Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama administration betrays Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran

Letitia posted this article by Jay Sekulow from Fox News.

Excerpt:

In its quest for a “deal” with the hostile, jihadist Iranian regime, The Obama administration has thrown an American Christian, Saeed Abedini, under the bus – the latest American victim in the administration’s continual, naïve (at best) quest to bargain with Islamic radicals.

[...]Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Idaho resident, last year received permission to enter Iran to help build an orphanage.

Shortly after his arrival, Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guard arrested him, threw him in one of Iran’s worst prisons, and tried and convicted him on trumped-up “national security” charges – charges that had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with his Christian faith.

Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison — a prison full of murderers and rapists, where his life is in danger at every moment.

The Iranian regime rebuked the president of the United States, and we’re now supposed to believe it’s acting in good faith?

President Obama is now trying to spin our stunning act of weakness as a breakthrough for peace.  In fact, we were so weak that (according to the administration) that the State Department did not even raise Pastor Saeed’s during the nuclear negotiations.

[...]Iran’s record of wrongdoing is long and sordid.

Beginning with the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, moving through repeated terrorist attacks – from the deadly Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, to the Kobar Towers bombing in 1996, to the direct intervention of Iran’s Quds force against American forces in Iraq – and including ongoing deadly support for terrorists fighting American forces in Afghanistan, Iran has proven by its deeds and words that it is America’s enemy.

If Iran had released Pastor Saeed we would have at least one concrete action to give Americans confidence that this deal was anything other than a disaster.  Instead, we are left with nothing but “commitments” from a regime that has proven itself committed only to killing and imprisoning Americans.

To make matters even worse, we have squandered a position of strength.

Iran was suffering under sanctions that were finally beginning to truly bite — wrecking its economy and causing deep discontent within Iraq. This was our opportunity to drive a hard bargain, to reach a deal that didn’t depend solely on Iranian “commitments.”

But we squandered that opportunity and left an American behind.

The Obama administration has betrayed Pastor Saeed.

One country that’s done a good job on promoting human rights and religious liberty is Canada, because they have a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here’s what Canada said about the deal: (H/T Dennis Prager)

The Canadian government was “deeply skeptical” on Sunday of Iran’s agreement to temporarily freeze its nuclear program, saying Ottawa’s sanctions against the regime would remain firmly in place until the new deal’s words turned into actions.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appeared to take a stronger stance on the newly brokered deal than the United States and other allies, saying Canada would be watching Iran closely over the coming weeks and months.

“We have made-in-Canada foreign policy,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We think past actions best predict future actions. And Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council, it has defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s striking to me that the American government is now to the left of Canada on foreign policy – making deals with dictators that actually set back the cause of freedom and universal human rights. I would not be surprised to see a full-scale war in the Middle East because of this deal. I guess that the Obama administration is so anxious to appear as if they are doing something that they don’t care if Iran nukes Israel in a few months. Because that’s what’s going to happen unless Israel attacks Iran first. Iran was threatening to nuke Israel as recently as last week. It’s hard to interpret the Democrat treaty with Iran as anything other than their stamp of approval on that plan.

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Israel PM calls Democrats’ proposed deal with Iran “a very bad deal”

The Weekly Standard reports.

Here’s what BB Netanyahu said about a U.S. proposal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

“I met Secretary Kerry right before he leaves to Geneva,” said Netanyahu. “I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. That the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal–a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community.”

Foreign Policy Initiative says that the deal will weaken sanctions against Iran.

Excerpt:

As the United States and other world powers resume nuclear talks with Iran this week, a senior official in the Obama administration recently told reporters in Geneva that they seek a short-term interim agreement that gives Iran partial and reversible relief from U.S.-led international sanctions, with the goal of getting a package of short-term Iranian concessions that “stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades” and “potentially rolls part of it back.” While this is a laudable goal, the potential package of Iranian concessions that has been discussed in the media would fail to fully freeze Iran’s nuclear program, let alone roll it back.

