The Week in Pictures: Hillarypalooza Edition

Has there ever been a more bizarre and more feckless presidential campaign launch than Hillary 2016? The nation might—might—be “Ready for Hillary,” but Hillary doesn’t look ready for us. Democratic elders must be privately in a state of panic: at least when Howard Dean melted down (or Ed Muskie in 1972—recall that he had the nomination locked up too, according to all the experts), there was a bench of other plausible candidates ready to step in the breach. What happens when Hillary botches something completely, or has a health problem?  Meanwhile, if GOP operatives had any sense of humor, they’d resurrect the 1980s A-Team van to chase after Hillary’s “Scoobie” van.

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Gives a whole new meaning to "Ready for Hillary," doesn't it?

Gives a whole new meaning to “Ready for Hillary,” doesn’t it?

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Caption Contest!

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And that’s how much latitude Bill will have with interns. . .

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Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

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And finally. . .

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The Power Line Show, Episode 14: The Presidential Race

Last night, three of the PL crew (John, Paul and Steve) got together for a review of the presidential race as it currently stands. A principal topic was Hillary Clinton’s bizarre rollout, complete with her incognito Chipotle appearance, “common man” meetings with Democratic Party officials, parking the “Scooby” van in a handicapped space, and more. Compared to that, Marco Rubio’s launch was seamless. We talked about a number of the GOP candidates and debated their relative merits and prospects. It’s a fun 30 or 40 minutes that you won’t want to miss.

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Our Supreme Leader to cave creatively to theirs

Omri Ceren has sent out two messages today on developments related to the arrangement in process with Iran. They will come as a surprise to no one. In the first, Omri expanded on the Reuters story reporting “No breakthrough between Iran and UN nuclear watchdog” on the disclosure of past nuclear work conducted by Iran’s military. For those keeping score at home, the second of the two messages provides this preview of the fiasco to come complete with a nausea inducing quote from Obama to make a point:

Last week’s speech by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laid down two new red lines. First, he said that there would be no inspections of atomic work on military sites, let alone the snap inspections that the IAEA has long insisted were necessary. Second, he said that sanctions relief would have to be immediate. Both of these contradicted the framework agreement, as described by the factsheet that the administration presented to lawmakers and the public.

Regarding inspections, the factsheet had stated “Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.” It has to be that way so inspectors can baseline what the Iranians are doing and make sure they’ve stopped. Regarding phased sanctions relief, the factsheet had stated “U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” It has to be that way to keep the Iranians honest, since they’d have no incentive to uphold the deal if the sanctions regime was torn down all at once.

Khamenei’s speech created a firestorm of criticism. If his interpretation was correct, the US would have no ability, first, to detect, and second, to respond, to Iranian cheating.

The administration responded by telling lawmakers and journalists that the factsheet was accurate and that Khamenei’s speech was just for domestic consumption. Critics responded that the issue wasn’t about who was lying. Instead the concern was that the Americans would fail to stand up to the Iranians, even at the expense of contradicting the White House’s original (maybe originally accurate) factsheet. The Iranians, after all, have 100% record of ‘winning’ factsheet disputes with the Obama administration.

The critics appear to have been justified in their concerns. The administration appears to be conceding to the new demands.

On inspections, [White House national security adviser Ben] Rhodes started floating language last week indicating that the White House was preparing to cave. See my last email for his exact quote from Panama ["there will have to be the ability for the IAEA to conduct inspections that are consistent with what is in framework... if the United States and other countries, again, present information and seek access through the IAEA to those sites"], but it now appears that the administration will accept some kind of mechanism that falls far short of the “anytime, anywhere” inspections that had long been touted. Instead inspectors will have to make a request to Iran, then the Iranians will get to evaluate it, and then they’ll decide whether or not to grant access. If they ever do grant access to any military site – which they’re currently refusing to do, even while under sanctions – enough time will have passed for them to have moved or destroyed any evidence.

