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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fars News, "Iran Not to Allow IAEA to Inspect Every Site": Obama's Nuclear Deal Isn't Worth the Paper It's Printed on

As reported yesterday by Iran's Fars News in an article entitled "DM: Iran Not to Allow IAEA to Inspect Every Site":

"Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan warned on Wednesday that Tehran would not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit every site and facility that it wishes.

'Iran does not plan to issue permission for the IAEA to inspect every site,' Dehqan said in an interview with al-Mayadeen news network on Wednesday.

. . . .

The Iranian Defense Minister reiterated that the time had come for the Americans to realize that they were not the world's super power and no one recognizes them as such any longer."

Or stated otherwise, the IAEA can inspect where Iran is not advancing its nuclear weapons development program, but not where the program is being implemented.

Yup, Obama's nuclear deal with Iran isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Frank Bruni, "The Joe Biden Delusion": Honesty No Longer Matters

Yesterday, I had a discussion with a family member, who told me that she would be pleased if Hillary became the next president. "She's smart," she told me. "Yes," I agreed, "but she's also dishonest and unscrupulous." The family member, however, was ready with a rejoinder: "The emails were confidential, not top secret." Was I surprised by her response? Not in the least. You see, honesty as it relates to the Clintons ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman"), doesn't resonate with or matter to many voters.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Joe Biden Delusion," Frank Bruni tells us that he hopes Joe Biden will not challenge Hillary for the Democratic nomination because . . . he's too honest and unconstrained:

"Where others say too little, he says too much. Where others depend on extravagantly compensated swamis to contrive their authenticity and coax them toward it, Biden needs help tamping down his irrepressible self.

. . . .

He rolls his eyes. He reaches out with his hands. He talks and talks, in sentences that sometimes go too far, with words that haven’t been weighed as carefully as they could be. The route from his brain to his lips is direct and swift. None of the usual traffic cones there.

Sometimes this is enervating. Mostly it’s endearing. For better or worse, it’s not the means to a promotion, not for this remarkable man at this remarkable time."

And if more surprises surface from Hillary's server? Can a $2.5 billion campaign deodorize the overpowering stench wafting from a river of raw sewage? Maybe, but it remains to be seen.

Go for it, Joe. If Trump takes the Republican nomination, this time you might just get lucky.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nicholas Burns, "What Should Obama Do Next on Iran?": Actually, What Obama Should Have Done First

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "What Should Obama Do Next on Iran?," Harvard professor and former under secretary of state Nicholas Burns tells us that he "testified in favor of the [Iran nuclear] agreement before four congressional committees, and talked with many members individually during July and August." Informing us that Obama now has sufficient support from Democrats in Congress to override majority opposition to his deal with Khamenei, Burns acknowledges that "Republicans have been right to highlight the deal’s principal weakness — it could permit Iran to emerge stronger 10 to 15 years from now as restrictions on its nuclear program begin to lapse." To overcome this weakness and "win the long-term struggle with Iran for power in the Middle East," Burns recommends:

  1. "Mr. Obama could reaffirm President Jimmy Carter’s doctrine from the 1970s that the United States will defend its vital interests in the security of the Persian Gulf region against any aggressor."
  2. "Mr. Obama could state in unmistakably clear terms that the United States would use military force to strike Iran should it violate the nuclear agreement and drive toward a nuclear weapon."
  3. "Mr. Obama could announce the expedited renewal this autumn of the United States-Israel military assistance agreement, set to expire in 2017."
  4. "[T]he administration could reaffirm America’s commitment to form a strong regional coalition with moderate Arab states, Turkey, the European allies and our Asian allies to reimpose sanctions on Iran, should that be necessary."

Question: Shouldn't Obama have announced these measures prior to reaching agreement with Iran? Oh, that's right: These measures would have killed any agreement with Iran in its infancy, they are anathema to Obama, and he has no intention of implementing them.

But Obama thanks you anyway, Nicholas, for providing avid support for this legacy-establishing undertaking, which ensures that Iran will ultimately be only weeks away from an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ICBMs.

