Thursday, August 27, 2015

INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU WAS UNAVAILABLE

President Obama purports to have a sophisticated theory of international relations supporting his catastrophic deal with Iran. Dealing with the world’s foremost sponsor of state terrorism and an avowed enemy of the United States, Obama is lavishly funding the regime and leaving Iran’s nuclear program on the path of development to nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He proclaims the deal a famous victory, but with the AP’s report on the, ah, unusual arrangement for the self-inspection of the Parchin research facility, it has descended into self-evident farce. Even Stevie Wonder could see that.
Why self-inspection? With the death of Peter Sellers, Inspector Clouseau was unavailable.
For the United States, the self-inspection is one more humiliation among a long train of humiliating concessions. It represents a sort of reductio ad absurdum, a piece of black humor in the style of Joseph Heller. The secret side deal could be a sequel to Catch-22. From President Obama’s perspective, the humiliation of the United States must be an added advantage of the deal.
The revelation of the terms of the Parchin side deal prompts me to think back to the comments of senior Iranian presidential adviser and former intelligence minister Ali Younesi this past fall. The comments were offered for domestic political consumption to the official Iranian news agency.
There was something to offend everyone in Younesi’s comments. Most striking to me, however, was Younesi’s perception of Obama. Younesi had Obama’s number. Younesi’s contempt for Obama shone through his comments and it surely reflects the consensus of the regime. Obama has worked hard to earn it.
The fact that Younesi made these comments on the record for public consumption was striking and newsworthy. The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo had the story:
The Iranian president’s senior advisor has called President Barack Obama “the weakest of U.S. presidents” and described the U.S. leader’s tenure in office as “humiliating,” according to a translation of the highly candid comments provided to the Free Beacon.
The comments by Ali Younesi, senior advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, come as Iran continues to buck U.S. attempts to woo it into the international coalition currently battling the Islamic State (IS, ISIL, or ISIS).
And with the deadline quickly approaching on talks between the U.S. and Iran over its contested nuclear program, Younesi’s denigrating views of Obama could be a sign that the regime in Tehran has no intent of conceding to America’s demands.
“Obama is the weakest of U.S. presidents, he had humiliating defeats in the region. Under him the Islamic awakening happened,” Younesi said in a Farsi language interview with Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.
“Americans witnessed their greatest defeats in Obama’s era: Terrorism expanded, [the] U.S. had huge defeats under Obama [and] that is why they want to compromise with Iran,” Younesi said.
Younesi followed up with comments that were somewhat offensive to conservatives like us, but the substance wasn’t unflattering. We believe Israel is our friend and Iran has been our mortal enemy since, you know, around about 1979. In assessing Iran our enemy, we have taken them at their word and judged them by their actions. They have a voluminous amount of American blood on their hands.
Younesi is to some extent on the same page with President Obama. He said of American conservatives: “Conservatives are war mongers, they cannot tolerate powers like Iran. If conservatives were in power they would go to war with us because they follow Israel and they want to portray Iran as the main threat and not ISIS.”
Well, Iran is the main threat. ISIS doesn’t have a nuclear program or the trappings of a state and I would like to think we would support military action against Iran if necessary, though a president whose strength they respected would make it unnecessary.
Younesi also had the Democrats’ number. He deemed them “no threat.” He got that right, though you don’t have to be a former intelligence minister to figure that out.
Younesi’s comments foretold our rendezvous with destiny, Obama style: “We [the Islamic Republic] have to use this opportunity [of Democrats being in power in the U.S.], because if this opportunity is lost, in future we may not have such an opportunity again.”

