Archive for the 'General' Category
when I first came into office. Iran had gone from having less than 200 centrifuges to having thousands of centrifuges, in some cases more advanced centrifuges. There was a program that had advanced to the point where their breakout capacity had accelerated in ways that we had been concerned about for quite some time and, as a consequence, what I said to my team and what I said to our international partners was that we are going to have to be much more serious about how we change the cost-benefit analysis for Iran.
We put in place an unprecedented regime of sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy, cut their oil revenues by more than half, have put enormous pressure on their currency — their economy contracted by more than 5 percent last year. And it is precisely because of the international sanctions and the coalition that we were able to build internationally that the Iranian people responded by saying, we need a new direction in how we interact with the international community and how we deal with this sanctions regime. And that’s what brought President Rouhani to power. He was not necessarily the first choice of the hardliners inside of Iran.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we should trust him or anybody else inside of Iran. This is a regime that came to power swearing opposition to the United States, to Israel, and to many of the values that we hold dear. But what I’ve consistently said is even as I don’t take any options off the table, what we do have to test is the possibility that we can resolve this issue diplomatically. And that is the deal that, at the first stages, we have been able to get done in Geneva, thanks to some extraordinary work by John Kerry and his counterparts in the P5-plus-1.
So let’s look at exactly what we’ve done. For the first time in over a decade, we have halted advances in the Iranian nuclear program. We have not only made sure that in Fordor and Natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we’ve also said that they’ve got to roll back their 20 percent advanced enrichment…20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. We’re taking that down to zero. We are stopping the advancement of the Arak facility, which would provide an additional pathway, a plutonium pathway for the development of nuclear weapons.
We are going to have daily inspectors in Fordor and Natanz. We’re going to have additional inspections in Arak. And as a consequence, during this six-month period, Iran cannot and will not advance its program or add additional stockpiles of advanced uranium — enriched uranium.
Now, what we’ve done in exchange is kept all these sanctions in place — the architecture remains with respect to oil, with respect to finance, with respect to banking. What we’ve done is we’ve turned the spigot slightly and we’ve said, here’s maximum $7 billion out of the over $100 billion of revenue of theirs that is frozen as a consequence of our sanctions, to give us the time and the space to test whether they can move in a direction, a comprehensive, permanent agreement
“Comprehensive.” “Permanent.” Danger words. Blather from the faculty lounge. All from the same guy who said nice things about the “Supreme Leader” when the US should have been backing the people. As or more important, look at the oh-so glib lying about enrichment — “we’re taking that down to zero” — which is not at all what is happening.
In all our years we have never seen the likes of this guy. We’ve been saying this for years, but still we are amazed. He says the most obviously ridiculous and untrue things but appears to believe them when he is saying them. It should have its own entry in DSM-5.
there was nobody in charge in the administration…The fact that he was not meeting with her one-on-one, I think, frankly, is not so much an indictment of her but of the White House operation…I don’t think this is simply sloppiness on the part of the White House…What seems to me is there’s a case of near malfeasance here
Finally, read the third to last paragraph in this piece by Wretchard. We’re not dealing with the brain trust here, just a nice voice.
Yikes! It should be she sells seashells by the seashore, which is a much tougher tongue-twister than Sally. Also, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel is pretty tough to say 10 times fast. And finally, what’s with pad kid poured curd pulled cod? The thing about a tongue-twister is that it ought to resemble ordinary language.
It’s hard to imagine that lilting “Mary Poppins” standards like “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” would have seen the light of day had the Sherman Brothers not soldiered through their difficulties with the antimusical Travers. Disney essentially sequestered the brothers and a staff writer, Don DaGradi, with Travers in a rehearsal space with a piano and told them to win her over.
“She didn’t care about our feelings, how she chopped us apart,” Mr. Sherman said with a shudder. Travers wasn’t just sharp-tongued, he added; she also misunderstood the meaning of original score. Often after they’d finish singing her a song, she would scoff at their labors and then suggest replacements like vaudeville classics. “She said, ‘I rather fancy ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,’ ” said Mr. Sherman, still able to summon up his exasperation with the author. “What?”
