No matter how low your opinion of Washington DC, it’s nothing compared to Washington DC’s low opinion of you. – David Burge@iowahawkblog
If the US fails to reverse Obama’s policies toward Iran in the next two years, it is hard to see how it will be able to rebuild its strategic posture in the future.
Under President Barack Obama, the US has implemented policies toward Iran that are catastrophic for Israel specifically, for US Middle East allies more generally and for US national security itself.
Consider, first, the known details of the soon-to-be- concluded nuclear deal.
In an article published by The New York Times this week, Prof. Alan Kuperman explained that Obama’s central justification for the agreement – that it will lengthen Iran’s breakout time to the bomb from the current two months to 12 months – is a lie.
Based on nothing more than the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to possess and the amount of enriched uranium necessary to make a nuclear bomb, Kuperman demonstrated that far from prolonging Iran’s nuclear breakout time by 10 months, the deal will only prolong its breakout time by one month. In other words, the deal is worthless.
Actually it’s worse than worthless.
Wednesday, the Associated Press reported on the details of one of the agreement’s five secret annexes.
Titled “Civil Nuclear Cooperation,” the annex demonstrates that, far from merely failing to block Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, the deal will facilitate Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
The leaked secret annex has two central components.
The first involves the underground uranium- enrichment facility at Fordow. Built inside a mountain, the Fordow complex is considered resistant to air strikes.
According to the AP report, the Iranians have agreed to re-purpose the installation from uranium enrichment to isotope production. In turn, the six powers have agreed to provide the Iranians with next-generation centrifuges to operate it. Yet, as the AP report makes clear, “isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered to enriching uranium.”
In other words, the six powers will teach Iran how to operate advanced centrifuges capable of quickly enriching uranium in an installation that is protected from aerial bombardment.
The second section of the annex relates to the heavy-water reactor at Arak. The reactor, whose construction is near completion, will be capable of producing plutonium-based atomic bombs.
According to the AP report, the six powers have agreed to provide Iran with a light-water reactor that is less capable of producing bomb-grade plutonium.
Yet, as Omri Ceren from the Israel Project explains, a sufficient number of light-water reactors are capable of producing bomb-grade plutonium. Moreover, since the reactors are powered by uranium, the very existence of the light-water reactors provides Iran with justification for expanding its uranium-enrichment operations.
Then there are the US’s stated redlines in negotiations.
These have collapsed in significant ways over the past few weeks.
Because the US agreed that Iran can continue to enrich uranium, perhaps the most critical means of preventing Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities involve requiring Iran to expose all of its previous nuclear work that is still unknown, and requiring Iran to agree to unfettered inspections of is nuclear work and access to its personnel involved in its nuclear work on the part of UN nuclear inspectors.
Clearly, without meeting both requirements, Iran will be able to breach its commitments easily and the agreement will be worthless.
Due to the general understanding of these requirements, the administration’s public position has been that it will require Iran to both expose its previous nuclear work with possible military dimensions and permit the US unfettered access to all its nuclear installations.
For its part, Iran refuses to accept either demand.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reiterated this refusal on Tuesday.
Rather than present Iran with an ultimatum that it either abide by these basic requirements or receive no nuclear deal, the administration abandoned its position.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that there is no reason for Iran to expose its previous nuclear work because, “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward.”
This statement is a lie. As Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog IAEA, reiterated just weeks ago, “We don’t know whether they have undeclared activities or something else. We don’t know what they did in the past. So, we know a part of their activities, but we cannot [say] we know all their activities. And that is why we cannot say that all the activities in Iran [are for] peaceful purposes.”
Another key position that the Obama administration has staked out on behalf of the nuclear deal is that the sanctions that would be canceled under the deal are limited to those that were instituted in retaliation for Iran’s illicit nuclear program. The other sanctions, levied due to Iran’s illicit work on ballistic missiles, its support for terrorism and its human rights abuses, would remain intact.
