All posts by mrossol

Married, 1st generation American, Christian, conservative, GCC parent, Agribusiness manager, long-time Mac-owner, in Ohio.

Iran Has Biden’s Nuclear Number

Biden’s team has even less backbone than Obama’s, which was spineless. After all the Trump accomplished in terms of promoting the US agenda (and Trump’s team wasn’t perfect, I know). mrossol

WSJ  11/29/2021  by the Editorial Board

The Iran nuclear talks resume on Monday in Austria, and pessimism seems to be the order of the day. Iran refuses to make concessions, while the U.S. is signaling that its patience may be limited. But don’t underestimate the Biden Administration’s desire for a deal—any deal.

 

For months the U.S. has been all but begging Iran to return to the table, though the U.S. won’t literally even be at the table in Vienna. Iran refuses to talk to the U.S. directly, so American negotiators must work through European intermediaries. The U.S. seems undeterred by this intentional humiliation.

Since Iran walked away from talks earlier this year, Tehran has elevated an even more hardline president and accelerated its enrichment of nuclear fuel. Iran has also continued to restrict international inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites. Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported last week that talks about verification have “proved inconclusive”—diplomatic-speak for they failed.

Uranium particles found at three locations that Iran hasn’t declared to the agency are cause for alarm. Mr. Grossi said this “is a clear indication that nuclear material and/or equipment contaminated by nuclear material has been present at these locations.” The U.S. and its European allies have declined to censure Iran for refusing to cooperate.

 

They’re hoping the talks will yield concessions, perhaps with the inducement of more U.S. sanctions relief. Iranian diplomats are demanding that any deal will remain in force beyond President Biden’s tenure. And they won’t commit to anything beyond a return to the 2015 deal struck by President Obama. That deal allowed Iran sufficient leeway to advance on the path to a weapon with limited inspections, which is why Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

The latest reports are that the U.S. has floated the idea of an interim accord that would give more time to negotiate a larger deal. The interim accord would offer sanctions relief to Iran in return for some restraint on Iranian enrichment on nuclear fuel. This sounds like what Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies calls a “less for more” deal—that is, less restraint on Iran than in the 2015 deal in return for more sanctions relief.

The signs are that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and new President Ebrahim Raisi have no intention of slowing their march to the brink of a bomb. They may offer token concessions for sanctions relief, but they will continue to hide their nuclear development from inspectors. China is now openly buying Iranian oil in defiance of U.S. sanctions, and the U.S. doesn’t seem to care.

Tehran is also escalating support for terror attacks in the region. U.S. officials say Iran was responsible for a drone attack on a U.S. base in Syria last month, and Iraqi officials believe an Iran-backed militia was behind the attempt to kill Iraq’s prime minister this month.

All of which suggests that all of Team Biden’s entreaties have merely made Iran more determined to demand a deal that is even weaker than Mr. Obama’s. Such an agreement will reassure no one beyond the spreaders of revolution in Tehran.

Appeared in the November 29, 2021, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-has-biden-nuclear-number-antony-blinken-robert-malley-jake-sullivan-bomb-jcpoa-deal-11636487314?mod=hp_opin_pos_5#cxrecs_s

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Iran’s Nuclear Negotiators Make the U.S. Sit at the Kiddie Table

This is just fine with the President of the ‘Free’ World. Those whom the Democrats appointed to most agencies and offices of this administration are spineless when it comes to standing up for the principles of America and the west. They are will to sacrifice it all on the altar of ??? mrossol

WSJ  11/28/2021  By Reuel Mark Gerecht adn Ray Takeyh

Arms-control talks between Iran and the great powers resume Monday with a notable absence. At Tehran’s insistence, the U.S. delegation won’t have a seat at the table—its members must wait in an antechamber to be briefed by the Europeans. The mullahs have always relished humiliating Americans, particularly those eager to prove their benevolent intentions. These negotiations will yield little, no matter how much money Washington releases or how ardently Biden administration officials describe any follow-on talks as important steps toward a diplomatic solution.

The clerical regime’s atomic ambitions will continue to progress rapidly because the U.S. administration has no intention of trying to rescind what President Obama’s nuclear deal granted: the development of high-yield, easily hidden centrifuges, the key to an unstoppable bomb program. The Islamic Republic has displayed an uncanny ability to advance its aspirations and eviscerate American red lines with impunity.

The theocracy’s nuclear diplomacy succeeds precisely because it seeks no agreement. The mullahs understand things their interlocutors don’t. The U.S. and Israel have repeatedly chosen not to disable Iran’s nuclear program by force, undermining the regime’s fear of attack and allowing the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, more maneuvering room. All U.S. administrations have sincerely, at times desperately, wanted an accord. The United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency censure the Islamic Republic, and the regime ignores them. If Tehran pretends to be interested in diplomacy, Washington, always fearful of another war in the Middle East, makes more concessions.

The achievements of this diplomatic stratagem are extraordinary. Washington and the Europeans once insisted that the Islamic Republic couldn’t have a domestic enrichment capacity. This was a sensible precaution. The infrastructure required to enrich uranium for nuclear power is the same as what is needed to make a bomb. The process is costly, and most nations that use civilian nuclear power import refined uranium.

