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PowerLine -> Thoughts from the ammo line + Decertification of the Iran deal without withdrawal: What does it get us?

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  • Decertificaton of the Iran deal without withdrawal: What does it get us?
  • Trump accused of “sabotaging” Obamacare [UPDATED]
  • Minnesota machinations
  • Thoughts from the ammo line
  • This day in baseball history: Lonborg’s masterpiece
Decertification of the Iran deal without withdrawal: What does it get us?

Posted: 06 Oct 2017 04:35 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

I wrote here about the Trump administration’s likely decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. In the same post, I quoted reports that Trump was unlikely, decertification notwithstanding, to push Congress to impose on Iran the sanctions we lifted as part of the nuclear deal.

It now seems clear that, indeed, Trump will not lobby for reimposing the sanctions. If anything, he is lobbying not to have sanctions renewed.

According to Eli Lake, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has met with a group of Democratic senators, in part to assure them that the White House is not asking Congress to re-impose the sanctions. A similar message has been delivered to prominent Republican critics of the Iran deal.

Congress will oblige. Lake notes that even Sen. Tom Cotton, as strong an opponent of the Iran deal as can be found in the Senate, said at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this week that reimposing sanctions would be a “backward-looking step.” Cotton urged “Congress and the president, working together” to “lay out how the deal must change and if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”

In my earlier post, I argued that scuttling the Iran deal might very well cause Iran to press ahead in short order with completing the development of nuclear weapons. It might also lead to stepped-up Iranian military aggression in the Middle East.

Thus, Trump is well-advised not to want Congress to scuttle the deal unless he’s prepared to take military action against Iran or back Israeli military action. All indications are that Trump is not so prepared, and his reluctance is understandable.

But absent such willingness, will decertification by Trump produce any benefit? We would all like to see the mullahs change the deal. But this seems unlikely.

Sen. Cotton says we must lay out the consequences Iran will face for refusing to make changes. We can divide these consequences into two categories — military action and economic action.

Iran surely senses that Trump isn’t willing to fight. Thus, fear of military consequences is highly unlikely to cause the regime to change the deal.

What about new economic sanctions that don’t include the crippling ones eliminated via the nuclear deal. The current nuclear deal is the best evidence of the concessions Iran was willing to make on the nuclear front at a time when severe sanctions imposed by a united West were causing it a serious economic hardship. Why would a less vigorous sanctions regime imposed by a less unified West on an economy that’s now in better shape (thanks to Obama’s deal) cause Iran to agree to new restrictions on its nuclear program?

I doubt that they would.

Reuel Marc Gerecht at the Weekly Standard takes a look at Trump’s options regarding the Iran deal. He agrees that any hope of Iran accepting changes to the deal depends on a credible U.S. military threat. He writes:

If economic coercion is going to work, if it is possible to oblige the Iranians peacefully to give up what Obama allowed them, it will require a credible military threat.

I don’t think the Trump administration poses such a threat at least not now, with its focus still on ISIS. And even if, at some point, perhaps with different advisers, a military option becomes more credible, the mullahs are, as Gerecht says, capable of returning to the negotiation table and tying up the U.S. and its allies with the promise of diplomacy.

The title of Gerecht’s piece is “No Easy Way Out.” He’s right — there is none. And the only hard way out may be war, an option that should give all of us pause.

  

Trump accused of “sabotaging” Obamacare [UPDATED]

Posted: 06 Oct 2017 09:37 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The mainstream media has been promoting the idea that the Trump administration is intentionally sabotaging Obamacare. This article in the Washington Post, which uses the word “sabotage” in the headline of the paper edition, is an example of the talking point.

One way the administration is said to be sabotaging Obamacare is by cutting funds to groups that try to enroll people in the program and by reducing its advertising budget. Fewer enrollments by young, healthy consumers undermine Obamacare which relies on their participation to “buffer the health-care costs of sicker customers,” to borrow the euphemistic language of Post report Juliet Eilperin.

I don’t know whether the Trump administration is trying to sabotage Obamacare. However, the case for cutting funds to activist groups that work to enroll people in the program, and for slashing the advertising budget, seems solid on the merits.

Obamacare has been around long enough to sell itself to those to whom it can be sold. If Obamacare is a good deal, and I’m sure it is for some, word of its virtues will have spread by now. The left may regard Americans as sheep in need of herding, but there’s no reason why the rest of us should.

The famous push to enroll Americans (“Pajama Boy” and all that) made sense when Obamacare was rolled out in 2013, though I always had reservation about using left-wing activists for this purpose. Four years on, it makes sense to cut back substantially on this effort.

In addition, there is a strong case that Obamacare is a bad deal is a bad deal for young, healthy Americans. That is the view of the Trump administration.

