The Clinton campaign takes aim at Joe Biden. Have the opponents to the Iran deal been defeated? Bill Clinton invited to speak in North Korea.
The Clinton campaign takes aim at Joe Biden. Have the opponents to the Iran deal been defeated? Bill Clinton invited to speak in North Korea.
Secretary of State John Kerry once again signed the United Nations Arms Treaty on Wednesday, a move that supporters say will help stop weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and terrorists worldwide but critics contend is is a backdoor assault on law-abiding gun owners.
The treaty would require nations to conduct a detailed registration of all guns. The issue is dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate, but one of the leading experts on guns says even if the agreement is only ratified in other countries, it can still work to erode gun ownership here.
“The point of this is just to try to reduce legitimate gun ownership in other countries. Eventually it has some feedback effect in the United States. If Canadians are much less likely to own guns, gun control activists will point to them and say, ‘Look how outlandish we are in the United States,'” said Dr. John Lott, an economist who serves as president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Lott is also the author of well-known books on guns, including “More Guns, Less Crime” and “The Bias Against Guns.” He says the stated purpose of the UN treaty sounds pretty harmless but the devil is in the details.
“The claimed purpose is to try to make sure that the gun trade is regulated across countries. The claim is that terrorist groups and other rebel groups around the world are getting guns because of private gun owners there. It ignores the fact that almost all the guns that these different groups get are from other governments, not from private individuals,” said Lott.
In addition to stifling weapons supplies to terrorists, proponents of the treaty argue that mass registration will help solve many criminal cases around the world as well.
Lott says that is simply not backed up by the facts.
“In theory, if a gun is used in the commission of a crime if left at the crime scene and it’s registered to the person who committed the crime, then you can use that gun to trace back and find out who committed the crime,” said Lott.
“The problem is that never really works. The reason is pretty simple. One, crime guns are rarely left at the scene. Two, when they are left at the scene, they’re not registered to the person who committed the crime,” he added.
Lott says the ineffectiveness of gun registration is proven over and over. In Canada, he says lawmakers recently rescinded a mandate on long gun registration because it was accomplishing nothing.
“It cost billions of dollars and it hadn’t solved any crimes. In fact, before the long gun registration was eliminated, it was clear that even the handgun registration that has been around since the mid-1930’s had not been able to solve one single crime,” said Lott.
It’s the same story in the United States. Lott says Hawaii has forced gun owners to register their weapons since 1960. He recently took part in legislative hearings in the state, but he says the testimony of another witness was most compelling.
“They had the Honolulu police chief come in and they asked him some questions. They said, ‘How many crimes have they been able to solve in Hawaii as a result of it?’ It was zero. They couldn’t point to a single crime that they had solved,” said Lott.
Beyond the inability of gun registration to help police catch criminals, Lott says the police chief explained what a drain the policy is on law enforcement.
“They asked, ‘Well, how much police time does it take every year to go and implement this?’ Just for the Honolulu Police Department, it was about 50,000 hours of police time each year. That’s 50,000 hours of police time that could have been used to go and solve real crimes,” he said.
Lott says taking police away from their cases robs them of their best chance to solve crimes.
“It’s extremely important, I think, in terms of my research, in terms of reducing crime rates. Yet, here we want to go and waste this huge amount of manpower that could be used to save lives and protect people, to go and do this meaningless paperwork. I think the main point of it is just to make it costly and difficult for people to go and own guns,” said Lott.
Lott does not expect the Obama administration to claim this agreement is not actually a treaty and implement it unilaterally. He says the most Obama could do is issue some new executive orders under the auspices of the UN treaty.
Even then, Lott says the impact of those orders could only go so far because the next president could rescind them. He believes Obama is simply pushing another avenue for his tireless push for more gun control.
“They’re trying to do what they can in order to make it costly for people to own guns and reduce gun ownership. This is just one out of many ways that’ll give them an excuse to implement a few other executive orders that maybe they wouldn’t have tried to push otherwise,” said Lott.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review like that voters overwhelmingly see Hillary Clinton as a liar and they have a lot of fun with the adjectives used for her, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. If you’ve never heard Jim sing the negative adjectives of presidential candidates, here’s your chance!
They also scold people of all political persuasions for trying to assign blame for the Roanoke TV murders to a specific issue or cause rather than the killer. And they shake their heads as CNN’s debate qualification format appears ready to leave Carly Fiorina off the next debate stage despite her improvement in recent polls.
President Obama appears to be on pace to find enough votes to save the Iran nuclear deal, but longtime Democratic pollster and strategist Pat Caddell says the party is at risk electoral disaster by propping up a deal the public hates and may well pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran.
“If the question is that they have voted for something that the American people think is dire and ends up having dire consequences because the majority will of the Congress and the vast majority will of the country’s been ignored, I fear the Democrats will live with this issue of ‘they lost the Middle East.’ And that will be painful election after election,” said Caddell.
