Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump's Foreign Policy Held Hostage? Naval Weapon Abut Perfected. POGO Republicans. Enforcing The Iran Deal.

Should Obama and his crowd be investigated for tapping Trump and his crowd? (See 1 below.)

Is Erdogan actually in trouble? (See 2 below.)
Trump's Foreign policies remain hostage to Obama operatives who still remain buried in government. (See 3 below.)

I reported on this weapon several years ago.  Now it is moving towards completion. (See 3a below.)
Republican members, whose seats are in jeopardy, have caused a seemingly irreconcilable split in the ranks of the Party and thus the votes for doing whatever with Obamacare is now at risk

If Republicans cannot accomplish what they stated they could, the entire Trump agenda will be at risk because you cannot form a budget until you know what a new health plan will potentially cost.

Can you blame politicians for taking a narrow view in order to save their own precious skins/seats? Can Trump do enough arm twisting to get the recalcitrant to fold and do what is necessary? Will holdouts conclude falling on their own swords is not something they are willing to do even if it means wrecking their president's prospects?

Anyone watching this circus can at least conclude Republicans have read the bill before passing it, if they eventually do, unlike Pelosi's Democrats regarding Obamacare. If you recall, she said we have to pass it to know what is in it.

So where are we?  Obamacare will die of its own accord but, before that happens, more billions will be expended keeping it alive for a while. If the Republicans fail to pass a replacement then it will be evident government intrusion, where it never should have been allowed,  will have created a further mess and proven, at least to me,  that everything government touches it makes worse.

When people lose faith in their government's ability to accomplish what voters want and expect, and do it within a reasonable cost structure, the ground for anarchy expands. This seems to be where we are. Russia has been successful in causing voters to question the veracity of our election process. America's intelligence community seems to have broken faith with citizens they have sworn to protect. The former president and his party seem committed to thwarting the current president from executing his programs and allow his nominees to take office.  Another major problem is Obama holdovers remain embedded and continue to engage in blocking Trump at virtually every turn.

Consequently, government is under-performing and Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated. They do not understand why their elected politicians cannot do what is right by the nation, by them. The matter is made worse because the election of Trump was a clear indication of voter frustrations and the hope was Trump would execute on his campaign pledges and he actually has, adding to voter consternation.

One of my closet friends and tennis partners, who keeps abreast of what is going on, is so turned off he said today he no longer listens to the news and only reads the first paragraph of an article that remains of interest.

My concern is that we have become ripe for siren calls from discord-ants who seek to do mischief and who wish to sink this Republic. This, at a time, when those who mean us harm are gaining an upper hand in a military, terrorist and strategic sense.

Once again I defer to POGO and Walt Kelly - "The Enemy Is Us!"  (See 4 below.)
Filibuster Gorsuch and make a further fool of Schumer and his Demwits. (See 5 below.)
Finally, enforcing the Iran Deal. (See 6 below.)

1) BOMBSHELL: Obama’s Sabotage Of Trump Exposed, It’s Worse Than We Thought 

The effort to attack and undermine the Trump administration has been unprecedented.

