We are on the cusp of the latest deadline for a final agreement over Iran's nuclear weapons program. In the next few days, we may see a signed deal that reflects the framework announced by the Obama administration and Iranian negotiators back in April. It is an emerging agreement that almost no one, including former advisers to President Obama, believes would be a strong deal that sufficiently advances U.S. interests and bolsters our national security.
Indeed, the ayatollahs would have good reason to celebrate. They will likely be able to trumpet an internationally recognized right to enrich nuclear material, Iran's reentry into the global economy, the right to maintain a hardened underground research facility, the ability to stiff-arm international inspections and a 10 to 15-year glide path toward an unfettered nuclear program.
Such a deal would satisfy the ayatollahs' dual strategic goals of eliminating the international sanctions regime that has hampered Iran's economy and maintaining nuclear weapons breakout capability. The achievement of both goals would significantly enhance Iran's regional influence, insulate it from outside pressure and more deeply entrench the revolutionary regime of the ayatollahs.
But what would the United States — and our friends and allies around the world — have to show for it? In the end, close to nothing. The deal as currently envisioned would represent a near-complete strategic defeat for the United States. In short, it would be a "we give, the ayatollahs get" scenario.
The Emergency Committee for Israel has released an ad urging voters to hold Senator Chuck Schumer to his Iran deal red line:
"Today the Emergency Committee for Israel released 'Anytime, Anywhere,' a 30-second ad that will air this week on New York City cable news programs and appear on social media platforms in a targeted, six-figure digital buy," ECI says in a statement.
"The ad encourages New Yorkers to call on Senator Chuck Schumer to stand firm on his previously-stated red lines for an Iran deal -- especially his demand that a deal include anywhere, anytime inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. Media reports indicate that the Obama administration has already caved on inspections."
Bill Kristol, the editor of this magazine, is chairman of the board of ECI.
To critics of the Obama administration's aggressive use of regulatory power, today's 5-4 high court ruling against the EPA in Michigan v. EPA might sound like a good thing. But the administrator of the EPA is sure she has the last laugh.
centers on the EPA’s first limits on mercury, arsenic and acid gases emitted by coal-fired power plants, known as mercury and air toxics (MATS). Opponents, including the National Federation of Independent Business, say it's among the costliest regulations ever issued.
The challenge is important because it's potentially the first of a few challenges the high court will hear regarding the EPA's rulemaking, interpretation, and enforcement of the Clean Air Act, a law first signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1963.
In interpreting a section of the Clean Air Act that gives the EPA some authority to determine whether power plants are "source categories" subject to National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations, the court ruled that the "EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants."
The EPA loses, right? Not necessarily.
The Hill also reports an exchange EPA chief Gina McCarthy had on HBO with Bill Maher on his weekly show Real Time With Bill Maher:
“This is a rule that actually regulates toxic pollution emissions from primarily coal facilities, and we think we’re going to win because we did a great job on it,” she said.
Of course we now know they lost. But then there's this:
“But even if we don’t, it was three years ago. Most of them are already in compliance, investments have been made, and we’ll catch up. And we’re still going to get at the toxic pollution from these facilities,” she continued.
Republicans have long critized the costs of regulations as a hidden tax on business owners, employees, investors, and consumers. They're not wrong that regulations can indeed be costly, but perhaps they're focusing on the wrong aspect of the cost.
Now with the regulations effectively stopped by the court, lots of power companies and cooperatives are left holding the bag -- expensive emission control equipment -- that no regulation requires them to fully use.
As the second term of the Obama administration winds down, look for this story to repeat itself. After all, if you can't regulate an upopular company or industry out of business overnight, all you need are regulations, lawyers, and a few years.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell, most signs point toward Obamacare becoming the defining issue in the 2016 election. That puts Republicans in an advantageous position, as it’s a lot easier to propose and defend an alternative to Obamacare than to defend Obamacare. Indeed, the Republican candidate who GOP voters — and then general-election voters — think is most able to lead on this issue, propose a winning alternative, and sign repeal legislation into law, is likely to become both the Republican nominee and the president.
Right after the Court’s ruling, President Obama predictably proclaimed that Obamacare “is here to stay.” (He also said, “This law is working exactly as it’s supposed to. In many ways, this law is working better than we expected it to” — an amazing statement.) But outside of the imaginary world in which Obama lives, the centrality of Obamacare to the 2016 election is becoming clear.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel writes, “Now that the long months of waiting silently and expectantly for the court’s decision are over, debate on ObamaCare is about to explode in a way not witnessed since 2010.” She observes, “GOP candidates now have a clear field to present the presidential race as another referendum on ObamaCare. Only this time there will be no Romney-like nominee with a health-care history that tanks his ability to engage.”