But, on June 10, AP reported that the administration intends to cancel both the nuclear-related sanctions and those imposed due to Iran’s illicit ballistic- missile development. As a consequence, tens of billions of dollars will become available for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Then, there are Iran’s repeated breaches of sanctions restrictions. Under the Iran-North Korea Sanctions Act of 2006, the State Department is supposed to submit a report of sanctions violations to Congress every six months. This week Al-Monitor reported that the General Accounting Office issued a report blasting the State Department for failing to uphold its legal commitment. The last report submitted was in 2014 and its reporting covered the period up to 2011. The previous report had been submitted nearly two years earlier.
Among the reasons for the delays, according to the report, “Officials told the GAO that negotiations and relations with counties can delay the process.”
In other words, the State Department’s failure to uphold the law owes to the administration’s desire to shield Iran from further sanctions.
James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence failed to list either Hezbollah or Iran as threats to the US in this year’s Worldwide Threat Assessment.
And the State Department has yet to submit its annual Human Rights Report. This failure is allegedly due to the administration’s reluctance to report on Iran’s miserable human rights record.
Not only does the Obama administration refuse to view Iran and its terrorist arms as threats to the US, this week Bloomberg reported that US forces in Iraq are arming, training and providing close air support for Iranian controlled Shi’ite militia and terrorist groups led by the commander of Hezbollah forces in Iraq Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
So, too, US forces deployed to the Taqqadum base in Anbar share the base with Shi’ite terrorist groups.
Several of the terror operatives are reportedly spying on US forces at the base. Terrorist commanders have participated in US operational briefings ostensibly provided to official Iraqi security forces.
As one senior administration official told Bloomberg, “Even if these guys don’t attack us… Iran is ushering in a new Hezbollah era in Iraq, and we will have aided and abetted it.”
Beyond rendering US forces in Iraq hostages of Iranian-controlled terrorists now sharing a base with them, US support for Iranian controlled militia, as well as its policy of only transferring military assistance to forces fighting Islamic State through the Iranian-controlled Iraqi government and security forces, has facilitated Islamic State’s territorial expansion.
As Jacob Siegel and Michael Pregent explained last month in the Daily Beast, a key reason for Islamic State’s success in Ramadi and Mosul is the Baghdad government’s refusal to arm Sunni militias. As they explained, the security forces, guided by Iran, will only fight in areas important to the Shi’ites. So they refused to defend Mosul or Ramadi.
Siegel and Pregent argued that if Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi were to arm Sunnis to fight Islamic State in Anbar province, he would likely lose the support of Iran and the militias, and so be ousted from power. Consequently, Sunnis who oppose Islamic State are no obstacle to the march of the jihadists.
By supporting the Iranian controlled government, and refusing to directly arm Sunni or Kurdish forces, the US is supporting Iran and its terrorist groups on the one hand and abetting Islamic State expansion on the other.
The nature and scope of the Obama administration’s collusion with Iran require us to draw a number of conclusions.
First, from an American perspective, under the Obama administration, the US has destroyed its reputation as a responsible and trustworthy ally. It has endangered its allies, its armed forces and its own national security.
The US alliance system in the Middle East has collapsed.
In the short term, all that Congress can do to check Obama is reject his nuclear deal with Iran with a twothirds majority. Although the possibility that a sufficient number of Democratic senators will oppose the deal to override a presidential veto is remote, it is critical that every resource be used to convince them to do so.
In the medium term, in order to secure US national security, the next president will have to cancel US acceptance of the nuclear deal with Iran. To this end, US Jewish groups and other organizations must demand that all presidential candidates – including Hillary Clinton – commit themselves to canceling the agreement in the event they are elected.
If the US fails to reverse Obama’s policies toward Iran in the next two years, it is hard to see how it will be able to rebuild its strategic posture in the future.
The pace of change in the region and the world is too rapid today to rely on past achievements as a basis for future power.
As for Israel, it is now clear that there is no “crisis” in Israel-US relations. The Obama administration is betraying Israel. The centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy is his desire to transform Iran’s illicit nuclear program, which endangers Israel’s existence, into a legal Iranian-American nuclear program that endangers Israel’s existence.
Consequently, the last thing Israel should worry about is upsetting Obama. To convince fence-sitting Democratic senators to vote against Obama’s Iran deal, Israel should expose all the ruinous details of the nuclear agreement. Israel should let the American people know how the deal endangers not just Israel, but their soldiers, and indeed, the US homeland itself.