 
 

Yet today U.S. and European officials, and many nuclear experts, pooh-pooh the idea that Iran should forgo indigenous enrichment. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal Mr. Obama struck and President Trump abandoned, has become canonical among Democrats. It specifies not only that Iran has the right to enrich but that its enrichment capability can become industrialized. The clerical regime obtained this permissive accord by merely showing up at various conclaves and holding firm. American officials fulminated, threatened, bickered among themselves and eventually capitulated.

The Biden administration isn’t diverging from Mr. Obama’s path. A well-timed Israeli leak shows the White House is considering an interim arrangement whereby Iran would cease some of its activities in exchange for sanctions relief. It won’t be long before Washington deludes itself into believing that a threshold capability will satisfy Iran, that it can be an Islamist version of Japan—inches away from developing a bomb but with no intention to take the next step.

The ascendance of the hard-line Ibrahim Raisi to the presidency altered the economics of arms control. He subscribes to Mr. Khamenei’s “economy of resistance,” the notion that Iran can meet its needs by relying on its internal market and trade with China and neighboring states. In this view, segregation from the global economy is virtuous, wise and courageous. Unlike former President Hassan Rouhani, the new crew isn’t looking for Western commerce as a means of rejuvenating the economy and the revolution. There appears to be little concern among Mr. Khamenei’s ruling elite that this scheme will lead to poverty and another lost generation.

Even more than Mr. Raisi, Mr. Trump accelerated history. According to Mr. Obama’s blueprint, we were going to see a nuclear Iran and a much richer clerical regime. Freed from sanctions, the ruling clergy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards would have had time to build up their armed forces, as well as the nuclear-weapons program. Thinking that renewed and improved sanctions would give him a “good” nuclear deal (always a dubious proposition), Mr. Trump collapsed 15 years of Western diplomacy and the JCPOA’s envisioned decade of sun-setting restrictions into clear and irrevocable choices.

Mr. Biden can’t turn back the clock. Diplomacy and extortion—the two are synonymous for the Islamic Republic—may have had their day. Mr. Khamenei is going to make the president pony up a huge amount of money for the fleeting relief of his nuclear anxiety—assuming the supreme leader still even wants to play such games with the U.S. For Mr. Biden, the only question is whether he wants to endure this humiliation in return for so little.

Mr. Gerecht, a former Iranian-targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh, the author of “The Last Shah,” is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-nuclear-jcpoa-tehran-enrichment-islamic-republic-11638129541?mod=hp_opin_pos_3#cxrecs_s

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A California Attempt to Repair the Crumbling Pillar of U.S. Education

The “teacher’s unions” have probably caused more damage to our country than about anything I can think of. The negative, life-long, impact the the poor educational system has had on America’s youth is off the chart. But I guess, 80 million Americans keep voting them in?? mrossol

WSJ 11/28/2021, by Andy Kessler

Public-school education has gone from bad to worse. In the Chicago Public Schools, only 26% of 11th-graders were at grade level in reading and math in 2019. Remarkably, the school system had a record-high graduation rate of nearly 84% in 2021. Those students must have had strong senior years! This is why over half of first-year community-college students in the U.S. take at least one remedial course in reading or math. In the U.S., 43 million adults are illiterate. This is a disgrace.

 

In pre-pandemic California, only 32% of fourth-graders were at or above proficient for their grade in reading. Only 19% of eighth-grade Hispanics read at grade level, and only 10% of eighth-grade blacks did. Those who find disparate impact everywhere should be screaming from the rooftops that public education is racist. Instead, silence.

Despite these poor results, spending per student goes up each year. New York spent $25,139 per student in fiscal 2019. In California, it’s over $20,000. So why haven’t outcomes improved? Parents know why. Bad teachers don’t get fired. Because of tenure, even some capable teachers mail it in. Bad school districts don’t get fixed. Caps on charter schools, even those with proven records, limit their ability to put pressure on public schools. Teachers unions are all-powerful.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Welch is trying to improve California’s education system. He tells me we need “accountability of quality education.” You may recall the 2014 Vergara v. California decision, a suit Mr. Welch and others funded. Filed on behalf of nine public-school students, the ruling found that five California statutes related to teacher tenure, firing bad teachers and layoff policy violated the state’s Constitution. In his ruling, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu noted, “Evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

No matter. The California Court of Appeal reversed Vergara in 2016 stating: “With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes.” In the court’s view, the California Constitution guarantees merely a free public education.

So Mr. Welch was back where he started, with, he says, an “educational system that doesn’t prioritize its actions to educate the children to a degree necessary to function in our society.” Bad teachers are constitutionally protected.

But with his background as a logically thinking Cornell-educated engineer, he set out to prove bad teaching was “a constitutional violation.” In the Democrat-controlled California Legislature, that was going to be a tough sell. Teachers were the fourth-largest campaign contributors to California’s legislative races in 2020 behind energy, prison guards and healthcare. “The Legislature won’t listen to the people,” Mr. Welch grumbles.

