Funniest Paragraph of the Day, Courtesy of the NY Times

The New York Times has a longish story today about an internal fight going on at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA, where Unitarian Universalists apparently go for advanced theological instruction.  Yes, that would seem like a short curriculum to me, too; either that or it’s one of those mail order diploma mills where you send in 25 cents and two cereal boxtops, and you’ll be given a diploma to ply your trade at the nearest congregation of the Church of What’s Happening Now.

But apparently there’s been a bitter fight about selecting a new president for this important institution, and some students who got in the fray are having their emails scrutinized, etc.  The punch line, though, comes in the very last paragraph, with a quote from one of students whose diploma is being withheld:

“Unitarian Universalism is not a theologically grounded religion,” Ms. Brock said. “If we mess up our principles and values, we don’t have a theology to fall back on. We’re not Catholic — we can’t just keep giving communion until we figure it out. If we don’t have our values figured out, our institutions become pointless bureaucracies.”

Evelyn Waugh or Peter DeVries could hardly write better satire than this.

Another al-Shabab Massacre In Kenya

Twenty terrorists from al-Shabab, the Somali Islamic group, ambushed a bus near Mandera, Kenya, with 60 passengers on board. They segregated those who didn’t look Somali and–since al-Shabab has nothing to do with Islam, as President Obama likes to assure us–demanded that they recite the Shahada. The 28 who couldn’t do so were lined up on the ground and shot. Warning: graphic photo.

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The dead included nine women and 17 teachers. Apparently none of the terrorists was wearing a shirt with pretty girls on it, so American feminists haven’t commented.

Kenya is a relatively advanced country, but its authorities seem unprepared to deal with brutal terrorists:

A shortage of personnel and lack of equipment led to a slow response by police when the information was received, said two police officers who insisted on anonymity because they were ordered not to speak to the press. They said the attackers have more sophisticated weaponry than the police who waited for military reinforcements before responding.

Kenya has strict gun laws, a policy it might want to re-think. When police don’t even dare pursue terrorists, the first line of defense is the only line of defense.

They’ve got a secret

The latest report from the nuclear negotiations with Iran indicates that they are likely to be extended. The deadline is Monday and “big gaps” remain, despite the Western powers’ strenuous efforts to surrender. Omri Ceren emails a status update suggesting that the negotiations have descended into a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Omari’s message expands on this Reuters report from earlier this afternoon:

Reuters broke this about 90 minutes ago: the P5+1 “will likely stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.”

The concession – which involves letting Iran slide on its obligation to come clean over the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program – is likely to prove enormously controversial both politically and substantively. I’ve pasted the whole article below if you want to read the whole thing. It includes flabbergasted quotes from Western officials like “I believe the PMD issue is not a deal-breaker even though it probably should be.”

Politically, the demand has been a cornerstone of Western diplomacy and a key way the Obama administration reassured skeptics of its diplomacy:

* The demand was a hard-fought part of United Nations Security Council 1929, which demands that “Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA” (http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?docid=4c1f2eb32)

* The Obama administration has since the very beginning told its that it would force full Iranian disclosure. Sept 2009 President Obama declared that “Iran is on notice that… they are going to have to come clean.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB125391458570742099). In January 2013 Kerry doubled down on the position, declaring that “the president has made it definitive” that Iran needs to answer all “questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/24/politics/kerry-nomination/)

There will be people who advocate letting Iran slide, and they’ll tell lawmakers and journalists that it would be humiliating for the Iranians to admit they played around with nuke experiments. What’s the point of embarrassing the Iranians just to embarrass the Iranians? Why force a “mea culpa”?

That very, very badly misunderstands the PMD issue. The reason PMDs matter so much politically is because they matter so much sbstantively. Full disclosure has long been recognized a critical prerequisite to any verification regime. It’s how inspectors were going to benchmark the Iranian program. They’re not (just) interested in the Iranian military’s full-blown weapons work. Instead they need to know all of the atomic work that the Iranian military has conducted. That includes uranium mining, centrifuge construction, enrichment, etc. The goal is to get a full picture of everything the Iranians are doing and have done, so that inspectors can verify they’ve stopped them. It’s not a “mea culpa” issue. It’s about benchmarking a deal.

