PowerLine – Congress investigating Obama administration for deception on Iran deal

PowerLine – Congress investigating Obama administration for deception on Iran deal 

Virtual Reality Comes to the White House

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 02:52 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)It often seems that President Obama is living in a world of his own. Michael Ramirez offers an explanation: virtual reality! Click to enlarge:


Sen. Cotton responds to latest HUD overreach

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 12:02 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)We’ve discussed how the Obama administration, through disparate impact theory, seeks to coerce employers into the assuming the risk of hiring criminals. It does so by arguing that African-Americans are overrepresented among ex-cons, and thus that excluding applicants based on criminal records has a disparate impact on this group.

So far, to my knowledge, this approach has yielded little if any success in court. However, it may well be that some employers have hired criminals it otherwise would have rejected in order to avoid being dragged into court.

Now, the Obama administration will try to coerce landlords into renting to criminals based on the same theory. Yesterday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development warned that it may be discriminatory for landlords to refuse to rent to those with criminal records. Newly issued HUD guidelines state:

The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics. Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics.

While the Act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.

The last clause is likely to be rubbish from a legal standpoint. However, landlords are far less equipped than employers to take on bullying federal authorities in court.

The Obama administration: where Team Leniency for Criminals meets Team Dictate Who Lives Where.

Senator Tom Cotton has issued this statement in response to HUD’s warning:

There are no lengths to which this administration won’t go to support convicted criminals. While those who have served their debt to society and completed the rehabilitation process deserve a second chance, it should be not at the expense of law-abiding citizens.

Whether releasing violent felons early from prison, preventing employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, or now blocking landlords from deciding whether to rent to someone who may pose a threat to their property and the surrounding community, these policies are part of a disturbing pattern. And they send the wrong message to criminals in Arkansas and across the country.

The United States is a nation of laws—and we should be looking for ways to better protect those who abide by those laws, not reward those who break them.

Congress investigating Obama administration for deception on Iran deal

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 08:31 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reports that Congress is investigating whether the Obama administration misled lawmakers last summer about the extent of concessions granted to Iran under the nuclear deal. It is also looking into whether administration officials have been quietly rewriting the deal’s terms.

The investigation stems from statements by top administration officials last week suggesting that Iran is set to receive weapons and sanctions relief the administration had promised Congress would not occur back when Team Obama was promoting the deal last summer. The invaluable Rep. Mike Pompeo put it this way:

When multiple officials—including Secretary Kerry, Secretary Lew, and Ambassador Mull—testify in front of Members of Congress, we are inclined to believe them. However, the gap between their promises on the Iran nuclear deal and today’s scary reality continues to widen.

We are now trying to determine whether this was intentional deception on the part of the administration or new levels of disturbing acquiescence to the Iranians.

Either way, it sounds like treachery.

What are the instances of misrepresentation that concern Pompeo and others? For one thing, according to Kredo, congressional leaders are concerned that the administration no longer considers recent Iranian ballistic missile tests a “violation” of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codifies the nuclear deal.

Top administration officials including Secretary of State John Kerry assured Congress that Iran would be legally prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile tests under the resolution. In response to a question from Sen. Menenedez, Kerry insisted that old language banning Iranian ballistic missile launches had been imported unchanged into the new UNSCR. Similarly, ambassador Stephen Mull, our Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, said that such missile launches would continue to be banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

But these statements now appear to be “inoperative.” Last week, U.N. ambassador Samantha Power refused to call recent Iranian launches a “violation” in a letter she signed criticizing those launches.

Second, Treasury Department officials are suggesting that the administration is now set to grant Iran non-nuclear sanctions relief, including indirect access to the U.S. financial system, weeks after top Iranian officials began demanding this form of relief. Top administration figures, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, had promised Congress that pre-existing restrictions barring Iran from accessing the U.S. financial system in any way would remain in place even after the nuclear deal.

Here is what Lew said on July 23 of last year:

But a number of key sanctions will remain in place. . .Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York, hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks. Iran, in other words, will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market. The JCPOA makes only minor allowances to this broad prohibition.

This statement now appears to be “inoperative.”

Team Obama’s duplicity apparently has generated dissension within the administration. Kredo reports that in a letter to the State Department, Rep. Peter Roskam and Lee Zeldin complained that the administration is stifling voices within its ranks for stronger action against Iran. Roskam and Zeldin suggested that the administration is “putting the JCPOA [the Iran deal] and political legacy above the safety and security of the American people.”

I suspect that putting the Iran deal above the safety and security of the American people will be a major part of President Obama’s legacy.

The first time ever she saw her face

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 07:08 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)In the annals of American presidential politics, I don’t think a senior aide has ever said anything quite like this about the candidate: “You know these things that happen in your life that just stick? She walked by and she shook my hand and our eyes connected and I just remember having this moment where I thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’ And it just inspired me. You know, I still remember the look on her face. And it’s funny, and she would probably be so annoyed that I say this, but I remember thinking; ‘Oh my God, she’s so beautiful and she’s so little!’” So said Huma Abedin about Hillary Clinton on episode 45 of Call Your Girlfriend.

One thing about this year: reality has outstripped satire. You can’t make this stuff up.

Huma can’t really top her account of the first time ever she saw Hillary’s face, but this is also quotable: “I think that if my boss quit tomorrow, she will go down as one of the greatest American women in the history of the world.”‘

As for me, I’m sticking with Lady Thatcher, on both counts.

Spirit of the JCPOA

Posted: 05 Apr 2016 06:44 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)What is the “spirit” of the weirdly unsigned Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran? The JCPOA obligates the parties to protect Iran’s nuclear program, arranges for its financing, and sets it on a path to fruition at a time of Iran’s choosing. Given that the Islamic Republic of Iran is an avowed enemy of the United States, I think the deal reeks of malice and delusion. Yet President Obama hold it out as the harbinger of a rosy future.

Thus Obama expresses disappointment in the mullahs’ actions of late. He finds the actions inconsistent with the spirit of the deal, as in his press conference this past Friday: “Iran so far has followed the letter of the agreement, but the spirit of the agreement involves Iran also sending signals to the world community and business that it is not going to be engaging in a range of provocative actions that might scare business off. When they launch ballistic missiles, with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous. There is some geopolitical risk that is heightened when they see that taking place. If Iran continues to ship missiles to Hezbollah, that gets businesses nervous. And so part of what I hope happens is we have a responsibility to provide clarity about the rules that govern so that Iran can, in fact benefit, the Iranian people can benefit from an improved economic situation.” Obama professes to find this inconsistent with “the spirit of the agreement.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has also invoked the “spirit” of the agreement. Lew seeks to facilitate the mullahs’ desire to access the dollar and/or the financial system despite sanctions to the contrary. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last month accused his friends in Washington of “using roundabout paths to prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving its targets,” adding that “banking transactions come up against problems.” The Wall Street Journal explains in a related editorial: “The White House got the message. On Wednesday Mr. Lew gave a speech in Washington insisting that ‘since Iran has kept its end of the [nuclear] deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit.’” As always, the “spirit” is willing in the Obama administration even if the mullahs aren’t reciprocating.

The Reuters article on the recently unsealed indictments of seven Iranians for hack attacks on United States financial institutions and infrastructure buries this gem: “U.S. officials largely completed the investigation more than a year ago, according to two sources familiar with the matter, but held off releasing the indictment so as to not jeopardize the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran or a January prisoner swap.” Now that’s the spirit.


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