From continuous media attacks to organized targeted protests all designed to undermine the administration in the eyes of the public.
But it doesn’t stop there.
From Free Beacon:
The Obama administration worked in its final weeks in office to undermine the incoming Trump White House and continues to do so, according to multiple sources both in and out of the White House.
Behind the effort, these sources say, are senior government officials who previously worked under President Obama and remain loyal to his agenda. These individuals leak negative information about the Trump White House and its senior staff to a network of former Obama administration officials who then plant this information in key media outlets including the Washington Post and New York Times.
According to the Free Beacon, the campaigns to undermine current CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom were subjected to leaks aimed at undermining their credibility, were part of this effort.
“We have members of the former administration at the highest levels who through their actions after January 20 have demonstrated their refusal to recognize the results of the general election,” one senior administration official told the Free Beacon. “They have pursued, organized, and managed a comprehensive subversion of the new administration.”
The effort is not just limited to leaks and efforts to target advisors. It goes as far as actually trying to sabotage or change the wording of actual policy efforts and executive orders of the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, holdovers from the Obama administration are working to undermine the Trump administration’s agenda through efforts to alter official communications, a number of administration officials confirmed in conversations with the Washington Free Beacon. […]
In one instance, Trump administration officials found evidence that the administration’s executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority nations had been selectively altered to bring it more in line with Obama-era talking points.
Several hours before the orders were set to be signed by Trump, officials noticed that language concerning “radical Islamic terrorism” had been stripped from the order and replaced with Obama-era language about countering violent extremism.
While there is internal subversion, there also is an organized effort of former Obama officials outside the White House working with media to target members of the Trump administration. The Free Beacon names Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s pro-Iran press operation and Benghazi talking points, and Colin Kahl, a senior national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden as behind efforts to purge Trump officials with whom they disagree, including senior advisers Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka, as well as NSC leaders Michael Anton and KT McFarland.
The strategy? Provoke them to be fired by alleging damaging information about them and having media push it. For example, they are currently painting Gorka as a Nazi and an Islamophobe.
“They have a network of journalists for whom they have served as sources and they have fed stuff to these journalists,” one senior U.S. official told the Free Beacon. “That’s what pretty obviously is going on. I’ve never seen this happen before. I’ve never heard of it happening throughout history.”
Putting the current White House in a permanent state of defense is a key objective of this strategy, according to one senior Republican foreign policy operative who is close to the White House.
“Part of this campaign, of course, was the media operation of selective leaks, many of which were illegal and directly targeted the staff and officials of the incoming Trump administration,” the source said.
The Obama administration also allowed White House staffers to accumulate an unprecedented amount of sick days. That required a huge pay out. Why does that matter? Because now the Trump White House is unable to make new hires and hire the people they need because the money is no longer in the budget to pay them.
Unprecedented isn’t even the word, frightening subversion is more like it…
2) Turkey’s Referendum Could Backfire on Erdogan

The stakes are high—and outcome uncertain—for vote on enhanced powers for the presidency

By Yaroslav Trofimov

ISTANBUL—Appearances can deceive.
Only one campaign is in sight less than a month before the April 16 referendum that would give Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vast new powers.
Building-size billboards feature a giant likeness of Mr. Erdogan urging the nation to vote “Yes.” On TV networks, government officials brand those opposing this executive presidency plan as traitors or supporters of terrorism. Finding any evidence of the “No” campaign can be mission impossible.
And yet, despite such a charged environment, a referendum victory for Mr. Erdogan looks surprisingly uncertain. Opinion polls keep showing a nation starkly divided along the middle—with a significant part of Mr. Erdogan’s own Justice and Development Party, or AKP, electorate balking at the idea of scrapping Turkey’s tradition of parliamentary democracy.
“This is a huge problem for them: they were thinking they will easily get 60%,” says Etyen Mahcupyan, a political consultant who served as adviser to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a leading figure in AKP. “And if we have a surprise on election day, it will be to the benefit of the ‘No’ vote. The government has created a ‘Yes’ atmosphere and many people are afraid of admitting that they will vote ‘No,’ and are not telling the truth to the pollsters.”
Even though the referendum campaign unfolds under the state of emergency imposed following July’s failed coup attempt against Mr. Erdogan, Turkey’s voting process makes outright ballot-stuffing difficult.
Mr. Erdogan’s camp, of course, can still win the referendum. “We are sure we will receive a majority,” AKP’s deputy chairman Yasin Aktay said in an interview. “The opposition is not convincing. They have no argumentation except saying that we are bringing dictatorship or a one-man administration, which is not true.”
Yet, the very fact that the outcome is now in doubt has re-energized the opposition to Turkey’s leader—just months after his hold on authority, in the wake of the July putsch attempt, seemed beyond any challenge.
The stakes can’t be higher. If Mr. Erdogan loses, that would be his most dramatic setback since coming to power in 2003, shattering his aura of near-magic invincibility. A referendum defeat could also change the geopolitical trajectory of one of America’s most important partners in the Middle East and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance—just as Mr. Erdogan is steering Turkey further and further from its traditional bonds with the West.
 “If ‘No’ wins, an irreversible situation will arise for the first time for AKP. They see this as a matter of life or death,” said Sezgin Tanrikulu, a lawmaker for the opposition CHP party. “If that happens, AKP will not be the same AKP and Turkey won’t be the same Turkey. Citizens, who now have so much despair, will acquire new self-confidence and new hope.”
A referendum defeat, if it occurs, wouldn’t force Mr. Erdogan, whose mandate runs until 2019, to step down, and wouldn’t necessarily prompt new elections in the immediate future. But it would almost certainly usher a period of new political instability as Mr. Erdogan struggles to regain momentum against emboldened foes.
Mr. Erdogan’s strategy in the past, when faced with challenges to his authority, has been to escalate crises and create new ones, at home and abroad. That’s something that many, in Turkey and Western capitals, fear may happen in coming weeks, and even more so should voters reject his proposals on April 16.