Otherwise the entire deal might end up being just for show. The Iranians can commit to keeping only X amount of uranium in country, but that’s meaningless without knowing how much total uranium they actually have. Ditto for centrifuges they commit to putting offline. Ditto for R&D they commit to forgoing. We’ll have a situation where we can’t be sure that 100% of the Iranian program is being monitored under an agreement. It could be 75%. It could be 50%. Without full disclosure there’s no way to know.

If there’s really been a collapse, it will supercharge skepticism of the deal.

UPDATE: This Jerusalem Post story includes several administration quotes defending the merits of the proposal, while Omri Ceren emails additional citations to his commentary on the Reuters article:

( ) Singh: without full insight into PMD issues, monitoring and inspections are irrelevant
Michael Singh, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Times Dispatch, “Singh: Go beyond ‘first-step’ deal with Iran,” 2013, http://m.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/guest-columnists/singh-go-beyond-first-step-deal-with-iran/article_3f1d917a-80c1-58c7-8dd9-4ea23ea78645.html?mode=jqm
Without insight into the full extent of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities, no amount of monitoring and inspection can provide true confidence that Iran lacks a parallel program beyond inspectors’ view. A final agreement must sharply curtail the nuclear capacity left in place by this first diplomatic step and require Iran to come clean on the full range of past and present nuclear work by all Iranian entities.

( ) Heinonen: huge risks associated with not establishing PMD timeline
David E. Sanger, NYT, “Long Absent, Nuclear Expert Still Has Hold on Iran Talks,” 6/24/14, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/world/middleeast/top-scientist-from-iran-hinders-talks-with-absence.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
You don’t need to see every nut and bolt…But you are taking a heck of a risk if you don’t establish a baseline of how far they went,” because it would be far more difficult to understand Iran’s timelines to a weapon.

( ) Eisenstadt: the PMD issue is key — failure to acknowledge military dimensions emboldens Iranian leaders and makes sustainable monitoring agreements impossible to negotiate
Michael Eisenstadt, Kahn Fellow and director of The Washington Institute’s Military and Security Studies Program, “Building on the Joint Plan of Action: Toward a Sustainable Nuclear Deal with Iran,” 12/6/13, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/building-on-the-joint-plan-of-action-toward-a-sustainable-nuclear-deal-with
…the White House fact sheet on the “first-step understandings” with Tehran mentions the regime’s “acknowledgement” that it must resolve “questions concerning the possible military dimensions of [its] nuclear program,” including “activities at Parchin,” …Clarifying this issue is crucial because Iran’s leaders hold that the moral and psychological dimensions of statecraft and strategy trump the technological and material…Believing that perception is reality, Tehran tends to focus on spin and image management, investing great effort in imposing its narrative in order to cultivate support at home and a more conducive environment abroad for its foreign policy objectives. In the past decade, the nuclear issue has become the lynchpin of this narrative. Tehran’s most important goal in negotiating with the P5+1, then, is to win the war of the narratives. From the regime’s perspective, this means emphasizing that Iran…has not sought to develop nuclear weapons and will not in the future; that allegations about a nuclear weapons program are part of an American-Zionist conspiracy to unjustly smear the Islamic Republic, keep it weak and isolated, and impede the scientific development of the Muslim world; and that demands for intrusive inspections and restrictions on its nuclear program reflect a discriminatory double standard. Washington has done little so far to publicly counter this narrative. Getting Tehran to acknowledge that it had a nuclear weapons program would dramatically alter the negotiating dynamic by puncturing this carefully constructed narrative and proving that international concerns are justified. Specifically, such an admission would strengthen the P5+1′s case for protracted special monitoring arrangements and restrictions while making it very hard for Tehran to credibly claim that these measures are discriminatory. It might also keep Tehran from leaving the negotiating table, since many Iranians would otherwise blame their leaders for failing to obtain sanctions relief. In fact, this is probably the main reason why Tehran has rebuffed all efforts to investigate the program’s possible military dimensions thus far.

