At the end of an exchange between Sen. Tom Cotton and Gen. Martin Dempsey regarding the number of American servicemen killed by the Iranians, Cotton asks if Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani was responsible for the explosively formed penetrators that took the lives of several hundred Americans. Yes, answers Dempsey. Then why, Cotton asks the secretary of state, is Suleimani being taken off the sanctions list. “Under the United States’ initiative,” says Kerry, “Qassem Suleimani will never be relieved of any sanctions.”
Kerry’s phrasing here is awkward—what does he mean by “initiative”? Suleimani is still on the U.S. list for non-nuclear related sanctions. But the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action removes the Quds Force commander from the U.N. list for nuclear-related sanctions. This seems to be the third time, even after the State Department set the record straight two weeks ago, that Kerry has insisted that Suleimani is still under sanctions.
The American blood that Suleimani drew in Iraq and Afghanistan is hardly the only reason that Cotton says “the United States should reject this deal.” In a keynote address for a conference at Hudson Institute on the JCPOA. (Full disclosure: I am a senior fellow at Hudson and moderated the ensuing panel.), Cotton explained why. “No deal, whatever its details, should leave the ayatollahs grinning,” said Cotton.
Iran is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. It is led by an anti-American, anti-Semitic, jihadist regime that’s destabilizing the Middle East and has shed the blood of hundreds of Americans. We do not share interests, and we do not share values with this regime. Any agreement that advances our interests must by necessity compromise Iran’s—doubly so since they are a third-rate power, far from an equal to the United States. The ayatollahs shouldn’t be happy with any deal; they should’ve felt compelled to accept a deal of our choosing lest they face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear infrastructure. That Iran welcomes this agreement is both troubling and telling.
Rep. Grace Meng of New York has come out against the Iran nuclear deal. Meng's statement reads as follows:
"I strongly believe the world could and should have a better deal than that set forth in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which I will therefore oppose.
"While I will continue to study the finer points of the deal, they will not be dispositive for me. I believe the inspections procedures set forth are flawed - leading nuclear experts assert that, pursuant to these procedures, inspectors would not necessarily know whether Iran is manufacturing uranium components for a nuclear weapon. This is unacceptable. Furthermore, I am deeply concerned that almost all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would remain intact; this leads me to believe Iran would simply resume its pursuit of a nuclear weapon at the conclusion of the deal in a decade’s time. Finally, the immediate sanctions relief provided Iran in the deal would incentivize the funding of terrorism and lessen Iran’s interest in restraining its nuclear ambitions over the long term.
"I commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry for their efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but the deal before us now is simply too dangerous for the American people. I have every confidence a better deal can be realized.”
Africa has been in focus with the death of a prized lion at the hands of an American hunter. The hunter is even being sought by Zimbabwean officials.
CNN has the details: "An American man is being sought in connection with a case that has drawn international attention -- the killing of Cecil the lion -- Zimbabwean officials said Tuesday. The man suspected in Cecil's death is Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, according to Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
"The Cecil, who was 13, was a prized lion in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, where visitors reportedly sighted him frequently. A video of the animal, regal, indifferent and sleepy-eyed, has been widely disseminated."
It's been a tragic couple years for Africa.
The death of Cecil comes on the heels of the tragedy of Ebola and the continuing murderous terror of Boko Haram.
Consider Ebola: "More than 23,200 people in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola since March, according to the World Health Organization, making this the biggest outbreak on record. More than 9,300 people have died," the New York Times reported in January of this year.
And consider the terrorist group Boko Haram. "During 2014, Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 3,750 civilians died during Boko Haram attacks. .. Attacks in the first quarter of 2015 have increased compared to the same period in 2014, including seven suicide bombings allegedly using women and children."
At least the death of Cecil has been getting widespread coverage, especially here in the United States.