On immediate sanctions relief, President Obama was just asked point blank whether he would rule out lifting Iran sanctions at time of nuclear deal. The President pointedly refused, instead talking about “creative negotiations”:

“With respect to the issue of sanctions coming down – I don’t want to get out ahead of John Kerry and my negotiators in terms [of] how to craft this. I would just make a general observation and that is that how sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation – there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that. Part of John’s job and part of the Iranian negotiators’ job and part of the P5+1′s job is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable. Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions. That’s our main concern. And I think that goal, of having, in reserve, the possibility of putting back and applying forceful sanctions, in the event of a violation, that goal can be met. And it will require some creative negotiations by John Kerry and others, and I’m confident that we’ll be successful.”

For the last quote, Omri links to this video (timestamp 6:03).

In Defense of Hillary

Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch has been a disaster in many ways, as we discuss in the podcast that will be posted shortly. But on one point, I agree with her: tipping at Chipotle. Hillary has taken abuse for not leaving anything in the tip jar next to the cash register at the fast food restaurant. Nonsense, I say.

I tip people who serve me–waiters and waitresses, hotel employees who carry my bags, valet parkers who retrieve my car. I don’t tip cashiers in stores, people who work in the kitchen, the mechanics who change the oil in my car, and so on. I assume their salaries are covered by the prices I pay for goods and services. What, it isn’t enough that I pay a couple of bucks for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, I’m supposed to put more in a tip jar? Forget it.

Just this once, Hillary is right. Tipping is a plague. I would like to see less of it (like they have in Japan, for example), not more.

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Rubio tied with Bush in Florida

A Mason-Dixon poll has Marco Rubio effectively tied with Jeb Bush among Florida Republicans. Rubio is supported by 31 percent; Bush by 30 percent. Ted Cruz is next with 8 percent. Then comes Rand Paul at 7 percent and Scott Walker at 2 percent. The margin of error is 5 points.

Earlier this month, before Rubio rolled out his campaign, a Quinnipiac poll had Bush polling at 24 percent among Republicans, Walker at 15 percent and Rubio at 12 percent. From these two polls, one could infer that the Rubio rollout enabled him to capture nearly all of Walker’s support. However, I question whether just two polls, taken at such an early stage by two different outfits, provide a sound basis for such an inference.

What seems clear is that Rubio’s rollout was impressive. Politico reports:

[T]he poll results don’t really surprise some top Florida Bush backers who watched Rubio’s Monday announcement at Miami’s Freedom Tower with a mixture of awe and dread.

“Man, that guy is good and we could be in trouble,” said one major Bush backer, adding that friends and a relative from out of state told the supporter to back Rubio instead of the former governor.

“Not only was the stagecraft right, but so was the tone of the speech,” said another. “I love Jeb more than anything, but Rubio has the same ideas and he’s a better messenger with a better story.”

Can you imagine Jeb Bush reaching the same conclusion and eventually stepping aside to back his former protege — the honorary Hispanic deferring to the genuine one? I can, though much would have to happen to bring about this scenario.

Netanyahu remembers

Wednesday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a somber event made even more somber this year under the shadow of our arrangement in process with Iran. Prime Minister Netanyhau spoke in Jerusalem at Yad Vashem to mark the occasion. The Prime Minister’s Office has posted a translation of his speech here. It is certainly worth reading in its entirety. Referring to “the enervation, the weakness, the denial of reality” reflected in current events, this excerpt conveys a message with pointed implications:

When the war ended, the conclusion was clear: there is no room for weakness when facing tyrannous regimes that send their murderous tentacles in every direction. Only by standing firm and adhering to the values of liberty and tolerance can we ensure the future of humankind.

There are many around the world who claim that the lessons learned then are still valid today. They affirm: “Never again!” They declare: “We will not turn a blind eye to the expansionist intentions of a violent tyranny.” They promise: “We will oppose evil as soon as it begins.” But as long as these announcements are not backed by practical actions – they are meaningless. Did the world really learn a lesson from the inconceivable universal and Jewish tragedy of last century? I wish I could stand here and tell you that the answer to this was yes.