[...]If it costs the United States nothing to persuade Iran to implement the rumored package of short-term Iranian nuclear concessions, then we should welcome that outcome.   But while U.S. diplomats have not publicly said what they will offer in Geneva, they reportedly are considering relaxing restrictions on Iran’s oil revenues held in overseas accounts and perhaps also on trade in gold and petrochemicals.  Given the difficulties faced at times by the United States in getting allies and partners to support the sanctions regime against Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration’s potential forms of sanctions relief could be too dear a price to pay for the rumored package of Iranian concessions.

I was listening to the latest episode of the Weekly Standard podcast this morning and Lee Smith said the real reason that the Obama administration is doing this is to justify an American withdrawal from the Middle East and to abandon our allies in the region – not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia as well.

The Republicans are moving to block the Democrats from lifting sanctions on Iran.

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House Republicans offer deal: delay Obamacare for a year, no government shutdown

This new House bill is a good compromise – even Tea Party stalwart Ted Cruz has endorsed it.

Excerpt:

During a speech on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Texas senator Ted Cruz endorsed the latest House bill to fund the government. This continuing resolution would not defund Obamacare, as Cruz has demanded for months, but it would delay Obamacare’s individual mandate by one year and end employer subsidies for members of Congress and their staff.

During his speech, Cruz praised the House of Represenatives for trying to compromise and criticized Senate majority leader Harry Reid for refusing to negotiate. Senator John Cornyn, Cruz’s Republican colleague from Texas, then pointed out that the House will reportedly pass a continuing resolution that will include a delay the individual mandate and the Vitter amendment.

Cruz said that the Senate should pass “whatever” the House passes this evening.

“If the House of Representatives asks tonight I believe this Senate should come back immediately and pass the continuing resolution the House–whatever the House passes,” Cruz said. “I don’t know what it will be, but it will be yet another good faith effort to keep the government running and to address the trainwreck of a law that is Obamacare. And I very much hope that this body begins to listen to the people.”

Cruz’s comments mark an apparent shift in his position on defunding Obamacare. During his 22-hour speech on Obamacare last week, Cruz said he could not support a compromise.

[...]Monday evening, the Club for Growth endorsed the House compromise but Heritage Action opposed it.

Not sure how I feel about this compromise, because this Wall Street Journal article makes it sound like a good deal.

Excerpt:

Air traffic control will continue, in addition to airport and airplane safety inspections.  All Federal Highway Administration activities will also continue.

[...]The IRS will cancel audit appointments.

[...]The Department of Education could have to delay its issuing of competitive and formula grant awards later this year.

[...]Workplace dispute cases would not be resolved until after the shutdown, as the National Labor Relations Board would halt all case handling.

[...]Agency functions that protect national security and ensure human safety are exempt from the shutdown. Military operations, border security, coastal protection (including the Coast Guard), law enforcement, criminal investigations, counter-terrorism efforts and care of prisoners are all expected to continue. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service will all continue to function. The Transportation Security Administration will continue to staff airports.

On Friday, the Pentagon warned that a government shutdown could force the Defense Department to furlough about 400,000 civilian workers, delay military contracts and defer training.

The move would impact about half the department’s 800,000 civilian employees, most of whom were required to take six unpaid days off earlier this year as a result of the automatic spending cuts imposed under so-called sequestration.

Because of the unique role the Pentagon plays in protecting the country, defense officials are planning to exempt large numbers of people and projects. All active duty military personnel will not be furloughed – and large numbers of civilians supporting the war in Afghanistan and other essential military initiatives will stay on the job.

Pentagon leaders created a long list of exemptions, including counseling services for sexual assault victims, some child care facilities, and some base cafeterias.

[...] The U.S. Postal Service will continue to function as usual.

Social Security payments will continue to go out, and the administration is expected to continue taking applications for benefits, as in plans released Friday. In that plan, the agency said it will furlough 18,006 of its 62,343 workers.

Medicare and Medicaid payments will also continue, although the programs could encounter difficulty if the shutdown stretches into weeks.

[...]Food and Drugs: The Food and Drug Administration will continue its review of imports into the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ plan released Friday.

Inspection of meat, poultry and egg products will continue, as these functions fall under the category of human safety. The HHS will furlough 40,512 workers, 52% of its staff.

Disease: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will cease disease surveillance, which could be particularly problematic as flu season approaches.

Medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care will continue.