It is problematic for an administration to try to persuade these people to agree to what it considers a bad deal for them. This is especially true of an administration, like Trump’s, that doesn’t even believe their participation will serve a greater good — namely the preservation of Obamacare, a system it opposes.

The Post’s article also considers the unwillingness of the Trump administration to approve, so far, various requests from states — e.g., Iowa — to make changes in their ailing health insurance marketplace. These waiver requests require a case-by-case analysis, and Eilperin doesn’t supply enough information — e.g., the administration’s side of the story — to permit readers to evaluate the merits.

One of the cases involves Minnesota. There, the administration approved a request for more than $300 million in funds to establish a reinsurance program that will lower premiums by guaranteeing insurers limited financial exposure for customers with particularly high medical expenses. However, the administration also cut a slightly larger amount of funding aimed at residents who earn between 138 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level — in other words, residents who aren’t poor.

I can’t speak to the merits of this compromise. I will note that the assumption of the administration’s critics, and throughout Eilperin’s article, is that it is somehow illegitimate to be concerned about the cost to the federal government of patching up Obamacare. If Tom Price can fly on chartered jets, we are told, then the feds can be more generous with this or that program or subsidy.

This is an obvious non-sequitur. It’s reasonable for the Trump administration to be cost conscious for any program, and certainly, for one it doesn’t like. However, the benefit of a particular waiver request, or program that might be used to offset the cost, must also be part of the administration’s calculus.

And I think Trump should be mindful that the collapse of Obamacare markets in states like Iowa might damage him politically.

UPDATE: A reader asks:

Did the Post and its fellow travelers publish stories that President Obama “sabotaged” federal immigration law with his executive orders? Did they suggest the Obama Administration “sabotaged” the Constitution’s treaty ratification procedures after it reached its nuclear arms agreement with Iran?

No. I don’t recall any such stories or suggestion.

  

Minnesota machinations

Posted: 06 Oct 2017 04:55 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

Over the past several months I’ve reported the machinations involving President Trump’s nomination of Minnesota Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit. The nomination dates back to early May. The nomination remains in limbo. President Trump has yet to nominate candidates for four other vacancies including United States Marshal, United States Attorney and two federal district court judgeships. All these pieces are in play. The principal players dealing with the White House are Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen, each of whom has promoted candidates for the vacancies.

Klobuchar has negotiated with the White House over the vacancies in connection with the Stras nomination. The White House has sought to work out a deal with her. She has failed to respond to any of my inquiries on the subject and I’ve quit asking. On August 4, for example, I reported that Klobuchar was promoting Minneapolis attorney Joe Dixon for the position of United States Attorney. Neither Klobuchar nor Dixon responded to my inquiries in that case.

I thought that the Star Tribune would pick up the thread somewhere along the line, although I didn’t think it would take quite this long. It’s a significant story of local interest and beyond. In today’s Star Tribune Stephen Montemayor turns to it in the article “With spotlight on Stras’ Eighth Circuit nomination, new uncertainty for other Minnesota vacancies.”

Montemayor alludes to Klobuchar’s negotiations with the White House. These negotiations have been ongoing for a while although I don’t think they have previously seen the light of day in the Star Tribune. After I wrote about Klobuchar’s promotion of Dixon, I received a message from the White House Counsel’s office asking me to quit writing about Klobuchar while they tried to work out a deal with her; I was annoying her.

Montemayor discusses the various candidates for United States Attorney including Dixon. He also reports: “Sources have said the White House at one point floated the possibility of nominating a candidate recommended by Klobuchar and Franken in exchange for their blessing for a Senate hearing for Stras, who has been described as a priority for the administration.”

Klobuchar has her own suggestions for the district court vacancies. The context of the sentence above suggests that the reference is to these district court vacancies. I believe that Klobuchar has candidates she has been pushing for all the vacant Minnesota positions.

Earlier this week I reported that Klobuchar had returned her blue slip on Justice Stras. Montemayor adds a bit with the help of a comment from Klobuchar: “After Franken announced he would not return his blue slip, thus stalling Stras’ nomination, Klobuchar said in a statement that she would have supported a Senate hearing for Stras, and sources said she indeed returned a blue slip for his nomination. But she also said that the White House ‘will need to provide additional names for the 8th Circuit position.’”

What does this mean? It implies that the Stras nomination will not proceed based on his refusal to return his blue slip on Stras. Klobuchar’s comment calls for further interpretation and commentary that are conspicuously lacking in the article. I gave mine in “Klobuchar shows her blue slip.” At this point, I can only observe that this complicated story requires continuing attention and development.