David Brooks, "Hillary Clinton, the Great Defender": Or Insufferably Offensive?

Is Hillary a "great defender," or has she grown insufferably offensive?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hillary Clinton, the Great Defender," David Brooks would have us know that "All descriptions of [Hillary's] campaigns have to start with the fact that for most of Clinton’s political career she has been playing defense." Regarding Hillary's "defensive mind-set," Brooks goes on to say:

"This linebacker mentality means she is strong when she talks about defending, say, Social Security, and she has no illusions in foreign affairs. But there is little of the high-minded earnestness of the Adlai Stevenson campaigns, the futuristic aspiration of the John Kennedy campaign, the grand ambition of the Lyndon Johnson campaign, the new generation emotionality of Bill Clinton’s campaign or the uplifting hopefulness of the Barack Obama campaign.

We live in anxious times. You can respond to those times with a more radical political program, as Bernie Sanders is doing. You can answer with an anti-establishment burn-down-the-house campaign, as Donald Trump is doing. Or you can create a resurrection story, a creative narrative that builds a working majority on new grounds.

When Clinton was secretary of state it wasn’t clear whether she could go on offense and define a creative initiative in an open field. She hasn’t done that yet in this campaign, either. She hasn’t given voters a sense of an epic quest, an exodus to some promised land."

Expect Hillary to "go on offense"? Await "an exodus to some promised land"? How about just a little bit of honesty? As liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote two weeks ago in an opinion piece entitled "Hillary Clinton is her own worst enemy":

"So I wish Hillary Clinton would be respectful enough to say, 'I’m sorry. I was wrong.' I wish she wouldn’t insult our intelligence by claiming she only did what other secretaries of state had done. None of her predecessors, after all, went to the trouble and expense of a private e-mail server.

I wish she would explain why, after turning over to the State Department the e-mails she deemed work-related, she had the server professionally wiped clean.

. . . .

It should come as no surprise to anyone with a brain that the work-related e-mails of the secretary of state would contain sensitive information. Clinton surrendered more than 30,000 messages to the State Department, and an initial review of just 40 e-mails revealed two that reportedly should have been deemed top secret. Unconfirmed reports — and common sense — suggest there are more."

Indeed, Hillary is betting that a majority of American voters are brainless. I find that an insufferably offensive wager.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Washington Post Editorial, "In freeing Jason Rezaian, Iran would serve justice and reassure the international community": Tell It to Obama

In an editorial entitled "In freeing Jason Rezaian, Iran would serve justice and reassure the international community," The Washington Post deplores Iran’s incarceration and prosecution of WaPo reporter Jason Rezaian. The editorial states:

"[T]he fact that Mr. Rezaian remains imprisoned, in violation of Iran’s laws, suggests that Mr. Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani have been unable to gain control over factions whose cooperation will be essential if the nuclear deal is to be successfully implemented. That ought to be a red flag for the Obama administration as well as for the five other governments that are parties to the deal, and it should be given some weight by those in Congress still considering whether to support the accord. We concluded in July that the deal is preferable to the alternatives — but the failure to release Mr. Rezaian since then is deeply troubling.

The Rouhani government has a clear opportunity in the next two weeks to rectify the injustice done to Mr. Rezaian and to reassure the international community of its readiness to honor the nuclear accord."

Iran intends to honor Obama's nuclear deal? Iran gives a damn about "justice"? What are you people smoking? This is a regime which hangs gay men, stones to death women accused of adultery, savagely persecute Baha'is, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis, jails and brutalizes journalists and political opponents, backs Shiite militias in Iraq that are engaged in ethnic cleansing, bombed a Jewish community center in distant Argentina, routinely calls for the annihilation of Israel, and executes poets for "waging war on God."

In fact, WaPo's editorial board should have told the Obama administration that the release of Americans imprisoned in Iran must be part and parcel of any nuclear deal, but Obama and Kerry would have caved on this demand, too. You see, the nuclear deal is all about Obama's vanity and has nothing to do with peace, justice or protecting Americans abroad.

