Obama making secret deals with Iran

Obama’s secret dealings with the terrorist state of Iran keep leaking out.

Now we learn that — what a coincidence! — the first $400 million, supposedly of a $1.7 billion settlement that dates to 1979, was secretly airlifted in the form of cash on wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies at precisely the same time in mid-January when four Americans were released by Iran, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Obama announced the release of the prisoners without any mention of the secret cash shipment.

“Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment,” WSJ relates.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian after being released by Iran following a secret $400 million cash airlift. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

The U.S. has a longstanding policy against paying ransom for the release of hostages/prisoners, lest it encourage the taking of more hostages. Since January the Iranians have arrested two more Iranian-Americans as well as several others with dual European citizenships.

Two years ago the family of a murdered American journalist was threatened with arrest if they had tried to pay ransom for his release. They said a military officer working for Obama’s National Security Council warned they could be charged with supporting terrorism if they paid a ransom to his Islamist captors.


Just a couple of weeks ago The Associated Press reported that a secret codicil to the Iranian nuclear deal will let the imams start building nukes years earlier than previously reported.


“The confidential document is the only text linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public, although U.S. officials say members of Congress who expressed interest were briefed on its substance,” AP reported. “It was given to the AP by a diplomat whose work has focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.”

Of the latest secret deal, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton accused Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages. … This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford added, “President Obama’s … payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance. … Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

Congress is working on legislation to prevent the Obama administration from making further cash payments to Iran.

The story did not warrant mention in today’s Las Vegas newspaper.

OK, before the defenders of Obama start coming to his defense with the excuse that others did it, too. Yes, Reagan did it, too.


The crusade against ‘biased cops’ is based on a false premise

By now you’ve read about the police officers killing armed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the the black sniper killing five cops and wounding more in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest.

And you’ve heard Obama say the shootings of blacks by cops “are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”


Perhaps you recall Hillary Clinton saying earlier in the year that “too many encounters with law enforcement end tragically,” later adding that there is “systemic racism.”

Perhaps you’ve even read the stats compiled by the Washington Post showing that 26 percent of those killed by police officers in 2015 were black, though blacks are only 13 percent of the population. Then there are the FBI crime stats that reveal 51 percent of those charged with murder and 56 percent of those charged with robbery are black.

But perhaps you missed The Wall Street Journal op-ed from February that was reposted this weekend. Reporter Heather Mac Donald, whose book “The War on Cops” came out June 21, “Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.”

Mac Donald also reports that studies refute claim by the Black Lives Matter and certain politicians, that white cops are more likely to shoot blacks. One study of the Philadelphia Police Department found black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks upon the mistaken belief the person is armed. A study of New York City police found that at a crime scene where gunfire occurs black cops were 3.3 times more likely fire than other cops at the scene.


Never let the facts get in the way of your presumptions of racism and fatal bias.

The following is an excerpt from Mac Donald’s book posted on Fox News:

In the summer of 2014 a lie overtook significant parts of the country and grew into a kind of mass hysteria.

That lie holds that the police pose a mortal threat to black Americans—indeed, that the police are the greatest threat facing black Americans today.

Several subsidiary untruths buttress that central myth: that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks; that there is no such thing as a black underclass; and that crime rates are comparable between blacks and whites, so that disproportionate police action in minority neighborhoods cannot be explained without reference to racism.

The poisonous effect of these lies manifested itself in the cold-blooded assassination of two NYPD officers in December that year.

The highest reaches of American society promulgated those untruths and participated in the mass hysteria.

President Barack Obama, speaking after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, declared that blacks were right to believe that the criminal-justice system was often stacked against them. Obama repeated that message as he traveled around the country subsequently.

Eric Holder escalated a long-running theme of his tenure as U.S. attorney general: that the police routinely engaged in racial profiling and needed federal intervention to police properly.

University presidents rushed to show their fealty to the lie. Harvard’s Drew Gilpin Faust announced that “injustice” toward black lives “still thrives so many years after we hoped we could at last overcome the troubled legacy of race in America. . . . Harvard and . . . the nation have embraced [an] imperative to refuse silence, to reject injustice.” Smith College’s president abjectly flagellated herself for saying that “all lives matter,” instead of the current mantra, “black lives matter.” Her ignorant mistake, she confessed, drew attention away from “institutional violence against Black people.”

The New York Times ratcheted up its already-stratospheric level of anti-cop polemics. In an editorial justifying the Ferguson riots  the Times claimed that “the killing of young black men by police is a common feature of African-American life and a source of dread for black parents from coast to coast.”