WASHINGTON POST DISTORTS TRUMP-RAMOS ENCOUNTER

WASHINGTON POST DISTORTS TRUMP-RAMOS ENCOUNTER

If Donald Trump believes that Fox News is treating him unfairly (and he does), I wonder how he feels about the Washington Post.
The print edition headline of a story on Trump’s Iowa new conference reads: “Trump kicks Latino reporter out of news conference.” (The online editors apparently thought better of it.They wrote: “Trump tangles with Latino newsman, launches fresh attacks on GOP rivals”).
The print edition sub-headline reads: “Univision’s Ramos later returns, spars with mogul on immigration.” Ramos “returned” because Team Trump permitted him to. He “sparred” with the “mogul” because Trump let him debate, something that few candidates (only Ted Cruz comes to mind) would have permitted.
The Post’s story, written by the tag team of Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, is manifestly biased against Trump. They describe Ramos’ ejection this way:
Ramos stood up in the front row of journalists to ask Trump about his plan to combat illegal immigration. But Trump did not want to answer.
“Excuse me,” Trump said. “Sit down. You weren’t called. Sit down.”
Ramos, holding a piece of paper, calmly said, “I’m a reporter, an immigrant, a senior citizen. I have the right to ask a question.”
Trump interrupted him. “Go back to Univision,” he said. Then Trump motioned to one of his bodyguards, who walked across the room and physically removed Ramos from the room.
The format of a press conference, as Rucker and Costa well know, is that reporters ask questions when they are called on, not when they feel like it. Ramos had no “right” to move ahead of other reporters with questions by seizing the floor.
(Ramos’ sense of entitlement is a perfect reflection of the illegal immigrant movement. Like Ramos, illegal immigrants jump to the head of the line. And their advocates hold that by virtue of their line-jumping, illegal immigrants should gain all the rights and privileges enjoyed not only by legal entrants but by American citizens.)
Rucker and Costa also fail to note that Ramos was ejected only because he refused to stop talking. If Trump wanted to conduct an orderly press conference in which each reporter waits his or her turn, he had no alternative to booting the obnoxious man from Univision.
Rucker and Costa are equally biased in their coverage of the lengthy exchange between Trump and Ramos. For example, they state: “at one point, Trump said ‘I can’t deal with this.'” True. But this was because Ramos repeatedly interrupted Trump’s answers. The Post-men would prefer that readers conclude Trump couldn’t deal with the substance of Ramos’ questioning.
Actually, Trump dealt with each of Ramos’ scattergun questions, but Rucker-Costa try to obscure this fact. They claim that Trump responded to questions about polls showing him to be unpopular among Hispanics by asking “How much am I suing Univision for right now?”
Actually, Trump responded by citing a Nevada poll that shows him leading among Hispanic Republicans. Because the Nevada poll was of Republicans, it doesn’t defeat Ramos’ claim that Trump is unpopular among Hispanics generally.
But Rucker and Costa want readers to believe that Trump ducked the polling question and resorted to bluster about his lawsuit. That wasn’t the case.
We can’t expect the Post to cover Trump, or any other serious GOP candidate, fairly. But we might have hoped for better than the Rucker-Costa report on yesterday’s news conference.

Race And Justice

Race And Justice

 by John Schroeder

Few things have been more disheartening in my life than my one opportunity to serve on a jury in the Los Angeles County Criminal Courts.  You can read all about it here.  Very simply I watched the jury on which I served hang because while all available evidence pointed towards the guilt of the defendant, he was black and so was a majority of the jury.
So it was with great interest that I read a piece from the NYTimes over the weekend entitled “Exclusion of Blacks From Juries Raises Renewed Scrutiny.”  The most fascinating thing about the piece is that, like the jury on which I served, the evidence is not what matters. only race does.
Here is the money quote:
Reprieve Australia, a group that opposes the death penalty and conducted the Caddo Parish study, said the likelihood of an acquittal rose with the number of blacks on the jury.
No defendants were acquitted when two or fewer of the dozen jurors were black. When there were at least three black jurors, the acquittal rate was 12 percent. With five or more, the rate rose to 19 percent. Defendants in all three groups were overwhelmingly black.
A very interesting statistic, but what does it mean?  Does it mean that whites are “quick” to convict or does it mean that blacks are quick to acquit?  What about the tabs on the study?  To use this as evidence of racism should it also not be broken down by the race of the defendants in the cases in question?  Were there post verdict jury interviews?  What did the jury members cite as reasons for conviction or acquittal?  Oh yeah, and should not the real measure of the effect of race on juries be whether the verdict deviates from the evidence, not a simple count of verdicts?  One cannot assume that in the cases coming up for trial there is an actual random distribution of guilt and lack of guilt.
But guess what the author, Adam Liptak, says in the very next paragraph:
Excluding black jurors at a disproportionate rate does more than hurt defendants’ prospects….
WHOA!  Back up the truck here.  Should not a defendants “prospects” be based on the evidence?  What this entire article ignores is that the Prosecutors office itself, and in applicable cases the grand jury process, are filters meant to ensure that when a case comes before a jury there is already a high likelihood of guilt.
Simply put, there is no way to statistically judge the role of race in this situation.  Are their racial effects?  Unquestionably.  My own personal experience demonstrates that there were in at least one case.  But in order to do a meaningful study on this there must be an independent determination of the actual weight of the evidence in the case.  That is to say someone, or some group, has to decide whether the jury acted correctly in a case.  How do you do that without pretty much overturning everything we think dear in our criminal justice system?
And then additional data has to be collected about what race uses race as a determinant factor?  How do you gather such data?  Even if you try in post-verdict interviews, do you really think anyone is going to admit to it?
Mark Twain attributes to Disraeli the well worn quote, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”  In this case, it is clear that statistics are being used to create the appearance of racism without actually measuring if there is any racism.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WE OUGHTA LOOK AT DONALD TRUMP, BUT THROUGH WHICH LENS?