Paul Krugman, "A Heckuva Job": Evenhanded? Yeah, Right!

Is Krugman biased against Republicans? Heck no . . . if you ask Paul.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Heckuva Job," Paul Krugman sets out to deprecate Republican presidential hopefuls Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump, while ignoring any and all Democratic foibles. Krugman explains in his own defense:

"I know, now I’m supposed to be evenhanded, and point out equivalent figures on the Democratic side. But there really aren’t any; in modern America, cults of personality built around undeserving politicians seem to be a Republican thing.

True, some liberals were starry-eyed about Mr. Obama way back when, but the glitter faded fast, and what was left was a competent leader with some big achievements under his belt – most notably, an unprecedented drop in the number of Americans without health insurance. And Hillary Clinton is the subject of a sort of anti-cult of personality, whose most ordinary actions are portrayed as nefarious. (No, the email thing doesn’t rise to the level of a 'scandal.')"

"An unprecedented drop in the number of Americans without health insurance"? Wonderful! And the cost? Krugman forgets to mention that Obamacare will add more than a quarter of a trillion dollars of insurance overhead through 2022 and that insurance costs are soon expected to rise dramatically, but why should that matter to someone who believes "Debt Is Good"?

Hillary's "email thing doesn’t rise to the level of a 'scandal'"? You see, the FBI routinely investigates the non-scandalous transfer of classified government data via a private server, probably breached by foreign security services and subsequently wiped clean. And as acknowledged even by the New Yorker article which Krugman references above, "it is conceivable that more striking evidence of deception or serious neglect may eventually surface."

This is almost on a par with Krugman's 2011 claim that "Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point." Give it a rest, Paul!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "The Battle for Biomedical Supremacy": What About the Reproducibility of Findings?

In an editorial entitled "The Battle for Biomedical Supremacy," The New York Times tells us:

"States from coast to coast are using public funds to help their medical schools recruit scientific stars from other states or to prevent their own stars from being lured away by lucrative offers.

. . . .

New York’s medical schools are feeling the heat. Over the past four years, institutions in Texas have offered almost $40 million in research grants to tempt scientists to leave New York. According to medical school leaders here, 11 states have programs to recruit biomedical talent. Along with Texas, they include California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Utah and Virginia, although the programs of some are modest in scale.

. . . .

In New York, a consortium of all 16 medical schools is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to invest $100 million a year for the next decade to recruit outstanding scientists from other states and retain top scientists who are already here but might be wooed by other states."

Is it worth investing this amount of money to recruit and keep scientists at New York universities? I believe that a cost/benefit analysis involving such a plan might be appropriate. Attention should be paid to the fact that in the past, promising academic biomedical research has not always been reproducible by pharma companies. As observed in a December 2, 2011 Wall Street Journal article entitled "Scientists' Elusive Goal: Reproducing Study Results" by Gautam Naik:

"This is one of medicine's dirty secrets: Most results, including those that appear in top-flight peer-reviewed journals, can't be reproduced.

. . . .

Reproducibility is the foundation of all modern research, the standard by which scientific claims are evaluated. In the U.S. alone, biomedical research is a $100-billion-year enterprise. So when published medical findings can't be validated by others, there are major consequences.

Drug manufacturers rely heavily on early-stage academic research and can waste millions of dollars on products if the original results are later shown to be unreliable. Patients may enroll in clinical trials based on conflicting data, and sometimes see no benefits or suffer harmful side effects.

There is also a more insidious and pervasive problem: a preference for positive results.

Unlike pharmaceutical companies, academic researchers rarely conduct experiments in a 'blinded' manner. This makes it easier to cherry-pick statistical findings that support a positive result. In the quest for jobs and funding, especially in an era of economic malaise, the growing army of scientists need more successful experiments to their name, not failed ones. An explosion of scientific and academic journals has added to the pressure."

Has there been improvement with respect to this phenomenon concerning the reproducibility of results? Surely, this is something that should be considered before New York State invests this amount of money.