In the summer of 2015, after an election in which AKP failed to secure absolute parliamentary majority for the first time, Mr. Erdogan—instead of moving to create a coalition government—unleashed all-out war against Kurdish militants and then called snap elections within months. The AKP regained its majority amid the nationalist fervor. In a similar attempt to rally the nationalist vote, he stoked diplomatic confrontations with the Netherlands and Germany in recent weeks.
Such an appeal to the Turkish nationalist electorate that traditionally follows the MHP party, one of four represented in Turkey’s parliament, is indispensable for Mr. Erdogan’s referendum plans. He managed to pass the referendum legislation, which required the support of three-fifths of lawmakers, only thanks to a new alliance with the MHP’s leadership.
That parliamentary support has yet to translate into backing by actual MHP voters, cautioned former MHP lawmaker Sinan Ogan, who is opposed to the proposals.
The MHP secured 11.9% of votes in Turkey’s most recent elections, in November 2015, and represents a critical swing constituency.
“The key to the referendum is now with MHP,” said Mr. Ogan. “And in MHP, the top says ‘Yes’ and the grass-roots say ‘No.’ ”
3) Trump Administration Foreign Policy at a Crossroads
By Joseph Klein
Barack Obama subordinated America’s national interests to his notion of global citizenship under the umbrella of strengthened multilateral organizations and international norms. He also believed that American power needed to be contained. 
President Trump’s stated approach to virtually all issues relating to foreign policy is to put American national security and economic interests first. It explains his budget priorities, which would add billions of dollars for defense and border security, while cutting back on programs at the State Department undergirding so-called “soft diplomacy.” President Trump also views such global issues as trade, immigration, climate change and participation in multilateral institutions through the prism of “America first.” Thus, his budget blueprint would reduce U.S. funding contributions to the United Nations and multilateral development banks, while ceasing payments altogether to the United Nations’ climate change programs. It projects more reliance on America’s “hard power.”
However, aspirations are one thing. Implementation is another thing altogether. While it is far too early to grade the president’s performance in reaching his stated foreign policy goals, certain trends are emerging that raise concerns. 
As Lee Smith wrote in Tablet on March 15th, “Trump’s tough-as-nails ‘America first’ foreign policy is starting to look like Obama Lite—the exact same policies, implemented by the exact same people.”
To be sure, President Trump has met roadblocks along the way, which have hindered his progress in fulfilling his “America first” campaign promises. Most notably, Senate Democrats have obstructed President Trump’s ability to fill key foreign policy positions in his administration, allowing Obama holdovers to continue exerting undue influence on U.S. foreign policy.  However, some of the “Obama Lite” syndrome is self-inflicted.
For example, even with respect to Israel, the Trump administration decided to keep one of Israel’s fiercest critics from the Obama administration, Yael Lempert. She had served on the National Security Council under Obama, and has been asked to stay on at least for the time being.  Michael Ratney, a confidante of John Kerry and former U.S. consul to Jerusalem, will be leading the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the Trump State Department. He was reportedly involved, while serving as Jerusalem consul, in supporting the attempt to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s 2015 election. 
The Trump administration is stepping up the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, with more direct involvement of American troops. However, the strategic approach so far is on the same trajectory as the Obama administration’s strategy. Any victories in Iraq or Syria over ISIS are likely to be short-lived in terms of U.S. interests as long as the U.S. continues to rely on the help of Iranian backed Shia militia, which was the case during the Obama administration. According to Lee Smith, this Iranian tilt in the fight against ISIS could well continue because the Trump team has selected as its U.S. envoy for countering ISIS the same man who performed that function for the Obama administration, Brett McGurk. McGurk was “the point man” for Obama’s pro-Iran policy. He was President Obama's lead negotiator in the hostage for ransom swap with Iran, which Donald Trump denounced at the time.
Lee Smith also reported that former National Iranian American Council staffer Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who served in the Obama administration as National Security Council director for Iran, is now on the Trump State Department’s policy-planning staff. She is in charge of the Iran portfolio. She was a strong advocate for the nuclear deal.  Chris Backemeyer, currently the deputy assistant secretary for Iranian affairs under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is yet another Obama holdover who had lobbied hard for the nuclear deal with Iran. 