The National Institutes of Health clinical center will not accept new patients into clinical research, but it will continue to provide medical services for current patients. In the 1995-96 shutdowns, calls placed to NIH’s disease hotline were not answered, according to the CRS report.

Obamacare: The Affordable Care Act will continue to be funded.

Other: Handling of hazardous waste, disaster assistance and power grid maintenance will continue.

On balance, it doesn’t sound like the catastrophe that the left-wing media make it out to be, at least for a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are refusing to negotiate.

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House passes free trade deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

The biggest free-trade pacts since NAFTA were passed by the House Wednesday night, with the Senate likely to follow. As a result, America will reap 250,000 jobs and $13 billion in exports. Where are the celebrations?

The strangest aspect of the passage of free trade treaties with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, with final votes taken after five long years, is the disconnect between the big economic gains expected for the U.S., and the reticence of congressional Democrats and the White House, both of which finally got something right on the economy.

As we went to press, the pacts had been passed by the House, with the Senate expected to vote soon. With bipartisanship like that, lawmakers should be cheering loudly for a true “jobs bill” that costs nothing.

Yet as a Democratic aide told Roll Call on Wednesday, “Republicans don’t want to give the president a victory, Democrats are split and everyone is distracted.”

Excuse us, but this is some of the best economic news in three years. It deserves a victory dance.

It’s a fact these treaties will bring new orders for factories, save family farms, strengthen strategic alliances with countries well worth having as allies, and open up breathtaking new opportunities in fast-growing markets. It needs to be acknowledged.

[...]President Obama paid lip service to the treaties, but wasted nearly three years attaching protectionist amendments and dithering. It harmed the economy and never changed this fact: Free trade had to pass if there was to be a real recovery.

Economist Greg Mankiw of Harvard University lists free trade as the #2 top item that economists of all ideological stripes agree on. This is a no-brainer.

Passing the free trade deals is important because it would make up for other anti-business policies of the Obama administration.

Excerpt:

Obama appointees at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have not only blocked Boeing from making planes in South Carolina, but they have greased the speed of union elections, made decertification votes impossible, changed the requirement that a majority of workers vote for a union, and required almost every workplace in America to put posters up advising workers of their unionization rights.

The Obama Administration claims to want to double exports and support free trade, but it took it nearly three years to send the pending trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea to Congress. Which means that in all this time American companies have been paying higher tariffs for exports.

The Obama Administration has proposed 219 new rules affecting industries, each of which will cost at least $100 million to comply. While the Washington legal business is growing, every industry and business is affected, scared, and confused by the massive new proposals. Small businesses are especially overwhelmed and must hire lawyers to understand and comply with the massive amount of new regulation.

The Obama crown-jewel “achievements” of the new health care and Dodd-Frank financial laws adversely affect almost every American business, totaled almost 3,000 pages of statutory language, and will result in huge costs on employers.

Let’s hope the Senate passes these deals and Obama signs it. We need lower priced goods in a recession, and we need more markets to sell into. If this passes, it will be the first pro-growth action taken by the administration in three years.

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Eric Cantor says that Obama is in over his head

From the leftist Politico web site, an assessment of Obama’s negotiating ability.

Excerpt:

President Barack Obama is “in over his head” when it comes to tackling the country’s economic troubles, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday.

The president has not run a business or created jobs and has proven himself ill-suited to put the economy back on track, the Virginia Republican said in a midday interview on The Wall Street Journal’s website with opinion columnist Peggy Noonan and editor James Freeman.

President Barack Obama is “in over his head” when it comes to tackling the country’s economic troubles, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday.

The president has not run a business or created jobs and has proven himself ill-suited to put the economy back on track, the Virginia Republican said in a midday interview on The Wall Street Journal’s website with opinion columnist Peggy Noonan and editor James Freeman.

When picking someone to run an economy, don’t pick the person who has scored high marks for agreeing with professors in university classrooms. Agreeing with professors does not give a person experience of how the world really works. Instead,  choose someone who has practical experience at running a business and creating jobs. Academic parroting is no substitute for running a successful private sector business. Herman Cain would be a better choice for President than Barack Obama, if the main criterion was job creation.

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