Most encouragingly, Strassel writes, “The candidates will soon be issuing (if they haven’t already) comprehensive proposals, setting up ObamaCare to be the most high-profile, defining domestic issue of 2016 — in a way it never came close to being in 2012.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board similarly emphasizes the importance of Obamacare alternatives, writing, “The GOP presidential candidates denounced Thursday’s ruling, but their challenge now will be coming up with a reform plan to replace [Obamacare].”
Ted Cruz wasting no time showing that he welcomes a fight over Obamacare, saying, “Every GOP candidate for the Republican nomination should know that this decision makes the 2016 election a referendum on the full repeal of Obamacare.” But it remains to be seen whether Cruz will advance an Obamacare alternative that Republican voters would recognize could win in a general-election contest.
Although President Obama has not yet fulfilled his promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the population there is gradually shrinking as detainees are repatriated or released into the custody of foreign governments. The Miami Heraldnoted recently that of 116 remaining detainees, "52 are now approved for transfer... Ten other prisoners are in war-crimes proceedings, and another 54 are either candidates for war crimes trials or forever prisoners." As these detainees and others captured in counter-terrorism operations but not held in Guantanamo are processed and eventually transferred or otherwise released, the State Department is funding a program aimed at "strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders and the reintegration of returning foreign terrorist fighters."
The State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism recently announced a grant opportunity totaling $1.3 million entitled "Engaging Civil Society in Rehabilitation and Reintegration." The grant documents explain what the State Department hopes to accomplish:
CT [Bureau of Counterterrorism] invites organizations to submit proposal applications outlining a project concept and capacity to develop and manage such a program across three or more geographic regions. In pursuit of CT’s goal of reducing the recidivism of many released violent extremist offenders, this project supports the following CT objectives: build the capacity of civil society actors for the purpose of reintegrating violent extremist offenders and returning foreign terrorist fighters into communities; facilitate relationships of trust among civil society actors and governmental civilian and security sector authorities as concerns reintegration and the creation of supportive interpersonal networks; draw upon civil society capabilities to counter radicalization in prisons; and formulate, validate, and share good practices in this thematic area.
The document further explains the efforts to "counter radicalization in prisons":
Draw upon civil society capabilities to counter radicalization in prisons, especially with respect to legal services, counseling and basic and technical education provided to nonviolent, non-extremist offenders who may be falling under the influence of violent extremist ideologues and terrorist recruiters owing to comingling of inmates with very different risk profiles.
First Lady Michelle Obama is thankful for her life. At the More magazine Impact Awards at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the first lady credits her good life--and independence--to education.
"Growing up -- and I remind these girls all the time -- I wasn’t any smarter, I wasn’t more talented than they are. But instead of having to work to support my family, or being married off to a grown man and forced to bear children before I was ready, I got to go to school so I could support myself, so I could make my own choices about my body and my life," the president's wife told the crowd at the award ceremony.
"And none of us would ever accept anything less for our own daughters and granddaughters. We wouldn’t tolerate it. We would never accept a life of dependence and abuse for our girls. We would never allow their bodies to be violated or their potential to be squandered. So we have to ask ourselves, why would we accept this fate for any girl on this planet?
"And ultimately, that is why we started Let Girls Learn. As you’ve heard, it’s a government initiative, a brand new initiative to help adolescent girls worldwide go to school, and, more importantly, stay in school. And our focus on adolescent girls is deliberate, because we know that that critical moment when a girl is becoming a woman, so often, that’s when we lose her. That’s when they first confront the cultural barriers that take them away from school -- things like early and forced marriage, genital mutilation and cutting, and the belief in so many communities that girls simply are just less worthy of an education than boys."
Obama has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard.
Vienna With Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif’s one-day trip back to Tehran for consultations with supreme leader Ali Khamenei, it was a slow day for the nuclear talks here in the Austrian capital. Journalists are shuttling back and forth between the press tent and the lobby of the adjacent Marriott where Iranian intelligence officers, many of them posing as journalists, unabashedly photograph and film anyone that catches their attention. I opted out and spent the morning wandering around the city.
It’s a small city, say Viennese. It’s a very small city, several Viennese have now told me. It’s true Vienna has only 1.5 million residents, but it’s the former capital of a mighty empire. And the scale of the city—its monumental architecture, and broad avenues— is appropriately imperial. But for current residents, Vienna perhaps resembles the enormously oversized wardrobe of an ancestor with exquisite, if impossible, taste. That is, Vienna isn’t small—it’s the Austrians that got smaller. The country is unable to project power even in its near abroad and thus its foreign policy is driven entirely by business concerns. And that’s one reason why the Austrians are happy to host this round of the P5+1 talks—an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program means business opportunities for Austrian industry.