It is no wonder that, despite President Trump’s and his senior officials’ sharp rhetoric against the Iranian regime, nothing has materially changed with respect to Iran from the Obama days. Iran has continued to fire more ballistic missiles, fund terrorists and badger U.S. naval ships in international waters. Yet the nuclear deal that President Trump has called “disastrous” remains intact, with all of its financial goodies bestowed on Iran.  Incredibly, the Trump administration is continuing the Obama administration’s green light for Boeing to sell potentially dual-use airplanes to Iran
There are some bright spots.  For example, President Trump’s choice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, put the UN on notice as soon as she arrived at UN headquarters for her first meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres.  “You’re going to see a change in the way we do business,” Ambassador Haley told reporters. She added that the U.S. would “have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our back as well. For those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names; we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”
One ally whose back the Trump administration is protecting at the UN is Israel – a clear departure from the Obama administration, which refused to block a blatantly anti-Israel Security Council resolution passed last December. Ambassador Haley has repeatedly criticized the anti-Israel bias that has filled the chambers of the UN for too long. And she has already notched a couple of concrete victories. She stopped in its tracks the UN Secretary General’s plan to appoint a former Palestinian prime minister to a senior level UN position as the UN envoy to Libya. Ambassador Haley said in response to news of the proposed appointment, which she strongly opposed, “The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations… Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”  
And just last week, after Ambassador Haley strongly objected to a disgraceful report issued by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) labeling Israel “an apartheid regime,” Secretary General Guterres disassociated his office from the report and directed that it be removed from the UN’s official website. Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Rima Khalaf, promptly resigned. Ambassador Haley responded: “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign.”
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether, outside of the UN, the tense relationship with Israel that characterized the Obama era will remain because of the influence exerted by Obama holdovers such as Yael Lempert and Michael Ratney.
President Trump’s stances on immigration and trade, which are sharply at odds with the policies of the previous administration, are having some positive impact. The illegal border crossings at the U.S.-Mexican border have dropped considerably since President Trump took office. However, Obama-appointed activist judges have placed holds on successive executive orders temporarily suspending the entry to the United States of refugees and of persons from designated terrorist-prone countries who do not have green cards or previously issued visas. 
Canada and Mexico have expressed willingness to renegotiate NAFTA. At a meeting of the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations (G-20) on Saturday, they dropped from this year’s communique a pledge they made last year to “avoid all forms of protectionism.” The communique also omitted any mention of climate change.
President Trump has confirmed his support for NATO, which he had previously criticized, but is pressing for its European members to shoulder more of the financial burden. When President Trump met with Obama’s close buddy German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, they discussed Germany’s insufficient contribution to NATO’s budget as well as trade. Chancellor Merkel has not heard such frank talk from a U.S. president in some time. She confirmed Germany’s intention to pay the agreed upon two percent of Germany’s GDP towards funding NATO. In a departure from her customary defense of globalism, she said at her joint news conference with President Trump, “I speak with the President of the United States, who stands up for, as is right, American interests.” 
Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” which rested largely on the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty (TPP), is in limbo as a result of President Trump’s abandonment of TPP. Instead of one all-encompassing multilateral treaty, the Trump administration is planning to seek more bilateral trading agreements. President Trump’s meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month set a positive tone.
Relations with China are also in flux. Significant differences remain regarding trade, North Korea and China’s build-up in the South China Sea, which will no doubt be subjects discussed next month when President Trump and President Xi Jinping meet. Regarding North Korea in particular, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled a tougher U.S. approach in advance of his visit to China, which did not rule out the use of military force. He said the Obama era of “strategic patience” was over. How much of this is just rhetoric remains to be seen. 
Despite such departures from Obama's foreign policy priorities, the former Obama administration continues to cast a long shadow. President Trump’s foreign policy is at a major crossroads. If the president truly wants to put America first and achieve his stated objectives, he must first purge his administration of all Obama holdovers wherever they may be lurking.