In his recollection, Disney loathed negativity. “He’d kill you if you said you didn’t like something,” Mr. Sherman said, explaining how dissenters were dealt with in group punch-up sessions with various departments. “He’d say, ‘If you can’t think of something to improve it, then keep your mouth shut.’ ”
So how did Disney deal with the unremitting invective leveled at them? “He’d say to us: ‘Keep going. Don’t let her get to you.’ He didn’t sit in the room with us listening to the insults, but he knew what they were.”
The Shermans were desperate to get “Mary Poppins” made: They had already invested roughly two and a half years in writing songs and teasing out a narrative arc from Travers’s vignette-driven creation. They also recognized that the project could make them into name-brand songwriters. In the late 1940s, their father, Al Sherman, a well-known Tin Pan Alley composer, urged his young sons to follow in his footsteps. His advice boiled down to a handful of rules. “He told us: ‘Keep it simple, singable and sincere. But most of all it has to be original.’ ”
We link to this because of the comments on Disney’s management style. Always thought of him as a Sunday TV host, but of course he built an empire in his spare time. (Gotta not obsess on watching the greatest train wreck in American history.)
Robert Blatt, a technology consultant in Ventura County, said he didn’t appreciate receiving an email Thursday from a local agent asking him about his unfinished application with Covered California. He said it violates his privacy, and he wondered what other details on his application were shared with the agent. “You can’t do this,” Blatt said. “For a government agency to release this information to an outside person is a major issue.” In the email Blatt received, the local agent said, “your contact information was provided to me by Covered California since your application is not yet finalized, however, you have been determined as eligible by Covered California.” Blatt said he wasn’t interested in getting coverage through the exchange anymore
There’s no need for hackers when the government will just give out your information.
a technical bug affected approximately 25 percent of enrollments on the federal exchanges in October and November. Those technical bugs, separate from the troubles consumers had experienced accessing information on the website during the first two months, are posing a significant new problem for those who signed up and are expecting insurance coverage come Jan. 1. One in four of those applications either did not get transferred to insurers, were transferred in duplicate form, or had major errors in information shared.
A fellow very friendly to the administration, a longtime supporter, cornered me at a holiday party recently to ask, with true perplexity: “How could any president put his entire reputation on the line with a program and not be on the phone every day pushing people and making sure it will work? Do you know of any president who wouldn’t do that?” I couldn’t think of one, and it’s the same question I’d been asking myself. The questioner had been the manager of a great institution, a high stakes 24/7 operation with a lot of moving parts. He knew Murphy’s law — if it can go wrong, it will. Managers — presidents — have to obsess…
people think he is smart. They think, as they look at his health-care vows, that either he didn’t know how bad his program was, what dislocations it would cause, what a disturbance it would be to the vast middle class of America…Or he knew, and deliberately misled everyone. If they thought he wasn’t very bright, they might give him some leeway on that question. But they think he’s really smart. So they think he knew. And deliberately misled. They think he knowingly quelled people’s fears when he knew they had every reason to be afraid. Which makes him just another dishonest pol, just another guy hiding in the deliberately obscure paragraph on page 1,037 of the omnibus comprehensive reform bill. He has taken himself down, lowered his own stature. Commentators like to decry low-information voters — the stupid are picking our leaders. I think the real problem is low-information leaders. They have so little experience of life and have so much faith in magic — in media, in words — that they don’t understand people will get angry at you when you mislead them, and never see you the same way again…
the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said “We can fry a million of ‘em by this afternoon, Mr. President.” Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys. It’s as if history isn’t real to them. They run around tweeting, all of them, even those in substantial positions. “Darfur government inadequate. Genocide unacceptable.” They share their feelings – that happens to be one of the things they seem to think is real, what they feel. “Unjust treatment of women — scourge that hurts my heart.” This is the dialogue to the movies in their heads. There’s a sense that they’re all freelancing, not really part of anything coherent
Examiner: “check with the people who are here today and the people that they represent all across the country whose lives have been changed for the better by the Affordable Care Act.” These guys have been excellent at two things: (a) campaigning targeted at specific groups; and (b) similarly targeted GOTV. However, the young might turn out not to be Venezuelan peasants when they get the bill. We’ll see.