  

Thoughts from the ammo line

Posted: 06 Oct 2017 03:50 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll is not herself a victim of GENDER DYSPHORIA or “GIRLS” GONE STUPID. She writes:

I will not be commenting – except indirectly further on – on the monstrous evil in Las Vegas until more facts are known. I am writing this on Tuesday, must submit it for editing on Wednesday, so by the time you are reading this, anything I have to say about Vegas will either be too late and discussed ad infinitum, or too early and since disproven.

I’m sorry; there will be nothing funny today. The horror is too recent. Maybe next week. And so, in somber reflection, I will discuss instead some of the cultural landmines that are detonating around us to contribute mightily to such a catastrophe.

I will cite the recent comments of four women. They are acutely embarrassing to my gender, which is probably how righteous men feel when they see a cringe-worthy video of a 250-lb man in an elevator slugging his girlfriend with a closed fist.

The first comes from former First Lady Michelle Obama. Weighing in on Hillary’s pity party book signing, she opined that women did not listen to our “inner voice” telling us to vote for the candidate with the uterus. Most paranoid schizophrenics set great store by voices. But I guess my inner voice was too busy telling me to vote for the candidate who MIGHT secure the border, protect Israel and preserve both the First and Second Amendments. Hillary was 0-4 on all my issues. Michelle also said that those of us ladies who favored President Trump did so solely because our menfolk told us to. Yup, nailed it! I have no opinions until Mr. AG tells me what they are. Ask anyone who knows me.

Young Conservative commentator Katie Pavlich dispatched the retired Lunch Lady Scold deftly with one Tweet: “Does this mean that all women should have voted for Hillary against Obama in the 2008 primaries?” #GameOver.

The second woman who disgraced herself in the last week or so was that moronic librarian who rejected Melania Trump’s gracious gift of many books, including several by Dr. Seuss. She wrote a snotty and condescending – not to mention totally ludicrous – letter to the First Lady rejecting the books because they were – what the hell ELSE in 2017? – RAAACIST.

Of course, since “the Internet is forever” (a great new song by Brad Paisley, check it out), we quickly saw not only Mrs. Obama reading Racist Dr. Seuss books to children, but the racist librarian herself dressed up as none other than The Racist Cat in the Racist Hat.

We have sailed into this “intersectional” gibberish territory of tribal loyalties and an ever-evolving pecking order of “Professional Victimhood.” We have left entirely the traditional safe harbor of “E Pluribus Unum,” of the love of America, and even of basic MANNERS. In terms of manner, I am old enough to remember a time when a snarky public repudiation of a nice gift would have been considered as bad as telling the President that you would have to “think it over” before accepting an invitation to the White House to be congratulated on your sports championship. Mr. Curry, Mr. Kerr, I am so sorry I rooted for you. It won’t happen again.

Of course, no natural or man-made disaster can occur, no victims are yet cold, without the pudgy potato-shaped little pedophile, Lena Dunham, weighing in. Here is her brilliant analysis of the Las Vegas mass murder: “No way not to politicize this tragedy. It’s about gender & race as well as access to guns.” What – no “homophobia”?

Well, yes, there WAS a gender component to the event in Las Vegas. Several self-sacrificing MEN deliberately took bullets for their beloved – and even random – women. Oh, it was a white guy who did it this time, and that makes it about race? How come you disgusting hypocrites NEVER say it’s about race when it’s a Somali Muslim or a black convert to Islam beheading a white co-worker, or a psychiatrist of color at Ft. Hood or a wretched Muslim mother who just slaughtered the people who threw her a baby shower? Weird how this guy who did, in fact, kill black people and Hispanic people who were also country music fans, killed mostly other white people. How does that work if you’re a white racist?

Which brings us to our final Un-American Woman of the Year, the CBS lawyer, now looking for work. Ms. Hayley Geftman-Gold, of Columbia Law School, Tweeted that she was “not even sympathetic to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican.” I particularly love that “often.” Paul Mirengoff has written beautifully about this disgrace and its aftermath and several hundred commenters have added much to the discussion. To VERBALIZE that sentiment was beyond stupid, but what in God’s name would even make her THINK it?

A dear friend of mine had a severely disturbed teen. Once when I was over at their home, she deigned to arise at the crack of noon and went foraging for food. Finding some chips but no dip, she let loose with a blistering volley of profanity directed at her father. Embarrassed to death, he asked me quietly later what would have happened to me had I said that to my Dad as a teen. I said, “You mean when I got out of the hospital?”

But that was a joke. Daddy only smacked me once in my whole life, which I richly deserved at the time. I explained that it was neither fear of him, nor even respect for him, that would have prevented such a verbal assault on a parent. IT SIMPLY WOULD NEVER HAVE ENTERED MY HEAD! Sorry about the ALL CAPS, but I think it’s that important!