"[T]he news shows did find more than 14 minutes for a more important story: the “outrage” over the shooting of Cecil, a famed African lion, by an American dentist. Tuesday, the networks spent 5 minutes, 44 seconds during their evening news shows on Cecil -- and that’s not even counting the teasers. Wednesday morning, ABC, NBC and CBS lamented over the lion for 8 minutes, 17 seconds," Newsbusters reports.
Secure America Now, a group opposed to President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, released a new poll this morning.
One main conclusion that Democratic pollster and former Carter advisor Pat Caddell drew was that "the more Americans learn about key details within the Iran agreement, the less they like it." The poll surveyed 800 likely voters.
The group shared these key findings:
· After learning the facts about the Iran deal, 65% want their Senator or Congressman to oppose it. 45% wanted Congress to oppose before learning the facts.
· 80% oppose giving Iran $150 billion in sanction relief in the next few weeks and months without Congressional approval.
· 72% said that Congress should NOT approve a deal that does not allow independent U.S. inspections of Iran’s military laboratories.
· 68% do NOT believe that U.N. inspections with a 24-day notification period before will stop Iran from cheating.
· 65% think this deal will have other nations follow through on their threat to attain nuclear weapons to protect themselves from Iran.
· 63% disagree that the deal prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Only 29% agree.
· 77% agree that if we don’t stop Iran now they will eventually get nuclear weapons and our children will likely face nuclear war. Only 17% disagreed.
Trump went after McCain on July 19. He was sitting a half-point behind Jeb Bush in the RealClear average that day-15.0 to 15.5. After July 19, Trump's arrow-which was already pointing upwards-went vertical. Today he's at 18.2. The only person hurt by Trump insulting American POWs was Jeb!, whose number has dipped to 13.7.
Maybe next week Trump will go after Mitt Romney. Crazier things have happened. But remember: It's all fun and games until he mounts a third-party run.
A couple weeks ago I wrote that Trump "holds in his hands something like veto power over the Republican quest to win the White House." Since then he's gone back and forth publicly about his openness to an independent bid. But what does the math on that actually look like?
Let's go back to the year 2000, which is the last time an independent tipped the balance of an election. George W. Bush got 50.45 million votes; Al Gore got 50.99 million. Ralph Nader got 2.88 million_just 2.7 percent of the total. And we all know how that turned out.
2000 was an extraordinary election in the sense that the votes were split quite evenly between the two parties. But it looks a little more ordinary if you assume that most of those Nader votes would have gone to Gore, which would have given the vice president a pretty comfortable margin of victory-about 3 million votes. It was also a pretty ordinary election in terms of turnout, with 54.2 percent of eligible voters participating. (Compared with, say, 1992, when 55.1 percent of eligible citizens voted.)
But the 2000 cycle began a period of increasing political intensity and polarization. (People tend to blame the Iraq war for these increases, but I suspect that it was actually a combination of Bush v. Gore, 9/11, and Iraq which created a catastrophic example of resonance in the body politic.) In 2004, voter turnout increased dramatically, to 60.1 percent, and Bush won 62 million votes-a tremendous increase over his 2000 total.
Secretary of State John Kerry testified on Capitol Hill today the U.S. government will not be revealing the contents of secret side deals with Iran to the American people. Senator Tom Cotton wanted to know why it can't be made public.
Watch the exchange:
"I'd like to stick with you, Secretary Kerry," Cotton said. "Why can't we confirm or deny the content of these agreements in public? Why is this classified? It's not a sensitive U.S. government document."
"Because we respect the process of the IAEA and we don't have their authorization to reveal what is a confidential agreement between them and another country," said Kerry.
Cotton said, "So the ayatollahs will know what they agreed to but not the American people?"
Kerry said that members of Congress would be able to learn about it in a classified briefing.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified on Capitol Hill today that it was his recommendation that the U.S. not lift its sanctions on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles that were part of the Iran deal.