( ) Albright: a final deal that doesn’t address PMD concerns decks administration credibility, emboldens Iranians to resist IAEA monitoring and undermines the overall verifiability of the deal
David Albright, President, ISIS,“Parchin: Resolution Urgent,” 5/12/14, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Parchin_May_12_2014__FINAL.pdf
A deal that does not include Iran addressing the IAEA’s concerns about the past and possibly on-going military dimensions of its nuclear program would undermine the verifiability of the deal, and thus the credibility of a comprehensive deal, in addition to the credibility of the Obama administration… Iran would feel emboldened to resist future IAEA efforts, despite any future implementation of the Additional Protocol…

( ) Albright and Tertrais: Iranian failure to come clean undermines the IAEA, makes a verifiable final deal impossible and creates a model for other clandestinely proliferating states to follow
David Albright, Bruno Tertrais, The Wall Street Journal, “Making Iran Come Clean About Its Nukes,” 5/14/14, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304081804579559630836775474
A prerequisite for any final agreement is for Iran to address nuclear-weapons questions raised by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran is able to successfully evade questions about a weapons program…why would it address them later when these sanctions are lifted? What use will an agreement be if Iran can hide a capacity to secretly build nuclear bombs?…To be credible, a final agreement must ensure that any effort by Tehran to construct a bomb would be sufficiently time-consuming and detectable that the international community could act decisively to prevent Iran from succeeding. It is critical to know whether the Islamic Republic had a nuclear-weapons program in the past, how far the work on warheads advanced and whether it continues. Without clear answers to these questions, outsiders will be unable to determine how fast the Iranian regime could construct either a crude nuclear-test device or a deliverable weapon if it chose to renege on an agreement… Unless Iran takes seriously its obligations to the IAEA to address concerns about past military-nuclear efforts, Tehran will have established a powerful precedent of no-go zones for inspectors. Tehran could declare a suspect site a military base and thus off-limits. What better place to conduct clandestine, prohibited activities, such as uranium enrichment and weaponization? Tehran would have also defeated a central tenet of IAEA inspections: the need to determine both the accuracy and completeness of a state’s nuclear declaration. Other countries contemplating the clandestine development of nuclear weapons will certainly watch Tehran closely…If the West fails to demand that Iran verifiably fess up to the military dimensions of its nuclear program, the odds are good that Ayatollah Khamenei would be able to build the bomb without fear of discovery.

( ) Fitzpatrick: coming clean about EBWs necessary, “gets to the heart” of PMD issues
Frederik Dahl, Reuters, “U.N. nuclear agency seeks detonator clarification from Iran – sources,” 5/9/14, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/09/uk-iran-nuclear-iaea-idUKKBN0DP18R20140509
“Answering questions about EBW is significant – assuming the answers are substantive and sincere – because it gets to the heart of one of the sticky issues involving allegations of past nuclear work of a possible military dimension,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.
Attachments area

The Power Line Show: Episode 2, With Tom Cotton and Bill Voegeli

Last night we got the whole PL crew together for Episode 2 of the Power Line Show. We were joined by Senator-elect Tom Cotton and Bill Voegeli, author of The Pity Party. The president’s amnesty order and multiple email mysteries were the main topics of the day.

You can join Power Line VIP for only $4 per month or $40 per year. Click here to join. Not only will you get the soon-to-be exclusive Power Line show, you can view the site ad-free–a real luxury in today’s era of ever more intrusive internet advertising. We will never charge for this site or limit access to a certain number of articles per month, as so many others have done. But by joining Power Line VIP you can help support our work. We appreciate it!

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The Week in Pictures: Gobbling Gruber Edition

Some time next week President Obama will perform the annual ritual of pardoning a giant Thanksgiving turkey, which will then be sent to live out its days on a farm somewhere.  My guess is next week he’ll want to pardon the biggest gobbler of all, Jonathan Gruber.  More to the point: someone on Capitol Hill ought revive and reinvent Sen. Proxmire’s famous “Golden Fleece” award for ridiculous spending, but this time make it for a self-serving idea-monger.  We could call it the “Golden Gruber,” or the “Gobbling Gruber.”  Both convey how much they rip off taxpayers.