In reality, however, police killings of blacks are an extremely rare feature of black life and a minute fraction of black homicide deaths.

Blacks are killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict. To cite more data on this point: in 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only about 13 percent of the nation’s population.

The question of climate change ‘fraud’ cuts both ways

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, center, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, right, and other U.S. state attorneys general announced a state-based effort to investigate companies over climate fraud. (Reuters photo via Huffington Post)

Two can play this game.

First a group of state attorneys general called for investigation and potential prosecution of several oil companies for perpetrating fraud by underplaying the threat of climate change in the public statements over the years.

Now a group of Republican state attorneys general — including Nevada’s Adam Laxalt — are pointing out in a letter that this street goes two ways:

“If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration. If minimization is fraud, exaggeration is fraud. Some have indicated that Exxon Mobil’s securities disclosures regarding climate change may be inadequate. We do not know the accuracy of these charges. We do know that Exxon Mobil discloses climate change and its possible implications as a business risk. … If Exxon’s disclosure is deficient, what of the failure of renewable energy companies to list climate change as a risk? … If climate change is perceived to be slowing or becoming less of a risk, many ‘clean energy’ companies may become less valuable and some may be altogether worthless. Therefore, any fraud theory requiring more disclosure of Exxon would surely require more disclosure by ‘clean energy’ companies.”

They also note the threats against fossil fuel companies raises serious First Amendment implications when one side of the debate can be subject to expense investigations the debate is serious chilled. “As expressed by Justice Brandeis, it has been a foundational principle that when faced with ‘danger flowing from speech … the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence,’” the letter says.

The letter concludes by telling the other attorneys general: “Stop policing viewpoints.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial also weighs in on this topic.


In iPhone/GPS era, FAA still flying by passing out slips of paper

Here is still another example of a bureaucracy mired in incompetence.

The Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial today that the Federal Aviation Administration runs an air-traffic control system with the best technology World War II could offer, while its efforts to upgrade are overbudget and overdue. The FAA is expected to miss its 2025 completion date by a decade.

The Associated Press recently reported that new air control towers at McCarran International in Las Vegas and San Francisco International can’t open and will have to be remodeled because they are built for new technology that keeps crashing. Work spaces will have to be expanded so controllers can handle slips of paper for tracking flights.

Both the AP account and the WSJ editorial report that a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, would take air traffic control operations away from the FAA and hand it to a nonprofit company run by the aviation industry.

WSJ says it works in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and a Government Accountability Office report found safety either improved or remained unchanged.

Sounds like a better alternative.

New McCarran tower in the foreground and old tower to the left. (R-J photo)

Mirror, mirror? Who is reflected in this diagnosis?

From The Wall Street Journal’s “Notable and Quotable” comes this clip. Can anyone think of anyone who this describes?:


From the Mayo Clinic’s online entry on narcissistic personality disorder:

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement—and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything—for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. . . .

[The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5] . . . criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate . . .

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner.

Loser Trump cries foul when the rules don’t suit him

Ramirez cartoon from today’s IBD

Donald Trump again and again has shown himself to be nothing more than a simpering, sniveling, preposterous posturing popinjay and whining windbag who is too lazy to learn the rules of the game and then calls foul when others play by them.

After losing in Wisconsin Trump called Ted Cruz a Trojan Horse for the GOP establishment.

When Cruz swept the delegates at the Colorado state GOP convention, Trump tweeted, “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!”

The Colorado Republican Party canceled its straw poll last August when the national party ruled straw polls must be binding.

But oblivious Trump tweeted moments later, “How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger — totally unfair!”

A Trump aide accused Cruz of using Gestapo tactics.

A Wall Street Journal editorial points out that “Cruz cleaned up in Colorado because his campaign was paying attention to the process. Whatever one thinks of the Texan’s appeal as a candidate, his campaign is organized and focused on winning the required 1,237 delegate majority. This speaks well of his ability to lead a complex organization.”

The editorial notes that Trump has been running a one-man show from his Boeing 757, relying on massive rallies and free media.

Speaking of fairness, Investor’s Business Daily points out editorially that the winner-take-all state rules have resulted in Trump winning only 37 percent of all the votes cast but has secured 45 percent of the delegates.

In Missouri it was announced today that Trump beat Cruz by just 0.2 percentage points — 40.9 percent to 40.7, but Trump gets 37 delegates to Cruz’s 15.