There’s a scene in the movie Rocky (the original) in which heavyweight champion Apollo Creed is fooling around in his hotel suite while a television in the background shows a news report of Rocky training in a meat locker, pounding in earnest on dead animal flesh. Creed’s trainer says, “Hey, champ, you oughta come and look at this boy you’re gonna fight on TV. It looks like he means business.”
There aren’t many similarities between Rocky Balboa, a down-and-out, punch-drunk fighter and Donald Trump, a billionaire tycoon. But both have had their prospects for reaching the peak dismissed by those who are supposed to know. And after watching Donald Trump campaigning (via C-SPAN) and reading Scott’s account of his Alabama rally, I have the same sense as Creed’s trainer — we oughta look at this guy; he means business.
There are three reasons why I have assumed Trump won’t be the Republican nominee: (1) his blustery off-the-wall comments will bring him down, (2) Republicans voters will discover that he’s not a conservative, and (3) the field will narrow to a point where 30 to 35 percent support — Trump’s presumed ceiling — won’t be enough.
The third scenario still looks like a decent bet. Note, however, that this enormous field requires lots of winnowing. And many candidates have reason to believe they may prosper if Trump crashes. This gives them a strong incentive not to throw in the towel.
The first scenario, Trump falling of his own weight, is still possible, but should no longer be considered probable.
The second scenario should still be of concern to Trump. And Jeb Bush reportedly is planning an ad campaign that will highlight Trump’s liberal positions and time as a Democrat.
However, the scuttlebutt is that, when focus groups are presented with this sort of evidence, Trump supporters don’t waver. This doesn’t mean they won’t waver as the time to actually vote approaches, if subjected to a steady barrage of evidence of Trump’s past liberal leanings. But I’m no longer certain that they will.
How is it possible that GOP Trump supporters aren’t put off, or indeed appalled, by his liberal record? A normal candidate whose campaign contributions helped elect Democratsand bring Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to power would be flatly unacceptable to Republicans. So too with a candidate who supported socialized medicine and a massive tax increase.
Those who profess to understanding the Trump phenomenon say he overcomes this record because conservative voters are angry that the Republicans “haven’t done anything” to advance conservative principles. Thus, they don’t see Trump as any worse than his Republican opponents, whatever non-conservative views he has espoused and whichever liberals he has helped elect.
Anger is an understandable reaction to the current political scene, but it’s no excuse for stupidity.
Yes, Republicans as a party haven’t fulfilled expectations when it comes to advancing a conservative agenda. But at least they didn’t enact a Canadian-style single payer health care system (which is what the Democrats have always wanted) or impose massive tax increases on the wealthy. Trump, as noted, favored both of these core liberal agenda items.
And why assume that all 16 of Trump’s GOP rivals are to blame for the failure of Republicans to push a conservative agenda through Congress? Is Scott Walker guilty? He successfully took on the powerful public sector unions in Wisconsin when Trump was trying still trying to decide whether he’s a liberal or a conservative.
Is Ted Cruz guilty? In an attempt to undo Obamacare, he orchestrated a partial government shutdown. What else do Trump supporters think he should have done, engage in self-immolation?
What about Bobby Jindal? How is he to blame for Republicans “not doing what they said they would do” when they got to Washington?
Prefer the false purity that comes with never having held public office? What’s wrong with Ben Carson? Unlike Trump, he has a consistent record of supporting conservative principles.
So, yes, we oughta look at Donald Trump — we oughta look hard. We should look at him through the same lens we use for candidates who aren’t super-rich celebrities and reality TV stars. And we should not look at him through a red mist.

U.S. IS HOME TO A RECORD 42.1 MILLION IMMIGRANTS


Monthly census data indicate that there are now 42.1 million foreign-born residents of the United States, the highest total in our history. This includes both legal and illegal immigrants.
For perspective, the entire population of Canada is 35 million. The census data indicate 12.1 million Mexicans–10% of Mexico’s population–are living here either legally or illegally. Immigrants now represent 13.3% of the population of the U.S., the highest proportion in 105 years.
There has been a fair amount of talk about illegal immigration during the current campaign season, but hardly any recognition of the fact that long-term, the bigger problem is legal immigration. This is not because immigration is bad per se. Of course it isn’t. The problem, rather, is that 1) we are being flooded with unprecedented numbers of immigrants, 2) who are overwhelmingly of the wrong kind, i.e., unskilled workers, 3) who drive down the wages of American workers, and whom 4) we are making essentially no effort to assimilate.
This is a recipe for disaster. The illegal immigration problem can be fixed with relative ease, through aggressive enforcement of our current laws, particularly against employers, and perhaps building a fence as a supplemental measure. The legal immigration problem is far more intractable, because our current laws are terrible. They are not designed to further the interests of American citizens; they provide for too much immigration based mostly on the wrong criteria (i.e., family unification rather than skills). And, of course, the anchor baby concept is a disaster. The problem is that legal immigration can be fixed only by changing our laws, which, in the present political climate, is close to impossible.
For now, about all we can do is try to educate voters. A starting point in that effort is to stop talking exclusively about illegal immigration, as though that were the only issue.