By doing so, Israel stands a chance of separating the issue of Democratic support for Obama from Democratic opposition to the nuclear deal. Obama wants this deal to be about himself. Israel needs to explain how it is about America.
At the end of the day, what we now know about US collaboration with Iran brings home – yet again – the sad fact that the only chance Israel has ever had of preventing Iran from getting the bomb is to destroy the mullahs’ nuclear installations itself. If Israel can still conduct such an operation, it makes sense for it to be carried out before Iran’s nuclear program officially becomes the Iranian-American nuclear project.
Observant Christians — and adherents of other faiths — are reeling from the Supreme Court’s declaration of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and preparing for an unprecedented struggle for their right to express their beliefs and live their lives accordingly, as new battles will now be waged unless and until a future Supreme Court reverses course.
The Constitution says nothing about marriage or abortion. Yet in 1973 the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to abortion, resulting in decades of relentless political and legal conflicts.
Now the Court has held that the Constitution likewise forbids the 50 states from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But many people of faith disagree, and the First Amendment promises that they have the right to do so. Devout Christians are already enmeshed in legal battles over this issue.
Navy chaplain Wes Modder, sportscaster Craig James and others have lost jobs or are losing their jobs because they hold Christian beliefs on sex and marriage.
Business owners face more than losing their businesses, as Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman could lose her home and life’s savings, and Colorado baker Jack Phillips risks jail time if he continues refusing to bake cakes celebrating gay marriage. There are others, and the list grows monthly.
A Right We All Have
Their legal rights are no different from Hobby Lobby’s to refuse to cover abortion under ObamaCare. Whether from a state or federal RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) or the Constitution’s First Amendment, all Americans have the right to believe what their faith teaches and live according to those beliefs. This freedom is for Christians, Jews and peaceful adherents of all faiths.
Gay-rights advocates are escalating the fight. With Executive Order 13672, President Obama is taking administrative action whereby organizations that do not embrace his beliefs on marriage can be denied contracts with, or grants from, the federal government.
Additional regulatory moves are advancing from the Departments of Labor, Education and Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies. And many on the political left are pushing for new federal legislation that would go even further.
The most recent trend, SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) laws and ordinances, is a solution in search of a problem. We do not know of a single Christian denomination (out of more than 400) with a doctrinal belief that if you own a restaurant and know a customer is homosexual, it is immoral for you to sell that person a cheeseburger.
All SOGIs do is provide yet another route for suing Christians — or observant members of various other faiths — for expressing and living their beliefs.
Ultimately, one of these cases will make its way to the Supreme Court, where the justices will decide the First Amendment rights of Americans who sincerely believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.
While marriage appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, there are no fewer than three fundamental rights enshrined in the text of the First Amendment to safeguard religious liberty. This includes the quintessentially American right to dissent, to hold views different from the government and current popular thought.
Our National DNA
Many see the Supreme Court’s decision as the end. Instead, it’s the beginning — of a new war over religious freedom.
America was founded by settlers who yearned to be able to live according to their religious beliefs, crossing an ocean searching for a home where they could experience the blessing we call liberty. They called America a shining city upon a hill, where people would live free with a clear conscience, even if they disagreed with the majority or those in power.
Our nation’s founders would be astounded to see religious liberty come full circle and now come under attack, but they would not be surprised to see this generation rise up like the first Americans, demanding freedom to believe, and pass this latest test of who we are as a people. Two hundred years of law and American history are on the side of those committed to be true to their religious beliefs, a commitment embedded in our national DNA.
Moreover, 2,000 years of church history shows that those to call Jesus Christ their lord will never compromise their beliefs, no matter the cost. For centuries, faithful Christians have endured the loss of their freedoms, livelihoods, homes and even lives. Secularists who confidently believe that Christians will eventually give up couldn’t be more wrong.
If politicians and the courts do not reverse course, we will see civil disobedience, on a massive scale, by devout Christians peacefully following their churches’ biblical teachings on marriage. The Supreme Court and the American people at the polls in 2016 need to decide whether this country will respect their First Amendment rights, including their fundamental right to dissent.
