's powers of clairvoyance and prophecy, President Obama became enraged: "'We take him [Netanyahu] at his word that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,' Mr. Obama said."

But why "evaluate" "other options" regarding Mr. Netanyahu, who, after all, merely confirmed what Mr. Kerry stated two years prior? Shouldn't Mr. Obama rather "evaluate" Mr. Kerry?




Betsy McCaughey refutes the whole idea that Hillary Clinton should be a feminist icon who will crash the glass ceiling.
But in truth, even then she was riding on Bill’s coattails. She got the law job in 1977 — surprise — just after he was sworn in as the state’s attorney general. Then, two years later when he was inaugurated as governor — bingo! — she was vaulted to partner. Hardly the struggle she now recalls. Though Hillary was called a trial lawyer, her former colleagues told The New York Times they can’t remember her ever trying a case.
Fast forward to 1993. Newly inaugurated President Bill Clinton announced a Task Force on National Health Care Reform and made his wife the chair. It was Hillary’s big moment.
With trademark naivete and arrogance, she insisted on keeping secret the names of 500 advisers, barred the public and the press from Task Force meetings and presented a Rube Goldberg revamp of the nation’s entire health system to Congress as a fait accompli before even getting its input. Within four months, a federal judge ruled the Clintons were violating federal open meeting laws, and The Wall Street Journal ridiculed her meetings as “an exercise in Soviet-style Kremlinology.“ Hillary’s M.O. was to vilify critics (including me) as “extremists.” Her mismanagement sabotaged the momentum to get health reform done, even in a Democratically controlled Congress, and set the cause back years.

Geoffrey Norman explains the real power in Iowa and why it is such a shame that this is the first state in the presidential contest.
The big political interest of the state is in corn. More specifically, in a corn product that Americans are compelled to buy if they want to drive a car, run a boat, use a chain saw or leaf blower … to do virtually anything that requires the use of a gasoline burning, internal combustion engine. Iowa is about ethanol....

Consumers never “voted” to put ethanol in their cars. In fact, there were warnings that it would damage the engines of older models. Ethanol is roundly hated by users of smaller engines. Mechanics who work on two-stroke engines are kept busy cleaning up the fouled carburetors of snow blowers, lawnmowers, string trimmers and the like. Furthermore, gasoline with ethanol blended in delivers less energy than pure gasoline.

But that, we were told, is just the price you pay if you want “energy independence” and assorted environmental benefits that were said to be the result of ethanol use. And there was the national security pitch for ethanol, as made by former CIA director James Woolsey who once said that American corn famers were “at the tip of the spear on the war against terrorism.”

In war, some people profit. Even excessively. So Iowa and other corn states prospered at the expense and inconvenience of the rest of the country. But that’s the way it goes in the political spoils game....

The country is awash in cheap oil. To the point that it is running out of storage capacity. The arguments for an ethanol mandate have been demolished by the technology of fracking. Iowa needs that first-in-the-nation caucus to keep the candidates in line and, hence, the famers planting corn fence-row to fence-row and the distilleries on line.
So everyone running for president travels to Iowa and speaks up for this stupid mandate. One reason I liked John McCain in 2008 is because he was honest enough to speak up against the mandate while in Iowa.





Judith Shulevitz wrote in the NYT this weekend about how college students are being encouraged to hide from ideas that scare them. And now these young adults are being encouraged to retreat to "safe rooms" when there are opinions being expressed that make them uncomfortable.
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material.
Really? Isn't college a place where students should be encouraged to hear opinions with which they might disagree?




Kevin Wiliamson explains how we've come to a point where the word of this president and his administration is just not to be trusted.
‘Can I trust what the president says? That’s a yes-or-no question.” So inquired U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in response to having been lied to by the Obama administration. The administration wants to use a presidential decree to enact an amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants; half of the states have rallied behind Texas in arguing that this is unconstitutional, that the president is arrogating to himself a legislative power that is properly Congress’s. Lawyers for the Justice Department, led by Kathleen Hartnett, assured the court that no action on DAPA — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — would be taken until Judge Hanen had made a ruling on whether to issue an injunction against it.