Today, ever more threats challenge human civilization. Radical Islamist forces are flooding the Middle East, destroying remnants of the past, torturing the helpless, murdering innocents. They hope to establish caliphates, more than one, like in the Middle Ages. At the same time, the extremist regime in Iran is oppressing its people; it is rushing forward and submerging the Middle East in blood and suffering – in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Gaza and across the border of the Golan Heights.

Just as the Nazis aspired to crush civilization and to establish a “master race” to replace it and control the world while annihilating the Jewish people, so too does Iran strive to gain control over the region, from which it would spread further, with the explicit intent of obliterating the Jewish state. Iran is advancing in two tracks: the first is in developing the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons and stockpile ballistic missiles; and the second – exporting the Khomeinist revolution to many countries by widely using terrorism and taking over large parts of the Middle East. Everything is out in the open – it is all taking place in broad daylight, in front of the cameras. And yet, the blindness is immense.

“For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples,” said the Prophet Isaiah. The determination and lessons that were acquired through blood seventy years ago are now dissipating, and the darkness and fog of denying reality are taking their place. The bad deal that is being made with Iran demonstrates that the historic lesson has not been internalized. The West is yielding in the face of Iran’s aggressive actions. Instead of demanding a significant dismantling of the nuclear program in Iran – a country that clearly states its plans to exterminate six million Jews here and elsewhere, to eradicate many countries and many regimes – the superpowers back down. They are leaving Iran with its nuclear capabilities intact, and even allowing it to expand them later on, regardless of Iran’s actions in the Middle East and around the world.

As the civilized world is lulled into slumber on a bed of illusions, the rulers of Iran continue to encourage subversion and terrorism and disseminate destruction and death. The superpowers turn a deaf ear to the crowds in Iran shouting: “Death to America; Death to Israel.” They turn a blind eye to the executions of those who oppose the regime and of members of minority populations. And they hold their peace in the face of the massive arming of terrorist organizations. At most, they make a halfhearted statement for the record.

I have heard that in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day a competition with prizes is soon to take place in Tehran with participants from 56 countries. It is a Holocaust denial cartoon competition. Will we hear protests? At best, a minor condemnation might be heard; that will minimally fulfill their obligation.

Distinguished guests, Israeli citizens and representatives of other countries, the bubble of this illusion is going to burst. Democratic governments made a critical mistake before World War II, and we are convinced – and I must say that many of our neighbors are too – that they are making a grave mistake now too. It is possible that this partnership with many of our neighbors, the partnership in identifying threats, will be the foundation for the partnership to forge a better, safer and more peaceful future in our region. Meanwhile, we will not flinch. We will continue to insist on the truth, and we will do everything we can to open the eyes that are shut.

I do not want to mislead anyone. We have tests ahead of us. We are in the midst of a great battle against the enervation, the weakness, the denial of reality – we will stand with our full force.

While there are those who refuse to understand our position, there are many others who identify with us. But even if we are compelled to stand alone, we will not be afraid. In any scenario, in any situation, we will safeguard our right, we will maintain our ability, we will keep our resolve to defend ourselves.

Whole thing here.

Next week in Minneapolis, the Midwest Women’s Summit

The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute hosts the Midwest Women’s Summit at the Airport Hilton Airport Hotel conveniently located down the street from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota next week. Scheduled to run from April 23 (Thursday night) to April 25 (Saturday morning), the summit features a killer lineup including True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht, CBLPI president Michelle Easton, Regnery Publishing president Marji Ross, Nonie Darwish, and several others. See the event information posted here; the summit agenda is posted here. Registration is accessible here. Please note that travel and hotel scholarship are available for high school and college women student activists.

Among those with Minnesota connections on the summit agenda are state Senator Michelle Benson, my friends Katherine Kersten and Katie Kieffer and my daughter & NR Washington editor Eliana Johnson. CBLPI officer Cindy Rushing, wrote us yesterday afternoon: “We would love for you to encourage ladies in your circle of influence to come and join us for a welcome reception on Thursday evening, followed by our engaging line-up of speakers on Friday.”

To give some idea of what is on offer, Cindy adds: “We know that the students attending are in for a treat. Our mission is to educate them with important conservative ideas, and prepare them to return to their campuses and communities as defenders of these principles.”