“A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.” –James Madison
You Want it Bad, You’ll Get it Bad
On Saturday, the six nations negotiating with Iran reached an interim agreement that will, allegedly, “freeze or roll back Iran’s nuclear program,” according to The Washington Post. A careful reading of the agreement tells a very different story.
This six-month agreement costs Iran nothing that cannot be easily reversed while loosening the Western sanctions that took years to put in place. And the deal is based on the notion of negotiating a follow-on deal more contentious than anything yet attempted. In other words, Iran pretends to play nice for six months, during which time it receives sanctions relief and the freeing of some frozen assets, and next summer we’ll be back to late 2006, trying to cobble together support for sanctions all over again.
Iran is required to abstain from further centrifuge installation – but not to cease centrifuge enrichment. Iran’s stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium is frozen at its current level – but not diminished. Iran’s stockpile of 20% enriched uranium is halved, with one half merely reduced back to 5% enriched. Iran will cease construction of the Arak heavy water reactor – but not dismantle it (the facility is more than 90% finished). Iran will allow intrusive daily inspections of its nuclear facilities – but not Parchin. And when the agreement expires and the two sides come to a stalemate over the follow-on deal, Iran walks away with tens of billions of dollars back in its economy and with its oil industry once again exporting on a large scale. Remember that China has massive energy requirements and several existing energy cooperation deals with Iran as well as veto power over any future agreements.
Secretary of State John Kerry, displaying the same mastery of international affairs that once led him to call Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region,” claimed with a straight face that Israel (and presumably everyone else) is safer now than it was before clinching the agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted, saying, “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.” Our editorial standards board says we can’t print what Bibi’s private reaction likely was.
As we have said before, the Obama administration is so desperate to achieve a deal with Iran that it matters not what the details of that deal are. This deal greatly harms the sanctions regime that was put in place with enormous effort over a period of five years, while imposing only a six-month timeout on Iran. It leaves unresolved the issue of whether Iran can or cannot enrich uranium. And it does not dismantle a single facility or remove a single kilogram of uranium from Iran. Somewhere in the lower depths of hell, the late Ayatollah “Old Whiskers” Khomeini is probably smiling right now.
Looking for Value
There were big changes at The Patriot Post this year. In August, we combined Friday’s Digest with Monday’s Brief and Wednesday’s Chronicle – four analytical news reports followed by quotes from the best of the Web’s conservative opinion and assorted quotes from leftists in politics and the media. Our team puts together each Digest by sifting through countless news and opinion articles to boil the issues down to their essence and give you what you need to know, three days a week.
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GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Preparing the Next Budget Showdown
Congress is working to hammer out details of the next budget agreement, and it’s likely that spending will increase. The 2011 sequester resulted from budget negotiations at that time, but both sides have been looking for ways to undo it ever since. Barack Obama’s favorite strategy is to make any kind of cuts – even those that merely reduce spending growth, not nominal spending – as painful as possible, particularly the defense cuts that were part of the sequester.
And those cuts were broad and unbalanced. Defense suffered cuts far exceeding its share of the budget, and Obama has targeted those cuts to deliberately weaken our military readiness. (For the record, however, the Department of Defense has a significant amount of waste, fraud and constant cost overruns. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, anyone?) Some House Republicans have already taken the bait and are trying to bust Obama’s spending caps, and Senate Republicans may follow suit when they take up the National Defense Authorization Act, which spends $54 million more than the caps.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is no fan of the defense cuts, but advocates keeping them because, he rightly points out, Obama will only accept increased military spending in exchange for higher taxes and/or increased spending on his own pet projects. For example, whenever entitlement reform comes up, the White House begins with a ransom demand: $1 trillion in tax hikes. And once again, Republicans are finding it difficult to present a unified front.
Obama’s latest trial balloon for negotiations would eliminate the debt ceiling, which he called a “loaded gun.” He also said, “We’re probably better off with a system in which that threat is not there on a perpetual basis.” Actually, we’re undoubtedly better off with a government that institutes fair taxation and then spends within its means, but there’s no chance of that any time soon, either.
ECONOMY, REGS & TAXES
Keystone Cops Oppose Rail, Too
As we have reported on numerous occasions, the Keystone XL pipeline – meant to transport Canadian oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refinement – has been stalled by ecofascists who hold sway with the Obama administration. The White House has repeatedly stalled to grant the proper permits for the pipeline, appeasing those ecofascists but displeasing constituent unions who want the thousands of new jobs building and operating the pipeline would create.
We have also recounted how delaying the pipeline won’t accomplish anything but deprive the U.S. of the oil. The Canadians will find a market for their product, most likely in China. In fact, according to The New York Times, “Suncor Energy, Canada’s top petroleum producer, announced on Thursday that it would expand its oil production in 2014 by 10 percent, another sign that the Obama administration’s delays are not holding back growth in the western Canadian oil sands fields.”
The other option for import to the U.S. is rail, which means opponents have a new target. Indeed, they’re pushing for heavy regulation of rail terminal projects in California, Washington state and elsewhere to block import of these oil sands. Of course, pipelines are safer and more efficient than rail, so perhaps it would make sense to relent on building the Keystone pipeline. But that would require leftists to think with their heads.
CULTURE, SCIENCE & FAITH
Village Academic Curriculum: Feds Try Different Anti-Voucher Tactic
While at first glance it seemed like Eric Holder’s Justice Department was giving Louisiana students a break by dropping the request for a permanent injunction against the state’s voucher program, they instead are trying to bog down the process by reviewing each and every application. This is the opinion of Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who remarked on the change of tactics that “[t]he Department of Justice’s new position is that it wants bureaucrats in Washington to decide where Louisiana children get an education.”