“Like an idiot, I believed that,” the judge says.

The Obama administration, being what it is, ignored its promise to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and began handing out reprieves as fast as it could, issuing more than 100,000 of them. When the annoyed judge demanded to know why the Department of Justice had lied to a federal court, Hartnett argued that the reprieves were being handed out under a different set of guidelines. The judge was not buying it. Among other things, the administration is offering three-year grants of immunity, which are not authorized by the earlier authority under which it purports to be operating.
That's this administration - lying to a federal judge.

Greg Lukianoff of FIRE has a scary story from Chicago state University which attempted to pressure a school administrator to file a false charge of sexual harassment against a professor the university wanted to silence.



Feminists should rethink their assertion that men cannot speak about women's issues.
Second, if abortion advocates who believe men shouldn’t comment or vote on women’s issues were logically consistent, they would also support barring women from weighing in on “men’s issues.” But no one has proposed that (nor should they). When California Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the National Prostate Cancer Plan Act earlier this year, nobody suggested that she withdraw her sponsorship because, as a woman, she doesn’t, as Davis might put it, have the equipment.

Likewise when various congressional committees have held hearings on National Football League concussions and steroids in baseball, we don’t remember anyone ever proposing that women legislators recuse themselves because women don’t play in either the NFL or the major leagues.

Taken a step further, Simpson’s logic might mean that the opinions of abled-bodied people should be discounted when considering policies that deal with disability. Or that the votes of immigrant legislators should count for more than those of the native-born on bills that address immigration. The possibilities—and the absurdities—are endless.

Third, when politicians vote, they don’t (or shouldn’t) consider only their own interests; they’re elected to office to represent their constituents. When Boxer introduced her prostate cancer bill, she may or may not have had strong personal convictions about improving prostate cancer screening and early detection. But she introduced the bill as the elected representative of millions of the people who live in her state, including the nearly 20,000 California men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.

Beware if you're smoking Colorado pot.
Colorado's legal marijuana is three times stronger than it was a generation ago and is often contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, fungus and bacteria, a startling chemical analysis of 600 samples has found.
Additionally, modern pot has very low levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, the compound that medical marijuana advocates say gives the drug its healing properties. In most samples, the CBD levels were so small they were undetectable.

Allahpundit points to an idea by Kurt Schlichter of a poison pill to get Democratic support for blocking Obama's deal with Iran.
Allahpundit points out that such a ban would also include Saudi Arabia and Iraq. How about limiting the proposal to not making executive agreements when the religious leader who runs the country calls for death to America?

And yet another lie from Hillary about her emails.

Ouch. John Steele Gordon, a historian whom I admire, writes that "Ted Cruz is a right-wing Barack Obama."
Barack Obama was spectacularly unprepared to be president and, except for the true believers, his presidency has been a disaster because of it. He had no executive experience whatever but was supposed to be the chief executive officer of the largest organization on earth, the federal government. He had no political leadership experience, having been a backbencher in both the Illinois Senate and the United States Senate, with no legislative accomplishments to his credit. He had no foreign affairs experience. He has proved to be a terrible negotiator, ideologically rigid and contemptuous of any opinion but his own, although negotiating—getting to yes—is the very essence of politics. Today Senator Ted Cruz is announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. Is he qualified?
Think of how much of that could also describe Ted Cruz. Just because conservatives agree with Cruz doesn't mean he would make a good president. This is what particularly makes me reject Cruz as a candidate I'd support.
5) Negotiating skills. Like Obama, Cruz doesn’t seem to have any and no desire to use them if he did. He’s a bomb-thrower and an ideologue, insisting on touchdowns or nothing rather than moving the ball down the field.