Senator Kelly Ayotte asked, "I know when you appeared before the committee on July 7th. I was actually the person who asked you about -- there had been floated some views in the press at that time that Iran was pushing for lifting of the resolution on ballistic missiles and the resolution of arms, which we now know are in the agreement at five years and eight years. Just to be clear, when you came before the committee then, you said under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran on those issues. So was it your military recommendation that we not agree to lifting of those sanctions?"
"Yes," said Dempsey, "and I used the phrase as long as possible and then that was the point at which the negotiation continued. But yes, that was my military advice."
It is clear that the final terms of the agreement between the U.S. and Iran fail to meet any of the goals publicly stated by the administration at the outset of the talks, even goals reiterated just a few months ago (e.g., “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites). There can only be two reasons for this failure: Either the Obama administration is uniquely inept at negotiations, or the negotiations regarding Iran’s nukes were nothing but a smokescreen for the pursuit of an entirely different agenda. The former, while marginally plausible, hardly begins to explain how we got from an initial position in which we held a winning hand, to an outcome in which Iran walked away from the table with nearly all the chips.
That leaves the second reason. But if that’s the case, what was the hidden agenda behind the talks? Questions raised during the negotiations strongly suggest that the real purpose of the talks was not to negotiate the terms of Iran’s abandonment of nuclear weapons technology, but rather to agree on the terms by which Iran would re-enter the family of nations as a regional power, even at the price of acceptance of Iran’s eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons.
For example, how else to explain the president’s threat to veto legislation proposed some months ago to tighten sanctions if Iran did not expressly agree to forgo nuclear weapons? Why would the president so vehemently reject a tool offered by Congress that would have greatly strengthened his negotiation positon? Why did the announcement by Russia (our negotiation “partner”) that it would sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran meet with little more than a shoulder shrug from the Obama administration? The installation of these missiles would seriously undermine the military option that we had been told was “on the table,” again, weakening our negotiation position. Why, just days after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for no relief of the UN embargo of ICBM technology to Iran, did the administration agree at the last minute to do just that?
The answers to these questions are perhaps hinted at by President Obama’s declaration that it is his “hope” that Iran will, some day, assume a responsible, stabilizing role in the Middle East, even as he admits that he does not expect any short-term change in the regime’s behavior. In other words, it appears that President Obama’s grand strategic vision is an Iranian-American rapprochement that, somehow, someday, defeats ISIS, forces Syria’s Assad out of power, and puts Iran’s terrorist proxies out of business. As America’s “partner in peace”, what does it matter what weapons Iran acquires, including nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them? And why bother with such “distractions” as Iran’s anti-Israel posture and its support for terrorism, when Iran’s hoped-for stake in Middle East stability will put these concerns in the rear-view mirror? In this context, the final terms of the Vienna agreement make perfect sense as a fulfillment of the president’s strategic goals.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter admitted in testimony Capitol Hill this morning that Iran will not be changing its bad behavior as a result of the nuclear deal.
Here's video of Carter's admission:
"Do you, Secretary Carter, believe that Iran will change its behavior as a result if this agreement is finalized? And have you seen any indication of that?" Senator John McCain asked this morning.
"I've not, Mr. Chairman," said Secretary Carter. "In speaking just from my own judgment I don't foresee that or have any reason to foresee that. That is why it's important that the agreement be verifiable. That is why it's important that Iran not have a nuclear weapon and that is also why it's important that we keep doing everything that we need to do. Defend our friends and allies, remain strong in the Gulf, freedom of navigation, ballistic missile defense--all of the things we're doing. We need to keep doing those things, and the agreement doesn't limit us in anyway. Obviously if Iran changes its behavior, that would be a welcome thing. But I see no reason to foresee that chairman, personally."
In a new interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Hillary Clinton calls videos about Planned Parenthood's involvement in the harvesting and selling of human organs "disturbing." Clinton doesn't say precisely what she finds disturbing about the videos, only that it "raises questions about the whole process." The Union Leader reports:
Calling them “disturbing,” Hillary Clinton said undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue raise questions about the process nationwide.
