July 26, 2015

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Richard Epstein writes on the “disastrous Iran deal.”

… In his much-ballyhooed interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, he stated: “Don’t judge me on whether this deal transforms Iran, ends Iran’s aggressive behavior toward some of its Arab neighbors or leads to détente between Shiites and Sunnis. Judge me on one thing: Does this deal prevent Iran from breaking out with a nuclear weapon for the next 10 years and is that a better outcome for America, Israel and our Arab allies than any other alternative on the table?”

In fact, we should judge President Obama and his treaty harshly on each of these points. By providing Iran with billions of dollars of immediate cash, this agreement will help Iran fund wars and terrorist attacks that could take thousands of lives. To offset this possibility, the President has indicated that he will try to bolster American assistance to the various countries that will be affected by Iranian aggression, but none of our allies can have much confidence in the leadership of a President who has made at best negligible progress in dealing with ISIS. His public vow to never put American ground forces in the Middle East turns out to be the only promise that he is determined to keep—for the benefit of our sworn enemies who have greater freedom of action given his iron clad guarantee. The objection to the President here is not that he has merely failed to curb Iranian mischief. It is that his clumsy deal will massively subsidize it.

Second, there is no more “snap back” here. Once the sanctions set out explicitly in the agreement are lifted from Iran, they won’t be reinstated any time soon. Gone are the days of anytime, anywhere inspections. In stark contrast, Articles 36 and 37 of the agreement outline a tortuous review process to reinstate any sanctions. First the Joint Commission must act, then the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and then a nonbinding opinion by a three-member Advisory Board must be issued. If the matter is not resolved to mutual satisfaction after this process runs its course, any participant “could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this ICPOA.” …




Craig Pirrong posts on military discontent.

I have long been certain that there is seething discontent within the Pentagon, directed squarely at Obama. The past several days have made this abundantly clear.

The most brutal takedown was by retiring Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno. This certified warrior squarely blames Obama’s Iraq bugout for the rise of Isis. Further, he pointed out Iran’s malign role in the Middle East. He agreed that Iran, and the truly evil Qasem Soleimani in particular (who was un-sanctioned as a result of the Iran deal), were responsible for the bulk of American deaths in Iraq in 2007-2009.

Further, two generals (including the nominee to be Odierno’s replacement) and the Secretary of the Air Force gave testimony before the Senate which squarely undercuts Obama policy. Each identified Russia as the US’s primary threat: one referred to it as an “existential” threat. As if to emphasize that this was off-message, spokesnimrod Josh Earnest said that no one on Obama’s national security staff believes this. This is no doubt true. So much the worse for them. …




At least, what the president is doing to the country he also is doing to the Dem Party. Steve Hayward has the feel good story of the day.

As the left descends further into madness, and the demographics of Democratic presidential field embarrasses even the AARP, it is worth pondering that the weakness of the Democratic Party goes far down the political food chain. The Wall Street Journal takes note of this in a front-page story this morning:

“… After two presidential victories, Mr. Obama presides over a Democratic Party that has lost 13 seats in the U.S. Senate and 69 in the House during his tenure, a net loss unmatched by any modern U.S. president.

Democrats have also lost 11 governorships, four state attorneys general, 910 legislative seats, as well as the majorities in 30 state legislative chambers. In 23 states, Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature; Democrats, only seven.

Such losses help shape the future: An ousted state lawmaker doesn’t run for Congress; a failed attorney general candidate loses a shot at the governor’s office. As a result, the flow of fresh political talent rising to statewide and national prominence in the years ahead won’t be as robust as Democrats hope. …”




Here’s the aformentioned article from the Wall Street Journal.

Democrat Chris Redfern was confident of his re-election chances, and with good reason.

Voters in his state House district had elected Democrats for decades, and he was Ohio’s Democratic Party chairman.

Yet on election day, Mr. Redfern lost to a tea-party Republican, a defeat that drove him from politics into a new line of work, running an inn and winery.

Mr. Redfern’s political exit came amid a string of midterm-election losses by Democrats in Ohio and nationwide that reflected a deeper problem: As the party seeks its next generation of candidates, the bench has thinned.

A tepid economy and President Barack Obama’s sinking approval ratings contributed to some of the Democratic losses last fall. The setbacks also revealed a withering of the campaign machinery built by Mr. Obama’s team more than seven years ago. While Democrats held the White House, Republicans have strengthened their hand in statehouses across the U.S.

Democrats maintain a significant electoral college advantage as shifting U.S. demographics tilt their way. This spring, a Pew Research Center analysis found that 48% of Americans either identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 39% who identify with Republicans or lean Republican.