Morgan Wright, CEO of Crowd Sourced Investigations, told lawmakers that Healthcare.gov had more than 500 million lines of code — more than 20 times as much as Facebook (FB) and nearly 10 times as much as Microsoft (MSFT) Windows 8 — and that this complexity made it ripe for hackers. Wright also warned that there was no “clearly defined and qualified security lead” at the site, which he said was “inconsistent with accepted practices. TrustedSec CEO David Kennedy added that “basic security was not built into the Healthcare.gov website,” and no formal testing was done. As a result, he said, the site faced a “critical risk for unauthorized access.”
500 million lines of code. Amazing. Of course you don’t have to be a code breaker to identify the con job the country was sold.
I think that everything that the president said and did was in pursuit to get all Americans health care, so, I think, even though he may have said, if you like your decent insurance, your insurance that works, then you can keep it, I think that people really get that. When — he owned it. He said, look, if you misunderstood what I was trying to say, I’m sorry about that. I think that shows integrity.
We’re tired of the usual blah-blah today so we’ll just make a couple of comments. This chart at Belmont Club is simply bizarre. There are very odd people abroad in the land. Even more bizarre is this piece in the Daily Mail. Possibly an extended joke along the line of the post-modernist spoofing that goes on in the science world from time to time?
I strongly reject the concept of respectability politics, which postulates that a style of dress or speech justifies injustice, and often violence, against particular groups of people or explains away the ravages of their inequality. I take enormous exception to arguments about the “breakdown of the family,” particularly the black family, that don’t acknowledge that this country for centuries has endeavored, consciously and not, to break it down. Or that family can be defined only one way. I don’t buy into the mythology that most poor people are willfully and contentedly poor, happy to live with the help of handouts from a benevolent big government that is equally happy to keep them dependent. These are all arguments based on shame, meant to distance traditional power structures from emerging ones, to allow for draconian policy arguments from supposedly caring people. These arguments require faith in personal failure as justification for calling our fellow citizens feckless or doctrinally disfavored. Those who espouse such arguments must root for failures so that they’re proved right. They need their worst convictions to be affirmed: that other people’s woes are due solely to their bad choices and bad behaviors; that there are no systematic suppressors at play; that the way to success is wide open to all those who would only choose it. Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity — know better. Misogyny and sexism, racism, income inequality, patriarchy, and homophobia and heteronormative ideals course through the culture like a pathogen in the blood, infecting the whole of the being beneath the surface.
It’s very discouraging that there are so many knuckleheads who think such things today, and that they get to write columns for big newspapers. Take that second sentence for example. 10x the number of boys are born today (versus 50 years ago) in homes without fathers. It’s arguably the greatest problem the country faces. Now take a moment. Consider also the last sentence quoted above. The big problems are patriarchy and heteronormative ideals? Help!!! The country is doomed. (We have a feeling we know who the author would vote for if he lived in Venezuela.)
Maduro said a stricter wave of inspections for suspected price-gouging would begin on Saturday in an aggressive pre-election “economic offensive” aimed at taming the highest inflation in the Americas. “We’re not joking, we’re defending the rights of the majority, their economic freedom,” Maduro said on Friday, alleging price irregularities were found in nearly 99 percent of 1,705 businesses inspected so far this month. Maduro, who has staked his presidency on preserving the legacy of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, launched a theatrical – and often televised – wave of inspections this month to force companies to reduce prices. He says “capitalist parasites” are trying to wreck Venezuela’s economy and force him from office…
The leader of Venezuela’s main business group Fedecamaras, Jorge Roig, said this week the government’s erroneous economic policies and excessive controls risk setting up the nation for a dire 2014 of shortages and stagnation. Wall Street analysts expect growth of 1 percent to 1.5 percent this year. The government has backed off its official target of 6 percent, but has not provided a new figure. Roig accused policymakers of “improvisation” in the face of growing economic distortions and insisted that businesses nationalized in the Chavez era were operating at half capacity, while only 2 percent of expropriated land was productive. “Mr. Jorge Roig, you have just declared economic war on the country,” Maduro retorted on Friday, using the same combative tone and accusations against private enterprise common during Chavez’s 14-year rule
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security:
the Islamic Republic controls all aspects of nuclear science, from A-Z, from the very beginning all the way to uranium enrichment. This is why the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution talked about heroic flexibility. After ten years, we have emerged victorious over the West. They wanted to prevent us from acquiring nuclear technology, but we have reached that point, having sacrificed martyrs, and having persevered on that path, enduring an economic siege. Now we have emerged victorious heroes. It was in our best interest to sign this agreement. The Americans reached the conclusion that it would be futile to continue with their policy of confronting the Islamic Republic – a policy that was leading them nowhere. They wanted to prevent Iran from enriching uranium, but we have attained this technology and we are currently using it…They said that they did not recognize our right to enrich uranium, but at the same time, they say that Iran agreed not to enrich above 5%. This constitutes an official acknowledgement…We consider this to be a great victory for Iran, and the beginning of a new phase for the Islamic Republic. Iran has become an official member of the international club…We have now entered a new stage. We expect good results. The nuclear dossier will be removed from the agenda of the UN Security Council, and they…have acknowledged Iran’s uranium enrichment. In addition, the economic siege on the Islamic Republic will be lifted.