Caddell has been down this road before. He helped Jimmy Carter win the White House in 1976 but watched helplessly as the Iranian hostage crisis buried Carter in 1980.
“We know in 1979-80 the Iran hostage situation, and the Democratic Party’s inability to solve that satisfactorily, hurt the Democratic Party. We are now dealing with a situation where overwhelming majorities of Americans oppose this agreement that has been engineered by Secretary of State (John) Kerry and the president,” said Caddell.
The Secure America Now poll, for which Caddell serves as a principal, shows 65 percent of Americans oppose the deal when they learn some of the critical details. Other polls show lower opposition numbers but every virtually survey finds the public wanting to reject the deal. Caddell says huge swaths of Democrats want the deal to die as well.
“Large majorities of Democrats look at a deal in which the side agreements on inspections, even without the knowledge Iran would be self-testing its violations, the questions about handing over $100-150 billion almost immediately for their nefarious activities; all of these things which the public opposes in 75-80 percent numbers,” said Caddell.
He says the numbers would be even more lopsided if Obama and Kerry were honest about the terms of the deal.
“The American electorate has made the decision by well over two-to-one that the president and John Kerry are not being honest with the facts. They’re only telling the American people what they think might convince them. This is a real departure. Either the Democratic Party is the party of democracy or not. I think senators are going to find themselves not only in trouble in general elections, I think they’ll have troubles in primaries,” said Caddell, who firmly believes voters will remember their elected officials defying the vast majority of their constituents on a critical issue.
“You cannot go fly in the teeth of what is now overwhelming opposition, registering in almost every survey of well over 60 percent of the people, show utter contempt for the constitutional processes by going to the UN first and then think it’s not going to have an impact,” he said.
As of Wednesday, the resolution to reject the Iran deal appeared to be on course for passage in the House and majority support in the Senate. However, it’s looking less likely that opponents will find the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised Obama veto. In fact, only two Senate Democrats are publicly splitting with the president thus far. Opponents will need at least four more Democrats just to fend off a filibuster.
A successful filibuster would mean Obama never has to veto the bill, but Caddell thinks enough ‘no’ votes will materialize.
“I don’t think the filibuster’s going to succeed. I think the Democrats who are out, many of them are really against this deal,” he said, noting the debate has been overshadowed in the media by the political success of Donald Trump and the legal woes of Hillary Clinton.
“As it becomes front and center as a national security issue and as a question of America’s long-term security, I think that the thing will pass,” said Caddell. “I do not understand at this point how Democratic senators and congressmen can say they are going to vote for something which the vast majority of Americans oppose, including a goodly percentage of their party.”
In addition to the danger of being portrayed as soft on national security for generations to come, Caddell says voters are turned off by politicians who simply march to the White House beat.
“The American people see a Democratic Party, which puts what the president wants over the interests of the nation,” he said.
Caddell says that’s an especially bad policy for Democrats to follow with this president.
“President Obama’s handling of national security is very poorly received, and in reality, frankly has been a frightening disaster, whether it’s Russia to the Middle East to Iran to ISIS or whatever,” said Caddell.
“This Democratic Party need to measure whether they are going to be viewed as a party that cannot be trusted with national security. If so, that is something that will tip the political balance of this country,” he added.
But Caddell was not done slammimg Obama, saying the current occupant of the Oval Office is besmirching a party that once embraced a robust approach to national security.
“Barack Obama has taken this party and jerked it so far away from its roots as being a party that speaks for the people,” said Caddell.
He says Democrats are sprinting to the political fringe in the Obama era in ways that would have never happened before.
“Just look at the parties now that are talking about getting rid of the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners that traditionally for 100 years honored the founders of the Democratic Party because they’re no longer in style for these people,” said Caddell.
“This attempt to drag the Democratic Party into becoming, instead of the voice of the common people, the voice of entitled elites, is unacceptable to me and many Democrats,” he concluded.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Donald Trump for maintaining order at his press conference as Fusion’s Jorge Ramos refused to wait for his turn to ask questions. They also express disappointment in Ted Cruz as he blatantly ducks Megyn Kelly’s question on how he would enforce a repeal of birthright citizenship. And they laugh as Hillary Clinton confidant and Anthony Weiner spouse Huma Abedin accuses Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of damaging her reputation.
The man who first warned the world about Iran’s current nuclear ambitions says newly revealed side deals that allow Iran to inspect one of it’s own nuclear sites is tantamount to letting a murderer investigate his own crime scene.
In recent days, the Associated Press reported that unrevealed side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, allow Iran to conduct it’s own inspections on a critical facility thought to be involved in the creation of nuclear weapons.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is the Iranian parliament in exile since 1979. He says information obtained from inside Iran backs up the Associated Press account of the secret agreement.