3a) WW3 'GAME CHANGER' US tests LETHAL electromagnetic railgun after Jong-un missile failure

AMERICA has launched tests for a lethal electromagnetic railgun that will bolster US naval power, it has been revealed.

Days after North Korea’s latest missile test failed, the US Office of Naval Research published a video which captured the explosive guns in action on YouTube.
Cannons are filmed blasting away in countless directions as fiery smoke crosses the sky.
The Naval Research Office described the rail gun “as a true war fighter game changer”.

The Office added: “Using its extreme speed on impact, the kinetic energy warhead eliminates the hazards of high explosives in the ship and un-exploded ordnance on the battlefield.”
On Tuesday, Pyongyang tried to launch four missiles from near Eastern Motoyama, according to South Korea's ministry of defense.
The failed test followed the warnings from Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva who warned the hermit kingdom are “prioritizing” the development of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM), capable of striking the US.
Describing the project in 2014, Former Rear Admiral Matt Klunder, the then chief of Naval Research, reportedly said: “[It] will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go: ‘Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?
“Frankly, we think it might be the right time for them to know what we’ve been doing behind closed doors in a 'Star Wars' fashion. It’s now reality. It’s not science fiction. It’s real and you can look at it.”

Robert Freeman, a spokesman for the Office of Naval Research told US News and World Report that the electromagnetic cannon could “tear through sheets of metal” whilst transforming a ship’s ammunition needs.
He added: “Our need to carry gunpowder with is a big vulnerability to our ships. A rail gun could eliminate that need.”
The weapons are capable of obliterating heavily armoured targets at a range of up to 126 miles and the astonishing speed of 4,500 mph.
Referred to as “Star Wars technology” the missiles are fueled solely by electricity which will reduce a ship’s “vulnerability”.
4)Trump’s Russia House

The intelligence agencies’ Russia investigation is a hall of mirrors that distorts and diminishes everyone who comes near it.