WaPo: “the United States and its partners have already agreed that Iranian enrichment activity will continue indefinitely. In contrast, a long-standing U.S. demand that an underground enrichment facility be closed is not mentioned.” Iran sure thinks it got a pretty good deal. (Is that 5% really 5%?) We’re not quite sure what the US got out of this.
they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious…
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing…this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.
California is cancelling another 1.1 million people…Through mid-November, Covered California has enrolled about 80,000 people.
Let’s see. 80,000 “enrolled” though there have been no actual invoices or payments, versus 1,100,000 cancelled. You’re going to need a high number of good news stories to deal with a ratio like that. Ah yes, but the MSM have a lot invested in their fantasy world.
media coverage is shifting fast. It’s still mostly trying for equivalence — each positive story of people being helped matched by a negative story of people hurt. But the stories don’t actually match up at all. Small example: earlier today I found myself trapped in a place with CNN on in the background, showing a fair-and-balanced account of losers and winners. First, the loser: a guy who admits that Obamacare has gotten him a plan cheaper than the insurance he had, but who has found that his current allergist is off-network. Annoying, no doubt; but there are other allergists, and this particular one probably didn’t help the case by saying that he’s thinking of refusing to take Medicare patients, too. And in any case, insurance with restricted networks is hardly something new to Obamacare. Then, the winners: a couple with no insurance at all, because her premium would have been prohibitive and he has a preexisting condition that won’t let him buy any kind of insurance at all — but now both covered, at a very affordable price, by Covered California. I don’t know about you, but these don’t sound to me like equivalent stories. At this rate, the whole horrors-of-Obamacare meme will be gone in weeks
California, eh? Cue Exhibit A.
half a dozen times, the Security Council has passed resolutions which said Iran has to stop all enrichment otherwise there’ll be no change in the sanctions, no relief. Which means six times China and Russia – not exactly hardliners on Iran – have signed on to this. And what is the result of this agreement? Iran retains the right to enrich. It continues to enrich during the six months. It is promised a final deal in which we’re going to work out the details of its enrichment. And remember, enrichment is the dam against all proliferation. Once a country anywhere can start to enrich there is no containing its nuclear capacity. So it undermines the entire idea of nonproliferation, and it grants Iran a right it’s been lusting for for a decade. That’s why there was so much jubilation in Tehran over this. Second, there’s a relaxation of sanctions which have really caused the Iranians to hurt, to worry about the stability of the regime, and to come and negotiate. What happens on sanctions? There’s going to be a huge infusion of cash which can reduce the inflation, can alleviate the shortages. Already the rial, the currency, jumped three percent instantly as a result of this agreement. This is a huge relief for the Iranians, and it can only increase over time. What do we get in return? I just heard the Secretary of State say we’re going to get a destruction of the 20 percent uranium. That is simply untrue. What’s going to happen is the 20 percent enriched uranium is going to be turned into an oxide so it’s inoperative. That process is completely chemically reversible
What’s so odd about this deal is that there’s any deal at all. Given that backward countries like North Korea can get nukes, there’s no way short of a big war to prevent Iran from doing the same, triggering a Middle East arms race. However, there’s no reason to aid and abet Iran’s effort and simultaneously outrage both Saudi Arabia and Israel, which makes this deal so peculiar. That said, peculiar is not a strong enough word to describe the obsequiousness of the administration towards the mullahs over the last four years.