“The information that we’ve been receiving from other sources was actually pointing to the same facts that appeared in the Associated Press story, which is allowing Iran to take it’s own samples (of soil near suspected nuclear weapons sites,” said Jafarzadeh.
He is stunned that so much latitude is being given to the particular plant in question.
“[They are focused on] a specific site called Parchin, which is a military site that is believed to have been used by Iran a few years ago and perhaps continued afterwards for high explosive tests, which is only used for building a nuclear weapon,” said Jafarzadeh.
Given past Iranian defiance on nuclear issues and it’s unrepentant support for terrorism, Jafarzadeh says allowing Iran to conduct its own inspections makes no sense.
“Allowing the Iranian regime to inspect Parchin and provide results to the IAEA is like allowing a murderer to investigate his own murder and provide the victim’s DNA to the police,” he said.
Jafarzadeh says members of Congress he’s spoken with are frustrated by the Obama administration’s refusal to provide the content of the side deals.
“The entire nuclear agreement between Iran and P5 plus One (the five permanent members of the United National Security Council plus Germany)is heavily based upon the scrutiny and the intrusive inspection of Iranian sites, which is going to take place by the IAEA. Yet, the members of Congress are not allowed to see how the IAEA is actually going to do that,” said Jafarzadeh.
Even based on what we do know about the side deals, Jafarzadeh says Iran is getting very different treatment than other nations facing nuclear scrutiny.
“Under any standards, you cannot take your own samples. The standard of the IAEA is that they have to be there. They have to be present. They have to make sure that the place was not decontaminated before. They have to look at other factors in the environment that could effect the sampling. They have to maintain the continuity of ownership over the samples before it’s taken to the lab for inspection,” said Jafarzadeh.
Jafarzadeh says the IAEA appears to be no pillar of resolve in these side negotiations but he says ultimate responsibility for the lax inspections belongs at our own feet.
“Many members of Congress believe that even though is apparently a side agreement between the IAEA and Iran, but the overall circumstances that has led to these side deals was really worked out between the P5 plus One – namely the United States – and Iran,” he said.
According to Jafarzadeh, the very least the allies should have procured was an Iranian admission about previous pursuits of nuclear weapons. That didn’t happen either.
“If you don’t know exactly what Iran did in building the bomb before and you’re not going to resolve it in a satisfactory way, how can you be sure that Iran is going to be truthful [in] the future. If they continue to hide what they’d hidden before, then that’s a clear indication that they still have the same objective, which is building the bomb,” said Jafarzadeh.
But he says you don’t even need documentation of previous intentions to know what’s coming next in Iran, because the leaders are brazen in their desires.
“As far as Iran is concerned, they have not changed their agenda, which is building the bomb. The supreme leader continues to seek building a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, the JCPOA (Joint Completed Plan of Action) leaves all pathways to the bomb open,” said Jafarzadeh.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review look forward to the increasing possibility of a Hillary vs. Biden brawl for the 2016 nomination. They also sigh as Donald Trump resumes his Twitter offensive against Megyn Kelly. And they shake their heads at Scott Walker’s lackluster, waffling performance on the campaign trail.
Last week, former reality television star Josh Duggar admitted to a pornography addition that led to marital infidelity and famed Subway pitchman Jared Fogle struck a plea deal in response to charges of child pornography and sex acts with minors, but a Christian attorney and writer says these stories are just the tip of the iceberg of the destruction caused by pornography.
The Duggar admission followed the data dump by hackers of the Ashley Madison adultery website.
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife,” said Duggar in a statement.
Matt Barber is a former vice president for Liberty Counsel Action. He is still a constitutional attorney and is founder and editor-in-chief of barbwire.com. He says pornography addiction is rampant, due in large part to it being available at a moment’s notice.
“Pornography is pervasive in our culture now. It is available in hand-held devices, your iPhone. People are literally a button away. It’s so pervasive, in fact, that it even comes through your computer unsolicited, you know pop-ups and things like that,” said Barber, who says pornography is often the trigger for other lusts, like the ones pursued by Duggar and Fogle.
“Adultery is sin. Certainly this child abuse is sin. Pornography is the common denominator, a catalyst. It’s a gateway drug that leads people to act on their fantasies,” said Barber.
He says our secular culture acts to diminish the harm done by pornography but the facts show otherwise.
“People say that pornography is a victimless crime. Nonsense. The objects of pornography, whether it’s child pornography or whether they’re consenting adults. You start looking at the statistics of the women who engage and try to make a quick buck in pornography, selling their bodies for the consumption of all of these men, these are victims,” said Barber.
However, Barber says the most obvious victims are the ones left shattered at home.
“Pornography is destroying families right and left across America. It sets up this false notion in the minds of the husbands that are looking at this pornography. It creates this unrealistic view of what is beauty and what is sexual,” he said.