The tale of Russia interfering in the U.S. presidential election has become a hall of mirrors that distorts and diminishes everyone who comes near it—the Trump presidency, Democrats, members of Congress, the intelligence community and the media. Vladimir Putin must be agog in Moscow at how easy it is to make America subvert itself.
But let’s walk through the funhouse door and stare at the first mirror, the one reflecting the face of former President Barack Obama. This nightmare starts with him.
The details of a March 1 New York Times story deserve to be repeated with as much manic intensity as news sites report the repudiation of Donald Trump’s claim that Mr. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
Well, he didn’t, but Mr. Obama did plenty else. This is the lead sentence of that Times story:
“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election—and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians—across the government.”
This is what they did: “At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government—and, in some cases, among European allies.”
Earlier, on Jan. 12, the Times also reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate “raw signals intelligence information” to 16 other intelligence agencies.
That is, the Obama administration put in motion the tsunami of anonymously attributed stories that is engulfing and disabling America’s government today.
They knew the drill. In 2011 the Obama White House leaked details of SEAL Team Six’s assassination of Osama bin Laden within hours of the operation. They politicized the SEALs and commoditized leaking, just as they now have politicized and undermined public confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies.
Mirror No. 2 reflects the face of Donald Trump, who took a legitimate complaint about all this and then, via tweets and public statements, put himself and then his presidency at war with 17 intelligence agencies. The no-surprise result is pretty ugly.
As well, Mr. Trump brought on Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who’ve built mansions on the foreign-connections swamp, and former Defense Intelligence Agency director Mike Flynn, who fantastically sat at a table in 2015 with Mr. Putin to celebrate RT, Russia’s primary external propaganda arm. No wonder someone took a look.
If one reads the government’s Jan. 6 “Clapper Report” on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, it is clear that its real message is about a sophisticated Russian effort to undermine the Western democracies. That broader subject is almost certainly what the current Russian investigation is about, with the 2016 campaign a subset example.
But rather than develop countermeasures against the Putin subversion effort, our politics wallows in the Trump vs. Democrats smackdown.
Mirror No. 3 is the House Intelligence Committee hearing, whose membership degraded instantly into partisanship. The committee insists it will issue a serious report. The odds look low.
We’ve come to the biggest, most distorting mirror of all—FBI Director James Comey.
To whom, exactly, do the FBI director and his “investigation” report? Is James Comey accountable to anyone?
Not to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, like Loretta Lynch before him, is out of the picture. Deputy Attorney General nominee Rod Rosenstein isn’t even confirmed.
Indeed, it is difficult to see how any of the 17 agencies implicated in this Russian investigation are accountable to anyone beyond their nominal chain of command for whatever it is they’re doing.
The “investigation” Mr. Comey identified at the Nunes-Schiff hearing essentially consists of cops walking the beat and knocking on doors for clues. The 17 agencies set loose in January by the Obama administration are an unfocused perpetual-motion machine. This uncapped Beltway hydrant likely will do little about the real Putin propaganda threat, but it will gush raw, unverified anecdotes to animate media melodramas about the current presidency and private U.S. citizens.
The spectacle is damaging public confidence in the credibility of both the intelligence agencies and the U.S. media. We need both. The system can’t handle another Comey punt.
Staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee have been to the CIA headquarters to look at what it’s got. That’s not enough. We need closure. Someone with authority and judgment, such as arriving Deputy AG Rosenstein, should scrub through what the Obama NSA distributed, and make a call.
If on a scale of 1 to 10, this investigation is a 2, pull the plug. If some discrete piece of it is an 8, make that public and proceed. If someone needs a defense lawyer, tell them now.
John le Carré wrote entertaining fiction. What this Washington Russia House has produced for the American people is an open-ended fiasco.
5) Neil Gorsuch Should Be Filibustered
Given his testimony over the course of this week, I am increasingly convinced that Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court should be filibustered and Americans should encourage Democrats to do that. Chuck Schumer should carry out his threat.
During this past week we have learned that Neil Gorsuch is entirely qualified for the Supreme Court. We have learned he is personable, likable, and highly qualified. We have also learned he is smarter than most of the Senators who interviewed him.
Consequently he should be filibustered. Filibustering Neil Gorsuch will show just how unreasonable Democrats are and provide Republicans an opportunity to once and for all scrap the filibuster of all nominees. Democrats selectively scrapped the filibuster when they were in charge. Now they are daring Republicans to finish it off.
Neither side wants an end to the legislative filibuster and I would hate to see that go too. But to leave the remaining filibuster relating to nominations is to set a rule that Democrats can change rules at will and Republicans cannot.
Neil Gorsuch is eminently qualified and no one has laid a glove on him. He should be filibustered so the world can see just how obvious it is the Democrats are playing politics. Then the GOP should end the filibuster.
The Supreme Court will see another vacancy before this year is out. If the GOP ends the filibuster now, they will not have to go through this song and dance again. Likewise, filibustering Gorsuch will demonstrate that the Democrats refuse to treat even the most qualified and competent judges with any respect.
They should filibuster Neil Gorsuch so we can kill off that delaying mechanism once and for all.
6) The Delusion of the Iran Nuclear Deal

The Islamic Republic doesn’t need to cheat to get the bomb. Indeed, it has every incentive to hope that the deal is enforced.