When a gaggle of prominent Minnesota Democrat women told me after 9/11 that “America had it coming,” it began my transition from left to right. When famous people Tweeted that they wished Steve Scalise had died and taken many other Republicans with him, when Ms. Geftman-Gold can say “go ahead and fire into a crowd of country music fans because most of them are Republican gun-toters,” then America is truly lost. Those sentiments are the direct result of Alinsky calumny, fifty years of anti-American education, and repulsive identity politics. The refusal of Hillary, Bernie, and other politicians to say “All Lives Matter” is not just craven kowtowing to the thugs in BLM. They actually do not believe that they do.

  

This day in baseball history: Lonborg’s masterpiece

Posted: 05 Oct 2017 06:04 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Game Two of the 1967 World Series was played on October 5 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox called on their ace Jim Lonborg to salvage a split of the two games in Boston.

Lonborg had attended Stanford on an academic scholarship. He had majored in biology. He was fond of the symphony. This background earned him the nickname “Dr. Lonborg.” Clearly, he was not the typical big leaguer of his era.

Before the World Series, Lonborg did something truly atypical. He explained publicly how he intended to pitch to the opposition. Years later, Tim McCarver recalled:

He’s the only guy I had ever faced who told us exactly what he would do with us. I read the articles, and he said, ‘The Cardinals are very aggressive, and I’ll throw them balls off the plate and let them chase them.’

Carl Yastrzemski also made an impression on the Cardinals. Having gone hitless against Bob Gibson in the opening game, Yaz immediately had the batting cage rolled out to home plate and took batting practice minutes after the game ended. The Cardinals were still milling around the stadium. According to McCarver, they were “awestruck.”

Lonborg’s opposite number in Game 2 was Dick Hughes. The 29-year-old right-hander was a late bloomer. Before 1967, he had appeared in only six major league games, two of them starts. In ’67, he began the year in the bullpen but moved into the rotation on a permanent basis in late May.

For the season, he was the Cards best pitcher. His 16 wins (with just six losses) led the team. His 2.67 ERA was the lowest among pitchers with 15 or more starts.

Hughes would face a changed Boston line-up from Game One. Manager Dick Williams replaced right fielder Ken Harrelson with Jose Tartabull and catcher Russ Gibson with Elston Howard. He also stirred his batting order. Only Dalton Jones (second) and Yastrezemski (third) would bat in the same slot as in the first game.

Game 2 belonged to Lonborg. Following the pitching formula he had publicly announced, the Stanford man blanked the Cardinals.

The game was scoreless through three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Yaz broke the deadlock with a leadoff home run. The extra batting practice hadn’t been for naught.

Lonborg was perfect — no hits, no walks — through six innings. Boston gave him another run to work within the bottom of the sixth. Yaz flied out to start the inning, but Hughes then yielded walks to George Scott and Reggie Smith. The wildness was uncharacteristic of Hughes, the stingiest of St. Louis’ starters when it came to bases on balls.

Jerry Adair was the next batter. He pulled a ground ball to Mike Shannon at third base. Shannon was an outfielder by trade. He had moved to third base to accommodate Roger Maris, acquired by the Cards in the off-season to play right field. Playing out of position, Shannon committed 29 errors (for a .919 fielding percentage) during the regular season.

On this day, he failed to handle Adair’s grounder. As a result, the bases were loaded.

Cards manager Red Schoendienst pulled Hughes. He called on Ron Willis to pitch to Rico Petrocelli.

Petrocelli drove in Scott with a fly ball. Willis avoids further damage.

Lonborg lost his perfect game in the top of the seventh when he walked Curt Flood with one out. He maintained his no-hitter, though.

In the bottom of that inning, Boston broke the game open with three runs. All three runs scored on another home run by Yaz. He hit it off of Joel Hoerner, one of the best left-hander relief pitchers of the time.

With the game in the bag, the question was whether Lonborg would pitch a no-hitter. In the eighth inning, he set down McCarver and Shannon. But with two out, Julian Javier doubled into the left-field corner of Fenway.

Lonborg preserved his shut-out by retiring Bobby Tolan, who pinch hit for Dal Maxvil. He also set down the Cards in order in the ninth inning.

Lonborg thus had pitched a one-hitter and allowed just two base runners. This was the second best-pitched game in World Series history up to that point, behind only Don Larsen’s perfect game. I don’t think Lonborg’s performance has been matched in the ensuing 50 years, and I’m sure it hasn’t been surpassed.

The Series now was all square at one game apiece. Thursday would be an off-day, followed by three games in St. Louis. Gibson was expected to pitch Game 4 with Lonborg working Game 5. In Game 3, which was starting to look pivotal, it would be Gary Bell for Boston and Nelson Briles for St. Louis.

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