Those are the rules and nobody else is complaining about them. They knew the rules going in and are abiding by them. There’s no whining in politics.

IBD concludes, “If he can’t understand the challenges that he faces as a candidate or be flexible enough to respond to a shifting landscape, and if he can’t assemble the best and brightest people needed to win — no matter the rules — what does that say about his claims that he can do a great job running the country?”

To counter Trump’s whining about the rules, WSJ quoted an opinion from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “A political party has a First Amendment right to limit its membership as it wishes, and to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform.”

Scalia added that “party conventions, with their attendant ‘smoke-filled rooms’ and domination by party leaders, have long been an accepted manner of selecting party candidates.”

Smoke-filled rooms. Bring them back.




Bring back the smoke-filled backrooms

Republican caucus goers line up in February. (AP photo by John Locher)

The editorialists at the Las Vegas Sun never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to get it right — even when it is staring them in the face.

Today’s screed is a rant about how bad the presidential caucuses of both parties were and how lawmakers should switch to presidential primaries.

The editorialists postulate that such gatherings made sense years ago when people actually talked to each other but now they are so outmoded and inconvenient and frustrating.

At one point they even skated past the real answer: “In fact, nothing in the U.S. Constitution extends to citizens a role in how the parties promote their candidates for the White House. They are party affairs, pure and simple, and it’s up to the parties in how inclusive to be. The only guarantee to citizens is the right to vote in November.”

But then they plow on past the real answer to their comfortable stance of government has the solution: “Nevada’s state lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, should be able to agree on this, and bring back the primary elections that everyone embraces.”

No, lawmakers are the last people who should be telling the parties how to choose their candidates. The parties are private entities that should choose their candidates in any way they see fit — privately funded caucuses, primaries, smoke-filled backrooms or “American Idol”-style voting via text message or arm-wrestling competition.

Nevada has party primaries scheduled for June 14 for everything except president, a full month before the major parties’ national conventions.

But even that is wrong. The state doesn’t conduct primaries for the Libertarian, American Independent, Green or Communist parties, why do it for just two?

In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel poses a rhetorical question about how a contested Republican convention would mean a return to the smoke-filled backroom bargaining of the past and lets Wisconsin conservative activist Eric O’Keefe answer.

“And what’s wrong with that process?” O’Keefe replies. “It worked well. Those rooms were full of engaged citizens — people who had an interest in the success of their party and their country. They vetted the nominations, they imposed accountability, they shook up the system.”

I reached a similar conclusion three years ago when lawmakers in Carson City were contemplating a bill to keep Nevada “First in the West” by establishing major political party presidential primaries in January of an election year instead of caucuses.

“No one, but no one has stepped back and asked the one vital question: What business is it of the Democrat-dominated state Legislature as to how or when any political party nominates its candidates?” I asked.

Not only is the Constitution silent on political parties, as the Sun so notes, our Founders were actually disdainful of political parties.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

In his farewell address in 1796 George Washington said:

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Sounds rather prescient considering the current state of the two major parties.

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other,” John Adams wrote in 1780. “This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Strassel points out another problem with legislatively mandated party selection: “Why should Republicans bow down, for instance, to the results of state-mandated open primaries that allow liberal and independent voters to bum-rush what is supposed to be a private poll?”

In Nevada Republicans had to register prior to the day of the caucus, but Democrats allowed same-day registration.

Even the candidates are free agents rather than party loyalists.

Political parties in Nevada have become largely irrelevant. Candidates pull on a cloak of party identity and self-select. The same for party members who simply sign up with the registrar of voters and instantly become party members without ever attending a meeting of the membership or voting on a platform or even stating a political philosophy.

Gov. Brian Sandoval did not go to the Republican Party leadership in 2010 and say Jim Gibbons needed to be ousted. No, he put his name on the ballot, ran a campaign dominated by paid consultants and television advertising and fliers in the mail. He was elected by nominal Republicans, and is governing as a nominal Republican.

The Republican-majority lawmakers in 2015 passed the biggest tax increase in history, just like Democrats would have.

Perhaps Nevada should borrow page from Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, during his term in office but prior to his term in prison, plotted to eliminate the Republican Party by going to an open primary system. When the smoke cleared, the first open primary governor was Dave Treen, a Republican.

Today in Louisiana, the Republican Party holds the House, Senate, though the current governor is a Democrat.

Let the parties choose their candidates and endorse them. Open the primary ballot to all comers and advance the top two vote-earners to November’s ballot.

Ramirez cartoon