By Mark Dubowitz

President Donald Trump promised to rigorously and radically enforce the Iran nuclear agreement, which he called “the worst deal ever negotiated.” It sounds tough, but it’s an approach that plays into the hands of the Iranian mullahs.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action presents the Trump administration with a bedeviling paradox: The greater the focus on enforcement, the higher the likelihood Iran will emerge with nuclear weapons. 
The nuclear deal contains limited, temporary and reversible constraints that disappear over time. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog tasked with monitoring the deal, may be able to detect Iranian violations. But Iran doesn’t need to cheat. In fact, it has every incentive not to do so. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Iran’s uranium and plutonium pathways to atomic weapons expand over time. The deal allows for Iran to ramp up the testing of advanced centrifuges in seven years and install these centrifuges in its Natanz enrichment facility in nine years. Breakout time, the amount of time needed to enrich one bomb’s worth of fissile material to nuclear grade, drops from one year to months and then weeks.
In less than 15 years, the majority of restrictions on vital components of a military-nuclear program vanish. This includes bans on enrichment above 3.67% purity, the stockpiling of uranium, the use of the buried-under-a-mountain Fordow centrifuge plant, and the building of additional enrichment facilities and heavy-water reactors. 

At that point, Iran will emerge with an industrial-size nuclear program with a near-zero breakout capability and much easier ways to sneak around restrictions. After the disappearance of the arms embargo three and a half years from now and the missile embargo in six and a half years, Tehran can significantly enhance its military power by acquiring advanced conventional weapons and further expanding its long-range ballistic-missile program to include intercontinental ballistic missiles. No country developing ICBMs has ever not obtained nuclear weapons.

The IAEA faces daunting tasks: It must monitor an enormous nuclear program, widely dispersed on a territory more than twice the size of Texas. It will need to secure access to military sites in order to block weaponization activities, but Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said these are out of bounds. It will have to ensure that uranium isn’t diverted to clandestine enrichment sites, which could be powered by a small number of easier-to-hide advanced centrifuges.

And, with an Iranian economy possibly doubled in size by then, with hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment from Asia, Europe and Russia, few countries will join the U.S. in snapping back sanctions should Iran violate the deal. With Iran at near-zero nuclear breakout, even the most crippling sanctions aren’t likely to stop a determined regime. 

If rigorous enforcement looks to be a daunting task, what could the Trump administration do to get out from under this deal and perhaps into a better one? 

First, Mr. Trump must address the Iranian threat the way Ronald Reagan treated the Soviet one. In the early 1980s, Reagan instructed his National Security Council to develop a comprehensive assault to undermine the Soviet Union. The Trump NSC needs a similar plan, one that uses both covert and overt economic, financial, political, diplomatic, cyber and military power to subvert and roll back the Iranian threat.

Mr. Khamenei has alluded to his regime being “on the edge of a cliff” as a result of the 2009 democratic uprisings. Mr. Trump should create the distinct impression that America will help the millions of Iranians who despise the regime to push it over that edge. 

Second, the Trump administration, with an assist from Congress, needs to reinvigorate the sanctions regime aimed at Iran’s support for terrorism, ballistic-missile development, human-rights abuses, war crimes, and destabilizing activities in the Middle East. These sanctions need to target, in particular, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls strategic areas of Iran’s economy.

Foreign diplomats may balk, but these sanctions are fully compliant with the nuclear deal. International banks and companies will think twice about working with Iranian companies, especially if doing so might mean losing access to the U.S. market. The Trump administration should work with Congress to design a statutory architecture that freezes the Iranian nuclear program where it is today and impose new crippling sanctions if it expands in any way that drops nuclear breakout time to less than one year.

The Trump administration also needs to put Iran on notice that the U.S. will use force to counter Iranian aggression. Sanctions without the credible threat of military action will always be insufficient to change the regime’s calculus. 

While putting the squeeze on the regime, the administration should make it clear to the Chinese, Europeans and Russians that Washington is prepared to negotiate a follow-on agreement that addresses the fatal flaws of the original deal. Tehran, still struggling to attract foreign investment because of its continued malign activities, can benefit from such an offer if it’s prepared to come back to the table and halt its subversive behavior.
Rigorously enforcing the Iran deal is a delusion. There is a better way forward than enabling the Islamic Republic to take patient pathways to nuclear weapons, ICBMs and regional dominance. 

Mr. Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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