Even more, Barber says addicts usually seek greater titillation as time goes on.
“With the law of diminishing returns, they view this and then they want the next big thrill. As one form of pornography becomes kind of boring, they go on to the next, higher level of hardcore porn. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s destroying marriages,” said Barber.
So how can the “vicious cycle” be stopped? Barber offers multiple steps, starting with a realization of what pornography is.
“It’s adultery. Scripture talks about if you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). So people need to understand that pornography is not a victimless crime. It’s a device, it’s a tool that is being used to lead people into other forms of sexual perversion and sexual immorality,” said Barber.
Next, he advises individuals and parents to apply internet filters to their electronic devices.
“It’s a good idea to do that whether you have children or not. Certainly, if you have kids and they’re on your computers and they’re on your iPads, you’ve got to get this software, because it is so pervasive, so readily accessible and it comes unsolicited often times. We’re protecting our children with Net Nanny but I would suggest that people, whether they have kids or not, just remove the temptation as much as possible,” said Barber.
There is progress to be made in our culture as well. While courts have upheld the rights of pornographers as free speech, Barber says United States v. Miller clearly stated there are obscenities that are not legally protected.
However, Barber says we have no reason to expect this administration to do anything about them.
“The problem in this Obama administration is there is no one at the Department of Justice who has any interest in going after obscene material and going after these pornographers and so forth,” he said.
He says the current inaction is proof that elections are important.
“Elections matter. We have to get people in office who have the political will to do the right thing and protect children from this horrific trade,” said Barber.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer the three American heroes who thwarted a terrorist attack on a European train. They also groan as the economic mess in China triggers a Wall Street sell-off. And they react to the mystery figure leaving raw meat at a North Carolina playground.
The energy industry is pushing ahead with even stronger safety rules in an effort to have a perfect record and give federal officials no reasons to block the construction of new pipelines that would reduce costs for consumers.
The new rule comes after extensive cooperation among the American Petroleum Institute, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to improve an already strong safety record.
According to American Petroleum Institute Group Manager of Midstream and Industry Operations Robin Rorick, the U.S. contains 500,000 miles of oil and gas lines. In 2013 alone, the pipelines carried nearly 15 billion barrels of crude oil.
Given the volume of products on the move, Rorick says the track record was already good.
“That was done where 99.999 percent of our products reached its destination, but as an industry we’re committed to getting that number to 100 percent,” said Rorick.
He says it’s all about making the industry safer across the board.
“We’re going to work with the industry to establish a safety culture for companies, so that for the CEO all the way down to the worker in the field, we’re working with them to develop a program so that safety is at the core of everything that they’re doing,” said Rorick.
“That ensures that the worker who’s operating at the facility can operate and minimize any chance of injury , but it also ensures that we’re doing everything we can to prevent a release from happening that damages the surrounding environment or the community as well,” said Rorick.
But the change also makes a statement to federal officials that the industry is willing to collaborate with Washington and state governments in an effort to improve a safety record that’s nearly impeccable. The goal is to win approval of critical pipeline projects.
The most famous project in limbo is the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada down to the heart of the U.S. President Obama has vetoed Republican efforts to approve the project despite the State Department’s blessing for the pipeline. At the same time, Obama refuses to accept or reject it.
Rorick says there’s no good reason to block it.
“With regard to Keystone, there were five environmental reviews that demonstrated that Keystone would not provide additional environmental harm. The vast majority of the public supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline. I think the data and the support is there. Unfortunately, the administration is not,” said Rorick.
Politics are also causing problems in the northeast, and Rorick says New England residents are paying higher energy prices because the industry isn’t allowed to get oil and gas there more efficiently.
“If you look at the Marcellus Shale area that produces natural gas. We’re talking about areas in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York as an example. There’s an opportunity there for them to provide natural gas up to the New England states, who suffered last year from a brutal winter,” said Rorick.
“On average, folks in New England pay five dollars more for their natural gas costs than the rest of the country does simply because we don’t have the infrastructure in place, which is only a few states away, up to the New England area,” he added.
The new rule will focus on individual plants and companies constantly reviewing their safety records and implementing any needed changes. The ongoing evaluations will also allow the entire industry to benefit from the best practices of individual firms. Rorick says companies will make the decision whether to abide by the new standards but given the wide collaboration in formulating the plan, he expects most in the industry to take part.
Reducing the already small number of accidents could prove difficult. Rorick says there is a variety of reasons for pipeline problems but says one of the most common causes is completely out of the industry’s hands.
“You’ll have everything from operator error to equipment failure. In some cases, you’ll have natural disasters that will cause damage. One of the leading causes for damage is not even within the realm of control within our industry,” said Rorick.
“It’s third party line strikes. It’s someone putting an addition on a house or putting in a new tree and they have a backhoe that comes in and it strikes one of our lines,” he said.