But many Democrats worry that GOP success capturing state and local offices will erode that advantage before they have a chance to rebuild.

“If you don’t have a well-funded state party, if you don’t have state infrastructure, then you’re just whistling past the graveyard,” Mr. Redfern said. From his new perch in the hospitality industry, he described leading the state party as the “worst job in politics.” …



Sadly, the obama push to federalize and liberalize student loans has become an unintended burden on the young. The Atlantic writes on love and debt.

Chris Davis, a 28-year-old videographer and graphic designer, had been working hard to pay off his student-loans when he and his girlfriend Monique Seitz got engaged.

“We got closer to picking a wedding day,” Davis recalls, “and Monique jokingly said ‘We’re not getting married until you figure out your loans.’” Though Davis and Seitz both had some debt, Davis had significantly more.

Joint finances are hard enough even without the added complication of disproportionate student debt. Jeffrey Dew, an associate professor at Utah State University, has found that financial disagreements are a strong predictor of divorce—couples who argued over finances several times a week were more than 30 percent more likely to divorce than those who only did so less than once a month. In one recent survey, 44 percent of Americans said personal finances were the toughest thing to talk about—ahead of religion, politics, and even death.

Disproportionate student debt can make that already-challenging conversation all the more complicated. A survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 57 percent of respondents had reservations about being in a relationship with someone with a large amount of debt, with 37 percent saying that they’d wait to get married until the debts were repaid, and slightly more—46 percent—saying they’d be open to getting married and jointly paying off the debt. …



Race and poverty are another set of the president’s failures and the Dems naturally don’t want to talk about his record there. Jennifer Rubin posts. 

A New York Times/CBS poll finds almost 60 percent of Americans think race relations are poor as compared with less than 40 percent who felt that way when President Obama was elected. We’ve had multiple instances of urban rioting stemming from interactions between the police and African Americans. Poverty is at historic highs. A higher percentage of children live in poverty than at the start of the Great Depression. “Nearly 40% of all African-American children live below the poverty line, compared with only 14% of whites.” It’s dismal.

What is even more peculiar is that Hillary Clinton does not talk about it all that much, except to give a nod to criminal reform. It is actually Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Texas governor Rick Perry, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida governor Jeb Bush who are setting forth policy proposals and expressing grave concern about the racial and economic divide.

Now, in fairness, Clinton doesn’t talk about much of anything in detail and rarely says much that is new or intriguing on any topic, but nevertheless, she gave an economic speech generally focused on the middle class. What about the poor? What about African Americans mired in poverty?

The reason Republicans are talking more about these subjects is clear. The emphasis on conservative reform, coupled with the political necessity of broadening the party’s appeal, has spurred some (certainly not all) Republicans at the national level to speak in a different way about poverty and offer new solutions. …



Notwithstanding the many obama failures, the media works to inflate his legacy. Ben Domenech in the Federalist.

Here and there you can find the initial media framing of President Obama’s legacy, largely couched in terms of the Iran deal currently making its way toward what looks like a limping passage through the Congress. Here’s one such piece by Dick Meyer. It outlines five different aspects of Obama’s legacy – the Iran deal, Obamacare, resolution of the financial crisis, racial leadership, and a complete lack of scandals while in office. Yes, that last one’s really there.

(It’s odd that gay marriage isn’t listed, given that it’s probably going to be front and center from here on out despite Obama’s late-game switch on the issue. I guess Joe Biden gets more credit for that?)

So let’s consider these five legacy-defining aspects of Obama’s presidency. First, the legacy of the Iran deal is a risky one, and it may not turn out to be one Obama wants. As David Harsanyi writes today: “Perhaps the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic does not feel compelled to indulge in American fairytale endings? Khamenei knows there is almost no way sanctions will return, even if he cheats. He understands his nation will be poised to have nuclear weapons in a decade, at the latest. Few people, even advocates of the P5+1 deal, argue we can stop the mullahs in the long run. Best-case scenario, as Fred Kaplan contends in Slate, is that the Islamic regime will get bored of hating us and join the community of nations.” So that’s a dubious measure of his foreign policy legacy, particularly considering that it is more likely any of the other more prominent aspects of his tenure – the rise of ISIS, the China hack, the Snowden disaster, the failure to close Gitmo, the increase of domestic terrorism, the mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the failure to contain Russian expansionism – are tied to Obama historically. …

… Obama’s presidency will look very different indeed in the history books, unrecognizable compared to the one his cheerleaders believe he has led. And that in itself tells you something about our media, which is so dedicated to the hard work of making President Obama’s legacy a lot more impressive than it is.

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