And then there’s also something fitting about the talks being held here. For quite a while now Vienna has served as something of a crossroads where opponents meet, or at least intersect, even if they don’t quite yet understand they’re adversaries. This path was blazed even before the Cold War when Vienna was a center for both Western intelligence services and their Eastern bloc adversaries. After all, this is the city whose famous late 19th-century mayor Karl Lueger, an anti-Semitic populist, shaped the thinking of two very different Vienna residents, one who plotted to destroy the Jews, and another who sought to restore them to their national homeland.
Maybe we should call such circumstance “the Café Central phenomenon,” since this Vienna coffee shop, now well over a century old, is the staging ground of so much twentieth-century historical coincidence. Both Adolf Hitler and Theodor Herzl were regulars here, though there is no chance they met since Herzl died before Hitler started hanging out there. However, according to the great Austrian-American writer Fredric Morton, who died this April at age 90, Hitler surely crossed paths with the future dictator of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, as well as Lenin and Trotsky.
1. As Solicitor General, you would be charged with defending the Defense of Marriage Act. That law, as you may know, was enacted by overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress (85-14 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House) in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton.
a. Given your rhetoric about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy—you called it “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order”—let me ask this basic question: Do you believe that there is a federal constitutional right to samesex marriage?
Answer: There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
b. Have you ever expressed your opinion whether the federal Constitution should be read to confer a right to same-sex marriage? If so, please provide details.
Answer: I do not recall ever expressing an opinion on this question.
Emphasis added. Of course, there was no right to constitutional right to same-sex marriage right up until last week when Kagan joined four other justices on the court in creating one. Appropriately enough, your opinion of whether or not Kagan lied to Congress in her confirmation hearings depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.
The Hillary Clinton campaign is selling the "Chillary Clinton Koozie Pack" to help supporters gear up for the summer. Here's a screen grab from the merchandise section of Clinton's campaign website:
"Be the coolest person at the party (with the coolest soda)," reads the description for the item.
It's an odd label for a piece of merchandise. After all, Clinton detractors who view Mrs. Clinton as cold and distance have at times labeled her "Chillary." For instance, Urban Dictionary defines Chillary Clinton as, "Hillary Clinton who is a cold politician and wears pant suits all the time."
US says system reached to give UN access to suspect Iran sites
Vienna (AFP) - A system has been reached in talks between Iran and major powers towards a nuclear deal that will give the UN atomic watchdog access to all suspect sites, a senior US official said Monday.
"The entry point isn't we must be able to get into every military site, because the United States of America wouldn't allow anybody to get into every military site, so that's not appropriate," the official said.
"But if in the context of agreement... the IAEA believes it needs access and has a reason for that access then we have a process that access is given," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"We have worked out a process that we believe will ensure that the IAEA has the access it needs."
This sentence is key: "The entry point isn't we must be able to get into every military site, because the United States of America wouldn't allow anybody to get into every military site, so that's not appropriate," the official said.
Think about that. The American official argues that Iran—a rogue regime that sponsors terror and that has lied about its nuclear program, and that is under sanctions precisely because it has proved time and again it can't be trusted—should be held to the same standards as the U.S. Amazing. It turns out the left's old doctrine of moral equivalence between the Soviet Union and the U.S. has been replaced by a doctrine of moral equivalence between Iran and the U.S.
This sentence says it all. Opponents of a bad deal should make it famous: You can only vote for this deal if you accept this basic equivalence between the Iranian regime and the U.S.
And those who've been genuinely undecided, but have said repeatedly that an acceptable deal would have to have "go anywhere, anytime" inspections, must now acknowledge the Obama administration has unequivocally yielded on what had been presented by the administration as one of its key requirements. Could this sentence be a final tipping point in collapsing congressional support for the deal?
Are airlines unfairly conniving to keep capacity low and thus drive up fares? According to Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, they are—and he's asked the Justice Department to investigate.
Unfortunately for airlines and their passengers, Blumenthal has succumbed to a particular Washington, D.C., affliction: thinking he can run a business better than the people actually running it. If they had their druthers, Elizabeth Warren would moonlight as a banker, Joe Barton as a college sports administrator, Jay Rockefeller as an oil company executive, and Hank Johnson as a geographer.
Based on a New York Times report on an airline industry meeting, Blumenthal is concerned that “many of these [airlines] publicly discussed their strategies to remain ‘disciplined’ in their decisions to manage capacity across their flight routes.” He adds that “most airlines have traditionally viewed capacity reductions as a highly valuable way to artificially raise fares and boost profit margins.”
The use of the scare quotes on “discipline” is telling. Discipline is normally a positive word, as it connotes sound management and prudent behavior—precisely what the airline industry has needed as it continues the long shakeout in the era of fare deregulation.