Canadian Elections and the West’s Flaccid Response to Islamism

Canadian Elections and the West’s Flaccid Response to Islamism

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RICHARD BLOCK: NOT THIS DEAL


President Obama has sought to silence the voice of the organized Jewish community opposing his deal with Iran. Several prominent Jewish organizations have resisted and expressed their opposition to the deal. Obama’s response has been an extraordinarily nasty piece of work.
Rabbi Richard A. Block now speaks up in opposition to the deal, noting some of the same points we have here on Power Line. Rabbi Block is senior rabbi at The Temple – Tifereth Israel in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. His piece below is carried online here today at The Hill. Via Joshua Block, we are posting the column with Rabbi Block’s permission. He writes:
In the face of growing, bipartisan opposition in Congress and in public opinion polls when conducted objectively, the administration’s battle for the Iran nuclear deal’s survival is understandably all-hands-on-deck. With President Obama’s speech at American University, however, the campaign tactics took a shrill, ugly turn. The new approach is: Take no prisoners. To hear the president tell it, there are no reasonable people who disagree. The deal’s opponents are uniformly knee-jerk, partisan alarmists, armed with tens of millions of dollars; they’re ignorant, dishonest, fantasists, fear-mongers, and warmongers. This exercise in vilification was unfair and unseemly.
In claiming that “every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support,” the speech was also disingenuous. Throughout the negotiations, our Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and every Gulf state except Qatar expressed dismay at our shifting Iran policy and grave concern or vehement opposition to the emerging agreement. Their current deafening silence reflects a political calculation that the deal, though it realizes their worst fears, is a fait accompli; and their expectation of an American quid pro quo, not support or consent. If they, like Israel, faced potential annihilation from Iranian nukes, their calculus would be very different. Singling out Israel was factually and morally wrong.
Worst of all, in attacking the deal’s critics, the president invoked familiar anti-Semitic myths of Jewish money, power, and disloyalty, and revived the slanderous claim that Israel and its supporters pushed the U.S. into war in Iraq. This was unconscionable. And in a period of resurgent anti-Semitic violence, when Israel rarely receives fair treatment, it was reckless and dangerous. In the eyes of allies and adversaries alike, it weakens the strategic alliance between the U.S. and Israel on which the security of both nations, and of other friends in the region and beyond, depends.
Can a deal being peddled that way be a “good” one?
I believe not. The core problem is the nature of the Iranian regime: totalitarian, theocratic, oppressive, xenophobic, anti-American, anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynistic, rapacious, the leading instigator of regional instability and the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. This is a classic “deal with the devil.”
Under prior legislation, most sanctions on Iran were to sunset only when the president certified to Congress that Iran no longer provides support for acts of international terrorism and has “ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of, and verifiably dismantled, its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and ballistic missiles and ballistic missile launch technology.”
The deal accomplishes none of these goals. Rather, Iran receives as much as $150 billion in frozen assets, will reap immense profits from post-sanctions commerce, and can spend as much as it will to promote terrorism. Much of its nuclear infrastructure remains intact and it can continue R&D in weaponization. It may acquire ICBM’s in eight years and will eventually be free to enrich without limitation, enabling it to become a nuclear weapons threshold state and reducing the “breakout time” between enrichment and nuclear weapons to zero.
Administration officials initially promised a deal would include “anytime, anywhere” inspections. This one does no such thing. Instead, a cumbersome, convoluted process to address Iranian violations provides ample time to conceal most kinds of evidence. Iran’s leaders have declared repeatedly that inspection of “military facilities” will not be allowed, and secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA may compound the inspection plan’s flaws.
Before the deal was struck, the alternative to a bad deal was “no deal.” Now the sole alternative is said to be war. This presents a false dichotomy. If Congress turns down the deal and overrides a veto, U.S. sanctions, the ones that matter most to Iran, remain in place and other nations will have strong economic incentives to respect them. The military option remains available and Iran would be foolish to take actions that risk its being exercised.
As alarming as the deal is the wishful thinking behind it. Despite denials, the president is evidently ready to accede to Iran’s ever-expanding regional hegemony, in the belief it can be converted to a moderate, trustworthy partner, overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
Deal or no deal? Not this deal.