Stupid Voters copy Obama Flim Flam copy Obama Runs Over copy Obama Outreach copy Obama Flops copy Obama Amnesty copy Con Opinions copy Green Dems copy Keystone Rxtremis, copy Landreiu Dumped copy

Cable Guy copy

Dumb and Dumber copy Border Crossers copy Elections Have Consequences copy

Govt Poverty programs copy

1790s copy

Breadlines copy

Condemn Speech copy

Feminist copy

Settled Science copy

Cold Outside copy Buffalo Ice Bucket copy

This is definitely the right way for Buffalo to cope.

This is definitely the right way for Buffalo to cope.

Pumpkin Van copy

Asteroids copy Hot Sauce copy

Turkey Chill copy

Guys Guns 7 copy

And finally. . .

Hot 204 copy

The Krone connection

Jason Horowits writes political features and profiles for the New York Times. Yesterday the Times published Horowitz’s feature/profile on Harry Reid chief of staff David Krone. I don’t think Horowitz’s report rises to the level of what Steve Hayward has been following as “civil war on the left,” but it is hard not to enjoy the discord Horowitz traces among these unsavory players. Here is the opening of his article:

WASHINGTON — President Obama called Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, to broach a particularly delicate subject. It was during last year’s government shutdown and standoff with Republicans, but Mr. Obama’s frustration focused on one of their own. The president said he suspected David Krone, Mr. Reid’s intensely loyal and influential top aide, of leaking to the news media, and requested that he stay away from future meetings.

It did not take much time for the president’s comments to reach Mr. Reid’s right-hand man. To Mr. Obama’s surprise, Mr. Krone was listening in on the call. Suddenly, the aide piped up and made it clear to the president that he did not appreciate the accusation.

Quotable quote: “Mr. Reid fought back tears as he recalled the time he visited his wife, who had been injured in a car accident, and saw Mr. Krone at her hospital bedside. ‘David is someone I can say, and it doesn’t affect my manhood at all,’ Mr. Reid said, ‘I love David Krone.’”

What a crew!

Whole thing here.

UPDATE: Before she shares her usual stream of consciousness, Peggy Noonan explicates the text here.

When you’re strange

I cannot find the text of the memos/orders signed yesterday by President Obama to implement the actions announced in his immigration speech this past Thursday evening. (I have looked under Presidential Actions at the White House website.) I have therefore been unable to check the details of Obama’s action against the comments below, which are offered by an immigration attorney who works with existing law:

The proposed executive action on immigration (or whatever name you want to give it) will allow [illegal aliens] who have US citizen or green-card children and who have been here for five years to apply for some kind of quasi-status and open market work authorization. That would allow them to work for a period of time at any employer, the authorization presumably renewable until they decide to leave or have an option for US permanent resident status (green card status). This, the administration tells us, is fair and just and Biblical – yada/yada.

But this option is explicitly NOT available to those in the US in a valid legal status. There are millions of people in the US who have temporary status – as students or temporary workers or researchers or as investors (lots of Koreans own businesses with E-2 investor visas, for example). These people – many of them have US citizen children and have been here five years. These people who have been here legally and not violated their immigration status – these people are explicitly NOT eligible for open market work authorization, renewable indefinitely.

You must be in violation of the law to benefit from this provision.

If Republicans want to begin to push back on this issue, to turn the tables, I believe this is the question that needs to be raised again and again – why is the administration offering something to lawbreakers that is specifically prohibited for those who comply with the law?

There is no answer – I guarantee it. And when this point is circulated broadly, including broadly among immigrant and naturalized citizens, there will be resentment.

I realize there are a lot of angles to this issue but I haven’t seen anyone cover the above and I think it is one of the strongest points. Obama can fool people on the legal analysis and role of the executive but people know on a basic fundamental level that you should not be offering something to lawbreakers that is not available to the law-abiding.

We will revisit this issue when we have found the relevant White House action.

UPDATE: DHS has posted links to the executive actions here.