• Shackelford is CEO and chief counsel of Liberty Institute.
• Blackwell is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Source: Investor’s Business Daily:
For several years I’ve argued that economic policy is holding the economy back and that a return to the principles of economic freedom would recreate a fast-growing recovery. It’s the subject of my book First Principles, of blogs and a recent Wall Street Journal column A Recovery Waiting to Be Liberated.
Because the economy has crawled along at such a slow pace for so long during this recovery, it has features of an economy at the bottom of a recession ready for a post-recession acceleration. The resulting gap of unrealized potential creates the possibility of rapid growth for at least 5 catch-up years, if there is a change in policies. And at this stage in the cycle, this means largely supply-side policies.
To see how this would add up, one can use basic growth accounting, noting simply that the growth rate of real GDP is the sum of two components: employment growth and labor productivity growth.
Reversing the decline in the labor force participation rate—it fell every year of the so-called recovery from 66.0% in 2008 to 62.9% in 2014—would cause a 5 percent increase in employment, or 1% annual growth for 5 years. Adding in about 1% for population growth from Census projections, gives employment growth of 2% per year. Some argue that the recent decline in labor force participation is simply due to the baby boom generation retiring, but the decline is larger for teenagers and young adults and has even increased for those of retirement age.
Reversing the recent productivity slump—it’s been growing at barely 1% recently—would bring productivity growth of 2.5% per year, the average over the past 20 years. Some argue that faster productivity growth is a thing of the past. But the IT revolution, which has been key driver of productivity growth during high investment periods, is not over as is clear from the innovative changes coming out of the high tech sector.
If we add these two components together—productivity growth of 2.5% and employment growth of 2%, we get real economic growth of 4.5%, at least for a number of catchup years, or more than double the average growth during the recovery. Economic policy–and again it’s mainly supply side policies now–should focus on these two components.
Source: Economics One
Related: Now here is the bad news.
Final estimate: U.S. economy SHRANK at a 0.2 percent pace in first quarter
U.S. economic output shrank slightly in the first quarter of the year, but less quickly than previously estimated.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday that inflation-adjusted gross domestic product contracted at a 0.2 percent seasonally-adjusted annual rate, down from 2.2 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Wednesday’s report is the third and final estimate for gross domestic product. The initial estimate showed output growing at a meager 0.2 percent annual rate, and then that was revised to negative 0.7 percent before Wednesday’s upward revision.
The improvement in the last revision was attributable to consumers spending more than previously thought and exports were smaller.
Wednesday’s revisions were right in line with analysts’ expectations, but the measured growth for the first quarter remains disappointing.
The strong dollar played a major role in the steep drop-off in growth from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of 2015. Net exports subtracted nearly 2 percentage points from growth. A stronger dollar makes U.S. goods more expensive to overseas buyers, while at the same time lowering costs of imported goods for domestic buyers. Imports count against gross domestic product.
A significant decline in non-housing construction and state and local government spending also contributed to the decline.
Gross domestic income, however, a measure of economic output based on incomes earned and costs incurred in production, was up 1.9 percent in the quarter. That is some cause for optimisim, as gross domestic product and income usually track each other over time.
Government officials have disagreed over to what extent the weak first quarter represents one-time factors that shouldn’t dampen growth going forward versus serious underlying problems with the U.S. economy. In particular, economists have pointed to harsh winter weather as one possible culprit. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has also indicated that there may be problems with its seasonal adjustments that make the first quarter appear worse than it really is.
Nevertheless, output growth is weaker than anticipated and well behind where the Obama administration and Federal Reserve expected it before the winter.
Private-sector economists have projected that growth will pick up over the course of the year.
The initial estimate for gross domestic product growth in the second quarter will be released July 30.
Source: Washington Examiner
SideBear: All we have had for 6 1/2 years from this administration is excuses and none growth economic policies. At every turn government agencies give us new rules and regulations that stunt economic growth. 90 million people out of work, 49% of the people get a form of government assistance and 18 trillion dollars of National Debt.
Without growth and growth is the only answer to our economic mess to cure our financial problems and all we get is anti-growth policies.
GOD HELP US!