Fortunately, Californians can change their constitution through ballot initiatives. And voilà, a group named Kids First including Mr. Welch filed the Constitutional Right to a High-Quality Public Education Act. Here’s the key provision: “And law, regulation, or policy, or any official action affecting students generally, which does not put the interest of the students first, shall be deemed to deny this right.”

Critics will focus on the lack of a definition for “high-quality public education.” Mr. Welch explains, “The metric for existing or any future legislation, and every school board decision, is ‘Does it make students better or worse?’ ” Pretty simple, yet I suspect it would be deadly effective. This would, by necessity, launch many lawsuits to challenge the status quo of tenure, of the inability to fire bad teachers and of everything else. It would become the guiding principle for any new legislation: Does it put kids first? “The corollary to this right is the existence of a high-quality teaching profession,” Mr. Welch says.

And then there is this provision: “The remedies for this right shall not include new mandates for taxes or spending.” It’s smart for two reasons. It will help the initiative pass, and history has shown that throwing money at the problem doesn’t work.

The cost? Around $8 a signature—they need a million to get on the ballot—plus the cost of the inevitable TV-ad battle with the California Teachers Association and its 310,000 members. That could get expensive.

I asked Mr. Welch why he wants to spend his time and hard-earned capital on this. “What we’re doing to our kids is horrific,” he says. “I can’t think of a greater loss of potential than the poor quality of education of our children. And all the other societal problems that come with it. The prison system uses educational outcomes—fourth-grade reading levels—to determine what size correctional facilities they’ll need.” Scary.

I think a successful Kids First ballot initiative would do more for “equity” than any government program. “The best way in making a productive functioning society is making sure everyone lives up to their potential,” Mr. Welch says. “Education is one of the basic pillars of American democracy.” That pillar is crumbling.

Write to kessler@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-crumbling-pillar-of-education-california-dave-welch-vergara-school-choice-charter-11638115242?mod=hp_opin_pos_2#cxrecs_s

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Biden’s Covid Death Milestone

WSJ  11/26/21, by

President Biden may not recall what he said during a 2020 campaign debate last fall, but Americans should: “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.” At the time the U.S. had recorded 220,000 Covid deaths.

Covid deaths this year have now surpassed the toll in 2020 with 350,000 since Inauguration Day. It would seem that Mr. Biden has done no better than Donald Trump in defeating Covid despite the benefit of vaccines, better therapies, and more clinical experience. The left politicized Covid by holding Mr. Trump responsible for a disease that was always going to be hard to defeat.

“If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive,” Mr. Biden said last fall. That was as false as anything Mr. Trump ever said, but most journalists and experts agreed with the basic premise: Mr. Trump had blood on his hands. The world’s top medical journals called for Mr. Trump’s defeat.

A New England Journal of Medicine editorial headlined “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum” called the Administration “dangerously incompetent” and declared “we should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.” No wonder so many conservatives don’t trust these health experts.

Mr. Biden famously promised “to shut down the virus, not the country,” and he accused Mr. Trump of having “no plan.” Mr. Trump did downplay the virus in the early part of 2020, and he needlessly put himself in the middle of almost every debate over the disease and possible treatments. Politically, he played into Mr. Biden’s hands. But his Administration accelerated the vaccines and therapies that Mr. Biden later took credit for.

Recall how Mr. Biden scoffed at Mr. Trump’s prediction that vaccines would be widely available in the spring. “The distribution of that vaccine will not occur until sometime beginning of the middle of next year to get it out, if we get the vaccine,” he said. Mr. Trump turned out to be right, and Mr. Biden largely followed the distribution plan his predecessors had put in place.

Because of the Trump Administration’s preparation, the U.S. led most of the world in vaccinations this spring. Yet Mr. Biden had no plan to deal with the large numbers of vaccine holdouts, other than to deride them. He missed his goal of getting 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4 but proclaimed victory nonetheless.

Then came the more transmissible Delta variant, which Mr. Biden also had no plan to deal with though it had been spreading around the world for months. He needlessly injected himself into fights in GOP states over mask mandates. By late September, daily deaths exceeded 2,000—more than twice as many as a year earlier.

Mr. Biden blamed GOP governors and unvaccinated conservatives. Yet blacks and young people have also shown reluctance to get vaccinated, and they don’t tend to be Republican. See Nicki Minaj and Kyrie Irving. Meantime, Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates have further polarized the country.

Virus cases this fall have plunged in the South but are now rising in the Northeast and Midwest states with relatively high vaccination rates. Vaccines are helpful in preventing severe illness but aren’t as effective at preventing infections and transmission as health experts hoped. Booster shots will be needed to keep the virus at bay this winter, especially for seniors and people at high risk. Yet the Administration’s messaging on boosters has been inconsistent and often confusing.

We recount all this not to blame Mr. Biden for this year’s Covid deaths. The truth last year and this year is that the virus is impossible for any politician to control, much less eliminate. Mr. Biden used the illusion he could vanquish the virus to win election, and he is now paying a political price because he hasn’t.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-covid-death-milestone-biden-administration-trump-11637708781?mod=trending_now_opn_2

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