How Long Can Noah Tread Water?

The Daily Show has announced little known South African comic Trevor Noah as Jon Stewart’s replacement, and going with an unknown talent is an understandable move for such an iconic show. (Some initial media reports predictably referred to this South African as “African-American” because they’re afraid to say “black,” because PC.)

But speaking of PC and compromised comics, the furor that has erupted over some of Noah’s old un-PC tweets reminds me of that old Bill Cosby punch line: “Noah—How long can you tread water?” Because it looks as though Trevor Noah may come undone for making jokes about un-petite women and Jews. Dave Weigel notes over at Bloomberg that Noah has gone from Progressive hero to villain in 24 hours.

Uh oh:

Noah 1 copy Noah 3 copy Noah 4 copy Noah 5 copy Noah 1

Unless Noah recants fast, he’s only going to be able to play in Indiana.


Noah 2 copy

Harry Reid, Serial Liar

Perhaps the lowest of the 2012 presidential election’s many low points was Harry Reid’s absurd claim, asserted on the floor of the Senate, that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid any income taxes in ten years. It was a classic Democratic Party lie, too dumb to be believed by people of any sophistication–which, of course, didn’t prevent it from being widely reported–but catnip to the party’s base.

Now that Reid has announced his retirement, he is giving a series of mostly-celebratory interviews about his career. On CNN, Dana Bash asked Reid whether he regretted his statement about Romney, the implicit premise being that it was a lie. Reid didn’t deny that he lied. Instead he responded, “Romney didn’t win, did he?” Here it is:

Chris Cillizza comments:

This sort of “the winners make the rules” approach is part of the broader partisan problem facing Washington and the polarization afflicting the nation more broadly. There is no trust between the two parties because they believe — and have some real justification for believing — that the other side will say and do literally anything to win.

But this is wrong, isn’t it? It may describe the Democrats accurately–I think it does–but when did Mitch McConnell or John Boehner peddle an outright, slanderous lie about Barack Obama? It hasn’t happened. Hysteria is a constant among Democrats: consider Reid’s crazed attacks on the Koch brothers, the current ridiculous misrepresentations about Indiana’s RFRA, the repeated suggestions that scientists who prefer data to global warming alarmism should be shot or imprisoned. There simply isn’t anything like this on the right.

Harry Reid may be exiting the stage, but he leaves behind a party that never had any problem with his lies, as long as they worked.

So much for Hillary’s “one device convenience” excuse

I doubt that anyone believed Hillary Clinton when she claimed she exclusively used a personal email address on a home server for “convenience,” so that she could carry a single device. In this day and age, the assertion is sufficiently implausible that only a Clinton would offer it.

Now, the Associated Press reports that Clinton used an iPad in addition to her BlackBerry to email staff. In response, Clinton admits, through a spokesman, that she used her iPad from time to time. She claims that she did so primarily to read news clippings, but doesn’t deny that she also used it for email.

We don’t know for certain whether Clinton “carried” the iPad with her, as she did the BlackBerry. Presumably, she (or someone in her retinue) did; that way she could read news clippings whenever she wanted to.

But it doesn’t matter. The fact that she used the iPad for email shows that her stated reason for exclusively using a single, private email account — the desire to rely on a single device for email — is false.

Perhaps one day in the distant future, when Clinton next takes questions from the press, someone will ask her to explain the inconsistency between her claim that she emailed from only her private account because she used one device for email and the fact that she used at least two devices for email.

Then again, perhaps not.

An MSNBC state of mind

As an outlet for political news and commentary, MSNBC is not completely worthless. It provides a window onto the left-wing mentality. Indeed, it gives us a comprehensive view: the political ego/superego/id of Al Sharpton & company. One gets the impression that medication has already done all it can do to make it fit for public consumption. A kind of cure will come only when management pulls the plug.

The Free Beacon’s David Rutz has compiled a Reader’s Digest version of gleanings from NSNBC for our viewing pleasure in the video below. He calls it “Questions so stupid only MSNBC could ask them.” I’m filing this under Laughter Is the Best Medicine.

The Clinton/Kendall claptrap

After seeking a two-week extension within which to respond to the outstanding subpoena issued by the House Select Committee on Benghazi for Madam Hillary’s email and request for email server, Clinton attorney David Kendall responded by letter that copies of all responsive documents had been turned over to the Department of State and the server had been wiped clean. The Democrats on the House Select Committee have posted David Kendall’s six-page, single spaced letter here.

Shannen Coffin parses the letter in “The latest bombshell from Clinton’s lawyer.” Shannon captures the defiant tone of Kendall’s letter:

Lawyers are not usually this bold when disclosing evidence that suggests potential breaches of criminal law. I say “potential” because it is impossible to know for sure — unless, of course, you, like most congressional Democrats, are willing to take Mr. Kendall’s (and Mrs. Clinton’s) word for it. But the destruction of any record while a person is subject to a congressional-committee investigation is a reason for humility, rather than hubris, on the part of that person’s lawyer. This is so because a number of federal laws prohibit obstruction of such investigations.

Shannen’s column addresses the legal issues in the context of the subpoena/request of the House Select Committee. Byron York takes a look at Clinton’s response in the context of previous subpoenas. Byron’s column is “Hillary Clinton withheld information from Congress. Now what does Congress do?”