The federal government sued in August to stop Louisiana’s two-year-old voucher program, claiming it ran afoul of a 1975 anti-discrimination injunction against the state. This is despite the fact that 90% of the 8,000 beneficiaries chosen by lottery are low-income minority students who get the opportunity to move from a poor-performing school to a better one.
Why? Follow the money. Funding that would have gone to a recipient’s former school goes to the new school, and private schools are among those eligible for funding. That didn’t sit well with the state’s teachers union, which fought the program at the state level all the way to its highest court. The Louisiana Supreme Court allowed the program, but did not allow funding to come from the state’s education budget so these vouchers are funded as a state budget line item.
Given the union-friendly slant of the present administration, it was only a matter of time before Washington intervened on the union’s behalf. The process will only discourage those who want to improve their child’s prospects when faced with the prospect of a 45-day hold before the Justice Department allows the state to notify the scholarship recipient. “The obvious purpose of the gag order would be to prevent parents from learning that the Department of Justice might try to take their child’s scholarship away if it decides that the child is the wrong race,” Jindal concluded.
With more states either enacting or considering similar programs, it’s clear Holder’s brand of justice is simply to make an example of Louisiana and protect threatened teacher’s unions in the process.
For the Record
Columnist Ken Blackwell: “In 2012, the average household spent a record $2,912 on gasoline. Compared to the 2002 average of $1,235, that is an extra $1,677 that families have been forced to spend on transportation costs. … [A] recent study found that high oil prices added $1.2 trillion to U.S. debt over the past decade. This economic drag is part of the reason our recovery from the Great Recession has been anemic and the unemployment rate remains high. To be clear, it’s not America’s great oil companies causing this, as some of their anti-corporate, anti-capitalist detractors might want you to believe. The fact is that the price of a barrel of oil – whether that oil is pumped in North Dakota or Saudi Arabia – is determined by a global oil market that is affected by supply and demand factors around the world. Anything and everything … can send prices higher. This geopolitical exposure of the global oil market to volatility explains why Americans are paying so much for gas despite record domestic production.”
Columnist Arnold Ahlert: “The real solution to America’s healthcare problems can be reduced to two ideas: liberty and free-market capitalism. We need a patient-centered system where the patient-doctor relationship comes first, not last. The ability of Americans to maintain health savings accounts on their own, to pick and choose what they want any insurance policy to cover, and the elimination of laws that prevent insurance companies from selling policies across state lines. We need a system in which a 900 page bill, and 11,000 pages of regulations – not one word of which talks about tort reform – is tossed on the ash heap of history. That’s a viable beginning. I have no doubt there are experts in the field who can couple these ideas with a system in which people with chronic and/or pre-existing conditions can access the kind of safety net Americans would be more than happy to underwrite. One based on genuine need – and genuine virtue.”
“[I]t is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the Native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well. In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks. … Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.”
For more, visit The Right Opinion.
Columnist Burt Prelutsky: “For only the second time in our nation’s history have we elected three consecutive presidents to second terms. The first time it happened, we wound up with Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. This time, we got Clinton, Bush and Obama. Does anyone require a clearer picture of America’s decline?”
“‘Trust but verify,’ Reagan discovered, applied not only to the Soviets but also to the Democrats in Congress.” –political consultant and author Lyn Nofziger (1924-2006)
Barack Obama: “[T]here’s no doubt that in an environment in which we had to fight tooth and nail to get [ObamaCare] passed, it ended up being passed on a partisan basis … because there was just ideological resistance to the idea of dealing with the uninsured and people with preexisting conditions. … One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure, and that makes, I think, the kind of iterative process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine-tuning the law more challenging. But I’m optimistic that we can get it fixed.”
MoveOn.org: “Why are we so fixated on 4 million insured people who may lose their current and mostly sub-standard health insurance policies and ignoring the fact that 48 million people who have never had health insurance will finally be able to buy health insurance? … The 48 million people that have never had coverage would not be able to get any health insurance coverage if it were not for the Affordable Care Act. End of story!”
Belly Laugh of the Week
Barack Obama: “I’m not a particularly ideological person.”
Non Compos Mentis
Rep. Charlie Rangel: “You know, the DREAM Act for the kids that came over here and didn’t know their home town, the president did that by executive order. What I did is I’ve taken out the language that he used and I’m gonna see why we can’t use executive orders for everything. What’s he gonna do? Make the Republicans angry? They’re gonna get annoyed? They’re not gonna cooperate?”
Sen. Ed Markey: “Whether it’s the slow death of pond hockey or increasing heat for football practices, global warming is negatively affecting the games we play and the sports we love. And just like steroids have distorted some of our sports records, carbon pollution is distorting our climate, breaking records and leading to more extreme weather.”
Dennis Rodman: “I do things that is [sic] very significant right now, and people are actually paying attention to Dennis Rodman now. You know. Back when I was doing my finagling in sports, they thought I was a joke. You know. They thought I was a cartoon character and stuff like that. And all of a sudden now, people are taking me serious as more of a … ambassador now, stuff like that around the world.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “President Obama admitted his approval ratings are low. He’ll always have one huge accomplishment. President Obama has improved this country to the point that even racists have completely forgotten that he’s black and despise him only for his policies.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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