First of all, capacity has not been reduced in recent years. As the chart below shows, since air travel demand contracted during the recession, capacity has slowly but steadily climbed. The difference is that it has not climbed as fast as during the go-go years of the mid-2000s, when investors thought a low-fare, no-connections airline based in Columbus and a flying version of Hooters were good ideas. As airline industry analyst Brett Snyder says: “You’re only as smart as your dumbest competitor. And there were plenty of dumb competitors out there who threw a ton of capacity into a market only to make everyone unprofitable.”
The The Republican National Committee is releasing a new video to argue that Democrat Hillary Clinton turn over the private email server she maintained while serving as secretary of state to an indpendent investigator. The web video showcases several reporters and members of the media excoriating Clinton's lack of transparency. Watch the video below:
The video comes as South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy, who is leading the House special investigation committee on the Benghazi terrorist attack, told CBS's John Dickerson Sunday that Clinton is withholding emails concerning the attack.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus released a statement with the video. “From Day One, Hillary Clinton has not been telling Americans the truth about her secret email server," said Priebus. "Not only were emails not being archived as she originally claimed, but she hasn’t turned everything over either. This is another example of why a growing majority of Americans don’t trust Hillary Clinton and why she must turn her secret server over to a neutral third party for independent review.”
AEI reports that Ben Wattenberg has died. I met him only once but had admired him for years, and it strikes me that he stands as a particularly important figure today. Not for his intellect, though it was keen; or for his energy, though it was abundant. No, what marked Wattenberg foremost was his courage. When the world went crazy around him, Ben Wattenberg found the truth, stood for it, and refused to abdicate his post.
Let me explain. Beginning in 1968, America fell into the grip of a Malthusian demographic mania. It had its roots in historical racism, but commingled with the radical ideals of the sexual revolution, the nascent environmental movement, and then-thriving Marxism. The flashpoint for the hysteria was the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb,which became one of the most influential books of the century. Ehrlich predicted total calamity—hundreds of millions dead because of “overpopulation” within a few years. He proclaimed (among other things) that England would cease to exist by the year 2000.
In response, Ehrlich proposed a number of correctives, some of which were laughable, others of which were horrifying. He wanted to ban the internal combustion engine, for instance. He also wanted to impose punitive taxes on people who had children and advocated that the government take coercive actions, such as drugging the water supply to stunt women’s fertility and reduce the number of children being born.
It sounds crazy now, but this madman was celebrated at every level of society. He was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show; he was showered with academic prizes; his advice was sought by generals and presidents. Such was the mania of the day.
And against this storm stood Ben Wattenberg. In 1975, at the height of the overpopulation hysteria, Wattenberg began looking at the data and noticed that fertility rates had plummeted across the West and were falling precipitously just about everywhere else, too. He wrote a piece for the New Republic highlighting this research and proposing that the Malthusians had it exactly backwards: Within two generations, the world’s big economic problems were likely to be caused by there being too few people.
Wattenberg expanded this piece to book length in The Birth Dearth in 1987. It stands as a landmark to truth. Where Ehrlich’s work has been thoroughly discredited—not just in the academy, but even by the New York Times!—Wattenberg’s has been vindicated. Totally. Completely.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye may have avoided walking into a potential minefield in postponing her recent Washington visit due to the MERS outbreak in her home country. Following the highly successful Washington visit of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, there is a growing sense of “Korea fatigue” among American policymakers – a narrative being vigorously promoted by the Japan lobby. And with even Tokyo’s regional rival, Chinese President Xi Jinping, relenting enough on history issues to meet twice with Mr. Abe, President Park’s continued avoidance of ally Abe is being denigrated by some as not befitting a true alliance “team player.” Thus the current scramble in Seoul to convey the message that South Korea is moving forward with strategic issues of vital importance, such as cooperation on the North Korean nuclear threat. And there was President Park’s own recent comment in a Washington Post interview regarding “considerable progress” with Tokyo on the historically contentious comfort women issue (a view not necessarily shared by Japanese negotiators.)
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se recently made the first visit to Tokyo by a foreign minister of his country since 2011 in order to attend a June 22nd ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the South Korea-Japan normalization treaty. In an interview with the South Korean wire service Yonhapupon his return to Seoul, Yun stated that, "We can say that there is certainly a difference before and after this week in terms of the will for improved bilateral relations."
Yet history will rear its ugly head repeatedly this summer threatening to upset the proverbial applecart. First, there will be the June 28-29 meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn where committee members will consider Tokyo’s controversial bid to have Meiji-era industrial sites registered without mentioning the POW, Korean, and Chinese slave labor that was utilized at a number of them. Then there will be Prime Minister Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War in August. A number of questions surround this statement: Will it be official or private? And will Abe repeat former Prime Minister Murayama’s wording in 1995 that Imperial Japan, “through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”