“I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said during a sit-down interview Tuesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions. I think there are two points to make,” Clinton said. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”
"I have said for more than 22 years that abortion should be legal, safe and rare," Clinton added. Many liberals strongly dislike the statement that abortion should be "rare" because it implies there's something wrong about abortion. The phrase "safe, legal, and rare" was made popular by Clinton's husband in 1992. The Democratic party dropped the word "rare" from the party platform in recent years.
William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying tells the story of Anse Bundren, an impoverished widower who carries his wife’s corpse across Mississippi to her desired burial ground.
Eighty-six years after the novel’s publication, the Southern infatuation with dead bodies continues unabated.
On July 7, the Memphis City Council voted to exhume the body of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate lieutenant general and first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He is buried beside his wife, who will also be removed.
Forrest and his wife are buried in Health Sciences Park, a public park that also contains a large statue of Forrest on horseback. The council hopes to sell the statue to “anyone who wants it.”
Before either the statue or the bones are removed, the Memphis City Council will have to figure out a way around two key Tennessee laws. The first is the state Heritage Protection Act of 2013, which states that,
No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, or plaque which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of…the War Between the States…and is located on public property, may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed.
The Heritage Act was enacted in 2013, after the Memphis City Council renamed a number of local parks bearing the names of the Confederacy. One such park was Forrest Park (renamed Health Sciences Park), where Forrest currently resides.
Steve Mulroy, a law professor at the University of Memphis, points to a subtlety in section 2(a)(2) of the Heritage Act that might allow the City Council to bypass the historical commission entirely. Because the statue is of a “particular military figure,” Mulroy says the “literal plain language” forbids either renaming or rededicating the statue – but says nothing about moving it, he tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
The council might use this as a “fallback” option if the Tennessee Historical Commission rejects their petition. Mulroy believes the commission will rule in favor of removing the statue, due to the current nationwide momentum in favor of eradicating Confederate symbols across the country. After the shootings in Charleston, Confederate flags have been lowered all over the South, most notably on the South Carolina Capitol grounds.
The other obstacle is a Tennessee code on cemeteries, which reads that a burial ground may be disturbed only if it is in “neglected or abandoned condition; or...inconsistent with due and proper reverence or respect for the memory of the dead, or for any other reason unsuitable for those purposes.”
The Memphis City Council will have to file a suit with the Chancery Court if it wants to move the bodies. While the code deals primarily with abandoned cemeteries, Mulroy says that, if the Council deems Forrest’s current burial spot “no longer consistent with the public purpose,” then the petition will likely be accepted.
Further complicating the matter are rumors of the Memphis City Council’s plans to sell Health Sciences Park to the University of Tennessee.
A friend with political experience who's also a sports fan writes:
“The media seem largely in agreement that Tom Brady deserves his punishment because he destroyed his personal cell phone.
“Meanwhile, much of the media is defending Hillary Clinton, even though as a PUBLIC OFFICIAL she ignored the rules and handled official email on her personal server and email address, and then destroyed the server and those emails she claims were personal.
“If Brady had turned over to the NFL a select group of text messages he personally chose to reveal, claimed all others were not related to Deflategate, and then destroyed those messages and his phone, would he have had his suspension lifted?
“I don’t think so.
“He plays a game for a living.
“And she wants to be the leader of the free world.”
Senator Joni Ernst, a freshman Republican from Iowa, introduced a two-page bill Tuesday evening to defund Planned Parenthood without reducing federal funding for health care programs:
“As a mother and grandmother, I find this footage of Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies morally reprehensible and vile,” Ernst said in a statement. “The American people are horrified by these videos as well. Simply put, this legislation ensures that funding for women’s health is protected and that taxpayer dollars will not go to Planned Parenthood.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate will vote on the measure before the congressional August recess. A third undercover video was also released today further documenting Planned Parenthood's practice of harvesting and selling the organs of aborted babies.