Losin’ in Lausanne (6)

Omri Ceren writes by email from the negotiations in Lausanne:

After a bruising week for the Obama administration – where literally every news day started with a scoop about another Western concession or Iranian backtrack – things are limping to a close. The AP says there will be something by tonight, which the wire gingerly describes it as “a statement that lacks specifics[.]”

It’ll take about 7 seconds for today’s announcement to get tagged as something like “an agreement to keep trying to agree,” which is effectively where the parties were 6 to 18 months ago, depending on how generous you want to be. At that point the administration will face questions about what it gave up over the last week to get just this announcement. The last week has been kind of a news cycle bloodbath in that regard:

Wednesday — WSJ scoop on PMDs concession — the WSJ revealed that the administration was willing to let Iran put off fully disclosing its nuclear program until after sanctions relief had been granted, a concession that would gut any verification regime.

Thursday — AP scoop on Fordow concession — the AP revealed that the administration was willing to let Iran continue spinning centrifuges in its underground military enrichment bunker at Fordow, ensuring that Iran would be allowed to maintain nuclear infrastructure completely impervious to Western intervention if they decided to break out.

Monday — NYT scoop on Iran stockpile bait-and-switch — the NYT revealed that the Iranians had backed away from suggestions they would ship their enriched uranium to Russia, a scenario they had used for months to secure concessions on the number of centrifuges they’d be allowed to run.

Congress gets back into session April 13.

In a subsequent email previewing a conference call this morning with former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen — Omri cites his paper “Iran’s nuclear breakout time: A fact sheet” — Omri writes:

There are two levels to the debate that’s going on right now. The top level has to do with whether the Obama administration even has the right goal in the Iran talks, i.e. whether a 1 year breakout time is adequate to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition. Then after that, there’s the question of whether whatever deal the parties work out meets that goal, i.e. whether, after all of the concessions that the West has made to Iran, the final deal really guarantees a 1 year breakout time.

Heinonen has taken up both of these questions in recent weeks.

A 1 year breakout is not enough – The Heinonen/Hayden/Takeyh overview on this question is a short read. There are theoretical scenarios that say the US could detect and reverse an Iranian breakout, but none of them hold up when you start talking about real-world constraints: the international bureaucratic process to confirm cheating, the political process to move the intelligence to the President, the diplomatic process to mobilize international action, etc. And then at the end of it, the go-to option would be sanctions – which take more than a year to cause pain anyway (see here).

The deal won’t even achieve a 1 year breakout – Heinonen subsequently published a longer version of the argument, that has both a a primer on breaakout calculations and a calculation that shows the actual breakout time secured by the rumored deal is about 7-9 months. That piece also elaborates on the bureaucratic process for detecting and acting in the wake of Iranian cheating, and suggests that the deal could not stop an Iranian breakout or sneakout (Heinonen’s paper is here).

Iran moves the goal posts again

In negotiations, parties tend to moderate their positions as the deadline for a deal approaches. Sometimes, though, the parties (or at least one of them) aren’t willing to compromise. Instead, they continue to insist on the positions they have maintained throughout the process.

What’s quite unusual is for a party, at eleventh hour, to insist on a position it hasn’t previously taken. When this occurs, it means one of two things: either the party pulling the switch doesn’t want a deal or it realizes that the other side is so desperate for a deal that it can act in blatant bad faith with impunity.

The New York Times reports that “with a negotiating deadline just two days away, Iranian officials on Sunday backed away from a critical element of a proposed nuclear agreement, saying they are no longer willing to ship their atomic fuel out of the country.” Until now, Iran has been agreeable to sending the material to Russia.

Has Iran decided that it doesn’t want a deal? Or has it concluded that President Obama is so desperate for one that it can pull the rug out from under him at the last minute and get a better bargain as a result?

In either case, the U.S. should walk away. But Iran has taken the measure of Obama and correctly concluded that, however outrageously it acts, Obama will not walk away.

Instead, according to the Times, the administration is looking at “other ways of dealing with the material” such as “blending it into a more diluted form.” Here we see the complaint of Amir Hossein Mottaghi, the Iranian defector, made manifest. As he says, the U.S. negotiating team is “mainly [present] to speak on Iran’s behalf.”

Even the New York Times acknowledges that keeping the fuel in Iran would, at a minimum, give Iran another way to cheat on the agreement. Would inspectors be able to make sure the material was being diluted? Might not they be denied the access necessary to detect such cheating, as they have been denied access in other contexts?

Quite possibly. In any event, we shouldn’t have to worry about these scenarios, especially since Iran has been willing all along to accepts an arrangement that precludes them.

According to Ray Takeyh, “one of the core administration arguments has been that the uranium would be shipped abroad as a confidence building measure.” Iran’s sudden unwillingness to ship out the uranium should therefore undermine whatever confidence Team Obama might have in Iran’s intent to comply.

The negotiations have, indeed, built confidence. Iran has become fully confident that Obama, so desperate for any deal, will take without serious complaint just about any kick in the teeth the mullahs deliver.

Each kick makes a bad deal even worse.